Animals in the News 2010

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Scientists say dolphins should be treated as 'non-human persons'

Dolphins have been declared the world’s second most intelligent creatures after humans, with scientists suggesting they are so bright that they should be treated as “non-human persons”.

Studies into dolphin behaviour have highlighted how similar their communications are to those of humans and that they are brighter than chimpanzees. These have been backed up by anatomical research showing that dolphin brains have many key features associated with high intelligence.

The researchers argue that their work shows it is morally unacceptable to keep such intelligent animals in amusement parks or to kill them for food or by accident when fishing. Some 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die in this way each year.

But how are we supposed to assert our dominance over this planet and its inhabitants if we don't kill off all of the other smart animals? Can you imagine what kind of world we would live in when honest, hard working Canadians had to compete for jobs with a "non-human person?" The horror!

Dolphins get a lot of good publicity for the drowning swimmers they push back to shore, but what you don’t hear about is the many people they push farther out to sea! Dolphins aren’t smart. They just like pushing things. - Dwight

Maybe they are smart but just don't like those people? :-)

So, is it intelligence that determines whether we can kill/mistreat an animal?

Drift Fishing vs Fly Paper. What is the difference?

Where should the line be drawn for species that are acceptable to kill?

- continued existence?
- inteligence?
- cuteness and cuddliness?
- deliciousness?

"So, is it intelligence that determines whether we can kill/mistreat an animal?"

It's a vexing question isn't it? What do you think?

The stopgap measure in my house is this standing rule for children:

Unless the creature(s) presents a risk of physical harm (a paper wasp nest by the back door being one example), if you kill it you eat it. It's easy to remember and everybody gets one free pass.

Eating other animals may or may not be necessary, depending on your p.o.v. and where you live. Caging them for entertainment is never necessary. That's my starting point.

"It's easy to remember and everybody gets one free pass"

That's it! I'm going out to kill my one Dophin tonight!

My kids sometimes practice the mantra of "Be good to bugs", but sometimes they step on an ant or put a worm in a bucket. I try not to turn these things into major Philosophical debating points. But I'm a bit of a kook.

m2c

Ants are tasty (tangy actually) and a good source of protein. I don't know how worms taste, but fish seem to like them.

(also a kook)

Bob Barker donates $5 million to anti-whaling effort

From USA Today:
"Bob Barker thinks $5 million for an anti-whaling is a price that's just right. The longtime animal rights activist donated that much money to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. In return, he got a 1,200-ton anti-whaling ship named after him -- The Bob Barker, shown here.

The ship had its first confrontation with whalers on Tuesday when it joined two other Sea Shepherd vessels aiming to stop a Japanese whaling mission near Antarctica, reports AP. Sea Shepherd's mission is to physically intervene in illegal whaling missions to protect whales."

Link goes to National Post article on same topic.

"That's it! I'm going out to kill my one Dophin tonight!"

In hand to flipper battle my money is on the dolphin. If you're lucky Squeaky would just kill you. Just ask Hank Hill.

(from The Province)

The B.C. SPCA is preparing animal cruelty charges after Jerome the giraffe died during a hoof trimming procedure at a Fort Langley zoo on Friday afternoon.

The young male giraffe had lived at the Mountain View Conservation Centre, which the SPCA has been investigating for animal cruelty and neglect, for several months. A number of current and former employees first told The Province in December that animals are dying and suffering at Mountain View because of lack of veterinary care.

If you want to see some horrifying cruelty to dolphins, check out the 'Manhood ritual' in Denmark. It is one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen and cannot believe whole families go to WATCH.
Why haven't any of the anti-whalers/seal hunters tried to stop this!?!?

clock ticking on whale jails as scientists debate ethics of cetaceans in captivity.

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/AmazingAnimals/dolphins-animal-closest-...

he shouldnt be in captivity, he should be in jail!! repeat offender!!

They put dogs down for much less.

Given what we are learning about cetaceans, a comparison to the punishment a human would receive is probably more appropriate. Something along the lines of involuntary manslaughter seems like an apt corollary. Given the decades Tillikum has spent in captivity, he'd be released on the basis of 'time served' and if he was human, a good lawyer would have him set up for life with all the herring he could eat.

emd By emd

They're just like us!

