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What Will the World Do If Honeybees Become Extinct?

March 19, 2018
Honeybees become extinct

The statistics are there — honeybee populations are on the decline. In 2016, more than one-third of the bee colonies in America died out, with many years prior following much of the same news. Is it soon time to say goodbye?

If honeybees become extinct, the entire world — not just America — will suffer. There are some short-term solutions that will allow people to get by for a bit. But because honeybees are such a contributor to food products and the ecosystem, people will not sustain themselves for very long if honeybees become extinct.

Why Are Honeybees so Great?

Honeybees have a number of positive characteristics. Approximately a third of the world’s food is pollinated by honeybees. Alfalfa, a bee-pollinated plant, is responsible for providing the dietary needs for cattle, proving that humans are not the only ones to benefit from honeybees.

While various household items include honey, the medical aspects are even more astounding. A single spoonful of honey contains 27 minerals and 22 amino acids. There are also over 5,000 protective enzymes in honey, working to defend your body from disease and infection.

The direct role of honeybees in the maintenance of the ecosystem is amazing. Every year, over 150 crops are pollinated by bees in addition to wildflowers. An ecosystem functions by keeping a healthy cycle — regulated climate, purified water, balanced soil and sustained natural resources. Honeybees contribute to the ecosystem’s functionality by ensuring the plants reproduce efficiently.

What Is Endangering All of Our Honeybees?

Unfortunately, there isn’t one easy answer to what may cause honeybees to become extinct. There are a handful of contributors, from the occurrence of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) to the environment to pesticides and infestation.

CCD is a strange phenomenon that keeps occurring. For some reason, a large group of honeybees occupying a beehive will decide to abandon it, leaving behind only a few plus the queen bee. The colony collapses without workers to maintain the hive.

CCD directly impacts the global economy. Many of the crops we see in grocery stores require bee pollination, such as fruits, vegetables and nuts. The demand for these crops has risen at the same time colonies are drastically collapsing. It is challenging to keep up the pollination demands for these crops.

Environmental changes also affect honeybees. Unless grown and kept in a sanctuary, honeybees thrive in the wild. Warming climates, industrial renovations and human development all hinder the behavior and survival of honeybees. Wild honeybees are the most effective pollinators due to their adaptable natures, but even some environmental factors can be impossible to adapt to.

Pesticides contribute to the declining survival rate of honeybees. While many sprays are meant to target weeds and fungi, they can become damaging to bees. Neonicotinoid is a popular pesticide which harms both wild and bred honeybees. The chemicals used in neonicotinoid are toxic to any insect, even those not directly targeted. This means that even if a beehive isn’t sprayed with the pesticide, the colony can still die because of their interaction with plants around it.

Infestations also endanger honeybees and their colonies. A small mite named the varroa mite has the ability to destroy an entire area of honeybees. There is a link between mite outbreaks and an occurrence of CCD. These mites can also carry other viruses between them, so even if one beehive is not affected by the outbreak, they could be cross-contaminated through another disease.

So What Happens If Honeybees Become Extinct?

If honeybees become extinct, there may be another chance for honey production and crop pollination that is not artificial. The blue orchard bee — lovingly referred to as BOB — is a native species just as capable of pollinating crops and flowers. Honeybees came to America from the Old World in 1622. However, blue orchard bees have been in North America far longer.

Blue orchard bees operate quite differently than honeybees. Rather than thriving in colonies, these bees prefer to be solitary. A female BOB will find a nesting place and lay up to five eggs, keeping her home quite small and easy to maintain.

There is an upside and a downside to the pollinating effectiveness of these bees. BOBs are actually more efficient at pollinating than honeybees, and it all has to do with technique — instead of using their legs to grab pollen, a blue orchard will use their abdomen and “swim” around the nectar of a flower to collect pollen. This makes it much easier for pollen to be transferred from one flower or plant to the next, as the abdomen is a very accessible spot.

The downside is that, while efficient, blue orchard bees are somewhat difficult to organize. Because they choose to live alone, it is hard to get a group of blue orchard bees to find homes within the same area.

There is hope for the future with these blue orchard bees. Entomologists have performed a study in which, instead of trying to attract BOBs into one large hive — which has seen so much success with honeybees — they were instead exposed to several tiny hives within a test area. The results came back overwhelmingly positive in that nest occupancy and larvae percentages all increased.

What Can We Do to Help?

While blue orchard bees seem to be a “replacement” for honeybees, you should be cautious about believing it’s a final answer. Studies have shown that BOBs are able to be worked with, but whether or not they can effectively pollinate the crops yielded by today’s honeybees is still being tested. Therefore, all of us have a responsibility in helping extend the lives of honeybees, so they don’t become extinct.

