On the Road with RoxAnna: Day NineMay 9, 2017
Last day in Senegal, Africa included a quite long bus ride, one interesting pit stop, a lovely fresh fish lunch and lots of hugs good byes to new and old friends. The goodbyes were more like until we see you again or I will email you. I felt privileged to be around these minds this week, amazing conservationists from all over the globe working on incredibly challenging projects with the goal of saving animals from extinction. But as my friend and colleague said to the group at the close of the meetings, if it were not for the people in these meetings, some of these animals would most likely be gone, and so it takes me back to… if not us, then who?
When you work with animals it is often referred to as a calling. You do not do it for the money, you do not do it for yourself, you do not do it for the accolades, you do it because you have a love of animals and you want to help them. Somedays it is a very tough job, you may have to clean a barn in 115 degree heat, or shovel snow in 20 degree cold, or make a difficult decision to say goodbye to an animal because it is time, the decisions go on and on, every day. But ultimately, it is not about us, it is about the animals. It is always about them, every day.
As people who have chosen the animal field as a career you quickly learn it becomes a way of life. My first boss at my first zoo told me once that if the animal bug bites you, you will be hooked for life. I have found that to be true. We will find ourselves in the most odd places and doing the most craziest things for the animals. We will wake up every three hours to feed a baby to help it survive, we will sleep on the floors in barns, we will shed tears when those special animals leave, we will travel to far away exotic places to learn from them, some will get things like malaria. The list goes on and on but the point is we do it for them. We will endure the heat, the cold, the tears and struggles for them.
Throughout all the frustrations we face caring for animals and the challenges we face for them in the wild it is rewarding in so many ways. We do it for them but really we get so much back from them. When you have the ability to make a difference for a species or even an individual animal it is all worth it. The reward can be felt on a deep personal level and I think if every person who cares for animals asked themselves and answered honestly they would agree that it is one of the most gratifying feelings you can have.
Many of these inspiring people at this meeting have worked in this field saving wildlife for a very long time, longer than me that is for sure. They have endured and continue to fight for the animals as we all must do. Our voices and actions must be loud and bold for them. The challenges will continue for the animals in our care therefore we will continue to be ambassadors for them, every day. Because we must. Because if not us, then who?