Exploring nature and numerous creatures by which it is represented is, perhaps, one of the most exciting and at the same time challenging tasks. Unfortunately, not everyone can witness the incredible diversity of nature in person. The American Museum of Natural History, in turn, offers ample opportunities for diving into the colorful and unpredictable realm of wildlife, exploring its history, and discovering the connection between the human world and the animal kingdom. Among the species that deserve special attention, penguins should be named. Inhabiting the Southern Hemisphere, penguins can be found in a range of areas. Although typically associated with snowy landscapes and extremely cold environments, penguins inhabit not only the areas of sub-Antarctic but also temperate climate (Pistorius et al. 3896). Several of the species are classified as endangered, which means that these animals should not be taken for granted and that a set of more efficient measures for preserving them from extinction will have to be introduced. For this reason, an overview of the specified species in the context of human exceptionalism, the great divide, classification, and partial truths will be required.
Although the accomplishment of humankind can hardly be denied, the propensity toward thinking that people are the dominant species and, therefore, must be regarded as exceptional is flawed in its very essence. Distorting the balance between the humankind and the wildlife, it makes people disregard the needs of animals. This fact becomes evident once considering the information provided at the AMNH. For example, it is often disregarded that penguins are social animals living in communities where each member performs a social function, which is very similar to the structure of human society. Furthermore, the fact that penguins are bipedal like humans often escapes people’s attention. Therefore, it becomes increasingly hard to relate to the identified species of animals and view the problems that they face from a sympathetic perspective (Berger 11).
The Great Divides
Both ideologically and ontologically, the idea of people being superior affects the well-being of a range of species, penguins not being an exception. The trip to the AMNH has shown that the propensity toward drawing a very thick line between humans and animals is especially evident when viewing the relationships between people and smaller animals. When building a relationship with a particular species, people often take their size compared to that of one of the target animals as a marker of superiority (Marvin 198). The identified phenomenon can also be observed in the way in which people treat penguins. The tendency to view these animals as charming and cute yet completely devoid of any needs and, therefore, becoming practically a toy for people to admire harms this species incredibly (Marvin 199).
Even though visually, people are quite different from most animals, including penguins, it is important to locate similarities in social behaviors and other characteristics that people and animals may share. Thus, opportunities for general audiences to relate to animals such as penguins will be created. The resulting increase in awareness levels bout the needs of identified species, as well as acceptance of suggested behaviors and techniques that are expected to reduce the pace of global warming and climate change, will be a massively positive shift.
The Power of Classification
The opportunities and limitations that the concept of classification offers also need to be explored when considering the uniqueness of penguins as species. Classification can be interpreted as the means of distancing certain species from the humankind. For instance, by defining them as aves and, thus, outlining the fact that there is a large distance between the human species and penguins, one contributes to shaping a rather indifferent attitude toward these animals.
However, classification as a concept also introduces a range of possibilities to the study of the identified species, their habitat, and their needs A closer look at how penguins are classified will point to the changes that must be made to the contemporary environment to encourage an increase in their population. Classification helps narrow down the range of factors that supposedly affect the well-being of specific animals, such as penguins, and design a set of measures that will help reduce the negative effect produced by people (Williams 72).
Furthermore, the classification may help introduce the idea of locating evolutionary links between people and penguins, thus, leading to a steep rise in the levels of awareness and readiness to assist in saving these endangered species. The negative effects that decades of hunting have had on the number of penguins’ populations will have to be explored to ensure that people are aware of the drastic effects that careless attitudes may entail. Therefore, classification should not be viewed as an entirely negative or positive phenomenon. Instead, it needs to be regarded as a tool for shaping people’s attitudes toward penguins and creating opportunities to save this species from extinction (Burger 64).
Disclosing only one part of a certain fact is likely to lead to a biased and one-sided interpretation. The identified phenomenon can be attributed to the process of sustaining the environment in which animals, in general, and penguins, in particular, can thrive. Penguins are especially vulnerable to the identified phenomenon since, because of their location, most people not only are unaware of the factors that harm them but also are unwilling to learn more about these animals. As a result, myths about penguins become very common among general audiences, thus, leading to changes in people’s behaviors and attitudes toward penguins. Being supported by half-true statements, these changes are pointless, at best, and detrimental to penguins’ well-being, at worst (Kline et al. 127).
A program aimed at building awareness about threats to penguins and their habitats must be deemed as essential. Since penguins can be described as rather exotic animals that most people see very rarely if even once in their lives, shedding light on the threats that these species face in the realm of the modern environment is crucial (Williams 73). Partial truths will cause the creation of myths that will ultimately make penguins extinct, whereas a well-thought-out campaign will promote a more careful attitude toward the environment, in general, and penguins and their habitats, in particular. The conversation about these issues can be launched with the help of social media.
The visit to the ANMH has helped subvert a range of stereotypes about penguins by showing the specifics of their habitat, the uniqueness of their appearance, and how these animals are viewed in the contemporary culture. As a result, the vulnerability of penguins as endangered species became evident. Therefore, the trip to the AMNH helped realize the urgency of the problem and encouraged taking the actions required to raise awareness.
Mostly because of the lack of knowledge about penguins and their needs, people tend to overlook the threats to which the specified animals are subjected regularly due to environmental changes. Thus, it is crucial to focus on sustaining natural habitats in which penguins live, and offer extensive support to the species that have already been deprived of their natural environment. People must realize that penguin are not merely cute animals but the species that require their support. As long as the global community is aware of the problem and willing to make a continuous effort to address it, improvements can be made, and the endangered species will be saved from becoming extinct.
Berger, John. “Why Look at Animals?” About Looking, edited by John Berger, Vintage Books, 1991, pp. 3-28.
Burger, William C. Complexity: The Evolution of Earth’s Biodiversity and the Future of Humanity. Prometheus Books, 2014.
Kline, Melissa, et al. “Partial Truths: Adults Choose to Mention Agents and Patients in Proportion to Informativity, Even If It Doesn’t Fully Disambiguate the Message.” Open Mind, vol. 1, no. 3, 2017, pp. 123-135.
Marvin, Garry. “On Being Human in the Bullfight.” The Animals Reader, edited by Linda Kalof and Amy Fitzgerald, Berg, 2007, pp. 197-208.
Pistorius, Pierre, et al. “At‐sea Distribution and Habitat Use in King Penguins at Sub‐Antarctic Marion Island.” Ecology and Evolution, vol. 7, no. 11, 2017, pp. 3894-3903.
Williams, Raymond, editor. “Ideas of Nature.” Problems in Materialism and Culture: Selected Essays, Verso, 1997, pp. 67-85.