In terms of the ugliness, I was thinking more of some of those poor creatures who are threatened with extinction. I’ve been reading all these magazine articles recently about how we have such limited funding for conservation and how it all goes to the cute and beautiful animals. Watched rather a good program on it the other day as it happens – the presenter was being ever so vitriolic about the money that goes into saving giant pandas. Mind you, we spend a fortune on those fluffy bears. Would you believe that we rent the only giant pandas in the UK from China at a cost of £1 m a year? One million pounds. I work in a bank, I know what a million pounds looks like. It’s a lot of money. And its an awful lot of money to invest in the hope that two sexually ambivalent bears will get it together on one of their three fertile days a year and pop out some baby pandas. And even if we can actually get them to feel frisky enough to do the deed - the babies all belong to China. Well hats off to China for managing to make their bear business so profitable but I really do agree that we should be questioning why we are prepared to spend so much on one single species. (And I don’t even think pandas are all that cute anyway, they always look a bit sinister to me with those black patches guarding their eyes.)
The trouble is that if you aren’t fluffy you don’t really stand a chance. It’s a bit bigoted really. If we only gave funding to groups of people based on what they looked like we’d end up with a riot on our hands. But it seems perfectly socially acceptable to dole out conservation funds on such arbitary criteria as fluffiness and cuteness. What about the ugly ones? Its hard enough being a self conscious species that knows its ugly as sin and probably feels a bit embarrassed about it without being discriminated against as well. (I had to be forcibly stopped at the zoo once from speaking my mind to all the people who kept pointing at the babirusa and remarking how unattractive it was. And it wasn’t ugly at all. It had beautiful soulful eyes and an expression of serene wisdom. I struck up a real bond with it. In fact I cried when we had to leave the zoo. Bit embarrassing and I was in my thirties at the time…).
Anyway, why can’t we throw a few quid to the less aesthetically pleasing creatures?
The purple burrowing frog
The angler fish
So this witch is voting that we spread our money about a bit. Lets concentrate on saving as many species as we can rather than focusing on one or two headline grabbers. And lets focus on saving species that are out there bonking and doing their best to save themselves. Because, until those pandas start getting a bit friskier, I’m giving my money to the Dugong.