Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Networking takes a back seat

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  • Russell Brown,

    The animals I felt a little uncomfortable about were some of the big game beasts. Pridelands is big, but not very big for a running animal. And the organgutans looked bored.

    But even if you don't like the concept, you'd have to acknowledge that Auckland Zoo is a huge advance on the grim menageries you'll still find in many parts of the world. It was a particularly dreamy day at the Zoo, but the attitude of the staff was great: there was a certain joy in it all.

    And there was no shyness about politicking for animals -- you could hardly miss the posters condemning the palm oil industry's increasing toll on the orangutan.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Felix Marwick,

    Back in the days when I lived in that part of the world I remember being slightly gobsmacked upon finding sheep at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo.

    As I recall they had quite an audience.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Certainly zoos are primarily for our entertainment, but I don't think they are particularly cruel to most animals these days. The animal loses freedom but gains security, and for a lot of wild animals that's actually quite a big improvement in quality of life. Consider how most wild animals die - it's not peacefully in a nice cage being hand-fed by loving keepers. It's either cruel slaughter, or hunger, or sickness, very often after being driven from the pack or getting injured. The endless struggle for life in the wild may appeal to our romantic instincts, but few of us would choose it. I think there's anthropomorphism going on when we suggest that the animals feel objectified. Personally if a bunch of animals hung around feeding me in a nice safe cage, I'd soon learn to ignore them looking at me. I'm sure I'd yearn for a bit more space, but we all do that anyway.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Bruce Wurr,

    Weren't they a vanity thing for the rich and famous of the middle ages? Pretty sure the first zoos had not much to do with scientific research, more to do with plundering and conquering....

    My last visit to the zoo just before going overseas was pretty good, especially the cheetahs......but yeah, the whole notion of keeping animals out of their natural environments does seem wrong as an adult. Unless there's strong risk of extinction due to damage to said environments.

    As a kid however it's great!

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 97 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    some of the big game beasts. Pridelands is big, but not very big for a running animal.

    Pridelands? As in The Lion King?

    Do they do The Cycle of Life, a la peacocks and tigers?

    Though come to think of it, the Disney version of the cycle of life never shows the lions eating anything, except for Simba eating grubs.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    The Zoo thing IMHO is quite complex. I'm quite amenable to the idea that in the absence of viable habitats many Zoo's now provide a repository for animals that would not otherwise exist today if indeed not in the future (notwithstanding that species do go extinct in the course of evolution). What concerns me still is the Ark type argument when species are disappearing at such an alarming rate - which ones do you save ? The implied popularity contest makes me a little uncomfortable.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    I stopped going to Zoo's when they took the pants off the Chimpanzees. I mean really, who needs to see that?

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • hamishm,

    I've seen a Kookaburra swipe a sausage from a bun whilst said bun was on it's way upto a mouth. It took the swossage up onto a tree and beat it against the trunk to make sure it was dead.
    I have also had the little darlings do the crazed laugh down the chimney pipe of a wood burner at 6 am, bless them.
    They are pretty cool birds.

    Since Nov 2006 • 357 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    I appreciate the improving conditions in zoos, particularly wrt space, but the main thing that bothers me about them is that for a lot of animals the climate is completely wrong. Especially notable for the polar bears; although granted in 30 years they'll only exist in zoos.

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 533 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    I appreciate the improving conditions in zoos, particularly wrt space, but the main thing that bothers me about them is that for a lot of animals the climate is completely wrong. Especially notable for the polar bears; although granted in 30 years they'll only exist in zoos.

    Don't worry about it. On Lost the other night they found the bones of one in the desert. They also have had them on the tropical island they are on.

    On the freedom thing I like Ben's post and think of it this way. Half of NZ could barely afford to travel overseas (and we are a wealthy country). I have students who come from families who can't afford to even go away on a domestic holiday or buy decent clothes (ie more than one or two pairs of shoes or other items), pay small amounts of school fees, get the internet, pay TV, hell even ever dream of owning their own home. It's stuck renting, moving from house to house, sleeping at the uncles cos there's too many in your parents house etc with little hope of much else. I'm not going to get overly concerned about animals lazing in the sun looking bored and getting fed well and free healthcare for the duration of their lives. It's better than a couple of billion humans get.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Personally if a bunch of animals hung around feeding me in a nice safe cage, I'd soon learn to ignore them looking at me. I'm sure I'd yearn for a bit more space, but we all do that anyway.

