Claim: Cute Animal Toys Lull Our Awareness of Endangered Species

Small bear doll

Small bear doll. By Love Krittaya [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to the Guardian, cute endangered animal toys trick our minds into thinking the animals represented by the toys are all around us.

Using cute animals in pop culture makes public think they’re not endangered – study

Proliferation of giraffes, lions, tigers and elephants in toy shops and films creates ‘virtual population’ and skews our perception.

Agence France-Presse

Fri 13 Apr 2018 10.38 AEST

Animals such as elephants, tigers, lions and panda bears are everywhere in movies, books and toy stores. But their wide pop culture presence skews public perception of how endangered these animals really are, researchers say.

Online surveys, zoo websites, animated films and school questionnaires were scoured by US and French researchers for the study, published in journal PLOS Biology.

Lead author Franck Courchamp of the University of Paris said these animals are so common in pop culture and marketing materials that they create a “virtual population” in people’s minds, one that is doing far better in perception than reality.

“Unknowingly, companies using giraffes, cheetahs or polar bears for marketing purposes may be actively contributing to the false perception that these animals are not at risk of extinction, and therefore not in need of conservation,” Courchamp said.

Read more:

The abstract of the study;

The paradoxical extinction of the most charismatic animals

Franck Courchamp , Ivan Jaric, Céline Albert, Yves Meinard, William J. Ripple, Guillaume Chapron

Published: April 12, 2018

A widespread opinion is that conservation efforts disproportionately benefit charismatic species. However, this doesn’t mean that they are not threatened, and which species are “charismatic” remains unclear. Here, we identify the 10 most charismatic animals and show that they are at high risk of imminent extinction in the wild. We also find that the public ignores these animals’ predicament and we suggest it could be due to the observed biased perception of their abundance, based more on their profusion in our culture than on their natural populations. We hypothesize that this biased perception impairs conservation efforts because people are unaware that the animals they cherish face imminent extinction and do not perceive their urgent need for conservation. By freely using the image of rare and threatened species in their product marketing, many companies may participate in creating this biased perception, with unintended detrimental effects on conservation efforts, which should be compensated by channeling part of the associated profits to conservation. According to our hypothesis, this biased perception would be likely to last as long as the massive cultural and commercial presence of charismatic species is not accompanied by adequate information campaigns about the imminent threats they face.

Read more:

Could this perceptual skew apply to other subjects? Do news reports about violent weather make us insensitive to warnings that climate change will cause violent weather?

Or perhaps it is all the wild exaggerations and fake news which make us skeptical of media claims about endangered species and global warming.

188 thoughts on “Claim: Cute Animal Toys Lull Our Awareness of Endangered Species

  1. It is intended to lull people into a soft unreal world that is the order of business today, and of course tomorrow..

    • …when you get past all the fluff…’s only about money
      “”…….which should be compensated by channeling part of the associated profits to conservation.”

      • Who gets to decide which organization(s) get the money? Are they going to judge the impact of actual projects? I suspect the money would just go to the usual big groups, who may or may not use the money for direct action or research.

    • My troll collection is a bit larger than that one! Of course, that woudl mean I might believe they are “real”.

  2. I know that the prevalence of Unicorns in media has greatly undermined my belief in their endangerment.
    Dragons too, now that I think about it.

    • I immediately thought of unicorns, too. They are everywhere, especially in items for young girls (or those who self-identify as such). That must mean unicorns are truly out there but very endangered. Probably dragons too.

  3. Jeezus! Now we gotta take the kid’s dolls away! Buncha brain – dead klowns. It takes grownups to decide what needs protection, and it needs to be local groups of stakeholders and not an international bunch of morons.

  4. Ah The Guardian! Font of ignorance and left wing bigotry. It’s like Mao’s little red book for stupid Corbyn acolytes and green fascists. Given the preponderance of little girls in our house I’ll have to keep an eye on Barney, Miss Piggy and that Green sidekick of hers whose eyes I don’t trust. I think they’re organising in support of their wild comrades.

    • I know – this is the kind of story that has so much Stupid in so many ways that its hard to even list them.

      • We need toys and gifts that are useless, for people with no taste and that nobody else has! Where could we find such things?

        James Bull

  5. Instead of pouring all this money down the climate change rathole, we should be developing synthetic ivory and building endangered species breeding farms. The best way to fight for the endangered species is to use the free market. If it isn’t profitable to hunt these endangered species, they won’t. Flooding the markets with synthetic ivory would kill the ivory trade, and flooding the market with either farm raised pelts or GMO Pelts would help kill the fur trade. GM a sheep to have a coat like a tiger and you save the tiger.

