Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves

Having just met four captive Mexican Gray Wolves yesterday (including the oldest living captive Mexican Gray Wolf), we wanted to share a friend of Species Spectrum recent letter:

As a supporter of Mexican wolves, I was pleased to read the article “Lawsuit Against Wolves Withdrawn” in a local paper. The same anti-wolf interests that filed this lawsuit are now working to strip our beleaguered Mexican wolves of Endangered Species Act protections. The little lobos only number 50 animals in the wild and they face extinction.

In his essay “A Monument to a Passenger Pigeon,” Aldo Leopold states, “For one species to mourn the death of another is a new thing under the sun.” While perhaps true in 1947, unfortunately, now species go extinct at an alarming rate.

But to allow the extinction of the lobo is unacceptable. They are critical to their ecosystems and they are well-loved. According to one survey, seven in 10 New Mexican voters support the recovery of Mexican wolves. The extinction of the lobo is not worth a couple of cattle.

Recently, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced a bill (SB 249) that would strip endangered species protection from all gray wolves (Canis lupus). If passed, the result will spell wolf eradication—but it is especially significant to the Mexican wolf because it is so imperiled.

We need Congress to uphold the tenets of the Endangered Species Act for the benefit of all wildlife, and not to take protection away from a species for a vocal few and their big-business political allies.

To paraphrase Leopold, there will always be wolves in books and in museums, but these are effigies and images, dead to all hardships and to all delights. Book wolves know no urge of seasons; they feel no spring kiss of their young, no sun in summer nor wind in winter. They live forever by not living at all.

Christina Hartsock

The Monkey Mind: The Humans Not the Chimps


Chimp Mom Greeting Card

Chimp Mom Greeting Card by Species Spectrum


Recently I observed and photographed eight former research chimps who now reside at a zoo.  Knowing some of each chimp’s background I felt even more compelled to simply watch them.

For a while I was the only one around. One chimp sat with her arm around another. They sat that way for a long time. In the same area was a mother chimpanzee named Elaine. She was born in 1976 at a research laboratory. She spent 26 years as a research subject before being moved to the zoo. Now she sits in the sun holding her baby “Kianga”, which means “burst of sunshine” in Swahili. I’m marveling at her gentle hands wrapped around her baby when another flood of boisterous school kids race through the chimp exhibit area.

Sitting on the ground engrossed in the chimps I don’t break my gaze to notice the children standing around me. A little girl holding a pencil exuberantly glances at the chimps before asking a chaperone, “Are they violent? Would they hurt me?”

I’m astonished that such a young child immediately draws such a conclusion. Rather than marveling at the chimpanzees her first question is laced with fear and the potential of personal bodily harm. Where does a child not even ten draw such a question?

Feeling a surge of momentary misanthropy I chime in: “Actually, we humans are much more violent than any other animal”. The chaperone hears me and agrees. “That’s true”.

I overhear the chaperones suggesting chimps as an animal for a school project. I chime in again explaining how the chimps at this exhibit have spent many years living in a research facility. My goal was to understatedly address the plight of research chimps in an educational way for the kids. By the sound of things, I’d inspired them, if only momentarily.

I find it ironic for a young child to express concerns about chimpanzee violence when it is us that have taken chimps from the wild, sent them into space, and examined how disease affected them. If a little girl is old enough to question violence of another species, she’s probably old enough to dream a better vision for animals when given the knowledge.

At the other end of the age spectrum, I observed an elderly woman in a wheelchair with (I presume) her daughter behind her. She watches one of the younger chimps exploring for a minute before breaking the silence: “ Remember all those chimps they sent into space? ….Never to return….So sad.”

A moment later they wheeled on.

In passing thought, I like to imagine more than just a day at the zoo. Is the little girl or the elderly woman still pondering chimpanzees as I write this? Probably not. Before distracted by the noise of the next event, I want to draw attention to the quiet grace that exists in each and every animal regardless of whether life has been harsh or kind. We think many thoughts but it is what we do with them that makes a difference!