Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Headlines (Mostly Elephants)

Via the lovely and talented Gwenda, the Washington Post covers the growing zoo elephant debate. It strikes me that the reason zoo administrators are so wary of this subject is that, by extension, it calls into question the entire philosophy of modern zoos. I'm not anti-zoo, but I am increasingly of the opinion that elephant captivity needs to be seriously rethought. The zoos, of course, don't want to hear it. Mark C. Reed of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association has this stunningly insightful quote: "What people forget is that sooner or later, every animal in every zoo is going to die, no matter how well we treat them." Nice all-purpose justification there, Mark. Also, this: "Just because elephants can walk 50 miles a day, it doesn't mean they do--or even want to." He said that just like humans, elephants would rather stay put, and they do if they can find water, shelter and food. The truth is that during the rainy season elephants actually travel more than during times of scarcity. Stationary conditions lead to ingrown nails, and concrete pens lead to footsores which become infected. This needs to be taken seriously.

A reminder: the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee--mentioned in the above article--has a webcam, and accepts donations.

In other pachyderm news, the WWF is tracking pygmy elephants in Borneo. There are estimated to be less than 1500 of the species remaining, all of whom live in forests on the northeastern tip of the island. More info at the WWF's website here.

A new children's book talks about an art class for elephants.

The science of musth.

You probably haven't heard about it, but there's a serious drought-leading-to-famine going on in the northeastern part of Kenya. At least twenty people have died so far, and Kibaki's administration has been slow to respond. Funny how these things don't make the papers over here . . .

3 Comments:

Blogger chance said...

I've been anti-zoo for a long time - particularly so since I saw the very sad (and hot!) polar bears at the national zoo.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Polar bears are definitely another example of an animal that suffers badly in traditional zoo models. I don't think I've seen a zoo polar bear that wasn't cleary nuts from confinement; pacing back and forth, swinging their heads like pendulums upon reaching a wall. Very sad, indeed.

4:48 PM  
Blogger haddayr said...

I'm not anti-zoo, either . . . yet. But perhaps it's because I'm spending a great deal of effort trying not to think about it.

12:29 PM  

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