Our visit of the Wildlife Refuge in Vermont made me think of the important mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association which is: To conserve America’s wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity.
Our daily mood affects our judgment of ambiguous events. We experience this for example at our job. If we’re having a bad day and we’re presented with an ambiguous cue such as our boss calling us into his office, the first thing that goes through our head is what have I done wrong? We call this a negative cognitive bias. But on a good day we greet the same ambiguous event far more positively, we might look forward to a pay rise.
Experts from the Newcastle University’s School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development have shown for the first time that a pig’s mood can lead to similar reactions showing that pigs are capable of complex emotions which are directly influenced by their living conditions. Pigs living in an enriched environment (more space, freedom to roam and play) were optimistic toward an unknown noise. While pigs placed in a smaller, boring environment showed pessimistic reactions toward the same unknown noise.
Dr Catherine Douglas, leader of the research team explains: “We can use this findings to finally answer important questions about animal welfare in relation to a range of farm environments, for pigs and potentially other farm animals.”
Quality of life of our farm animals is becoming increasingly important. The study is part of ongoing research at Newcastle to further our understanding of animal welfare and improve the lives of farmed stock. For consumers as well as for scientists and government it is important to acknowledge the welfare of farmed stock.
Today is World Animal Day, a day which we can join by giving esteem to animals.
World Animal Day was started in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence, Italy as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species. Since then it has grown to encompass all kinds of animal life and is widely celebrated in countries throughout the world.
World Animal Day has four goals according to its mission statement:
- to celebrate animal life in all its forms
- to celebrate humankind’s relationship with the animal kingdom
- to acknowledge the diverse roles that animals play in our lives
- to acknowledge and be thankful for the way in which animals enrich our lives
All of these goals express esteem toward animals with respect and gratitude. Caring about animals includes having a pet as well as enjoying the wildlife around us.
On Saturday, September 19, 2009 the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in Florida will celebrate their first annual Elephant Appreciaton Day.
Visitors are invited to experience a rare behind-the-scenes self-guided tour of the elephant barn to see where the elephants sleep and play.
Scheduled events include the opportunity to witness paintings done by the elephants themselves.
Elephant Appreciation Day is a great opportunity to get to know more about elephants and at the same time about their life in the zoo. We can give esteem toward elephants and their zookeepers when we visit events like this.
A dog can be our companion through life, like a best friend. For this they deserve esteem. Another time to give esteem to dogs is when they make heroic acts to save lives.
This is the story of Deja, a German shepherd, who saved the life of a nearby neighbor. Deja saved the man’s life by pulling him out of his burning house. The man, who was wheelchair bound, had fallen out of his chair while trying to extinguish the flames.
Explaining his rescue, the man stated: “I just struggled and got up on a chair, listening to her barking. I’ve never heard her bark like that before. She was like get your butt up and let’s go! I was just going to lie down and say ‘take me’ but she’s the one that got me out of the house.”
With this heroic action Deja proved that dogs are capable of recognizing danger and help people instinctively. Deja deserves esteem for her heroic action.
An estimated 90 million cats are living in U.S. households. Although cats are closely connected to humans, they are still predators who often behave instinctively. Domestic cats enjoy both the care and affection of their human relationships and their independent life as an animal.
When we accept and understand their instinctively animal behavior and at the same time their need for human contact we can give them esteem by offering them a happy and humane life.
“Simon’s Cat” is a known animated series made by British animator Simon Tofield which lovingly depicts a cat’s behavior.
For city students sometimes it may be difficult to come into contact with nature. Contact is the first step toward esteem and respect for nature.
Third-graders at Linwood E. Howe Elementary in Culver City, CA had the unique opportunity to make a step toward nature thanks to a few slippery friends.
Trout in the Classroom is a nationwide program to bring information about trout into city classrooms. The trout program lasts three months, with students recording a variety of behavior information before they release the fish back into the streams.
Learning esteem toward nature is basic learning for life. When students know more about nature they learn about responsibility, respect and the connectedness of human beings with nature.
Another job where most of their work happens behind the scene: zookeepers.
Despite the public appearances of celebrity zookeepers, it might surprise you to learn their job isn’t only about hugging cuddly little wild animals. It’s hard work that includes feeding, cleaning up after the animals and caring for them.
Zookeepers are also responsible for the animal enrichment program, which employs such techniques as hiding food or offering new items to stimulate the animal’s natural responses.
Even “fun” tasks like helping to bottle-feed babies can be demanding because animal babies want to be fed around the clock.
As a zoo visitor we normally don’t see their work but we enjoy all the happy animals and clean containment areas. If you happen to accidentally meet the zookeeper on your way through a zoo, give them an acknowledging word to show your esteem toward them.
Do animals preceive when we show esteem toward them?
That was the question researchers sought to answer in a study of cow behavior.
Veterinarians Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University in Newcastle upon Thyne, UK found that a cow which is given a name produces more milk than one without.
Cows that only recieved numbers, instead of names, produced less milk. It seems that just the act of naming a cow and calling it by name was an important sign of esteem.
“Just as people respond better to the personal touch, cows also feel happier and more relaxed if they are given a bit more one-to-one attention,” explains Dr Douglas.
One-to-one attention could be another word for esteem. This news would not surprise the many small farmers and dairymen of the world who didn’t need a study to tell them they should name their cows. It was just something they did for a valued member of the farm family.
It seems that our human intuition of the need for esteem towards animals just got a boost from scientific proof.
Sometimes people show their esteem toward animals by taking life-saving actions.
On January 1, 2009, two fishermen in the Philippines rescued a giant sea cow which had become trapped on the shore by a low tide.
Sea cows, also called Dugongs, are a highly endangered species. They’re known to live up to 70 years but to give birth to only one calf in their lives. Due to unprotected hunting and habitat degradation in the past, these gentle animals face extinction.
The fishermen of the Palawan island’s Puerto Princesa city showed respect toward the sea cow and took the responsibility upon themselves to save its life. When they discovered the huge animal on the shore they gently pushed it back into deep water until it could swim away.
Living esteem also created a good feeling in people witnessing the event. They cheered the fishermen on as the sea cow was accompanied toward open sea.