For decades I have found it difficult to participate in activities which involved animals that had been removed from their natural habitat and brought to live in unnatural enclosures for public viewing and pleasure. Based upon my desire to improve the lives of all animals, I built a business model supporting rescues and sanctuaries globally, thus providing second chances for animals to choose their people.
An important focus of our business has been to educate people on the plight of them American Mustang, the Premarin industry (horses kept in captivity to harvest pregnant mares’ urine for hormone replacement therapy), as well as the predicament of nurse foals and feedlot foals. Our desire was to create solutions to the current situations. I have long been an active advocate of animal rights and have educated thousands in the field of horse whispering and animal communication in order to improve the lives of our animal companions by acting as their messenger and giving them a voice.
When I was asked to facilitate an animal communication experience with staff at the South Lakes Safari Zoo in Cumbria, England, my initial questions were how the animals were being kept and if we could expect management support once the animals had expressed their needs to us. I was immediately reassured that all were well looked after and living in open enclosures. The founder of the park, David Gill, was heavily involved with conservation and strongly supported my vision. David’s collective love of animals and children inspired him to create many opportunities for families to affordably visit the park and experience animals close-up. I was soon to discover David’s natural ability to communicate with all species and his desire to help children connect with nature, changing the way they operate in the world today.
For me, it’s important to find the right environment to offer an intimate gathering, and to know that animal communication is accepted. When we ask our animals to open up to a language of love, we need to not simply pass on their perspective but also to follow up with their hopes, dreams and desires. It’s about learning to receive their message, give them a clear voice, and also consult on their behalf. The experience for all those attending such an educational experience is priceless and I expected our course to be filled before we announced it. Where else can you gain permission to talk to the wild ones and make a positive difference in their lives?
When we arrived in the park it was raining for the fourth consecutive day in a row. The students were appropriately dressed and eager to get started. I was open to see how the day would unfold, excited to be surrounded by such extraordinary animal energy while at the same time prepared to close myself off from any kind of hurt should I sense a trace of skepticism.
A room had been purposefully set-aside for us and we were assigned a passionate expert staff member for the day. Annie was delightful and well prepared with a list of all chosen guest animals. My immediate concern was that I would be unable t communicate with everyone listed due to time constraints. Next time we visit we will need to add an additional day to accommodate everyone’s needs!
I asked Annie to prioritize whom she felt most urgently needed support. We found ourselves in the very room Khim, the python, called home. Some may believe it’s more challenging or indeed difficult to connect with a python, but my experiences of reptiles proves differently. The visions, feelings and communication remain the same with all species; nobody is exempt. Annie shared that Khim was showing signs of depression and she wanted to understand the reasons behind his unusual behavior to be able to support his well-being.
Creating an inner space of silence I gained a connection with Khim. As a voice for the animals, images and feelings are translated into words for people to understand. I ask for confirmation of our connection through a direct understanding of their habitat, personal descriptions or personality traits. Khim began to describe that he was a rather large python and when at his full length he would cover almost ¾ of his enclosure, and therefore it did not provide a large enough space for any exploration.
Previously more engaged he had withdrawn from much human connection and become a little “grumpy”. It also appeared that Khim was either missing or grieving for another, although he described that there were no plans for another python to be joining him in the near future. A past companion of his was no longer here. His enclosure did not feel terribly natural to him, as the air was not circulating sufficiently and the water feature within was not functioning and there was no running water. He felt like some alteration within his environment would be more stimulating and that may include a sunlamp, dampness (drizzle) and a circulation of air. He also mentioned that all that which surrounded him was “dead” and the infusion of life was needed which could include some live plants.
Annie made many notes on behalf of Khim. She not only confirmed everything he shared, but also felt confident she would be able to implement a number of his suggestions to bring happiness back into his life. Although I was not able to make any promises to him, Khim was reassured that he had been heard and that his requests would be taken to a management meeting. Many of my students’ findings were confirmed in the live consultation they witnessed. Although they may not be able to guarantee all that he put forward, they would speak up on his behalf and expect a positive outcome.
Veronica the vulture was expecting a visit next as she devoured her breakfast within the covered enclosure. My first impressions were that Veronica was extremely happy in her home and was known to be quite the pampered princess. While this may not be everyone’s first impression based on her appearance, it was definitely an overwhelming sense. I remained indoors so that upon connecting with Veronica, she could give me an impression of her outdoor living arrangements without me actually having seen them. The only information provided before I began was that Veronica could get a little overly familiar with the zoo guests. It was intriguing to see her impressions of “over friendly” and where this conversation would lead.
