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janbb's avatar

Why should people care about penguins?

Asked by janbb (56178points) November 4th, 2014

I’m reading a book about penguins (natch) and that question came up in the introduction. I’d be curious about your take on it – for fun – but also more broadly why we should care about animals becoming endangered or extinct. What is your take on the importance of the preservation of species?

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38 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Because Penguins are people too? And second, much as we like to think we are intelligent, we don’t always understand how a species fits into Mother Nature’s grand plan. What happens down the road might not be apparent at first.

zenvelo's avatar

Penguins eat things that would overpopulate the area without a predator. And they get eaten by things that will go hungry without a tasty penguin.

And if they go extinct Benedict Cumberbatch will no longer have a reason to say Peng-wings.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Well they’re cute very inoffensive and docile creatures, the sort of animals many of us would prefer to believe mirror our ideal selves. I mean conservationists have a much easier time selling the endangered status of the cuddly animals like penguins and pandas, than say those razor tooth laden crocodiles and sharks. In the end, we should care if an animal goes extinct despite the fact that countless millions of them have in the past, and will presumably do so in the future. We should care about penguins specifically because their fate is in our very flawed and greedy hands. All things considered, we are almost certainly the primary determinant regarding whatever future awaits them. A certain intellectual threshold as well as a degree of ethical honesty is required to arrive at this realization. Unfortunately for the birds that their fate has such uninspiring prospects when stated as “quarterly returns on investment”.

CWOTUS's avatar

In general we should be concerned – at least to some degree – about the survival of all species. Failure to thrive leading to extinction of any species, no matter how “insignificant” it may seem to humans, can have severe and long-lasting repercussions in ways that do affect us very significantly.

For example, plankton and diatoms in the ocean, while having no direct benefit to humans – since we neither harvest them as food, or directly for use as even food for livestock (as we do with grasses and other grains that we won’t eat ourselves) – are the start of the food chain for the pelagic fishes and mammals that we do care about, both as food stocks and for sport fishing and simple enjoyment. Indirectly, all life in the oceans “high on the food chain” depends on diatoms and plankton.

Other than direct die-offs, environmental health is strongly indicated by the health of the residents of each niche.

Even organisms such as mosquitoes and house flies, considered pests to nearly every human, are important in their ecosystems both in terms of what they consume and what consumes them. Believe it or not – and whether you like it or not – maggots help to dispose of a lot of plant and animal waste material that would otherwise become a home for bacteria. And bacteria are another bane of our existence, are also essential to our survival.

We need to be concerned about species because species are life, period.

Zaku's avatar

Why should “we” care?

Speaking for myself, I care because I have empathy, as I feel most or all animals do inside. We’re all Earthlings. They are us. I am them. That is, I identify and sympathize with the whole living and unliving planet I was born on. I care about the dirt. I feel that people who do not understand that they care too, just are not aware that they too do really care, somewhere inside, or with some part of them that is not with their current thoughts at the moment.

Speaking from within what I project may be the mindset of someone who isn’t aware that they care, and who is thinking from some “practical” human-centric point of view, say the executive of a mega-corporation: I would care because I would understand that in order for me and my family and my mega-corporation to continue to exist and prosper, ultimately, and perhaps sooner than I know exactly how now, all my interests are dependent upon a healthy planet. Specifically, if the planet dies, we all die, horribly. Really bad result. Trumps everything. Moreover, the people who are very smart experts who devote their lives to fields like ecology, have been saying for decades now that we are in big big big big big big big big trouble, maybe not today, or not for a few years, but before the end of my lifetime, and possibly in the next 10–20 years. They are also saying that biodiversity and ecosystems are really very very very very important to continued life of Earth. So is climate. In fact, just about everything on the planet is interrelated, and the systems which keep Earth habitable by Earthlings (including humans and penguins) have been massively impacted by human population growth, agriculture and industrialization. Species in particular take a huge amount of time to evolve, and once extinct, are gone forever, and every species tends to help the whole Earth ecology survive and be healthy. The worse off other species are, the closer the whole thing, including I and my mega-corporation and its bottom line, are to misery, disaster and extinction.

So healthy, happy penguins are good and necessary long-term investment.

Not to mention that healthy happy penguins increase the chance of everyone surviving and living good lives.

And they are cute and interesting.

Here2_4's avatar

Penguins provide a service in the food chain. They also give us some insight into behaviors, ecology, history. and adaptation. Besides those things, they are just plain adorable.
With regards to other animals, I think sometimes they are supposed to die out. The planet goes through changes, and life sometimes gets changed along with it. It is sad to see species go, and I like to think we can help lengthen their existence, but some are just not meant to survive all. I think they live out the capacity for their type, and there is little that can be done at a certain point. Humans have contributed to the demise of several species, sure, but perhaps they were doomed anyway. I’m not saying I don’t care. I sure do care, but if they were so tasty, maybe we just beat something else to them. Like @Adirondackwannabe said, we don’t know nature’s grand plan. Maybe some creatures are meant to disappear. Maybe not.

tinyfaery's avatar

Every sentient living being has a right to life. If penguins are currently living they are part of a fragile ecosystem. They are necessary to the survival of that ecosystem.

