Story by Racheal Bennett
In my imaginary world, I’d write some detailed story behind it all, but realistically I’ll only have 5 minutes to jot something down before having to entertain a 4 year old, get back to work, school or my main focus in Abronia conservation.
Since before I could remember, it was all about animals or family. That’s all that mattered to me, still does to this busy evening while I’m on my phone writing this when I should be turning in an assignment. Between school, volunteering at two animal sanctuaries, and being a part of the military, I still had time for a love life with someone I thought shared the same passion as me for the animals I hold dear to my heart. As a young girl in this community, I didn’t know any better and fell into a minor setback, but still continued working my tush off in the Florida heat cleaning animal cages, feeding, running tours, and anything else that needed to be done.
Luckily, I had a few good people that stood behind me and kept me going even with all the harsh comments, put downs and discouragement.
Fast forward to years later. I’m trying to raise a young girl by myself who refuses to hurt any animal or eat them at only 4 years old because she loves them, who wants to be a part of what I love and help me help them, who wants to learn, and who wants to go everywhere I go. Doing this on top of still working, volunteering at those same animal sanctuaries, and trying to finish my 4 year degree in zoology (ON MY LAST YEAR 5 years later, fingers crossed), all instead of being completely focused on my passion.
All between comments from:
-Non open minded doctors about raising her vegan
– Numerous Child Protective Service calls because she’s not getting proper nutrition or is around dangerous animals
– The absolutely rude comments from guys because I’m a single mom, or that they think I’m easy because I’m a single mom.
– The people who give me the “did she really bring her child to this” looks
– And anyone else that’s ever discouraged me
And then the few comments from the rare, but special colleagues, friends, and family telling me to:
– Keep going so she knows not to quit
– Educate yourself and her so she has twice the knowledge and experience by the time she’s your age
– You aren’t alone, there are so many people that are behind you and her
– The women my daughter LOVES to see on social media, who show my daughter that same love and educate her
Side note: went to take a bathroom break and came back to an empty screen and a toddler saying, “I just wanted the crocodile song.”
Between rarely posting anything on social media pertaining to wildlife or my projects, which will always involve my daughter right there beside me in fear of her seeing the negative side of things, I’m increasing Abronia numbers in the wild. I’m doing this byprivately breeding them and not selling them to the public or other breeders and instead releasing them back into Guatemala to increase their population.
I’m also writing a private blog that really only I see for now; observing and documenting these precious jewels with my 24 hour cameras so I can have a chance to glimpse little to no human interaction of how they might act in their natural habitats. Currently observing them in the wild in another country is kind of hard with everything going on.
Having to deal with all the negativity this community comes with makes it hard to keep going. It’s hard to continue to do something you love when the majority of people around you are pushing you further down.
I’ve come to realize that in a community that is supposed to be focused on saving the things we love and care about, we tear down a lot of the people who are just trying to do the same thing.
In the words of my daughter, since she’s requesting I give her all my attention at this very moment “I just want you happy.”
Instead of tearing each other down, we should all be happy for one another that people are following their dreams/passions and that we have people who care so strongly about the same things we do. A lot of people don’t have that. After all, it’s not about us, it’s about trying to save the life on Earth that we care so much about.
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