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Article on Zoophobia

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Arizona Docent, 3 Dec 2016.

  1. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    Interesting article from ZooNation.org, a site I just discovered. It argues against the increasing fear of people and companies to be seen as supporting zoos (with a strong use of Sea World as an example).
    Zoophobia: An Alternate Reality
     
  2. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Moderator Staff Member

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    "we are living in an alternate reality"

    An interesting quote from an interesting article.
     
  3. jibster

    jibster Well-Known Member

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    I read the article and spent a little time looking over the ZooNation.org site, and I must say that I found its pro-zoo slant so over-the-top at times as to be rather silly. I am troubled by the lack of transparency on a site that seeks donations to further its mission contains little to no information about who serves on its volunteer board.

    Take the following: in answering the question, "who are we?" the site proclaims:

    "ZooNation is comprised of passionate and dedicated zoological professionals, and committed conservationists from different backgrounds. Our compassion unites us as we endeavor to heal the planet. We seek to empower a global community of proactive animal welfarists and environmentalists within and outside of the zoo and aquarium industry."

    All well and good, but who are the people who run this organization, or at the very least the website? In response, someone asked, "You do not really say “who” is directing Zoo Nation. ED? Staff? Thanks." The response, from the original post author: "Good question and an easy answer. ZooNation is currently being run entirely by our volunteer board. Hope that answers your question." Well, no. Who is on this volunteer board? Are they zoo professionals, conservationists, interested laypeople? Any names and credentials would be helpful.

    There is no direct link to leadership on the site. After digging around a bit and making a couple of google website, I found more information at dev.zoonation.org/about-us. Not sure who the current leadership is (this appears to be old information, and this link is not active from the main site), but some of the people involved do have some bona fides, though others have unspecified backgrounds (no information on the website about who they are). It is clear that some (current or former) board members of Zoo Nation (including the person who seems to have founded the organiation) used to run the unofficial Sea World podcast, that then morphed into the ZooNation podcast: "The Unofficial SeaWorld Podcast will always have a special place in the hearts of Mike Madsen and Eric Davis, both board members of ZooNation, because it was that project that helped inspire them to advocate for zoological facilities around the world."

    The Unofficial SeaWorld Podcast seems to have changed into the ZooNation podcast (which features a single episode, from my search) right when Sea World announced cessation of its breeding program for orcas. It does look like a number of people involved in the website were big advocates of Sea World's orca breeding and many of the articles on the website are very much against Sea World's decision (often explicitly).

    In any case, it's not clear what this organization does; it does appear to accept donations, but there is no information about any concrete projects or programs it funds. The only information I found was so lacking as to be comical:

    Financials



    I have no problem with a website with a definite point-of-view, but I am troubled by the extreme lack of transparency with respect to the nonprofit organization represented by this website, and would encourage anyone visiting to treat all of its contents with some healthy skepticism. While I do not doubt that the people behind it mean well and (in at least some cases) have some knowledge of what they speak, I am not convinced that any information here is much better than the biased stuff you might read from PETA. And while I am a firm believer that zoos have much to offer in conservation, I have to question the bias of a website where the most recently posted article begins with the following sentence: "Zoos are often the best hope or even last hope for the survival of a species, especially if they are threatened or endangered."
     
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  4. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    Well thought out post. After I found them (and posted this) I spent some time on the site as well. My feelings match yours. In fact in one spot you mention where someone posted a response about who they are and they replied we are a volunteer board I hope that answers your question. I posted a reply saying no that does not answer the question - a list of names and facility associations would help. Unlike ZooChat, however, my reply is not immediately visible. It has a note saying it is awaiting moderation. In other words they will not allow any responses unless they look at the response first to make sure they like it. I was excited at first to find another source of zoo info, but looking deeper it is as you say lacking transparency.
     
  5. JVM

    JVM Well-Known Member

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    The idea of the article is based on a premise I can agree with - some people live in bubbles and make decisions based on emotion where science should supplant. This is all true and valid.

    The examples cited do not reflect this viewpoint, however - SeaWorld has done well in trying to recover it's reputation, but the SeaWorld "does not need this partnership" argument is hollow and silly, as it makes no suggestion that the partnership harms SeaWorld in any way, shape or form. The TripAdvisor issue also is clearly not aimed at traditional zoological facilities, which keep the kind of staff on hand that would make them acceptable to TripAdvisor's criteria.

    None of this shows a response that in conflict with science.
     
  6. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

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    This is a disturbing site. It appears really to be phishing for donations for non-existent programs run by anonymous people.
    I think there is a deposed Nigerian prince involved ;-)
     
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  7. jayjds2

    jayjds2 Well-Known Member

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    I've known about this site for a while, and one of the more basic issues is that they need fact and spell checkers. I remember a post (now corrected) about "Bei Bei the panda cub, who lives at the San Diego Zoo." That's confusing to me on so many levels- if they're going to write an entire article about this panda cub (and there weren't any other young panda cubs in the US at the time) you'd think that they would at least get the zoo right. This also clearly proves they don't fact-check. A simple Google search results in thousands of results, including a Wikipedia page and a Twitter account dedicated to him, most of which make it very clear he lives at the National Zoo. I also notice grammar and spelling errors in some of their articles- minor, but if they truly wanted to project a professional and credible opinion, they would make sure that these inconsistencies are addressed.

    I agree that it is important to know who runs this organization- a Facebook Live video from earlier confirms Eric Davis and someone by the name of Nicolas as people affiliated with the organization (no direct confirmation of them being board members). I haven't watched it all the way through (it's about 18 minutes long), but here's the link:
     
  8. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

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    Eric Davis Bio
     
  9. JVM

    JVM Well-Known Member

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    I love Wikipedia, so this isn't a bash on the wiki itself, but it's pretty adorable how this is mostly lifted from Wikipedia in such a way they maintain links to Wikipedia pages and a Reference list.

    I'm sure Eric Davis is a genuinely nice guy, but this is less effort than I do for bigger people and groups for no charge.