Wednesday, April 10th, 2004

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PAWS Mailing Address:
PO Box 1037
Lynnwood WA, 98046

PAWS Physical Address:
15305 44th Ave W
Lynnwood, WA 98037

Kevin Mack
The Choir
by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist

All around us, a choir that has been gathering members for millions of years is preparing for its annual performance. From the trees, from the bushes, from the rooftops, and from the telephone wires, every day I hear more voices warming up for spring. Some of them are already singing out, loud and clear. Others are just beginning to utter their first tentative notes. The singers come in countless different shapes, sizes, and colors, and the songs are as varied as the beings that produce them. A vast array of tunes in many different tempos, octaves, and styles is being offered up, and there is even a percussion section backing up the vocals by hammering out a beat on tree trunks, telephone poles, wood siding, or anything else with suitable acoustics. Over the coming weeks, the voices will grow, both in variety and strength, until they reach their crescendo and once again fade away. By that time, the purpose of their song will have been served, and a new generation of singers will have been introduced to the world.

For most of its history, this complex choir has been able to perform its concert with little disturbance. The acoustics have been excellent, and the performers have been very well balanced.

Barred Owl

A young raccoon in care at the PAWS wildlife center discovers a special treat in his cage.

To the untrained ear, the combination of extremely different voices may sound more like a cacophony than a unified composition. If you listen more closely, however, you will quickly realize that the combination of songs creates a work that is far greater than any symphony or opera that has ever been composed. It has never been the same twice, in all of its history, but the yearly concert performed by these singers has always stayed true to a single theme: diversity. All of the other beings that have shared the stage with the singers have done so with respect for this theme, whether they have added audible voices to the chorus or not. But in the choir's more recent history, a new type of being has appeared, and this one does not appear to be happy with the idea of merely sharing the stage.

This new being has attempted to take over as stage director, rearranging the singers and allowing them to use ever smaller pieces of the stage. Many voices have fallen silent, and others have fallen to a mere whisper. With every voice that has been lost, the song has become simpler, and the theme has been diluted. The heartiest singers, comprising only a very small percentage of the overall choir, have thrived on the newly remodeled stage, but their success has mostly been met with contempt from the self-proclaimed stage director. The future of the choir, as well as those who hear its music, has been placed in jeopardy.

Barred Owl

This red-necked grebe, recovering from a neck wound, is currently being treated at PAWS.

Just as we have chosen to place ourselves in the role of stage director, we humans can choose to follow a different path. Those of us who have heard the choir and wish to preserve it must now use our own voices. As all of the spring voices that you hear combine to support one centralized theme, we too can unite our diverse voices to form a unified choir. Much like that of the other singers' composition, our theme will be one of diversity- specifically diversity of habitat, and the importance of diversity of life. In addition to using our voices, we can find ways to support these themes with our actions. We can improve the habitat diversity on our own little sections of "stage", and we can set an example for others to follow. Through letter writing, voting, and just plain speaking out, we can oppose activities that will undermine and decrease diversity, and we can encourage others to do the same. The more voices that are added to our choir, the more likely it is that our song will be heard.

Listen to the choir around you as you go about your life this spring, but don't do so only in passing. Stop and truly listen, trying to pick out each individual voice. Imagine what it would be like if any one of those voices was suddenly absent. Imagine what it would be like if ALL of those voices were suddenly absent. Feel the weight of those thoughts, but don't let them move you to a place of inaction. The last thing the world needs is another silenced voice.

Gala Evening Benefit for the Animals at PAWS
PAWS Presents Roger Fouts 7:00 pm, Thursday, March 18th at the Renaissance Madison Hotel in downtown Seattle.

Roger is a professor of psychology at Central Washington University and Co-Director of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute. He has been a part of Project Washoe since 1967. Washoe was the very first nonhuman animal to acquire a human language, American Sign Language for the Deaf (ASL).

Enjoy a gourmet animal-friendly dinner, live auction and inspiring presentation! Click here to learn more.

Ticket Information:

$95 Individual - Admittance for one to Roger Fouts presentation, auction and dinner

$150 Select Individual - Admittance for one to all of the above, plus pre-event reception to meet Roger Fouts at 6:00 pm

Tickets can be purchased online or call PAWS Development Office 425.787.2500 x261 or x262.

Wildlife Release tally: February 18th to March 2nd, 2003

1 Barred Owl
2 Glaucous-winged Gulls
1 Thayer's Gull
4 Rock Pigeons
2 American Coot


Wildlife Release tally: 2004
42 animals

All rights reserved. 2004 Progressive Animal Welfare Society