Part 3. In-class Blog Questions

     

Zoo

a)What role, if any, should zoos play in conservation/education?

For zoos to maintain high effectiveness, they should have a role in both conservation and education. It is important to pursue both these goals in tandem to progressively provide what is best for animals and plants while providing awareness to people about these magnificent species that we may otherwise never see. It would be inappropriate to value education more than conservation or vice versa since they are interconnected in many ways. Zoos that develop goals to enhance conservation and education attempts to strengthens the biocentric and ecocentric points of views rather than the anthropocentric point of view. Zoos  play an important role to remind the community about choices in one’s daily life can dramatically effect plant, animal, aquatic life and microorgansims around the world. Part of the conservation strategy at the Calgary zoo is to advocate and disseminate information from the IUCN and work with government, community members and non-profit organizations to conduct scholarly research.

Great examples of zoos contributing to successful conservation efforts include cases of stem cell research to one day bring back endangered species (species that are likely to go extinct). Callaway (2016) discusses the use of stem cells, a type of progenitor cell able to differentiate into various cell lines, which can be used to create sperm and eggs to one day undergo the process of in vitro fertilization and bring back the northern White Rhinoceros population. The White Rhinoceros population have significantly diminished in numbers since the 1960s mainly due to poaching. The horn of rhinos sell for high prices on the black market. Animals that are vulnerable to these types of cruel human activity deservs to be protected by zoos that uphold conservation as a key tenant of their mission.

Zoos should continuously refine how conservation is upheld at their facilities. Otherwise, any conservation effort may be compromised. In 2017, a four year old white rhinoceros was killed and had its horn sawed off by poachers. The kicker of this case was the rhino resided in a zoo in France (Willsher, 2017). This brings up the question whether this zoo took all the appropriate steps to provide effective conservation for this endangered species.  The goal for conservation of endangered species such as the white rhinoceros should be to reintroduce them into the wild.

b) Is it ethical to keep animals in zoos? If so, what size/type of animal or zoo?

zoo

Figure 1. Should zoos hold animals?

Ethical consideration to keep animals in zoos should consider several variables. Firstly, the zoo infrastructure is an important consideration. A goal all zoos should follow is providing a safe environment for all the animals and plants encompassed within it. For example, any likelihood of wolves having a chance to slip into the elk habitat may be detrimental for both species. Furthermore, the concept of zoos has evolved drastically throughout the decades. Early on, zoos tended to be cheap built cages with metal bars and didn’t offer much within the cage for the animal. These habitats were the polar opposite of what many creatures were exposed to in the wild. This video provides the stark contrast between zoos in the past to modern zoos.

Also, Jane Goodall, a renown environmentalist and scientist was an advocate for zoos safekeeping many wild animals but not all. In an interview at UCDavis, she mentions at 3:40 how elephants should not be kept in zoos due to the amount of space they need to roam. Similarly, Goodall mentions that wolves should not be kept in zoos since they need vast areas to run. This supports the idea of having animals kept in zoos but there are caveats as what species should and should not be in zoos.

Part of the rationale for agreeing with the idea for certain animals be kept in zoos is they are provided an appropriate level of quality of care. An interesting quote recently read was “Should humans play Mother Nature?”. Although it would be inconsiderate of humans to take on the role of Mother Nature, proper care for animals in zoos can only be met if habitat conditions are appropriately met. It would clearly be unethical if a lion was left in an area of negative twenty degrees Celsius if they are used to basking under the hot sun under natural conditions.

Thus, it can be ethical for animals to be kept in zoos, but stringent measures need to be taken to meet many different criteria. With that said, some animals simply do not belong in zoos due to what they experience in zoos. The common reason why some animals should not live in zoos is due habitat reasons.

c)Do you enjoy visiting zoos?

Although, I can say that zoos are still enjoyable to visit, the level of enjoyment has drastically differed today, compared to visiting zoos at an earlier stage in life. As most children, the most fascinating part about visiting the zoo is observing the behaviour of animals as well as their physical characteristics. The care provided for the animals and their habitat is often times neglected, thus it is normal to enjoy the zoo greatly as a child. After one grows older and becomes educated about zoos, an individual may become more wary of zoos and start to scrutinize them as well. Personally, my only experiences of zoos include the Assiniboine Park zoo in Winnipeg and the Toronto zoo a long time ago. Both of these zoos do their best to provide proper relationship between trainers and animals and care for the welfare of all animals. There are other zoos around the world that do not hold the same standards for their animals and would not be as enjoyable to see animals in such a poor state.

