Sparrow Malala came to us as a fledgling in July 2015. Unlike countless other nestlings and fledglings, Malala has been very lucky that she has been found alive after being attacked and severly injured by an unsupervised roaming pet cat. Only thanks to the swift response of the finder, Malala did survive her ordeal, which was avoidable and inflicted by the negligence of a pet cat owner.
Malala suffered an open metacarpal fracture, which we splinted and treated with antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and pain relief. The fracture did heal well initially, but unfortunately due to the bacteria residing in the cat’s saliva, a deep seated wound infection, bone necrosis and abscess developed, which required further long term treatment and surgery. These complications subsequently compromised the adjacent joint and made Malala unreleasable.
At this point in time we became aquainted with Óscar Horta Álvarez, a Spanish animal activist and moral philosopher. Óscar Horta is currently a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Anthropology at the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) and one of the co-founders of the organisation Animal Ethics. Animal Ethics was formed to provide information and promote discussion and debate about issues in animal ethics, and to provide resources for animal advocates and the general public. Like us, Óscar became inspired by Malala’s ever so positive attitude, strong will and friendly personality, in spite of what she has been through. It did not take long until Malala’s life changing story became part of Animal Ethic’s educational campaign aiming to create a fairer world for everyone, human and non-human animals alike.
Mainly due to Malala’s determination and compliance, she eventually recovered and joined another unreleasable cat attack surviver we called Winzig, which is German for ‘tiny’. Both sparrows moved into a specifically designed outdoor aviary and became quickly very close friends. But Winzig was not the only bird Malala made friends with. Thanks to her unique and friendly personality, which made us always smile when we came to her aviary, she also became close friends with meadow pipits Bilbo and Eretria, who both have been attacked by cats too.
Respecting non-human animals means seeing them as individuals. And Malala was just such an unique individual. Malala has taught us many lessons about determination, forgiveness, generosity, dignity, compassion, peace, trust and love. With Malala we have lost a true friend and member of our extended family. Rest in peace Malala! You will never be forgotten!