by Ron Spomer - Thursday, October 15, 2020
A recent social media post showing an orphaned baby chimpanzee being cared for by a dedicated organization of conservationists elicited this comment: “I love animals more than STUPID HUMANS.”
This is a fairly common attitude among animal rights activists and animal lovers who recognize the guileless honesty of wildlife. Compared to us naked apes who lie, cheat, rob, murder and plunder, even a lion slowly choking a zebra to death—while his pride eats it alive—seems noble. But in the referenced social media post, STUPID HUMANS were the animals rescuing this little chimp and caring for it. So why would someone comment “STUPID HUMANS?”
Probably because they’ve been programmed to do so.
The theme of innocent wildlife despoiled by evil humans is promoted and advanced by pop culture. In books, songs, advertisements and movies, animals are anthropomorphized and celebrated as being better than humans. Who can resist the innocent bunny or happy bluebird, the gentle deer and inquisitive deer threatened by two-legged louts brandishing bullets, axes, bulldozers and fire? Whether it is hunters killing deer, loggers felling forests, farmers spraying pesticides, industrialists poisoning rivers or oil companies polluting oceans, humans are portrayed as the selfish, uncaring destructive bad guys.
Oddly, Nature—Earth’s collection of plants, fish, insects, animals, wind, water, fire and soil—doesn’t share that attitude. Because Nature doesn’t have an attitude. Nature just is. Indifferent. Heartless. Soulless. Selfish. Consistent. Humans, on the other hand …
Of course, the animal rights folks are partly right. Some humans are stupid. And selfish. And uncaring. And stupid, selfish, uncaring people are a problem in Nature. After all, dodo birds didn’t go extinct until humans discovered their islands and started killing them. Bison didn’t dwindle from tens of millions to a few hundred until humans began sending them to market. Ivory-billed woodpeckers didn’t disappear from the universe until humans cut down their cypress swamp habitat. Grizzly bears didn’t vanish from California until San Francisco and other cities sprang up, demanding water, woods and meadows.
Clearly, humans can be, have been and are a blight on Nature. But this assumption that we are a blight on Nature—an unredeemable, unrelenting evil force—may be an inaccurate overreaction to our excesses. And the above response to the chimpanzee post exemplifies this.
In truth, humans are the only animal that will sacrifice and work for the benefit of others. Stop and think about that. There are some 5,500 mammal species on Earth—10,400 birds, 10,000 reptiles, 33,000 fish—and just one, Homo sapiens, will selflessly devote time and resources to aid other species. Like orphaned baby chimps.
This unique attribute is most often recognized and admired in animal rescue groups, caretakers and rehabilitators. How kind, how sweet, how loving they are to dedicate themselves to cuddling and feeding the poor little creature. Noble beyond words.
But the most constructive, productive and successful animal rescuers are organizations such as the Mule Deer Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wild Turkey Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Wild Sheep Foundation, Boone & Crockett Club and various state wildlife agencies. In just one year, sometimes one day, these organizations have “saved” from STUPID HUMANS more baby animals than all the rescue groups combined have rescued in centuries.
Here’s one example: The Wild Sheep Foundation has raised and spent more than $115 million to increase bighorn sheep numbers across North America. Its efforts have brought total sheep numbers from about 25,000 when they started to about 85,000 today. And that isn’t a one-time number. That is 60,000 bighorn sheep ebbing and flowing and birthing tens of thousands of cute little lambs year after year for decades. And it’s still going.
Similarly, The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has enhanced and protected from development nearly 8 million acres of habitat. While this doesn’t tug at the heartstrings like a soft-eyed fawn or sad chimpanzee, it saves millions more animals. Yes, millions. While feeding, caring for and releasing into the wild a single chimp, deer or bird is satisfying, saving 8 million acres of grassland, shrubland, forests and streams produces dozens of animals per acre, decade after decade, in perpetuity. Even if the 8 million acres protected by RMEF nurtured just one species per acre per year, that results in saving not just one chimp, but 8 million deer or black bears or elk or tanagers, wolves, cottontails, martens, eagles …
Ducks Unlimited, started by and continually funded by duck hunters, has saved and restored 14 million acres of wetlands and associated uplands. And, of course, each of those acres feeds and shelters dozens of salamanders, frogs, fish, snakes, marsh wrens, gulls, yellow-headed blackbirds, muskrats, mink, raccoons, whitetail deer, dragonflies, marsh marigolds, wild rice, teal, curlews, geese … . The number of species alone is staggering. The number of individual creatures is almost incomprehensible.
And so it goes with all of these conservation groups and many more, most of them run by volunteers and funded by donations of money, time and sweat. Humans working for the benefit of other animals. What lion does that? What wolf goes out of its way to save a duck, elk or deer? What cute baby coyote grows up to devote its free time to protecting pronghorns, whooping cranes, moose, bobcats, yellow warblers and long-nosed bats, mule deer fawns and endangered falcons from poachers and despoilers, plows and bulldozers, highways and suburban developments, disease and invasive species?
Humans. No other noble animals but STUPID HUMANS are smart, kind, caring, selfless and dedicated enough to pour their hearts and souls and riches into caring for the wild places that nurture and perpetuate the wild animals we all love and need.
E-mail your comments/questions about this site to: