Category: animals


May 2022 bring blessings for the earth! Happiness, peace, protection, and well-being for all the trees and plants, for the mountains, the oceans, the rivers, the forests, the deserts, and all wild lands. May all wild creatures be blessed and free in the wild – and all animals everywhere be safe, protected, and happy. May all the peoples of the earth be blessed and touched with a spirit of kindness. May ancient traditions be once again revered and respected, honoring the Earth and all Her children!

Forest Voices of India

Dr. Chinny Krishna

Puppies saved from a storm drain

In December of 1959, just outside the gate of a house, two very small puppies (later named Shaggy and Grimmy – after Grimaldi) were in a tight spot. Water from a storm was rushing into a storm drain where the two puppies, about three weeks old were clinging to branches and bits of rubbish as the water rushed through. A teenager, Chinny Krishna, who was 14, was holding onto his father so that he didn’t slip, as his father leaned way over, at some risk to his own life, to rescue the puppies. His dad managed to pull them out of the drain, and they brought them into the house.

Chinny’s mother wiped them dry and bottle fed them baby formula. They stayed and lived to be around 14 or 15. His mother, sometimes with his sister Viji’s help, did all the work of looking after their animals.

The rescue of the puppies from the storm drain was, in some ways, the beginning point of Blue Cross of India – now known throughout India and internationally, as the earliest, the largest, and the most effective of the modern-day animal shelters in India.

Today the name Blue Cross of India is more or less synonymous with animal welfare in India. Known throughout India, Blue Cross is based in Chennai, where it officially began in 1964.

Founded by Captain Sundaram, Usha Sundaram, and their son, the young Chinny Krishna (now Dr. Chinny Krishna, Chairman Emeritus of Blue Cross), over the past sixty years, the organization has grown from small beginnings to a huge animal welfare group that spays/neuters and vaccinates against rabies 10,000 animals each year, while sending out its ambulances on rescue missions all over the city of Chennai to save injured animals on the street, running an excellent veterinary service for the public, taking in street animals in distress – dogs, cats, cows, and others and finding loving homes for them – just to touch on a few of their primary activities. The leadership of Blue Cross has been instrumental in ensuring that India has some of the most enlightened animal welfare laws in the world.

In the future, we will write much more about all the current work of Blue Cross, but here for the moment, are just a few stories about the beginning days of Blue Cross – one of the most beloved animal organizations in India. These are told from the perspective of Dr. Krishna, who was then the young Chinny Krishna.

Though his dad was a highly effective voice for animals and one of the first of the modern animal advocates, it was Chinny’s mother, Usha Sundaram, who spent endless hours from early morning until late at night feeding and caring for the first rescued animals. She was also – amazingly – the first woman pilot in India and flew alongside her husband (who was a pilot who often flew various dignitaries) on flights when he served as the pilot for Prime Minister Nehru. With her duties to care for the animals at home, she did not fly a lot, but was sometimes indispensable to help with flying the Prime Minister or his guests.

Rescuing animals – big and small

Another of the early rescues was a small brown Indian squirrel, one of those with three stripes down his back, as a baby, had fallen from a tree, so they brought him in and took care of him. The squirrel became quite fond of Chinny’s dad and liked to rest in his necktie. He used to run around freely in a room. After a while, they began taking the squirrel out to try to get it wild, which eventually succeeded. After five or six months, he spent most of his time outside and then moved out back into the trees, where he lived his life in freedom. Now, of course, care of wildlife is well regulated by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, but in those days kind people simply did their best to help.

A great idea

By 1959, the future Blue Cross already had quite a few animals and had some volunteers coming in to help.

Mr. D. Devasigamoli who was the vice president of the SPCA, was a frequent visitor to their house. He was a former football (soccer) player and was the national president of the football society of Madras.

One evening, early in 1960, he dropped by their house and they began to talk about what more could be done to help animals. The SPCA at the time was not as actively engaged as it might have been with animal rescue, and they felt that something more was needed to help animals. They formed an organization which, for the first couple of years, was called the Animal Aid Association. After that, they called it Blue Cross.

