Sometimes I feel like a motherless child. *

October 14th, 2009 1:26 pm by Kelly Garbato

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Karma, a cow spared a life of suffering on a “small ranch” by the farmed animal sanctuary Gentle Barn. After they ferried her to safety, Karma’s rescuers soon realized that she had recently given birth, and was crying out in misery for her child, who had been left behind. Long story short, Gentle Barn was able to persuade the rancher to relinquish custody of Karma’s baby, who they named Mr. Rojas. Mother and child were reunited, and months later – much to Gentle Barn’s surprise – Karma gave birth to another calf. Happily, Karma and sons will be able to live out the rest of their lives in safety and security, together as a family – the way it should be, for animals everywhere.

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Unfortunately, precious few stories have such a happy ending. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Karma’s tale when I received this press release from Farm Sanctuary:

Lamb Born in Transport Truck on Way to Bronx Slaughterhouse Finds Refuge at Farm Sanctuary as Mother Goes to Slaughter

Watkins Glen, NY – September 22, 2009 – A lamb born on a transport truck on the way to a Bronx slaughterhouse was rescued yesterday by Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, and brought to their shelter in Watkins Glen, NY. The minutes old lamb was discovered by a Good Samaritan who was shopping at an Italian market just a few doors down from the slaughterhouse when the truck arrived. Wanting to get a closer look at the sheep as they were unloaded, the woman walked over to the truck and was shocked to discover a newborn lamb among the herd, as well as a less fortunate lamb who had been trampled to death during transport.

When she brought the lamb to the truck driver’s attention, he grabbed him and handed him to her, explaining that one of the sheep must have given birth on the truck. When asked by the concerned citizen if it would be possible to reunite the struggling newborn with his mother, the driver told her there was no way to identify the lamb’s mother, as there were more than one hundred sheep on the truck. Refusing to leave the abandoned lamb alone to starve or be trampled to death by the flock, the woman convinced the slaughterhouse manager to relinquish him to her. As the lamb’s mother went to slaughter, she took the newborn home to her Yonkers residence, where he spent the first five days of his life growing very attached to the woman’s elderly mother— who he reportedly followed around the house like a puppy.

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“We are so thankful we were able to rescue this sweet lamb, who was born under circumstances no animal should ever have to endure,” said Susie Coston, Farm Sanctuary’s national shelter director. “Having witnessed the deep and loving bond between mother sheep and their lambs at our sanctuary, we know first-hand how traumatic this experience must have been for both mother and baby. Unfortunately, such tragedies are an all too common result of a profit-driven industry that rips babies away from their mothers and packs sensitive, intelligent animals onto trucks so densely they cannot move, causing many to die before they even reach the slaughterhouse. This lamb may have been born under horrific circumstances, but he will live at our shelter as an ambassador, educating thousands of visitors from all over the country about the plight of animals whose first and only taste of life is the inside of a sweltering transport truck or a dark, filthy factory farm.”

The lamb is the latest to join the more than 200 farm animals rescued from New York City over the last several years and brought to Farm Sanctuary, most likely after escaping from one of the city’s numerous live markets. Just before Labor Day, a severely ill baby goat named Evan was rescued near the Hutchinson River Parkway in the Bronx and brought to Farm Sanctuary, where he joined Isadora and Duncan, two baby goats rescued just a little over a month before in the same area. Last year, a 25-pound pygmy goat named Goodwin, one of Farm Sanctuary’s beloved residents, was discovered by New York City police near 141st Street and St. Ann’s Avenue in the Bronx— just a few blocks from where another Farm Sanctuary resident, Lucky Lady— a seven-month-old lamb who escaped slaughter and made international headlines— was found in June 2007. Other famous New York City escapees who now live at Farm Sanctuary include Maxine, a cow found running through the streets of Queens in 2007; Joey, a goat found wandering through Brooklyn in 2007; and Queenie, a cow who escaped a slaughterhouse in Queens in 2000.

Whereas most “food” animals are referred to by number and tag, the orphaned lamb has since been given a name, a face and an identity: Angelo. (Or rather, his name, face and identity have finally been acknowledged by humans.) Like all sentient beings, Angelo is someone, not something.

Susie Coston offers this update on baby Angelo’s progress:

“We don’t know whether Angelo was able to nurse from his mother and receive colostrum, which is a specific type of milk produced by ewes in late pregnancy that’s rich in nutrients and antibodies. If test results indicate his protein levels are low or that he did not receive the vital immunities needed from his mother, we’ll order a full blood transfusion. But he is already gaining weight, which is a good sign, and is in very high spirits. Seeing Angelo frolic around in the sun, it strikes me how incredibly happy he seems — and we’re going to do everything possible to make sure he stays that way.”

Stories of animals rescued from torture, murder and neglect never fail to make my heart sing; the world needs more of these, for they’re what keeps so many animal advocates going. But at the same time, Angelo’s tale also makes my heart ache: born on a truck packed with terror-stricken animals bound for slaughter, Angelo witnessed his sibling being trampled to death, escaped the same fate himself, and then was torn from his (no doubt grief-stricken) mother’s side – delivered to redemption just as she was brought to slaughter. And for what? The gastronomical pleasure of a thoughtless, privileged human? No parent, no child, no animal should have to endure this sort of suffering – certainly, not for another being’s convenience and pleasure.

Angelo is someone’s child – not someone’s property, or someone’s meal. Someone’s child. And his mother is dead.

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Just as we celebrate Angelo’s life, we should remember his mother’s death, as well as those of his father, siblings, and kinfolk. All equally needless and tragic.

Think of Angelo the next time to sit down to a plate of “mutton” or sip a glass of milk.

And then, don’t.

Updated to add:

Farm Sanctuary sent me a link to a video of lil’ Angelo from their You Tube account – such an adorable child, he is. The must-see moment comes at 45 seconds.

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* Lyrics from Freedom.

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One Response to “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child. *”

  1. Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child Says:

    […] Long story short, Gentle Barn was able to persuade the rancher to relinquish custody of Karma’s baby, who they named Mr. Rojas. Mother and child were reunited, and months later – much to Gentle Barn’s surprise – Karma gave birth to another calf. Happily, Karma and sons will be able to live out the rest of their lives in safety and security, together as a family – the way it should be, for animals everywhere. Thanks […]

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