Even zoo animals love a good snow day

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/01/13/even-zoo-animals-love-a-good-s.html


Were they happy about the snow, or that they didn’t have a bunch of dumb-ass humans gawking at them for a day?


I’ll bet their attitudes would change if they had to shovel it.


I wish pet otters were a thing…



i’m most surprised by the elephants being delighted with it. i brought some in on a tray for our indoor cats, who have never seen such a thing, and they were all, “…w…t…F!”


Sure the mammals like it. I want to see pictures of apython wiggling on its back in the joy of fresh snow. Or maybe a Komodo dragon licking the snow off of its face.



pretty much, lol. one of them was more curious, but every time he touched it he would pull his paw back and lick it for awhile to warm it back up. the other touched it once, and then she stayed a good 3 feet away after that, refusing to get any closer to it.


Debbie Downer Fact:

Nora, the polar bear cub you see in the video was sent to the OZ because her mother died and there were no other polar bears at her zoo to care for her. So she got sent to the OZ. While in quarantine the adult polar bear that was to raise her was discovered to be riddled with cancer and it died.

Now Nora is all alone in an enclosure designed for more than two adult polar bears. She has nearly no experience with her species.


Only slightly alarming to have one scene of polar bears, followed by a scene of apparently-oblivious seals, then one seal trying hard to get the other’s attention. “Hey Bob. Bob. Bob!”


If she’d been orphaned in the wild, she most likely wouldn’t be alive at all right now. Cubs are easy pickings for adult male bears. For that reason alone, I’m happy that she appears to really be enjoying the snow.


Also, the Oregon Zoo maintains an elephant breeding program, for no other reason than to provide elephants to the animal entertainment industry. This means they are inextricably joined together with circuses, ‘safari’ parks, providers of animals for shows, carnivals, etc that treat elephants with extreme cruelty. Their husbandry has also been extremely poor, and elephants sicken and die at the OZ with heartbreaking frequency. The zoo regularly makes In Defense of Animals’ list of ten worst zoos for elephants, and clocked in at No. 5 this year.

The OZ doesn’t care. Elephants are a money maker for them. It makes me sick that our tax money goes to torture these animals.

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So some of the things you refer to are accurate and about 2/3rds are inaccurate or out of date (going back to the 70’s breeding program is where you’re going to find substantiation for most of the really bad stuff here).

The OZ does not breed for entertainment purposes like circuses. They have had custody of animals owned by a company that does. I believe the purpose was to diversify the genetic repository to move away from dangerous inbreeding programs. Part of that arrangement was that the zoo would split ownership or issue from the use of said DNA. I realize that this may seem like a complex evasion of that issue, but the fact is animals in the US are property and the rights to their issue belongs to the property owner. The OZ couldn’t just decide to take 100% ownership of the animals borrowed to aid the preeding program any more than you could decide not to return a dog to the owner because you didn’t like that owner.

Some of the stuff the OZ does I’m certainly not cool with, but animal mortality there is not something that is alarming to anyone who is informed. The OZ is known nationally as a sort of “retirement home” for geriatric animals. Old animals die, the OZ has more specialists in the care of geriatric wildlife than any other zoo so they take them in and care for them and then take the PR hit when they die. This is a good thing and leads to the kind of expertise that has the OZ leading the world in elder animal care.

And there is nothing unusual about the mortality rate in the elephant herd. I think Ranma went in 2015 and they blamed a 25 y/o severe leg injury.


So you’re calling In Defense of Animals liars in naming the OZ again this year as a terrible place for elephants. Your privilege. You’re wrong.

The zoo cannot run a breeding program in isolation. The OZ is part of a coalition which includes all of the groups I mentioned. You can’t opt out, or the other members will no longer cooperate with you in lending you animals to keep some semblance of diversity in the stock, dooming any breeding program. The OZ is, as I said, inextricably bound to all of these other elephant abusers. You’re wrong again.

Edited to add: I forgot to include, were you unaware that the last elephant born at the OZ was, at birth, owned by a circus? Due to public outcry, the zoo tried, and succeeded, in buying off the circus so the baby would stay at OZ. Make no mistake, if you’re in the elephant breeding racket, you’re in bed with the whole sleazy world of cruel exploitation of elephants.

The OZ breeding program does nothing to support or supplement wild populations of elephants. It’s elephants for money and entertainment, period. Say what you will about the other animals. The OZ is a serial abuser of elephants. You would do well to stop swallowing their propaganda.

The AZA experts have stated repeatedly that the current Indian (African too, but the OZ does not have an African herd) elephant population in the US does not have sustainable genetic diversity. So importation of new animals as well is cooperative breeding programs are critical.

None of your response really refutes what I’ve stated, it just reiterates that you are coming from a position of opposition to pretty much any of the currently functional systems of elephant breeding in captivity. That’s fine, everyone has a pet agenda that they take an unreasonable stance on and use to morally judge others. This is yours.

However the counter argument is that captive breeding has to not only be funded but also run dispassionately to some extent, because this is science and in many cases a genetic emergency regarding extinction. Tusko, for example, was genetically harvested because he was a member of a subgroup facing extinction. At the time he was to be bred with a MUCH smaller female (literally an elephant size smaller). This is a very cruel idea, IMHO. However so is extinction and to the scientists involved they were depersonalizing the individual animal to save the species. Is this a choice I could make? Fuck, I don’t know. But I get the logic.

Efforts like the OZ and other places raise money for off-site preservation and breeding that people are frankly unwilling to just donate. They need a show, they need to see something for their money. An “ethical” zoo raises money and awareness and the unnatural lives of the inhabitants pay the way to keep their wild relatives alive.

But again, this is just the elephant stuff. I’m not saying your morals are wrong, but you’re coming at it from a utopian approach. Like all of a sudden people are just going to respect animals and give money to take care of them. No. People need to see them in a zoo to give a shit about them.

All that stuff about high mortality and the rest that gets lobbed at the OZ is problematic because anyone who wants to listen to your message is going to really start to doubt you when they realize you’re throwing in a bunch of misleading stuff in with the sound ethical argument.

Anyhow: It’s complex. The completely hand-off approach is basically a death sentence. Right now they are in such danger that kid gloves are not a priority to the actual professionals who deal with them.


BTW, this is patently false. Their big thing right now is habitat preservation/restoration in SE Asia where Indian elephants life and are losing habitat to palm oil harvesting.

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Oh sure, it’s just sad. And since I may or may not see her all alone several times a week and start crying, I figured I’d spread the joy.

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But how do you justify the sky-high infant mortality rates and poor survival of elephants from these programs? They are devastating. And the US does not need an elephant population at all, so its diversity is not an issue. Remaining elephants should be made as comfortable as possible on refuges to live out their lives in some semblance of normalcy.

Where is the contribution of these programs to wild populations? It’s nonexistent. Preservation of wild populations is not the point of the breeding. It’s to keep elephant display viable.

Your justification of gross cruelty to elephants so that people will give money to preserve elephants lacks any objective evidence, and ignores the fact that people contribute money all the time to try to improve things that they have not had the opportunity to gawk at in person. Hey, maybe we could parade some Syrian refugees around, and raise more money that way.

Get off of your high horse. Your stance is not inherently reasonable. You have some kind of religious belief in elephant breeding and display that allows you to ignore the fatal problems with it. See, your inability to acknowledge that the OZ has a terrible record in elephant husbandry, and the ongoing inadequacy of their facilities, even after hundreds of millions of dollars in improvements.

This is patently apples and oranges. Habitat preservation in SE Asia does not require a breeding program in the US for elephant entertainment.