In the Battle Against the Culture of Death, Let’s Not Attack Those Who Are Working to Preserve Life

Giant Panda. Photo by Dan Rotem.
Giant Panda. Photo by Dan Rotem.

I came across an article on Life News yesterday that was entitled, “Press Laments Loss of Baby Panda, Ignores Loss of 1.2 Million Human Babies.”* In the piece, the author—Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee—lamented that the death of a panda at the National Zoo was receiving more attention from the major U.S. news outlets than the death of 1.2 million human babies.

Tobias wrote: “Scientists, zoo officials and panda fans everywhere sat on the edges of their seats last week to watch the drama of a panda birth unfold at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. The panda mother, named Mei Ziang, gave birth to one panda cub excitedly described as ‘vibrant, healthy, and active’ by CBS News. A second cub was stillborn, an event described by observers quoted in the Baltimore Sun with words such as “sadness,” “pure sorrow,” and “terror.” Other news outlets alternatively heaped praise on the zoo for the successful birth, or sad condolences for the loss of the second cub.”

Tobias allowed: “I don’t want to take anything away from the sadness people experienced at the loss of the cub, nor for the wonder of the birth of one of these endangered animals. Whenever that occurs, it’s an amazing event. But where are the news outlets when these daily joys and tragedies occur with human babies? Right here in Washington, D.C., for example, within blocks of the White House itself, unborn babies – human babies – are killed in a facility through 24 weeks of age, well beyond the age unborn babies can first feel pain. Yet we hear no outcry . . . I don’t see CBS News or the Baltimore Sun decrying this scandal and the irreplaceable loss of these children the way they lament the loss of a panda cub, as sad as that is . . . It seems nobody in the mainstream media is willing to speak for the unborn. At least, not if they’re human unborn.”

I think Tobias was spot on in calling the press to account for its neglectful lack of coverage of issues involving the pre-born and I dropped this comment into the line of debate: “As you note in this opinion piece, it doesn’t have to be and it shouldn’t be either/or. We should keep fighting against abortion and pressing the press to draw attention to the holocaust until it ends but we should also be working to save the many species of animals in the world that are vanishing because of the devastation wrought by human beings.”

I might note here that there are only about 1,000 giant pandas left in the wild and perhaps only 100 live in zoos so, in the effort to preserve the species, there was very good reason for celebration on the occasion of the birth and very good reason for sadness in the loss of the other cub.

A response to my comment from another reader stunned me and that comment led me to post this reflection. The woman wrote (the following is unedited): “you do realize that animals are dispensable and they procreate more than humans and they don’t have souls….GOD spoke them into existiance and created humans by his own hand and breathe the breathe of life into them….so I don’t think that is of the most importance right now…people are killing off GOD’s creation.”

I asked in response: “And who do you suppose created the animals? And who entrusted them to our care? Animals are not “dispensable”! What a horrible, short-sighted, unbiblical thing to say! Your comment dishonors the Creator and I would advise you to go back and read Genesis 1. Much of humankind has failed in its stewardship of the earth and we are all suffering because of it. Those who are seeking to preserve life should not be attacking those who are seeking to preserve life. I have–for many, many years–been engaged in the fight against abortion (working to give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves). I also advocate for the animals that cannot speak for themselves. We have a culture of death in this country. Don’t contribute to it by fighting against those who value all of God’s creation. Again, it doesn’t have to be either/or.”

The same woman went on to say: “but it (the cub of an endangered species dying) is not the end of the world because of it! they have no real meaning. They help with the eco system and what not but it is not a crying shame that another animal kills them or a human in that matter in fact you animal lovers are to blame too…you say ‘OMG an animal is dying by humans’ yet it is your cell phones, waste, and even your fancy houses that are creating the problem….yes save the animals but enjoy the house you live in that was taken from the trees that the animals lived in….very hypocritical. I for one care more about the babies that are being aborted by woman that are being lied to and advised by pro-borts…I counsel most of them and they all say that the decision is not all their own it was advised by someone else.”

Your thoughts?


Featured image of Giant Panda by Gary M. Stolz, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service._

Now on the new Rubber Hobos Facebook Page: Daily Links to and Commentary on Top Stories and Photos in Wildlife, Wild Places, Art, Travel, and Christian Spirituality

Rubber Hobos

Join the conversation at the new Rubber Hobos Facebook page by clicking on the button in the right-hand column of this page or visit Looking forward to chatting with you!

