Saturday, September 19, 2015

Here's How To Shut Down A Zoo Or Aquarium

I feel really sad about how politicized the topic of animal care has become.  

But it just feels so satisfying in the moment!

You're either in one "camp" or the other, it seems.  Some people in the cyber universe have christened these camps as "pro-cap" and "anti-cap", which are ridiculous titles regardless of your opinion about the topic because they do not represent what anyone really stands for.  

This is the only camp I want to be in.

Or this camp
Nomenclature aside, most people can appreciate that very few of us fall firmly to the extreme end of this spectrum.  To be clear, there is no way I would ever willingly call myself pro or anti-cap.  Yes, I am a marine mammal trainer and zookeeper.  Yes, I absolutely support high standards of care in accredited zoos and aquariums.  It's clear which end of the continuum I land.  I use my own brain to support one point or another. Like most of us animal lovers, my main goal is helping animals.  I won't ever automatically write off someone who tells me they don't like the idea of certain animals in human care if they are respectful people who make actual beneficial contributions to animals.  I think we could all work together and have a huge impact on animal welfare where it is really needed, even if our opinions about zoos differ.

But of course, there are extremeists and that's just a fact.  And because I just said I think we should all work together, I'd like to set our differences aside and provide a clearly much-needed helping hand.

Okay, I could deal with being in this camp, too.

As some of you may know, an anonymous* "animal rights" group decided to shut down the websites of several marine mammal facilities in a few different countries.  This same group hacked into IMATA's website several months ago, too.  In the latest series of web shenanigans, they just flooded the servers of the websites so no one could access them.

I heard this and didn't know if I should be annoyed or if I should laugh.  I decided to just feel sorry for these people, because they probably think they're doing something to invoke positive change.  But really, all they did was waste effort and resources to flood website servers.  Not a single animal benefitted from their actions.  There are still animal abusers, habitat loss is still occurring at an alarming rate, whales are getting entangled in fishing gear...despite a few marine mammal facility's websites not operating.

This is the only hacker I'll tolerate

Okay okay, I realize that the intention probably had to do with hitting "us" where "it matters most": our bottom line.  If you shut the site down, that's gotta affect revenue somehow, right?  I'm kind of scratching my head over this one, too, because:

1) The money that's potentially lost is money we use for animal care, want us to have less of that?

Who's gonna buy her a new frisbee if we don't have money in the budget for enrichment because we had to purchase more security for our website?

2) No intelligent person would use this tactic and not understand that the websites would be up and running relatively soon after it was shut down.  Certainly not long enough to really cause a financial problem for the facility.

I mean...

I don't know, I have no idea what the end goal was for this particular situation.  But what I realize is that this group is obviously struggling to find a way to prevent marine mammal facilities from operating in such a way that they can continue to care for the animals they believe shouldn't be there in the first place.

Don't get mad at me, but I'm going to tell them exactly how to do that.  I think it's only fair that the playing field is level, since we are clearly no longer focused on actually helping animals.  This is now about one side WINNING (and as much as I love to win, I'd rather the competition be equal so the victory is more glorious).

Ways To Prevent Animal Trainers From Doing Their Job So The Whole Place Shuts Down And Allows Detractors To Go In And Rescue All The Animals And Put Them In The Same Exact Scenario But Call It A Sanctuary Instead

1) Instead of sending us cyber attacks, send all zoos and aquarium animal care staff free food.  Lots, and lots, and lots of food.  Mostly junk food.  Food that no one can resist, no matter how disciplined they are in their eating habits.  Send the most delicious-looking cakes, colorfully-iced donuts, seasoned french fries.  Gourmet pizza.  Every day, make sure we are all fed like the gluttons we are.  With just a six month commitment of daily food delivery, you can count on all of the trainers weighing well over 700lbs and basically unable to do their daily duties.

This.  Every. Day.

2) Just before the main group of trainers/keepers pull into work, flood the parking lot with puppies.  And kittens.  Make sure there are a lot, because you'll want to count on the trainers running after each and every animal.  No zookeeper is impervious to the power of baby animals wandering in the open.  With enough puppies and kittens, you can shut down a major zoo.**

I'll never make it into the building if these faces distract me in the parking lot

3)  This requires a steel gut, but it may be the most effective method of preventing trainers from entering their work place.  Create a massive, and I mean massive, wall of wet, human hair.  Like, a drain-hair clump wall.  It needs to be long enough to cover the entire main perimeter of the facility, and it has to be tall enough so no one can get over it.  In fact, to really be sure you make the aquarium impenetrable, you'll probably want to make several layers of this slimy hair fence in order to weed out the really brave trainers who are willing to go through one or two walls.  This will leave you plenty of time to break into the facility and realize that you have no actual plan with the animals.

Zookeeper kryptonite.  I'm actually barfing as I type this.

That's it.  Those are the only three things I think that could actually impact our work day in such a way that the trainers can't do their job.  You can try baiting them with money, but we receive so little of that we barely recognize it.  Plus, most of us will do anything for the animals even if we aren't paid for it (which happens more than you probably realize).  

I can't even come up with a clever caption for this because it depresses me so much in its accuracy

Of course, we could talk about all of us getting together and doing a beach clean-up or something.  Or maybe having a bake sale to raise funds for a reputable wildlife rehabber in the area.  But those things sound entirely too plain and simple.  It's more fun to get press for outrageous things that just annoy everyone, but meanwhile I'm watching morons on jetskis chase wild dolphins just 300 feet from my place of employment.  I guess they didn't get the memo about our website getting shut down and how that somehow means they're supposed to pay attention or care about dolphins.  Or any other animal, for that matter.

Feel free to use any of my ideas.  I am really looking forward to the free food.

* How noble! How brave!

** I can't take credit for this idea.  One of my amazing coworkers came up with this and deserves a high five or some kind of fancy cupcake.


  1. Hi Cat! I'm just curious, what did you major in, in college? Also what level degree did you receive?

  2. Cat I just found your blog a few days ago and I, like most, am an aspiring marine mammal trainer.. I just want to say you sing the song of my people.. Or heart.. Reading your blog helps me to know I'm heading in the right direction (if we met we'd be great friends lol) your writing about toe stubbing reminds me of my super power of falling up stairs!

    But that part about the hair.. I was eating.. And after reading through you blog you would think I know better than to eat and read here.. And I almost lost it! It's okay tho!! Keep writing! I love your insights and thank you for all the advice. I had my first dread moment at my volunteer job yesterday and having read your posts about how you deal with those situations helped me put it into perspective and not want to run away and bury my head in the ground like an ostrich! Thank you!

  3. the point is to let everyone know we think zoos are wrong, and the fact that you're arguing that they aren't makes you look like a piece of trash.

    1. Wow. How eloquently worded. Your comment is just so well founded on facts and research. You have helped so many animals in just a few words. Thank you so much for enlightening us all with your obviously superior intelligence.