The International Rhino Foundation (IRF) was founded over 20 years ago to combat black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis poaching. The foundation's black rhino work has been so successful (poaching was nearly eliminated) that the foundation soon expanded their activities towards all five species of rhinoceros. The foundation is and always has been run almost entirely by volunteer labor, composing field biologists, zoo employees, and conservation biologists, but also a handful of paid employees who manage any daily requirements. The foundation's partners include the American Association of Zoo Keepers, many zoos, and a mix of business interests, foundations and conservation organizations, which all protect all rhino species together.
My name is Thomas Knight. I am a zoo keeper and this is a site drawing attention to people/organizations which do great conservation work. I hope it will provide support for people who do amazing work, will inspire others to follow their examples, & create hope in what can sometimes seem an overwhelmingly bleak global environmental situation. Individuals can make a difference. It is also a place for positive exchanges. I like the trolls less than I like the Billy Goats Gruff, and comments by trolls will be butted into the river of internet obscurity. Don't like the thought of animals in zoos, even if it saves a species? Fair enough, but don't post angry comments here. Those people wanting arguments with others to convince them your position is the correct one, try here. This blog is all about love and happiness, not flame wars and hate. You know when you curl up in bed on a cold winter's night just after the dryer releases a warm blanket over you? That is this blog.
Speaking of love and happiness, you may have noticed that scattered throughout the blog there are art works picturing some animals which are being protected through the featured organization, made by artists both young and old. If you have art from a budding young (or older) artist showing an animal being protected through a featured conservation organization, email me at email@example.com and I will put it up amongst the appropriate organization's post.
A little about where Thomas Knight is coming from
I have been a zoo keeper since I was a teen and am a strong believer in the power of one person to save the planet. Many people who love animals love zoos, many hate zoos. This blog is not a referendum covering everyone's personal views concerning zoos since the views are many and complex and nobody is completely right or completely wrong. I will not argue over zoo ethics philosophies. This blog's purpose is to provide myriad conservation organizations which attack similar problems from various angles some positive support, but here is my view so you know where I stand: Like most things, zoos can be whatever we want. Ideally, zoos should be another tool in our arsenal, preventing habitat destruction & species extinctions, likethis. Bad zoos certainly exist, and we should focus our energies into improving or (in worst cases where improvement to globally accepted animal care standards is clearly not possible/wanted by the owners) closing them. However, there are many, many good zoos. Those zoos should be treated like the exceptional resources they are. Without zoos, many people would never build any connection with nature at all. I can't tell you how many kids (and adults) I have met who didn't know where eggsoriginate, orbacon. Never mind knowing anything else concerning animals. One thing that makes me sad is so many inner city kids never see any animal species other thanrats,cockroaches, & pigeons. Zoos provide people an opportunity to encounter animals and form a sense of awe, a spiritual connection if you will, with other species whichon this planet. There is something different when you see an animal before you, you watch it yourself, their magical uniqueness, which can't be replicated through television or a book, but must be experienced. A species' conservation will interest nobody without first forming a connection with that species or another, which is perhaps the most important zoo role. Thebest zooshave played an important role whenaverting species extinctions. All good zoos play a larger conservation role these days, which is how it should be.
The main argument I hear against zoos is it is cruel keeping animal species captive, without their freedom. But nature also has fences; territorial boundaries are just as real as fences. These days the whole planet is also becomesmall fenced areas where animals are kept inside, versus fences around our houses to keep animals outside. This is tremendously sad, but a fact nonetheless. However, ifzoos' artificial territories and natural wild territories are similar, is there a difference? If the animal says no, so do I. Just something worth pondering.
Zoos are not the only way we can foster a love for naturethough. Another favorite way is through books- I have a massive (over 1500 books & journals) natural history book library. I will choose some excellent books concerning different blogs and post links regarding them. The books are pretty specialist (and often quite pricey), but are books which are worth the cost. Learning makes me happy though, so let me know if you think there's a better book available. Got to keep up with the Joneses.