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Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009

WORDS TO LIVE BY

Wildlife attendant Pat Kim


Pat Kim is a wildlife attendant at the Hyatt Regency Guam, where she takes care of the exotic birds in the hotel's gardens. Since the arrival of a flock of baby parrots in Guam 15 years ago, Kim's been a virtual mom to them, nursing eight little macaws and two cockatoos into the magnificent creatures they are today. The four species of macaw in her care — which include cobalt blue Hyacinth Macaws, a bird native to Brazil's rain forests, and Scarlet Macaws, a species that once were found from Mexico down to tropical South America (one of the largest latitudinal ranges for parrots) — have been on the endangered species' list since the 1980s. Kim takes her role as a protector of animals very seriously, and she's well known on the island as the Birdlady of Guam, whose enthusiasm for life is more contagious than the strongest strain of any flu. Luckily, such Pat-related infections trigger the onset of compassion, and there's no need to find a cure for that.

Wildlife attendant Pat Kim

If you give good vibes, you get some back. When you wake up, say to everyone: "Good morning, darling!" Give a big smile to yourself and to your loved ones. Make yourself and your family feel 100 percent.

You don't need to know a person to talk to them. Just say "hi" to everyone and find out the wonderful things about their lives.

Look after what you've got. I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to take care of the most beautiful birds in the world. They are a gift to humanity, and we must protect them and increase their numbers, because once wildlife goes, we're next.

Some people don't think of making money, even if the chance to get rich is right in their face. My mom worked as a real-estate adviser for the U.S. Navy in Guam way back when there were no resort hotels here yet. She never bought a piece of oceanfront land, even though she knew its price would skyrocket. We just ate sandwiches on the beach and loved the ocean. I had the greatest mom.

Having a set retirement age is such a silly old idea. If you are smart and have all your faculties, why should you stop working? Luckily, in the United States, we don't need to write our age on job applications; and in Guam, companies hire elderly people, because we have experience and a can-do attitude. I hope to work as long as I'm alive.

There's no need to buy pets, because there are tons of beautiful animals everywhere that nobody wants. All my pets are rescues. Some were on their deathbeds when I got them but I nursed them back to life. It's tragic when animals are eaten or beaten. Surround yourself with people who are busy and positive. Stick to those who never stop learning so you can improve yourself.

Everybody is beautiful. I love each little bird and will protect him or her with my life. Each was brought into this world for good reasons: to bring joy, and to plant trees as they fly and poop all over. I tell them, "You're really beautiful today!" They know I'm right.

If you are living in a man's world, a woman, even if she's a lawyer, doesn't have the law on her side. My mother was a lawyer in Canada, but she moved to the United States to escape the sexism that existed in her profession. Back then it was a man's world. Now it's a human's world and, hopefully soon, we will learn to share it more with animals.

There's a connection between heaven and earth, and that link is animals. They're sending us a message that they're very important to us. We must listen to them.

Animals know when you're sick and they can make you feel better. When I had both knees operated on, I was back at work in no time because I missed my little birds. They knew that I was still weak, so they stayed very quiet, not their typical talkative selves. I'm better than new thanks to them. I think there should be animals in every hospital.

We have to have total respect for animals. They have their culture, and it's at least as developed as ours. Some days, the birds want my company, but sometimes they enjoy their bird-only time. I give them space because I always feel like a guest in their world, anyhow.

Lots of love and a little training go a long way. A good example is pit bulls, a breed of dog that has been banned in Miami since 1989 as they are considered dangerous. But I know some pit bulls that are loved and are mild-mannered. Only dogs that are abused become defensive and violent.

Bad news for the polar bear is good news for the parrot. Due to global warming, the bear habitat shrank, but tropical parrots moved into places such as Tokyo. What's next?

You have to trust people, because they might be the ones who save your life. This is a saying in the Merchant Marines where I worked for 22 years. If we all have the same attitude onshore as offshore, we'll have smooth sailing everywhere.

Always feed your animals before you feed yourself. When the animals are full and happy, it's your turn to eat!

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "Out About." Learn more at: http://juditfan.blog58.fc2.com/



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