OK, they don't put us in cages and throw peanuts at us, but hey, toMAYto, toMAHto.

Chimpanzees show human-like awareness of death (CBC)

"Chimpanzees have remarkably complex, even human-like, responses to the deaths of their closest companions, new research suggests.

Two separate studies published this week in the journal Current Biology document how chimps reacted to the deaths of others, in one case an elderly chimp in captivity and in the other, the sudden deaths of babies."

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2010/04/26/tech-chimpanzee-death-reac...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFACrIx5SZ0&feature=player_embedded

meh, call me when they start using washing machines. ;)

Research scientist Jack Kassewitz has found that the iPad's touch-based interface is so intuitive that even some nonhuman species can use it. In this case, that species happens to be dolphins. Kassewitz is using iPads with custom-developed software to help facilitate two-way communication between humans and dolphins.

line goes to full article at Ars Technica

related study with cats:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NP-AeKX40

and this research study (although not an ipad):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J---aiyznGQ

My 2 year old also is adept at it, I do wholeheartedly believe it in as an educational tool, I suppose even for cetaceans

emd By emd

Does this mean that if one can't figure out how to use it, then you don't need to be a free
mammal? Free the dolphins and cage the dumb!!!

Those dolphins (2 year olds too) are obviously apple fanbois. They are completely sucked in by
Steve Jobs' reality distortion field. They were probably sucked into using it, because they didn't
know it couldn't load Flash. Only an idiot wouldn't want to be able to cripple their device in order
to display Flash ads on every website.

Steve Jobs communicates natively in holographs (see CKs link for
context)

in the spirit of the derail....

"I saw a two-year old kid (in diapers, in a stroller), using an iPod Touch today. Not just looking at it, but browsing menus and interacting. This is a revolution, guys."

- Seth Godin

(link goes to complete blog post)

The intuitiveness of the iSeries is remarkable. And the availability of
educational applications makes it terrific for 2 year olds.

Here's a back on topic link, grey whale sighting in the North Atlantic.
(previously extinct in this area)

More from our "awww, their just like us" files. Now with your full daily allotment of bloodthirsty territoriality.
------------------------------------------
Researchers see chimps waging "war"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Chimpanzees wage war, mercilessly killing members of neighboring groups to expand their own territory, researchers reported Monday. (link goes to full story)

Nature is almost always kill or be killed.

Biologists have recently begun to explore the altruism that exists (albeit rarely) in nature. Every
instance I've read about has had an evolutionary advantage. Meaning the act of 'altruism' actually
provided benefit to the 'altruistic'. That in itself may disqualify it as altruism depending on your
particular philosophy.

Just about anything that any creature does is for the express purpose of living long enough to raise
viable offspring containing their (or their closely related) genetic code.

It is perfectly natural to exploit your surroundings to the fullest in order to thrive. Without
predation or other limiting factors, communities frequently consume all the resources available,
only to starve and die out.

Humans seem to be no exception to that. Those are the lessons taught by Mother Nature.

We're in an interesting epoch. Humanity has been shaped by natural selection, and billions of
years of evolution have selected us for the attitudes and behaviors that are so damaging to our
species and the rest of our planet. The age of social selection is dawning however, where the base
needs of the individual to thrive and the freedoms which guarantee that are being eclipsed by the
necessity for the species to thrive.

Don't male chimps also kill the children of other male chimps?

Aww, just like us!

A great many species feature a drive to kill the offspring of other males.

Killing a mother's cubs/kits/babies frequently causes the female to go back into heat and provide
offspring to the infanticidal male.

It's Mother Nature's way.

Contrary to the naïve viewpoint, Gaia is a bitch. If humans are to 'save' the planet from ourselves,
we'll need to find a way to distance ourselves from the Natural tendencies, and see things in a
completely non-Natural way. We have to move from being participants in the Natural world to curators
of the Natural world.

I think you have it backwards Temple. We have operated for several centuries with the Biblical sentiment that 'man' has dominion over fish and fowl and it seems to be the mindset that has put us in a rather precarious position.

That the strong has dominion over the weak is not a biblical creation, nor is it even a human
creation.

Foresight into the consequences of such actions is a human creation.

