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robertogreco : zoos   9

On the Blackness of the Panther – Member Feature Stories – Medium
"At least once a day, I think: “another world is possible.” There’s life yet in our dreams. The pan-African political project is still alive. The memory of whatever was good in the Bandung Conference or the Organization of African Unity still makes the heart race. Flashes of common cause among the Darker Nations can be illuminating and sustaining. But “Africa” as trope and trap, backdrop and background, interests me ever less.

I am more fascinated by Nairobi than by Africa, just as I am more intrigued by Milan than by Europe. The general is where solidarity begins, but the specific is where our lives come into proper view. I don’t want to hear “Africa” unless it’s a context in which someone would also say “Asia” or “Europe.” Ever notice how real Paris is? That’s how real I need Lagos to be. Folks can talk about Paris all day without once generalizing about Europe. I want to talk about Lagos, I don’t want to talk about Africa. I want to hear someone speaking Yoruba, Ewe, Tiv, or Lingala. “African” is not a language. I want to know if a plane is going to the Félix-Houphouët-Boigny International Airport. You can’t go to “Africa,” fam. Africa is almost twelve million square miles. I want to be particular about being particular about what we are talking about when we talk about Africa.

* * *

I grew up with black presidents, black generals, black kings, black heroes, both invented and real, black thieves too, black fools. It was Nigeria, biggest black nation on earth. I shared a city with Fela Kuti for seventeen years. Everyone was black! I’ve seen so many black people my retina’s black.

But, against the high gloss white of anti-black America, blackness visible is a relief and a riot. That is something you learn when you learn black. Marvel? Disney? Please. I won’t belabor the obvious. But black visibility, black enthusiasm (in a time of death), black spectatorship, and black skepticism: where we meet is where we meet.

Going on twenty six years now. I learned African and am mostly over it. But what is that obdurate and versatile substance formed by tremendous pressure? What is “vibranium”? Too simple to think of it as a metal, and tie it to resource curses. Could it be something less palpable, could it be a stand-in for blackness itself, blackness as an embodied riposte to anti-blackness, a quintessence of mystery, resilience, self-containedness, and irreducibility?

Escape! I would rather be in the wild. I would rather be in a civilization of my own making, bizarre, contrary, as vain as the whites, exterior to their logic. I’m always scoping the exits. Drapetomania, they called it, in Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race (1851), the irrepressible desire in certain slaves to run away.

* * *

Ten years pass and I still dream about that cat. The eyes slide open, an image enters. Where are you now, Mirabai? Euthanized years ago by the animal shelter? Or successfully adopted and now gracefully aging in some home in Brooklyn? With people, young or old, merciful and just? Dream cat, leaping up to meet me."
tejucole  2018  blackpanther  africa  culture  race  film  blackness  identity  cats  animals  knowledge  racism  zoos  capitalism  monarchism  rainermariarilke  switzerland  colonialism  tonimorrison  lagos  nigeria  immigration  edwardsnow  eusébiodasilvaferreira 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Why Look at Animals? by John Berger | Book review | Books | The Guardian
"Part of Penguin's Great Ideas series, this slim book brings together seven of John Berger's essays from 1971-2001, a poem, a drawing and a new story. Apart from the final piece - a moving memoir on the death of Austrian intellectual Ernst Fischer - the theme is the marginalisation of animals. The title essay (1977) explores the ancient relationship between animals and humankind: an "unspeaking companionship". But today the caged creatures in zoos have become "the living monument to their own disappearance" from culture. In all these pieces, what concerns Berger is the loss of a meaningful connection to nature, a connection that can now only be rediscovered through the experience of beauty: "the aesthetic moment offers hope." Berger's writing is wonderfully physical, with a powerful sense of how things look, smell, feel. At his best he shows how everyday experiences - a swallow straying into a room, the performances of primates in a zoo, a peasant carving - hold the aesthetic key to unlock the true order of things."
pdsmith  johnberger  2009  animals  looking  seeing  noticing  multispecies  culture  companionship  humans  marginalization  ernstfischer  humankind  zoos  nature  beauty  aesthetics  hope  everyday 
january 2017 by robertogreco
On the Wildness of Children — Carol Black
"When we first take children from the world and put them in an institution, they cry. It used to be on the first day of kindergarten, but now it’s at an ever earlier age, sometimes when they are only a few weeks old. "Don’t worry," the nice teacher says sweetly, "As soon as you’re gone she’ll be fine. It won’t take more than a few days. She’ll adjust." And she does. She adjusts to an indoor world of cinderblock and plastic, of fluorescent light and half-closed blinds (never mind that studies show that children don’t grow as well in fluorescent light as they do in sunlight; did we really need to be told that?) Some children grieve longer than others, gazing through the slats of the blinds at the bright world outside; some resist longer than others, tuning out the nice teacher, thwarting her when they can, refusing to sit still when she tells them to (this resistance, we are told, is a “disorder.”) But gradually, over the many years of confinement, they adjust. The cinderblock world becomes their world. They don’t know the names of the trees outside the classroom window. They don’t know the names of the birds in the trees. They don’t know if the moon is waxing or waning, if that berry is edible or poisonous, if that song is for mating or warning.

