To Keep a Zoo Safe

By Sarah Glass

As a part of an overall effort to strengthen the club’s initiatives, the members of ZooKeepers have been discussing their past actions and intended goals.

Zookeepers is first and foremost focused around animal welfare. We generally support the morality of people using animals (for research, education etc.) as long as suffering is eliminated or reduced as much as possible, and there is no practicable way of achieving the same end without using animals. The group uses this definition in moving forward with its events and discussions.

One of Zookeepers’ on-campus events is Paws for Stress, in which students walk shelter dogs around the quad. In a recent meeting, Alex Smith, Co-President of Zookeepers, met with Diane Pechota, a board member at the shelter who has helped run Paws for Stress. While reflecting on the event, Pechota laughed, remembering the dogs’ excitement to be on campus.

“The dogs love to be in a new environment. At the shelter, the only variation they’re getting is between their kennels and just outside the shelter.” Smith said.

Diane agreed, chuckling, “and they love the squirrels!” Time out of the kennel leads to an overall better-behaved dog that is more likely to be adopted.

Zookeepers will host another Paws for Stress in spring with some modifications to further ensure the dogs’ safety.

Another event we sponsored was the mobile petting zoo on campus. The group decided on the local Whispering Pines Mobile Zoo as one of the best exhibits available. This private family-owned company is USDA licensed and insured and has more than 20 years of experience working with domestic and exotic animals. They state that “keeping our animals happy and healthy is our primary concern” and “all of our animals are captive bred and not imported from the wild.”

The members of Zookeepers are aware of the stress involved with transporting animals, but find the event worthwhile.

Overall, the members believe that past events help connect the student body to animals and therefore can invoke more care towards them.

We are grateful that student concern was brought to our attention and will therefore carefully consider the implications of their future decisions and make events more educational. We are going to amend the mission statement to reflect this.

Notable upcoming events include a Wind Down Wednesday during 10th week to make dog toys for the local shelter, and a trip to the Shedd Aquarium in spring.

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