Here’s Why Museums Will Be The Next Generation’s Zoos

By Soumya Raj:

When I was five, I had my first encounter with nature. My parents had decided it was time for me to visit the zoo, for they needed some recreation and I needed an excursion. Apprehensive, I entered the zoo, convinced that it was the last day of my life, convinced that the animals there would eat me raw, for I did not till then, know the concept of captivity. The years passed, with me engrossed in encyclopedias, cramming as much as I could. To this day, the tiger is my favorite animal.

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The alarming rate of the decrease in fauna is an integral issue. Overexploitation of nature, habitual destruction for the sake of progress, poaching and hunting; and pollution are some of the key, ‘controllable’ reasons which are the primary causes of endangering a lot of exotic species. Some animals are distributed in a limited fashion geographically, while others fall prey to the competition between the different tropic levels, and some get affected by the diseases which they succumb to when introduced to a new habitat and a few die out due to lack of finding a suitable mate to procreate. Below is a list of highly endangered species most likely to be wiped out by the end of the next ten years.

● Iberian Lynx: Only 309 of these exist today, in Andalusia, South Europe. This will be the first species of feral cat to be wiped out, if it does.

● Sumatran Orangutan: As of 2004, 7,300 of these exist in wild today and are exclusively found on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.

● Leatherback Sea Turtle: Largest of all the turtles, it is also called lute turtle and has a wide, cosmopolitan distribution.

● Panda: 3000 of these exist in the wild and are mainly native to central-western and southwestern China, dying out of low birthrate and habitat forfeiture.

● Dama Gazelle: National symbol of Niger and native to Sahara, fewer than 500 of these exist in wild today.

● Javan Rhino: With an ever shrinking distribution, only as scarce as 100 of rhinos live today in the wild.

● Tiger: Largest terrestrial carnivore, 3948 of these exist today fragmented within Southeast Asia

● Magallenic Penguin: A South-American penguin, millions of these exist today. Each year almost 20,000 are killed due to oil spills.

● Arctic Walrus: Fragmented in the Northern Hemisphere, there are only a few thousands of these ‘tooth walkers’ in existence today.

● Polar Bear: It is the world’s largest bear and lives around the Arctic Circle, with only as few as 19 sub-populations as of 2009.

For most of us who remain enthralled and dedicated towards fauna, there exists the other half of the world who don’t. For one who plants a tree, there will be two who will happily cut it with a chainsaw. For every PETA activist, there will be a poacher. For every animal who is born today, hundreds will be hunted down. It is time we preserve, for every human born on this planet deserves something more than a stuffed specimen inside the glass cage of a museum. We can either watch our planet disintegrating bit by bit every day, or we can choose to make a change and upkeep the ecology that sustains us. The choice is ours.

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