Have you fed any elephants lately? Fixed the broken wing of a bird? Given a bat a home or welcomed a wolf?
You say you’re not a zookeeper? Maybe not, but you—all of us—are responsible for those animals and for all of God’s creatures.
Read Genesis 1:20-26. Who do the creatures belong to? Who’s supposed to care for them?
Read Genesis 2:15 and Numbers 6:24. In the Hebrew language (the language this part of the Bible was written in) God commands Adam to keep the garden. The same word (keep) is used in the blessing “The Lord bless you and keep you.” Doesn’t that tell us how we should keep God’s earth and everything in it?
Imagine this: During worship, have you stood and faced a minister to receive God’s blessing? Imagine yourself in the minister’s place and God’s creatures facing you, expecting a blessing.
Read on to discover how people care for—or keep—God’s creatures.
Making a Comeback
ELEPHANTS need lots of space and lots of food because they’re so big. But people moved into elephant territory and drove out the elephants or killed them for their ivory tusks. Elephants were almost pushed off the planet. Now special areas have been set aside for elephants to live in, and killing them is illegal. Elephants in those areas should be safe.
BALD EAGLES became very rare because DDT, a poison used to kill bugs, collected in their bodies. When they laid eggs, the shells of the eggs cracked before they were ready to hatch, and that killed the baby eagles. People stopped using DDT, and now the eagles are back.
All over the world people thought that WOLVES were dangerous pests. So people killed them whenever possible, and wolves began disappearing quickly. Then people realized that wolves are not all bad and that they’re an important part of Creation. Now wolves are protected in some areas and helped to live in others.
No one realized that KIRTLAND’S WARBLERS needed to nest in places that were burned by forest fires once in a while. When forest fires were put out in those areas, the little birds stopped nesting. At one time all the Kirtland’s warblers in the world could fit into a bushel basket. Now people burn parts of their nesting areas on purpose. Kirtland’s warblers are nesting again and raising young.
Can You Save the Bats?
Imagine that you’re in charge of Indiana bats. There aren’t nearly as many of them as there used to be. If you don’t do something to save them, they will go extinct and disappear forever. What will you do?
Here’s what you need to know about the bats:
During the summer they hunt bugs at night. In the daytime they rest in trees.
Males rest together and females rest with their young in “nurseries.”
During the winter huge groups of bats hibernate together in caves. Only certain caves will do.
Some of the bats’ hunting grounds are changing from forest to city.
Sometimes people disturb the “nurseries”; mother bats panic, drop the young, and the young die.
Sometimes people disturb hibernation caves. Then the bats wake up too early in the spring. They starve because the bugs aren’t out yet.
What’s the best thing you can do to save the bats? (The answer is at the bottom of page.)
What About the Butterflies?
Imagine that you’re in charge of Blue Butterflies. (That’s their name, but not always their color.) Their numbers are dropping. You must do something to save them.
Here’s what you know about them:
They’re small; not many people notice them.
The adult Blue Butterflies feed on nectar from several different flowers.
In their caterpillar stage they eat only one plant: wild lupine.
These caterpillars sometimes team up with certain ants. The ants protect the caterpillars from enemies, and the caterpillars make a sweet liquid in their bodies to feed the ants. Blue caterpillars that are teamed up with ants survive better than caterpillars not teamed up with ants.
Here are some problems:
Wild lupine grows naturally in areas where forest fires sometimes burn. They need sunlight to grow. When fire doesn’t burn through their habitat for a long time, other plants grow tall and shade the lupine. Then the lupine disappears.
People have moved into some of the areas where Blue Butterflies live. People don’t want fire near their homes. They also don’t want ants.
What can you do? Grow wild lupine? Maybe, but there’s more to the problem. There are several kinds of endangered Blue Butterflies. Each kind lives in a different place, depends on a different type of lupine, and teams up with different ants.
What would you do? There’s more information on this website:
Go to http://www.naba.org/index.html, then click on your country in the right-hand column to join an annual butterfly count.
What Do You Think?
Read Genesis 2:19-20. Then think about these questions:
What should you know about a creature in order to give it a good name?
What would you name an elephant?
Is it ever OK to kill a live creature? When?
Is it ever OK to let a species (a certain kind of animal) die out? When?
The bat story is a bit simplified, but true. Indiana bats are safer now because of a simple fix: People built gates across the entrances of the bats’ hibernation caves. They lock the gates during winter months so the bats can hibernate in peace.
About the Author
Joanne De Jonge is a freelance writer and a former U.S. National Park Ranger. She attends West Valley Christian Fellowship in Phoenix, Ariz.