Soon, his dad had converted his car into an ambulance. One of the early animals that they rescued was a small calf.

Dawn Williams, Resident Manager of Blue Cross with a calf

A bull finds a home

The delivery men who delivered milk to people’s houses used to bring along an actual cow with them. At each house the man would milk the cow, then leave the milk in a container. When Chinny was 15, someone called their family to say that a small male calf had been abandoned, probably by one of the milkmen. Chinny went on his bicycle to check. In a neighborhood of fairly large single houses, there was a young calf, about three weeks old, lying down outside one of the homes.

Chinny cycled back home, reported this to his parents, and his mom and dad drove back in the car to pick up the calf. The calf was not looking good and was very dehydrated. A veterinarian friend of theirs, Dr. Narahari came by to attend to the calf and treated him – after which he perked up quite a bit. In their house there was a big bathing room with a boiler, about fifteen feet by fifteen feet. The calf spent most of his time there until he got bigger and graduated to going outside to roam in the yard and the garden. They didn’t give him a name because, by now they were realizing that it wasn’t good to become too attached to each animal. Some of them they were able to find homes for. Two years later they found a good home for the bull with a family who had a large house on an acre of land in an area of Madras called Adyar.

Check back for future stories about Blue Cross and the kind and compassionate animal welfare practices in India.

Photos:

First photo: Sharon St Joan
Second photo: Blue Cross of India
Third Photo: Blue Cross of India
Fourth photo: Sharon St Joan

“This is what happens when you instill in the children the values of life, love, respect, kindness and compassion for animals. Mamai and her two cute dogs are so friendly as a result of her participation in LAWCS’ humane education program. The dogs are relaxing because they have trust and confidence in Mamai.”

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“The results of our humane education are real and physical. The connection between the kids and the animals is so fascinating. This is Cecelia and her lovely pet dog “CHAMPION ”. According to Cecelia, her participation in LAWCS humane education program has greatly cemented her love and affection for animals.”

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For more information, or if you’d like to donate to the Liberia Animal Welfare and Conservation Society, please visit their Facebook page or their website at https://liberiaanimalwelfaresociety.org

Photos and text in quotes: Liberia Animaal Welfare and Conservation
Society

Kangaroo wouldn’t pose for a photo, so this is another bonnet macaque.
Shantanu Kuveskar, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

First, Kangaroo isn’t really a kangaroo (because this is India, not Australia). Actually, he is a bonnet macaque, a monkey, who weighs seven and a half pounds (3.39 kilos). On November 3 of last year, he had an accident. Some very kind people rescued him and he was transported from a southern suburb of Bangalore to the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre. Monkeys, of course, climb to get from place to place, and he had been swinging along on the electric wires over the main road in order to get across it when he was electrocuted.

For any birds or animals, electrocutions tend to be really serious, and his prognosis for survival was indeed grave. For three months, he received lots of treatments and then had to have three of his limbs amputated. (The photo is of a different bonnet macaque, not Kangaroo.)

Amazingly, he was a cheerful monkey through everything. He recovered and nothing seemed to dampen his spirits.

When he was moved into the large monkey enclosure which had special platforms for easy movement, he was with other young, orphaned monkeys. Dr. Roopa writes that “Kangaroo immediately took charge of them all, in spite of his handicaps, and he could be seen, grooming them, playing, and enjoying their company.”

With just one leg, he used his tail to help him balance, and he hopped with great ease just like a kangaroo, hence his name. With his handicaps, he wouldn’t be able to be released and the plan was for him to live permanently at the center. Being a clever monkey, Kangaroo made his own plans. He watched and observed the routine at the center, and one day, while the keeper was in the enclosure doing cleaning, he managed to slip right past him and out the door.

Of course, he wasn’t going far. Now he still lives at the center, but he’s free to move anywhere and can be found hopping from tree to tree, having the time of his life, just as if he had all four limbs.