    • RE: “….and building endangered species breeding farms. ”
      We already have ‘endangered species breeding farms’. They are the game ranchers and farmers of the United States of America. Predictably however, they are prevented from economically and profitably raising endangered species by Federal endangered species laws.

      • Mynah birds comes to mind……when they could be sold to the pet industry….they had a market value
        The natives farmed them….put up nest boxes…managed their reproduction, did not over harvest….
        …and mynah birds were protected and their population grew
        Some idiot green decided to ban them for exportation……
        Mynahs are very destructive to crops…..they no longer had any value….the natives shot and ate them

  6. No cute hagfish though!
    Maybe it reminds the MSM, greenies, and paper shuffling bureaucrats too much of themselves — spinless, sucking nutrition from corpses, and oozing slime.

  7. must be smoking something good at gruniad…
    what utter rubbish!
    virtual populations?
    virtual brains in those researchers more like.

  8. Thanks to Disney et al, people have a warped vision of wild animals. There’s the urban legend about the woman who smeared her kid’s face with honey so a bear would lick it off and she would get a picture. In the urban legend, the bear horribly mauls the kid. link On the other hand …

    People are stunningly unaware of how dangerous bears can be and mistake the creatures’ seemingly slow movements for signs of docility.

    Aldo Leopold believed that the best way to promote conservation is to encourage people to get into the wild places and become familiar with them. It’s a wonderful way to become grounded in reality.

    He philosophizes that humans will cease to be free if they have no wild spaces in which to roam. link

    I actually agree that cute animals in pop culture do warp our attitudes.

    • And then there are the people who will try to take a selfie with a rattle snake. I hear the snakes sometimes object.

      • Surely nobody would be that stupid … would they? Well, apparently at least two people have been that stupid. link My hint is that if you don’t have real good medical insurance, don’t do it. You would not believe how expensive anti-venom is.

      • The most common faux pas where I live are the selfies with the Yellowstone bears, bison and moose. Moose have a distinct dislike for cameras and make that very clear. I am unsure if camera phones have the same effect. I’m sure someone either has or soon will test the theory, however.

    • There is a famous quote by some famous zooologist sayings people will only protect what they can see. Basically that it is important to have animals in the zoos so people can see and learn about them so that they will care about them and want to help protect them.
      Then Bob Barker comes along and bullies the zoos into getting rid of elephants. Not much money available now for elephants conservation. Thanks Bob, you may have single handily caused the extinction of elephants.

      • Elephants are still commonly used as work animals in India. There’s a Darwin Award story of a man who teased a few with sugarcane, until one got irate enough to impale him on its tusks.

    • At the San Diego zoo a couple of years ago a little girl standing next to me at the Polar Bear exhibit turned to her mommy and said, “I so would like to meet a Polar Bear one day.” It took everything I had to keep from saying, “…and the next thing it will do is eat you.”

    • Thanks to “Grizzly Man” (or should that be Grizzly ChildMan) Timothy Treadwell, youngsters have at least some video material, okay audio material to warn them to respect wildlife, and make no assumptions about the intent of any animal. But do they pay attention? Do they listen? NO! Because they’re stupid kids who think they already know everything, are smarter than their parents, smarter than their teachers, better at understanding what’s needed than any corporate CEO (how many movies promote THOSE idea? Lots, I tell you).
      The full Werner Herzog documentary “Grizzly Man” on YouTube:

  9. “Using cute animals in pop culture makes public think they’re not endangered – study”
    Pop culture misleads a lot of people in a lot of categories. Humanity lives in an ocean of misinformation and disinformation, thanks to the misinformed and agenda-driven suppliers of information. Reality is relative. It all depends on who is telling the story.

  10. So yet another cartoon picture put up on WUWT going yet again for the lowest common denominator level of sarcasm on the topic of ends here species.

    • Since the reslity is that we are not in a mass extinction or even close to starting one, please stop the sanctimonious crap.

      • What the f#@% are you talking about? You think that everything is hunky dory ref. wild animal numbers, insects, fish stocks etc.? If you do then good luck with maintaining your Trumpian denial of reality. I suggest you read up on this topic before referring to ‘sanctimonious crap’.

      • Reality and what Ivanski is paid to believe rarely intersect.
        There are a small number of animals who are in trouble.
        For the vast majority of animals not only is everything hunky dory, it’s getting better.

