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Tag Archives: Biology

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Sunday the temps climbed into the 60’s (farenheit). Then Monday they crashed into the 20’s. Sometimes nature plays cruel jokes on us. But the reality is that winters along the Great Lakes are usually unpredictable and brutal. A planned trip to the reservation for hiking was scrapped because I just wasn’t ready for the bitter cold. But Rich and I wanted to do something–anything–to get out of the house. I don’t know when we hit on the idea of going to the Cleveland Zoo, specifically the Rainforest, but remembering that Monday’s are free we took five minutes to grab camera, bundle up, and head out the door. And what better place to visit on a bitter cold Cleveland day than the tropical rainforest! When we entered the building we encountered steamy warmth, a waterfall, and lush foliage. Ahhhh. What a treat. As we walked through the forest, the colors and sounds of animals from faraway lands in recreated habitats piqued our interests and sated our curiosity. This was more than an entertaining excursion to ward off winter-time blues however, it also proved to be a learning expedition as we discovered the ways animals and plants of every kind create an ecosystem across the globe, and how a rainforest in South America is crucial to life in Cleveland, OH and everywhere else. Fascinating. We also saw sobering displays of how we humans are destroying this ecosystem. By the time we departed the rainforest and headed back into the cold cold north country, our spirits were not only lifted, but we were more committed than ever to supporting conservation efforts. It was a good day of learning and enjoyment. I am grateful for the Cleveland Zoo Rainforest and all zoos that treat animals humanely while also educating the public about the quantum world of which we are a part.

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The whole concept of zoos is controversial, I know.  On one side there is the argument that caging animals so that humans can come and gawk at them is cruel and unusual punishment for the animal species.  On the other hand, zoos help educate us about geography, animal habitats, communication, health, ecology, etc.  A great deal of research is conducted by major zoos the world over and life is enriched by zoological discoveries every day.  As you might guess, I am of the latter camp.  Zoos have alerted us to problems within the ecological chain, informed us of a world unknown to most of us, created avenues of cooperation world-wide, helped us understand people of different cultures and climates, encouraged intellectual learning and growth. And finally, zoos are fun, especially when shared with a friend (or grandchild, see here)!  They are a fun way to learn, and by learning about the animal world, we become more conscious of our human world, the inter-/intra-dependence of humans and animals, and the necessity of maintaining a healthy, respectful balance.  I am grateful for zoos!

See also here for a recent post on wildlife and zoos.

 

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