It’s not every day that you see an inspiring champion of animal welfare mingling with the elite of Hollywood; or a touching moment during an awards show when a non-celebrity outshines an actor. That’s why last Sunday night was so great: we got to witness both.
What a joy it was to watch Temple Grandin, a renowned animal scientist with autism, beaming from both the audience and the stage as the film made about her life collected seven Emmy Awards. What a great pleasure to see a real, heroic woman – in denim not sequins – rise and be recognized for devoting her life to people and animals. What a moment to be tuned in.
Temple Grandin has both changed the way we treat animals and challenged what we know of autism. As a Doctor and Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, best-selling author, inspirational speaker, and consultant to the livestock industry, she has lived a remarkable life. She’s made groundbreaking contributions to the field of animal awareness and given us unparalleled insights into the way animals see the world. Time Magazine deemed her a “Hero” and one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010.
“Autism made school and social life hard, but it made animals easy,” Dr. Grandin wrote in her book Animals in Translation. Instead of creating an insurmountable obstacle, autism afforded her a heightened awareness to animals; a unique perspective on how they see and feel.
“When you’re trying to understand how the environment is affecting an animal’s behavior, you have to look at what the animal is seeing,” she wrote.
Dr. Grandin continues to draw on her personal experience with autism and her scientific background to share her perspective on animals – especially cows – and to advocate for more humane treatment. She has become one of the few livestock-handling equipment designers in the world. She has created corrals for cattle that improve their quality of life by reducing stress. And through her books, talks, and life’s work, she has shown us all how to care for the cows that supply our milk and become our food.
To me, that’s truly something worth awarding.