      • …in 2017 there were more than 18,000 new species discovered…….18,000
        By definition…they are automatically endangered

      • I think poor ivankinsman has been triggered….I wrote an article on several species that were declared extinct but really were not. Guess that would trigger him too.

      • Few things are as inimical to the continued existence of a species in the US as being declared endangered. It makes landowners and developers far more likely to resort to the three S’s: Shoot, Shovel, Shutup. They’ll risk the criminal penalty to avoid the bureaucratic headaches and endless eco-obstruction. What was intended to protect those animals ironically makes them more of a target.

    • Translation: I can’t attack the article, so I’ll attack the people presenting the article.
      Typical Ivanski.

      • Cultists of opposition never give ground to the Enemy, no matter how deranged it makes them sound to others.

    • Yes! I think; not really sure what you meant to write. Whatever it is; here you are, along with everyone else that’s here.

    • Once they removed the Bald Eagle from the endangered spieces list, it was pretty hard to choose which mole or vole to use as the face of the endangered.

      • I wonder if the revisit of the mass extinction phony meme is deliberate or simply that weak minded gullible people feel compelled to prove their idiocy?

      • “Get rid of all the cuddly toys and then there might be”…absolutely no preception of even what they are
        That’s a great idea, when people no longer associate them with cuddly…or even recognize them….they really won’t give a flying fig
        …..and you don’t even realize how stupid this is

      • Yes, even if you think that some kind of mass extinction is under way, let’s waste time doing something that’s first of all impossible, (how do you get rid of all cuddly toys? Magic finger? How much is that going to take and cost?) and which makes no difference what so ever. Classic green thinking. Makes me think that this isn’t about stopping endangered species from dying, but feel-good moral superiority movement.

      • @ivankinsman
        @latitude is saying that if we remove cuddly toys, people will no longer associate animals with cuteness, which could ironically make people care less about animals.

      • Ivansky, repeating tired propaganda that was disproven long ago, is not making a point.
        Unless the point you are trying to make is how much of a tool you are.

      • Latitude’s statement makes perfect sense. He’s calling you stupid, and you have gone out of your way to proven him right.

      • It is more likely that by eliminating public mention of endangered animals they will cease to exist in the minds of the public. If no one has ever heard of a Panda, will any interest exist in preserving that species? Probably not.
        I wonder at times why humans concern themselves with other species. Does it matter whether or not Pandas exist? How much of Other People’s Money are you willing to spend on Pandas?
        I do not see a lot of grief over no-longer-existing Passenger Pigeons or the Dodo.
        I don’t even see grief over extinct dinosaurs. They would be at the top of the food chain; not you.

        • Well on that basis Michael 2 let’s get rid of you. I and others would feel no grief. So perhaps you should try to view this from the animals’ perspective. If you disagree, then please do yourself in.

      • No. Few kids are going to care about these animals if they have little to no exposure to them. I have spent years talking to kids about conservation. They are excited about these animals because they see them in toy stores, on TV, etc. Kids actually know what maned wolves are, because Diego (Dora the Explorer’s friend) has maned wolf friends. They want the stuffed toy because they love lions or tigers or bears, oh my! Kids want to help the pandas because they have a panda toy, so they connect with the real animals. People need to feel a connection before they act on something.
        Also, the sixth extinction thing is crap. (Google WaPo, Smithsonian, and sixth extinction. Geologist makes mincemeat of the argument.) It makes for a good story, and (theoretically) lends a sense of urgency, but it is not doing much for actual conservation. Being told that EVERYTHING is going to die just overwhelms people and makes them feel impotent. What to do? Where to help? When people do not know what to do, they often do not do anything.

        • Sixth extinxtion definitely is not crap. So basically you think we should sit on our hands and do nothing because we feel ‘overwhelmed’. Not at all – it encourages the powers that be to get off their arses and start reacting to it e.g ivory ban was an amazing worldwide initiative, GMO protests in Europe, EU initiated ban on bee-killing pesticides was a result of public pressure. I suggest you try some alternative sources showing the true picture of species loss:

          • ivankinsman writes: “So basically you think we should sit on our hands”
            There is no WE.
            “I suggest you try some alternative sources showing the true picture of species loss”
            What makes a website “true”?
            Absolutely nothing. All websites are claims; trivially easy to put together. Validating claims is usually not easy.
            Why does species loss seem to concern you?

      • The ivory ban has had no impact on elephants, in fact it made them even more endangered as the ivory became more valuable and it removed all incentive the local villagers may have once had to try and protect the elephants.

