Animal Heroes of 2022
Let’s celebrate the Animal Heroes of 2022
As we wrap up the year 2022 with reusable gift wrap and a bow, let’s take a moment to reflect on how the lives of non-human animals have been positively impacted by kind and compassionate human animals, aka Animal Heroes.
This Animal Hero article has become a traditional since 2018. And, this year, friends and former Animal Heroes have nominated fellow Animal Heroes which warms my heart even more.
The Animal Heroes of 2021 and those of previous years, will always remain in my heart.
By performing intentional acts of kindness, compassion and respect, and sharing these stories, we have the ability to inspire others to do the same.
Kindness is contagious,
thank you for caring and sharing!
Who are the Animal Heroes of 2022?
- Empowering Educators : Teachers who guide others on how to respect all animals and connect with nature
- Wildlife Warriors : Brave humans who help rescue and protect wildlife
- Pet Protectors : Individuals who help strays or abused pets
- Creative Champions : Artists, writers, musicians, photographers, etc. who raise awareness and money to help animals
- Exploitation Eliminators : Humans who help exploited animals used for food, clothing, medicine, testing, entertainment, tourism, etc.
- Loving Leaders : Representatives in governing and influential positions who are working towards a systems change
- Energy Elevators : Animal healers and communicators who help animals and their owners in extraordinary ways
If you truly care about animal rights and have a passion for it, take some action. Whether it’s hands-on or political, just go for it. No matter what path you choose in life or what you decide to do, you can use your voice to educate other people and help the cause.
Amazing are the humans who teach others to respect all animals so that they learn how important it is to connect with nature. So important is the key to human survival on Earth.
Thank you goes out to ALL educators who teach this lesson to Mother Nature’s children of all ages. May your wisdom be spread far and wide.
For the past 43 years, Susan Hargreaves, founder of Animal Hero Kids, has been educating all grade levels on how to be animal heroes by creating and empowering them with inspiring films and stories from the three books “Animal Hero Kids Voices for the Voiceless“ Vol 2, a Skipping Stones Honor Award winning book for diversity and ecology and Veganza Animal Hero, a children’s picture book and YA novel, Veganza Animal Heroes.
“Animal Hero Kids is an all-volunteer kindness education charity empowering youth to compassionate action via free school presentations highlighting stories of animal rescue and advocacy and action for other animals.”
For more information on Animal Hero Kids and how you can support bringing compassion to youth worldwide, please consider making a donation here.
Where there is understanding, there is love : Education is key!
I have a deep amount of respect for humans who physically rescue wildlife. From running into the burning bush in Australia to save charcoaled koalas who are ‘paralyzed’ in such stressful situations to cutting fishing nets to free huge whales rolling around in the middle of the ocean to stopping traffic to transport a turtle crossing the road.
About the word ‘Warrior’
For some, the term warrior is triggering. Many of us don’t like war. We don’t want to fight about anything. We just want peace. I’m no different.
When coming up with these category names last year, Wildlife Warriors was the first category that came to mind because of what rescuers and protectors endure on a daily basis. They are often exposed to warlike situations, and some have even been killed by criminals while actively saving animals.
It’s not only a struggle with other humans, it’s also an internal challenge because learning how not to bring your work home takes time, energy and self awareness. Animal rescue work can be extremely traumatizing and internal work is often necessary to avoid mission burnout, depression, PTSD, etc.
While I understand the importance of language, I want to choose the most fitting words. I brainstormed other terms: Wildlife Wonderers/Whisperers/Wardens, but nothing with a W fit the job description. If you have any suggestions, please drop them in the comments below. Non-W words such as Rescuers/Guardians/Saviors/Bravehearts were more fitting, but still not quite right.
I keep coming back to Warriors. Maybe because I practice yoga every morning and often find myself in the Peaceful Warrior pose which gives me strength, mindfulness, confidence and bravery, the main ingredients needed for this kind of work.
So, maybe it’s just a matter of shifting perspective. If this word triggers you, or even if it doesn’t, I invite you to:
- Deeply breathe in slowly, hold for 5 seconds, and then breathe out slowly
- Stand up and move to a more open space
- Make your way into the peaceful warrior position
- Feel into it and whisper to yourself, ‘I am strong’, or whatever it is you feel you need at this time.
Here’s an entire 27 min. yoga practice of the Peaceful Warrior to “help you find peace of mind both on and off the mat” as Adriene says. Enjoy.
For those about to rescue wildlife, I salute you!
