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CRIKEY! Check out Australia Zoo news from 2007.

News Source: Sunshine Coast Daily (13th June 2007)
by Sam Benger
Click image to enlarge
It started with stroking a Burmese python and ended with patting a koala, such was the animal nature of the Dalai Lama’s visit to Australia Zoo yesterday. Thousands choked Coast roads before descending on Steve Irwin’s Crocoseum to listen to a teaching on kindness and compassion and the importance of such qualities when raising children. Terri, Bindi and Bob Irwin were there to welcome His Holiness.

“I ALWAYS believe the foundation of happiness, and furthermore, the foundation of our very existence, is very much to do with kindness, with loving kindness.”

With those words, His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, launched Kindness Week at Australia Zoo yesterday as a 5000-strong crowd in the Crocoseum sat quietly, hanging on every word.

The Morning began with thousands of people pouring into the zoo and traffic backed up for more than 2km as visitors queued.

Tibetan music and singing greeted the visitors as they arrived, before Terri and Bindi Irwin welcomed His Holiness to the zoo.

Terri told how the family had a long history with Tibetan monks. Even as a young child, Bindi had adopted their philosophy of looking after all living things.

And, Terri said, they were continuing to work together to “pray for the ultimate act of kindness, for His Holiness and his people to return home”.

As the Dalai Lama came to the stage, birds were released around the Crocoseum and he acknowledged the hard work and dedication of the zoo staff, saying the presence of birds and animals reminded people they were a part of nature.

“I just met some people who carry different kinds of animals, including a snake,” he said.

“It seems very gentle, so I must appreciate their work,” he said as a ripple of laughter went around the crowd.

Despite his role as a spiritual leader, His Holiness downplayed religious boundaries, saying actions of kindness were not related to religion, and engaged visitors by talking about a range of issues. These included encouraging people to become vegetarians and to show kindness to animals.

He also coloured his speech with humour, saying that when he was strict vegetarian in 1965 he suffered jaundice and “truly became a living Buddha”.

As a child, he said, he would buy animals to protect them, but soon realized he had no room for them all.

His Holiness also spoke about the importance of the relationship between mother and child and said every living creature was precious.

“We’re born and within a few minutes our mother takes us and cares for us, and at that moment I think we’ve got a deep satisfaction of experience of love and compassion”, he said.

His Holiness said all living things should be treated “as one’s own mother”, and that even a mosquito buzzing around someone’s head had to be respected as a living being.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that even a mosquito is also a mother-being,” he said.

“We have to analyse these small insects just like ourselves.”

While the Dalai Lama chose not to speak about politics and his exile from Tibet, he did talk to people about the importance of forgiveness and compassion.

“The real destroyer of our peace of mind and our physical well-being is not outside but inside,” he said.

“The inner enemy – anger, hatred – cannot remain with peace of mind, it immediately disappears.”

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