      • Oh. I see. SO, as Catastrophic Global Warming has increased catastrophically (er, paused) the last twenty-thirty years, only 2 species have been lost?
        More heat = Less deaths, right? More heat + more CO2 + longer growth season = more food, more energy, more life, more successful species everywhere, right? (Except those killed off by the academic paid taxpayer dollars to go study them in the field, of course. )

      • “Try 875 in the past 500 years”…and 18,000 new species were discovered just last year
        ……see Vanna on your way out

      • Ivanski is getting even more petulant.
        How cute.
        Rob, even if wikipedia actually managed to be correct for once, those numbers would still not come anywhere close to a mass extinction event.
        PS: Most of those aren’t species, sub-species at best.

      • “a “discovered” species may have existed for hundreds of years”…..and, by definition, is automatically put on the endangered list

        • What are you babbling on about? Cut it any way you like species are increasingly endangered as a result of man. Stop quibbling about it. You might disagree but that doesn’t mean it’s isn’t happening.

          • ivankinsman “Cut it any way you like species are increasingly endangered as a result of man.”
            Some are, some are not. Cattle seem to be doing rather well. Perhaps in this huge pile of comments you have explained why it matters.

      • Ivan writes: “Well on that basis Michael 2 let’s get rid of you.”
        There is no US. You choose and speak for you, I choose and speak for me.
        “I and others would feel no grief.”
        Who besides you? What is that to me?
        “So perhaps you should try to view this from the animals’ perspective.”
        How exactly are you proposing to do that? Depending on the animal; his perspective may be only a few millimeters above the ground and his mind on food (mostly) and sex (occasionally) so in that regard not perhaps all that different from human.

      • I am still waiting for your explanation of why species loss matters, either to you or why you think it should matter to me. Then explain what you think anyone ought to do about it, if anything.

    • According to experts, 95% of all species that have ever lived on this planet have gone extinct. Over 95%.
      Poof! Gone.
      h/t George Carlin

      • Yes, we humans make a big number about living “ecologically”, “respecting nature”, and stopping species from dying. Now if only someone would tell that to Mother Nature too. Then the world would be a lot better place.

    • I am always interested to hear from those who support wind turbine power on one hand and then promote the meme of a Sixth Mass Extinction of species on the other. Given the birds and bats that are killed by wind turbines each and every year (and who knows how many), certainly the hypocrisy involved from doing this has a logical and rational explanation. I suppose when one has issued oneself a license of moral superiority, as environmental activists have, it might also come with the authority to be hypocritical.
      Whatever that explanation might be, I’m sure it will be an interesting read.

        “……According to a study in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, every year 573,000 birds (including 83,000 raptors) and 888,000 bats are killed by wind turbines — 30 percent higher than the federal government estimated in 2009, due mainly to increasing wind power capacity across the nation.[i] This is likely an underestimate because these estimates were based on 51,630 megawatts of installed wind capacity in the United States in 2012 and wind capacity has grown since then to 65,879 megawatts. And, at one solar power plant in California, an estimated 3,500 birds died in just the plant’s first year of operation.[ii]….”.
        “….Utility companies installed thousands of new turbines last year and are on track to install even more this year, generating pollution-free electricity whenever the wind blows. But even as the turbines help utilities reduce carbon emissions and pollution, they’re causing a new problem: Those churning blades kill hundreds of thousands of birds annually, including federally protected golden eagles……”.
        So how do you explain and justify the hypocrisy Ivan? Don’t evade the question this time.

      • @ivankinsman:
        Where are your percentages and statistics? Lest you be calling the kettle black.

    • People who understand the politicalization of “endangered species” and those who understand Darwin and the fact that we are part of the evolutionary process.

      • That’s what I said—we are part of the system and to declare otherwise is improper. We are the apex predator now that TRex is dead, so we own the system. You can claim all the moral indignation you like, but fact is according to evolution, we win for now. In the long run, we may lose. But evolution has no morality and “interdependence”. That’s new age garbage. It’s not science.

