Sociology class at Brock gathers to discuss Wildlife in Crisis

Sociology Professor John Sorenson of Brock University gathered his third year Sociology of Wildlife Class together on Monday to discuss issues around animals, animal testing, endangered species, and the life of animals in sanctuaries after the research is over.

Guest speakers were invited to talk for the event, “Wildlife in Crisis,” with informative slideshows and presentations. In the first house, Rachelle Hansen of Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary gave a passionate and detailed discussion on “life after research” and discussed the sanctuaries goals as a place for research animals to retire happily.

“How many animals lives really make a difference in the research world?” Hansen asks the students. “So many of us want to know when there will be a world without animal research.”

Hansen goes on to say that 3,333,689 animals are currently involved in research studies in Canada; 4,355 which are primates. These shocking statistics are the reason Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary works hard to provide quality care to monkeys in Canada. After many primates suffer from PTSD, and other harsh side effects, sanctuaries like Story Book Farm take action.

“McGill has a large quantity [of marmosets] which they use for eye studies… Baboons are used for organ transplant studies… University of Toronto has [Capuchins] in their dental studies,” said Hansen. After the animal is subject to research, Hansen suggests instead of terminating the animal, there are other solutions, sanctuaries being a large one.

“The main thing is socialization,” said Hansen. Along with providing “a safe place” for these animals to live, they need a “calm environment.”

Hansen shares a heart warming story of 2 girl monkeys, Boo and Gerdie, who were found hugging through their cages, after pulling on carpet to have their cages be face to face. This is an example of what Hansen would say is “the strength of love between animals even in desperate situations.” Hansen ends by saying that it is important to “speak for those who cannot speak.”

“It brings joy to us,” she said, “and it brings something different to them.”

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Rob Laidlaw representing Zoocheck in Pond Inlet

Another guest speaker, Rob Laidlaw of Zoocheck, spoke on behalf of the political advocacy group and discusses “a kinder captivity.” He outlined different types of sanctuaries, and the responsibility of them in terms of animal care.

“When you look at sanctuaries, they usually fall into four categories,” Laidlaw explains. “Cat and dog sanctuaries… equine sanctuaries… farmed animal sanctuaries… [and] wild animal sanctuaries.”

“Most sanctuaries accept life time responsibility for the animals they receive,” said Laidlaw.

Sociology major, Deanna Quait, is working towards her minor in critical animal studies. The class has been broken up into groups in which they give presentations on a specific wildlife issue. Quait’s group is focussed on the dolphin cove’s in Japan.

Bristol boards set up for class's presentations

Bristol boards set up for class presentations

“I think this class is so important because it’s super important for us humans to realize that animals experience things just as we do,” said Quait. “Animals have so many experiences that are rendered invisible just because we can’t understand them.”

Quait claims that these types of presentations educate the students and make them realize that animals are smart, and that animals feel the same way humans do. Quait says that animals “need to be respected and understood,” and this event is proof of that.

To care about animals, as Hansen says, is “the whole world, that’s the whole universe.”

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