‘Animal Park’ is a programme on television following the lives of the many animals and their keepers at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire. The keepers work incredibly hard to keep all the animals healthy and happy, and one of their main aims is establishing a breeding programme for endangered species. However, lockdown has made everything much more difficult because all the animals seem to thrive on having plenty of attention from all the visitors, so the keepers have had to work extra hard keeping them all stimulated and happy by devising different ways of hiding their food so that that animals have to work out how to reach it, and also creating new and exciting ‘play parks’ for the different species to keep them physically and mentally fit.
The great love the keepers have for all the animals is amazing and shines through everything they do. However, there is one animal who has always been rather mischievous and difficult and he is a very beautiful white cockatoo called Rio. Since lockdown he has become even more difficult and although the keepers still love him they say that they no longer like him. To say that you love someone but do not like them sounds contradictory, but Jesus met many ‘difficult to like’ people, such as the feared, wild man of the Gerasenes; the hated, cheating tax collectors; shunned, isolated outcasts; the Pharisees plotting to kill him, and so on, but he loved them and cared for each one and he wants us to do the same, to show his love to everyone, and especially the ‘difficult to like’ people.