Singapore—Jane Goodall, who is known all over the globe for her work with chimpanzees and animal welfare issues, is in the country for the Human-Wildlife Co-Existence in Asia: Conflicts and Mitigation Conference 2019 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.
According to a report from TODAY, Dr Goodall said that she found it shocking that when Singaporeans find a snake or other animal in the wild, they would call the authorities for it to be brought to the zoo, since the perspective here is that it is where they belong.
This is the first time she has heard of such a perspective, although she has been in Singapore a number of times in the past years. TODAY quotes her as saying “most of our kids are saying, ‘No, they shouldn’t be in any zoos. Animals should be in the wild.’”
Dr Goodall heard this particular view from Robin Hicks, the deputy editor of news website Eco-Business and who is a volunteer with the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES), who said that he receives this kind of request from Singaporeans often.
Mr Hicks recounted that one request came from a man who has asked him to take away a cobra from a public park, and another came from people who asked that a hornbill found near Delta Swimming Complex in Redhill be taken away.
The man who asked for the cobra’s removal said “these animals belong in the zoo,” while residents living near the area where the bird was seen said it should be in Jurong Bird Park.
This gave rise to the subject of what can be done to change the culture that is thus far intolerant of wildlife, to which the eminent primatologist said that education plays an important role.
Dr Goodall said, “A very major component… is to get children as young as possible out into nature. Because once kids get out there, once they see how things grow, once they can watch spiders making a web, then they become absolutely fascinated.”
The same holds with our propensity for shark’s fin soup, born out of deeply held tradition.
To put an end to this, Dr Goodall said that people should take the initiative to stop ordering the delicacy, or to even lodge complaints when they see shark’s fin dishes being served.
She added, “If everybody did that, it would soon start to change, just as most hotels are beginning to have more vegetarian options.”
Dr Goodall spoke at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Penang last week, where she told a full auditorium that it is not too late to save the planet, placing a big emphasis on how important forests are.
She called them one of the planet’s lungs, the other being the ocean.
“The forests are another great lung of the world, they give us clean air and clean water… they provide us with the spiritual strength that we don’t have.
On behalf of older generations, Dr Goodall apologized to young people, “There’s a saying that we haven’t inherited this planet from our parents, we borrowed it from our children. That is not true, we have been stealing the future of our young people.”
However, she added that it’s not too late to turn the tide.
“The scientists say we’ve reached a tipping point, that whatever we do, we can’t make a difference and I don’t believe that… luckily, there are other scientists who agree with me.
We can heal the harm we have inflicted on the environment,” Dr Goodall added.