I thought this was going to be a quiet and uneventful weekend.
Life has been crazy lately and my husband and I were looking forward to having two days of unscheduled time.
As it started, the weekend went according to plans.
Friday night was a quiet night in with a healthy dinner and a glass of wine. We decided to watch a movie on Direct TV and I was thrilled to find Born to be Wild available.
I love all animals, but have a particular fascination with elephants and am a long time supporter of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which is an elephant orphanage located in Nairobi, and run by Dame Daphne Sheldrick, David’s widow. I have written about both elephants and this organization in blog posts before (see My Love Affair with Elephants and English Bulldogs). Suffice it to say that Dame Sheldrick is a phenomenal woman whose accomplishments in saving elephants orphaned by poachers is inspiring.
Born to be Wild follows the stories of Dame Daphne Sheldrick and her efforts, and Dr. Birute Galdikas, who has devoted her life to saving orangutans. The orangutans have lost much of their habitat due to the denuding of the rainforests in Borneo and also face the constant threat of poachers, like the elephants.
I was not aware of the work of Dr. Galdikas, but was absolutely enthralled by her efforts and her devotion to these members of the ape family.
The movie was a wonderful and peaceful start to the weekend. I highly recommend it to everyone. If you would like to know more about either of these ladies, please visit Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Orangutan Foundation.
I had a wonderful yoga practice Saturday morning and then my husband and I went to a late afternoon showing of Chimpanzee, which is a Disney nature film that opened on Friday night. I had seen a number of previews for the film and was eagerly anticipating its opening. It was billed as “a new True Life Adventure introducing an adorable baby chimp named Oscar and his entertaining approach to life in a remarkable story of family bonds and individual triumph.” The previews looked so heart warming and very funny.
I had seen Jane Goodall (another phenomenal woman in the animal preservation field) interviewed last week about this movie and she urged all to see it the first week as a portion of the box office proceeds will be shared with her foundation.
And this is where the weekend started to turn …
In the film, I found myself silently cursing Disney. I knew that Oscar’s mother died. The previews disclosed it and Jane Goodall spoke about it. But the first half of the movie was building up the amazing bond between Oscar and his mother. The dependence of a baby chimp on his mother is very similar to that in human babies – complete and total reliance. The bond was absolutely palpable; but it was painful as I knew that it was going to end in tragedy.
And it did end in tragedy. Once again in a Disney movie, I found myself sobbing.
What eventually happens to Oscar is remarkable and, according to Jane Goodall, is extremely rare. But the movie takes a long time to get to that point. There is a great deal of time spent on the incredible sadness of Oscar in losing his mother and his being completely alone and unprotected.
I left the movie feeling emotionally exhausted.
The cinematography is absolutely awe-inspiring. You feel like you are right there with the chimpanzees – so much so that in the many grooming scenes (an integral part of the chimpanzee society), I found myself amazed that there were no fleas on the chimps. If there had been, we would have seen them; the filming was that close and detailed.
If I had known the emotional path of the film, I think I would have sent the cost of the ticket directly to the Jane Goodall foundation.
My husband and I attempted to salvage the rest of the weekend and be up-beat with a fun dinner and evening on Saturday night.
On Sunday, I started the morning with a vigorous Bikram practice. As I got in my car at 11 a.m. to head back to my house, I noticed a message from my mother on my phone. Before I listened to it, I glanced at emails and saw that someone had posted a note on our island website about a lost parrot. Uh oh, I thought as I know several people with parrots. As I opened the message, I saw that it was a parrot named Matilda and my heart sank.
As you may have learned in Meet Matilda, Matilda is my parents’ beautiful Eclectus parrot.
My parents have had a lot on their plate lately with surgeries, illnesses, the loss of a senior beloved jack russell and a few other things. They are devoted to this amazing bird. I could not imagine how this day was going to end happily.
As I sped to them, I called my husband who was leaving Home Depot and we agreed to meet at my parents’ home.
On the way there, I spoke with my father who is basically immobile due to recent Achilles’ heel surgery and complications, and he explained to me that he was with Matilda on their deck (Matilda in her outside cage), and went to carry Matilda back into the house in his hands, when something startled her and she flew.
She flew about 200 yards over a lagoon and into a tree somewhere on the golf course behind their house. And this is the day after having her wings clipped at the veterinarian’s office.
I arrived at the golf course and met up with my mom and about four other concerned neighbors. My husband came shortly thereafter. After some time of looking, we were all feeling helpless and despondent.
At that point, I turned and looked into a tree behind me and spotted her vibrant red and blue colors.
Matilda was about 30 feet up in a huge oak tree and looked terrified.
My mom and I called to her and she walked out on the limb over us. It was so clear that she wanted to get to us, but didn’t know how to do it.
One of the neighbors and my husband disappeared and came back with a 25 foot ladder. My husband kicked off his loafers and climbed up the ladder into the tree and made his way towards the limb on which Matilda was clinging – wearing only his socks.
He couldn’t quite reach her. I urged him to stick his finger out as that is what she will typically step onto. He did, and she moved towards him, but the gap between her limb and his finger was still too large. Finally, he worked his way farther out on the oak tree limb and grabbed her with both hands.
But then he couldn’t climb down while holding onto her.
Another neighbor went and grabbed a pillow case and I kicked off my flip-flops (remember I just came out of bikram) and climbed 22 feet up the ladder into the crook of the oak tree, and then out a bit on the limb – all barefoot and feeling a little dizzy with vertigo and dehydration. I threw the pillow case to my husband, who put Matilda gently in the case and handed it back to me. I handed her down to a neighbor on the ladder who was able to get her down.
I came back down the ladder, grabbed the pillow case and ran across the golf course, around the lagoon, back to my parents’ house and delivered Matilda to my near frantic and heart-broken father.
My husband made it back down the ladder and everyone disbursed, after gratitude expressed. My husband, my parents and I collapsed in their kitchen, next to Matilda who was happily eating and talking in her cage, as if nothing had happened.
Someday, I think we will laugh about this afternoon. Right now, I am looking forward to relaxing tonight with one final movie – but this time a comedy … and no animals.