Tonawanda News


December 2, 2013

CRITTER COMPANIONS: Robots better than the real-deal in zoos?

Tonawanda News — In April 2010 the well-known primatologist Jane Goodall visited Canisius College. In 1960, she pioneered research on chimpanzee behavior in Tanzania and it was an honor to hear her talk. She thought back on her five decades of research and what it means for the future of animals in the wild and in captivity. In her speech she said she did not like zoos, but understood that there are not many alternatives for the wild animals since poaching, habitat loss and climate change were affecting every facet of their lives.

In February 2012 Canisus College hosted a symposium entitled “The Future of Zoos.” Animal behavior experts, conservationists, zoo directors and international zoo architects were invited to share not only what they think will be, but also to articulate what should be the future of zoos. Presentations were placed into three major topics: anticipating the nature of future zoo visitors, the role of zoos in conservation and species selection in future zoos. 

A representative from the Wildlife Conservation Society argued with the diminished state of wildlife, zoos should be responding differently. Other presenters urged zoos to change the educational role that they play. The most emotionally evocating talks were based around what animals would be in zoos 50 and 100 years from now.

Some thought highly intelligent animals like elephants, great apes and killer whales should never be in zoological intuitions. Some thought that cloning extinct animals such as saber tooth tigers and woolly mammoths, and having them alive and in zoos would be the future. Dr. Michael Noonan, an animal behavior professor at Canisus College, spoke about the role of robotics in zoos. Could you imagine going to a zoo and just like Disney or Universal Studies seeing animatronic animals instead of the real thing?

This brings me to one of the many essays in the newly published book, “Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation,” by Marc Bekoff. The book was published three weeks ago and includes many of his 400 essays, which present research about animal cognition as well as his own personal views of what each of us can do to improve the lives of animals.

Text Only
  • SUN LIFE Volunteers honored 1 040614.jpg Women Who Move the City (and beyond)

    April 7, 2014 2 Photos

  • SUN LIFE POUND 1040614j jpg.jpg Rock n' roll fitness

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - crib notes RGB Enough of this winter -- it's time for spring

    Midway through separating the bits of dog food from the shredded paper towel pieces on the saturated bed sheet that had been strewn across the dining-room table, I finally realized I’d had enough.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - critter companions RGB Dear readers, it's me, Kenny

    I have bad knees. I have been told to blame my grandmother. I have also been told to blame her for my love of animals. Today, we celebrate the 100th Critter Companions column.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE mummies 1 033014.jpg 'Mummies of the World' exhibit arrives in Buffalo

    As visitors arrived for the recent NCAA basketball tournament games in Buffalo, a much older group of visitors arrived via motorcade at the Buffalo Museum of Science — but these newcomers to the Queen City wouldn’t be seeking out a place to have a beer between games or where to find the region’s best chicken wings.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - double trouble RGB Years later, still spending sunny days on Sesame Street

    I always knew we’d hit “the Elmo years.”

    Going into parenthood, it seemed like a given. Both my husband and I  were “Sesame Street” fans from childhood ourselves, and we were happy enough to pass it on to a new generation. And we knew, having friends with children of the applicable age, that in this day and age “Sesame Street” equalled Elmo, the squeaky-voiced “furry red menace” (thus dubbed by Oscar the Grouch) of parents everywhere.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE Local Restaurant Week 2 033014.jpg Back for another bite

    As spring finally starts to unfold in Western New York, residents are likely eager to get out of their houses — and organizers of Local Restaurant Week hope they’ll consider eating out as they do that.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wineries invite visitors to take a Taste of the Trail

    If one weekend of food and wine pairings is a good thing, two weekends of food and wine pairings must be even better.

    For the first time, the Taste of the Trail event, which takes place Friday through April 6 and April 11 to 13 on the Niagara Wine Trail, will be split into two weekends, with half the trail’s wineries taking part the first weekend and half the second, said Elizabeth Maute, wine trail coordinator.

    March 31, 2014

  • sig - critter companions RGB CRITTER COMPANIONS: Rewards for playing nice

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE signs of spring 1 032314.jpg Region's favorite signs of spring gear up for season

    Ah, the signs of spring: The birdsong, the flowers, the green grass, the flowing waters of the Erie Canal or Niagara River ... and the words “Opening soon” on the marquee of your favorite seasonal business.

    March 24, 2014 1 Photo