By Ashley Schaffer
We got up early to check out the rhinos. Nan collected some sperm
from the male rhino. The group of us asked all kinds of questions
and took pictures of this procedure, awkward yet fascinating. We
fed the male and female a wheelbarrow full of bananas and a pile
of ficus tree branches. The rhinos were very calm. While feeding
them, I knelt down to be face to face with them. Looking directly
into their eyes and having them gently rub against my hand was incredible.
We also went over to the Orangutan Rehabilitation Center. I could
spend hours watching the orangutans watch us and play and take care
of each other. It's intriguing to be so close to a semi-wild creature.
It comes from the wonderment of who we are, whether we realize this
wonder or not at the time. The question becomes more complex and,
in effect, more telling when one takes into consideration all of
nature instead of just rhinos or just the human race or just a particular
individual in the human race. That's a major reason this trip is
so eye-opening. Going from the markets in Singapore to the jungles
of Malaysia allows the experience of different cultures to collide
and mesh at different points over and over again. The animals naturally
become a part of your assessment in thinking about culture and relations.
The animals are everywhere out here. You are surrounded. You cannot
help but to enter them into your thoughts.