Allow yourself to be bee-friendly to help prevent honeybees from becoming extinct. Planting a garden of flowers and herbs which contain native pollinators will invite honeybees to pull pollen from the nectar. Alongside the garden, include a plate or bowl of water — bees use this water to drink as well as to regulate temperature and digest.

And most importantly, do not contribute to the damaging effects of pesticides. Pull weeds by hand in easy-to-reach areas. When using chemicals, follow the directions carefully. Do not spray onto flowers and plants that are still blooming as the pesticide will just be allowed to thrive here and be mindful where the chemicals are landing.

If honeybees become extinct, the world could see economic and environmental repercussions that may be hard to escape. You can increase the longevity of these miracle workers and ensure your future continues to thrive.


How to Stop Hedgehog Decline

March 5, 2018
stop hedgehog decline

The world is a place in which danger lurks around every corner. Whether you are a human or an animal, there’s no denying that it can be a seriously dangerous and perilous place. Referring to animals, they are unfortunately on the decline all the time. As some groups of humans fight to save some animals, others start to decline in numbers. Whales and polar bears are the most popular you probably hear about. But, an animal that you may not know about that is currently in decline is the hedgehog.

Although the study in question refers to the U.K., it’s something that is happening all around the world. Hedgehogs are in decline, and it’s happening at a rapid rate. Starting out with three million of the cute critters that number dipped drastically once the results of the study got revealed. No longer are hedgehogs in the multiple millions. Today, that number dropped to a mere one million. Since the 1950s, the population had gone down from that healthy three million to the one million mark.

It’s a disturbing trend that needs to be examined more closely. Moreover, you may be wondering how you can help these little guys get back up to a healthy number. Luckily, there are ways in which you can contribute to stopping hedgehog decline in the world.

Easy Access to Your Garden

One of the reasons that hedgehogs are declining deals with the differences in urban and rural areas. You would think that rural areas would be an excellent place for creatures such as hedgehogs. And, while you aren’t entirely wrong with that line of thinking, the problem lies more in the intensive farming in these areas than the actual areas themselves.

So, one of the ways in which you can help the hedgehogs is to give them easy access to your garden. No, they won’t mess with your food in the garden. Instead, the hedgehog will end up linking this place to another habitat. In other words, it acts as a place the hedgehog can go if problems arise in the wilderness. It also gives the animal new foraging ground. By just keeping a small opening in your garden, you can stop hedgehog decline.

Leave Some of Your Garden “Wild”

This may go against the typical thinking of planting a garden. After all, aren’t gardens supposed to be tidy? Yes, the garden can still be neat even if you leave small areas unkempt. Utilize a corner of the garden and pile it with some leaves and logs. It acts as an invitation for the hedgehog and provides a cozy place to sleep.

Not only will the hedgehog have a sweet little spot to rest in, but the place will also attract invertebrates that hedgehogs eat. Again, don’t be afraid. Your garden will be exquisite, and the hedgehog shouldn’t get into trouble in it.

Make Your Garden Welcoming

If you go over to a friend’s house and they open their refrigerator to you, you are probably eager to return there soon. Likewise, hedgehogs will love if you leave out food and water for them. Depending on the landscape, the hedgehog may have a hard time finding food and water. Doing this will not only make your garden inviting, but you will also be helping them live by giving them sustenance through the food and water.

A couple points to note is that you need to give them water and not milk. Milk gives the little guys diarrhea, so be wary. It’s also nice to provide them with tinned dog or cat food or specialty hedgehog food. Either way, you will make their day.

Be Safe When Landscaping

This may be something you may not have even thought of, but it’s something that you need to be aware of when you are inviting hedgehogs to your garden. If you do extend that invitation, you need to realize that they could be there at any time of the day. Whether it’s midnight or three in the afternoon, the hedgehogs may wander out of the garden and into your yard.

If this happens, you need to be aware of them when mowing. You will suffer from a broken heart if you accidentally end up running over one of them. You mean well, so be sure to look before you mow.

Build a Small Shelter

Kudos to you if you leave small pieces of wood and leaves for the hedgehogs to cuddle in. If you want to go that extra mile, then you can also build a small hedgehog house. You don’t need many supplies, and it doesn’t need to be extra spacey. It only needs to be a small and compact shelter.

You can even put the food and leaves in there if you want!

Help the Hedgehogs

Their decline is important. It’s another species that may become extinct if help and support don’t materialize soon. Instead of shooing them out of your yard, show them some love and follow one or all the steps above that you see fit. You will help them survive and assist the environment as well by keeping a species alive!


Should Cloning Bring Back Extinct Species?

February 12, 2018
cloning bring back extinct species

Cloning has been a contentious topic since a team of Scottish scientists presented Dolly the cloned sheep to the scientific community on July 5, 1996. While we’ve been exploring the wonders of DNA and the various animal genomes, the question on many people’s minds is: Can we use cloning to resurrect extinct species, or to help preserve species that are on the brink of extinction? And more importantly, should we use these skills to meddle with Mother Nature?

