From tourists putting a baby bison in the back seat of their car, to a small child falling into a zoo enclosure. Recent incidents indicate humanity may need a refresher about what, exactly, our relationship with wild animals is.
1. We Hurt Them More often than They Hurt Us.
From destroying their habitat to polluting water sources, humans do a lot more damage to animals than they do to us. Many species have even been made extinct due to human disruption of the ecosystem.
We try to correct it in various ways, from water treatment to the creation of wildlife preserves, but we still manage to do a great deal of damage to the environment.
2. We've Invaded Their Territory.
When we talk about visiting National Parks or seeing animals in the wild, we often forget that our cities and neighborhoods are built in places that were once animal habitats.
So when animals get into our trash bins, remember, they were there first.
3. Cute Babies Grow Up.
This time of year there are cute goslings hanging around rivers and lakes in city parks. However, their parents are also hanging around. The babies are fluffy and cute, but adult geese can be openly hostile.
It is the same with other animals, as illustrated by the recent Yellowstone fiasco. Baby bison are cute, and may look cold, but they belong with their parents, not in the back seat of your car.
4. They Carry Nasty Diseases.
Animals have been on this planet longer than us -- so it's no surprise they've built up a tolerance to diseases that can prove fatal for humans.
Our immune system has come on leaps and bounds but some diseases like rabies will still require us to seek medical attention.
5. Finally, They Deserve Our Respect.
There are different areas of respect, and certainly one of them is a healthy fear. Another is awe. Wild animals are majestic and beautiful, whether they are in their native environment, a wildlife preserve, or zoo.
They are still wild animals with animal instincts, and we need to be aware of the ways we may trigger their responses by our actions. What seems like an innocent approach to us may be perceived as hostile by them.
Wild animals were here before us, and coexisting with them means we need to identify our relationship with them, and be aware of how we affect them, respect their young, and keep our distance.
Remembering these things will keep us, and the animals, safer.