Week 12 – Urbanik’s Placing Animals + Environmental News Item

Thoughts on Placing Animals:

Since I will be presenting the content of this book for this week’s lecture, I will bullet-point potential topics/questions I’d like to discuss with the class here, and then conclude with a paragraph about my thoughts on the material.

  • While the book obviously opens with the preface, I’d like to start with reading over a few sentences on page 8 that briefly discuss the aim of this book. Basically, I want to ask where everyone stands with the content of this book after they’ve read it.
  • Going back to the preface, I want to ask everyone how their lives are impacted by the nonhuman world on a daily basis.
  • The first paragraph of page 1 asks some great questions regarding how humans classify animals into different categories. I would like to ask everyone what their initial thoughts were regarding these questions, and then ask how the book answered them.
  • Page 3 discusses the importance of geography and how it influences societies based on what animals are around you. With this in mind, what are everyone’s thoughts on the geographical bias of zoos?
  • Bottom of page 5 lists different groups of people that stand for one thing or another. Which of these is “best,” or at least most ideal?
  • Table 1.1 on page 7 sparked some interest. Why are humans excluded in the definition of an animal in some states, but not in others? What might this imply?
  • Page 16 discusses how animals are linked to marginalized/oppressed peoples. Why do these two subjects go hand-in-hand? Regarding speciesism (page 17), can we go as far as to say that this is the equivalent to racism?
  • In the first paragraph of page 35, there is a quote about culture and agriculture. How does this vary from country to country?
  • Bottom of page 38 introduces hypocrisy of using animals in certain ways in other countries. Why should we care about how other countries treat animals? Consider how the United States treats its animals.
  • What are general thoughts on keeping exotic animals (chimp, tiger, etc.) as pets?
  • On page 50, there are some very good questions listed in the first paragraph. How can we go about answering these questions? What are the answers to these questions?
  • Page 51 has a quote that says, “… pet keeping is simply an extension of that desire to control the nonhuman world.” Is this true?
  • Pages 56 and 57 discuss how humans incorporate animals into every-day language, and how we associate certain animals with certain types of people. Why is it demeaning to refer to other humans in this manner?
  • At the bottom of page 63, there is a statement that says that men are more likely to get their pets fixed than women. According to the author, why does this seem plausible? Page 64 also talks about the Hooters fundraiser. Is there a link between these two topics?
  • Why is it important to talk about dogs and pets in general in politics? Page 75 elaborates on this subject.
  • The bottom of page 82 talks about dancing bears as a form of entertainment and the torture they’re subjected to. Why do humans find so much entertainment and joy by watching seemingly harmless animal shows?
  • Page 83 goes over what it means to be a service animal. When we think of “service animal,” what initially comes to mind? Do these depictions match the service animals described on page 83? Along with this, what are everyone’s thoughts on OWU’s service animal/ESA regulations? Page 86 provides a general definition of a service animal. Can you think of students’ animals that abide or digress from this definition? Do students abuse this power on campus?
  • Page 86 lists different animals that the U.S. does not consider animals in research. What does everyone make of this list? Is it ethical?
  • Page 93 talks about individuality of animals. How or why can a paradox arise from this situation?
  • On page 110, there is a section that discusses tiger and bear farming. Would you say that you feel more sympathy for these charismatic animals than livestock animals (pigs, chickens, cattle, etc.)? Do people in general feel more sympathy for them?
  • Page 131 has great discussion questions worth asking the class.

Again, these are just random points I’d like to discuss with the class, but obviously they will not all be covered. Anyway, I really enjoyed this book overall, despite the fact that I knew quite a large chunk of the information it provided. Regardless, I still liked reading it because there were a lot of important details that people tend to not think about or disregard because they don’t care about how humans have a special relationship with animals. It’s essential to consider just how much we collaborate together on this planet and the means it takes to coexist with one another without completely demoralizing the animals’ integrity.

 

Environmental news item:

Microplastics take flight in the bellies of mosquitoes

With an increasing amount of microplastics entering waterways, mosquito larvae are ingesting these microplastics and inevitably passing them on to their predators. Researchers in the United Kingdom recently found that mosquito larvae can eat tiny bits of plastic from the water in which they’re living. As the mosquitoes grow into adults, much of that plastic stays inside them. That means birds and bats that eat mosquitoes may be taking in a mouthful of plastic with every meal. And any other animal that eats those birds and bats is probably also getting a little microplastic with their meals.

an underwater photo of mosquito larvae

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