The following is a response sent to me by Deena Metzger after I asked her permission to use her photograph for the previous post. Please do read the post so you will understand the context. Deena is one of my favorite wise, compassionate, and creative elders and I encourage everyone to visit her web site and immerse yourselves in her work. Thank you, Deena, for who you are and for all you do.

“For a year, a dear friend and I regularly visited several animals, a polar bear, a gorilla and several elephants incarcerated in the Los Angeles Zoo, an hour’s drive for us. Billy, the elephant, had evident PTSD, swaying back and forth endlessly, listlessly; no matter how hard we tried, we could never indicate our presence to him though we hoped, over time, we might make a difference. There was, in contrast to what is said here (note: in the previous post), little left of him, but that is exactly why we tried as best as we could to reach him. The polar bear, Dreamer, never noticed either. But, the gorilla, that we called Miko, did notice and we bonded over the weeks. He engaged us in elaborate games of recognition and it seemed that for at least an hour he was relieved of his terrible isolation and confinement where he was also subjected to the on-going taunts of most of the human visitors.

The two female elephants who were friends and companions, and then Dreamer and Miko died within months of each other. We don’t know why Dreamer died. One of the elephants was sent to another facility, and her friend languished here. When the friend was finally returned, it was too late. Her friend died and she died soon afterwards. Heartbreak is a real disease. As real and terrible as trauma. Miko was sent to another facility as well — to be a breeder. He died within a few short months.

We had visited these animals in the ways we would visit a family member who might be incarcerated. We wanted to extend love to what others might see as damaged and not worthy of notice, or too painful to see. Some people, understandably, cannot bear going to the zoo, do not want to support such practices. But what about the animals who are imprisoned there? Heart contact — with as much or as little survives — is necessary. Heart contact is a medicine. Heart contact can begin the process of restoration of the earth. Since the poster, so much more has been added to my life than a simple breast. Bringing the poster into the world, and becoming a healer, I am so much more than I was once.”
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