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Kids and animals frolic side by side in the movies, though in real life we all know that wildness can't be tamed. One director, Carroll Ballard, has made a career out of exploring the real story between children and creatures -- films like Black Beauty, Never Cry Wolf and Fly Away Home have become classics because they don't preach or pretend when it comes to domesticity and wildness. Ballard's latest masterpiece, Duma, is the story of a young boy who raises a cheetah cub to maturity and, after his father's death, travels across the Kalahari desert to release the grown animal back to the wild. In Ballard's masterful hands, the boy's passion to fullfill his father's wish (that the cheetah return to the bush) becomes a metaphor for childhood's end. With spectacular cinematography, a sense of what it's like to live in the desert and memorable scenes of true wildness, Duma blurs the distinction between human and beast for a brief interlude. When Duma returns to the wilderness, our children wept as though they'd lost their best friend.
Feeling a connection to wild animals is so powerful that some people decide to raise one in their home. We visited our local Wildlife Rescue Station, where they rescue and rehabilitate wild creatures at the sad end of such domestication attempts. We toured the small, working facility with an enthusiastic volunteer who knew every inhabitant's history. It turns out that cute baby alligators outgrow bathtubs and pet monkeys will eventually bite. But every creature receives state-of-the-art treatment at the Eco Station (a bobcat is re-clawed, a lizard gets his lip re-attached). The lesson that you can't tame a wild creature was most curiously displayed after we chatted with several peculiar macaws who had outlived their beloved owners. Our ultra-domesticated children quickly got the message - don't try this at home!
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Visit a Wildlife Rescue
Google Search Term: Wildlife Rescue and the name of your city
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