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Friday, August 10, 2018

Babies!

I got to see the baby snow leopards for the first time yesterday!
They are the cutest things in the whole world. It was their first time coming outside and the two of them were going ,"what is this huge place??!"
I can't wait until they're confident enough to play outside for everyone to see~

I'll post pictures once I get them on my computer.
But for now, here's the one from the zoo website. I think it must be taken by our awesome zoo photographer~


And while I'm at it, here's the dad.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Circuses, Zoos, and Pets

I finally saw The Greatest Showman. It was a good movie, and the songs are very catchy. I can't get them out of my head, and I've listened to the soundtrack several times.


One complaint, which doesn't detract from the movie, but echoes something I've been thinking about lately.
A lot of the scenes with horses were very obviously fake. They were digitally animated horses. Same with the elephants and lions, though that's pretty common nowadays. But fake horses?
I understand why things like lions and elephants would be digital instead of real. They Are big and powerful, and an accident could be very bad. But horses? Sure, accidents happen sometimes on horses. But so many more people know how to work with horses! And horses can be so well trained. Plus there are always weird accidents involved in filming.
It's not like they horses were doing anything unreal (like flying, or jumping off cliffs). So why were they fake?

It worries me because it's already getting hard for horse people to find work. Technology is driving a lot of animal skills to extinction.

I'll start off by saying that this is a very touchy topic, because of the history behind it.
Animals used in film and entertainment have been very cruelly treated in the past. They can be injured (even killed) while making a movie. And of course large animals can be dangerous to humans.
But when people start to replace real animals with fake ones, it has other effects. Like I mentioned, it drives people (those that work with animals) out of jobs. And while there may have been some cruel methods of animal "training" (more like breaking) in the past, it is not always that way. There are very humane methods of animal training. And we are losing opportunities to display that.
But I think a bigger, though less visible problem, is that it's a further gulf between people and nature. We're replacing real animals with fake, computer generated ones. It takes away the value of real living breathing creatures.
There is no substitute for seeing a real animal with your own eyes.
Every week at the zoo when the tiger walks inside and people see him up close, everyone gasps in awe. He walks in of his own free will, because he knows that if he comes inside, he'll get treats. Though sometimes if he's fast asleep, he might not hear the call. The lions don't really care enough about treats to come inside, but they will occasionally.

And in the evening when the first giraffe walks into the barn, there are murmurs of joy at seeing such a beautiful, amazing creature less than ten feet away.

One thing good zoos are starting to do, which makes sense is called "protected contact." It means that for potentially dangerous animals, there is always a barrier between the animal and the humans working with them. It makes sense. Even the best trained tiger is so big and strong that it could hurt someone by accident. At trainers that lose focus for even a moment could trigger a tiger's instincts. Plenty of keepers admit that all their accidents were their own fault. But no matter how careful you are, human error will always happen at some point.
But it's still got that underlining thing about separating humans from animals and nature. It's just my opinion, but since I've taken some strange risks, I think it's worth that risk to work hands-on with animals. It seems like it must make the bond all that stronger, and I don't want that kind of bond to disappear (Disclaimer - this is not the zoos opinion, and I have never worked hands on with any big dangerous animals, other than horses XD so take this with a grain of salt).

Every time I see events with real animals disappear, it hurts. Like when they took away the rainforest exhibit from our county fair. You could see animals there that you'd probably never see anywhere else. Like a binturong.
I think it does more damage to take away animals, because people will not care about them nearly as much if they can't meet them face to face. Plus it also gives animal keepers the opportunity to teach people about animals, and how to protect them.
As long as we're using methods that are kind to the animals. Any place that is cruel to animals must go away.

Circuses. I'm not really familiar with how they train their animals.

In the past circuses have treated animals horribly. Bad food, small cages, cruel training methods.
But surely there are kind ways to keep and train circus animals? Is it too expensive to give circus animals all the space and care they need? I don't know. I'm not as sure about this one. Some animals definitely don't belong in circus-like settings. But could kind circuses work?
Especially if they also teach people about the animals.
That's what good zoos do. They keep healthy animal populations in human care, which is insurance if anything happens to those animals in the wild. And in far to many cases, wild animals are in terrible danger. Some populations of animals have only been saved because there were some of of them in human care.
Plus zoos give people the opportunity to see animals, fall in love with them, and learn about them and the dangers they face.
Good zoos are here to help the animals, not to treat animals like mindless display pieces for peopel to gawk at.