My whole demeanor was uplifted as I became Veronica’s voice. Although I do not channel the animals, I do feel and relay their moods. Veronica had no qualms in describing her own unusual appearance and pronounced the covered outdoors environment to be quite large through her eyes. She described it to be at least a horse arena size in length and just a little smaller in width. She shared this location with many other vultures and a number of other species. She showed what she saw as hills and flat areas, and variation in terrain.
It appeared that Veronica had been “over-handled” at birth and she felt extremely comfortable being close with other humans. It didn’t appear that she discriminated at all and would fly down to meet and greet women, children and some men, but not all. She seemed to understand that this behavior was frowned upon and the way it was being managed was for her to be inside throughout visiting hours and be free outside when the park was closed. This suited her just fine, as she had both quiet time and lots of opportunity to be free. It seemed like she had not experienced living in the wild, but instead had grown up in captivity giving her a sense of safety and being cared for. She also showed extreme interest in being handled and had either overheard mention of or expressed interest in being part of some kind of performance. An educational show came to mind and Annie confirmed that there had been talk about including Veronica. There was little desire to change behavior, for Veronica saw benefit in connecting with people. She understood that it could be perceived as dangerous, although not meant that way and was quite happy with the current arrangement plus some benefits to boot. She was not like the other vultures, who happily hooked up together, but often found herself independently on the side-line with slightly different behavior patterns. Her life, as she saw it, was perfect.
Annie had her thoughts confirmed with a greater understanding of who Veronica was. Eagerly she made notes to be shared with the other keepers while her enthusiasm towards animal communication seemed to grow.
A number of feathered friends were struggling that day and Annie took us to the aviary to meet Calico and Sophie who were still acclimatizing to being at the park after having lost their private homes. As my students connected with the parakeets, I was asked privately to connect with a particular self-mutilating individual. It was uncovered that although she had received an initial medical examination upon arrival she felt that she could not overcome the feather plucking completely without a little medical support for the open wounds. She gave the reason behind her behavior as predominantly emotional while she adapted to her new environment.
Most of her time was spent in an un-renovated room because she felt intimidated by the other birds flying outside. She would see their wing span and cower. It was her belief they would fight for the food placed on the 2 stations and she suggested the keepers add another station close to her door on the existing platform for she and her partner to venture outside and back again. She indicated this would give her a chance to gain confidence while at the same time remain at the more quiet end of the aviary. Through some minor implementation of changes, major improvements could follow. Annie nodded her head to show her understanding of the messages conveyed, including the suggestions for improved veterinary practices at the park.
She felt that more measures could be included to support the arrival of new birds. That day I felt extremely blessed to have encountered individuals willing to open up and share their circumstances by responding to the help they knew was there for them through someone who could hear their voice.
Communicating with animals in wild parks and zoos is just like talking to someone about their horse, dog or cat in the luxury of their home. They also need someone to translate for them as well as to facilitate change to create harmony. Happy and content animals make for an enjoyable and memorable park experience. The relationship with the keepers is much like talking to the guardian of any domestic animal. It can be rich, deep and it is extremely important. If all animals were given the same opportunity much suffering would end.
While my focus was to provide insights into animal communication for everyone involved I also enjoyed private time visiting with the kangaroos, lemurs and monkeys in the open family enclosure. I found a quiet space to simply be and observe the beauty of these individuals and embrace their energies. It’s not often I get to watch these specific wild ones up close and have a chance to be present and open up to life’s messages.
The challenge in life is to create peace in a world full of busyness. I observed that loud movements and voices, constant intentions and agendas hold us from what is our birthright; to connect with nature. Many too busy to see what is before them are bordered by a lack of awareness and their immediate affect on all that surrounds them.
By constantly “doing” we create a large energy bubble of resistance, which prevents us from truly seeing or hearing the unspoken. “Being”allows space for us to listen and feel through a removal of the energetic barrier.
It was a day filled with surprises and mystery followed by precious life lessons reaching deep within us all. I give thanks that I do not walk around hearing all animals’ chatter but instead invite them to join me in a private conversation. The focus at this wild life park is balanced between the animals and the humans. In providing a safe integrative habitat David has created an environment for animals to feel at home and he continues to make improvements. Those who visit experience animals they may never have the good fortune to meet in any other circumstance.
We share the philosophies that education and conservation is the key to the future of these animals’ survival. For me it starts by giving them a voice…
Anna has a monkey on her back and South Lake Safari zoo in Cumbria, England.