Smilodons, Tasmanian Tigers and Mammoths, Oh My!

Jurassic Park, the 1990 science fiction novel by writer Michael Crichton, popularized the idea of cloning dinosaurs from DNA found in fossilized mosquitoes. While the science behind the book was sound, there’s one big problem — even if we managed to find a sample of dinosaur DNA in a fossilized mosquito, it wouldn’t be complete enough to clone a living, breathing dinosaur.

Mammals, on the other hand, are another story entirely. Not only did they live closer to our current time — relatively speaking — but many of them died out during the last ice age, meaning their bodies were likely frozen and much better preserved.

Other animals, such as the Tasmanian tiger, have been extinct for fewer than 100 years. Though there have apparently been credible sightings as recently as 1983, none of these sightings have ever been confirmed.

It could be entirely possible to clone extinct mammals by splicing the DNA harvested from these well-preserved corpses into the ovum of a similar animal that exists today — such as using an elephant ovum to clone a mammoth, or a rhino ovum to clone a wooly rhinoceros.

The biggest issue is whether or not we should. How would an animal that’s been extinct for thousands or millions of years react to suddenly being introduced to a world that is totally unfamiliar to them? If released into the wild, how would they affect the existing ecosystem?

Cloning for Conservation

Sheep aren’t the only animals that have been cloned in the last 20 years. Mice, fish, goats, cows, pigs and other domesticated animals have been the subject of cloning experiments. Most recently, a Shanghai-based team successfully cloned a pair of long-tailed macaques.

These successes are fantastic advances in the field of cloning science, but researchers have done much of this work in and for a lab. Could these clones, or clones of animals that are currently facing extinction, help improve conservation efforts around the globe?

Despite many breakthroughs, cloning is still a developing technology. Dolly the sheep died of a lung infection that is usually more common in sheep twice her age. While the researchers claim the cloning had nothing to do with her early demise, the source of her base genetic material was a 6-year-old sheep, so her telomeres — the part of DNA that indicates the age of a cell — were much shorter than they should have been for an animal of her age.

There is also the argument that cloning either extinct animals or animals that are currently facing extinction could hurt conservation efforts — primarily because of the Herculean efforts it would take to help these cloned animals adapt to life in the wild. Even if we don’t consider the cost of the cloning by itself, the effort of caring for these animals could easily absorb what little money is in the budget for conservation efforts.

If it doesn’t jeopardize current conservation efforts — if, say, one of the world’s many billionaires decides they want to fund an attempt to clone an extinct animal and keep it alive — it might be worth the effort, but currently, there are much better ways to spend that money.

What Could This Lead To?

Animal cloning and genetic manipulation have moved out of the realm of science fiction and now sit firmly in the realm of science fact — but what can these new advances lead to?

If accomplishments with non-human animals are any indication, the next step is to move into human cloning and genetic manipulation. China is already ahead of the game in this respect — they have used the gene-editing technique known as CRISPR on 86 different human patients, reportedly causing up to 15 deaths, though only half of those were a direct result of the gene therapy.

If science fiction has taught us anything, it’s that human cloning and gene editing can be extremely beneficial, but it also has the potential to become incredibly detrimental. Just look at the Eugenics Wars from Star Trek, where genetically manipulated super-humans went to war with “normal” humans because they perceived them to be inferior. Similarly, the Bioshock video game series created insane creatures called Splicers by offering them genetic manipulation from vending machines.

These are just a few samples of the arguably fictional consequences of cloning and genetic manipulation, but there are hundreds more. If cloning and animal genetic manipulation become mainstream, how long will it be before a trip to the doctor gets you more than a prescription for painkillers?

Should we be making an effort to clone extinct or nearly extinct species? Not until we’ve perfected the science and we have a better idea of how these species will affect our current ecosystem. We know we can — now, we need to start thinking about whether we should.


Why I Think There Should Be a Pangolin Protection Law

January 8, 2018
Pangolin Protection Law

Which animal has it worst in the world of animal trafficking? Elephants and rhinos get most of the attention, but the highest-trafficked mammal is the pangolin, which resides in Asia and Africa.

Looking at the pangolin, you’d think of a cross between a pinecone and a badger. This “walking artichoke” is a fiercely adorable and determined creature just as important as an elephant or rhino.

Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy in both China and Vietnam, and their scales are also in high demand in many countries. As a result, greedy poachers can earn a high profit from taking pangolins from their wild habitat and butchering them.

Many people don’t know the pangolin exists, which creates a knowledge gap interfering with the protection of the pangolin population across the world. Experts and conservationists rush to educate the public and governments on the existence of pangolins. Meanwhile, the threat of extinction escalates to near certainty.

