We people often call animals "our friends," which is a heart-lovely sentiment, one that's true and tender and brimming with affection.
Animals are also, of course, our fellow travelers on this blue marble, and going well beyond friendship, into the realms of compassionate stewardship and advocacy, on our fellow travelers' behalf, is a role many humans gratefully assume.
The Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita has been a center for this compassionate, look-to-the-future approach for over four decades. The center serves as a home to several small apes, and also serves as an important in gibbon-focused issues around the globe.
What to do, where to go and what to see
What's the important topic at the moment? Well, it couldn't be more squealable: There's a seven-week-old baby pileated gibbon in the house, and he needs a name.
The center has a trio of names to choose from — Henry, inspired by a donor, Howard (he's a vet), and, wait for it, Yoda — and for the donation of a dollar you can make your choice. (You can vote online or at the center, but just make sure to cast your vote by Tuesday, Feb. 7.)
Where will that dollar eventually go? To the medical fund for the gibbons.
The baby's ears inspired the Yoda addition to the list, and if you're not aww-ing, make your way to Santa Clarita to see them in person (if Baby isn't burrowed up with his mom and feeling a tad shy).
If you've never visited the preserve, call it a must-do in Southern California. The famous, much-talked-about moment of any Gibbon Conservation Center visit is the "singing" the gibbons gleefully, and with throaty force, engage in each morning.
It's a powerful experience, to hear it in person, and an aural reminder of how we do all have a voice on this spinning-in-space marble.