Pets.
There are more tigers owned privately than there are wild tigers (there are only about 3,000 wild tigers left, and that's including all 6 species of tiger).
It's still legal to own animals like this in some states. Lions, tigers, chimpanzees (you can't actually obtain chimps as pets anymore, but you can keep any chimps you already own @_@ )
Most of the people that own a pet tiger have absolutely no business caring for an animal like that. They just want to look tough or rich or something. There are sanctuaries that take in hundreds of bears and wolves and big cats that have been neglected and abused.

But in other places there are people that are legitimately trying to help endangered animals. They have the space and resources to care for them, but are tied in knots trying to make it work legally.

I think the main thing is that people should not be allowed to have an animal unless they are prepared to care for that animal through its entire life. So for tortoises that can live over 100 years, you probably have no business owning one since that animal will outlive you.
Or people think it would be fun to buy a little lion cub. But that cub will not stay little for long. It will grow up and become a huge and powerful predator. The chimpanzees at our zoo were all in this boat. They were all kept as pets when they were babies. They were dressed in human clothes and treated like human babies. But they are not humans. They don't act like humans. And they do not grow up to be humans. So when they grow up, the people don't want to keep them anymore.
If you have a huge amount of space and all of the resources to care for and train an animal through its entire life, including good diet, full medical care, and social interactions (some animals need others of their species), maybe you can think about owning one.
This also goes for domestic animals. Even cats and dogs. If you can't afford their basic care, or vet care when it's needed, don't get an animal. It is not okay to buy a bunny for your kid on Easter unless that kid is prepared to care for the bunny all 10+ years of its life.

Other animals like ball pythons can live 30+ years. Your life can change a lot in that time. You may go through school and marriage and parenthood, and still have your python.
I have a ball python. I've had him 10 years. And I intend to keep him for as long as he lives. I love him. And I'd recommend ball pythons as pets, but only if you can commit to them for 30 years. And that is a significant chunk of your life.

There is a book I read that had a fitting quote. If you tame something, you owe your life to it. Because by taming it, you have taken away its ability to care for itself.

So, there's my rant. Animals are wonderful companions. They can change your life. But they are a lot of work, and not everyone is capable of caring for animals.
So, go hug your animals and let them know that you'll take care of them forever.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

I realized that I completely neglected my fanfiction ever since I started at the zoo.
Oops.
I spent much of the evening writing the next chapter. It's strange thinking of how a Pokémon Go gym might work in the real world (real Pokémon world, that is).

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Naming

I think this might be the first time I've had to think of a title for something that wasn't a story or poem.
I hope I can think of a name good enough that the zoo will want to use for the tours~



(A bear begging for food~)

Monday, July 30, 2018

I have too many hobbies XD
There's not enough time for them all.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Book Update

Time my next reading update. They seem to happen about once a year.
I've been listening to a ton of books on tape as I go to and from work. But I keep reading normal books as well. Most of my reading is done during the minutes I have off during work (before I start, and during lunch break, ex).
Anyway, here are some of the more interesting books I've gotten though in the past year.

I read Sabriel a while ago and liked it. I have since read Lirael and Abhorsen. They were interesting, but I liked the Sabriel book best.

American Gods
I think I was extremely lucky that my first Neil Gamian book was "Neverwhere," because I really haven't gotten into any of his other stuff. It's usually too much for me. And there were parts of this book that just left me going... why? Though the theme was fascinating - the old gods versus the "new gods."

I read The Book Thief too. A bit of an odd writing style, but it was a good book. A good movie as well.


Stardust: I mostly read this (listened to it on tape) because I saw the movie and know people that like it. It was okay. But I just told you how I feel about Neil Gaiman books. Not that he's not a good writer, but it's not my thing.


Let it Snow: It was fun to see how the different stories linked together. I always find these kind of interweaving tales fascinating.

Cress
Winter
I finished the Lunar Chronicles. The first book, Cinder, is my favorite. I loved how they paralleled parts of the original tale with the futuristic setting. At the end of book 3 (I think) we were introduced to Winter. Her introduction was fascinating (I think more so than Winter's actual book XD ).

Scythe
I have a signed copy of this book~
Definitely a fascinating concept. It's one of those books that makes you question the value of life and living forever and such. I recently found there's a sequel. I'll have to check that out.

Wish You Were Here
I've run onto these books before. At one point, I started the series, but didn't understand what was going on (turns out I hadn't started on the first book).
But it was fun! It's like a mystery where the cat and dog help to solve it. I think I'll read a bit further.

Turtles all the way Down
A good book. Though I read it when I was pretty stressed out, so it didn't help me much XP. As usual, his writing has fascinating ideas. It makes you think.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Whoa, I thought this would be something completely different!
I'll probably check out the later books in the series.

Whispers: Yggdrasil Children
I know the guy who wrote this. It's an e-book on Amazon.
It was a good book, but it could have cut out a lot of excess words. I hope the next book in the series goes well~

Earth Heroes: Champions of Wild Animals
This was a cool little book with brief biographies of some people who helped us understand or protect animals.