When dire conservation needs arise, only then does the international community take action. Experts now warn the pangolin will be extinct within our lifetimes if the illegal trade continues at the current pace. Will the international community step up to save pangolins, or ignore their conservation needs?

I believe there should be a law that protects the species from any form of poaching, hunting, trade or pet ownership across international borders. Cruelty toward wildlife pervades in society, to the endangerment of biodiversity.

The Trouble With Capturing Pangolin Poachers and Traders

Humans illegally poached and traded more than a million pangolins in the last decade — more than elephants and rhinos combined. Many countries enact laws that protect pangolins, but punish lawbreakers with light fines. Lack of enforcement of these laws continues to harm the pangolin population.

Traders shifted to the African pangolin population to source parts for purchases as Asian species dramatically decreased. The African species faced increasing pressure from regional and local demand for traditional uses and bush meat.

Scale number and size commonly help identify living and dead pangolin specimens when authorities conduct checks. Enforcement of anti-poaching and anti-trading laws grew difficult to conduct, due to the trading of the small non-living meat and scale parts. Anything governments can do to cultivate a culture of unsustainable illegal trade will benefit endangered pangolins. Poachers and traders will continue to find a way around capture, but the lawbreakers eventually get caught. However, these criminals appear willing to face jail time.

In traditional Chinese medicine, lore states a pangolin’s scales cure cancer. This year, the Chinese government seized 12 tons of pangolin scales in Shenzhen. This discovery set a new record for the largest seizure of endangered pangolin parts. The hoard represents the butchering of 20,000 to 30,000 individual pangolins.

Positive Moves for Pangolin Preservation

The international community has stepped up to help pangolins in recent years. The International Fund for Animal Welfare put forward a petition to classify the eight pangolin species as endangered per the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) in July 2015.

Thankfully, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) determined to take action to prevent the abuse of this vulnerable species — under international law, commercially trading the pangolin is now banned. More than 180 nations in attendance at the CITES 17th Conference of the Parties in South Africa in September 2016 voted to move pangolins from Appendix II to Appendix I. The decision shifted the status of all eight pangolin species from “threatened” to “endangered” under the ESA.

The Indonesian government opposed raising protection for two pangolin species, expressing interest in farming the species along with Uganda and China. Is it more ethical to farm pangolins? Does this successfully detract business from the illegal poaching and trading of pangolins in the wild? Unfortunately, pangolins rarely survive life in captivity, much less being bred.

Indonesia’s disapproval triggered a vote on trade ban proposals for two of the four Asian species. One hundred and fourteen governments voted in favor of the proposals, with Indonesia against and five countries abstaining.

The responsibility to enforce the laws approved by CITES falls on individual countries. Some avoid enacting the mandated measures, or impose light punishments. International encouragement must push these governments to step up and do their parts.

Pangolins’ official classification as an endangered species provides a higher call to action for governments to protect them. The ESA listing raises the need and action for protection in international eyes. Lawbreakers continue to poach and trade pangolins. The call to action must shift to swift and final decisiveness as an international movement to save pangolins from extinction. International governments must enact a full-spectrum protection law that protects all pangolin species from any form of poaching, hunting, trade or pet ownership.

Cloning Provides a Possible Pangolin Conservation Solution

Failure to enact an international protection law on pangolins opens the quandary to alternative conservation ideas. Though cloning technology is still developing, is cloning to save biodiversity an ethical decision? Could cloning the pangolin species save the population from extinction?

Cloning provides one possible solution to pangolin conservation. Assuming all goes well with successfully cloning pangolins, the opportunity to conserve the species offers long-term hope for preserving and cultivating biodiversity.

However, the species may not survive in the wild, even if successfully cloned pangolins lived several years into adulthood. Created in captivity, what chances do cloned species have to survive, and where would they go? Consider tigers as an example: Each tiger needs 25,000 acres of their natural environment, yet farmers consume more than 93 percent of their habitat. The same quandary exists for pangolins if cloned.

Even if successful, cloning will not solve the problem of illegal pangolin poaching or trading. Our global society must directly address this issue by creating a pangolin protection law. I urge the international community to reject all form of poaching, hunting, trade or pet ownership by enacting a full-spectrum protection law.

Let no illegal act go unpunished or ignored. The time to protect the pangolin population is now.


5 Empowering Conservation Jobs

December 8, 2017
empowering conservation jobs

Getting a job in conservation can be hard. There’s a lot of competition, and you might struggle to find a place for yourself if you don’t have the right degree or background. But that doesn’t make it impossible. What most conservationists look for, more than experience or a degree, are passion and a willingness to learn.

Conservation jobs are challenging. They can involve a lot of unusual work and can include travel, manual labor and working in all kinds of elements. You might expect to go in for an eight-hour day and instead work 12, or get called in for an emergency in the middle of the night. You can’t do that kind of job if you don’t care about it. If you do have the passion for the work, however, empowering conservation jobs could be the most rewarding career you’ll ever have.

