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Do you engage with the 'enemy'?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by littleRedPanda, 25 Feb 2019.

  1. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Yes , whenever I can I engage diplomatically but assertively with anti zoo and animal rights "activists" who are able to carry out a civilized conversation because I feel it is important for us in conservation to be able to negotiate , discuss and listen to views that oppose our own. Whenever I talk with these kinds of people I endeavour to present them with a balanced , scientific (but not arrogant ivory tower) and rational argument for the need for good and ex-situ conservation focused zoos and captive breeding programes as a necessary complement to in-situ conservation work.

    Sometimes it works and people will be able to see what it is I am trying to articulate but often there is no common ground or these kinds of people are too entrenched and indoctrinated within their ossified world view / removed from the reality of conservation to be able to conceive of zoos as being anything other than "Cruel prisons". In those situations the only conclusion that can be reached is "I respectfully disagree with your opinion but believe you are entitled to hold it".

    However, I don't talk to screaming fanatics and those who try to shout down, lie about, blackmail or bully me or my colleagues in conservation will be called out and ALWAYS confronted head on. All I can say is similarly those "activists" who try to physically push or bully me or my colleagues ( and this does happen in conservation suprisingly frequently) around really will have picked the wrong person to pick a fight with. I have absolutely ZERO compunction or inhibitions about defending myself or my colleagues.

    But I would like to broaden the definition of just who and what "the enemy" is because ultimately in my experience the "enemy" is not just the animal rights activists and can actually be found internally within conservation itself. For example, it also comprises lazy ,uninspired and mediocre management of zoos or NGO's that refuse to move with the times or contribute anything meaningful / tangible to conservation and live like parasites off the funding derived from the public.

    I also think another formidable (but less talked about / acknowledged enemy) is a particular kind of arrogant , petty and narcissistic ivory tower academic ( to be contrasted with the many decent and principled academics and scientists) and their PhD students who are removed from the reality, risks and sacrifices of real world conservation. They scare / drive a good many decent people away from conservation, seldom care about commitment to long term conservation strategy or "fighting the long fight" or "boots on the ground" but instead only about publishing scientific papers to further their academic careers, they stultify , sabotage or impose group think or cloak and dagger bullying dynamics and tactics on the wider conservation world. They spend a couple of months at most in the field but all the while they play the virtue signalling role of the hero on twitter and in news publications while strutting around self importantly their university campuses and offices in the First world. I've even seen some of them have the gall and shamelessness to virtue signal through tweets about environmentalists and conservationists in Asia , Africa and Latin America who are gunned down and butchered in ever increasing numbers every year and who give their lives to protect the environment and biodiversity.

    I think of all the "enemies" it is the latter cowardly kind found in ever increasing numbers in academe that I have the least respect for and I'll admit that I have far more respect for even the more fanatical animal rights activists as adversaries than for them.
     
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  2. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

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    I once had a online discussion with a notorious anti-zoo lobbyist that was rather enlightening. For whom? Well, that's a matter of perspective. I initiated the discussion with the following, seriously meant question: Let's assume that global legislation changes and all zoos were to be closed; what to do with the animals, the staff, the facilities on the short and on the long run, and how should this be financed?
    Remember that this lobbyist had so far spent the majority of his adult life (and even for decades as a profession, as an "expert" for PETA and other animal right groups) adamantly advocating the closure of zoos. Yet he couldn't come up with any contingency plan or any helpful suggestions for the realization of his goal, other than some obscure empty notions ("Let them die in freedom" etc.). He appeared to be completely caught off guard and out of his depth, which was also noticed by all the other discussion partners.
    Since then, I have not engaged in any discussion with anti-zoo lobbyists, as I find their positions just as over-emotional, schematic and dogmatic as those of die-hard zoo fans who see no need for challenging, improving and updating zoos in their current form.
     
  3. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

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    I once saw an interview with one of the leaders of PETA she said that NO animal should be in human care be it a zoo, farm or even a house pet like a cat or dog, she also said that she went into work early most morning so she could put more dogs down than in a normal days work she believed these dogs were better off dead than living with any person. There is NOTHING that can be said to a person with this type of mindset.
     
