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Culture Shock: Animal Instincts

 by Stephanie Berger
 published on Wednesday, September 28, 2005

<em>Photo courtsey of KRT wire.</em>/issues/arts/694109
Photo courtsey of KRT wire.
 

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"Animals are people too!" is a war-cry of animal rights activists worldwide.

And Geoff Hall, Phoenix Zoo vice president of Living Collections, and Erin Maupin, ASU's Animal Welfare Association president, will tell you that the statement might not be as ludicrous as you think. Hall is in charge of overseeing the zoo's 70 plus employees and 12,000 animals. He says that animal culture, just like human culture, develops as a response to needs.

"It's a survival thing, taking advantage of different resources or realizing that collaboration is needed for the group to do well," Hall says.

Survival skills include family loyalty. Hall says elephants pass information about food and water sources down through the generations.

And contrary to popular belief, Hall says humans are not the only animals that have sex for pleasure. The bonobo, a type of chimpanzee, uses sex, both heterosexual and homosexual, to solve problems. Researches say this is why bonobos are far less aggressive than other species.

"They literally make love, not war," Hall says.

Maupin, a nonprofit management and public affairs junior, started the Animal Welfare Association at ASU this year to promote animal rights. She says that she has worked in several animal shelters and has seen animals experience pain and emotions, just like humans. She says that the shelter she worked at once found a dog that was begging for food in the streets of a city in order to keep herself alive so she could feed her puppies.

"She had her puppies hidden in somebody's backyard, keeping them out of harm's way," Maupin says. "How amazing is that?"

Take a bite out of that, meat eaters.

Reach the reporter at stephanie.m.berger@asu.edu.



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