1. Zookeeper or Zoo Director

Some people consider zoos to be inhumane or not in an animal’s best interest. In some cases, they’re right. Small, roadside zoos and traveling circuses often do not provide decent living conditions for the animals. However, large, nationally known zoos do some of the best conservation work around — both for their residents and for their wild counterparts.

There’s an option for zoos and even some wildlife sanctuaries to earn accreditation from the American Zoological Association. This official recognition means, in addition to meeting state and federal animal welfare laws, the organization goes above and beyond to make sure their animals get the best care possible. Part of that accreditation requires the zoos to work on conservation, donating money and research to protecting wild animals and their habitats.

Zookeepers themselves don’t make a lucrative paycheck, but their work is anything but boring. They act as both animal keeper and educator, teaching the public all about the species they work with. This job does come with some risks since you have to move potentially dangerous animals around and make sure everyone is healthy, safe and clean. A zoo director earns significantly more, but they miss out on the direct animal interactions.

2. Marine Biologist

If you love the ocean and fieldwork and have a background in science, marine biology might be the job for you! The field is incredibly competitive, so you should plan to major in it as an undergrad because getting into graduate programs is so difficult. For this job, you’ll need both a degree and a scuba certification. Getting there might be a challenge, but you can spend part of your job on a boat, diving with sharks and dolphins! Plus, you can help set up marine conservation efforts known as Hope Spots, to help the ocean recover from over-fishing and pollution.

3. Park Ranger

A park ranger is an excellent job for someone who likes to be out and about. You shouldn’t be afraid of the weather, and you should be able to keep yourself in good shape! While this job does involve some paperwork, it’s a lot more outdoorsy than others. Most of their job is to patrol national parks, including such beautiful areas as Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon.

While these jobs are exciting, they can be dangerous. Park rangers are expected to participate in search and rescue missions, give tours and answer questions, while also enforcing rules and keeping people safe. This job might be in danger, though. As we move through both a politically and environmentally changing environment, some of our national parks are facing budget cuts. Some of those may eliminate jobs in the almost $6.5 billion industry, which would make proper patrols more difficult. Soon, all our national park rangers could be volunteers.

4. Environmental Educator

One of the best ways to protect the environment is to teach other people how to do it. That can take a lot of different forms, but having it be your full-time job is an option, too! In a position like this, you may work with adults on occasion, but you’d probably spend most of your time with kids, either at a camp or within a larger kids’ program, like the YMCA. This job is the pe

rfect blend of conservationist and teacher. It gives you a chance to take kids who have never seen the forest before through one in an immersion trip. You can change people’s lives with one experience.

5. Wildlife Forensic Scientist

Being a forensic scientist will net you a decent living and allow you to work hard on improving conservation efforts in your area. However, it doesn’t always involve as much field work as some of the others on this list. Forensics is an excellent option for someone who loves conservation but isn’t as much of an outdoorsy type. It does require an advanced scientific degree, though.

Empowering conservation jobs aren’t for everyone. But if it is a good fit for your skill set and passions, you’ll never find another job that’s half as exciting or fulfilling.


Why Do Animals Attack Humans in the Wild?

November 3, 2017
why do animals attack humans

Animals do attack people, but those instances are rare. The question that then arises is why do animals attack humans? Well, there are a number of reasons these attacks occur. The first reason is media sensationalism. Reports are made on every animal attack, no matter how minor, and made to seem as if they happen all the time.

The other reason is that we’re trying to protect and reintroduce species that were threatened or eliminated from areas. That often means we’re trying to reintroduce large carnivore populations to areas where people aren’t used to dealing with them. Animals will attack and for a variety of reasons. Knowing why can help you understand what not to do.

Human Ignorance

Much of the time when people get attacked, it’s our fault. Let’s face it, moose are cool and seeing one is something many people want to take a picture of. But there’s a big difference between taking a picture of a moose from far off and trying to get close enough to any wild animal for a selfie. Unfortunately, many of the people going out exploring don’t know that. They invade a wild animals space and get attacked as a result.

Mistaken Identity

This is the most common cause of shark attacks. The animal often thinks we’re food because we kind of look like it, and they can’t see us very well. Surfers are more likely to be attacked because the shape of a surfboard makes them look like a seal, which is the perfect meal for a variety of shark species.

The other issue is that some sharks come into shallower water than others. Bull sharks, especially, are known for preferring shallow, murky water and even venturing upstream into rivers. Occasionally, other sharks like the Great White will also take a trip inland, but none are known to do so as the bull shark does. When they attack, it’s usually because they either think we’re food, or they’re trying to see if we are.


