Ask a question:
Previously asked questions:
- zoo architetcure (5/8/2007)
- How many teeth does an elephant have? (2/23/2007)
- Where are you? (11/2/2006)
- The Sangtai Shuffle...Orangutan enriched! (2/27/2006)
- Of Horses and Men (2/9/2006)
- rspca (1/20/2006)
- animal rights history (1/18/2006)
- Dog fighting (1/17/2006)
- Göteborg (1/16/2006)
- Where (11/23/2005)
- sorry (11/10/2005)
- hows about that? (11/10/2005)
- hello (11/10/2005)
- If you really care (11/10/2005)
- role of zoos in the past (11/10/2005)
- Do wombats smell? (11/2/2005)
- smoking monkeys?! (4/26/2005)
- Monkey house (3/29/2005)
- zoo design (2/24/2005)
- Denmark Hello (2/23/2005)
- Breeding institutes (2/17/2005)
- conflict of interest (2/16/2005)
- bored? (2/12/2005)
- humans and animals (2/9/2005)
- Skimboarding (2/6/2005)
- Keep in touch (1/30/2005)
- Tsunami (12/28/2004)
- Have you seen any crocodiles? (11/25/2004)
- Ethics and zoos (11/23/2004)
- what kind of animal do you like? (11/16/2004)
- What is your favorite movie? (11/15/2004)
- Infra-red cameras (10/22/2004)
- Love Your Journal (9/30/2004)
- What is your favorite animal? (9/29/2004)
- Do you get to see monkeys? (9/29/2004)
- Whats up? (9/15/2004)
- Do you ever get sick of traveling? (9/12/2004)
- Do you like the turtles? (9/10/2004)
- BioDome the Movie (8/25/2004)
- What's the strangest animal you have seen? (8/24/2004)
- What is your favorite animal you have seen? (8/16/2004)
- leaving (8/5/2004)
- Commercial Sponsorship (7/22/2004)
- Horses, milk, and sugar (7/17/2004)
- Visiting zoos (7/12/2004)
- How often will you .... (6/22/2004)
- Watson Link (5/31/2004)
- Example 2 (4/23/2004)
- Question example 1 (4/23/2004)
Q: zoo architetcure -rayanna
Hi, we are architectural interns and we will be joining a Zoo Design Competition. I would like to ask how zoos categorize the animals that they will be locating inside the zoo and how do they zone these animals.
Most older zoos categorize animals by phenotype (eg big cats are together, aquariums house swimming animals, and aviaries house birds). Newer zoos are trying to group animals by where they come from in the world (eg. you wouldnt put penguins and polar bears together because they come from opposite ends of the world; you would group South African penguins with other South African animals though so that visitors get a better idea of what a certain environment looks like).
Zoning for a zoo all depends on what you want your overall message to be for the visitors. Do you want them to remember that lions and tigers are large cats or that lions come from Africa while tigers come from Asia?
There are also other ways to zone- you could have native animals together, animals from the same climate (snow leopards with artic fox), endangered animals.
think of what you want to higlight about these species and what message you want to send to the visitor.
Great question- if you have any more- send me your email next time and I would be happy to help more.
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Q: How many teeth does an elephant have? -DAD
How many teeth does an elephant have? Do they remember everything? Dont they get old and forgetful?
Dad, -elephants also get old and forget things...
They dont need dentures though- their teeth grow constantly like horses, which allows them to grind them together all the time in order to mush up the tough grasses they eat.
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Q: Where are you? -Karabo
Where are you Katie
We are living in Sweden now but are getting ready to move to the US (Philadelphia) so that I can start veterinary school this autumn. Good to hear from you!
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Q: The Sangtai Shuffle...Orangutan enriched! -Stephen
Dear Katie, How do you think your pengyou, amigo, friend Sangtai the lonesome Orangutan is enjoying his new home in Shanghai? How would you guess his behavior might have changed?
A. Well you won't believe it, but he is what you could interprete in human behavior terms, as HAPPY!!! He is always moving about doing the "Sangtai shuffle" (holding two rope/fire hoses in each hand and pulling them down with the left then right arm, resulting in him floating above the floor 2-3 inches and moving...swinging back and forth at least 3 meters, faster than he ever has in at least the last 10 years, maybe his whole life in captivity.(Before in the old room, he would just sit and put his head down and look sadly out the window), He climbs in his tree and LOOKS at the peoples faces, he pulls on our tug-of-war contraption (first in the world interactive primate-human tug of war game) and the people and he seem to enjoy in, in short he is seems no longer depressed but active and healthy, despite his prior isolation and lack of motion (before everyone said he was so old). He uses his spring trees to again create a feeling of movement really enpowering him in his space, and when he rests he does in his firehose hammok high in the room looking down to the people! So, is it a question really, can anyone make a difference? If only one animal, one place, one idea, one improvement at a time...Absolutely YES, the world gets better...look at Sangtai, so everyone out there, just take a page out of Katie's book and ENRICH the lives of animals, people, self if you can...Follow and create examples...Dedicate yourself to something you believe and then do, do, do! Better will be it all...
Well, Katie how you like your little Shanghai Sangtai project now? (Yes, i will email to you photos) Nuff said, just remember...
Make the ideas that you dream of real, and everything else will fall into place...
Oh Stephen!!! I am absolutely crying with happiness! What marvelous news! I am so glad. Really and trully this path was paved by all of your hard work and diligence. I am so fortunate to have you as a mentor and a friend!
On another great note: I got into University of Pennsylvania vet school- so many dreams coming true!
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Q: Of Horses and Men -Charles XII
Hi, I just wanted to comment on that horse question. Of course horses get tired. After Poltava, when Peter the Great decided to attack Sweden -since I was in Turkey at the time, I had to ride almost non-stop for a whole a week, and I had to switch horses every hour or so because they got so tired. One thing I noticed is that their bellies seemed to swell if you pushed them to hard. What to me is most intriguing is the fact that if you ride a horse too hard, it will NEVER recover. And why can a horse ride until it dies? My theory is that since the horse sleeps standing up, it requires zero energy to stay up, and so it can deplete all its energy resources while still staying up. A person on the other hand would fall down long before he was approaching death. And the fact that there's some jerk whipping the horse non-stop doesn't help matters much.