    I agree and do believe a healthy respectful coexistence between human and animal species is the way to go .

    I stopped going to Zoo's when they took the pants off the Chimpanzees

    not exactly a chimp story but...my uncle owned a leopard.His name was Henry(don't think there was any issue with his English name ).Henry lived a fortunate life, many would say excellent.His family could afford to feed and house him accordingly and consequently he lived to a ripe ol' age.Once again the family cat got to enjoy the company of humans, which I remember he seemed to enjoy. Henry also had a neighbourhood friend. He was a spider monkey.The monkey used to visit (over the fence) and sit on Henry's back. I am sure everyone enjoyed them and I don't think they particularly cared what we thought anyway,as long as they were fed etc.To interact with animals is a wonderful lesson of equality and the health(mental and physical) benefits do work a treat.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Not quite a zoo story, but one about looking after a new little animal. Sometime commenter here, and previous blogger under a different name, Julie Fairey has just put a guest post up on my blog: Turn and face the strain.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Heh... We dropped in at Mount Bruce on our way home, and I swear the Kiwi in the dark house there is on P. Even better -- whacking great eels attack duck trying to horn in on feeding time. A pack of children almost wet themselves with glee. Life is good.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Has anyone noticed that cows often congregate around the milking shed .I see they don't need help to get there. I wonder if they want human contact?There was the autistic woman Temple Grandin, who had some interesting experiences with cattle and it helped her autism tremendously and also changed the way we deal with cattle.Yep, Craig, Life is good.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Especially notable for the polar bears; although granted in 30 years they'll only exist in zoos.

    Somewhat ironically, the polar bear's natural habitat is rapidly becoming more and more like the climate at the Auckland zoo. His old zookeeper should go teach whoever is trying to save them what their future behaviour will be like.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    "Has anyone noticed that cows often congregate around the milking shed .I see they don't need help to get there. I wonder if they want human contact?"

    It's selective breeding that has made their udders full to bursting and painful if not milked. Kind of like the que for the loo I saw earlier tonight.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Jeez, no way would I keep a leopard as a pet. I've just read a bit too much Jim Corbett. Cohabiting with a creature that could tear your limbs off if you forgot to feed it on time would put a lot of scary flatmates in perspective.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Has anyone noticed that cows often congregate around the milking shed .I see they don't need help to get there. I wonder if they want human contact?

    Simple. Feed. A lot of farms, certainly the one I grew up on, give a bucket of meal at milking time.

    There was also a definite hierarchy in the yard: a bunch of older cows would insist on being milked first.

    It would work the other way if the vet was coming after milking, and the gates would be set so the cows walked back into the holding yard. As soon they saw the gates set that way the older cows would know what this meant - injections! - and would hang down the back, shoving the heifers up the front.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • samuel walker,

    bldgblog has a cool new post about simulated geology for zoos:
    Simulated Environments for Animals

    So the zoo – like all zoos, of course – will be a simulation intended for animals. Zoos, in other words, are a particularly bizarre form of trans-species communication, attempted on the level of architecture and landscape design.
    They're like hieroglyphs that animals inhabit – spaces defined entirely by their ability to refer to something they are not.

    Since Nov 2006 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Jeez, no way would I keep a leopard as a pet. I've just read a bit too much Jim Corbett. Cohabiting with a creature that could tear your limbs off if you forgot to feed it on time would put a lot of scary flatmates in perspective.

    I didn't mention, my uncle was different.... but Henry never felt threatened so along with manicure and dental care, he really was the family cat.Also the occasional guest at the house was probably a little more scary than him : )

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    But....I've trodden on my cat's tail accidentally before, are you telling me Henry was big enough to forgive and forget? Oh, hang on, I see, so you cut his claws and teeth off?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    But....I've trodden on my cat's tail accidentally before

    Never heard of anyone doing that to Henry.

    are you telling me Henry was big enough to forgive and forget?

    was big enough!

    Oh, hang on, I see, so you cut his claws and teeth off?

    I know he had manicured nails, not declawed,and his teeth were fine. Henry wasn't mine,(my uncles )but my cousins grew up with him and I think they are okay sort of.No missing bits ; )

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Oh and...Henry lived to a (considered) grand old age of 23.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    Did Henry have servants?

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Did Henry have servants?

    Not that I remember although a few people hung around the house.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

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