What Cecil the Lion’s Tragic Death Can Teach Us About Passion – in Activism & Career

By Paula Fitzsimmons

The tragic death of Cecil, the lion killed outside of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park has sparked outrage. And rightly so. Trophy hunting – the killing of an animal for the sake of “sport” – is despicable in its own right. What adds to this fury is that Cecil was apparently beloved, and according to National Geographic, one of the region’s best known and most studied lions. And with fewer than 21,000 lions remaining in Africa (according to African Wildlife Foundation) how can trophy hunting even be justified?

But neither outrage nor passion mean anything unless accompanied by positive action. Following up on the action alerts that animal advocacy organizations such as Born Free USA, Humane Society of the United States, IFAW, and ASPCA send you; writing letters to editors; calling legislators; learning to be savvy shopper . . . these are the actions (as mundane as they can sometimes feel) that will ultimately result in positive action for animals. More so than letting off steam on social media.

So how does this relate to your career with animals, you ask? Plenty.

You may have a dream, passion, or strong desire to work with animals, but unless you take actionable steps, they won’t materialize.

Here are painless steps you can take now to help you get closer to your dream job:

→ Check out the job board of animal advocacy organizations to get a feel for the types of positions open. What are the educational and experiential requirements? You don’t necessarily have to have experience working for an animal welfare organization in order to be considered – skills are often transferable. A few organization boards to check out include the ones at Best Friends Animal Society (which also offers telecommuting positions); Society of Animal Welfare Administrators (jobs available at humane societies); and Defenders of Wildlife.

→ Volunteering at an animal welfare organization can accomplish three goals:  You get to make a real difference in the lives of animals and those who help animals; you enhance your own life by being part of something important, and by taking real action, which is itself is pretty powerful; and you can give your career a boost in an assortment of ways. If you’re interested in internships, check out Idealist.org.

→ Become a member of industry organizations. Aside from animal-centered charities, do you belong to any groups that could help propel your career forward? Have you gotten your hands on everything there is to read about your proposed career? There are groups that cater to any number of fields, including grantwriters & fundraising professionals, writers, and nonprofit management.

→ If lack of funds for college is what’s holding you back, learn about different ways to finance your education. One resource is US News & World Report’s section called Paying for College. You can also check out my own article, 10 Free & Low Cost Career-Boosting Courses & Training Opportunities for Animal Advocates on alternative ways to learn.

Taking action, whether for a cause or career is hard, and sometimes feels tedious. But it’s these smaller steps that ultimately lead to change. Being proactive is the antidote to feeling powerless. What are you waiting for?


Lion 34884705 image credit (minus type and additional design) Clipart.com.

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