He gets a delicious dinner – a plate of his favorite food like shelled ground nuts, banana, cucumber, corn, sweet potato, pomegranate, carrots, and beans is placed up on the roof for him, which he polishes off. He has a good friend and companion now – another resident monkey, Taatha, which means grandfather, who is there for lifetime care and is also free to move about the center.

Thanks to Dr. Roopa’s expertise and the good efforts of his caregivers, Kangaroo is strong and feels well.

Despite all he has gone through, he is an amazing monkey, with an indomitable spirit. He’s made new friends and has done very well for himself – now living out his life in a great place – with no electric wires, no cars, or pollution – just an idyllic, beautiful green forest, with people to feed him.

Under the leadership of Dr. Nanditha Krishna, the CPREEC (C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Environmental Education Centre) in Chennai, India, has restored 53 sacred groves, over the past thirty years – bringing back the original flora and fauna and restoring these small forests with the same species of plants and animals which always lived there in the past, providing once again beautiful tranquil lands which the people living nearby had treasured in the past. Each village in India once had a sacred grove. Now, the village people themselves maintain and care for these restored sacred forests and the abundant wildlife that live there.

These ancient sacred groves represent one of the amazing traditions of India, which has traditionally valued and preserved the life and the beauty of the natural world.

Dr. Nanditha Krishna is an environmentalist, art historian and well-known author of over twenty-five books about the art, culture, and the natural world of India. Among these are Hinduism and Nature, Sacred Animals of India, and Sacred Plants of India.

Listening to this short video, you will be transported to the city of Chennai where you will be among the tall, peaceful trees of the CPREEC and CPRA Foundation centers, yet not far from the busy city life of nearby streets.

Just as they did during the lockdown a year ago, Blue Cross has been giving thousands of meals every day to the street dogs in Chennai, in the south of India.

During normal times, many street dogs hang out around tea shops and restaurants where customers give them handouts. During the lockdown these businesses have all been closed, and the dogs have been left with no source of food, so the feeding by the Blue Cross volunteers has saved their lives.

Chefs to the rescue

This has been a huge undertaking. Blue Cross has coordinated cooking the food – dog food in India is cooked and is a healthy mixture of rice and other nutritional ingredients and supplements. They have worked with chefs in restaurants and hotels who have volunteered to cook the food. When the restaurants were closed, the chefs came in every day especially to do this, while Blue Cross provided the ingredients. This has been a very large expense for them – around $600 every day, and this is in addition to feeding the one thousand or so animals who they care for, at any given time, at their main shelter.

Blue Cross has organized many dozens of volunteers to distribute the food to the dogs; some of these kind people also feed the dogs during normal times, but now it’s risen to a whole new level. They also bring along food for cows and other animals out on the street. Last year Blue Cross was able to arrange an understanding with the police for the dog feeders to be out on the street during the lockdown, and this has continued this year. In some cases the police themselves have helped with the feeding.

A native breed

Most of the street dogs in India are a native breed of “All-India” dogs that arose naturally and was not “bred.” They are of medium height, with short fur and ears pointing up. For thousands of years they have existed in Indian cities. They tend to be shy, quiet, and very adept at crossing the street while avoiding traffic. They are quite used to being out on the street. The five thousand or so humane shelters in India do not and have never rounded up the street dogs to kill them in shelters. It would not have occurred to them to do so. They simply help those animals who are injured or in distress.

In 1964, Blue Cross of India began the first, continuously running, spay/neuter program in the entire world. This program has been going ever since and has never stopped; it paused only briefly during the two lockdowns for the pandemic. It is efficient and effective and is known as the ABC program because, as Blue Cross’s co-founder and chairman emeritus, Dr Chinny Krishna, says, “It is as simple as ABC.”

A long history of helping street dogs

The ABC program has always included rabies vaccinations, which have brought rabies under control throughout the city of Chennai (and eliminated it entirely during several years), saving the lives of both animals and people.

The ongoing, dedicated work of Blue Cross caring for the street dogs of Chennai has had a powerful influence on the care of dogs and other animals in cities all over India – although India has traditionally, true to their culture and philosophy – been a land which values kindness towards all animals. The ABC program maintains a steady, stable population of the dogs, who are calm and well habituated to their neighborhoods, where they can live peacefully for many years.

