Melody | Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art

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Recent Comments

Re: “The elephant debate continues UPDATE

For clarity's sake: Betty White is a great animal activist and a proponent of zoos, not an opponent. Her support for LA Zoo during the elephant debates is commendable (I wouldn't call her an elephant expert any more than Bob Barker, though). Determined ignorance indeed.

Posted by Melody on 05/16/2011 at 3:26 AM

Re: “The elephant debate continues UPDATE

This is the last I will reply because you keep denying your own words. You don't think this is a personal issue? Your words seem to say otherwise.

Your words:
"The LR Zoo personnel, like zoo personnel around the U.S. and the world, have jobs and incomes and families and mortgages at stake. Well-meaning though they are, and they are, they are hardly objective or dispassionate about this issue."

That seems to say that they are deluding themselves about animals welfare for profit, and totally discounts their education, diligence in research. You also call those who don't agree with your opinion stupid in one post, adolescent in another, again discounting their education and possibly diligence in research too.

And your "Keep ‘em coming, folks!" seems to imply that you've scored some kind of a "win." You're the one making this personal. Semantics? You put quotes around names of posters and "sides" of the argument (like saying there are two sides is only hypothetical) to belittle the poster.

You can't have it both ways. You can't bite me for making disparaging comments and call someone stupid in another post. You cannot get on to me for calling IDA insane when you say the other side is willfully ignorant and adolescent.

You've invoked dogs yourself, done some anthropomorphizing (saying how would Max feel in confinement), etc etc. YOU are building straw men.

Yes, all we have is words (though we are not bloggers), but, you were arguing with my wording ("may" be facts) instead of the substance of them (where I presented facts counter to what the IDA letter said: LA donated one elephant, but kept all the others. They did not decide that elephants were better off in sanctuaries).

These debates are getting circular and I've better things to do. So far, I've seen no "science" on the issue, only cherry picked facts from IDA and emotional games. I could read an article and cherry pick facts to prove almost anything. If IDA is so scientific, why wasn't their letter referenced? Why didn't they send along well researched journal articles backing them up? That's science.

Insane: "In a state of mind that prevents normal perception, behavior, or social interaction."

I find it "insane" that they would say that a multi-million dollar upgrade to one of the best elephant facilities in the country is not enough. Yes I do. To me, it does seem like they are in a state of mind (anti-zoo) that prevents them from normal perception.

But, I guess I agree to disagree.

Posted by Melody on 05/15/2011 at 10:31 PM

Re: “The elephant debate continues UPDATE

trublu, that was my point. By anthropomorphizing animals based on our own perceptions on "freedom" and "fairness," we always do them a disservice, just as my analogy did. Those types of arguments are all throughout this thread, except they are counter to mine. Norma even invoked racism, practically Godwin's law.

Speaking of, my comment was more about being in a strange place with no frame of reference (environmentally or intellectually) than "scary wild savages." I wouldn't call native tribes "savage," but they share little in common with our way of thinking, acting or interacting with each other and their environment.

Animals and humans alike share the need for consistency and frame of reference. Studies on humans and non-human primates have actually shown that to be true. Again, I'm not an expert on elephants so I can't comment. They are so intellectual, that I would not find it hard to believe they crave consistency like we do. I do agree that humans are no substitute and in 2 years, my opinion would change if she's alone.

More than anthropomorphizing, I think one should use actual medical records of elephants, looking at their exercise and health plans, the increased longevity of elephants in captivity over recent years, etc. to determine what is better for Ellen. Also, we should probably look at what other with elephants are doing and compare our program, rather than IDA's look at zoos that are getting out of elephants all together. Perhaps we should look into the health of elephants at the sanctuary, disease outbreaks, etc. too.

You cannot tell if an animal is "happy" by looking at it for a short period of time. Did you engage anyone at the zoo when you last visited Ellen? Did you ask them about what you saw? I doubt anyone here has ever engaged anyone at the zoo in discourse. I'm under the impression the fitness and exercise program for Ellen (and formerly for Mary) are top notch in the zoo world for geriatric elephants, and I'm sure there are things they do that I've haven't learned about. I leave that to them. Elephants are their passion, they've done research in the field, went to school, continue to do CE and go to conferences and, like I mentioned prior, some zookeepers even work or have worked with elephants in their native countries. They are not amateurs.

Yes, this is their livelihood, and yes, they are zoo advocates. That doesn't automatically discount their science and knowledge, just as IDA being an animal activist group doesn't automatically discount theirs.

Posted by Melody on 05/15/2011 at 8:25 PM

Re: “The elephant debate continues UPDATE

Norma, by taking what I said in context and trying to "defeat" me, you're doing yourself no service. You're arguing semantics.

The LA Zoo ordeal was/is insane. LA Zoo was building one of the most advance elephant exhibits in the country, yet IDA was still saying, "Nope. We want you to send them to a sanctuary." I agree that some of the posts are purely anti-zoo.