Congratulations on the cool website and project.
Thanks for the insight Charlie!
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Q: rspca -Lauren, annetter merili matilda
what does rspca stand for????
Dear Lauren, annetter, Merili and Matilda,
Society for the Protection of Cruelty Against Animals (that is SPCAA... the RSPCA is probably in some city that starts with the latter R).
I appreciate your questions, but many of them are about facts that you could easily look up by typing the question into a search engine like google. The purpose of this question site is to fuel discussion about current animal events, ask specific questions about my project studying zoo architecture or ask opinions of me.
Good luck with your studies
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Q: animal rights history -lauren,annetter,merili,matilda
how has animal rights changed through history???
I have a journal entry about this under the "Prior to take off" section. And if that doesn't answer your question- try reading Peter Singer's book "Animal Rights."
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Q: Dog fighting -Lauren,Annetter, Merili, Matilda
why do people make there dogs fight?
I have no idea. I saw a lot of this in the Ukraine, and I have worked with dogs rescued from dog fighting in Richmond, Virginia.
Often the dogs have their ears and tails docked (clipped off) so that there is less for other contestants to grab on to in a fight. Dog fighters also use a female dog as bait sometimes in order to get the male dogs to fight over something. I have even seen dogs that have had their front legs broken so that they will look more like a pit bull or a good fighter. If one takes a gamble through the humane shelters, you can usually pick out a couple of dogs that were used for fights and then put on the streets when they were no longer winning. It is by all accounts a cruel sport.
It tends to give certain breeds of dogs a bad name too (or promote the breeding of these dogs specifically for fighting). Examples are the short-haired muscular types of dogs such as rottweilers and pitbulls.
Despite cruelty to animals (which some people feel is irrelevant since they equate animals with unfeeling objects) and disreputation of certain dog breeds, improper (or non-existent) laws about dog fighting can lead to unneccessary regulations for pet owners or physical injuries to people. For example, this year in Richmond, Virginia, three pitbulls killed a 70 year old woman and her pet dog (a toy terrier, I think). The reaction to her death was not to ban dog fighting and enact leash laws but instead to ban certain dog breeds.
I think some people enjoy this "sport" for the same reason some like to watch boxing. Humans in general seem to be fascinated by violence or the struggle for survival. A lot of movies are based on the same theme of physical struggle for survival/violence, but I would probably need a few courses in psychology to explain why humanity seems to be spoiling for a good fight.
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Q: Göteborg -H. Hobart
Are you and Catherine living in Göteborg now?
Hello H. Hubart,
Yes, we are both living in Göteborg right now. Katie is busy working in the virology lab at the Göteborg University and Sahlgrenska hospital. In addition to that, she is also working on compiling a book of her discoveries and ideas from the year of visiting zoos. For my own part, I (Jonas) am employed since about a year back for a software development company in downtown Göteborg, working on increasing business efficiency by smart software.
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Q: Where -Damien
In What areas are you conentrating most of your concervation efforts
I give a long list of small things people can do to help with conservation in one journal entry- but it might be a good idea to have some kind of forum where people can post all of their ideas. So: I try to buy organic, don't eat meat, recycle, wear a sweater instead of turning on the heat, unplug chargers when not in use, take short showers, use few products, travel with public transport or bike, live in an apartment instead of a house, re-use grocery bags every time we shop... and other little things like that.
The whole environmentally-friendly act is a balance between what you need to enjoy life and what you can sacrifice so that others (not just the environment and animals- but poor) can enjoy life too. For example, I like the internet- I am not going to give up using computers- but I can give up having a car. Also- I don't need anything for christmas- so my family has decided to give gifts in the form of donations to charities that we are interested in... which was my dad's idea- and that is pretty cool.
Otherwise: reduce, reuse, recycle.
Otherwise, I am really concentrating on trying to get zoos to improve so that the public can see how to change their behavior in order to create healthier communites and protect the environment from greater degredation.
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Q: sorry -dro o'meara
where did you get the idea of this ark
The ark is a famous biblical instance of God carrying about the survival of all living creatures- not just man. God told Noah to gather a pair of every living creature and put it on this huge ship in order that all of these animals would be able to survive a massive flood.
Whether you believe in God or not, the way I read this is that it is our duty to look after the earth and protect all of the living animals as much as we can- afterall, we are all part of this web of life and if we start causing massive extinctions (we are currently in one of the largest extinctions ever- including that of the dinosaurs), we are eventually going to bring about our own demise.
I also think the zoo is kind of like the ark in the way that it seeks to represent several species and educate us about them so that we do not destroy them with our own destructive forces: pollution, building dams, closing nature reserves, poaching, excessive waste of resources and energy that depletes natural environments. If you look at it from the point of view that we are being environmentally neglegent right now with how much we consume and waste, which in turn, causes the destruction of natural habitats and species- we are sorely in need of some kind of rescue boat! In the case of the zoo, the rescue boat is education.
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Q: hows about that? -poo
how are zoos today like noah in the old testament?
Since the construction of the world's first zoo (believed to be in Egypt, 1500 B.C.) zoos began to hold a unique place in cities as research and entertainment centers. Additionally, ancient zoos flaunted wealth by exhibits animals from far reaching empires as proof of the nation's power of acquisition. Now, however, the role of zoos is being modified to include the responsibility of environmental educator. Much like Noah of the Old Testament, zoo curators present samples of wildlife, hoping to protect them from the flood of urban sprawl and industrialization by raising environmental awareness of the ills of industry and deforestation.
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Q: hello -moley
what was the role of the zoos in the past?
Please see the journal entry on "history of zoos abridged" in the "before" section of the journal
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Q: If you really care -Peta Fruntchiate
How about instead of taking animals out of their own habitat and each animals individual environment, perhaps you could spend the excess time and money on destroying poachers chance to even see and touch the animals in the first place. Stop habitat destruction in the wild and these animals will never need to be taken into a new environment away from their families-Think about what's best for them, not you.