Here’s a preview of what’s there now:

Yosemite Wildfire photos

What are Fairy Rings?

Five new fun travel apps (including Roadside America and Sleepy Traveler)

14 of America’s Most Endangered Birds

An abandoned house overtaken by animals

A squirrel finds, saves, and adopts an abandoned pup

Photos of a bison herd crossing the Yellowstone River

Has Voyager 1 left the solar system?

Survival Facts that May Save Your Life

Rising levels of acids in the sea may endanger wildlife

Featured photo on this page: Bison at the Mud Volcano, Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Donna Hailson.

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Drink in art each day so worldly cares won’t obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in your soul

Flight into Egypt, by He Qi, China. In our collection.
Flight into Egypt, by He Qi, China.
In our collection.

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The silk tapestries seen here represent the combined efforts of Chinese Christian artist He Qi and a group of Chinese silk weavers in a small town about an hour from Suzhou. Suzhou embroidery goes back more than 2,000 years and is considered the finest of the three major styles of embroidery in China.  The images are hand embroidered onto fine silk with silk thread that has been dyed to match the colors in He Qi’s paintings. It takes about a month to weave each of these tapestries.

Wedding at Cana, He Qi, China.
Wedding at Cana, He Qi, China.
In our collection.

Carolina Tiger Rescue: Saving Wild Cats and Calling for Laws “With Teeth” in the Regulation of the Exotic Pet Trade

Carolina Tiger logoIn the next episode of On the Road with Mac and Molly, I chat with Kathryn Bertok, Curator of Animals at the Carolina Tiger Rescue. The organization, formerly known as the Carnivore Preservation Trust, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit wildlife sanctuary whose mission is saving and protecting wild cats in captivity and in the wild.


Kathryn with Raj
Kathryn with Raj

In this program, Kathryn and I touch on all things tiger, discussing everything from chuffling (tiger speak) to mother-cub interactions to the tiger’s affinity for water (not only for drinking but for bathing). We review how tigers are faring in the wild and what happens to an ecosystem when a top-of-the-food-chain predator is diminished or removed.

We discuss the $15 billion exotic pet trade (only drugs and weapons are bigger moneymakers on the black market) and we expose the use and abuse of exotic animals for the entertainment of human beings. Most heartbreaking of the stories shared by Kathryn is one involving tiger cubs that are used for photo opportunities in petting zoos; once these animals grow out of the cute and cuddly stage (after they’re only about three months of age), they may be euthanized, end up in canned hunts, or be sold as “pets.”

Kathryn and I lament how little there is in the way of laws in the U.S. regulating the sale and purchase of exotic animals. The health and safety of not only the animals but human beings as well are put at increased risk through this lack of oversight.

Just recently, Noah Barthe, 4, and his six-year-old brother Connor were killed (strangled to death) by a 100-pound African rock python after it escaped from an enclosure inside a friend’s apartment in Campbellton, New Brunswick, Canada. Authorities believe the snake escaped from its tank, slithered through a ventilation system and fell through the ceiling into the room where the two boys were sleeping. The snake has been euthanized and the Canadian government is now considering what it should be doing to help ensure something like this never happens again.

The CBC reports that the coroner who presided over a snake death inquest in Ontario two decades ago bewails that nothing was learned from that earlier tragedy. “Dr. David Evans says the inquest called for changes to municipal, provincial and federal rules regarding exotic pets, but none of the jury’s five recommendations was implemented, including the suggestion for an exotic pet registry.” Perhaps now, following these most recent deaths, greater protections will be put into place in Canada. And, perhaps, the United States will follow suit.

In the U.S., you could have a lion or tiger–or a 100-pound python–living next door to you and there may well be no laws in your area requiring your neighbor to make you aware of that fact. (For more information on the U.S. laws regarding exotic pets, see “Saving Aria: Finding Sanctuary at Carolina Tiger Rescue” on this site.)

Aria, shortly after her arrival at the sanctuary
Aria, shortly after her arrival at the sanctuary

Kathryn and I conclude our time together with the story of Aria, a tiger who was confiscated from her “owner” after she was determined to be desperately ill. Carolina Tiger staff traveled down to South Carolina to collect her. She weighed only 200 pounds (a healthy female should weigh closer to 360), was suffering from diarrhea, and had no muscle mass and no fat coverage on her ribs. The staff had difficulty getting a heart rate. Kathryn said, “I have no doubt the man [who’d kept her as a pet] loved this cat and had tried to care for her . . . [Nevertheless] in my fourteen years [with Carolina Tiger] this is by far the worst condition in which I’ve ever seen a rescued animal arrive.”

