Placing Animals

I found the notion of place and animal geography very interesting. It really is true that the way you treat animals, and the way you treat different types of animals, is hugely based on the culture you grew up in and the place that surrounds you. It also, obviously, has to do with what animals are around, and what animals come from other places: I think of the hamster or guinea pig, common, ubiquitous pets that tons of Americans have, that have originated in the deserts of the middle east or in south America. We imported these animals and started raising them here, even though guinea pigs are a food source where they’re endemic to, and they’ve become beloved pets. The pet aspect of this book is interesting to me: I noted the quote about how cruelty is an inherent part of human nature, but we love and cherish our pets. I still see this cruelty in the way some people treat their pets: people put hamsters in those flimsy plastic cages (I’m guilty of that as a kid), they keep fish in bowls, they try to feed their dogs and cats vegan diets- all in the name of love. It can be explained by a lack of education, but this disinterest pet owners have in learning about their pets before they get them almost seems to stem from a deep desire to hold dominion over the animal by not keeping it in idea conditions. I let that get away from me, whoops. Anyways, I liked that this book does not have a solid idea of animal rights, because animal rights are different all around the world and for different people. Because truly, animal rights is a human invention- not because animal cruelty is a human invention, because animals are cruel to each other all the time, but because we ascribe our emotions and ideas to animals that have completely different brains and worldviews than us. It goes back to the quote at the beginning of the book: animals are a seperate nation, something none of us will ever quite understand. Compassion for animals requires the ability to see this difference, and to treat animals based on their reactions and behavior, not on what we think they feel.

Current Event

I chose an article about the Great Smoky Mountains because I went there recently and it was AMAZING. In November, a huge fire burned 11,000 acres of the park. Tons of researchers flooded to the area to study how the forest would recover. One researcher is looking at two species of fungi, a small orange one that is only seen after fires, and a small brown mushroom. The Smokies are one of the most biodiverse places in the world, and there is evidence that the orange fungus is unique to the area. She (the researcher) has also seen recovery in the area, noticing trilliums growing as well as the fungi. I love that forests can recover so well from catastrophic events like this: the tenacity of life amazes me every day.

An image of the fungus Pyronema which UT mycologist

The little orange fungus, pyronema

One Response to Placing Animals

  1. […] Week 12: Urbanik- Placing Animals and Current Event: Smoky Mountains Fungi […]

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