For example, a zoo in Argentina, Mendoza zoo, held a polar bear in a decrepit state . Arturo (the polar bear) lived in captivity since the age of 8 and before it passed away in 2016, his partner also died. What was unfortunate about this case was that the zoo allowed the polar bears to live in a small, outdoor enclosement where temperatures reached more than 40 degrees Celsius during the heat wave period in Argentina. These are inappropriate living conditions for the bears and if I were to see the bears living such poor lives, it definitely would not be an enjoyable visit. To see a vulnerable species such as the polar bear to live in torturous conditions would be devastating and it is sad that the bear did not get more treatment before it died. It brings up the question why zookeepers and onlookers did not do anything for the many years the bear lived at this zoo. If one were to see a human in such poor living conditions, it is assumed the majority of people would take action, report it and try to get this changed. So why not for a polar bear as well? One may argue that the public in Argentina were not adequately educated about polars or their environments but there are two flaws to this thought. Firstly, zookeepers have the responsibility to look out for the animals provide the best quality of care they can. Secondly, even if one had essentially no knowledge of polar bears, it can be easily viewed that this bear is in distress and needs help.

Figure 2. Arturo the polar bear, alive but in critical conditions.

 

Food

a) What do you like about it [the food system]?

Farmers-Basket_slider

Figure 3. A diversity of healthy food (Tousignant, 2014).

There are several aspects of the food system that is beneficial at the individual and community levels. With the current food system, various out of season foods may be available for purchase at all times of the year. For example, one can usually go to their local grocery store and be able to purchase oranges at all times of the year even though there are only particular times that oranges are harvested. Being able to purchase fresh produce all year round at most grocery stores assists individuals to eat healthy. In contrast, if food was not available for all year around, it might be harder to follow a healthy diet for those with allergies which limit what they can eat, and those who have a peculiar palette.

Along those lines, a conversation with a friend led to the idea of the diversity of food available with the existing food system as a positive aspect. In some cases, different cultural foods can be purchased only if we could access food from different regions. Often times, individuals will determine if a cultural food item is actually from the country of origin. This friend I was speaking with mentioned that there are particular sweets that are made in east Asian countries that would otherwise not be available if our food system did not transport them to us. One could argue that communities could make these products locally to decrease the burden of resources used to transport them over long distances but a counterargument is that the product may lose its cultural authenticity if not made the same way as from the country of origin.

b) What do you dislike about it [the food system]?

When discussing this matter in a group, one of the members, Duyen, brought up the point of the sheer amount of food that goes to waste for several reasons. One reason is for the benefit of companies. Companies have expiration dates or ‘sell by’ dates to protect the reputation of the product (Charles, 2017). Companies want their products to look and taste a certain way when the consumer is eating the food. But they do not share with consumers that the food is still edible and tasty even after the expiry date. As learned in class the best way to determine whether the a food item has gone bad and must be thrown away is by smelling it. The nose is a great tool to evaluate food spoilage.

Another dislike about the food system is the promotion of unhealthy options over healthier options. This was another idea that was brought up in the group and supported by everyone. We shared how fast food restaurants are sprawled all over urban centres and food purchased from fast food restaurants undergoes high usage of resources. It also increased our carbon footprint moreso than buying local products to make the same meal.

In class, an interesting discussion took place about how the current food system in Canada wastes large amounts of food that is edible from grocery stores, restaurants, and other places handling food. For example, a student in the class shared that at the Subway restaurant she works at, throws out the perfectly good bread at the end of the day. This idea was shocking because in many Canadian cities, many individuals from low socioeconomic backgrounds have daily struggle to meet nutritional needs for themselves and their families. Good bread that may be a couple hours old may give some people slight more nutrition than they currently obtain.

 

Oceans

a)What are your primary concerns about the ocean?

One of the primary concerns about the state of oceans is the lack of knowledge people have about what is occurring in the oceans and what is dumped in the oceans. For example, very recently it was deemed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) located between Hawaii and California has become three times the size of France [cite LINK]! GPGP is the largest collection of plastics in the ocean and is currently becoming much larger. It should be noted this is not the only collection of garbage in the oceans. A crowdfunded research group named the TheOceanCleanup have created a revealing video showing the extent of GPGP. If one were to survey various individuals from the street, it would be interesting to determine how many actually know what the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is and what has been occurring in that area. Hence, lack of awareness pertaining to issues of the ocean weakens advocacy objectives.

gpgp

Figure 4. Plastics found in the Great Pacific Garbage patch (Mclendon, 2018).

