We all know by now that climate change is real. With ever higher temperatures, bad air quality, mountains of plastic waste threatening to destroy our oceans…many of us feel a growing sense of rage and helplessness. What can one person do to stop the mindless, ignorant greed that is destroying the most important thing we have: Our home, Earth.

Despite clear indications that we may have passed the point of no return, there are signs of hope. Costa Rico has recently banned ALL fossil fuel. Panama has become the first Central American Nation to completely ban plastic bags, joining sixty other countries who have partially or totally banned single use plastic bags. Many are working to outlaw plastic straws, single use plastic bags and plastic service utensils. Ultimately, it is up to the residents of highly industrialized, wealthy nations to take control and vote with our wallets.

We cannot expect the corporatocracy of the United States to do anything we are not willing to do ourselves. Corporations exist only for their bottom-line. The citizens of the first world must show our willingness to buy green products and forgo those that are damaging our health and environment. The only language known by the greedy is money, so speak to to them by refusing to buy toxic, non-biodegradable, obsolete products. Bankrupt corporations that refuse to care about the future. Stand up for Earth: #VoteWithYourWallet.

WHAT CAN EACH PERSON DO?

#1 BUY SILICONE FOOD STORAGE BAGS & STOP USING PLASTIC BAGS, INCLUDING SHOPPING BAGS, ZIP LOCK BAGS AND FOOD WRAP.

Did you know that plastic in your food might be making you fat? Exposure to BPA, phthalates, and other plastics additives has been clearly shown to reduce fertility, reduce male sexual function and sperm quality, impair immune function, contribute to Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. In fetuses, BPA exposure was correlated with an increased risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, and childhood obesity.

If you are trying to become pregnant, you might want to avoid ALL plastic food wrap and containers. DEHP, a phthalate found in food packaging, has adverse reproductive effects in doses up to 25,000 times lower than previously imagined. They also noticed reproductive tract malformations in the male offspring of mice that were fed DEHP in oil. Toxins from plastic bags leach into food, especially if it is frozen or heated. More so if you microwave food wrapped in plastic. Did you know that you can buy reusable, food-grade silicone food bags for use at home? These are a great replacement for plastic zip-lock bags. hey are washable, reusable and actually keep food more fresh than regular plastic. A GREAT WAY TO REDUCE PLASTIC IS TO PURCHASE FOOD-GRADE, SILICONE STORAGE BAGS.

Amazon Link For Silicone Food Bags

Many people bring their own reusable bags to the store, which is a great trend. But if you go home and store your food in plastic, zip-lock bags, you are exposing yourself and family to numerous toxins, and these also end up in your body? If that wasn’t bad enough, zip-lock bags often end up in the ocean, choking sea life, soiling beaches or stuck to The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a 600,000 square mile of floating island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean. Why contribute to such a mess?

#2 USE BEESWAX FOOD WRAP INSTEAD OF PLASTIC WRAP Smells lovely, reusable and safe. Beeswax Food Wrap is a great alternative to plastic.

Amazon Link For Bee’s Wax Food Wrap

#3 USE ONLY GLASS OR PYREX FOOD STORAGE CONTAINERS.

It has been well-documented that plastic from food wrap and storage containers leaches into food, especially if that food is acidic. Always store your left-overs in Pyrex or glass containers. Pyrex and glass last longer and withstand the dishwasher without warping. We have had many of our Pyrex containers for years.

Amazon Link To Pyrex Food Storage Jars

#4 CARRY WATER IN STAINLESS STEEL WATER BOTTLES

Besides the horrendous environmental impact of plastic water bottles, there is consensus among scientists that plastics leach into food and water from containers. Plastic water bottles that have been sitting in a hot car or transport truck, almost certainly have contamination. If you carry a plastic water bottle to the gym or hot yoga class, even more plastic will enter your system. One way to lower the amount of plastic chemicals in your system is to carry your daily water supply in a stainless steel bottle. These bottles are pretty inexpensive and last indefinitely.