The fight to acknowledge the consequences and change our behaviour is the battlefront between
Mother Nature and Eco-responsibility. Mother Nature is the driving force behind every species' ability
to consume as many resources as it possibly can, at the expense of other species and even itself.
Our species happens to be particularly skilled at that, and the effects of which are considerably worse
for a lot more life forms.

"Mother Nature is the driving force behind every species' ability
to consume as many resources as it possibly can, at the expense of other species and even itself. "

Besides humans, can you provide an example of a species that has consumed itself into extinction?

It might not even be up to us in the end. As population density increases, so too does the ability of Nature's Little Helper, communicable disease, to spread and do damage. We can fight it all we want, or maybe even have a hand in its dissemination (small pox as a biological warfare agent, anyone?), but things have a way of working themselves out over the long term.

It's important to remember that we aren't destroying the planet. We're just making it uninhabitable for the likes of us (and many other species).

As far as species that have consumed themselves into extinction, the Tasmanian devil is sort of doing that, by chewing on each others' faces and spreading [the first known type of communicable] cancer.

Many, many, many populations of species have consumed their resources to the detriment (and massive
killoff) of their own and other species' populations, not to mention the drastic change of their local
climate.

I'm not aware of any species, other than humans, that are good enough at that to have the capability to
do that to the point of their own extinction.** That's probably why I didn't make any such statement, and
probably why I suggested humans are so much more adept at that skill.

Interestingly, I'm not sure if the red herring has issues with overconsumption of its resources, as it
always seems to have healthy predation. (See what I did there?)

** Side note: of all the millions upon millions of species that have gone extinct on Earth, most died out
because they weren't good enough at harvesting natural resources. These were generally killed out by
stronger species that effectively destroyed the weaker by out-consuming them. (Before the bible, BTW.)

--

Injured Ninja: "It's important to remember that we aren't destroying the planet. We're just making it
uninhabitable for the likes of us (and many other species)."

That is the thought that helps me sleep when I'm wracked with frustration over the large inability to
effect the change that's required to save the planet. Maybe it's because I don't have children, or maybe
because I'm a closet nihilist, but the end of a humanity that ends itself through stupidity isn't the worst
tragedy I can imagine.

It's ok, in 50 years, we won't be talking about climate change any longer, we'll have free eco-friendly
energy from solar/fusion, and we can concentrate on worrying about humanity destroying itself through
nuclear war, slave robot uprising, genetically engineered super-virii, etc.

"Many, many, many populations of species have consumed their resources to the detriment (and massive killoff) of their own and other species' populations, not to mention the drastic change of their local climate."

Please provide an example of this.

Easter Island.

Density-dependent die-offs happen quite regularly in the natural world.

Here's the first page I googled. It has examples of gypsy moth overpopulation leading to
overconsumption of resources to the point that their larvae couldn't develop. It also references
populations of reindeer that grow too much (without sufficient predation), eat too much food,
then die off due to overconsumption of their resources.

Likewise, you will find examples of populations out-consuming another, to the severe detriment
of the weaker.

http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/P/Populations2.html

Looking for yourself will provide no end of examples.

"Looking for yourself will provide no end of examples. "

It's your thesis. You prove it.

Most species survive in a relative equilibrium, esp. when looked at over long time periods. Wolves for instance, will have fewer pups when the caribou herds are smaller. If many, many species over-consumed as a matter of course, the system would be out of balance and would collapse.

There are checks and balances. If the rabbit population goes out of control due to overabundance of food, then the wolf population catches up (due to overabundance of food) and culls the rabbit population. It'll cycle like that. You're treating the system as if it's an open ended, eat and reproduce until you kill yourself situation. That's simply not the case, as everything on earth has a predator. You even mentioned the (un-referenced) wolf-cariboo scenario. If there was an endless supply of cariboo, which is what we're suggesting for the human race, then yes, the wolves would keep eating and expanding until something else cut them back.

It's funny, your first sentence of the last paragraph is exactly what everyone here has been saying, but you are ignoring the exceptions, which seems to be the crux of the disagreement.

There are hundreds of thousands if not millions of extinct populations
predating human interference. While some of them were the victims of
catastrophic events, the majority of them became extinct due to some
other species having some advantage over them, whether the advantage
was in catching and eating them, or in catching and eating what they
wanted to eat.

