Lir was found struggling to stay alive in the Irish Sea with his legs tied together. A member of the public witnessed him being thrown into the sea on the Coast Road in Clontarf. Rescuers from Kildare Animal Foundation used a canoe to save him.
As you would expect, he arrived at Eden in a traumatised state. He is extremely small and light, and he has a very soft, deformed beak which is either a genetic deformity or the result of prolonged neglect and malnutrition. Given his small size we suspect the latter. The damage to his beak and the fact that he has been deprived of food means that he is finding it difficult to eat. He is terrified when we approach him and, unsurprisingly, has not used the small pond we have provided for him even though his instinct is to be in water.
Eden is a state of the art vegan sanctuary and we offer specialised care to its residents who have been rescued from human use. In particular, we have over eleven years experience in the care of birds rescued from being used for their eggs and flesh. Despite our best efforts, we can’t assume that someone who has survived a traumatic event will fully recover from the damage inflicted on their mind. But we hope that the specialised care we give at Eden will facilitate Lir’s healing. It will take very gentle, consistent, unobtrusive interaction for him to be able to tolerate human caregivers. Our animal carers are going about their daily tasks as quietly and unobtrusively as possible to enhance the atmosphere of safety he needs to heal. Like human survivors of trauma, loud noises and sudden movements can cause a startle response and are likely triggers for traumatic memory. And like human survivors, repeated, respectful interaction that consistently meets his needs for food, water, medicine and a clean environment, and does not harm him, will allow him to learn to tolerate us, if not eventually trust us.
The most important aspect of his healing will be the presence of the other residents at Eden, particularly the fact that he can see and hear other geese who are so obviously enjoying their lives. When he arrived, he honked as soon as he heard them. He is in a safe aviary where he can see and hear everyone and as soon as he is able to eat, we will let him out to be with them.
We named him Lir (Irish God of the Sea) in reference to his strength. You can see how he clung tenaciously to his one and only precious life in this video of him struggling in the Irish Sea.
Video: Kildare Animal Foundation
It is normal to experience overwhelming anger, repugnance and bewilderment about the minds of those who perpetrated this supremely violent and sadistic act on a defenceless, vulnerable young creature. Yet, every day, geese and other birds just like Lir endure similar violence for products we mindlessly take from our shop shelves without thought or concern for the lives they once were. They are plucked alive for the feather filled cushions, furniture, duvets, and clothing demanded by non-vegan consumers. They are force fed by inserting pipes down their delicate throats to meet the non-vegan demand for foie gras. They are deliberately bred into this life with a date set on which they will have their legs bound by shackles, their heads dipped into electrified water or trapped in cones, and their throats slit by human hands to meet the demand for their flesh.
Prior to abolishing animal use from their lives, most vegans used to pay for these products and practices. I was one of them. Almost every non-vegan still pays for them. So, although we believe we are different to the thugs who harmed and tried to kill Lir, in practice we are no different. Every time we open our wallets and pay for a non-vegan product, we are paying for someone to inflict the equivalent of the violence meted out to Lir by those we refer to as sadists. Every feather filled sofa, packet of goose liver pate, jar of goose fat, and cellophane wrapped piece of goose flesh came from someone who struggled to avoid harm and stay alive just as Lir has done.
Every one of them is another Lir and if we are not vegan we are their killers.