Children

End of enmity

Animal history is replete with stories of enmity between humans and animals. On the first day of Animal Instinct Summer Camp, camp instructor Dasher the deer reinforced this age-old hatred.

“Good to see so many eager to learn survival skills that will keep you alive in a world overrun with humans, our deadliest enemy,” he said.

Beasty, a bear cub who was always hungry, growled, “But I want to learn how to hunt for food.”

Fun, a fox cub, shook her bushy tail and added, “I joined this camp to have fun!’”

“Fun! Food! What nonsense!” snapped Dasher. “Get serious. We have an enemy to fight.”

Learning to hate

“Humans are our enemy,” exclaimed Spot, Dasher’s daughter. Since birth, she’d heard her parents talk about human misdeeds and had grown to hate them just like her best friend, Scurry, a leveret.

“What did they do to you?” asked Willy, a wild cat cub.

“What a silly question, Willy,” Spot rolled her doe eyes. “Human and animals are born enemies. Haven’t your parents told you how humans hunted our ancestors and destroyed our homeland?”

“Animals too hunt fellow animals,” replied Willy.

“Speak for yourself,” snapped Spot.

“Enough!” barked Dasher. “Learn to get along with each other before you fight the enemy. Let’s begin with activities that will teach you teamwork.”

The first activity was Free A Friend . Fun lost a tooth biting through a strong creeper to free Scurry’s entangled paws. In Spot The Trap, the young campers were unable to detect the leaves covering the pits. Every single one fell in.

“You all are a disgrace,” thundered Dasher. Frustrated with their ineptitude, Dasher decided to take an afternoon nap.

“Let’s prove ourselves,” whispered Spot, careful not to awaken her father.

“But how?” asked Scurry.

“Let’s do something no camper has done before,” said Spot, as she revealed her plan.

“But why do you want to butt and bite humans,” protested Willy.

“Because they are the enemy!” guffawed Scurry.

“For fun!” whooped Fun.

“Willy’s a softy!” mocked Beasty.

Beasty takes a hand

Since the majority agreed to the plan, they targeted a new gated community at the edge of the forest. Leading them through the gate, Spot declared, “If we’re successful, all animals will hail our bravery for generations to come,.”

Sneaking past the security kiosk where a guard was dozing, they jumped behind some bushes in the garden where a few children were enjoying a picnic.

While Spot was picking her target to butt, Beasty spotted a food basket. He licked his lips. The aroma of sandwiches, cupcakes and honey made his tummy rumble. Without considering the outcome of his action, Beasty jumped in amid the picnickers.

“BEAR! RUN!” shrieked the children and scattered. Delighted to find himself alone with the food, Beasty invited the animals to join him. Hungry from their activities and the long trudge, they decided to eat first. While they were savouring the delicacies, they didn’t notice the children return along with the security guard.

On seeing the grown up carrying a baton, the animals panicked. Spot resorted to a popular trick that some animals use when they find themselves in imminent danger and played dead.

“Oh the poor thing!” gasped the children. ‘She must have fainted on hearing us shriek!’

The trick was working! Spot continued to hold her breath and kept her eyes shut. But, instead of abandoning her for dead, the guard and children lifted her up and carried her to a car. While the humans were busy with Spot, the other animals took cover behind a bushy hedge, from where they watched in horror as the car sped away with Spot.

Big Trouble

“Let’s inform Dasher,” suggested Willy.

“We can’t leave Spot behind,” cried Scurry.

“If Dasher hears of this, he - along with all our parents - will attack the humans. It will be a bloodbath,” sobbed Beasty. “And it’ll be a bloodbath.”

“Bloodbath!” Fun’s eyes welled up. “I wanted to have fun, not get anyone killed.’”

A street dog named Orphan noticed the distressed animals and asked them what happened. When they told him, he offered to help find Spot and led them to a veterinary hospital where humans had taken him when he’d been hit by a car.

“Spot must be inside,” figured Willy, as he watched humans carry injured animals inside. Being a cat, he strutted in without raising any eyebrows, while the other animals hid outside. In a room full of groaning animals -- some wearing bandages, others with limbs in casts -- Willy found Spot sprawled out on an examination table with a human caressing her head. Seeing Willy, Spot winked at him.

When the nurse left the room, Spot jumped off the table and followed Willy outside. Overjoyed to see her unharmed, the campers decided to return home. Back in the forest, Spot conceded, “I think we misjudged all humans for being hostile. Some were kind to me. I might have feigned death, but their efforts to save me were real. And inside the hospital, I saw them help animals in need.”

“Let’s tell our families about this,” suggested Scurry.

The campers’ experience dispelled the long-standing mistrust animals harboured for all humans. They realised that good and bad exists in every community.

From then on, animals no longer hated humans or considered them an enemy. The campers had truly done something extraordinary. They ended the history of human and animal enmity!


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Printable version | Jun 19, 2022 6:14:27 am | https://www.thehindu.com/children/end-of-enmity/article65359084.ece