    • yup, get rid of the cuddly toys – I agree completely. Let’s eliminate the cuddly fuzzy wuzzy perception that the mental-toddlers known as greens have thrust on their spawn and introduce them instead to reality.
      Take the kids out to meet real animals, not anywhere super wild – maybe just a farm. Let them experience a cow-tail covered in dung whipped across their eyes and mouth unexpectedly, a horse stamping on a foot or biting a shoulder.. remind them these are domestic animals and about as friendly as they come. Have them delouse some chickens, or squeeze some scabbed nipples as they milk a cow. Explain to them the ticks that crawled up their legs and latched on after playing with that puppy are part of life too and like the leech bloating on their ankle, and how deserve to be alive as much as they do in this big wonderful world. Maybe if they’re lucky and follow the screams they might chance a sighting of a mustelid having pinned down a female, mating with her – if the male inadvertently kills her they’ll get to see how quickly he can devour his former bride.
      Introduce them to a dung pile and show them the magic of maggots using excrement as food and breaking it down to methane and CO2.. Maybe the more adventurous can assist a goat giving birth, and help out by euthanizing any deformed ones. Some of the older kids might like to attempt to remove a feral cat from a trap. There’s all sorts of opportunities for kiddies on farms to experience and hopefully come to understand how the maternal deity ‘Mother Nature’ doesn’t give a toss about life and would rather eat your face.

      • Sounds all good to me. Many kids nowadays – especially living in urban areas – are completely unaware of what nature is about and need to understand that the chicken, pork and beef they eat are not produced in the supermarket as ‘meat’ in plastic but come from real live animals, most probably produced under industrialised agricultural conditions. Farms tours could be made compulsory so they can actually see some cow shit.

        • ivankinsman wrote “Farms tours could be made compulsory so they can actually see some cow shit.”
          The hallmark of the totalitarian left; everything not forbidden is compulsory (T.H. White in “Once and Future King”).
          Seeing it is not as persuasive as smelling it.

    • Oh please. I am a huge advocate for conservation. What infuriates me are stupid articles that suggest “solutions” to non-problems. Why do you think people ignore issues like sex trafficking of children? Because they do not care? It is because they do not know what they themselves can do. If you already do not buy ivory, tiger bones, rhino horn, etc., what else can you do? Major things people can do is put pressure on local and national leaders to put protections in place for the animals and fund the enforcement of these protections, get personally involved with conservation organizations (this may not be possible depending on time demands), and donate to organizations that have programs that directly affect species and the local communities. But those are rarely mentioned in the “sixth extinction” articles.
      The ivory ban occurred (thank goodness) because it targeted a specific problem and a specific animal. It was a concrete action. We need more of these actions. We need clear targets. We need to be able to tell people how to help. And we need to figure out how to make local communities aware of the problem, and how to get them to care. People in Namibia will look at you like you are crazy if you tell them cheetahs are in danger. They see cheetahs everywhere! If villagers in Kenya see elephants year round, they are not going to think of them as endangered. Someone who lives in a part of India where tigers are (relatively) common will not see them as threatened, especially if local people are attacked by the animals.
      The bee “pesticide” issue has already been exposed as fraudulent, manufactured by ideologues who eagerly ignored evidence that the pesticide had little to no impact. This means that any actual problem was ignored. How much money was wasted on a non-issue? It could have been spent on a real problem.
      As for GMOs, there is no evidence that they are dangerous. To the contrary, they often limit the amount of spraying that farmers must do, decreasing health threats to workers. This would be particularly useful for poor countries, where farmers may have difficulty affording these sprays (so they lose more crops) and even more difficulty affording or obtaining safety equipment. Then there are the nutritional benefits. How many people in developing countries have major vision problems because a bunch of Westerners who can afford to be paranoid about food decided to scare uneducated people into rejecting Golden Rice? If you think GMOs are scary, perhaps you should read about how “conventional” seeds are produced. The only geneticists I have ever heard express concern about GMOs are ones who are paid by anti-GMO companies. Genetics professors at my school rolled their eyes.

  11. “The appearance of these beloved animals in stores, in movies, on television, and on a variety of products seems to be deluding the public into believing they are doing OK,” said co-author William Ripple of Oregon State University.”
    I notice they include polar bears as “threatened”, which is a lie of course, and also included “climate change” as one factor, another lie. The other animals they list may indeed be endangered, mostly by a combination of poaching and loss of habitat. But blaming toys, animated movies, and books for a lack of awareness in the western world for the plight of animals on other continents thousands of miles away, and where we have no say, is just asinine. The envirofascists and climate cuckaloos love to focus their propaganda on kids, because they are easy targets, and, they hope, will grow up to be future green-shirted envirozombies.

  12. lol, that parasitic NGO selling polar bear plush dolls photos etc., led by that charlaten trying to silence polar bear science is finally getting some feedback.

    • I suggest producing solar powered, robotic Grizzly or Polar Bear dolls with lifelike dental features capable of severing digits when “cuddled”.

