Wildlife naturalist and animal rights activist Joy Adamson (1910-1980) was born Joy-Friederike Victoria Gessner on this day in the area of Austria that is now Slovakia and loved animals as a child.
"Only one thing is certain," she once said, "People get out of life exactly what they put into it."
She moved to Kenya in 1937, "fell in love" with the "wonderful country," and illustrated several books dealing with local flowers, plants, and surroundings. Her passion became foundling animals.
She said, "Since we humans have the better brain, isn't it our responsibility to protect our fellow creatures from, oddly enough, ourselves?”
The popular memoirs Born Free (1960) and Living Free (1961) celebrated her adventures of raising and releasing an orphaned lion cub named Elsa and introduced the world to wildlife in Africa.
She said, "My relationship with Elsa had not only widened my understanding of animal behavior and psychology but also had introduced me to a world denied to most human beings."
Adamson’s fight to return Elsa to the wild inspired worldwide attention to conservation and the protection of endangered species with the creation of more reserves, national parks, and benevolent zoos. Millions of tourists ventured to Africa.
In later years, Adamson celebrated Kenya's "sense of immensity" and continued to write and paint and rescued cheetahs, elephants, and leopards.
"Wildlife is something which man cannot construct. Once it is gone, it is gone forever. Man can rebuild a pyramid, but he can't rebuild ecology, or a giraffe," she said.
Reading opens up the world.