Dolphin Personhood

This is pretty exciting! A draft for a new law has been presented to the Romanian government that would give dolphins rights similarly afforded to humans. These rights include the right to life, the right to bodily integrity, the right to freedom, and the right to be protected in their own environment.

Some of you may have heard about a similar movement last year in India which lead to a ban on dolphin captivity in the country. Stories like this, and films and documentaries like Blackfish, are moving things in a very promising direction. News like this brings hope for intelligent captive wildlife everywhere!

Here are a couple of articles about the dolphin personhood movement:

Romanian Dolphin Personhood Law is a Step in the Right Direction by Laura Bridgeman

India Declares Dolphins & Whales as ‘Nonhuman Persons’ by Alanna Ketler

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Why Must The Good Die Young?

I’m sure most have heard this story already but it really just ticks me off. Marius, a perfectly healthy giraffe, was euthanized at Copenhagen Zoo this month. The reason: the zoo is part of an international breeding program and wanted to prevent inbreeding. I can respect the need to prevent inbreeding, but then when asked about sterilizing or moving Marius instead, they stated that he would take up space that could be occupied by a giraffe they could breed.

There were reportedly other zoos who had offered to take the animal in, and certainly there had to have been some other option other than euthanization. At least the body didn’t go to waste as the lions in the zoo were fed some of the remains, and this is similar to what their wild african counterparts might eat from time to time.

The zoo claims all options had been explored, and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria support the decision, but that still doesn’t make it sit well with me.

You can read an article about it on CNN.com by clicking here. I’d love to hear others opinions.

A Force for Conservation: Disney

As if classics like The Lion King and Tarzan or parks like Disney World (Orlando, FL) and Disney Land (Anaheim, CA) weren’t enough to make us love Disney, they also devote a major part of their company to conservation and environmental efforts.

Those who have been to Animal Kingdom in Disney World Orlando have likely experienced the Kilimanjaro Safari ride which takes you in a large vehicle through their preserve where you can see animals like giraffes, elephants, hippos, lions, and more. These animals aren’t just for show, they are studied by Disney’s conservation research scientists. If you pay a little extra, you can even go on a more behind the scenes tour called the Wild Africa Trek. I did this a couple of years ago and you are led by a wildlife biologist guide who can answer all of your questions about the animals and the research efforts. At the end of the trek, we were able to select a conservation organization for a portion of our tour fee to be donated too. It was a really fun experience.

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In Epcot (where I celebrated my birthday yesterday), there is an aquarium called The Seas with Nemo & Friends. At The Seas, there is a Finding Nemo ride, and the ride exits into the aquarium where you can see fish, dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, and more. These animals are also part of research and they even have educational displays about these animals throughout the building.

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In Epcot, there is also a ride called Living With The Land that takes you through a little educational display about the history of agriculture and some of the environmental damage some practices may have caused. You then go through Disney’s greenhouse where you learn about new farming techniques they are studying with the USDA to find more efficient and less environmentally detrimental ways to farm. You even learn that a lot of the fruits and vegetables served throughout the park are grown on Disney grounds in their greenhouse.

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Epcot is also home to one of my favorite rides starring Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye the Science Guy called Ellen’s Energy Adventure. On this ride, you travel into Ellen’s dream and go back to when the dinosaurs walked the earth to learn about where our fossil fuels come from and then Bill Bye teaches her about the future of alternate energy sources like wind and solar power.

On top of the environmentally educational attractions in the parks, Disney also funds and collaborates on a lot of conservation projects through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and through their Disneynature documentaries.

The Disneynature documentaries come out every year on Earth Day and always give you great information and glimpses into the lives of living things. Favorites of mine have been African Cats, Chimpanzee, and Oceans. The film that will be coming out on Earth Day 2014 is to be called BEARS.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFl6guPcHvg]

Disney does so much in the way of conservation and education and teaching the next generation about conserving the world around them. It’s no wonder I love Disney so much. I feel like there are probably a lot of people out there who may not realize all that Disney does.

Bieber’s Capuchin

Absolutely ridiculous. Sure, we all probably wanted a cool exotic pet as a child, but usually our parents are the voice of reason and then we grow up to learn that these animals are wild and not pets. I recently came across a story about Justin Bieber and his pet capuchin (if you aren’t aware, that’s a type of monkey). So many celebrities think its perfectly fine to have pets like this. But when Justin didn’t have the appropriate paperwork while on tour in Germany, his monkey was seized from him. He was given the opportunity to pick the monkey up once getting all the required papers but instead of doing this, he let it stay in the animal shelter for weeks until it was finally transferred to a wildlife park when he failed to retrieve him. Now the capuchin will live out the rest of his days with other capuchins in a place with trained professionals to take care of him.

To recap, not only did he have a wild animal as a pet, he didn’t carry the proper paperwork for it, and then he failed to take responsibility when the animal was seized and instead just ignored the issue.

