Anthrozoology: A New Frontier
This is my cat Rane. She was the first cat I adopted from the SPCA after moving to Buffalo, NY. I've always loved how piercing her eyes can be when she looks at me. The meanings in those moments of eye-to-eye contact are part of what drives me to study Anthrozoology.
In the Fall of 2011 I embarked on a new journey with both excitement and a little bit of nervousness. I joined the first ever graduate program in Anthrozoology at Canisius College. This frontier-smashing program was brave enough to begin conquering age old questions about human animals and their place among the other non-human animals on our Planet. Anthrozoologists look to lead the way forward into a future with respect for all life of every species and the world we all inhabit.
Defining Anthrozoology can be quite hard. It is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to use the physical and social sciences, philsophy, ethics, and knowledge of animal behavior to inform our choices as our world continues to shrink.
My studies included Animal Ethics, Animal Cognition, Animal Behavior and Communication, Applied Animal Behavior, Psychology of the Human-Animal Bond, Companion Animals in Society, Animals, Public Policy and Law. In addition, my network of emerging Anthrozoologists has expanded to include individuals on the front lines and putting serious questions about how humans relate to other non-humans. Some of those questions include: What is the future of zoos? Is ecotourism educational or harmful? Is management of feral species (like cats) best handled with TNR or euthanasia? Are species conservation plans really viable if there are no safe environments in which to release the captive-bred individuals? How do we decrease pet overpopulation while also decreasing euthanasia of pets (primarily dogs and cats) in sheltering organizations? Is captivity of large social species - land and marine mammals as examples - ethical?
The answers to the above questions may not be easy to come by. Most of these questions are multi-faceted, requiring sensitive and honest debate. If we are going to maintain our home, Planet Earth with the rich diversity of species that we currently know we must consider the consequences of human behavior for all the her citizens - human and non-human.