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I visited the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans today, and was privileged to see many beautiful organisms. I noticed something while I was there: People care a hell of a lot more about tetrapod vertebrates than they do about fish and inverts. Penguins, sea turtles, otters, and alligators seemed to be the star attractions, while the actual fish in the aquarium got second-place in most people's eyes. This is unfortunate, since the alligator pond had many beautiful fish in it, but I think I might've been the only person who even bothered to look at them and not at the gator. Same goes for the many invertebrates in the aquarium, especially the corals. Almost nobody seemed to pay any attention to them. Only the biggest fish, and especially the sharks, seemed able to compete with the tetrapods for public attention. The plant-life got almost no notice at all, which is sad because the Amazon rainforest exhibit especially was filled with beautiful flora.
My question is, has anyone else ever noticed that tetrapods seem to hold some special place in the public eye? Almost as if most people care only about them almost to the complete exclusion of the 99% of all other species on the planet? If so, why is that? Is it because we are tetrapods ourselves, and we like animals similar to us and look down on "lower" lifeforms? If this is it, then by what right can we claim to be any higher than any other organism?
These are just a few philosophical wonderings I was pondering during my tour of the aquarium. It's quite a lovely place, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone who ever visits New Orleans. The Audoban zoo and insectarium, both also in New Orleans, are worth seeing too. Between these three exhibits, I think the Audoban Institute ranks as Louisiana's biggest tourist attraction. Impressive indeed!
Generally speaking, the more people talk about "being saved," the further away they actually are from true salvation.
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Maybe it is due to the behavior of such animals, the way they interact and some *wow* facts that made them awesome somehow. Some seems boring like corals and so we just feel, "ok... I see, is that so?" Sharks and other great fishes were made famous too because of the myths and legends repeatedly told in the past.
Overall, it depends on what it gives to us, be it of entertainment or economic significance. Or perhaps, it is only us who think we're higher because we have perceived them as it is and that we have the power to do anything to them. A farmer who had more than 20-year service from his carabao confessed that he already loved his carabao for such a long time. Once his carabao turns into its retirement age, why can't he just keep it as it is; why does he still want to sell it and be just butchered?
---Just one act of random kindness at a time and you can change the world---
In addition to mcar's points, I think, sadly, that the general public just doesn't have a large interest in the natural world. They may like the big things or the cute things or the things they know something about, but if something is too slimey or too boring or too alien to them, people just aren't interested. Over the years, I've kept many aquaria. Some have had fish, and visitors would watch for a while but would quickly get bored. My favourite tanks, though, are ones where vertebrates were not allowed. I'll go to a pond and scoop up buckets of mud from the bottom, put the mud in a tank of water, let it settle for a few days, then go back and collect whatever creatures I can find - copepods, cladocerans, leeches, snails, plants, insect larvae (dragonfly larvae are my favourites), whatever, and add them to the tank. If you get enough things, such a tank can be self sustaining for a long time. I can spend hours watching it. Visitors look in and ask why I have nothing in the tank. Then I'll show them all the things in there that they weren't expecting to see, but again, ho-hum. What I found interesting, though, was that one cat I had would also spend long periods of time watching the tank. But there is a downside: what do you do with a dragonfly that has decided to emerge in February, in Canada?
Watch any rural Indian visitor in a zoo and you will see that he/she is very much interested in colorful aquarium/marine fishes as well. Get them to an aquarium containing big marine molluscs or echinoderms, they will also watch those keenly. But, they will never take a glance at any small molluscs like snails or bivalves. Neither will they be interested in indigenous species of birds or snakes. Contrary to them, the city (obviously Indian) folks show more interest both in birds and snakes rather than those of aquarium fishes. All of these reactions arise out of their respective familiarity to those different species and that familiarity may come either from direct encounter with a species or may result from viewing those species regularly in 'Animal Planet' or 'National Geographic' channels.
Yes, there is a general dislike for some small invertebrates like worms, insects or the slimy ones. This is a outcome from our upbringing in our childhood. When we grow up under the supervisions of our moms and kindergarten teachers, we see them loathe those small creatures. No matter which country our mom or our kindergarten teacher comes from, she ( I'm talking about female members of our race ) always fear cockroaches. She never feels easy with worms, insects and snails (barring the shells of some molluscs). This behavioral pattern of our most loved ones gets permanently recorded in our infant brain. Unless we are biology students, we too keep up growing with untoward feelings towards those poor creatures.
It's a fact that regardless of age-sex-country, all of us are preoccupied with big mammals in a zoo. Equally are we interested in some other animals who are bigger - stronger - more fierce than us. It's because, long ago we had to keep ourselves in cages (caves, huts, fire-camps) in order to survive against their might, but now.... well, we have caged them ..... so it's our turn to satisfy our ego.
So, your observations in your country may not hold true for the entire world. There is no philosophy in it...... it's all elementary my dear Alextemplet!
I would like to draw your attention to a news item at -
1) http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life ... 944983.cms
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