  13. I get it – kind of like spreading massive windmills all over the place lulls people into thinking there’s lots of electricity coming from them . . .

    • Not so. Apart from being unreliable, with benefits based on untrustworthy evidence and not suitable for industry or commerce, expensive and uneconomic without subsidies and providing miniscule CO2 savings …
      What could possibly be wrong with windmills?

  14. A lot of these animals are banned from private ownership and breeding….the easiest way to “save” them would be to open them up to private breeders and the pet trade……they will never do that because of money

  15. Does anyone else have the feeling that sunlight is being rationed? We get day after day of spraying, followed by day after day of blanket muddy grey cloud cover, interspersed with a day or two of what appears to be normal, cloudy, sunny April weather.

    • It’s just normal British weather, the kind that that was around long before someone eat too many prunes before bedtime and had a nightmare about humans warming the planet.
      I’d be really impressed if the people who lectured us about saving animals from extinction would strap themselves to the arms of wind turbines in protest at the carnage they are causing to bats and birds as opposed to the usual virtue posing by lying around in the road to obstruct real power plants.

    • The only bear I ever sat at a table with was parts on the plate in front of me. Greasy black meat, unless it was overcooked. I was in mid-teens at that time back in the 1950’s. It was served at a friend’s house twice while I was there. Give me beef, anytime. I prefer avocados over bear meat.

  16. I predict the extinction of bats and raptor birds following a switch to 100% renewables worldwide.

    • Like most trolls, Ivanski can’t handle complex situations or subtle distinctions.
      Just because we reject the climate models because they have been proven over time to be broken, is not evidence that we reject all models.
      Each model must prove itself.

    • Thank you for revealing your thoughts. As it happens, “skeptic” is not itself a belief; it is a reluctance to subscribe to someone else’s beliefs.
      Consequently, skeptics cannot be grouped or assumed to have any particular belief.

  17. Childish pop psychology. But then that’s what behind Bambi, the coke-drinking polar bears, the little baby seals, etc. All thought up by the not-very-smart students we knew in high-school that became communication majors because that’s the only thing they could pass.

    • That’s the beauty of virtue signalling. You convince yourself that you matter, without actually having to do anything.

      • Agreed. People who engage in virtue signalling to justify their lives must have pretty sad lives.

  18. I always thought it was the exact opposite.
    Seriously, the polar bear was presented as a cuddly looking mascot that was/is being gravely threatened because of global warming and melting Artic sea ice.
    Images of baby polar bears and starving polar bears. Not sure how many more stuffed toy polar bears were manufactured but the reality if that the polar bear is a vicious carnivore that thinks of humans as food. People that live with them are the species that are threatened……..and the evidence of polar bear numbers dropping was manufactured.
    Fortunately, not many humans live amongst these beasts and fortunately, they have been doing just fine with less ice.

  19. The population of the black-capped vireo, a rare Texas songbird, has recovered to such an extent that it will be moved off the endangered species list, U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials are expected to announce today [13-Apr-2018].

  20. “..,,which should be compensated by channeling part of the associated profits to conservation.”
    There’s the real reason for the study. Look out, Disney!
    People don’t know because they don’t look. What about all the endangered animals that are never portrayed in the media? Do people act on conservation because there seems to be so few?
    Mike drop

  21. Scroll down the paper and you will find this:
    “Currently, companies do not pay a fee to use lions for their branding but, as we hypothesize, may unknowingly and indirectly weaken conservation support by contributing to a mistaken perception that lions are abundant, akin to a competition for attention from the public. Linking the use of threatened animal representations for commercial use to payment to conservation efforts could contribute to turning competition into cooperation between virtual and real populations.”
    So basically another money grab through taxation and regulation. Why am I not surprised?

    • The basic premise of the paper is nonsense.
      But if Disney wants to raise awareness and donate based on sales of a character. I’m all for it.
      This guy isn’t talking voluntary participation though.

      • Why stop at animals? Tax everything used in media. If your movie has a tree, you must pay a fee.

      • @ Reg,
        No, then the lawyers will start defining, “what is a tree exactly?”. And come up with a stratified quanta on what constitutes a tree in a movie vs a virtual reality based one via CGI. Let’s just not go there OK? Lawyers define wayyyyyyyyyy tooooooooo much in our society already. /sarc

  22. How are we ever going to make room for new cuddly species that have never existed before if we don’t allow the extinction of some of the old species that have had their hour on the stage. Isn’t Recycling one of the cardinal virtues of the new improved morality, along with Tolerance and Self Indulgence?