  4. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting that you mention those examples of people projecting their hatred and uninformed biases against zoos due to irrational and often unconcious reasons connected to totally unrelated personal issues. I totally agree that this is probably a very common pathology among the extremist fringes of these movements and this is something I have personally observed.

    One case that comes to mind is a well known and die hard anti-zoo "animal rights activist" and former terrorist based in Brazil (who I have already mentioned several times elsewhere on the forum). At least one of the motives for his hatred for zoos is very clearly a projection based on his own trauma and rage.

    After the Cuban revolution in the early 60's this individual claims to have become involved in CIA sponsored terrorism and intrigue against the new government that had taken power and was interned in the infamous La Cabana Prison then run by Ernesto "Che" Guevara. The prisoners were kept in very poor conditions and there were trials and summary executions which resulted in many of his cell mates / fellow prisoners being shot by firing squads commanded by Guevara.

    To me it is obvious (and you hardly need to be a psychoanalyst to realise it either) that this individual has formed a psychological association between zoos and prison and has directed / projected his repressed PTSD rage and anger caused by this trauma at being imprisoned towards these institutions. In that way zoos in the region (even if they are contributing to ex-situ and in-situ conservation and have done more to improving animal welfare than what he himself has ever achieved) are merely surrogate targets that conveniently replaces communism / Castro.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2020
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  5. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

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    You probably mean Ingrig Newkirk, one of PETA's founders. Apparently not a very happy person; over the years, her statements might have caused more harm than good to her organisation.
     
  6. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member

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    I'm not surprised, I've never seen any kind of cotingeny plan from the anti-zoo lobbyists. I legitimately think they would have zero clue what to do with the enormous amount of animals suddenly without a home should their vision be realized. (And hopefully it never ever will be.) Let alone all the workers that scenario would displace. What would the lobbyists do after that? Disband? They'd have no platform to stand on anymore, no reason to solicit donations.

    If there's one thing that really angers me about the anti-captivity lobbyists, it's the name People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. I do not understand how killing animals is more ethical than them living with humans. I realize ethics is an open-ended discussion, but I would venture to say the majority of people consider PETA's actions with animals unethical. I know a great many people that get quite angry just at the mention of PETA due to how many animals have died at their hands. Beside their main ethical issue, PETA has repeatedly lied, exaggerated, and done some rather disgusting things to try and advance their cause. The movie Blackfish is a prime example, directly targeting SeaWorld. That sort of thing is certainly not ethical.
    Returning to the main point, how is killing them so they no longer have to live with humans ethical? Animals raised for food is a more difficult scenario and arguement, one I will not get into at the moment. But what about service dogs and rescue dogs, that help people and are very attached to their owners. There is plenty of evidence dogs are extremely loyal and caring, if they are treated right. They have been known to travel hundreds of miles to return home when lost. Many people consider their pets family, and many of the species show attachment. How is killing such animals better for them?
    If the only solution the anti-zoo lobbyists can find is to either kill the animals or release them so they can die in the wild, what kind of a solution is that? Not an ethical one by any reasonable grounds. Granted, they all will die at some point, but it is not ethical to cut their lives short! Unless specifically conditioned to be released, many animals do not make the transition well. Invasive species prove it is not impossible by any means, although there plenty of failed introductions. However, PETA's methods seem to be a solid fail plan. They do not appear to care whether the animal lives or dies, so long as they can get it out of captivity. That is not ethical, that is attempting to achieve an agenda without caring about who gets hurt. If they really cared about the well-being of the animals, they would be taking a very different approach to what they are now. They would go after animal abuse and the mistreatment of animals, rather than attack and harass facilities who spend millions and work hard to give their animals the best and longest lives possible.
     
  7. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

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    On the contrary; PETA is quite successful in its business model, which is: causing constant controversy to remain as long in the public eye as possible and thus generate donations. That's why a big chunk of PETA's budget is spent on PR and lawyers, why they let Newkirk drop one brick after another and why they constantly start (and lose) the weirdest legal battles; they want to get public attention to get money. To care for abandonded or unwanted pets or contribute to conservation projects would lose them money, so they don't do it.
    The majority of PETA's donors doesn't know that PETA would forbid their pets if they could.
    There are plenty of animal welfare or vegan activist groups that are at odds with PETA, for they see their concerns polluted and distorted by PETA. Some American animal right organisations with a "No kill" policy (a can of worms in itself) even openly oppose PETA.
     