Ironically, zoos and aquariums have bred their own critics by doing their job right- and your statement is one of many that chastise zoos for not really "caring" about the animals that they house- but if you take two steps back and look at it from another perspective- the biggest culprit of making animals endangered is not the zoo- but pollution, oil spills, mismanaged conservation projects... the Bush administration. Yeah, zoos are not "saints" about conservation but they are seriously trying.
For example, once zoos have boosted awareness of certain animals, zoo critics will demand that those animals should be free in the wild and not kept in captivity for entertainment. Take the killer whale for example. The killer whale, Orcinus orca, gets its name from the Greek word "Orcinus" meaning "from Hell." Indeed, the early Greeks believed that this dolphin was a demon, and the demonizing of the Orca has continued until the 1970s with such spin-offs as the poorly received film Orca (1977) wherein a mass-murdering orca roams the seas on a revenge quest. The tide was turned on such negative press when orcas became on display.
The first orca capture and display took place in Vancouver in 1964, and there ensued about 70 more such captures for display over the next 15 years. The public was enthralled with this animal and took interest in the facts: orcas, despite their ferocious name, had never killed a human. With a changed image, orcas became a respected predator that poses little actual threat to human. With the new found empathy, the public began demonstrations to stop zoos from collecting animals from the wild. Never mind, that orca numbers were decreasing from pollution, hunting and a variety of other environmentally destructive factors that activists could have lobbied against- aquariums were the easiest target.
With public pressure and considerably lower numbers of the animals in the wild, aquariums turned to breeding captive orcas, and they did so with great success. Yet, the public that once visited these animals in droves to witness their intelligence became informed enough about their state in the wild to deem the educational entertainment of the zoo obsolete, and the public began to clamor for the ban of orcas in captivity altogether. Such demands and wishes were epitomized in the movie Free Willy (1993) which focused on the quest for freedom for a captive orca.
So- the aquariums did their job really well- people care about orcas now and want to protect them. Maybe the Atlanta Zoo can do the same with the whale sharks in their new exhibit- just as monterey bay aquarium tried to do when they housed a great white shark.... and just as zoos are trying to do with wolves and other animals that are perceived as dangerous and bad for buisness.
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Q: role of zoos in the past -edwina
what was the role of the zoos in the past?
Dear edwina, please see my journal entry entitled "history of zoos abridged"- it is in the "before" chapter of the journal... but if I have to outline:
2000B.C.-1900: research/show off wealth
1900-1970: open to public, curious about other species
1970-2005: concerned about animals, dawn of animal welfare, learn about animals in context of habitat
2005- promote conservation through increased awareness.
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Q: Do wombats smell? -Georgia + Lauren
Do wombats smell?
I am not really sure about that- but you know, pretty much every animal has some kind of smell associated with it. Males smell a certain way to attract females- females can smell which children are theirs and so on. The question might be: can we humans smell wombats- and would we like it if we could? Might be a good question for Steve Irwin.
Thanks for the interesting thought!
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Q: smoking monkeys?! -your buddy Maureen Siegel
I came across this little blurb under "Odds and Ends" in the Boston Globe. Have you encountered any problems like this in your fellowship? What can a zoo really do to prevent this kind of thing from happening?
Zoo tries to get chimp to kick the habit
April 22, 2005
BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa -- A South African zoo wants a chimpanzee to quit smoking cold turkey.
Keepers say Charlie the chimpanzee picked up the habit from visitors at the Bloemfontein Zoo who sometimes toss him cigarettes.
"It looks funny to see a chimp smoking," a zoo spokesman said, but Charlie's trick could cost him his health.
The zoo is asking people to stop tossing cigarettes and contributing to the chimp's habit.
A zoo official says Charlie "acts like a naughty schoolboy" and hides his cigarettes when workers are around.
Marueeni`, that blurb sounds ridiculous. I really don't believe it- I mean- how does Charlie the chimp light the cigarettes that get tossed to him?
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Q: Monkey house -daniel
Hi, My name is Daniel and I´m doing my final proect in school right now. I study to become a construction designer in sweden and now I´m designig the new monkeyhouse for some chimanzees at Ölands Djurpark. (www.olandsdjurpark.com) I´ve been in contact with Jane Goodall Ins and they have send me some info. I just wonder if you have any ideas or other information that you can help me with. I can send you a email with more information if you want. Keep it real/d.
Daniel, that sounds really exciting- I'll send you an email soon with some ideas from what the Jane Goodall Institute did in the Shanghai Zoo. Are you making the whole house from scratch or are you revamping an old enclosure? Is it indoors our outdoors? In any event: here is a really good book that you should read before you start putting anything together- and there is also the ChimpanZoo people to contact, and I am sure you can find their info through JGI. The book to read is: "The Care and Management of Captive Chimpanzees." 2001. Ed. Linda Brent. San Antonio, Texas. The American society of Primatologists.
Anyway- more from me soon.
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Q: zoo design -aymn
i need some information and photos about zoo design ( architecture zoo projects ) like plans , landscapes . can you help me please i need it for my graduate project in my university in cairo . and i am sorry for my poor english . thanks
I would be happy to help. I only have blueprints from a few zoos, and I would have to ask them before I could share them with you. I do have general layout design from the zoo maps at every zoo, and I could send that to you or post it on the conference. Send me an email and tell me more about which aspects of zoo architecture you are interested in (overall layout, exhibit design, enrichment, primates or ungulates, ect...). You can also check out zoolex.com and there are some other zoo design firms out there as well.
And good luck with your graduate project.
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Q: Denmark Hello -Jason Gallant (email@example.com
I was just bored in my dorm room and decided to check out your Watson fellowship project website. We met at the Neuroethology Conference in Denmark, remember me? At any rate- my question relates to what the most challenging part of your Fellowship has been thus far. Care to comment?
Haha! Thank you so much for this question
this gives me the perfect opportunity to gripe a little, and griping is something that should be illegal when you get a Watson- after all, I get a small salary to travel and do my own thing without any guidance or expectations. Who could complain?