Anyone who says that zoos are purely for entertainment has not read any of the research about zoos causing actionable conservation habits in visitors. That research has some bias, as it was conducted by zoo advocates. It's unfortunate that most research in this field, conducted with either outcome, does. However, I personally believe that zoos can cause a shift in attitude, and that the modern zoo has actually increased exhibit interaction time, and actually can make people have actionable shifts in their attitudes about conservation (on the other hand, I believe research that says people spend 30-60 seconds at an exhibit and go on, too. That's why most zoos design exhibits like the penguin one where visitors interact in more than one way).

I admit I am anti-IDA, anti-PETA in some ways. I work for an animal shelter. I've seen how they want us to treat our pets, which is great and I'm glad when people do, but I think it's somewhat misdirected. Some dogs want to live outside. They want to work. They want to be dogs, and not "part of the family." People treating their dogs like "family" instead of dogs is one of the number one causes of behavioral problems in family pets. I could speak better on some of those initiatives than on elephants, but that's not the topic here.

IDA gets their donations from stirring up trouble and pulling on emotional strings. I'm glad groups like PETA and IDA exist, because those radical outliers are important to animals. If it wasn't for radical outliers, 6 acre exhibits wouldn't be built. Free spay and neuter clinics wouldn't exist, etc. However, they are radical activists groups, so most of what they say is to be taken with a grain of salt.

It's believed the relationship of humans and dogs started in a mutual way. Wolfy creatures, with the right disposition, noticed that hanging around humans meant easy food, humans noticed that dogs could help them too. Over time, they came to depend on each other. I think elephants and the mahouts of Asia have similar, symbiotic relationships (again, I'm not an elephant expert). I wouldn't say there is not a benefit to hanging around humans. I also wouldn't say that most of the zoo animals wouldn't live there, if they had a choice. Animals don't think about "freedom" the same way humans do.

Some dogs runs away when you open the door, are they better off? Here's some anthropomorphizing. Would you choose to live in the woods in a native tribe? I would rather live imprisoned by the laws of a city. As a matter of fact, I think I would rather live in an actual prison than be dropped off in the woods in a strange country with tribal humans, and no way back. It's not exactly the same case. It's more like a senior citizen living at a retirement village with planned activities or on their own in an apartment planning their own day. Many seniors do choose to live in such facilities. Ellen can't choose.

Again, we should think of Ellen. What would Ellen want? Some of the people at the zoo have known her since she was a baby. Are they thinking of her when they say she'd rather stay at the zoo to live her life, or are they thinking of their salaries? Could the people at IDA even pick Ellen out of a lineup or are they generalizing her situation? Do they know if she has special personality needs, etc?

Personally, I think you insulted zoo workers first by insinuating they're thinking only of their salaries. Why don't you look at Max Brantley's posting of city employee wages. Most of the people advocating up for Ellen don't make enough to sell their souls to the devil for it.

Posted by Melody on 05/15/2011 at 4:06 PM

Re: “The elephant debate continues UPDATE

And just to be clear, by strong arming, I mean that they didn't get her sent away by facts, science, research, etc. They got her sent away based on emotionally charging the public. They got Bob Barker to "speak out" against the zoo, about how the elephants feel. Real science. I'm sure he has various degrees in elephantology.

Posted by Melody on 05/15/2011 at 5:53 AM

Re: “The elephant debate continues UPDATE

Those stats about zoos abandoning their elephant program may be facts, but I'm sure they're not the whole truth (there are facts and then there are the facts that support your case). IDA has strong-armed other zoos into sending their elephants away with PR campaigns (they even admit strong arming Ruby to a sanctuary).

How about the fact that LA Zoo still has elephants, despite IDA's best efforts for years. I can't believe they even mentioned LA Zoo. That was a huge fail that showed how insane they are. Even when they upgraded the exhibit at a cost of $42-million dollars, to a size of 6-acres, it wasn't enough. It's never enough until the exhibit is closed, and then the zoo and then what? That whole thing was like a circus, with elephants in the center ring.

I'm not sure about the other cases of other zoos sending their elephants away. I've only heard of LA because it was all over the news. If sending Ruby away was what counts as zoos deciding their elephants are better off at sanctuaries to them, I'm not impressed. That is clearly not what happened there.

Posted by Melody on 05/15/2011 at 5:43 AM

Re: “The elephant debate continues UPDATE

Yes, because nobody at In Defense of Animals makes any money from the organization. They're all volunteers, right? Nobody gets a salary. These high profile cases where they will get media coverage and make themselves known to more people doesn't make anyone rich.

To be clear, zoos are all about PR, but so is "animal rights." They both have spin. Both employ various media/PR people too.

Posted by Melody on 05/14/2011 at 5:10 AM


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