Sometimes animals attack because they have to, or think they have to. There was a recent video that showed an opossum, North America’s only native marsupial, being beaten with a baseball bat by some students at a college. Humans have, traditionally, attacked wild animals first and taken no prisoners. This has left animals with a deep-seated fear of us, and an increased inclination to attack if they feel threatened or cornered.

Combating this particular effect is difficult. We can start by trying to change the way we think about wildlife and show more compassion toward them. Teaching people why animals are essential to our environment and how they experience pain and emotions similar to people can be a starting point to change some minds.


Humans have effectively removed ourselves from the food chain. This is great in some ways. We don’t have to worry about being chased by wild animals on our commute to work, and we don’t usually have to go hunt down our prey for dinner after a long day crunching numbers. But in other ways, it makes us easy prey. We’re so unused to being hunted that when something does decide to have a go at us, we don’t usually put up a good fight. Various tiger attacks have shown that some animals learn to hunt humans.

We’re also large, as far as prey animals go. A 500-pound tiger can take us down with no problem, and we’ll provide a substantial meal for them. As we continue to meet up with wild animals, our sheltered lives can lead to trouble. We aren’t alert, we panic instead of fleeing or fighting, and we make for easy prey. In remote areas, being vigilant and moving in groups are our best defenses.

Expanding into New Territories

The human population is still growing. Developing nations have leveled off, and as China and India continue to develop a higher standard of living, their reproduction rates are also expected to stagnate. But there’s quite a bit of time before that happens, and those billions of new people need places to live.

As new homes are built, we can try to keep them in cities and already developed areas, but it’s not likely to happen everywhere. It’s inevitable that we will continue expanding and moving into new areas. As we do, we encounter new animals and increase chances of an attack. We have more laws in place now that protect some species, so we can’t simply kill populations because they’re in our way. We have to find new ways to deal with them, and that can mean we run a higher risk of getting attacked.

Wildlife will protect themselves, but they aren’t scary. It’s very rare that an animal learns to hunt people, and if they do, they are often killed as a result. Take care and be vigilant in the wilderness. You might save more lives than just your own.


Why I Think Zoos Should No Longer Exist

October 27, 2017
Zoos Should No Longer Exist

Many of us probably have a trip to the zoo tucked away in our album of childhood memories. It was thrilling to see animals up close that we otherwise might never have seen in the wild. We were too little to worry about whether the animals were happy in their enclosures, and our parents were merely glad to see us having a good time.

But now we’re all grown up, and we can’t see zoos through the innocence of our childhood eyes anymore. We see them for what they really are — small, unnatural enclosures where animals become trapped their entire lives, surrounded by a species that has brought them more harm than good. So here are some of the reasons I think zoos should no longer exist.

Zoos’ “Good Deeds” Aren’t Worth It

I won’t ignore the fact that zoos have improved greatly over the centuries since the first modern zoo opened in Paris in 1793. Zoos have slowly evolved from existing solely for entertainment to becoming centers for research and conservation, where scientists can monitor animals up close. Many zoos register as charity organizations and use their profits to fund species conservation and research.

But as much as they try to rebrand themselves and improve conditions for the animals, the very structure of zoos will always keep them from becoming truly helpful. The costs and resources used to accommodate crowds of visitors are unavoidable — like lighting, water, park maintenance and waste management. Many zoos have taken green initiatives to reduce their consumption, but it can’t be eliminated completely — unless the zoos close.

And no matter how much zoos remodel enclosures, they can never match the conditions that animals would have in the wild. Space is the biggest problem because many zoos are in urban areas and simply can’t expand to make enough room. This issue is why many animal rights activists call zoos “prison for animals”. And many species also become stressed from the crowds surrounding their exhibit every day.

What Should We Do Instead?

The research and repopulation efforts that scientists and veterinarians practice in zoos can be performed just as well in wildlife preserves. So it’s better to send people to native zones than to keep animals in artificial enclosures thousands of miles away from their natural habitat. Humans can adapt much more easily to different climates and ecosystems, so it makes sense that we should relocate rather than the animals.

People often credit zoos for educating children about animals, but this isn’t something that will be lost if zoos close their gates. Kids must first learn to appreciate nature and its inhabitants at home and in school, or else they will become adults who don’t respect wildlife. And closing zoos doesn’t mean that kids will never get the opportunity to see exotic species in person. I’ll be the first to admit that seeing a rhino in a video online isn’t anything like seeing one up close. But many wildlife preserves and rehabilitation centers welcome visitors on tours that are much more eco-friendly.

How Can We Make the Change?

The first step is to promote the cause until zoos themselves are willing to make the change. We also have to remember the infeasibility of shutting down all the zoos in one day. We can’t ship the thousands of animals that have been born and raised in captivity to their native homelands and set them free. Experts in animal care will have to create a plan for phasing out human interference that will likely take decades to complete.

