Emma Marris: Are wild animals really “wild”? | TED

Human activity is affecting the planet in dramatic, unsustainable ways — including destroying the habitats of wild animals. Considering our obligation to care for the creatures we’ve impacted, environmental writer Emma Marris dives into the ethics of wildlife management, zoos and aquariums, offering her thoughts on how we can help Earth’s wildlife flourish. (This conversation, hosted by TED science curator David Biello, was part of a TED Membership event. Visit ted.com/membership to become a TED Member.)

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Comment (239)

  1. I'm so glad someone is finally having this conversation.
    I've been saying for a long time that this whole "don't touch, dont interact with them" thing, especially with cetaceans that lose their pods: it's cruelty. We have to stop pretending that we are separate from the world where these animals live, and acknowledge that our presence/activity is detrimental to their well being.

  2. 2:20 so by feeding them. i think like animals know that there is gonna be food where you feed them so they go there so instead i would like grow a population of livestock that is able to stabily survive with the polar Bears. You know. make the shortages bigger with the ones that aren’t on a shortage

  3. Sometimes humans are much wilder over the wild animals..anyway taking care of wild animals will also take a lot of money but it needs to be done for the world is changing so fast they may not be seen by the next generation of people take the dinosaurs way back there's no people to take care of them they just disappeared all together and they could've been preserved if there were authorities to take care of them

  4. the day man decided he was superior to orther lifeforms and worse" superior to the women who gave him life, was the the day he signed the document of his own demise", his only hope of redemption is to realise his position is always no more than anyorther, and protects the intreasts of all women and children. first and foremost, basically BE A MAN.

  5. Yet another attempt at changing language to get what you want. All animals are not domesticated because we can/do have an impact on them. Don't drink this kool-aid people.

  6. Most states indiscriminately slaughter wolves now. The Endangered Species Act has been gutted. To say this is a human world is arrogant. We don't own this world. We did destroy it. Should we feed animals like polar bears? I think it should be considered because we caused the situation for their starvation. It can be done without human contact. We do have more responsibilities now. Humans are causing species extinctions.
    Zoos need to provide habitats that mimic the animals natural habitat. Some of these animals are being poached in uncontrollable rates in the wild. Their habitats are being destroyed. Breeding in the zoos may be the only way to stop extinction.
    I don't see how sea animals can be kept in a zoo. Their migration patterns are too large. Humans would have to designate huge no fishing zones in each ocean. I don't see that happening due to human greed.

  7. Sad how most people ignore this. And how many people miss her point. To all you religious folx. We are MANDATED to care for these animals! And if wild we assume these animals arent affected by us. Cant understand or form bonds with people. And dont have their own ability to feel and convey emotion with other species and each other dont communicate or have some form of society then you dont understand animal bio. If you wanna argue or hate on me idc i said what i said and stand by it. Im not gonna provide you with info thats easily googleable. And im not debating. Thank you. Goodbye. God bless. May you see how we are in connection with all of creation. As jesus comes things with these animals will change. They will become free and when you see how they are hurt by us you will see how they used to be more tame than previously thought.

  8. Who would have thought ppl who respect the Earth and creation as part of their philosophy and lifestyle can be best equipped to take care of creation. Maybe yall could learn something from us. Would love to live like my people do

  9. climate change helps…. INVASIVE ….species move north.. wht people dont like this..

    warm weather also defeats the purpose of living indoors.. which is to become civilized and greedy as if u where living In outerspace

  10. Feed the polar bears! Wacko. Then they can come reliant on humans for food so they rely on their hunting skills. Then they can all die off at faster rates. Maybe just leave the wild
    the wild. Humans always think they can manage better than nature and natural processes.

  11. Why should we feed the polar bear? Sometimes smart people aren't that smart. Wouldn't making a floating platform be wiser? being global warming which is actual a natural part of this world is taking away the polar sheets where the polar bear food sits and rests as well as the polar bear. So when do we take the platform away? Being it's natural for this planet to warm and get cold. When would having the platform being there be too long changing that natural evolution of nature?

  12. The ONLY solution is to decrease the human population. Sounds harsh but it's the only way to reduce the impact humans have on the global organism as a whole. 7.9billion people is too many people. I believe that u2 billion is enough.

  13. What if our ethical responsibility to the wild animals of the world extended to the culling of our own, human herd?
    Have you considered the idea that human children are born into "captivity"?