  23. I want to know where the cute cuddly insects are in this scheme of making money? Nobody seems concerned about them except for bees. What about all the other pollinators that are being wiped out? Sure they may not look all that cuddly, but they deserve their own toy too!

    • and on the heels of that, what about the bacteria and fungi? Surely they deserve their own toy too!
      When you start seeing kids desperately holding their stuffed bacterium, let me know will you? LOL

  24. The proliferation of junk science is dangerous for humanity. It is as though we’ve forgotten the past centuries years of progress and are back to blaming things on evil spirits.

  25. Having been responsible for an endangered species program we faced several significant problems. First the so called environmental organizations, who claimed to support us, especially single species groups, drove the agenda by hyperbole. Meanwhile the people were actually seeing more of the animal in question. Hyperbole was at every level of their “business model.” For example they would tell politicians that their organization had tens of thousand or even millions of members when many of the so called “members” had been signed up as school children visiting an exhibit. Second, they didn’t strive for or demand, often even opposed, the best science and certainly not the best population estimates but supported techniques easily questioned or discounted altogether. Third, their agenda was often as much pure progressive politics, using the species in questions to drive their agenda. Fourth, a lot of what these groups did was primarily to attract funding to pay for their lobbyists and staff. Little went to actually benefit the species which they saw as the responsibility of government. Yet the single biggest reason that the average person today is skeptical or worse pays little attention to any reference to endangered species is when we are successful restoring a population to sustainable levels the special interest groups oppose any suggestion of the listing being changed, e.g. California Gray Whale. Or as most of you here are familiar we bring species back from the brink, the agenda changes and then we actually “permit” increase anthropogenic mortality, e.g., raptors and other birds, with little objection from the groups that lobbied so hard in the beginning.

    • Another problem with this article is the fact that many people would not even realize that many animals exist were it NOT for the cute stuffed animals and the animals in zoos. It is easy to ignore something if you feel no connection to it. Talk to people who are involved in legitimate conservation and research, and most will tell you about being inspired by seeing animals in person, be it in the wild or at a zoo. Kids who are really into a particular animal usually have a favorite toy that is that animal. Most people will never see an endangered animal in the wild. Most people have day to day concerns that understandably preoccupy them. Those toys are probably the biggest exposure the general public gets to these animals.
      People do not do much about conservation because they do not know WHAT to do. They do not know which charities are actually doing something effective and necessary and which “charities” are not. Ratings on Charity Navigator and such can tell you about how much is being spent on overhead, but they do not necessarily reflect the actual impact of projects. If you read an article about how cheetahs or elephants or rhinos are in trouble, that article may not mention organizations that are doing something about it, at least not in the sense of “donate to this group, here is how”.
      Lifting people out of poverty so that they are less tempted to poach these animals is what will save these animals. The really effective conservation organizations do not just focus on the animals, they focus on helping local people thrive so that coexistence is possible. Ultimately, it is not the rich foreigners who will “save” the animals. It is the local people. And stuffed animals are not affecting THEIR impression of how abundant a particular species is.

      • Lifting people out of poverty will definately help, but centuries of myth and legend and customs are also involved. I thought when Viagra came out it would help with the rhinos and tigers being killed for aphrodisiacs. Turned out, the ingrained customs meant people rejected Viagra and kept killing the lions and rhinos. It’s tough to change thinking like this.

      • AllyKat, you do understand who buys most of the illicit products, e.g., Ivory, rhino horn, tiger parts, bear parts, etc. As China has become ever more affluent the price for these items has skyrocketed. For the poachers the reward is well worth the risk. Violators are seldom caught, if caught seldom prosecuted and if prosecuted the penalties not close to the economic worth, much less the ecological worth. With the internet it is not hard to find out which groups actually do something besides spend more money to get more donations. One of the single biggest problems today you only occasionally hear about is pirate fishing. In some areas of the ocean pirate fishermen take more than the local country. Still I don’t want a another species to go extinct but they will regardless of what humans do or not. The USA has strict regulations on “endangered” and “threatened” sea turtles. Not just harvest direct or indirect, but habitat protection, etc. Yet coastal villages in Central and South America still harvest sea turtles and eggs for food. Or as a very good turtle biologist explained to me, we protect them here so they can eat them there.