Amazon Link To~

   Stainless Steel Water Bottles

SOME FACTS:

PLASTIC BAGS: * More than 200,000 plastic bags are dumped into landfills every HOUR! *BPA’s in plastic are associated with early puberty in females, lowered sperm counts, altered functions of reproductive organs, obesity, altered sex-specific behaviors, and increased rates of some breast, ovarian, testicular, and prostate cancers. *Even ‘BPA-free’ plastic contains hormone disruptors. A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives states that products as varied as water bottles, children’s cups and food wrap, leach chemicals that act like the sex hormone estrogen. *According to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, when food is stored in plastic bags, chemicals can leach into the food and then be ingested. This also includes plastic wrap, which is made up of similar components. These chemicals have been linked to tissue changes, genetic damage, chromosomal errors, miscarriage, birth defects, early onset of puberty and hormonal changes. In children, chemical leaching can cause harm to their developing immune system and can result in disrupted hormones and behavioral problems. Add to this respiratory issues, reproductive issues, and cancer.

Take back control of your life. Take back our environment. Do not wait for the laws to change, because they may not change fast enough. Put your health and your family’s health first. STOP USING PLASTIC.

THE LION & TIGER DIARIES: Saturday, Aug. 6th, 2016

Sand Fire

Sand Fire

Finally made it back to Shambala today (Sat, Aug. 6th, 2016), with a fair amount of trepidation. Recently, a massive fire burned for several days, scorching the land all around the Soledad Canyon preserve. Miraculously, all the animals and a handful of brave people who stayed throughout the blaze, were unhurt. The fire had burned right up to the edge of the compound. We expected that animals (and humans) would be suffering from smoke inhalation, and possibly heat stroke. At the least, we were sure that the more than 30 big cats would be anxious, fearful or agitated.

As we turned onto Soledad Canyon Road, a pungent, burnt moss smell filled our noses. Within a half mile, the rolling hills touched by light green changed to scorched and barren. Blackened hillsides, trees turned to standing charcoal skeletons, charred and abandoned campsites— the landscape resembled a post-apocalyptic nightmare, all covered with a heavy, bluish haze. Did I mention the heat? At eleven am, it was already over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.IMG_5334

Chris Gallucci, the director at Shambala, met the group of  “adoptive parents” at the gate. Chris is generally cheerfully gruff, with a ready, cinematic cowboy smile. But today he was downright grim. He had stayed on the property, along with helper Darby and the amazing Tippi Hedren, fighting the blaze alongside firefighters. They weren’t going to leave the animals, no matter what. They had defied evacuation orders, and protected Shambala with their lives. Usually Chris loves all questions about the cats, but today he just said “I’m not gonna talk about the fire right now.” We got it, and followed him inside the compound gates.

Chris Galucci

Chris Gallucci

One Saturday a month, a dedicated group of people who have chosen to “adopt” one or more of the cats living at Shambala, come and visit their babies. With the help of Darby and a couple of volunteers, you get to give each cat a treat (a large hunk of raw meat still on the bone) and hang out with the animals. The cats look forward to this ritual as much as the humans, if perhaps for different reasons.

Shambala is unique, and completely unlike visiting a zoo. The animals are treated more like honored guests as opposed to caged objects for gawkers. Former actress, Tippi Hendren, star of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”, (still surpassingly beautiful in her eighties), has created a sanctuary out of love. The place is an oasis in the desert. But there is more.

Sheer magnificence, obvious intelligence and nobility are a few reasons big cats are great to be around. But the feeling one gets from proximity to the cats is hard to categorize. Mysterious, subtle, ecstatic– I can only liken the experience to a state of high consciousness. Big cats are naturally in meditation. They are the Kshatriya of the animal world. Noble warriors of high spiritual attainment.