  14. Animals aren't wild, we just percieve them to be wild. If we were to live like the animals, we'd follow the natural food cycle. Human beings are the ones creating this whole scenario of a "civil" nature

  15. In New Zealand, where I live, all the common wild animals are deemed invasive and on a list for extermination. Not control or management but complete elimination. These animals include possums, stoats, tahr, chamois, weasels, ferrets, hedgehogs, several species of deer, rats, mice, wild pigs, wallabies and goats. The list is extensive.
    Despite man actually being responsible for clearing 90% of the forested land these animals are blamed for the loss of native wildlife diversity. Simultaneously their own contribution to this diversity is discounted.
    It also goes unacknowledged that since arriving in NZ these animals have become different from their origin species and are well on their way to becoming unique sub-species and species in their own right.
    As if it couldn't be any worse their is very little constraint on the methods used to remove introduced animals. Once these animals are labelled pests anything goes.
    An efficient propaganda machine means the majority of people believe there is a crisis of survival going on for "native" wildlife.
    The proper debate on what exactly is native or introduced in a world where life was only created once is set aside and deadly poison, 1080, is spread routinely, and repeatedly, over millions of hectares of forest.
    It's true effects on wild ecosystems remains largely unstudied though many science papers have been published by government researchers, in support of its ongoing use.
    Sixty years of use have seen wild animal populations decimated over large areas yet this poison is unable to fulfill the relatively new goal of total eradication.
    To achieve total eradication all manner of studies are going on into gene editing, sterilisation compounds and other techniques for killing for which there appears no constraint.
    As I live in a small village in a large forest I am regularly confronted with the reality of this insanity.
    Like many people who live around poison drops I don't like them but any opportunity to be involved in decision-making has been removed. Protests have no effect. .
    We have a Prime Minister that espouses kindness in the face of adversity yet she heads a government that uses a cruel poison to kill millions of wild animals every year.
    It's as if the only value a wild animal has is the money to be made from its death.
    A wild animal in NZ has no rights not even to live.

  16. Wild animals are a factor of personality. It’s well understood in Bear ecology that the “harshness of their original environment and the time spent there determine their behaviors”. We know that polar bears are far more dangerous than bears in the lower latitudes.

    We also know that ecological niches play a role in animal personality. However, there are definitely animals that are dangerous regardless of environment, where we can adapt away from or mitigate their presence so we don’t incidentally get hurt. A perfect example is Australia and the sheer number of deadly creatures.

    It’s far too much of a blanket statement to assert that there are no wild creatures that we can’t manifest a relationship with. This has been proven countless times and it’s outright folly to assert anything other than: there are places in this world for all creatures, but some simply cannot live in harmony. And that’s okay.

    Humans have spread far beyond a fair balance with nature and we are way past encroachment upon untamed spaces that need to be left alone in order to thrive. If anything, the lack of “wildness” and animal extinction is a product of human destruction of any creatures that don’t conform to what we want.

    If “wildness” should die, then so too has non-human-sanctioned ecology, and the world will be far poorer for it.

  17. I won't listen much further, I'm just old and tired. But the idea of a dog running free with wolves, and then impregnating a wolf… isn't that nature? Dogs were not always dogs. They were wild. Wolves became dogs, at least as we understand it through history. What business is it of ours? We want to manage the entire world. And to paraphrase Star Wars: "the tighter you close your grip, the more 'it' will slip between your fingers". Why would anyone end the pregnancy of a wolf because it had bred with a dog? Unless that dog was Cujo of course. That I would understand. Geeze!
    Sorry for the bad humor. I don't have much faith in mankind saving animals until I know we can all save ourselves. But I do love your concern and involvement. Good luck.

  18. This lady has no clue what she's talking about. Wild animal numbers have been reduced greatly by the actions of humans but they do still exist from the Andean cat to the polar bear or the blue whale. She then asks if we should kill human introduced invasive species to preserve native endangered species..YES!!!…what is wrong with her to think that question doesn't have a clear answer? This wasn't a ted talk, it was an ignorant person spouting BS

  19. Man.. Ted talks get dumber by the day,
    How do you tell people like this, everything that walks on this earth eventually dies, whether you interfere or not. Trying to interfere so you can feel good about yourself is another vanity chasing ventures for humans, make peace with your short unimportant life and live nature alone, or go disturb the balance but at least admit its due to boredom and not moral virtue.