If you ask me, the capuchin is in a much better situation now. He won’t be hauled around all over the world, he will get to enjoy the company of other members of his species and be taken care of by people who know what they’re doing.

Here is a link to the original story.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNewZTIxHhQ]

“We Bought a Zoo”: Book vs. Movie

We Bought a Zoo. Both a book and a movie. About all they have in common are their titles and the fact that the main character…well…bought a zoo. Obviously, as goes with most book-to-movie productions, the book was better.

We-Bought-a-Zoo-bookI read the book a couple of months before they announced a movie was going to be made and the book was so good that I literally cried at the sad parts, laughed out loud at the funny parts, and couldn’t put the book down until I finished. I read that book cover to cover and was seriously bummed when I finished it. It was so inspirational. I wanted to visit that zoo. I was convinced that it was my new purpose in life to buy and refurbish and reopen a zoo. That lasted about a week before I remembered that it was only a book and that wasn’t really what I wanted to do, though it would be cool. The neat thing about that book is that it is a true story, and the author, Benjamin Mee, who is the man who bought the zoo, doesn’t spare any detail of the whole ordeal, even describing every intimate detail of his wife falling ill and passing away. (I don’t think that’s a spoiler but sorry if it was. Oops.)

 

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The movie, starring Matt Damon, while also good, was very Hollywoodized (is that a real word?) and moved too fast through the story and left out what I feel are very important aspects of the story. But that’s show biz I guess. I didn’t feel like the movie allowed me to become emotionally attached to the characters like the book did and the romantic interests added in offended me because of the authors real life turmoil with loosing his wife in the book. I still enjoyed the movie and maybe my expectations were just too high because I loved the book so much. If you have’t read the book or seen the movie yet, I suggest watching the movie first so that you can enjoy it for what it is. If you read the book first, the movie will only disappoint.

Click here to visit the website of the Dartmoor Zoo (the actual zoo from the book and movie).

Memorial weekend at home! (St. Louis)

At 4:30am today, my alarm on my phone went off. Time to get ready to head to the airport in Tampa. After four and a half months, I was finally flying home to visit my family in St. Louis. This was the longest I’d ever been away from home. I slept most of the flight. As I exited the security check point, I saw my parents waiting for me. The plan was to go to the zoo and go for a bike ride. Well, the sky was gray and thunder rolled in so I went to the mall with my mom instead. Around 3:30pm we noticed the rain had stopped. Since the trails were probably muddy from the rain, we decided the zoo was our best option.

Now, I may be a little biased because I was born and raised in here, but the St. Louis Zoo is and always will be my favorite. The River’s Edge, the region of the zoo where the elephants, hippos, cheetahs, rhinos, etc., are located, is one of my favorite parts of the zoo. I was eager to see the newest member of the zoo’s three generation elephant family, Priya, but she was only born recently so I didn’t expect her to be out and about. Sure enough though, she was out with her sister and mommy. What a sight! I tried to get a couple of pictures of her with my phone.

In addition to The River’s Edge, there are some other nicer and newer aspects of the zoo. There is an underwater viewing tunnel for the sea lion exhibit which was just opened last summer. It is a major improvement compared to the previous sea lion exhibit. When it first opened, the water was crystal clear and blue and clean. Now, maybe today was just an off day because of the rain earlier but the water seemed green and murky. Visibility wasn’t that great. I wouldn’t let this one instance deter me from going back again because when I have been before, the exhibit was wonderful.

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Currently, the zoo is working on building some new bear enclosures, which is long overdue if you ask me. The old bear enclosures that have been in use even farther back than my kindergarden field trip are small, drab, and concrete. They don’t seem to offer much in the way of a “natural” habitat for the bears. There used to be polar bears, and instead of having an icy indoor enclosure, they were out in the hot St. Louis summers in a concrete enclosure with a pool. The polar bears have been gone for many years but a grizzly is now in that enclosure. There are hardly any tree like structures to resemble a natural habitat. I commend the zoo for finally making the improvements needed for the bears.

Other areas I hope they improve soon: 

  • The chimpanzee and orangutan enclosures are nice and lush but should be larger.
  • The penguin exhibit is nice but overcrowded, I feel it should be larger or there should be fewer birds.
  • The rhinoceroses pace back and forth in one area of their enclosure. I don’t know this for sure but that seems to me like they need more enrichment.
  • I wish the monkey house had bigger enclosures for some of the monkeys and sunroofs for natural light in each enclosure.

All in all, I will always love the St. Louis Zoo and think it is great. They do wonderful work in the way of research, species survival plans, captive breeding, and more. They even have the Institute for Conservation Medicine. I think that they are on the right track with the improvements they have made to enclosures, are currently working on, and have planned for the future.

Also, something rarely seen in a zoo this size: free admission!!!