Another concern is the lack of response from communities, government and organizations about the issue. A group called Global Research (Slavo, 2017) reports the oceans are dying due to the unprecedented amount of dumping into the oceans. Hence, there has not been any significant slowdown as to abundance and frequency of dumping into the oceans. Furthermore, the materials being dumped consists of a diverse array waste. Materials that have been dumped include radiation (from the nuclear plant meltdown at Fukushima) to modern chemicals and agricultural waste. The lack of response from individuals on this issue may be due to the dominant anthropogenic focus in society and the neglect of the ecocentric and biocentric views. A nice poem that discusses a concern for the ocean as well as coming together (Chevalier and Sunrise 2011).

Oil and water do not mix,

this oil slick has no quick fix.

The dark black goo not only affects me and you,

but SEA LIFE in our OCEANS too.

We must STAND UP for all LIFE under the SEA,

or there won’t be any left in our ECOLOGY.

Save the OCEANS and save the SEAS,

or the SEA CREATURES have no DESTINY.

This oil mess was made by greed,

we must take the LEAD

in cleaning up the GULFSTREAM.

We must STAND TOGETHER all of as ONE,

as one people UNITED under the SUN.

This is our PLANET that we all SHARE,

with other LIVING creatures

WHO need our LOVE and CARE.

We must pray for the sea’s mammals, fishes and BIRDS too.

We must all PRAY TOGETHER me and YOU.

Save the OCEANS and save the SEAS,

for the SEA CREATURES to have a DESTINY.

 

b) What, if anything, do you plan to do about it?

quote

Figure 5. A quote that describes our connection to the sea.

Individuals wanting to make a change about the current state of the oceans and its future can help in several ways. An important way is to raise awareness about state of our oceans and how everyone contributes to pollution ending up in the oceans, whether one is a few kilometers from the shore of an or ocean or a few thousand kilometers. Raising awareness and advocating for change is an appropriate initial step to have more individuals to make change. Individuals can change how their lifestyle habits.

One way is to evaluate the products that are bought. Evaluating the products bought garners an appreciation for the biocentric point of view since many disposables that end up in the oceans and affect creatures of the sea. With eight million tons of plastic entering the oceans, they are agents that can kill or reduce the quality of life of many plant and animal species.

Another way is to be more conscious about the materials we dispose of. Landess Kearns (2017) made a compilation of powerful quotes about how we are connected to the oceans or why it is important to plan to take action and Figure 5 is one of them.

 

Literature cited

Callaway, E. (2016) Stem-cell plan aims to bring rhino back from brink of extinction. Nature, 533: 20-21.

Willsher, K. (2017) Rhino shot dead by poachers at French zoo. The Guardian.  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/07/rhino-shot-dead-by-poachers-at-french-zoo.

Charles, D. (2017) For Food Manufacturers, ‘Sell By’ Labels May Have Reached Their Expiration Date. The salt. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/02/15/515427797/food-companies-may-say-goodbye-to-sell-by-labels.

Imster E., Byrd D. (2018) Great Pacific Garbage Patch now 3 times size of France. Earthsky. http://earthsky.org/earth/great-pacific-garbage-patch-bigger-than-thought.

(2018) The Great Pacific Garbage Patch – Explainer. TheOceanCleanup.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=156&v=0EyaTqezSzs.

Davies, G. (2016) Death of ‘the world’s saddest polar bear’: Arturo, who prompted a worldwide campaign to free him from Argentinian zoo after falling into depression when his partner passed away, dies two years later. Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3675024/Death-world-s-saddest-polar-bear-Arturo-prompted-worldwide-campaign-free-Argentinian-zoo-falling-depression-partner-passed-away-dies-three-years-later.html.

Slavo, M. (2017) “The Ocean is Dying”: Marine and Animal Life Die Offs, California Coast. GlobalResearch. https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-ocean-is-dying-marine-and-animal-life-die-offs-california-coast/5451836.

Chevalier, S., Sunrise, C. (2011) Save The Oceans And Save The Seas – Poem by Christina Sunrise. Poemhunter. https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/save-the-oceans-and-save-the-seas-2/.

Mclendon, R. (2018) What is the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch?. mother nature network. https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/translating-uncle-sam/stories/what-is-the-great-pacific-ocean-garbage-patch

Kearns, L. (2017) 11 Quotes About The Ocean That Remind Us To Protect It. Huffpost. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/01/ocean-conservation-quotes_n_6989052.html.

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