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Twilightprincess
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30 Nov 2019, 1:42 pm

Here’s a question of a scenario that couldn’t happen (I’d like an answer just for fun):

Let’s say that we discovered an unchartered island or continent and in this place was a large progression of species from apelike to almost human. To add a deeper degree of complexity, let’s say that all of these species were endangered.

How would we determine which species to put in the zoo and which ones are just too close to humans that it would pose too great of a philosophical and ethical problem? With endangered species, zoos like to implement breeding programs to keep various animals around for a long time.

I pondered this question while looking at gorillas in the zoo. (As an aside, I know that we don’t descend directly from gorillas.) A brother had ripped up a plant that a zookeeper had planted (much to her annoyance and amusement LOL) and was chasing his brother around with it. I also saw a mother holding and cuddling a baby in the same way any human mother would.

I’m not suggesting that we stop keeping gorillas at the zoo because public education and breeding programs are crucial for upholding this majestic species. All the same, I feel a small degree of discomfort when I watch them. Perhaps The Twilight Zone is also, in part, to blame.

That show is constantly haunting me in one way or another.



naturalplastic
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01 Dec 2019, 4:33 pm

Interesting emotional reaction you had to that gorilla exhibit. I get why.

Fossil hominids (fossil primates ancestral to, or close collateral cousins to the ancestors, of man come in two broad categories. The older ones are of the genus Australopithecus, and the younger ones of the genus homo. The australipithocines (like Lucy) are considered to be "the last animals before man" in our ancestry. Anything labeled "homo" is considered "human".

So I would go by that. If they found a living population of Lucy type creatures then it would be okay to exhibit them in a zoo along with the chimps and gorillas. But if they found a living population of Peking Men (Homo Erectus) they should not do that even they would be even farther removed from us that Neanderthals and Denisovians. They would still be human. But either way ideally you would consider them "endangered" would try to give them a game preserve to live in in the wild.

But having said the above...

There was a fully modern homo sapiens named Ota Benga, a pygmy man, who was exhibited as a zoo exhibit in the US at the turn of the century.



blazingstar
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01 Dec 2019, 4:48 pm

I have the same reaction as TwighlightPrincess when looking at gorillas and also chimps, and even monkeys. While we are not direct descendants, the similarities are striking and haunting.

naturalplastic: the problem would be the scientific and public dispute over the taxonomy of the new (to us) creature. :D
There were many fully human people exhibited for money in circuses and shows, or, exhibited under the umbrella of "science" including aboriginal people. I guess those weren't actually zoos, but it was still dehumanizing.


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Arms held out to dark they say,
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Threnody, Dorothy Parker
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