It is in this context that today’s utopian crusader proposes to teach “eco-literacy.”

A free child outdoors will learn the flat stones the crayfish hide under, the still shady pools where the big trout rest, the rocky slopes where the wild berries grow. They will learn the patterns in the waves, which tree branches will bear their weight, which twigs will catch fire, which plants have thorns. A child in school must learn what a “biome” is, and how to use logarithms to calculate biodiversity. Most of them don’t learn it, of course; most of them have no interest in learning it, and most of those who do forget it the day after the test. Our “standards” proclaim that children will understand the intricate workings of ecosystems, the principles of evolution and adaptation, but one in four will leave school not knowing the earth revolves around the sun.

A child who knows where to find wild berries will never forget this information. An “uneducated” person in the highlands of Papua New Guinea can recognize seventy species of birds by their songs. An “illiterate” shaman in the Amazon can identify hundreds of medicinal plants. An Aboriginal person from Australia carries in his memory a map of the land encoded in song that extends for a thousand miles. Our minds are evolved to contain vast amounts of information about the world that gave us birth, and to pass this information on easily from one generation to the next.

But to know the world, you have to live in the world.

My daughters, who did not go to school, would sometimes watch as groups of schoolchildren received their prescribed dose of “environmental education.” On a sunny day along a rocky coastline, a mass of fourteen-year-olds carrying clipboards wander aimlessly among the tide pools, trying not to get their shoes wet, looking at their worksheets more than at the life teeming in the clear salty water. At a trailhead in a coastal mountain range, a busload of nine-year-olds erupts carrying (and dropping) pink slips of paper describing a “treasure hunt” in which they will be asked to distinguish “items found in nature” from “items not found in nature.” (We discover several plastic objects hidden by their teachers along the trail near the parking lot; they don’t have time, of course, to walk the whole two miles to the waterfall.) By a willow wetland brimming with life, a middle-school “biodiversity” class is herded outdoors, given ten minutes to watch birds, and then told to come up with a scientific hypothesis and an experimental protocol for testing it. One of the boys proposes an experiment that involves nailing shut the beaks of wild ducks.

There is some dawning awareness these days of the insanity of raising children almost entirely indoors, but as usual our society’s response to its own insanity is to create artificial programs designed to solve our artificial problems in the most artificial way possible. We charter nonprofit organizations, sponsor conferences, design curricula and after-school programs and graphically appealing interactive websites, all of which create the truly nightmarish impression that to get your kid outside you would first need to file for 501(c)3 status, apply for a federal grant, and hire an executive director and program coordinator. We try to address what's lacking in our compulsory curriculum by making new lists of compulsions.

But the truth is we don’t know how to teach our children about nature because we ourselves were raised in the cinderblock world. We are, in the parlance of wildlife rehabilitators, unreleasable. I used to do wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, and the one thing we all knew was that a young animal kept too long in a cage would not be able to survive in the wild. Often, when you open the door to the cage, it will be afraid to go out; if it does go out, it won’t know what to do. The world has become unfamiliar, an alien place. This is what we have done to our children.

