Friday, January 11, 2013

The Squirrel Whisperer

Mary Krupa is a student at Penn State University. Last year, after seeing some other students feeding the campus squirrels, she decided to try feeding them herself, and struck up a friendship that has made her a celebrity at the university and on the internet.

Krupa is now known on campus as the "squirrel whisperer." Having formed a close bond with the school's squirrels, she not only feeds them, but pets many of them, and has even taken to dressing some of the more willing squirrels in little hats. One of these squirrels, Sneezy, has gained internet fame in his own right through his Facebook page.

Sneezy in his Penn State cap

As you can see in the video below, Miss Krupa has formed a genuine bond of trust and friendship with many of the squirrels at PSU. My first reaction to the photos that I saw of Sneezy was that placing the hats on him might be seen as demeaning, but after watching the video I am convinced that she cares deeply about the animals and that she is truly bringing happiness to the squirrels through her companionship with them, and to the campus community with the hats and her demonstration of compassion and friendship with the squirrels.

The video also includes a discussion of Asperger Syndrome, a high-functioning form of Autism that Miss Krupa has. People with Asperger Syndrome face challenges in many aspects of their lives, including the formation of social relationships. I can't help but think, however, that where this condition might make it more difficult to interact and socialize with people, it might actually help her relate to and bond with her squirrel friends.

More Than Just The Squirrel Whisperer from James Rohan on Vimeo.

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