If you know much about me at all by now, you know that I am a member of EFA/Artists Helping Animals. And you know that I passionately love animals. Several of the members of EFA are preparing for a treasury by Vicki Diane called Artist Up Front. We have each prepared a photo of ourselves with one of our beloved animal friends and a piece of our art. I'm not really fond of putting my face out there but I'll do just about anything to help raise money that will help the animals. The picture I have chosen is unusual enough that I thought it might bear some explanation. So here is Daniel's story.
A few years back I was working at an animal park that rescued exotic animals. Most of the animals we had were previously purchased as pets by someone else. Quickly people discover that a lion or a tiger is not just a really big house cat and that they can not be trained like a dog. And even others discover that the baby alligator is not like some cute desert lizard. And unlike the mammal cats, the reptile alligator won't ever even decide it likes you. Zoos will not take these animals usually bred for profit. So, what to do? That is where we came in. We took those animals and tried to provide them with a safe and caring environment.
Daniel was brought to us at 2 1/2 months old after he had received a horrible head injury leaving him semi comatose. I spent 12 hour days with him the first week with him draped across my chest so he could hear my heartbeat. Not only did he eventually wake up and begin to fight to live, but also he and I had developed a very strong bond.
I wanted to name Daniel some really cool African name, since that was all of Africa he would ever know. But I was outvoted and he became Daniel. His injury at the back of his head left him with optic nerve damage and coordination and balance problems. He saw many doctors of various kinds. Much of it helped. But the veterinary acupuncture made the most difference.
Daniel was very affectionate and if I got about 6 inches from his face, I could ask him for a kiss and he would reach over and rub the side of his face on each side of my face. And he loved to rock. We had a special rocking chair that we would rock in when his head hurt. It comforted him. And later, well he just loved to rock for the fun of it.
At thirteen months of age Daniel started to have grand mal seizures as a result of his injury. Eventually one particularly bad seizure was so severe he was not able to escape it and he died in my arms.
Daniel was so precious to me. He brought healing to the little girl's heart inside of me in many ways. And I will always treasure those memories. But the truth is Daniel should never have existed. He was the result of breeding on a farm in the US that makes money by breeding and selling exotic animals - a place where he was abused. These animals should not be here. They should not be in cages. They should be in the wild in Africa (or other places for some animals) where they belong.