Plus, they are super cute.

canidmajor's avatar

All that stuff that everybody said, and sweaters.

janbb's avatar

@canidmajor yeah – I loved getting my sweater!

dappled_leaves's avatar

Don’t freak penguins out with your sweaters! Haha. The penguin sweater call/recall is one of the oddest stories I have heard. Therefore, I care?

And, if pressed, I will post the leopard seal video again.

janbb's avatar

@dappled_leaves Oh my – everything is so complicated. Wheels within wheels…..

zenvelo's avatar

Leopard seals need something tasty to chomp on. Hence penguins.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

And even penguins aren’t safe from big brother.

The best time to sneak up on them is during the afternoon nap.

majorrich's avatar

As said in a Bugs Bunny cartoon: “Penguins are practically Chickens!”

flutherother's avatar

Finding a reason to care for penguins seems wrong. Caring for them without a reason is better.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit That is one sad-looking penguin chick robot.

FutureMemory's avatar

Because it’s awesome to see Orca’s come on the beach to grab one for lunch.

janbb's avatar

@FutureMemory The horror! The horror!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Well if a penguin and I are on the beach, and an orca comes at us, I can outrun the penguin.

FutureMemory's avatar

@janbb Watch this…if you dare!

Buttonstc's avatar

OK, now I’m confused about the Penguin sweater issue.

The first article talks about their necessity in the aftermath of an oil spill because it prevents the Penguins from swallowing oil before the volunteers can clean them. This happens because they groom themselves in anbefgort to get the oil off.

And yet the subsequent article says that the sweaters are to keep them warm and are not really necessary because it freaks them out (since they are wild animals).

I would assume that it’s the entire experience of being saturated with oil, then captured and washed and cleaned which freaks them out. The sweaters are just one small part of that scenario.

So, what’s the real scoop here?

Mimishu1995's avatar

Because if we don’t, we won’t have any penguin on Fluther ~

Just kidding. I agree with all the points stated above. They serve something to the food chain, ecology, human… Even if we can’t find anything useful from penguins, they are still people. If we don’t want to die, why should they?

Winter_Pariah's avatar

I can’t think of a reason why we should, just that some of us want/try to because of either ecological reasons or that stupidly annoying defense mechanism called cuteness with which penguins are one of many species that are attempting to manipulate mankind with.

janbb's avatar

@FutureMemory The pengies won!!

janbb's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Bet I can swim faster!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@janbb Faster than me or the orca?

Here2_4's avatar

hopefully both

Coloma's avatar

The same reason we should care about everything, because, as @Zaku said, we are all earthlings, precious, unique life forms. All life merits awe and respect, from Penguins to the most primitive bacteria living under the ice in Antarctica. Life is mind blowingly amazing. Even Ebola is amazing, not that I want to meet it up close and personal the way I might a Penguin. lol

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@dappled_leaves, it definitely falls under the ‘ugly penguin’ banner. Poor little robot chick.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

It is a mistake for humans to think they are any different to other animals. We too rely on a functioning ecosystem, despite all our technology and hubris. Just look at the crisis in bee populations, and it becomes obvious how precarious our position becomes when we don’t look after other species.

Here2_4's avatar

My imaginary pet camel, Brutus, thinks penguins rock, especially rockhopper penguins!
I think this one really rocks!
For @ragingloli

Here2_4's avatar
Is that the voice of the same little girl who did Schnappi Schnappi Schnappi?

Buttonstc's avatar

I just recently saw a documentary about penguins and Rock Hoppers are awesome little dudes.

To get the footage, they had cameras disguised as penguins and others as rocks or eggs (for the Emperor segments) and the footage of them when they return to the sea is pretty incredible. Those Rock Hoppers are tumbling around falling all over the rocks and each other.

They take some pretty hard falls but they just right themselves and keep on going. Like Timex, they just take a licking and keep on ticking.

They are certainly aptly named. Rock Hoppers indeed !

janbb's avatar

@Buttonstc I saw that too. It was fantastic.

Buttonstc's avatar

Yeah, I think it was on the PBS series, Nature.

They do some really terrific docs. I always record them and then watch them afterward. I watched the one on the penguins twice. It was that good. It’s rare I watch anything twice but this was exceptional.

I got a chuckle towards the end where the entire head came off one of the robotic penguins and went rolling down the hillside.

I wonder what the penguins thought of that :)

janbb's avatar

I’ll have to ask me mates.

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