Animal Heroes of 2023

Jan 7, 2024

Animal Heroes of 2023: Bee the change

Celebrating the Animal Heroes of 2023

As we step into the new year with inspiring intentions, let’s shine a spotlight on the compassionate individuals making a positive impact on the lives of non-human animals — our Animal Heroes of 2023.

Since 2018, this Animal Hero article tradition has flourished. Last year, nominations from friends and past Animal Heroes poured in to add an extra layer of warmth to our celebration.

While the memories of the Animal Heroes from 2022 and earlier years hold a special place in my heart, it’s time to embrace the fresh stories and inspirations that 2023 brought.

Through intentional acts of kindness, compassion, and respect, we have the power to motivate others to follow suit.

Let the kindness ripple,
thank you for caring and sharing!

Who are the Animal Heroes of 2023?

  • 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

Love of animals is a universal impulse, a common ground on which all of us may meet. By loving and understanding animals, perhaps we humans shall come to understand each other.

Louis J. Camuti

New York City cat veterinarian and author

Wildlife Warriors

My admiration knows no bounds for individuals who courageously rescue wildlife. Whether it’s braving the scorching heat in Mexico to save endangered jaguars, diving into icy waters to release trapped seals from discarded fishing gear, or halting urban traffic to aid a wandering tortoise, their commitment to our fellow Earth inhabitants is awe-inspiring.

To all those on the frontlines of wildlife rescue, I extend my heartfelt salute!

Kate Webster

Kate is a partner of VulPro in the Eastern Cape (South Africa) and is often called on to help rescue vultures. Her and her team also run the Cape Vulture captive bred program where all the captive bred Cape vultures from VulPro are presently sent to her for release.

She has many stories to share about individual rescues and this one in particular jumped out at me.

“I got a call from a young farm manager, Leon, in the Smithfield area of the Free State, informing me that he had found a very wet, bedraggled vulture sitting on a ‘mishoop’ (anthill) in the veldt.

“They had managed to catch her and take her home and placed her in the garden shed rondavel, until I could collect her. I arranged to leave early the following morning as this was a good 650km round trip (about 7 hours). I found the farm quite easily and was met by the manager and the garden worker, Shortie.

“Shortie was duly instructed to off-load the crate and to be taken to this rondavel where the bird was being kept. Shortie enthusiastically also volunteered to catch the vulture so I could briefly assess her injuries and then powder her and supplement her with fluids and vitamins in preparation for her trip home. He also proudly posed for a photograph with her.

“This is a practice normally done, to give exposure to all persons who do care and make the effort to assist the vultures. Once treated, photographed, and loaded, I headed off back home on the N6 over the Orange River back into the Eastern Cape to Rookwood.

“Once I reached home, I examined her carefully to find that she was a power line victim with some permanent damage to her outer primaries.

“I informed the manager, Leon, that she was safely in my enclosure with the others and that sadly she would not be able to be re-released again.

“To date Stoffelina, the vulture’s name, is now in my enclosure with all the other non-releasable birds, waiting to grow up to become part of the captive breeding program at VulPro.

“P.S. A year later, I collected another power line victim from the same farm and Shortie is still around and very proudly handling the vultures like a pro…”

Vultures are valuable, too!

Just discovered the amazing stories of the Animal Heroes of 2023!

These individuals, tirelessly saving and protecting animals, are genuine heroes!

 

Pet Protectors

Pet protectors, the unsung heroes who rescue and shield our furry family members.

Recently, I had the privilege of meeting two dedicated foster parents, and their inspiring stories reinforced my belief that fostering takes a truly special kind of heart!

The characteristics of a remarkable pet foster parent extend beyond compassion and love.

Patience, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to the well-being of their temporary charges are essential.

These remarkable individuals navigate the challenges of rehabilitation, nurture trust with animals in transition, and selflessly provide a stable environment, proving that fostering is a blend of empathy and a profound sense of responsibility.

Let’s celebrate these extraordinary qualities that make fostering not just a duty but a heartfelt calling.

Let’s pay tribute to the Pet Protectors of 2023!

Stacey Shaller

Nia, pitbull sweetie!
I met Stacey in the Creatives for Climate community where concerned creative humans connect and strategize about effective campaigns that inspire consumers to shop consciously, industries to act responsibly and governments to act!

In her introduction post, she wrote about fostering dogs and my heart melted, so I asked her if she would share her story with us, and she kindly accepted. Sit back and enjoy.

“I foster for Second City Canine Rescue in Chicago.

“Over the summer, they contacted me about fostering a 2 year old pitbull named Nia.

“She came to the rescue after they convinced the owners to surrender her. They had been keep poor Nia locked up outdoors without food or water.

“When Nia was dropped off at my house, she was horribly malnourished and terrified of everything.

“But, over the following few months of barely coming out of her crate, she started cuddling on the couch with us and playing with her toys. Nia’s true personality is sweet, gentle, and playful. Nia was adopted by a loving family a few months ago.”

Upon sending this way too adorable photo of Nia, she added this which is too important to not add here:

“This is Nia! She’s the SWEETEST goofball and the 6th pitbull that I’ve fostered and every single one is the sweetest, most loving dog.

“Pit bulls are by far the most common dog in the shelter system and by far the most abused but any dog who goes through the abuse that they go through could become too aggressive to be a safe pet. It has nothing to do with the breed. Pitties are the best! Thank you!”

YES to this! Thank YOU, Stacey for caring and sharing your story!

Find out more about Stacey’s work on her website.

Jonathan Terranova

“I met Jonathan on LinkedIn, and found out that he was also in the Creatives for Climate community! Obviously, a great place to be!

During a zoom chat, he just happened to mention that he fosters cats and dogs and so, I invited him to share his story, too. Grab some popcorn and a warm fuzzy blanket:

“In the past year, our family embarked on a heartwarming journey as we opened our home to nearly a dozen kittens and puppies in desperate need.

“These innocent souls had faced the harsh reality of abuse, abandonment, and neglect, with some teetering on the brink of euthanasia in overcrowded kill shelters across the country.

“Our decision to foster these vulnerable creatures not only provided them with a safe haven but also allowed us to impart invaluable lessons to our children about the importance of compassion and caring for all living beings.

“Our role as Pet Protectors, spanning the last four years, involved working closely with organizations dedicated to rescuing animals from dire situations.

“Each furry friend we welcomed into our home became a temporary haven, a place where they could find respite, recover from their traumas, heal both physically and emotionally, and, most importantly, learn to trust humans once again.

“While our love and care were crucial steps in their journey, we always understood that we were just one stop, hopefully the second-to-last, on their road to a forever home.” 

“This year, however, marked a significant departure from our usual fostering routine. Among the myriad of adorable faces that graced our home, we found ourselves unable to part with two special souls – a pair of sister kittens.

“One, a sleek, all-black short-haired beauty, we named Bagheera, after the iconic character from “The Jungle Book.” The other, a charming black-and-white furball, we lovingly called Rajah, inspired by the spirited tiger in “Aladdin.”

“The decision to keep them brought unparalleled joy to our children, who had become seasoned champions for the dozens of animals they had helped rescue in the past. In Bagheera and Rajah, our kids found not just pets but lifelong companions.

“These two feline siblings became the culmination of our family’s dedication to being a safe harbor for the voiceless and vulnerable.

“While the journey of fostering had taught us the bittersweet art of saying goodbye, this year, we joyfully embraced the role of being the last stop on the journey for Bagheera and Rajah, ensuring that they had finally found their forever home.”

Find out more about Jonathan’s work on his website.

 

Animal War Heroes

Just like last year, I want to honor those who still care for animals during a war situation. My heart goes out to all animals affected, humans included. Here are 12 stories of animal heroes in Israel who helped rescue animals deserving of a safe home and people who love and care for them.

May we, as a collective, aspire to develop a universal respect for all beings, encompassing both animals and humans alike.

Creative Champions

Creatives hold immense power to shape minds and transform perspectives.

Through their unique talents, they unveil nature’s beauty, fostering a profound connection between humanity and the environment.

This category honors Creative Champions who, through their craft, contribute to the vital cause of preserving species, including our own, from the perils of extinction resulting from our complete disconnect from nature.

Let’s spotlight the Creative Champions of 2023, the true architects of positive change!

Nathália Figueiredo

 

Meet Nathália, another talented designer I met in the Creatives for Climate community and when she presented one of her most recent projects, my heard warmed up once again. Ready to read her story?

Meet the stingless bees

“This project is a friendly infographic that aims to positively impact, preserve and raise awareness about the existence of stingless bees in Brazil and their risk of extinction.

“It was developed based on insights and research into the “colony collapse disorder” phenomenon, which has been increasing in the last two decades and is a direct consequence of human impacts on the environment such as pollution, the use of pesticides, forest fires and others.

“With the project being used in schools with 5–9-year old children, this informational system brings accessible and easy content about the importance of native stingless bees, looks to have an impact on the way they see these animals, and acts in favor of their protection in the future.

“It works as a “puzzled-pieced map,” in which each part brings gradual information about the bees, starting with an introduction about these insects, why they are important, why they are at risk and finishing with a guide on how to identify them when you see one. It is composed of three pieces: 1- the map. 2- the activity guide. 3- the box to hold the components.

“The product is used during classes with the guidance of the teacher, and it starts with all the pieces turned upside down, showing an order to be opened and discussed in group.

With time, the information is being shown and children gradually learn about the importance of these animals, that some of them are safe and can’t hurt, goaling that they start feeling less fear over bees and act to protect them in the future.

“The bees are essential, not only to maintain environmental balance but also for human existence.

We need to communicate with children in a more sensitive way so they can grow into conscious adults, not viewing bees as the villains of the story but as animals that are just as important as any other.”

Find out more about Nathália’s work on her website.

Thank you for your creativity!

Are you an animal hero, too?

Do you know any animals heroes? Please comment below and let’s talk!

Wishing you and your family a wonderful new year!

Peace and love,

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