While it's obvious that populations ebb and flow on the availability of their
food supply(ies), there are also some that never recover.

Keam: "It's your thesis. You prove it."

Not my thesis, I learned it in biology. I gave you a link with several examples. I suggested if
you want more than those several, you'd have an easy time finding it. If you choose to remain
ignorant, I'm not going to spoon feed you.

Keam: "Most species survive in a relative equilibrium, esp. when looked at over long time
periods. Wolves for instance, will have fewer pups when the caribou herds are smaller."

That's funny. Do you think that's by choice? Do you think they have fewer pups out of some
fore-thought or idea of sustainability? That's laughable. Less well fed wolves will have smaller
litters and the survivability of those litters goes down.

As for your equilibrium theory, uh, Citation Needed. An incredibly common ecological
phenomenon is a predator population growing exponentially when the food source is abundant,
but they then over-predate the prey, causing the prey's numbers to crash. This is followed shortly
after by a crash in the predator's numbers. The now-lower predation leads to a boom in the prey,
followed shortly after by a boom in the predator. That's certainly a *dynamic* equilibrium, but by
no means is it a happy steady equilibrium. It's a constant cycle of over-consumption, followed by
die-offs. This is incredibly common in nature, and isn't limited to predator-prey dynamics,
occurring also among herbivores with the available food supply.

Every creature in nature has a drive to consume as much as it can of the resources around it.
The ones that weren't as good at that are long, long gone, killed off by the better consumers.

Mother Nature is ruthless. It's a jungle out there.

"the end of a humanity that ends itself through stupidity isn't the worst tragedy I can imagine."

Wow. That's a terrific attitude. I like how you write "a humanity", as if it's somehow removed from your own. If a loved one dies because some "stupid" idiot got drunk behind the wheel, I'd think that's pretty tragic.

With mass starvation, poverty, neglect, abuse, disease, and displacement, humanity is already destroying itself on a daily basis. Third world inequity is not a function of Darwin's rules of natural selection but rather corruption, greed and ignorance (read: "stupidity") which are traits I've not yet seen displayed by other species. It's not ok. And it certainly does not help me to sleep knowing we're capable of doing this to ourselves.

YourMom: "Wow. That's a terrific attitude. I like how you write "a humanity", as if it's somehow
removed from your own."

I write "a humanity" as I see it as one of a multitude of potential humanities.

We may be a humanity that has the strength of character to overcome the instincts that Mother Nature
has bred in us, to straighten up our act and survive ourselves, becoming curators of the beautifully
violent and cutthroat Natural world, but not participating in that battle.

Conversely, we may be a humanity which is too in tune with Nature. One which cannot overcome those
heightened Natural instincts which Gaia has bred us so well for. We may be doomed to over-consume
our resources, resulting in a catastrophic crash (and possible extinction) of not only our population, but
much of the world.

Personally, I think that if we're a humanity described by the latter, then we don't necessarily deserve to
survive. I think we have a long uphill struggle to become the humanity described in the former, one
which we have to try our hardest to achieve. However, if we are incapable or unwilling, the end of that
latter humanity could be the best thing for life on Earth.

--

YourMom: "Third world inequity is not a function of Darwin's rules of natural selection but rather
corruption, greed and ignorance (read: "stupidity") which are traits I've not yet seen displayed by other
species."

You need to watch more nature documentaries. The basal drive for power, status, and resource and the
resulting cruelty and dominance of the weaker positioned is incredibly common in nature.

Another dead whale in captivity (see link).

"You need to watch more nature documentaries. The basal drive for power, status, and resource and the resulting cruelty and dominance of the weaker positioned is incredibly common in nature."

Cruelty implies malice. I don't think it's a factor.

"everything on earth has a predator"

This is debatable. There are species that are very rarely food for other creatures, nor are they typically hunted by other animals.

CK: "This is debatable. There are species that are very rarely food for other creatures, nor are they typically hunted by other animals."

Such as?

Lions and tigers oh my :-)

Orcas. I don't know of any animals that hunt for eagles and other large birds of prey. Alligators and crocodiles. Big snakes such as the anaconda. Grizzly and polar bears. The list could probably be longer, but I think that's enough to make the point that some species are diner far, far more often than they are dinner.

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