Still, there have been some pretty big challenges about doing my own thing all over the world:
Besides the occasional hunger for pumpkin pie, honey-nut cheerios, enchiladas, and a nice big Guinness- food has been an enjoyable challenge (says the girl who could have eaten fried scorpion tonight and instead had strange Taiwanese ice-cream called flying silver fox on the mountain).
I could talk about leaving behind really fantastic friends like Karabo, Wendy, Warren, the Hunters, and all the wonderful zoo people that I have met- but leaving means that I can befriend new people (such as Stephen Protz, the zoo architect at ARC8X here in Shanghai).
Or, there are the long hours of traveling: Malagasy taxi brousses epitomize the triumph of humor and patience. I had to sit on someone elses lap while someone sat on mine and fish flopped in baskets and chickens and slabs of meat jostled back and forth as we bumped down the roads (or got out to push the sputtering truck up the hill). It was a good laugh afterwards (when I knew that I had survived and could shower).
And then there is the medical kit (everything has been used). I will not gross you out with details, but a pretty clean explanation for some of the ailments can be found in the entomologists soup that I ate in Africa. On the top, a few ants floated. At that point, I was not concerned with a few ants (that is nothing compared to some other floating food items
), so I picked out the little protein-filled bugs. Half way through the soup, I found a fly. I thought, well, I am half way done and I already slurped up most of the fly juice, so I might as well continue. I picked the fly out and continued. At the bottom was a beautiful, furry, long-winged white moth. Three different species of bug in one soup: the entomologists special.
Or the language problem: In Madagascar, I asked the guide about the traditional thatched and raised houses- he said that he really liked New York. I asked what species of bat was in the cave- he answered that his childhood house was made of straw. I asked if there were crocodiles in the river we were about to swim in, and he said that sometimes it floods here. I have found that not speaking the same language does not prevent communication- but steering the conversation is a bit more difficult. Additionally, if you want to know if the meat you are about to eat is cow or monkey- you can moo or jump around hooting. I think, by the end of the Watson, I will be a champion charades partner. Any challengers?
And then there is the cultural shock. In China, people shove me back into the subway tram as I fight desperately to get out, little old ladies elbow in front of me in line for food, and people snot rocket, spit all over the place and throw their trash everywhere. But, despite all of that and the wet grey weather after Singapore sunshine, I feel like the people are so friendly, helpful and patient- and China is full of potential, diversity, and enthralling history! The jolts of culture shock keep me on my toes trying to explain the differences and understand my own strange country.
Really, the only seemingly disheartening and discouraging problem is losing hope and losing touch. Sometimes I feel so exasperated with my project and myself. I have days where I feel like I make no headway with understanding the culture, nature or the architecture- or I want to be somewhere else and do something else- or feel like I am blocked from actually DOING something or having any impact at these zoos. At each zoo I have an exit interview to share my suggestions from other zoos and to talk about their positive and innovative designs. I want to do more than that. I want to insert myself into the community and start actually building some exhibits or implementing some of my ideas and make a dent in education, conservation and animal care.
Providence plays a large part in working out these snags.
In Singapore last week, I met a girl from my college who has a similar fellowship- and we sat up until 5 am talking about the burden of absolute freedom in the sense that one feels that one ought to make use of every waking second to do something wonderful- and being constantly turned on eventually leaves one numb and tired. So much novelty makes me crave the familiar. So much confusion makes me crave understanding. So much learning makes me crave to have a use. It was wonderful to suddenly run into someone with my same delights and frustrations- and to talk about the marvels and vexations.
Talking about THE FELLOWSHIP with someone who is on the same journey was refreshing. I did not have to explain my motives or goals and could get right to the perplexing challenges of the Watson. Aside from running into someone to talk about it with - the uncanny way this challenge works out is that after 7 months of travel, writing, designing, learning, and drawing, - I have landed in Shanghai, and the architect here wants me to get involved, make foam models and write up zoo plans. I am thrilled with finally being able to contribute. Plus, he says that he knows where to find a good Irish Pub and hence, some Guinness. Thank goodness for serendipity!
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Q: Breeding institutes -Jonas
I saw this picture in the newspaper and read that it was a liger, with a tiger mother and a lion father, born at the institute for endangered species in Florida. They claimed there to be about a handful of ligers in the world, all in captivity, of course, and also explained that it was bigger, stronger and faster than both tiger and lion. In addition to the liger they told about tions, which has a lion mother and a tiger father and is smaller than the liger. It seems insane to me that institutes for endangered species breed such things. Whats the point of the institute, really? Theyre not breeding to release and they dont even seem to be breeding the endangered species for captivity, but invent new species to call endangered.
Yeah- good question. There is no piont as far as I can see. I mean- we might as well just start splicing DNA together and making new rare animals. Promoting this sort of breeding and calling the animals "endangered" and "rare" takes the attention off the animals that are trully endangered- animals who have valuable genetic codes that have been shaped over centuries of evolution- these are the animals that need protection (not the brainchild of some mad scientist).
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Q: conflict of interest -warren
What if conflict of interest between humans and animals (pets specifically) occurs? e.g. people keep pets as animals to make themselves happy, but the animals themselves may not be happy being kept by a human. How many people will sacrifice their own happiness for releasing their pet? and if you love animals, will you rather keep them as your pet or keep them in the zoo for you to watch, or releasing them to the wild? On the other side, if people releaese them to the wild, how would people show/have their love for the animals( u don't see them in the zoo, u don't have a pet any more)?
Warren: There will always be conflicts on interest with animals. We hunt, eat, are eaten by, befriend, idolize, study, experiment on, and work with animals. There is no other relationship that is more complex than that of humans and animals. Some people try to simplify this relationship by becoming vegetarian and campaigning against use of animals in laboratories. These people seek to put animals on the same moral level as humans (thus, animals should be looked after, befriended, and treated with the same respect that we allow other human beings). Other people like to ignore that they keep pets, yet eat meat and wear fur coats and use cosmetics that were tested on animals just like their pets.
The moral lines are really fuzzy- and to complicate it even more: animals cannot communicate with us. We have to do a lot of guess work about what would really make them happy (eg. Is a dog happier with a nice warm fireplace and a family, or semi-wild with other dogs in a zoo, or fending for itself in the great outdoors?).