This is what was done to us."



"If you thwart a child’s will too much when he is young, says Aodla Freeman, he will become uncooperative and rebellious later (sound familiar?) You find this view all over the world, in many parts of the Americas, in parts of Africa, India, Asia, Papua New Guinea. It was, of course, a great source of frustration to early missionaries in the Americas, who were stymied in their efforts to educate Indigenous children by parents who would not allow them to be beaten: “The Savages,” Jesuit missionary Paul le Jeune complained in 1633, “cannot chastise a child, nor see one chastised. How much trouble this will give us in carrying out our plans of teaching the young!”

But as Odawa elder and educator Wilfred Peltier tells us, learning -– like all human relationships –– must be based in the ethical principal of non-interference, in the right of all human beings to make their own choices, as long as they’re not interfering with anybody else. As Nishnaabeg scholar and author Leanne Betasamosake Simpson tells us, learning –– like all human relationships –– must be based in the ethical principal of consent, in the right of all human beings to be free of violence and the use of force. Simpson explains:
If children learn to normalize dominance and non-consent within the context of education, then non-consent becomes a normalized part of the ‘tool kit’ of those who have and wield power… This is unthinkable within Nishnaabeg intelligence.


Interestingly, the most brilliant artists and scientists in Euro-western societies tell us exactly the same thing: that it is precisely this state of open attention, curiosity, freedom, collaboration, consent, that is necessary for all true learning, discovery, creation."



"We no longer frame people as either “civilized”or “savage,” but as “educated” or “uneducated,” “developed” or “developing” (our modern terms for the same thing). But we retain the paternalistic attitudes of our forebears, toward our children and toward the “childlike” adults we find all over the world — a paternalism in which the veneer of benevolence is underpinned by the constant threat of violent force.

Control is always so seductive, at least to the "developed" ("civilized") mind. It seems so satisfying, so efficient, so effective, so potent. In the short run, in some ways, it is. But it creates a thousand kinds of blowback, from depressed rebellious children to storms surging over our coastlines to guns and bombs exploding in cities around the world."
education  unschooling  children  childhood  carolblack  attention  culture  society  learning  wildness  wild  wilderness  thoreau  ellwoodcubberley  williamtorreyharris  schooling  schools  johntaylorgatto  outdoors  natureanxiety  depression  psychology  wellness  adhd  mindfulness  suzannegaskins  openattention  miniaodlafreeman  paulejeune  wilfredpeltier  leannebetasamosakesimpson  consent  animals  zoos  nature  johannhari  brucealexander  mammals  indigenous  johnholt  petergray  work  play  howwelearn  tobyrollo  chastisement  civilization  control  kosmos  colonization  colonialism 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Chimpanzees who attacked drone with a STICK took 'deliberate action' | Daily Mail Online
"• Drone was filming at Royal Burgers Zoo chimp enclosure for a TV show
• Chimpanzees spotted the drone - and one grabbed a branch
• On its second attempt, it knocked the drone out of the sky "

[via: https://twitter.com/austinkleon/status/640267042264780800 ]

[See also: “ Burgers' Zoo's Tushi the chimp planned drone attack, researchers say”
http://www.theage.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/burgers-zoos-tushi-the-chimp-planned-drone-attack-researchers-say-20150904-gjfqd0.html

[Previously: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:5d068552c87d ]
chimpanzees  cameras  multispecies  dones  gopro  cameraencounters  animals  zoos  2015  via:austinkleon  quadcopters  primates 
september 2015 by robertogreco
100 Animals | San Diego Zoo Centennial
"The San Diego Zoo has a century's worth of amazing animals. We're posting some of their stories here, gradually leading to a total of 100 animal tales!"
via:anne  sandiego  animals  sandiegozoo  history  storytelling  2015  zoos 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Animal Madness: Zoochosis, stereotypic behavior, and problems with zoos.
"Many zoos cite the longer life expectancy of zoo animals to show that living conditions are humane. The animals are free from the danger of predators, so how bad can it be? To this, Braitman writes, “A tally of years lived and calorically balanced meals eaten doesn’t account for quality of life or the pleasure that can come from making one’s own decisions.” But longer life expectancies are not found in all captive animals. A study in the journal Science found that zoo elephants’ life spans were less than half that found in protected wild populations in Africa and Asia.

