Birds are singing, the sun is shining and it’s obvious that Spring has arrived in Samegrelo, Georgia, though TLG volunteers in Kakheti and Adjara may beg to differ. But, clichés aside, everywhere I look in my village, the signs are all there.
Fruit trees are blossoming, the snowy blanket covering the mountain tops is rapidly disappearing, sunset is getting later and my trusted thermal vest, gloves and beanie have been relegated to the bottom drawer of my dresser.
The start of a new season and in the spirit of Spring, it seems all the animals at my house and indeed the whole village is having babies. The hen guards her chicks with the ferocity of a battle-hardened soldier, the geese are hatching eggs and our cow is so heavily pregnant, it looks like she’s about to explode.
Our sow is not having piglets, since she hasn’t been given an opportunity to go gallivanting around the village with all the other pigs, but there are plenty of piglets trotting about. The rabbits are doing what they do best and soon I’m hoping to see my first baby rabbits.
The most unusual animal babies in my village at the moment is a pair of brown bear cubs. Recently orphaned by a hunter who shot their mother during a hunting trip in Borjomi, they have been brought to a neighboring family’s house to be looked after.
Seeing them in their cages nearly broke my heart and their crying is just like a human baby’s. Not to mention the fact that they are tiny, literally being the size of a teddy bear, except the teddy I have in my room is twice their size.
Immediately concerned, upset and just plain sad, I asked about the legality and practicality of keeping two baby bears locked in cages in a back yard, as they don’t stay little forever and keeping a wild animal comes with all sorts of rules to adhere to and risks to keep in mind.
Luckily, all the proper authorities have been notified, the babies appear to be well-fed and healthy and the local police even made a house call to ensure the cubs were in good hands. They will stay in the village for a few weeks, then go to a zoo in Tbilisi.
Granted, life in a zoo is not the perfect solution, but it beats the alternatives of starving to death in the wild without their mother, being sold to a circus to learn and perform tricks for massive crowds or being slaughtered for their meat, which is extremely tasty according to my host father.
In short, a new season means a new generation of animals to appreciate and care for, whether they give us sustenance, the pleasure of their company or just delight us with their appearance, sounds and antics.