That may sound daunting, but that’s why the sooner we get started, the better. And someday people will learn about zoos in history books the way we learn about gladiators — as a barbaric practice in the name of entertainment.


Can We Clone Endangered Species to Save Biodiversity?

October 13, 2017
Clone endangered species

You might remember hearing about Dolly the sheep. She was perhaps the most famous sheep in the world because of something that set her apart from other animals — she was a clone. Dolly represented the first successful cloning of an endangered species, a wild sheep called the European mouflon.

More than 20 years after the creation of Dolly, scientists are still playing with the idea of using cloning to help save endangered species. But the technology is still far from perfect, and not everyone agrees it’s a good idea.

A Still-Developing Technology

Dolly the sheep lived for about half as long as her species typically does. She died in 2003 from a lung infection that’s common in sheep, especially those kept indoors. Some said the fact that she was a clone led to her early death and that she may have been born with the genetic makeup of a six-year-old sheep, the age of the animal scientists cloned to create her. Other researchers, though, said they found no evidence that the cloning caused the early death.

It’s common, though, for cloned animals to have serious health problems. Scientists later managed to create a clone of an extinct species, the Pyrenean ibex, but the animal was born with deformed lungs and died a few minutes after being born.

The process is extremely inefficient, as well. In their efforts to create the ibex, scientists created 439 cloned embryos. Fifty-seven worked well enough to be transferred to goat mothers, seven pregnancies occurred and only one ibex was actually born. Today, cloning wild species is successful less than 1 percent of the time.

Cloning is still fraught with a high risk of failure, but some hold on to hope that the process could improve in the future and offer a viable solution.

Band-Aid or Long-Term Solution?

Even if cloning did work well, would it be able to help endangered species and preserve biodiversity? It might do some good, but it wouldn’t address the root of the problem.

Even if we could reliably bring back extinct species or create more individuals of endangered ones, they still might not be able to survive in the wild. The causes of their decline would still be present. Habitat loss, poaching and invasive species would still pose risks to them.

Each tiger, for example, requires 25,000 acres of habitat, but farmers have taken more than 93 percent of their natural environment. Even if we created more tigers, they’d still have nowhere to go.

Hope for the Future

While cloning extinct or endangered species might not solve the problem, it might help us in the future once we work out the other crucial parts of the equation. If we preserve these species’ DNA, it gives us the opportunity to possible bring them back sometime in the future once we’ve reestablished their habitats. We’ll also need to improve our cloning capabilities.

To this end, the Institute for Conservation Research at the San Diego Zoo created what’s known as a “frozen zoo,” a stockpile of tissue preserved on ice. Scientists in Brazil are working on a similar project. They’ve begun collecting genetic information from the country’s endangered species in hopes it might one day help save them.

The Brazilian scientists are also using the preserved DNA to work on improving cloning techniques, so we’ll be ready if the time comes to clone endangered species.

While cloning might not yet be a viable option and certainly is not a be-all and end-all for preserving biodiversity, it might one day play a role in helping save some of our endangered, or even extinct, species.


Shark Dragging Video Reveals Deeper Issues About How We Treat Wildlife

September 8, 2017
Shark Dragging Video

A group of young Florida men who recently posted an online video of them violently dragging a shark behind their boat at high speeds are now dealing with the consequences. The post made its way around social media and drew harsh criticism and disgust from many Internet users, including a well-known local sport fisherman.

Concerned citizens created a petition calling for charges against the men, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the situation.

The video shocked and disturbed many, but others didn’t appear to have too much of a problem with it. Of course, the people who posted it seemed to have no qualms about doing it, then publicly boasting about it by sharing their deeds online. This video reveals some unfortunate deeper problems with how we relate to and treat wildlife.

Consistent Mistreatment

The video shows the men laughing as they watch the shark being battered against the waves behind the boat as it’s pulled at high speeds by a rope. One of the men asks if the shark is dead yet, but experts say it’s still alive in the video.

However, if the dragging continued, the shark would have suffered a slow drowning death and probably would have been injured by the violent dragging.

Authorities haven’t released the names of any suspects, but the social media history of those in the video, as identified by Internet users and local media, reveals a pattern of animal abuse.

Previous social media pictures and video show them mistreating protected birds, illegally catching fish and shooting at fish. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service even investigated one of the men for the images that showed him gripping and mistreating birds that included the brown pelican and the cormorant. Officials determined he had committed seven violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act but were unable to charge him because they could not identify when or where the violations took place.

This makes the shark dragging video even more concerning because it shows a pattern of abuse, rather than a single occurrence.

How We Think About Wildlife

Although most of us probably wouldn’t treat wildlife like it’s treated in this video, the imagery shows us that people certainly do have the capacity to do so. There are people who mistreat wildlife consistently, and even groups of people who regularly do it together.