  20. Are wild animals really "wild"? Yes, it's clear from the name. It's wild. But this is definitely not contempt. From the perspective of man, it is a symbol. Man has plant nature and animal nature. Morality is the basic rule of being a man. Sometimes people do become real people, but sometimes they become wild animals, and sometimes people are more wild than wild animals. At this time, you can't say that they are wild animals, because this sentence has the meaning of disdaining wild animals, because people are more despicable and shameless than animals at this time. Please be careful. Man does bring behavior and temper to wild animals to achieve relationships and identity. Just as man has space, time and rules, wild animals also have space, time, action rules and laws. For example, tigers eat the meat of dead deer. Otherwise, it will be hunted by hunters, or he will fall to death from a high place, and so on… There must be a kind of punishment, which comes from one's own fault and violation of the law. Because the tiger has violated the animal law, it can only be called a wild animal when it finds out its own range. Other examples can also be taken to infer. It's really wonderful!

  21. In case you are unaware, Polar bears are one of the only animals who will actively hunt humans for food. Every year one or two people "feed the bears", tragically in northern Canada. They are wild animals!

  22. Wild means free from any sort of systematic conditioning, right?

    We humans are afraid of anything with that level of absolute freedom.

    Sometimes i felt that these "wild" animals have more humanity than the real humans.

  23. That we are affecting the climate and habitats is unquestionable, and that we should be providing "wild" animals environments in which they can thrive, is also obvious. However, life is not easy or predictable. When we change the world, the results are not always clear. We desire to maintain the variety of life, but that needs to be balanced with the needs of people.

  24. We owe animals the duty of Stewardship and stewardship in ideology, approach, title, and moral duty would make a great fundamental for a revised Green party (within the USA).

  25. All living creatures react to external stimuli. Does the fact that a stimulus is caused by human make that creature less wild? It depends on the nature of the stimulus I would say…


    Matthew 24:39 ^

    And they had no care till the waters came and took them all away; so will be the coming of the Son of man.


  27. The Creator made the beasts and ADM named them. In the zoo they are captive but still wild. Dogs and cats have been domesticated, but the chimpanzee, for example, should never be a pet. // SHLM & HaB (peace & love). The Name of the Creator is Hayah asher Hayah, as what He told Moshah (Exodus 3:14), preserved in the Hebrew Scriptures. There is a curse to the G-o-d name (Isaiah 65:11-12), preserved in the Hebrew Scriptures. All followers of the Messiah are to do the 7 appointed times (Leviticus 23), but no more animal sacrifices, following the Crucifixion of the Messiah. We are now of the order of MLK TSDQ (King, righteous), to Whom ABRaHM tithed. Ask the Messiah to be your personal Savior. He is the Atoning Offering for mankind for the remission of sin ( 1 John 2:2). He said to him, I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). If you believe the Messiah died on the cross, & Resurrected three days later (presenting Himself as First Fruits to the Father), please ask Him to be your Savior. He is the ONLY way to Everlasting Life.

  28. A lion will attack and eat you if hungry a gorilla will charge you if you invade there territory feed a polar bear it will hang around and probably eat your child animals in the wild will track you down and eat you if hungry a chimp in captivity will rip your face off birds do not track down and eat people
    What wild animals are you actually talking about To save them you need dedicated sanctuaries if poached severe punishment like death sentence unless you cull a billion or so humans

  29. "if we want to see animals happy we must do this or that"
    are you aware about some little known problems in our society called homelessness, poverty etc? we should first start caring about making humans happy, and well do the animals next, deal?

  30. I find myself asking this question more and more often: How stupid id it possible to become?

    The reasons why dog-wolf hybrids are unacceptable has nothing to do with bureaucracy. It has a little bit to do with genetic purity, as that's related to conservation. It also has a little bit to do with animal welfare; dogs have been bred to be unhealthy in the context of survival in the wild (and many even in the context of survival as pets). They're both physically and instinctively deficient. However, it mostly has to do with risk and prevention of conflict with humans. The domestication of dogs has involve breeding out, almost completely, certain brain centers related to caution and fear. This has made dogs more likely to remain calm in the face of things they don't understand, which makes them less likely to run away, and more likely to follow commands under pressure, without posing a problem, since they don't view humans as prey. In wolves, though, it makes them less likely to be afraid of humans, and wolves view humans as prey. That's a massive problem, both because people may be killed, and because people will become afraid of wolves, and then kill them.

    Why on Earth would someone who doesn't know this be allowed to hold a TED talk on the line between wild and domestic animals? I have to say, the quality of TED talks has taken a nose dive…

    I quit watching after four minutes. Once errors reach a certain level of severity, I conclude that my time is worth more than anything the speaker might possibly say. Any validity to this person's views will be purely coincidental. If I want outside input on the subject, I'll just flip a coin, instead.


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