Saturday, 19 July 2014
An interesting debate has started concerning London Zoo's decision to open in some evenings to attract in an older client base with teenagers and 20+ year olds (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/18/london-zoo-party-night-animal-welfare). Animals in zoos can certainly be stressed by visitors. Enlightened zoos actually incorporate a number of design features to enclosures that minimise this but they can't apparently cope with some of the 'wilder' behaviour of the late night visitors (including pouring beer over tigers and trying to get into locations with the animals). This is a difficult one as stress certainly impairs the health and breeding efficiency of the animals but many animal-orientated attractions have great difficulty attracting visitors from the 13-30 age groups. We tend to visit zoos as children or with children/grandchildren of our own. This is not simply a question of improving the finance of the establishments but a reasonable desire to interest the cohort (and possibly get them to support) in conservation. I do think the zoos ought to continue with such attempts but need to watch carefully the behaviour of their visitors. Perhaps people who are clearly drunk, should be refused entry to this type of place.
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
I must admit to be mildly irritated by the promos for the new BBC series entitled 'Talk to the Animals' (http://www.boundlessproductions.tv/news/read_talk-to-the-animals-for-bbc-one_item_100135.htm) and I never did like 'Dr Doolittle'. It's seemingly based on the view that one ought to find it surprising that animals communicate with each other. There is a long-established literature on the senses (visual, auditory, chemical, and pressure waves/touch) that animal species use to pass on information (or, in some cases, disinformation) to members of their own and other species. I do think that looking at everything from an anthropocentric viewpoint is, to some extent, 'Disneyfying' a well-established body of behavioural studies. I am not sure how much will be added over and above what was dealt with in the earlier 'Supersense' series and note that many of the species 'investigated' appear to be 'the usual suspects'.
There seems to be enormous, undiluted excitement about the possible siting of a UK Spaceport in Llanbedr North Wales (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-28305814). The port would, apparently, cater for space tourism as well as for the deployment of small satellites. People are bullish about the potential for employment and commercial value. No one seems, however, to consider the impact of such a development (in any location) on global warming and climate change. The energy per person required to pump anyone rich enough to fancy a trip into zero gravity is likely to make traditional air travel look ultra modest by comparison. I can't help feeling that such a development would be more than a little self-indulgent- it's probably the last thing we really need!