There is wonderful photo my mother’s neighbour took some time ago. It shows my mother leaning down to talk to a fox outside their flats.
She has always enjoyed an affinity with animals. When house-minding in Buckinghamshire, a doe ambled cautiously to where my mother had put food out for it. Before long, the doe had brought the rest of the family to feast inches from where my mother and father stood behind a large glass door, privileged spectators.
Sharing the planet with other animal species is problematic for humans. Our needs are ever-expanding. Growth is good, having enough isn’t easily marketable. The environment is ours by right. We claim dominion over everything – land, sea and skies. The kindness we show to other species is like the attitude of a victor towards the vanquished. Cruelty is excusable in the minds of those who ignore their own humanity and its origins.
The exceptional efforts of those who advocate a greater willingness to learn about other species, has given us some great television – and a platform to build a better relationship with the rest of the animal kingdom. City farms and Sir David Attenborough do much to convince urban dwellers that we owe a duty of care to the co-habiters of an overcrowded world. Animals like foxes feel safer in the cities, but that doesn’t mean that we should ignore their true nature, as scavengers and omnivores, just because they look cute.
Shortly after the photo was taken of my mother and the fox, another neighbour rushed out to rescue her baby from the pram in the garden. A sensible precaution.