In short, conflict of interest is always going to occur. There are no real hard and fast rules about animal welfare- and this field is ever evolving. For my own part, I think that pets are important for humans to retain a relationship with nature. I think that they help remind people to look after wildlife (everything from plants to mountains). I do not know whether the pet sees this value and would rather be freed, but being a pet sure beats being made into a fur coat, eaten, starved off territory, hunted to extinction or being used in medical tests...
I guess that if you really love animals and love the diversity of life (with all of its quirks like pink Chinese river dolphins and personalities like spitting llamas), you will try to do what is best for the preservation of them. Sometimes this means that if people own pets, they become conscious about nature more- and sometimes, not owning pets and instead looking after wild animals achieves preservation goals. You can read more about this under a Singapore Journal Entry on Pets (To Have and to Hold).
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Q: bored? -erik
The Beijing Zoo was nice, but I can't help feel sorry for the animals in
the small cages. Some animals seem so sad and bored. But I don't know
much about animals in zoos. Are they bored?
Yep- animals get bored. Animals get so bored that they start biting their tails, pacing in a circle, plucking their feathers out, eating their babies. The boredom causes huge neurological problems. Most good zoos do a lot of enrichment- they give the animals toys to keep them interested
to stop boredom- a bigger cage would help too.
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Q: humans and animals -Baylee Suskin Powell
Katie, since you have spending alot of time lately with animals, I was wondering what you think is the main difference between humans and animals? Do you think there are more differences between A) humans and animals, B) humans and other humans (like eddie izzard and mao tseng, for example), or C) animals and other animals (for instance okapi and bees).
Baylee- thank you for this very interesting question.
As far as differences we humans can see: when we look at a herd of zebra- we cannot tell individuals apart. I wager that if a zebra were to look at Eddie Izzard, Mao Tseng and Madonna- the zebra would think they were identical triplets- just another herd of humans. Each species perceives there to be no difference among the individuals of another species and this is all because we are trained to hone in on what is around us and important to our survival. (Eg. If you were raised with a pack of 40 Dalmatians, you could tell which one was Spot and which one was Freddy). I think the animal kingdom abounds with just as many wonderful personalities as does the human species. Zoo keepers could easily tell apart the animals they have worked with, and they will know that Ginger the warthog has more twist to her tail and like to be rubbed under her chin, while Patricia is very shy.
But really, my answer only refers to differences we can see in appearance. While humans possess an increased aptitude for ingenuity and have authority over the Earth, the real difference between man and animal is compassion.
Humans are capable of acts that fall outside the realm of pure survival tactics. In short, humans are capable of altruism. While animals may feel pity and consequently compassion towards a member of another species (as Baloo feels for Mogli, or as a dog feels when it sacrifices its life for its owner), they are not capable of our far-reaching enduring compassion. We plan and maintain forest reserves for many generations after our own. Some are concerned with the extinction of species that do not even come from their same continent. E.O. Wilson calls this encompassing need to be with nature and to protect it a genetic predisposition: biophilia, the love of all things living. He claims that it is in our genes to want to walk in the forest, investigate ant nests, ooh and aww as dolphins jump from the water, and feels pangs of sorrow when a baby bird dies. Indeed, the Judeo-Christian Eden (or lost heaven) portrays humans living in harmony with every living thing and looking after them. But whether this altruism for the Earth is explained with religion or science is beside the point- it exists (and there is the existential view point).
If we see an adorable calf or a fluffy yellow peeping chick at a restaurant, we are less likely to order veal and chicken. We can sympathize with our food. Animals do not have pets for the pure joy of their companionship- only humans do. We plant gardens around our homes. We have stuffed animals to comfort us as children. We create zoos in order to be near wild animals and remind us to look after the world- because sometimes we forget.
Arguably, animals do not really need humans, but humans need animals. The coral reefs and rainforests do not need us- but we need them. For humanity to fail to see our connection with the life around us is to destroy ourselves through its degradation. And I think this is the link that zoos are trying to bridge; because, with all of our empathy- we also have dominion over the Earth and have the capacity to destroy it knowingly. No other species possesses this massive power to destroy or protect. With that power comes a responsibility that requires higher thinking and reasoning than many animals. Unlike the water buffalo or butterflies, we are capable of greater ingenuity and can invent our way out of disasters.
The philosopher, Thomas Paine, wrote in the late 1700s that the rate of environmental degradation in England was liable to leave the English with no land, no crops, no food and sure death within five years. Paines counterpart was a man by the name of Malthus. Malthus argued that England would be saved from the environmental degradation because human ingenuity would find a way to outrun our destruction. Either philosophy shows that environmental degradation threatens our existence- but one supplies hope in the form of relying on our ingenuity. This does not mean that we should cease to care about the environment and put all our trust in our wits- because we may not be smart enough to counter the huge extinction of life that we are creating. Furthermore, if our own destructive habits force human empathy to be discarded in the pure fight for survival- we will cease to be humans and will become animals.
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Q: Skimboarding -Migulle (Carl)
Hey great to see you guys placed some pics on your site, glad we made the cut, Have a great time
Miguel (Carl) and Sam- and thanks to you for teaching us sand-boarding. Glad we could give you a good laugh J
and glad we got a good laugh from the arm-wrestling.
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Q: Keep in touch -Barbara Hunter
Will you keep in contact with those you have met along the way??!!!
Just to wish you well as you continue your adventure. Lovely to get to know you & hope to meet again in the future. What a wonderful website you have created.
Barbara, Thank you! And it was wonderful to meet you too- we will definitely stay in touch (How could we not?)
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Q: Tsunami -Hel
How do you think the recent earthquake and subsequent tsunamis in Asia will affect the wildlife in that region? Are there any particular large zoos or natural parks that you know were affected?
P.S. I momentarily freaked out when I couldn't remember where you were going to be in late December. For some reason I got it into my head that Indonesia was part of your itinerary.
