The Vet on the Subway – Endangered Species

Written by Marissa Sulmeisters, ESLLC 2016-2017

Often we as a human race forget that we are not the only species on our planet. We forget that not only must we share our ecosystems with others, but that even our smallest action affects the organisms surrounding us. It’s so egotistical, it’s almost sociopathic. Weather this is an unintentional occurrence brought on by ignorance or a direct result of simply not caring about any other species, the detrimental impact is the same. We believe that we are superior and thus have “first dibs” on our earth’s resources. This includes clean water, living space, and food. We have driven species from their homes in what may seem like innocent acts of destruction.

The movie Hoot shows us building pancake houses on top of owl homes and while the characters seem dramatic, they are not wrong. The same situation occurs in other developments in daily life, including housing developments, shopping malls, and highways. Even tourism and boats have been known to maim ocean life like manatees and ocean habitats like coral reefs. We are so obsessed with furthering our own wealth in not only money but earthly assets and resources that we forget about the little guy.

Last summer I met a man on the New York subway. He was a veteran with a patriotic personality and deep connection to life. He could justify taking a life in battle because they had wronged his brothers and America. He believed that if someone was violent or aimed to harm another being, they were gambling with fate and any form or retribution could be considered justified because they had attacked first. What this thoughtful man didn’t understand was how humans could walk all over anything that wasn’t human and not be held accountable. Sure, this mindset may be a little extreme, but he had a point. We get angry when someone like us gets hurt. But what about when someone like us does the hurting? This man was angry for all victims: from polar bears to sea turtles, even bees.

At this point, the conversation began to wane and I asked him why he was the only man on the subway not wearing baseball swag as we had just come from a Yankees game. He replied by rolling up his shirt sleeve and displaying another sleeve composed entirely ink. Each tattoo a small, detailed depiction of a species gone extinct. He proceeded to explain that he was on his way to get a new tattoo, this one of a West African Black Rhinoceros.

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