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  8. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Well said Batto, that is a sentiment that I definitely share.

    It is a very challenging indeed to occupy that middle ground between the two extremes of animal rights on the one hand and the more orthodox / mediocre and complacent elements of the zoo establishment on the other.

    I think it is honestly the only rational stance to take in this whole debate though.
     
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  9. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

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    I believe you could be right by the sound of her she is on a mission she appears almost like she enjoys it!
     
  10. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

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    I guess it's the way Ingrid Newkirk genuinly is, but I think it's also part of the aforementioned business model of P€TA, eh PETA: constantly and wildly shoot in all directions, rouse everyone and hope to hit something once in a while.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2020
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  11. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    They may claim so, but actually, large zoos tend to improve from their own drive inside. Zoos, for example, stopped importing apes from the wild decades before the first anti-zoo organization was spawned.

    The problem is mostly money, and it is why anti-zoo organizations achieve nothing or very little - they don't contribute funds to e.g. build a spacious habitat instead of a small cage.

    Which is also their weakness: if their hook does not catch a fish, they must move quickly. So an effective method may be quickly hitting back at activists when they just start a campaign, so they cannot fool a base of supporters and are shooed elsewhere. You know - a scavenger tests many potential prey to find a weak one, and if the prey is strong it gives up. Besides, scavengers also rely on their prey being disorganized - if the prey cooperates, they would be helpless.

    I think the only valuable part about anti-zoo organizations are their sponsors.

    Zoos and serious conservation organizations could seriously watch where and how they get sponsors. The same people could support real conservation projects, or at least conservation projects with edge of helping individual cute animals (say, primates or spectacled bears in South America). How many anti-poaching patrols in Africa could be paid for a salary of one lawyer in a nonsensical court case like getting a chimp human rights or getting a monkey ownership of its photo?
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2020
  12. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Firmly agree that we need to watch where they get their sponsors and need to register them as a threat (we discount their destructive and disruptive potential at our own peril).

    Also , very much agree with all of the nonsense regarding giving legal human and property rights to great apes and other primates. Sadly much of this inane ******** emmanates from the ivory tower and by academics who are more concerned with promulgating their own bizarre and ultimately trivial theoretical ontologies (and publishing papers that are on average read by a miniscule amount of people) than actually contributing to the challenge of ensuing real world conservation of the species they claim to be defending.

    To be sure zoos do need to ensure that the complex husbandry needs of these species are being met under captive conditions and that they are similarly delivering when it comes to meeting conservation goals. There are many institutions which merely pay lip service to these objectives while actually doing nothing and they do deserve criticism and to be reminded of their ethical responsibilities and duties of care.

    However, what these species actually need is more effective in-situ conservation in West and Central Africa , South America and across Asia and not endless quibbling and jabbering over semantics.
     
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  13. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Yes, if I believe that they're arguing out of care and good faith and would be willing to have a civil discussion. Rare on the internet, but it happens sometimes, I swear! And really, it is important to be critical of zoos, that helps them improve.
     
  14. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    Em, maybe I was misunderstood.

    I meant that zoos should reach to the same sponsors and using the same channels with legitimate conservation projects. The sponsors and supporters seem to be well-meaning people - easy to misdirect, but fundamentally well-meaning - and potentially helping wildlife.
     
  15. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    No , dont worry , I didn't misunderstand what you were saying or the context.

    What I meant to say was in agreement with the comment that you left. I also believe that we need to objectively observe and analyse where the support base for anti-zoo animal rights organizations comes from and the demographics / composition of this.

    Moreover we need to grasp what messages / soundbites / narratives are being so effectively deployed as part of the strategies and tactics of these groups (particularly on social media) so that we can improve upon the way that we engage with the public and media as conservationists.

    I wasn't suggesting that we should register the support base for anti-zoo animal rights groups uniformly as "enemies" either. I just think these are either very misguided and uninformed people who have fallen hook, line and sinker for a very simplistic but seductive narrative put out there by ideologues on social media.
     
    Last edited: 8 Jan 2020