Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Sightings

I'm feeling a bit desk bound at the moment.

Last time I was surveying I damaged a ligament in my knee, which is healed with rest and exercises. So I'm missing walking my dog, surveying, and just generally being out and about. Though I am writing a lot of my project, so I guess being forced to stay at my desk is an advantage!

Last time I was surveying I saw my first otter. Absolutely magical moment - it is so hard to describe just how amazing these experiences are - the first time you see a favourite animal in the wild is so fantastic that it'll stay with you forever. And probably not even a favourite - any animal that you can watch without disturbing, and that is active and interesting will always attract peoples attention.

There was a debate recently on LinkedIn about the role of zoos in the 21st century, and most people, even the ones that disagreed with zoos, per se, agreed that an important role of zoos is public engagement. Show a person a statistic and tell them that this means that tigers will die out in 50 years and they'll feel bad, but tell them that same fact while they're looking at the animal and they're many times more likely to a) remember it and b) do something about it. I wonder if there are any stats to show that this happens, probably not - but I'm sure that all of you remember the first time you went to the zoo, or something incredible that you saw there.

I have many zoo moments that I will always remember, two in particular were very special: one involved a Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) and the other a Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), and both times I felt utterly honoured to witness them.

These animal experiences are important for everyone, especially children, and there's no better feeling than being at one with nature; sitting watching an amazing spectacle and just not needing anything more than that one moment. That's a time that you don't take photos, you don't tell anyone else. You don't want to change the moment into something other than its simplest, purest form of right there and now.