I had the pleasure to learn about Chinedu because he was nominated by Carly Åhlén, last year’s Wildlife Warrior. Chinedu is the Director of Green Fingers Wildlife Conservation Initiative, a non-profit organization with the mission to “bring people closer to nature, conserve wildlife species and equip the future generation with the skills to wildlife conservation and sustenance”.
Chinedu’s story about Paula, the pangolin he rescued earlier this year. Let’s hear it from him: “Well, I have many Animal Hero stories but the one that speaks so loudly is my encounter with a White Bellied Pangolin.
“I found her at a wet market to be sold for food. She was still alive (barely), but I didn’t have any recovery material/first aid kit so I rushed to the sanctuary (where other rescued animals are kept) and on arrival she just had a few breaths left.
“She was definitely dehydrated and the first thing I did was to force water down her mouth. As I did that, she stretched out her tongue as a sign of relief and maybe gratitude. I followed through with a mixture of formula with protein, fats and some necessary vitamins and to my amazement, she came through – it was like she resurrected from the dead – I was so relieved.
“We named her Paula. She integrated well with the other Pangolins and for the first time, we witnessed her feeding other small pangolins. Her rehabilitation ran smoothly and after six months in mid December 2022, she was released into the wild as she has successfully completed her rehabilitation. She was placed in a protected forest where we hope she will live out the rest of her ant-eating life.
“Paula has been instrumental in raising awareness and teaching children about her species. She has inspired artworks and many writings done by children which will secure the future of pangolins in Nigeria.
“The current fate of pangolins in Nigeria and Africa is glum as they are hunted, killed and trafficked in hundreds of thousands, but with acts like this, we believe there is hope to restore Paula’s species.
“Paula is one of the most exciting and endangered species we’ve rescued and catered for – hers is a story of second chances!”
Green&Blue Nature Ltd
As Faye Treffry from Team Green&Blue Nature says: “In a world facing a biodiversity crisis, we really believe that any new building created without provision for nature is a missed opportunity to help protect nature.
Their mission is to give nature a home as they “believe passionately that every new house built needs to provide a home for wildlife as well as for us”.
Their entire business focus is about protecting wildlife species and they do this by designing and making a range of wildlife products to create habitat.
This year they’ve been focussing more and more on working with construction companies to make sure that integrated nesting sites for species like swifts, bats, bees and sparrows are built into new homes, creating nooks and crannies for nature in spaces where otherwise they are are completely closed off.
Green&Blue Nature’s bee bricks and swift houses have been made compulsory to install in new buildings and certain types of extensions in Brighton and Hove. This is a huge win for nature and best part, others are noticing. Over 100 other councils in England are contacting Brighton to discuss how they’ve made these changes! Read more about this here.
They’re also working with Cornwall Wildlife Trust to re-open a nature reserve near their workshop, home to reed warblers, corn bunting, kingfishers and otters!
Vultures get a bad rap being on ‘that’ side of the food chain and looking kinda ‘rough’. Oh, the prejudices we have about beauty as a human animal species… With their fairly bald heads, they are able to biodegrade food laying around without getting their non-existing feathers all messy. Pretty clever I think. I especially like the scarf around their necks.
While they’re associated with death, they are misunderstood because they also represent transformation and because of their cleansing abilities, rebirth and change. Vultures are not an omen to fear, but a message to listen to, and a symbol to respect.
After my call out for animal heroes on LinkedIn, the CEO of VulPro, Kerri Wolter, was tagged by a mutual connection and this is just one story that was shared by a VulPro volunteer, Laura Nelson: “Doing vulture rescues can be exhilarating, heartbreaking, or hilarious, or really fun and games. It all depends on the day and the bird. Volunteers have to be ready to do anything to get the birds to VulPro alive.
“On 16 August 2022 we had a rescue from a Nature Reserve just outside Vryburg, South Africa. We started early, as usual, in very cold conditions. Temperature of -7C! I collected Peter, another rescue volunteer, from Bryanston, and we went on our merry way.
“My normal rescue vehicle is a Ford Bantam. However, it was in for repairs and Philipp lent me his Opel Corsa for this trip. It has a canopy without side windows, and I was concerned about airflow in this canopy. We also had previously experienced that somehow the exhaust fumes get into it. Because of this, Philipp had taken it in for a modification to the exhaust. He felt sure that the problem was resolved. I was less easily convinced, and told Peter that we have to check whether it would be safe for the bird to travel in the back.