Helena- South Africa only felt aftershocks apparently- and I am now in Singapore, which was not hit at all. I do not know of any particular zoos or wildlife parks that were hit, but I have heard that before the wave hit, people saw animals running for higher ground. Animals seem to be very in-tune with nature and know when to run to it or from it, though I am sure natural disasters like this are also damaging to their populations. I have also heard some rumors that these huge natural disasters of late (the tsunami, earth quakes, floods, the hurricane in Sweden) are all part of a global weather changes that are happening with the ozone depletion. There are a lot of proponents and a lot that decry the theory. It will be interesting to hear what they decide.
In the meantime, I am really proud to see how the world has pooled their resources and compassion and sent both to Indonesia for relief and rebuilding.
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Q: Have you seen any crocodiles? -John Brennan
Have you seen any crocodiles
Yes- I have seen crocodiles in nearly all the zoos that I have visited. The zoo in Madagascar had a huge lake of 100 crocodiles- and that has been the best way to see crocodiles. While it was thrilling to see so many blinking up from the water and the shore- crocodiles do not move very much- and the keepers can go in with them and not be attacked. So, all the stereotypes I had of big dinosaur-like monsters chasing people- is completely wrong. They are just big peaceful reptiles.
though I would never go swimming with them.
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Q: Ethics and zoos -Lotte
What do you think about housing animals in zoos when they have been illegally taken from their native habitat? The Economist recently ran an article about the "Taiping Four", gorillas at I believe either the Pretoria or Johannesburg zoo, who some wished to see put into a re-introduction program, or released to their "native land". It seems that allowing such animals to be traded with zoos internationally might encourage seizure of endangered species...what is your experience with this and other ethical issues?
I am tickled pink that you asked this question- mainly because I managed to get that very same issue of the Economist and have been pondering that very same article. Because my reply is heated (read: ardently lengthy), I have moved it to the Journal Entry: South Africa section of the website. You can find my answer under the title Taiping Four 25, Nov. Thank you for bringing up a current zoo controversy in such a wonderful question!
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Q: what kind of animal do you like? -John Brennan
I'm a forth grader at Blessed Sacrament school in Wisconsin. What kind of animal do you like?
I like all kinds of animals: big and small, mammals and fish, vertebrates and insects. They are all interesting in different ways. My favorite animal changes every week- and I seem to get this question a lot- which is great because I have a new favorite animal every week. Right now my favorite animal is the Bornean Crested Fireback (Lophura i. Ignita). This bird has an iridescent back that shimmers red, blue and green. It seems like it is right out of Harry Potter. Still, nothing is as cuddly as Jake the Wisconsin mallard
Here is a picture you can click on it to enlarge.
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Q: What is your favorite movie? -Jerry
What is your favorite movie? Jerry
Dear Jerry- my favorite movie is not zoo related (Princess Bride or the Chipmunks episodes)- but I can recommend some great movies about animals. The library usually has a few David Attenborough movies about leopards in the night, blind cave crocodiles, or the life of insects. These movies are usually very exciting
because you get to watch the animals stalk prey, raise their kids and play.
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Q: Infra-red cameras -Bayls
So I am curious to know if you have had a chance, finally, to view crocodiles or alligators through infra-red night vision goggles? Barring that, have you had any close encounters with David Attenborough? Do you expect to? Also, could you report on other amphibious life forms you have noticed so far in your adventures? (Especially, if possible, on Frogs and Toads)
Lieber Frauleine Suskin-Powell:
Our crocodile viewing equipment is inadequate. (In fact, we are finding that everything we have brought with us is disintegrating. Waterproof watches are no longer waterproof, indestructible backpacks have ripped in half, flashlights with super long-lasting shine are dim, the flash on the camera died
hence if we had seen any blind cave crocodiles- they would have had to be 1 foot in front of us- and then, well- the camera would not have worked. Really, we should be hired to test equipment for durability
and of course paid big money for it). That aside, the only crocodiles we have seen are in the zoo (and believe me, we went looking for them in caves). The one and only truly dangerous animal in Madagascar is nowhere to be seen. In fact, there are only an estimated 20,000 left in the wild because of all the hunting.
Meanwhile, however, we listened to a bunch of cockamamie stories about fossa (predators the size of cats) attacking and eating hikers, snakes dropping from the trees like spears, and how seeing an aye-aye spells sure death. It seems, with the lack of anything truly dangerous, Malagasy (people from the land of large predators and poisonous cobras) have transferred their fear to Madagascars fauna or invented things to scare themselves silly. (I am beginning to think that the element of fear is necessary to survive in the wild??? Maybe a philosopher could delve into that topic and develop it better than I.) Truly, though, the only really dangerous animals left in Madagascar are humans.
As far as Mr. Attenborough! We stayed in a hotel that he stayed in (along with Gerald Durrell)
maybe we even stayed in the same room
probably the pillows were the same (all the pillows seem to be very old- filled with greatness and adventure
or all those awful bugs that collect from other peoples dandruff). As for the living biologist contingent still roaming the earth- we met some very interesting specimens: Marius Burger is a positively delightful herpetologist from South Africa- and we ran into Brian Fischer, who recently designed an Army ant exhibit in San Francisco (he even went to Costa Rica to vacuum up 1 million army ants- (ferocious little animals that build their nest from their dead brethren and will consume each other if not fed copious amounts of maggots)- and transported them through customs for the display. Ah, the wild and wooly stories that entomologists can tell!)
As for amphibious life forms: Mr. Persson has created a brief but illustrative album for you- it can be reached at this address. Under every leaf it seems there is something- and there are little Bofus frogs that pip a high E-flat eighth note for hours. At night in Ranomafana National Park, it sounded like thousands of Steinways were being employed especially for the high E-flat eight-note orchestra. They were accompanied by other froggie rumblings, and as a visual display- phosphorescent beetle larvae slunk through the leaf litter. I was consumed by thoughts of you- and tried to find the little music boxes- but when I approached the noise to investigate- it would stop- I would back away- and it would start again. I think cutting-edge, inventive musicians (such as Bjork or Morrissey) could make beautiful music just by moving erratically through the forest with great sound equipment.
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Q: Love Your Journal -Diane Triant '68
Thought I might propose a "Class Notes" bio on your project to Wellesley Magazine. No guarantee they will accept, but do I have your OK to do so? I think it would make great reading.
