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Thread subject: Comments on "science"
Name Date Message
RonS 11/28/04 08:52 pm Barbara and I took our grandson to the William K. Vanderbilt Planetarium and Museum here on Long Island. The museum is actually Mr. Vanderbilt's expanded summer "cottage" and contains several rooms full of collections from his many scientific expeditions in the early 1900s. Although he is credited with many advancements and discoveries, I was struck quite negatively by the displays of all of the stuffed animals. I realize that at the time it was the cutting edge (pun only semi intended) of his technology, but the sight of all of those mounted insects, birds and mammals certainly stirred up a bunch of mixed feelings, especially when I came across a pair of Osprey!!
Then, when I followed Tim's suggested link to the Discovery channel's bird videos, I counldn't help but feel that, in some bumbling way, we are making progress.
Any thoughts?
cathy 11/28/04 09:57 pm It is a great development for understanding animals to be able to observe them remotely.

I heard of a sinister use of this technology, however: that is use of the remote control cameras to identify the presence of target animals and then remotely shoot them (remote hunting). I suppose then someone would retrieve the animal's body. I wonder if the manufacturers of the remote camera and control technology have a code of ethics.

Since Vanderbilt was using the methods that were available at the time for science, I suppose that it was enlightened for the time. Although early explorers brought back specimens, more valuable were their written descriptions of what they observed, but did not kill. We know from these observations about the abundance of wildlife in the past. I hope we can use the new technology observations to return the abundance of wildlife.

Another thought - some wildlife may continue to be in the wild, but on "exhibit". For example, yesterday, we visited a local park where salmon come into a stream. In my opinion, these salmon are as if they are in a zoo - even though they are in a stream. They have no real place to spawn (in fact, they were probably originally placed there by school children learning about salmon), since the stream ends up in a culvert going under shopping centers. So it just made me feel sad to see them. I wondered about the golden eagle in the Discovery channel. Is this really a wild bird that leads to the recovery of golden eagles in England, or is it just a pet that is used to understand aerodynamics to plan airplane design.
Celeste 11/29/04 05:16 am You are so right both of you. I have been to Vanderbilt numerous times, and also Sagamore HIll, where there are some of Teddy Roosevelt's trophies and I must admit in the early years when I visited with my young sons I never gave the trophies a thought. Becoming aware of this site and also learning and getting so involved certainly does make one look at trophies; hunting for no reason other than sport, in a much different light. Then again, the other night one of the cable channels did a show about hunting down the jackal in Africa. Seems that the jackal likes to attack the sheep the farmers are raising and the death is very painful for the sheep. The hunters have various techniques of hunting down the jackals, and didnot enjoy the job but felt it was necessary to find ways as efficient as possible without "accidently" killing other animals who resemble the jackal. The struggle to enlighten the inhabitants of these areas to "live" with the animals without killing them, and at the same time help the farmers is certainly a challenge.

We know that early birders killed birds in order to "observe" them. What bothers me a lot are the migratory birds who are shot for sport today as was in the case of the osprey who was shot, rehabilitated only to eventually die on its second attempt to migrate.

In our own areas bears are now being threatened as they get too close to areas with inhabitants. So many people want to live in pristine areas, but don't want the trouble of the animals who were there originally. They don't take the time to learn about how to dispose of garbage and other things that do not attract these wild animals.

I wish our education system would introduce a way to teach our children to respect our animal inhabitants.

cathy 11/29/04 11:10 am Watching and hearing the animals live and work to survive and raise young creates an emotional bond with the animal that doesn't happen when you see it stuffed in a museum or observe it from a distance acceptable to the animal. Combining the technology of observation with writing for the public, such as David Gessner's book, is a powerful combination for creating consciousness of the animal world. I simply didn't see the ospreys, or the orcas, or the eagles for all the years I was growing up in the Pacific Northwest, but they must have been more numerous than they are now.
I told my husband about this "osprey board" subject this morning on our walk and he adds the comment that, while his parents were not interested in conservation, they sent him and his brother to a summer camp in the California redwoods (from San Francisco) and for him it was the start of a life long interest in conservation of forests. He thinks that children can learn about animals and nature by the new ways of experiencing it that are not stuffed in museums. He did say that the science of animal study through killing was for the purpose of studying anatomy. The eagle camera is for studying anatomy and flight dynamics. I would add that it is how the studies are applied that reflects our wisdom.

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Tom Throwe
Last modified: Fri Dec 31 23:49:43 EST 2004