Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Weeping Camels & Crying Elephants

We recently watched a docudrama The Story of the Weeping Camel (produced by National Geographic) about a family of sheep herders living on the Gobi desert. Although some aspects of the film were dramatized, their web site states that the events involving the camels were actual events. A young camel prepares to give birth to her first colt, but she is in labor for 2 days before the colt emerges feet first and the family must assist in the birth. The colt is a rare white camel and the mother camel rejects it. When the baby tries to nurse, she kicks him, bites at him and refuses to accept him. The family ties the mother's back legs together, but the mother will not allow the baby to nurse. The rejected baby wanders around alone crying. The family tries milking the mother, placing the milk in a horn and feeding it to the baby, but the attempt is not very successful and they recognize that the baby will die unless they can solve this problem. Two sons ride their camels to a village where they search for a violinist who will come to their village and convince the mother camel to accept her colt.

How could a violin solve the problem of a mother rejecting her baby? I didn't understand it and I still don't, but the Buddhist ritual is successful. I thought this was just a dramatic plot device, but this was a National Geographic film and their web site says that these events were real. I don't understand it, but my admiration for Buddhists and their respect for animals is sustained.

The camels on the Gobi are lovely, long-haired, camels with two humps. They shed emotional tears like humans do. The baby camel cried tears when rejected by his mother and the mother camel was moved to tears when the musical ritual persuaded her to accept her colt.

I loved that film and apparently I'm not the only one. It was nominated for an Academy Award last year.

My friend, Candi, has been reading When Elephants Cry which is about the emotional lives of animals. :

The author feels that the emotional lives of animals is a subject worthy of scientific examination. He also believes that when scientists explain the behavior of animals they go to great length to explain it a way that negates the fact they feel stuff. Anyone that lives with animals in the home know they feel, love, anger, fear, etc. We can't always tell what they're feeling but we know they do feel emotions. The authors are Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy....

I also relearned something I had totally forgotten. When I studied psychology in college we had learned that the emotions are in the back part of the brain, the reptilian brain. The author states that if emotions are in the most basic part of the brain than it stands to reason that animals would also have emotions.
I'm adding this book to my reading list.

Another thing I liked about the Weeping Camel film, was that the featured family lives off the grid in a yurt.

Regarding living off the grid, I just bought a copy of The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks. The author lives off the grid. I haven't started reading it yet.

Dada is a fan of living off the grid and sends a link to such a community.

A few years ago, we rescued a cute little chihuahua named Gigi and after a few months we found a permanent home for her in the Sierra mountains. Our timid kitty, Brodie, lived under a bed for Gigi's first three days here. On the third day, he came out to make a stand. Gigi saw him and raced toward him to make acquaintance. Brodie arched his back and puffed his fur up to look big and threatening, so to avert a disaster I yelled, "Gigi, sit."

Gigi is such a well-behaved doggie, she immediately sat down and Brodie gradually relaxed. Soon the two were sniffing each other and began to play. They became best friends. Recently I bought Brodie a new collar so I placed his old collar in a zip lock bag and mailed it to Gigi. Gigi's new family sent the following email message:

When we opened the outer package, Gigi got her head right in there and sniffed and sniffed. She must have recognized your scent on the note you sent. When we opened the baggie with Brodie's collar in it, she almost fell off of Mike's lap, trying to get it from my hand. When we put it on the floor, she sniffed and licked it. We finally put it around her dolly's neck (Snoopy).