Keep up the fascinating journal entries!
Thanks Diane! every bit of encouragement means a great deal to me. And you have my OK for a class notes bio. (By the way, I spent Christmas with a Wellesley alumna- Vertrees Malherbe, who graduated nearly 50 years before I did! We had an incredibly fun time together going on wine tastings, seeing a play, and playing bridge. Meeting Vertrees made me swell with pride for all of the wonderful women that chose Wellesley).
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Q: What is your favorite animal? -Katherine
What is your favorite animal? Katherine
Dear Katherine, my favorite animal changes from week to week. I find nearly every animal fascinating, funny, or interesting for one reason or another- from crayfish to indri indri. While in Madagascar, I have thought that some of the moths are really beautiful- and I always wonder why they are attracted to the light? In addition, the Uroplatus geckos are very weird-looking animals that are rewarding to find and watch. Uroplatus geckos seem to be the champions of camouflage, disguising themselves as tree bark or leaves. The only way to find them is to go out at night and shine a flashlight on the trees to see if you find eyes reflecting back at you. You can see some of the pictures of these animals on the website.
Really, I think it is best to have a favorite animal that you can see nearly every day. At home, I like to go on a walk in the woods nearby- to see if I find deer or owls- and then they are my favorite animals.
Right now, my favorite animal is one that is very easy to find: a dog that lives at our hotel in Tana and likes to have her belly scratched.
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Q: Do you get to see monkeys? -Rachel
Do you get to see monkeys? Rachel
Dear Rachel, I have seem many monkeys in the zoos- they are the main attraction in some zoos. As far as seeing monkeys in the wild: in South Africa we saw vervet monkeys and baboons. In Madagascar, we have seen many types of prosimians (lemurs), which are very closely related to monkeys. Lemurs, like monkeys, have above average intelligence, opposable thumbs, and forward-facing eyes. If you look at some of the pictures on the website of lemurs, you can see how similar they are to monkeys- and also how they are different in many ways as well.
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Q: Whats up? -Frans
I would like to know what you've been up to the last two weeks. Haven't you done anything exiting enough to deserve a journal entry?
Well, my apologies to you, Frans, for the lack of updating. The reason for this neglect is actually the opposite of your guess- so much have been going on that we just haven't had the time to update the website. The last two hours at this internetcafe in Tana should have taken care of the problem, though.
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Q: Do you ever get sick of traveling? -Nikki
Do you ever get sick of traveling? Nikki
Dear Nikki, I do get sick of traveling. I miss home sometimes- and I really miss honey-nut cherrios cereal. Traveling in Madagascar has been especially hard. The buses are filled with people, luggage and whatever the people are taking to market (chickens, fish, rice). The roads in Madagascar are very bumpy and unpaved, so riding on them is like being on a rollercoaster. The only good thing about being crammed in such packed buses is that I get to practice Malagasy and people tell me about their life- in tight spaces, you make friends fast. In addition, once the bus finally reaches the destination- the whole ride is worth it. All of the hassle of flying to Madagascar, taking the buses, setting up tents, unpacking and repacking is worth it- just to see the amazing cave systems, the sunken forests, the golden bamboo lemurs, and do the opening circle dance in a Malagasy village.
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Q: Do you like the turtles? -Megan
Do you like the turtles?
Dear Megan, I do like turtles. I have found that one of my favorites is the box turtle in Madagascar- this turtle can open and close the bottom part of its shell in addition to tucking its neck into the shell. The large zoo in the capital also has some Aldabras tortoises, which are so humongous that you could ride on them (though you would not go very fast). Do you know the difference between a turtle, terrapin and a tortoise?
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Q: BioDome the Movie -Dial M for Margaret
In response to your bird inquiry: Have you ever seen the movie biodome? It seems to me that your problem with the rhinos illustrates a very good point that zoos are rather incapable of simulating the world we live in. We can't simply expect a rhino cage to provide enough interest for these birds. Could a biodome that simulates the different regions of the world ever be built? Could that ever really work? If so, could people visit it?
Or is this just another hollywood bird brain idea.
Moody gardens rainforest is essentially a biodome- but with only birds, butterfly, fish and flora in it- no big mammals. Most free flight aviaries are moving towards the biodome experience with mock up ruins, waterfalls and all the works of what would be in the wild- only under glass. However, try enclosing an elephant in glass- or a bear. So far, what I have gathered about these two species- is that when you give them something new- the first thing they do is try and break it. Also- horns and hoofs are out as far as glass (unless bullet-proof would work- though that would be outrageously expensive). And the other problem is that carnivores eat meat- people look like big sides of ham to them. As a biodome visitor, you would most likely want a guarantee that you come out of your zoo experience alive- without being gouged by an oryx or munched on by a lion. You would probably want all of your fingers and toes- and not a scratch from visiting the mock safari or rainforest. In which case- the zoo is the perfect place to see the wildlife- from a definite safe position without incurring bodily harm. I can say this for sure because Jonas and I just got back from our first bush visit- where we did not even need that zoom feature on the camera to get an upclose of an elephant. We were not flattened though.
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Q: What's the strangest animal you have seen? -Peter
What's the strangest animal you have seen? Peter
Peter, the strangest animal I have seen is the aye-aye. This animal is endangered in Madagascar, it is nocturnal, and few zoos in the world have one- so seeing an aye-aye is really a treat. At the zoo in the capital of Madagascar, I went on a night tour to see an aye-aye especially. The aye-aye has a long fox-like tail, huge eyes, large bat ears, a small rabbit mouth, and a very long skeletal finger that is uses to pull grubs out of rotten trees. Like a monkey, the aye-aye can walk upside down on branches. See if you can find a picture of one- and maybe youll agree that the aye-aye is a strange animal.
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Q: What is your favorite animal you have seen? -Bryce
What is your favorite animal you have seen?
Dear Bryce- this is a very difficult question! There are so many wonderful and unique animals that I have seen (raccoons, lynx, bears, lions, ground hornbills, chameleons, lemurs, Uroplatus
) Recently, I changed my mind about my favorite animal. If you watch this video clip about a sifaka jumping- you can see why the sifaka is a wonderfully adorable animal (sifaka video) . I highly suggest trying to jump like a sifaka (sifaka practice) .
