By E.O. Willy
The vast majority of critically endangered species in America and around the world, though unhappy with the prospect of extinction, are not afraid of dying, according to a survey conducted by the nonpartisan Pugh Research Center.
The Pugh Poll found that while most animals are bitterly disappointed in people for a failure of earthly stewardship that has brought so many species to the brink of extinction, the animals — in their actual outlook toward death — remain serene and stoical.
For example, a polar bear who was surveyed — a single mother currently living in an ice shelter with her two cubs — expressed concern for her children’s future but cared nothing about her own fate.
“Where will the kids live? That’s all I think about,” she said. “The ice up here, this vast and snowy and frozen land — this is our habitat. I know people don’t like to hear about it, about how their fossil-fueled way of life is destroying our home, literally melting it away, but that’s what’s happening.”
Another respondent, an ivory-billed woodpecker from Florida, described a lonely and solitary existence.
“I purposely chose not to take a mate,” she said, using her beak to flick a tear away, “because a loving relationship would surely have led to a batch of little woodpeckers; and I knew there would be no future for them. Our habitat…our habitat is gone, utterly ruined. Logging and commercial development have taken everything from us. As for myself, I have no worries, no fears of life or of death; the living, loving Soul of Nature will take me in when the time is right.”
The threat of extinction, though it led an ivory-billed woodpecker to opt for a quiet life of celibacy, drove an Atlantic bluefin tuna into a lifestyle of drugs and promiscuity.
“My family and friends are all gone,” the weary and disheveled bluefin said. “We’ve been overfished to the point of…not extinction, I guess, because I’m still here and a few others, but we’re in bad shape, lost and wasted and demoralized. And without hope. At this point and in this condition, the thought of death is not unpleasant.”