The Ironic Environmentalists

Little Brother and I spent most of yesterday at the Philadelphia Zoo with a bunch of friends. In total, 6 kids (4 of them 6 and under), 4 moms, 2 vehicles, 1 wagon, and lots of head-counting. Ask me how many animals I saw. I could probably count them on one hand.

It seemed, for a while, that the zoo has toned down its “animals good, humans bad” take on things. I remember taking the Big Kids there when they were younger, long before Little Brother came along, and seeing a sign that stated “This animal is endangered due to human overpopulation.”

Yesterday, though, we went to the move on display in the bird exhibit. It was a cute combo of animation and real photography that taught about migratory birds. And there was a lot of very good information in there. The main “character” was an oriole who came from the Philadelphia area, so you had the local link; other featured birds were certain shore birds that frequent Cape May in the middle of their 10,000-mile migration pattern.

However, this lesson in geography, navigation, endurance and instinct didn’t come without its own environmentally-correct message. A crane teaching the little oriole about what he’d need to do and where he’d need to go was telling him about these shore birds and how their commute was so much worse than his would be. She mentioned that the birds stopped in Cape May, NJ to “fuel up” on the eggs laid by horseshoe crabs. Unfortunately, she told him, there are fewer horseshoe crabs to lay eggs to feed these migrating shore birds. So she was going to head to Washington, D.C. to protest. Exactly what she’d protest was unclear, but the point was made. If humans can fix it, it must have been humans’ fault to begin with.

(Does it not occur to the maker of this movie that maybe all these birds are eating so many horseshoe-crab eggs that there are not enough eggs to hatch into new horseshoe crabs?)

When the short movie was finally over, these directions appeared on the movie screen: “Please migrate to the left as you leave the theater.”

“Nice double entendre,” I commented to my neighbor.

Here’s the thing: animals and plants have been going extinct for as long as there are animals and plants. If they can’t adapt to changes in their environment, they don’t survive. It’s as simple as that. (Yes, I’ve read Darwin.) Why do environmentalists who decry human intervention in other environmental matters (such as they do in the whole “global warming” thing) insist that humans intervene to “save” a species that is clearly not adapting to the world around it?

“Please migrate to the left as you leave the theater.”

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