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Q: leaving -Laure-Anne
When are you taking off for South Africa?
Dearest Laure-anne, Jonas and I leave for South Africa August 15th- very very soon. Tomorrow morning in fact. We have a schedule in the itinerary sectin of the website- so you will know where we are and when.
I have just been away for a neuroethology conference in Denmark- and what a blast. The world of bug brains is fascinating- and for more on that topic, you can read my latest and greatest journal entry. Good luck on the start of the term!
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Q: Commercial Sponsorship -Melvin Brinkley = Dad
Have you thought about having your adventure commercially sponsored? You could be the representative of corporations that want you to give needed items to zoos. Gravy Train or Purina for instance make exotic animal foods also and they might like having you give so many pounds of food to a zoo in a struggling country. Or Trane or Frigidaire or GE, one of the air conditioning people might like the idea of giving an AC unit to a country that has polar bears.
Something that a school did once was send a teddy bear on an adventure. The USAF PR people got the teddy bear and sent the teddy bear on F-16 flights, into surgery, loading cargo, etc. - taking pictures of the teddy bear doing all this stuff and then making an album of the virtual adventures. The class that sent the teddy bear had a "virtual adventure" vicariously through the teddy bear.
These are some ways of getting other people involved in your project.
thank you for the suggestions... and now that you mention it, I would like to thank you for your sponorship all of these years.
Yes, it would be marvelous to have sponsors and get more people involved in the project. I will have to ask the Watson Fellowship people if that is allowable- I bet not. So, as is- Jonas and I will travel on a shoestring and work for the love of animals- and that is all possible for one year... maybe next year I could have sponsors to keep it up?
As for the mascot- I will be traveling with a Jake- the Mallard for the fourth grade class in La Crosse, WI. Jake is going to board a plane for South Africa tomorrow. He has already flown to Sweden. He certainly has a strange migration pattern- and a very strange flock (me and Jonas). We will try to stay in formation.
Over and out,
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Q: Horses, milk, and sugar -Arne
How come you can ride a horse until it dies of exhaustion? Is it because they have a small capacity for abstract thinking, or does it have to do with milk and sugar in their vascular systems?Thanks,Arne
Dearest Arne Bulkhead,
This is something I have always wondered. Why would Hidalgo race until he died? And cowboys always go into the desert on a horse with no name and come out with no horse (with no name). Could it be due to paralytic myoglobinurea, exertional rhabdomyolysis, or the equine malady commonly known as exertional myopathy?
I believe you have hit on two major questions here: milk and sugar, and do horses get tired.
So, first: milk and sugar. Lactose is the sugar or energy component of milk. Unique to mammals, each lactose molecule is broken with an enzyme into two molecules of glucose (sugar). By nine to 12 months of age, however, the digestive system of a young horse loses the ability to split lactose into glucose, and in the older horse lactose can only be broken down by microbial fermentation in the hindgut. So, if your horse gets tired and it is over 9 months, don't feed it milk.
Tired: I guess this part all comes from the saying- you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. If you could make him drink... then maybe he wouldn't die. So, I suppose horses are very stubborn. Also, I have heard that a very small boy in sweden used to ride his horse up very tall hills- and that horse, apparently, got tired. Maybe tiredness only applies to horses in combination with small boys.... but that's just my opinion, man.
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Q: Visiting zoos -
What zoos have you visited prior to your departure? Which is your favorite zoo?
I have been to many different zoos in the US, and some while abroad. My favorite in the US is Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas. I love it best because that is where I became fascinated with the purpose, design and evolution of the zoo, and working there was my first time behind the scenes at a zoo. Moody Gardens has a huge open flight rainforest in a large glass pyramid that one can walk through during the day or at night. It is the most real and curiosity-inspiring rainforest exhibit I have ever seen in a zoo- and that may be because so much of it is flora and not fauna.
I also really loved Tierpark Hellabrunn in Munich, Germany because of the open plan of their exhibits. Small monkeys can swing about wherever they please and peacocks roam about. The open exhibits, where possible, are more intriguing to me. In addition, in Munich, I have seen the keepers playing with the elephants, doing pull-ups on their tusks, showering them off, tossing them things to eat or break. The interaction between man and animal shows off the intelligence and gentleness of both and is a delightful spectacle.
I enjoyed the Sydney, Australia zoo because you can walk through the kangaroo grounds, and they come up and take corn kernels from you. It is unlike any petting zoo in the US.
Nordens Ark in Sweden is also a very special zoo because the exhibits are designed to be as natural as possible. For instance, the wolf exhibit is very open with lots of huge trees. One would think that you could never see the animals there, but wolves parole the parameters of the enclosure, so we got to see one of them out on the prowl, sniffing around and reporting back to the pack.
The African safari exhibit at the San Diego Wild Animal Park in California is also unique because of its size and the vast combination of species. I had never seen a giraffe run, and if that doesn't make one instantly love a giraffe, then seeing their long eyelashes bat as they flirt for food will.
There are so many wonderful things about each of these zoos, and I hope to pinpoint more what makes the exhibit work during my year. If you can think of anything that has made you love the zoo more, please post it in questions for discussion or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Q: How often will you .... -Dad
How often will you contact your parental units - especially your Pater Familias? How often will you send him pictures of your most excellent adventure?
I solemnly swear to give you telephonic contact information and addresses for each of my destinations. In addition, I will throw in a few pictures and emails especially addressed to you every week so that you know that I am still alive :) Don't worry, dad.
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Q: Watson Link -
This is a GREAT website!! Do you have room for more people in your luggage? Real question: can you add a link to the Watson Fellowship home page?
The Watson link should be on the front page- along with the Wellesley link. And thank you! I will pass the compliments on to webmaster/guru Jonas.
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Q: Example 2 -
The following question being asked is displayed above the previous question. They are ordered by time. Notice that the question won't appear until the answer is given.
This is an answer
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Q: Question example 1 -
This is the question being asked. It could be anything you are interested in knowing about the project, zoos, animals etc.
This is were I will do my best to answer the question above.
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