For people to care, especially about things they may rarely see, there must first be a ‘connection’, a bond, an indelible knowing that our mutual existences depend very much on the cognitive decision making of the human animal.
P22 shone a light on exactly how habitat loss impacts a single animal, yet represents every animal that will face the repercussions of unchecked encroachment, fragmentation, and the effects of anthropogenically accelerated events such as fire and flood caused by climate change.
P22 lived through every human caused experiment we could throw at him in the lab of LA, from rodenticide poisoning, vehicle strikes, pet conflict, tennis ball machine assault when he was only trying to hide, virtual incarceration in a territory probably only one tenth of what he would command in the wild, and yet he kept resisting our attempts to squeeze him off the face of this precious earth that is his as well as ours.
There are many who will say we should not name or identify a single wild animal for fear that we will care. But if we are to truly expect people everywhere to connect, there has to be a mechanism for caring. If naming an animal can get us involved in preventing harm to all of them by addressing habitat loss, climate change and unilateral stakeholder decision making, then P22’s suffering through all those trials will not have been for nothing.