Darby Feeds Zoe

Darby Feeds Zoe

Big cats radiate energy; high, pure, powerful energy. Being around lions and tigers feels a lot like sitting near an enlightened master. The molecular structure of the air palpably changes. Reality heightens; you are in the company of a perfected being. Even in captivity their regal nature is unmistakable.

Big cats are a microcosmic example of the Divine, a piece of biological engineering that combines greatest beauty with maximum effectiveness. One cannot imagine a creator adding anything to them to make them any better. They are absurdly beautiful as well as the most efficient predators on the planet.

Yet, there is a poignant quality as well. Lions, tigers, leopards, in fact ALL wild cat populations, are in rapid decline across the globe. The attrition is astonishingly fast. Some reports say that up to 90% of wild lions and tigers have disappeared in the last twenty years alone. Hunters killing lions is the moral equivalent of allowing people to go after Buddhist monks for sport. Only a monster of low consciousness would kill such a creature.Trophy Hunting Is Not Conservation

Hunted nearly to extinction in the wild, big cats everywhere are in immediate danger. “Civilized” countries still permit trophy hunting, one of the most despicable and psychotic of all “sports”. The immense tragedy of this sets in when you are near the animals. That someone would find killing a lion or tiger “fun” is one of the many appalling realities of this world.

The intrinsic irony here is that we have reached a historical moment when the pens are to protect the cats from humans, and not the reverse. Great cats were made to run free, and no one can escape the knowledge that penning them is most likely not their first choice. Nevertheless, at Shambala they have shelter, are well fed and have veterinary care. They are in safe, large, enclosures; not caged.

Tippi & Lion

Tippi Hedren & Lion

Tippi has rescued big cats from far and wide. Many come to Shambala after someone realized that a lion or a tiger wasn’t a great idea for a house pet. Michael Jackson’s lion, Sabu, now lives at the preserve, barely able to walk after the “Neverland Zoo” had his claws removed. There is a mountain lion living there that someone found under their porch, and with good sense, brought to Shambala. Tippi tells a story about a New York City man who shared his two bedroom apartment with a full-grown lion! Cougars, panthers, tigers orphaned by hunters… Tippi has taken them all.

Once inside the preserve, we find the cats changed by the fire, but not in the way we expected. They are active, prowling, moving about in the intense midday heat. Not anxious or traumatized, the cats seem, well… HAPPY. A couple of them react to Darby as a house cat might, rubbing their heads on the fence near him, greeting him affectionately. Yes, they are getting food, but we’ve been here before at feeding time, and they were not like this. At first, we assume that perhaps they are still riled up from the danger, maybe adrenaline is still in their systems. But Darby tells us that they were mostly calm during the blaze, except for when the Black Hawk helicopters were flying 400 feet overhead to make a water drop.

Lily Lion

Lily Lion

The animals approach the fence playfully, making deep, guttural purrs. Alert and receptive, the legendary aloofness of big cats is all but absent. A couple of the lions, usually a little distant, make ready eye contact with us. They react to the visitors as welcome friends, rather than with the weariness of an objectified being. One of the lions does a loping dance back and forth along the fence, looking out with curiosity, and yes, smiling at everyone.

After a moment or two of wonder, it becomes obvious that the big cats have bonded with the humans in a deeper way. Even with the exceptional care they receive, the animals clearly know that these people chose to protect them with their lives. There is no mistaking what we are seeing, the animals are showing appreciation.

Darby & Zoe bond

Darby & Zoe bond

The humans and big cats at Shambala Preserve went through the fire together, and came out with a renewed understanding and love for each other. The close call with fire appears to have caused a tiny mutation to both human and big cat. Whatever ingrained, false ideas any of us hold that keep us believing that animals are less conscious, cannot understand, or feel less than humans do, eroded further. A chunk of ignorance separating us from other sentient beings on this blue planet also got incinerated during the seven days of raging fire. Forged in heat and danger, solidifying into trust, a new recognition had arisen between species. Wary friends became loved allies, and instead of loss and sadness, we found something miraculous uncovered by the flames.

Love to All.

S. C. Light