captive

Are the Dubai Penguins Ambassadors of the Wild, or Agents of Profit?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | June 18th, 2012 | 2 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: animal ambassadors, animals, Antarctica, big cats, birds, captive, captive wildlife, captivity, conservation, Dubai, Eco Travel, ecosystems, environment, Middle East, natural habitats, nature, penguins, pets, photography, threatened, threatened species, Tigers, travel, wild, wildlife

Penguin in Antarctica

In the hot, desert climate of Dubai on the Arabian Peninsula, 20 penguins are living in comfort, say the managers of Ski Dubai, the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East. The birds reside in a climate-controlled environment, receive the best veterinary care, and never have to worry about lurking predators.

When you visit Ski Dubai, you can pay to have a “penguin encounter,” where you’ll be able to play with and touch the penguins. Representatives of the resort say that these animals are “ambassadors,” teaching patrons about their wild counterparts and the need to conserve their threatened natural habitat, Antarctica.

But can animals that have been born and raised in captivity and habituated to humans in unnatural ways ever be true ambassadors for the natural world? Can they teach us anything about the wild or move us to care for the environments from which they are so distantly removed?

Should There Be a National Tiger Registry?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | February 16th, 2011 | 7 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: America, Asia, backyard zoos, big-game parks, black market, breeding, cages, captive, captive wildlife, captivity, Chinese zodiac, conservation, database, endangered-species, environment, exotic animals, extinction, folk remedies, Global Tiger Initiative, Global Tiger Recovery Program, harm to wildlife, hunting, illegal, International Tiger Forum, International Year of the Tiger, laws, natural habitats, natural-habitat-adventures, nature, pets big cats, population, protecting wildlife, registry, regulations, Russian Federation, St. Petersburg, states, threatened, Tigers, trade, wild, wildlife, wildlife welfare, World Wildlife Fund

Tiger

There are more tigers in captivity (such as this one) than there are left in the wild. ©John T. Andrews

There are some statistics that you hear that knock your socks off, and you just can’t quite believe them. You think they’re concocted purely to get attention and for shock value. Here’s one I recently came across that fits that category: There are more tigers in American backyards than there are left in the wild throughout the world.

How could that be?! I wondered. After all, the tiger isn’t even indigenous to the United States! It turns out that there is very little regulation on keeping wild tigers here. And because their body parts are prized in Asian black markets for traditional medicines and folk remedies — and because they are popular subjects for photographers and as college mascots — trafficking in and owning tigers becomes a means of making money.