Sunday, March 30, 2008

Is the Zoo a Tadpole, or Is it the Fly?

As you may have read, the Memphis Zoo has launched a breeding program to save the Mississippi Gopher Frog from extinction. They've bred 94 tadpoles via a program of in-vitro fertilization, which is wonderful because the existing population is only 100. What I find really cool is this species is a nearby native of Memphis; beside the tadpoles, the survivors live in 2 ponds in Harrison County, Mississippi.

I congratulate the Zoo and applaud this work, without irony or sarcasm. Read about the Gopher Frog and you might do the same. Yet the frog, like so many other endangered and extinct animals, has been brought to the brink by habitat destruction; in the frog's case, the destruction of forest. So I have to wonder:

How can the Zoo's spirit of conservation co-exist, in the same body, with the brutality against nature that we saw with the Teton Trek clearcut? Or...

Is the Zoo a tadpole, or is it the Fly?

Will it metamorphosize into a mature and progressive steward of nature, leaving behind atavistic environmental behavior like clear-cuts in ancient forests?

Or will it remain torn against itself, half-destroyer, half-steward, one arm reaching out to protect and nurture, another leg grasping to control and destroy?

The tadpole is the future. What is the Zoo?