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Compassionate Squirrels and Good People Helping Oiled and Other Wildlife

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There's lot's going on these days that's bad news for non-human animals (AKA animals) and human animals (AKA humans). Take for example the horrific oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that makes us ill when we see oiled wildlife struggling to survive and people who have lost their loved ones and their jobs. There's also some good news. Thank goodness there are many people trying to help the soiled animals, though some claim the effort is futile because it doesn't do much for conservation, and BP's chief executive will no longer be involved in daily operations and can get his life back, something that he really wants to do, despite what's happening in the Gulf and elsewhere because of the massive oil spill.

I'm glad there are people helping the soiled birds, even if it's relatively few of the thousands whose lives have been ruined. We have a moral obligation to do what we can do whether or not it helps conservation efforts. Individuals count and we must do what we can do to allay their suffering.

Some more good and interesting news about animals. In my recent book The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint (and elsewhere) I've maintained that animals are basically good. University of California psychologist Dacher Keltner takes a similar view in his book Born to be Good. There are numerous examples of cooperation, goodness, compassion, and empathy in animals (see for example, Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals) and now we have yet another unexpected case. It turns out that red squirrels are kind and compassionate in that orphan baby squirrels are often adopted by other squirrels. After the mother of a mysterious pup was eaten by a predator a neighboring squirrel went over and retrieved one of the orphaned pups and brought it back to her nest to raise as her own. There was really no reason for her to do this and there's no reason to reject the idea that she did it out of kindness and compassion. Examples of kindness, compassion, and empathy within and between species can be found in numerous different species.

There's also good news for wildlife. Zimbabwe has called off a wildlife trade deal with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). To quote from this report: "Johnny Rodrigues, chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Taskforce, a local natural resources watchdog, said the animals would have succumbed to DPRK conditions had the deal gone ahead. ... 'These animals belong to Zimbabweans. North Korea has a low track record of looking after animals and we can't have our animals living in cages,' Rodrigues said. ... Conservationists also say Zimbabwe cannot export game at a time when poaching is rampant. ... A report released in February by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species claimed the involvement of Zimbabwean security forces in the killing of 200 rhinos in the past two years. A report released in February by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species claimed the involvement of Zimbabwean security forces in the killing of 200 rhinos in the past two years."

It's important that we keep the faith and keep our dreams alive and know that what we do for animals will make a positive difference in their lives. Stay tuned for more news about animals and the good things that people all over the world are doing for our animal kin