Aria was placed in thirty-day quarantine at the sanctuary and run through a battery of medical checks. She was started on anti-diarrheal medications, Pepcid, and antibiotics and, as she wasn’t eating, an appetite stimulant. “You can’t force-feed a tiger,” Kathryn noted. “The first day, we weren’t sure she’d survive. Then she started to eat a little and became more active.”

Aria after treatments
Aria on the road to recovery

Bloodwork revealed a pancreatic insufficiency so the staff started feeding her beef pancreas, the enzymes from which worked to break down the food she was eating so it could be digested. The enzymes were powerful enough to eat through the latex gloves of the individual handling the beef pancreas but they were exactly what the tiger needed to jump start her system. Following other medical treatments, Aria is now making a wonderful recovery.

In addition to Aria, the 55-acre Carolina Tiger Rescue has more than 70 animals in its care at the Pittsboro, North Carolina facility. Along with tigers, binturongs, lions, cougars, bobcats, caracals, kinkajous, ocelots and servals have found sanctuary there.

The organization is working toward the day when “wildcats are not owned by individuals as pets; wildcats are not used for entertainment purposes; no trade exists for wildcats or their parts; and all wildcats prosper in sustainable, native habitats.”


To achieve that mission, Carolina Tiger Rescue:

  • rescues wildcats;
  • provides lifelong sanctuary for wildcats;
  • educates the public about the plight of wildcats in captivity and in the wild;
  • conducts non-invasive research to further understand and aid wildcats; and
  • advocates for action to maintain wildcats in sustainable native habitats, or–when that is not a viable option–for the respectful, humane treatment of them in captivity.

I hope you’ll listen to this program and I hope you’ll care enough about the plight of tigers to act on their behalf. There are only 3,200 tigers left in the wild but perhaps as many as 10,000 are kept in captivity in the United States; five thousand of these animals are in Texas. These magnificent cats and other wild animals deserve our respect. Please care. Educate, advocate, volunteer, donate.

Photographs by Carolina Tiger Rescue.



“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” — Proverbs 3:5-6

Tower 1One afternoon, I participated in a “Zipline EcoSafari” at the Forever Florida Park in St. Cloud. To get us up where we needed to be, about a dozen of us climbed a five-story tower to the first zipline. I was surprised and quite disappointed to find myself filling with trepidation as I considered what I was about to do.

After all, when I was little girl, I used to jump off the garage roof, with an open umbrella in hand, hoping to float off like Mary Poppins. It was also very important to me in those years to make a climb each day to the highest branches of the pines in the grove on our property.

As an adult, I’ve trained on and crewed on hot air balloons. I’ve flown in a range of aircraft from commercial prop and jet planes to helicopters to military refuelers.

I love being aloft.

But…here I was, heart pumping away. I’m certain apprehension was all over my face, heard in my breathing, and clearly in evidence all through my body.

LanyardsMy lanyards were hooked on the line. I took the initial step into the air and was propelled across to the second tower in the series. I was so relying on myself to get to where I needed to go, I was so focused on getting from point a to point b, I was so muddled and so befuddled, that I missed hearing some key directives. I didn’t turn my lanyards so I could come in straight and so, instead, I spun around backwards and had to rely on my guide to catch me on the other tower. I took little pleasure in the experience, was embarrassed by my lack of composure, and missed seeing the beauty of the pine flatwoods and forested wetlands all around me.

It occurred to me, as I later reflected on the day, that we can approach all of life like this: allowing our fears to distract us and becoming so self-focused we can’t hear and heed the guidance of the One who can bring us safely along the journey. When we do live like this, we miss out on the glories of the bountiful world the Lord has set all around us.

ZipliningI am happy to report that by the time I reached the third tower, I was flying straight and reveling in the experience. I was delighted to finally hear my guide say, “Good job!” when I landed and I pray I’ll continue to carry the lessons of the day in my heart so that I may step up to meet each new challenge with a deep, unshakeable trust in the Lord who knows the way and can make my paths straight.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV).