Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Tree for Zoo Animals?

I wasn't quite sure what to think when I received a press release Monday afternoon with the headline, "Giving Tree spreads holiday joy to Abilene Zoo’s animals." I've seen trees to benefit children in need and the elderly...but zoo animals? Really?

Let me begin by sounding a little hypocritical. I like animals. I have a dog that I probably treat way too well. Sadly, I'll give him his favorite toy for Christmas. It's a little pink pig that I probably give him twice a year. Every time he gets one, he rejoices...and three days later it's a pile of stuffing. So yes, I buy stuff for animals.

Back to the point at hand: When I think about giving trees, I think of something pretty sacred. I think about the poorest of poor children who won't otherwise see a Christmas. I think about elderly residents who won't get a Christmas gift because they've been abandoned by their family. With all due respect to Ryan the Rhino, the humans seem more deserving.

I think this highlights a bigger issue....humans versus animals. I can remember going on a trip with friends a few years back and driving to an intersection where a homeless person stood begging for donations. The driver quickly rolled up the window and everyone in the car acted disgusted. Moments later, we spotted a 3-legged dog stumbling through a parking lot and you would've thought they just saw Robert Pattinson. Why do we show more compassion for animals than we do human beings?

GMC DFW is currently running a poll to donate $20,000 to the most popular metroplex charity on Facebook. Users can pick between Big Brothers Big Sisters, the SPCA, and Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. Guess which organization is currently in the lead? The SPCA.

I'm not saying the SPCA isn't a deserving group...but do its animals deserve money more than the children with birth defects and neurological disorders treated at Scottish Rite?

When we air stories about abused children in our community, no one calls. No one emails. When we air stories about abused animals, the phones ring off the hook with outraged people or people who want to do something to help

The Abilene Zoo's wish list for the Giving Tree is posted online. It contains more than 125 items. The items range from $8 Bath & Body Works body splashes to $795 scales: http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/PUAR94KY4JNS/ref=cm_wl_sortbar_v_page_1?_encoding=UTF8&page=1

Again, I have no doubt the animals and trainers would love these things....but should they be part of a Giving Tree?

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