“Peter was the guinea pig while I drove. He hung his head through the connecting window into the canopy and took deep breaths. The verdict – full of exhaust fumes! We then tried a few other alternatives, like driving with the back door partly or fully open, driving with the tail gate open, but none of these options made any difference, the fumes filled the canopy. Driving with the connecting window open put the fumes into the cab. Also not acceptable.
“Fortunately Peter survived the testing procedures. The only alternative was that the vulture will have to travel with us in the cab, but the crate was too big. We had to get hold of a cardboard box. No way was the bird going to be euthanised with exhaust fumes or held on our laps without some protection for us! Luckily Peter managed to source some small boxes and tape in one of the towns on the route. We reached Vryburg with no further delays.
“The AWB vulture was safely secured in a smallish enclosure, and had to be caught. It was quite feisty, and was prepared to put up a fight. It had a broken wing and had obviously been grounded for quite some time, and was very thin, but it was still strong.
“Apparently it was brave enough to walk into a kraal with the cattle on a nearby farm, and could be rescued. The rescuers took it to the Nature Reserve where it was fed and given water by the manager Rikus. Peter fabricated a slightly bigger box by combining two boxes and taping them together, and punched holes into it for ventilation.
“After safely depositing the vulture into the box, Peter held the box on his lap during the first part of the trip. By now it was midday, the sun was shining, the temperature was much higher, and we drove with both windows open to ensure that the bird would have enough airflow.
“It wasn’t long before Peter informed me that the lice was coming out of the box through the holes! We changed places after a couple of hours, and I held the box, with the lice still crawling through the holes. We were both itching and scratching madly! One could only laugh at the situation, and bear up. The bird did not seem to mind its slightly cramped quarters, and finished the trip in good spirits.
“Luckily the Corsa was also getting into the fast driving mode like the Bantam. It just wanted to get the vulture to VulPro as quickly as possible. On reaching VulPro, and after being assessed and carbodusted, it was given food. It could not eat fast enough. It was sooo hungry!
“Although its wing would be amputated, and the vulture would become another permanent resident at VulPro, it was a successful and fun rescue. May its offspring get back into the wild and help save the species”
To those about to protect animals, we salute you!
Pet protectors are those lovely souls who rescue and protect the non-human animals we call family. Let’s honor the Pet Protectors of 2022!
Click on each photo above and below for a larger view.
Lynette was nominated as a ‘Pet Protector’ from her dear school colleague who so kindly wrote: “Lynette has dedicated her life to rescuing animals. She frequently takes in stray and injured animals from the community and helps them get veterinary care and find a good home. She has taken in very elderly and severely injured animals to show them love and ensure they don’t die alone.
“She is also a foster, board member, and officer of Life Savers Animal Rescue since 2004. They accept animals from high-kill shelters into their small network of foster homes until they can find permanent homes for them.
“Lynette left her job recently and now also works for Dog Is My Copilot, coordinating rescue flights from high-kill shelters to rescue organizations.
“She has several rescues in her private home (which is really well set up) at a time. What I love about Lynette is that she does such a wonderful job sharing the stories of the animals on social media. She inspires others to get involved as well and has helped countless animals find safe and happy homes.”
What fascinates me about Lynette’s story is that she left her job to fully pursue her passion of connecting dogs with loving families. My heart also goes out to all the volunteers at Life Savers Animal Rescue and Dog Is My Copilot, a kind of organization I had no idea existed, but it just goes to show us that there are no limits in animal welfare. The possibilities of how we can help animals are boundless.
We only need to combine our talents and passion, collaborate with others, and just do it!
Animal War Heroes
I can not write about pet protection this year without honoring those who helped rescue pets left behind in the Ukraine or who helped refugees bring their pets across borders.
Not only do pets bring an enormous amount of comfort to us when we’re stressed regardless of the severity, they also experience anxiety as innocent war victims and need a lot of care and love.
Anastasiia Yalanskaya is a true hero who’s name we must never forget. After delivering food to an animal shelter in Bucha, 30 km outside Kyiv, she and two volunteering friends were shot dead by Russian troops. Read more about Anastasiia here.
With organizations such as Paws of War, IFAW, the Ukrainian Pet Rescue Project, Humane Society International and Romanian Red Cross, and many more volunteers help humans and their pet survive wars with providing food, shelter, blankets, etc.
Sending many well wishes to all those affected by war.
May we one day learn as a collective to respect all animals, humans included.
Seeing is believing and what most effectively change people’s behaviors within their own belief system is virtually seeing it.
So when creative people use their talents to show nature’s beauty, people begin to view nature with a new perspective. They begin to understand the impact we, as human animals, are making. Both negative and positive.
