Animals at Rolling Hills Zoo, including an ailing kangaroo, were blessed Saturday afternoon. The Very Rev. Benjamin Thomas, Th.D. of Christ Episcopal Cathedral, traveled through the zoo performing blessings on animals, and their keepers.
Father Thomas began with the big cats, moved to the primates, rhinos, and giraffes, before ending with the penguins.
Along the way, Father Thomas made a stop at the veterinary hospital at the zoo to perform a special, poignant blessing on an ailing kangaroo.
The blessing of animals was in honor of St. Francis (d.1226). It developed as a direct result of St. Francis’s own understanding of the kinship shared by humans with all other creatures by virtue of having the same creator, God. Francis, who founded the Franciscan Order, was a great lover of animals and is even said to have preached to the birds about their duty to praise God. Although the specific customs about blessing animals vary from place to place, one common feature is that prayers are offered not only for the animals themselves but also for the people who care for them.
The blessings Saturday culminated at the Penguin Exhibit. Following a blessing on the penguins a small group of zoo guests participated in a brief ceremony.
Guests are also invited to bring their own pets to Christ Cathedral on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. for a blessing of the animals.