Animal Rescues: An End-Of-Year Celebration : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture Cows and dogs, a dolphin and a sea turtle: Come join with commentator Barbara J. King as she counts down four of her favorite animal rescues from 2013.

Animal Rescues: An End-Of-Year Celebration

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
Dawg Rescue volunteers wait with their shelter dogs during an adoption event in front of a pet store in Beltsville, Md., in 2010.
Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Celebration: That's the theme I decided on for my final two Thursday posts of 2013. Last week I wrote about the spectrum of genders in the human world. It's only natural that this week I should return to my first love among blogging topics: animals and animal welfare.

It's not only the lives of animals themselves that I want to highlight, though. I can think of no better way to close out the year than to celebrate the people — so many of you, so many of us across the world — who rescue animals in danger, distress or need.

Here are four of my favorite examples from 2013.

4. Dolphin Happiness

Speaking of celebrating! When fishermen in Brazil free a dolphin from a plastic bag, the animal, rather than just swimming away, leaps into the air. I'm too cautious to describe the dolphin's action as thanking the fishermen, as some have. The dolphin is so young we can only hope he or she survived what seems to have been a separation from the mother. But at that moment of freedom? That's pure dolphin happiness we're seeing.


3. Injured Sea Turtle Release

A rehabilitated Olive Ridley sea turtle named Aceituna is released back into his natural habitat.

Aceituna had arrived at Cameroon's Limbe Wildlife Centre in extremely poor condition after he was confiscated by wildlife officials. As a result of being tied tightly by a rope prior to his arrival, Aceituna's back right flipper was completely rotten, causing pain and a general infection. Limbe's veterinary team successfully amputated the flipper in a complicated procedure and, following a long and carefully monitored rehabilitation period, Aceituna was released to swim free.

2. Dogs With New Homes

We all become rescuers when we adopt our pets from shelters or animal-welfare organizations. Here's a fun series of photographs on BuzzFeed of rescued dogs on the way to their new homes.

1. Frolicking German Dairy Cows

Rescued from a planned slaughter, it's wonderful to see how these former dairy cows respond with joyful emotion to release from their winter quarters. Don't miss this one! The narrative is as inspiring as the visuals.


Much work remains to be done, of course. I want to work toward a world where, for example, no chimpanzee is made to become a roller-skating actor in the movies, as chimpanzee Chance was in The Wolf of Wall Street, a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio that opens on Christmas Day.

Yet we are making progress. In the wake of Blackfish, a documentary film showing the trauma to whales kept captive at SeaWorld and the risks to their trainers, high-profile music performers have pulled out of singing at SeaWorld's February concert series.

For the animals, times are changing for the better. May these positive changes continue and accelerate in 2014!

Barbara's most recent book is How Animals Grieve. You can keep up with what she is thinking on Twitter: @bjkingape