Which is why I added this category, so that we can honor these creative humans who have found a way to use their talent for a good cause.
The most important cause in my honest opinion because if we continue to commit ecocide (causing massive destruction to our planet), we will have an extremely hard time surviving as a species.
Who are the Creative Champions of 2022?
Kate on Conservation
As a wildlife conservationist, campaigner for animal rights, and author, she has interviewed Dr. Jane Goodall and Sir David Attenborough, attended protests with Chris Packham and does everything in her creative power to help make this world a better place for wildlife. All the while keeping up with her blog and contributing to National Geographic Kids and other nature-related media.
Her Kate on Conservation Blog “is a wildlife blog that gives a voice to the voiceless by highlighting important issues, individuals and organisations in the fight to protect our planet’s wildlife – something that is becoming ever more important in these current times, as we are faced with both a biodiversity and a climate crisis.”
Light and Shadow TV
I had the privilege to narrate the scratch version for a nature documentary last year as a voice talent. A scratch version is a non-finished version that is used to sell to the media, in this case, National Geographic.
It was rewritten and narrated by a British voice talent and I’m happy to announce that Light & Shadow’s Nature’s Magic Moments has been awarded with a GOLDEN DOLPHIN in the Category ‘Nature & Wildlife’ and a BLACK DOLPHIN for ‘Best Camera’ at the Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards 2022. Congratulations!
Nature’s Magic Moments is a 50 min. documentary film using super slow motion and time lapses to highlight kingfishers, brown hares, wild horses, bats and more, doing things you normally don’t see with the naked eye. Quite impressive!
Ce-le-brate Creative Champions, come on!
Are you an animal hero, too?
Animals have been used and abused for a very long time. Somewhere along the line, we decided we were ‘above nature’ and could do as we please with other souls sharing this place we call home. In doing that, we are affected by diseases and pandemics as well as natural disasters due to climate change.
We’re destroying our own species as well as many others, and until we embrace a deep ecological philosophy in that we humans are not above nature, we will either become extinct or have a very challenging time living on this planet.
I’m relieved to know there are caring humans who’ve made it their life’s purpose to help exploited animals. Exploited animals are those souls used for entertainment, clothing, medical reasons, food, sport, etc. The list of unnecessary abuse is endless.
Who are this year’s Exploitation Eliminators?
Winners of the Lush Prize 2022
The LUSH Prize is organized and funded by LUSH Cosmetics and Ethical Consumer Research Association and is “the largest prize in the non-animal testing sector rewarding the most effective projects and individuals who have been working towards the goal of replacing animals in product or ingredient safety testing.”
If you’ve read anything I’ve posted this year, you may have noticed that my middle-grade eco fantasy, ‘Lily Bowers and the Uninvited Guest‘, was shortlisted for the Lush Prize 2022 in the category of ‘Public Awareness’.
Even though being shortlisted is a huge honor for all of us, I only want to honor the winners in this article.
🎉 New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS). Project: Removal of the social license of the notorious Forced Swim Test in NZ.
PUBLIC AWARENESS PRIZE:
🎉 Ms Carlota Saorsa & Dr Carlos Contreras. Project: Undercover investigation at Vivotecnia laboratory. This was the category I was shortlisted in for my book project, btw. 🙏🏼
🎉 The Acute Systemic Toxicity team within RTI International. Project: Mapping mechanistic pathways of acute oral systemic toxicity using chemical structure and bioactivity measurements.
🎉 Doctors Against Animal Experiments (DAAE). Project: NAT-Database: Raising public awareness for Non-Animal Technologies to promote a human-based research generating human-relevant results.
🎉 Prof.dr. Pamela Bejdic
University of Sarajevo Veterinary Facility. Project: Dual Education System as a New Tool for Improving Practical Skills and Vocational Training of Veterinary Medicine Students.
YOUNG RESEARCHER PRIZES:
🎉 Dr Arthur de Carvalho e Silva. Project: Integrating physiologically-based pharmacokinetic modelling and ‘omics data to derive health-based guidance values for perfluorinated chemicals.
🎉 Dr Sudeep Joshi, The Francis Crick Institute and King’s College. Project: A robotic process automation system for biomanufacturing animal-free in-vitro 3D tissue and organoid models for drug screening.
🎉 Dr Shagun Krishna, National Toxicology Program (DNTP), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Project: Computational Cardiotoxicology: Building an AI-assisted alternative method-based toxicity screening pipeline.
🎉 Prof. Dr. Francesca Grisoni, Eindhoven University of Technology.