In addition, Blue Cross runs a very active ambulance rescue service for animals in distress, helping many thousands of dogs and other animals each year. Dogs found on the street who have formerly been pets are taken to the Blue Cross shelter and placed in the adoption program to find loving homes.

Please help Blue Cross, if you can. They have undertaken the monumental task of feeding the street dogs during this time when they have had no regular source of food. A little goes a long way. Bless you and thank you.

Photos: Velu, Blue Cross of India

In September of 2020, a juvenile spot-billed pelican (Pelicanus phillipensis) was rescued from a home in the city of Bangalore and brought to the WRRC (the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, in Bangalore, India).

When she arrived, she was shy around people and also aggressive, as a wild bird would normally be. She wasn’t yet able to fly. She wasn’t feeling well, was not eating, and seemed to have an infection, so she was treated for this and was handfed.

Dr. Roopa Satish and the caregivers realized that, probably, the pelican was from one of the city lakes and had been kidnapped, possibly to be used for meat. Fortunately, she had been rescued by a good Samaritan, who understood just where to take her and brought her to the WRRC so she could receive expert care.

Learning to fly

Before long, she was able to eat on her own and was beginning to flap her wings, lift herself into the air, and exercise her flight muscles. Soon, she was put into a larger aviary where she had a wonderful time learning to fly. After a few months though, she could fly so well that the aviary became too small for her. She was brushing her wings against the sides in flight and risking hurting herself, so she really needed to be released right away.

This was a dilemma though because there were no pelicans flying in the immediate vicinity in the Bannerghatta Forest and the city lakes were not pleasant or safe release sites due to the high volume of human activity – fishing, boating, strolling, and bird watching. They weren’t a good place for a wild bird to be.

A place of refuge

In February, 2021, the pelican was driven 180 kilometers (50 miles) to a very special village, Kokkrebelluru, which is filled with birds. The people there love the birds and even sing songs to welcome them back after their migration. Nearby there are large, clean, beautiful lakes – good places for pelicans to catch fish. There are many other species of birds, such as painted storks, ibis, and Brahminy kites. The local villagers protect the birds, so they feel at home there, and they build hundreds of nests in the surrounding trees.

This was the perfect place for the pelican. She was released there at a research center for pelicans set up by the Forest Department and overseen by a pelican researcher.

They will keep an eye on her as she learns to fish for herself and will give some supplemental feeding if it is needed. When she’s fully ready, she’ll be able to live her life free in the wild, in a beautiful, safe, protected spot of great beauty. She’ll make new friends and will be able to migrate and return again to this idyllic place, living her life in freedom as nature intended.

Thanks to thoughtful person who rescued her, the expert care given by the WRRC team, and the help of the research center and the kind villagers of Kokkrebelluru, the pelican who very nearly became dinner is now all set to have a bright and happy future.


Photo credit: WRRC

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Pexels.com

Thank you for being our home. Thank you for your sacred beauty.

May your lands be blessed and released from harm. May your oceans and waters be clean and safe for all the beings who live within them. May your forests grow tall, and your wild lands be green and filled with life. May your rocks, cliffs, and sacred mountains tower in majesty.

May your life and your spirit be healed that you may be strong and well – that your children – the birds, the animals, the plants, and all peoples — may live in peace and wellbeing.

May you be freed from oppression, tyranny, and the hand of death that you may be well once more, as nature intended. May the forces of the harmful shadow dwindle, vanish, and be gone – returned to non-existence. May the phantom demons of hate leave – fallen into the abyss, never to return.

May the beauty of your sacred spirit fly in the wind on the wings of birds, run with the swift feet of the four-legged ones, and swing with the gentle, waving branches of the juniper trees.

May all your life and your sacred spirit be blessed, honored, revered, restored, and whole.

May the sun, the moon, and the stars bless you with their radiant light and their presence.

May you rise again in joy, power, and magic, in this age and in the age that is to come.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021