"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

rabbit habits

my roommate found a domestic rabbit the other day, and has been keeping it outside under a laundry hamper with a phone book on top. i didn't find out about it until this morning, but i'm concerned for its health and safety - there are stray cats in our neighborhood - and i'm wondering if its quality of life isn't what it should be.

the moment i heard she had found, and was keeping, a rabbit, i got scared, remembering the wild baby birds my brother and i used to find as kids and try to keep as pets - tried to "save" - only to have them die within a a night or two. i suspect wild animals, or any animal for that matter, knows when it's being held captive in an unnatural state. i think domestic animals are less aware, though, because of their upbringing and ways of life and force of habit. habits are something we impose on our animals that would be against their nature and better interests, for habits are something that are evolutionarily disadvantaging. (habits make us comfortable in otherwise potentially adverse situations and give us the illusion of control over situations, they dull our awareness to changes in our environment and make us assume constancy in our lives that doesn't exist.) i even suspect that animals can get depressed and will themselves to die when they find themselves in such situations of captivity. when my brother and i tried to rescue a baby robin that had fallen out of its nest, we gave it a large box with a cloth and dry grass bed, and lots of water and birdseed, but it died the next day. i remember feeling sick to my stomach when my parents explained it needed its mom, and thinking that maybe if we'd left it outside, the mom wouldn't have been scared away and returned for her baby. i was maybe 6 or 7 at the time, but i remember thinking to myself that i'd learned an important lesson, that i think still influences me to this day: that nature can take care of itself, if humans can prevent themselves from interfering. basically, i think the world and all its animals would be better off if humans had never made efforts to control and dominate and use it, and endeavored instead to coexist in it.

so i'm conflicted. this little rabbit is trapped and i don't know how to free her. what does freedom mean for a domestic rabbit? while i can't just let her go in the woods - i suspect she'd be eaten by coyotes or an owl within a few days - i can't just let her stay in what can only be called a death trap, waiting for a flood or a carbon monoxide leak (my roommate wants to keep her in the garage!) or a stray cat to come and kill her. i want her to have the best quality of life possible, but i don't know how to give that to her, and what that means.

furthermore, it's really distressing to me because of the symbolic importance i've placed on this rabbit in the last few hours. i think about all the wild animals killed by human (in)action and interference (the animals i see everyday on the roads, the beautiful red fox i saw the other day, the first red fox i'd ever seen in my life so close, its tail blowing up in the wind, for a moment it looked like it could have just been sleeping, i had to pull my car over and call ben to cry, i was so upset), and think about the animals i've tried to save without success (the baby birds, the mauled chipmunk i should have just let die by the paws of a menacing neighbor's cat), and i think to myself, if i could just save this one animal, just this one, i could make it all better. i could stop having nightmares and feel some relief.

also, i sympathize with her. living in cramped quarters, with little view of the outside world, and in vulnerability of predators is a shitty way to live. my life has felt that way lately, like a trap, and i think that, deep down, i'd like to save this rabbit so i can feel a little saved myself.

UPDATE: and then, of course, this had to happen today in Ohio. (some idiot who had been keeping 50 exotic animals in his yard, decided to set them loose before committing suicide. local law enforcement decided it was the "right thing to do" to hunt them all down, and kill them. freakin' ridiculous. fyi, i believe in cosmic justice, and i hope that every human who hunts animals for sport spends their afterlife as a factory chicken. have i mentioned i'm unwaveringly pro-fauna?)

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