Project: Combining artificial intelligence and human organoids for animal-free drug discovery: towards a paradigm shift.
🎉 Mr Artur Silva, Federal University of Goiás. Project: Lung-sens-on-a-chip model for mechanistic assessment of chemically-induced pulmonary sensitization: Providing building blocks for the respiratory allergy AOP.
ANDREW TYLER AWARD:
🎉 Dr Gill Langley
POLITICAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS:
🎉 Jytte Guteland MP, Social Democrats, Sweden
🎉 Tilly Metz MEP, Greens, Luxembourg
🎉 In-soon Nam, National Assembly, South Korea
Thank you LUSH and Ethical Consumer Magazine for your support! Thank you for being animal heroes!
Thank you, Exploitation Eliminators, for your continuous action against heinous crimes committed on animals!
People in power who care are in big demand so that a systems change can take place. True leaders want to create a better world, so let’s find out who they are!
Tilly Metz, MEP (Member of EU Parliament)
The EU Parliament is lucky to have compassionate members who understand the importance of animal welfare in our society.
Tilly Metz is President of the Parliamentary Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals and Chair of the Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport. She was interviewed on this podcast episode hosted by Eurogroup for Animals.
A fellow worm rescuer, she is highly committed to keeping the pressure on in Europe. They talked about her opinion and vision for animal transport with are as follows. She has never seen an official animal transport where you can say ‘Oh, this transport situation is OK’. Because of this, she dreams of a world where we don’t transport animals outside the EU because many countries don’t have the same standards that we have here in Europe. Unweaned calves are not allowed to be transported more than 50 km, but this does not include other unweaned animals.
So, while there is progress, not everything is perfect, however, they now have strong recommendations on paper that they can work with to be able to develop more effective systematic regulations. Even the most conservative politicians admitted that they have systematic infringements of the regulations set in 2005 and new rules must be set!
Where there’s awareness and an intention, there is action!
Thank you, Loving Leaders, for using your power , intelligence and influence to help animals, humans included, without a voice or a chance.
Did you know every human has the ability to communicate with animals? As far fetched as that may sound, it’s true. Our ancestors a very long time ago had this gift and sadly, generation and generation, it was lost. Like a language you learned in school and no longer practice.
Thank goodness there are animal healers and communicators who can work wonders. Sometimes, a simple conversation with a pet with a behavioral problem, will change that behavior. Other times, it’s more complex and the understanding and healing processes take time.
I’m currently learning animal communication from Wynter Worsthorne and have already experienced success. I find it fascinating that we all have this power within us and all we need to do is learn how to unlock it. That is, if we want to. It’s a choice.
We can learn so much from animals. Not only about what they need, but also about ourselves and how nature/life ‘works’.
The more understanding we have about them, the more respect we have for them.
A friend of mine nominated Ute as an Animal Energy Elevator. Ute Luppertz, MA, is a holistic healing coach for pets and a senior pet specialist, Reiki Master, animal communicator and Tellington TTouch practitioner.
Get inspired by these inspiring stories from her clients, compassionate pet ‘owners’ who want the best for their family members.
Read this uplifting story about how Penelope first started with animal healing through communication in 1971. She opened up the conversation with an anxious cat who immediately stopped self sabotaging herself due to trauma.
Penelope Smith is a renowned animal communicator, author of Animal Talk, When Animals Speak, Animals in Spirit, many audio recordings. View her educational products here. She is also the editor of Species Link and has built up a growing community of animal communicators worldwide.
Anne Angelo Webb, LCSW
Anne is The Animal Intuitive® who specializes in animal communication, acupressure, massage, energy work and essential oils.
I found her after searching specifically for energy work to help calm PTSD in animals triggered by fireworks because I’ve just had a conversation with a friend about this while walking Nala, my chocolate labrador. Luckily, Nala is not affected by fireworks. She notices but ignores them and just sleeps through the night, but I know many animals who are scared for days. Not to mention the poor quality of air for wildlife in addition to the noise.
Please watch this live video about how Anne approaches the subject, especially recommended for you if your pet gets anxious around New Year’s Eve, July 4th, or whenever your country allows fireworks.
I invite every human to be mindful of pets and wildlife during these traditional celebratory times by making the conscious choice of not purchasing fireworks and if inspired, to instead spread awareness about the harm caused by them.
It’s amazing what we can learn by just listening.
Are you or someone you know an animal hero?
Do you know any animals heroes? Please comment below and let’s talk!
Wishing you and your family a wonderful new year!