  26. One thing that rarely is discussed has to do with the “all species are interconnected”. That would mean HUMANS too. Many of the more radical enviros want humans gone or at least vastly reduced. Wouldn’t that trigger whatever kind of catastrophe that lions and tigers going extinct or being vastly reduced in number would? If we suddenly pulled the human species out of an area, wouldn’t the whole ecosystem just collapse? That seems to be one argument on why we have to save all species, even those that are not really fit and probably should have been allowed to vanish. System collapse. Pulling out humans would do the same thing, wouldn’t it?
    Has anyone ever actually seen an ecosystem collapse due to the extinction of one or two species? How many species going extinct would it actually take to “collapse” the whole system? I would think the collapsed system would just be the fittest of critters and would continue on as everything does as things change. It would be the new ecosystem that replaced the original. It has happened many times in earth’s history. Yet the planet still has life—a huge amount of life.

    • absolutely….if we had not evolved…something else would have
      People seem to forget that evolution is survival of the fittest……it has a built in fault mechanism…sometimes things make very bad evolutionary choices….but that’s how it works, constantly throwing different things out there to see what sticks to the wall
      Some frog that evolved to live only on one mountain, at one specific elevation, with a specific rainfall, and eats only one food…..made a very bad evolutionary choice

    • Sheri, it comes down to how you define “ecosystem.” The State of Florida decided to manage natural resources in the 1990s through “ecosystem management.” The first problem they faced was defining exactly what a manageable ecosystem was. They debated it for several years. It ended with them deciding to call individual watersheds/ drainages ecosystems. One thing that was documented in small isolated ecosystem was the system changed dramatically with a removal of a “keystone” species. The patch was different but still existed just in a different form than prior to the “keystone” species being eliminated.

  27. Let me get this straight. They are not sure what charismatic animals are yet they picked the top 10 to include in their study. They fit right in with all of the rest of the alarmist community.

  28. Wow. Either these researchers think the general population has really weak minds, or more likely, these researchers have really weak weak minds. To conflate a toy tiger with a real one might explain why a few people take selfies with the real deal – and end up mauled or dead. But I suspect it is more likely that they’ve bought into the “Nature is serenity” BS. Nature is NOT soft and cuddly. I recently read an article (here?) about otters attacking a man, and reading that they are quite violent little puppies. A wild dog can represent a real danger. But I don’t think it is the toys that lead to this. How many pink felines do you really think exist in the world?

    • Liberals in general believe that the population as a whole has very weak minds.
      That’s why they want government (run by themselves of course) to make all of the important decisions in our lives.

    • I know of a zoo that fed some of their otters medication so that they would not fight. Apparently a couple members of the family were rather aggressive. It did the trick. People would probably freak out if they knew.
      Are you implying that pink leopards are not real???

  29. If “cute fluffy cuddly toys” desensitize people to the plight of rare animals, to such an extent they die out, can somebody do a big production run of “cute fluffy cuddly climate scientists.” Don’t forget the Mann one.

  30. Let me see if I’ve got this straight.
    It’s OK to use baby (alleged) endangered species (polar bear cubs etc.) or just dogs and cats to stir the emotions to prompt people to send money to the groups using them (such as the World Wildlife Fund, HSUS etc.) but it’s not OK for a kid to have teddy bear?

  31. Elephants aren’t endangered at all.
    ‘“Unknowingly, companies using giraffes, cheetahs or polar bears for marketing purposes may be actively contributing to the false perception that these animals are not at risk of extinction, and therefore not in need of conservation,” Courchamp said.’
    Here we have Courchamp using giraffes, cheetahs and polar bears for marketing.

    • Maybe he should write to Frito-Lay and encourage them to put a blurb about cheetah conservation on every bag of Cheetos. (I actually would not mind this.) I am sure that people everywhere believe that cheetahs are doing just fine since they see Chester the Cheetah on snack bags and in TV commercials. /sarc
      I love cheetahs, to the point that I was excited to work with their scat and urine in a lab. I promote their conservation. But I do not believe for one second that people are ignorant of any animal’s status in the wild because of stuffed animals and food commercials. Humans are idiots, but few of us are that dumb.
      I cannot even imagine how someone would come up with this idea. It is weird. Have you ever heard someone say, oh, tigers are not endangered. There are stuffed tiger toys everywhere!

      • Enjoy your cheetahs while you can. Their CITES listing has doomed them. With the stroke of a pen, they became pests.

      • At least she wasn’t using an AR-15.
        (Yes, she’s a keeper. Closer to what is “natural” than the “environmentalist”.)

  32. The heartless, self absorbed, misanthropic, side of the never correct climate obsessed on display.

  33. “Cute animal toys” do not lull our sensitivity to endangered species, but cute antinomian ideologues with their endless narcissistic drivel surely do.

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