Yesterday I held the sweetest 3-month-old baby boy. I watched in amazement as he shivered when I lightly rubbed my finger over the bottom of his foot. He showed me how he could kick his legs and wave his arms, and I called him a little wiggle worm. He had wisps of curly hair and such soft skin.
The baby had been removed from his mother because she threatened to harm him.
Since that experience, I have found myself wondering what will become of that precious, perfect child.
Will his mother convince the court to return him to her care? Will he be bounced around from place to place, and never learn to depend on others for support? Or will he be adopted into a loving family who will offer him many opportunities throughout his life?
Will he be a lifelong ward of the state, graduating from social services to corrections? Or will he become a valued member of society who pays back tenfold all he has been given?
It’s really not a choice for him, is it? He is helpless, vulnerable, and has no control over where he ends up or what he faces as he grows older.
The same is true for many animals. This week a friend on Facebook talked about holding baby animals at a petting zoo, and how it was a wonderful experience for her.
But was a wonderful experience for those babies who had been taken from their mothers, never to see them again, in order to be made available for public viewing? Is it a wonderful experience to be held over and over again by different humans, to have their photos taken, to be poked and prodded and pinched by children and adults alike?
And what will happen to them when they’re too old to safely be held by humans? Will they spend their entire lives languishing in a small cage on permanent display the way the Louisiana State Legislature and Governor Jindal say Tony the Tiger can? Or in conditions even worse?
Will they be killed in order for their pelts and body parts to be sold on the black market? Or will they be one of the few fortunate souls that end up in a sanctuary such as Big Cat Rescue?
People sometimes look at me and say thank you for the wonderful work that I do. But I don’t feel wonderful. Sure, I’m grateful that precious baby will not be harmed by his mother today.But what does tomorrow hold for him?
And what does tomorrow hold for so many precious babies, of every species, that we cannot protect from humanity?