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Best way to learn about animals

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by FelipeDBKO, 6 Apr 2016.

  1. FelipeDBKO

    FelipeDBKO Well-Known Member

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    Currently I'm 12 years old (almost 13), and I research of animals pratically since I discovered it. I rarely go in the small zoos that we have here, in Brazil, so pratically everything I learned about animals was on the internet (I don't know how I did it, but thank you internet! :) ). Recently I started to train to decorate the scientific name of animals.

    I understand a little bit about each type of animals (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, invertebrates ...), but usually I only know the most known species, being the most cited. Sometimes it bothers me a little if I don't know about, for example, some antelope, or some beautiful bird (I don't know much about species of doves, ducks, pheasants, parrots...), or some snake specie, or some threatened amphibian...

    So, in the opinion of you, what is the best way to learn about animals? How did you learn about animals?
     
  2. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    Felipe, also time is needed. You can't learn a lot of things in lets say, just one year.

    As a kid, I firstly stuidied animals from TV (like from Animal planet, Zookeeper in San Diego Wild Animal park, from Los Angeles, London zoo, Stewe Irwin, and many more) because that time, we don't had internet), from books, and from personal experience with farm animals, zoo animals as visitor, street animals, and finaly some local wildlife.

    The education is life-lasting process, every time you can learn smething new. For example, first time I heard of Samar cobra before some year or two. Then I went to veterinary high school, and then at Faculty of veterinary medicine, in wich domestic animals are studied the most. But my hobby/passion for wild animals never ended... I researched them mostly on net. and I am continuing.
     
  3. jbnbsn99

    jbnbsn99 Well-Known Member

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    The old fashioned way...
     
  4. FelipeDBKO

    FelipeDBKO Well-Known Member

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    The Doctor Who library? :p

    But many things that can be finded in books, also can be finded on the internet. And I would read animals books, if I had easy access to them.
     
  5. jbnbsn99

    jbnbsn99 Well-Known Member

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    Easy access to books?
     

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  6. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

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    The best way to learn about animals? Go outdoors; you’re in Brazil, after all-lovely native wildlife. Otherwise: what jbn wrote.
     
  7. overread

    overread Well-Known Member

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    A few thoughts:

    1) Are you near any reserves or wildlife sanctuaries or the like. If you are consider volunteering or contacting them as many will often have youth projects and activities as well. You might well find that some activities might be simplistic, but if you can volunteer you can learn a good lot on=site and in the wild. In addition you can make some fantastic contacts who might well have a lot of knowledge to pass on as well as references and other avenues to explore into natural studies.
    The same may also be true of any zoos or the like; but note that some bigger institutions are more closed to easier access than smaller establishments. If you do try at a zoo or similar remember that a LOT of the work is menial (cleaning pens) but you can still learn a lot from keepers and being there regularly and picking things up.

    2) Books are good; but do hunt around. Ask in natural studies places and forums about good recommendations - they will sadly be expensive much of the time. You might also find that Brazil could have less ready access to some or might not have as an extensive second hand market (I honestly have no idea; that is purely a guess on my part).But at the very least you can build yourself up a good reading list.

    3) Using the same method as part 2 but for websites. Be careful with the internet as whilst books can most certainly be wrong; the internet is a lot easier to have very opinionated or incorrect information*. As always double check things.

    4) If you are organised set yourself project species. Focus on a single species or family and write out all you can find in detailed notes. IT will not only help you focus your research efforts; but also provide structure to what you are doing and the notes can be invaluable later - just remember to always have references with your notes so you can always find original sources of information you used.


    *Books and the internet can also suffer from lagging behind modern advances. Eg you'll find a lot of latin names have changed over time because of DNA which won't be reflected in some older publications; however it can persist into the internet where people write websites based upon older book references
     
  8. Macaw16

    Macaw16 Well-Known Member

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    My advice is, go outside! Just watch the birds, animals and whatever else is lurking out there, even if they're Feral Pigeons. Just watch their behaviors, I've personally been helped by House Sparrows!
     
  9. Giant Panda

    Giant Panda Well-Known Member

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    Hi Felipe.

    A sound knowledge of animals and their taxonomic relationships is foundational for any good zoologist. You've been given some solid advice on how to achieve that and it sounds like you're doing a lot right already. Keep at it, add time, and you'll reach the desired result. The internet is an invaluable resource, as is this site. Listen to those more experienced than yourself, but don't be afraid to ask questions and even challenge viewpoints you disagree with (respectfully, of course). Even (especially?) if you're wrong, you'll emerge the wiser from it.

    However, I'm going to come at this from a slightly different angle. The above knowledge is foundational for any good zoologist, but isn't necessarily his or her specialism. In addition to what's been said, I'd recommend taking a more holistic approach by improving your understanding of the many fields of zoology. How do different animals arise (evolutionary biology)? How do they interact (ecology)? How are they made (molecular biology)? How do they grow (development)? How do they behave (ethology)? You get the idea.

    These are all fascinating questions that can't necessarily be answered with a strict species-by-species approach. Speaking personally, I'm interested in the mechanisms that drive tropical diversity. On your natal continent, 500 different tree species can share a single hectare. Understanding how is perhaps the foremost question in tropical ecology, but I don't need to know the Latin name of every one of those species to take a stab at it.

    My point: learn the minutiae, yes, but also try to grasp the principles that underpin it all. Best of luck.
     
    Last edited: 7 Apr 2016
  10. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    Hello FelipeDBKO as you see, a lot of ways to learn more about animals. I would also say that contact with other animal-loving people / people that work with animals is very important. Try to find out if there is some kind of natural society / birding-club / conservation-group and so on in your area. If so, join them and you will meet people which can answer a lot of your questions and you will learn a lot.
    Go to a local zoo ( no matter how small ) or natural history museum and try to contact people working there - they normaly also know a lot of animals and here also you can ask al your questions. Maybe you can even try to ask if you can help somehow at such a collection and collect animal-information first-hand by handling and observing the animals.
    Collecting information is the best done by asking, asking and again asking so try to find to people you can go to with your questions.
    BTW, I know a large group of people were you can go with all you questions but I guess you already found that group and you already started to ask ;) ( ZooChat ! ).
    I don't know if you have a camera but if so, try to make photos and the species you don't know by name can be placed in the ID-section of the Gallery and a lot of people will be pleased to help you identifying the animals on your pictures !
     
  11. FelipeDBKO

    FelipeDBKO Well-Known Member

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    São Paulo, SP, Brazil
    Thank you all.

    jbnbsn99, Batto and overread not so easy for me to go in zoos, do volunteer work, go in libraries, buy books... As I already mentioned it, rarely I do something different, and this because my fathers didn't have much time to take me to other places. Even when they have time, rarely accept to spend it to entertain me. I also don't have too much time and freedom to leave home without them. The same thing goes for money.

    Macaw16, I already do this (and everybody think that I'm crazy :p). But it wasn't exactly what I meant.

    Giant panda, as well as the internet is a invaluable resource, other resources can also be.

    vogelcommando, as I said before, it's not so easy for me to leave home often. And I don't think that I need to focus on an area of biology. There was a time when I focused on researching on freshwater fish, then salt water fish, reptiles and amphibians, dinosaurs, megafauna, invertebrates, zoos...