When I spoke with Braitman, she went to great lengths to explain that zoos’ failures to provide satisfactory habitats are not the fault of the zookeepers, adding that most truly want what is best for their animals. During my visit to the National Zoo, I too was touched by my encounters with zookeepers. I met one gingerly handling a tenrec (a hedgehog-like creature native to Madagascar) who knew the answer to every question I peppered him with about the animals in the exhibit.

But if not zoos, then what? Both Braitman and DeMello agree that our desire to interact with animals is a good impulse. DeMello suggests non-intrusive activities like whale watching. Braitman offers a more drastic prescription: End zoos as we know them and replace them with hands-on petting zoos, teaching farms, urban dairies, and wildlife rehabilitation centers, where people can interact with the kinds of animals “who often thrive in our presence,” such as “horses, donkeys, llamas, cows, pigs, goats, rabbits.” Braitman chides us for our delusion “that it is our right to see exotic wildlife like gorillas, dolphins, and elephants in every major American city … especially since it often costs the animals their sanity.”"
animals  welfare  animalwelfare  mentalhealth  health  zoos  2014  wildlife  laurelbraitman  templegrandin  catherinejohnson  megodemello 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Zoolandscape
"This project records forms of artificially constructed biotopes and landscape scenes of the environment of European zoological gardens. Zoological landscapes have a specific role. Their purpose is to simulate biotopes of presented animals. The animals’ environment is made artificially out of imitating materials or is reconstructed from original living products of nature. The landscape is simplified, systematized and idealized. It is adjusted to meet the aesthetic demands of a viewer and just like a stage in a theater it aims to present the animal - the performer - in the most ideal way. This project focuses on environments inside of terrariums, cages, and outdoor and indoor spaces. Photographs of these installations introduce new roles of a landscape and point out traditional anthropocentric understanding of nature in relation to the need of order and aesthetics. It is apparent from these photographs that environments found in zoological gardens do not only result from the natural living needs of the animals but also from the aesthetic requirements of humans. These two dimensional photo-translations of the landscape installations reveal visual references to landscapes known through the cultural history. The project shows a significant role of an image in understanding and creating a landscape. This is even more true in the environment of a zoological garden, which accumulates surreal scenic formations created by human beings. The exact record of these landscape installations maps out aesthetic intentions reflected in the landscapes and their spectacular impact. The project broadens options of interpretation of a photographic image of landscapes and understanding the term landscape in general."

[via: http://www.designboom.com/art/jakub-skokan-artificially-constructed-zoo-landscapes-04-21-2014/ via @annegalloway]
animals  zoos  landscape  2012  jakubskokan  martintuma  biotopes  photography  posthumanism 
april 2014 by robertogreco
How to Go to the Zoo
"Let’s get one thing straight. A zoo is not a theme park; it’s more like a museum... Go alone... Under no circumstances bring children... Go early or stay late... Go cold... Walk... If possible, wear khaki... Don't discriminate... Stay away from the gift shops. And the cafes... Take what the zoo gives you... Look for the overlooked... Take your time... And then take some more time... Do not see everything... Be thankful."
cv  culture  zoos  howto  travel  animals  advice  observation  interestingness  interested  museums  tips  slow  via:kottke  interestedness 
november 2009 by robertogreco
The new age of ignorance | Review | The Observer
"We take our young children to science museums, then as they get older we stop. In spite of threats like global warming and avian flu, most adults have very little understanding of how the world works. So, 50 years on from CP Snow's famous 'Two Cultures'
art  culture  education  philosophy  politics  reason  science  society  thought  uk  us  technology  children  parenting  museums  zoos 
july 2007 by robertogreco

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