Adam Haesseler, a former Marine, describes a scary encounter with Guantanamo Bay’s endangered banana rats.

Adam HalsslerAH: I was in Guantanamo Bay guarding a fence and we were on patrol. And Guantanamo Bay has banana rats. Banana rats are thirty- to fifty- pound rats. They’re indigenous to Guantanamo. They’re really protected. I mean it’s like a $15,000 fine to kill one there. Really endangered. That’s like the only region in the world that they grow, or they live. So one night I was sleeping and woke up to one right on my chest. It was probably forty pounds. We were on patrol on the fence line and I fell asleep. I mean it was time to fall asleep, but I fell asleep and I woke up and that thing was just–I guess I had eaten before I went to bed and it was smelling around.

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Adam explains what the natural world means to him.

Interviewer: Can you tell me why you think the natural world is important to experience? Like you just said it builds your appreciation. But I guess what it’s meant to you personally?

AH: Well I think it just makes you feel connected and grounded and centered. When you go out you can’t help but be happy and smile, you know? And it’s just getting back to the basics. I don’t think – It’s hard for us to find someone at a waterfall or walking through the forest that doesn’t have a smile on their face, you know what I mean? So it just makes you feel more centered I believe, you know? And I think people lose that and lose that sense until you get back into it.

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