Everybody loves animals, whether it’s a dog, cat, or a rare species of spider only found in South America. Animals are great and actually very important for humans. The study of animals is zoology, now what all does studying animals entail? The most obvious is just observing them. Observation is the use of our five senses; hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching. Scientist use their observational skills to study different species behaviors. That could mean observing them either in the wild or captivity. We can go deeper than just observing their behavior though. Scientist will look at their habitat, diet, and the impact humans have on them.
What is a habitat? A habitat is the natural home or environment of an animal. Now let’s look more in depth at the home of an animal. Food, water, shelter, and space; these four things make up what we consider a habitat. Zoos do a good job at trying to recreate the habitats of animals that are not native to where zoos are located.
Just like humans, animals need food to survive! Scientist like to consider an animal’s diet to learn more about how they live. Animals can be put into three categories; carnivore, herbivore, and omnivore. A carnivore is an animal that only eats meat, an herbivore is an animal that only eats plants, and an omnivore is an animal that eats both plants and meat. Now when dealing with diets we can consider food chains.Food chains are diagrams that show what eats what. For example, a grasshopper eats grass, a mouse eats a grasshopper, a snake eats a mouse, and a hawk will eat a snake. Food chains are important in having a healthy ecosystem. An ecosystem is the interaction on organisms and their environment.
Humans have affected animals in many ways. We have helped lots of species but we have also lost lots of species. Let’s think first about the negative such as encroachment of cities on habitats. Our population and cities are growing whether we like it or not and with growth means people need to live somewhere. Los Angeles county alone is 4,751 square miles large! Think of how many species of animals were driven out due to the growth of this city. Many nocturnal (night time) animals use night vision or their hearing to catch prey and cities are bright and loud. Diurnal (day time) animals need camouflage to sneak up on their prey and most animals don’t have camo to match cities. This leaves the animals with three choices; move, adapt, or die. Let’s talk now on the positive side of humans.In the United States the federal government will protect species that have low populations. These animals are referred to as endangered species. Killing of these species will result in large fines and jail time. You might think that’s harsh for just killing an animal but some of these animals help keep an ecosystem in check. Also in the United States, hunters and fisherman must abide by restrictions set by each states wildlife and fisheries agency so that the population of each species are at healthy levels.
Zoology has a lot to offer for not only helping animals but also helping humans as well. We are not the only species living on this earth so we should do our part to help the environment and protect all organisms. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss from The Lorax.