Twelve Kingdoms: The Aspired Wings
It took me far too long to find a translation of this one. Turns out I was just doing a very bad job of searching XP
We met this character briefly during Shoukei's journey. Now we get to see how such a young girl became queen. And I think with this, I've read all of the Twelve Kingdoms books. I liked this one~ These books always make you think about what it means to be a leader.


Origin
The newest of the Robert Langdon (Da Vinci Code) books. I liked this one. It took me a while, but I did figure out who the bad guy was a little before the official reveal XD There was a moment where I went, "Oh my god, it kinda looks like the motives match up @_@. MAybe this is the bad guy."
He's good at keeping the twist hidden though. That's not easy to do. He always tries to throw in several false twists.

Farside
A sci-fi book about a facility on the far side of the moon. This is the second book I read from this author. The first one was about a science facility on Jupiter. I liked that one more, but I'll have to check out more of his books. They've been interesting so far.

Coco: A Story about Music, Shoes, and Family
Books based off of movies are often bland. And in this case it's unfair to compare a book to the movie Coco, considering how vibrant every panel of this movie is. I also think the book must have been based off of the script, not the movie. Especially considering that it was released pretty near when the movie came out. So that makes it harder to fit the book to some parts of the film.
There was one main thing that bugged me about this book. And that was the scene where they go to see Chicharron. Because in the book. Hector doesn't seem concerned when he sees that his friend is disappearing. If that had happened in the movie, my love of Hector would have been half what it is @_@
But I loved that they looked more into Coco's life. And they spent more time on the rest of the Rivera family too.


Chestnut Street
Okay, seriously. How many people on one street can have affairs or unwanted babies?

From Russia with Love
I'm used to the James Bond movies being a bit silly at times. The books are way more intense and violent @_@


American Indian Myths and Legends
A great collection! The funniest is one of the human creation myths. The creator was baking humans, and Coyote was distracting him. So the first humans were left in the oven too long and became too dark. The second batch was taken out too soon, and their skin was too pale. And finally the third batch was left in just long enough, so their skin was the right brown color XD
I guess that makes me under-cooked.

Tru and Nelle
I got a signed copy of this book at an event. It's based off of a true story of the childhood friendship between two people who became famous writers (Nelle wrote "To Kill a Mockingbird").

Wings of Fire
Someone told me this was like Katani's story. But it really wasn't? Is it because there are different dragon species? That's been a thing since the Pern novels, which started decades ago.
I had trouble getting into this one. Half of it was them locked up in a colosseum thing.
I do like the concept of a prophecy which has been partly pre-empted. I wonder what they're going to do with it, though I probably won't read any further.
(I do love the cover art though)


Tara Road
After Chestnut Street, I kind of knew what to expect from this author. The only audio book I could find of this was abridged, which I always avoid. But in this case, I didn't care that much (I really only wanted to check it out because it has my name in the title). I don't think I needed more than the abridged version. The writing was fine, but I don't care about this type of story. I mostly just found it stressful.

The Search
One of Tom Brown Jr's books. I love his books, though I've only read three of them. I want to read all of them. They're fantastic and leave me feeling amazing.
You should check his stuff out.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Ki

Okay, another of those times where I'm in the middle of several longer posts which I won't be able to finish tonight.
So I'll pick a random topic.
Though not entirely related, since I have used some of my previous experience in this area as reference for Katani's story.

I took a couple semesters of aikido during college. I knew that what we learned there was pretty shallow, and I was always interested in going deeper. Aikido appealed to me because of the spirit of harmony and love. It's about redirecting energy, not about conquering your opponent. "Aikido" literally means "the way of love or harmony." And that lines up with a lot of my beliefs.
A couple weeks ago I finally went to a demo class at a dojo near my place. And yesterday I signed up for a month worth of classes. It's good timing, since my band is out for the summer. I'm not sure if I'll be able to balance both band and aikido, so I'll do aikido while I'm able to.
I enjoy it a lot. The fluid motions (if I get them right). And the rolling/being thrown XD (There's not enough floor space in my home to do much rolling).
I'm quite rusty since it's been a couple years between classes, but some of it is coming back after a couple sessions.
I feel pretty energetic right after (and then collapse into sleep after XP).
I want to go tomorrow, if my hip doesn't bother me. It's been a bit weird the last couple weeks, I guess from walking all day at the zoo. I probably need better shoes, but I didn't have a chance to get any the last couple "weekends (for me Monday and Tuesday). That's my next project.

Random zoo image!
Barn Owl~ I love their golden wings.