The Saint of Zookeepers
I’m a little jealous of Noah. No, I am a LOT jealous of Noah.
He and his family were the Irwins of the Bible; one family running a zoo. On WATER. In the rain. There’s so much going on in this story and I, as usual, only see the animals.
I know that this this story is not LITERAL (for a whole slew of reasons, starting with physics and engineering and going on to hydrology and geometry), it is wonderful fodder for fiction. I remember reading Biblical archaeology books where they find it, alien interference with it, all kinds of fun. There are all kinds of flood myths, across cultures from China to the edge of Europe.
But that is not why I’m jealous of Noah.
I used to work at a zoo. It was one of the few times in my life where I woke up EARLY in the morning, happily. One of my most favourite times was that time just after the keepers arrived, the animals had been woken up and moved to their enclosures. In the zoo I was in, the lions were at the bottom of the hill and would roar their salute to the sun, which is a build up, a crescendo that will make your liver vibrate if you are in line of the sound (take a listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OS0pZDPZWc8 or here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rf4LGT_GMg ) . The howler monkeys would pick up the calls (you can hear that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYar0dkZ6v8 ), and and on up the hill. The last animals, at the top of hill, by the main road was the New Guinea Singing Dog : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwxV1wbBrfU. It was glorious, and occurred an hour or so before any humans (besides keepers, and truly they’re not entirely human) entered the grounds.
That wasn’t my most favourite time though. It moved me to tears of joy to park as far away from the big cats, at the bottom of the hill, and walk through the early morning nautical twilight, particularly in the rain, mist, or fog. It was so silent, except for the animals who were already out, just beginning to move around. The absolute one-ness of that moment in time is what I imagine it would have been like for Noah and his family – suspended in the centre of God’s created beings, one of them, with them, all connected.
Here’s the theological twist.
We are all Noah and his family.
All of us.
We are responsible for caring for the creation around us, not just humans.
We need to care for them with what we plant around us, so the native birds, animals and insects have habitat and food. We need to support conservation, contain our cats, be their voices because in a world filled with the cacophony of human voices, they have no one to speak for them, no one to scoop them up and take them away to safety.
Support your local animal shelter, make a donation to your local zoo; they’re hurting right now with volunteers and visitors curtailed. If you do pictures with wildlife, make it from an ethical organisation, that works hard for conservation and habitat both. And enjoy your neighbours, they’re fascinating.