It seems the people in the video view non-human animals as being there for their entertainment — which, in this case, includes abusing the animals. Unfortunately, animal abuse is all too common. Perhaps we need to change the way we think about animals to help stop abuse.

People who abuse animals do not have respect for them. Showing people why they should respect animals may change attitudes about wildlife. Though we still need more research on the topic, the evidence points to the conclusion that animals experience similar emotions to humans. They feel fear, happiness, sadness, love and a range of other emotions. Anyone who’s spent considerable time around animals could provide evidence of this as well.

Beyond emotional appeal, animals are crucial to life on this planet. The ecosystems we depend on would not survive without the creatures that inhabit them. Animals aren’t just there for our enjoyment. We need them to survive.

Changing How We Relate to Animals

Though this video reveals some serious issues with how we treat wildlife, on the bright side, the reaction to the video shows that we as a society are becoming less and less accepting of animal cruelty.

It didn’t take long for people to call out the subjects of the video and express their distaste for their actions and for officials to launch an investigation. This backlash provides a bit of hope that the way we think about and treat animals may be improving.

Disrespecting and mistreating wildlife is a significant problem that is unfortunately rather widespread. It’s vital, however, that we treat wildlife with respect. Perhaps this video will inspire people to learn more about animals and discover why they should be treated with dignity.


Celebrating National Honey Bee Day: 11 Ways Honey Bees Improve Our Planet

August 18, 2017
National Honey Bee Day

Despite the common use of phrases such as “busy as a bee” and “make a beeline,” there is nothing routine about honey bees. In existence for approximately 125 million years, the honey bee provides many benefits to humans, our natural food sources and the planet. In honor of National Honey Bee Day on August 19, we’ve compiled 11 ways that bees make our world better.

1. Bee Products Fight Significant Disease

Bumblebee venom has been used to treat arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and depression. Studies have found honey, venom and royal jelly help to shrink cancerous tumors.

2. Honey Doesn’t Spoil

Its water content, at approximately 17 percent, is much lower than that of fungi or bacteria. Honey is the only food whose shelf life is forever.

3. Honey Works As an Antibiotic

As a medicinal aid, it offers unique antibacterial benefits for safe and effective wound care. Cuts, burns, psoriasis, eczema and even fungal infections respond positively to mindful topical honey applications.

4. Honey Bees Predict Storms

Exceptionally sensitive to environmental electromagnetic change, bees sense oncoming rainfall and thunderstorms. If you notice a sudden absence of bee activity, get ready for some extreme weather.

5. Honey Offers an Excellent After-Workout Replenishment

Its unique glycemic index equalizes blood sugar spikes, which typically occur after intense exercise. Honey’s distinct mineral composition targets muscle recuperation and may increase the output of subsequent workouts.

6. Bees Are Distinctively Symbiotic

No other creature on this planet performs its exclusive pollination service. Bees derive pollen necessary for honey and wax production from a wide variety of plants and flowers that, in turn, utilize powder delivered by bees for reproduction. Without pollen-producing plants, bees would cease to exist, and vice versa.

7. Bees Pollinate One-Third of Our Food

A vast majority of fruits and vegetables depend on pollination, including one important plant — alfalfa, which, in turn, feeds our beef and cattle. In the United States alone, bee-pollinated crops account for approximately $6.8 billion in sales.

8. Honey Bees Catalyze Crop Growth

In fact, active bee pollination spurs plants to produce up to 300 percent more per season. It’s no wonder beekeepers are welcome neighbors to savvy farmers and often compensated for their service.

9. Just a Spoonful of Honey Offers a Myriad of Preventive Benefits

Honey eliminates free radicals in the human body. It contains 27 minerals, 22 amino acids and over 5,000 protective enzymes. It’s no wonder royal jelly, bee pollen and raw honey all repeatedly earn superfood accolades.

10. Beeswax Has a Multitude of Uses Outside the Hive

In cosmetics, its natural ability to lock in moisture makes it ideal for lip balms and skin salves alike. Beeswax candles burn longer and cleaner than conventional paraffin alternatives without any soot. Did you know beeswax prevents rust formation on cast iron pieces and tools? Or that it is commonly used to seal natural cheeses? In a pinch, you can even use beeswax for polishing shoes. As such, it also provides weatherproof protection.

11. Honey Bees Promote Biodiversity

Bees routinely pollinate over 150 crop plants as well as a plethora of wild flowers and native brush. Our planet’s vital green space could not survive without the consistent reproductive service they provide. A healthy ecosystem regulates climate, purifies water, maintains soil balance and provides essential natural resources.

In a trickle-down scenario, the mighty work of bees can be hailed as a crucial element to the healthy maintenance of our planet. Now that’s cause for celebration. Happy National Honey Bee Day, indeed.