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Video Of Ankole Cattle Chomping Food And Mooing—Heifer International Link

Above you see a video of an Ankole cattle. The video lasts about 25 seconds.  In the video the beast chomps on some trees and at the end makes a mooing noise.

This video was taken at the Houston Zoo. The Houston Zoo is getting better, but still has a way to go to being good enough for a city the size of Houston. When I moved to Houston 11 years ago and saw that the zoo had no admission charge, I figured that could only be bad news for the animals. The adult admission is now $10. I know that’s a lot of money, but I’m not convinced the fee is yet high enough for the good of the animals.

The zoo asserts the animals are well taken care of in captivity.

Here is information about the Ankole cattle from a breeds of livestock web page of Oklahoma State University—

The Ankole cattle are distributed from Lake Mobutu to Lake Tanganyika in eastern Africa. The original animals were thought to have been brought to northern Uganda by Hamitic tribes sometime between the 13th and 15th centuries. The Ankole’s susceptiblity to the tsetse fly forced the tribes and their cattle further south. The Hima or Bahima tribe settled on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzani. The Watusi or Tutsi tribe continued to Rwanda and Burundi withtheircattle, some of which have spread to the lake districts of Zaire. Selection in all the tribes is based on horn size. The purer Ankolecattlehave a medium-long head, a short neck with a deep dewlap and a narrow chest. …Although the small-uddered Ankole cows yield meager amounts of milk, milking is an important ritual in some tribes. Bloodletting is a common practice. A few tribes use the cattle for work, none use them for meat. In general the animals are highly prized as status symbols, for ceremonial functions and not for their productivity.

( The OSU site has very comprehensive information on breeds of cattle, pigs, sheep, horses and goats. It is well worth study.)

It’s good to know people in Africa are as dumb-assed as we are here. Keeping these big beasts as a status symbol–Don’t they have better things to do with their resources? Like the $40 I spent at the Astros’ baseball game a few nights  ago including a $7.50 beer and a $4 ice cream item.

Here is the link to Heifer International. If you donate some money to these folks, they’ll buy a useful farm animal for somebody in the world. Do you know why you and I live in a rich nation while some other person lives in a poor place? Dumb luck–That’s why.

A NY Times article from last year says the Ankole is under long-term threat. The article says that they are being cross-bred with Holsteinsin Africa because the Holsteins are of greater use. The excerpt below says that the Ankole have been bred to survive in a harsh African environment and this is why they may not be so useful.

From the article—

“…Indigenous animals like East Africa’s sinewy Ankole, the product of centuries of selection for traits adapted to harsh conditions, are struggling to compete with foreign imports bred for maximal production. This worries some scientists. The world’s food supply is increasingly dependent on a small and narrowing list of highly engineered breeds: the Holstein, the Large White pig and the Rhode Island Red and Leghorn chickens. There’s a risk that future diseases could ravage these homogeneous animal populations. Poor countries, which possess much of the world’s vanishing biodiversity, may also be discarding breeds that possess undiscovered genetic advantages. But farmers like Mugira say they can’t afford to wait for science. And so, on the African savanna, a competition for survival is underway.”

I guess necessity makes people forget about ornamental and status items all over the world.

April 21, 2009 Posted by | Houston | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Even If Zoos Are A Guantanamo For Animals, They Need High Admission Fees To Assure Quality


Last week I visited the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Admission to the Cincinnati Zoo is higher than at my local Houston Zoo. The Cincinnati Zoo is $13.50 for adults and $8 for kids 2-12. In Houston it is $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 2-11. In addition, it runs $6.50 to park on the grounds on the Cincinnati Zoo while all parking is free in Houston.  

When I arrived in Houston in 1998, the zoo did not charge admission. That sent up a warning flag. The Cincinnati Zoo has long been recognized as one of the leading zoos in the country. I don’t know much about running a zoo—I know zero about running a zoo—but I’m sure it costs a lot of money.

My father said to me last week that zoos are ” A Guantanamo for animals.” That was a good line and has factual merit. But zoos are not going away and should have as a first concern good treatment of the animals.  

Earlier this year, I visited the very large and well-known San Diego Zoo. Admission there was $33 for adults and $22 for children. If you want something decent, you have to pay.

During my recent Cincinnati Zoo visit, I could not help but notice the absence of a single black zoo patron. I’m sure some black folks did visit the zoo that day—it was a nice 70 degree day—But I did not see any.

While the Cincinnati Zoo is a regional attraction, Cincinnati is 50% black and the neighborhoods near the zoo are very black. 

I see on the webpage of the Houston Zoo that students under the age of 19 who live in Houston city limits can go to the zoo for free on a school field trip. Cincinnati charges $5 for students.

The Cincinnati Zoo might have some progress to make on being more accessible to the local community.

As for Houston, I believe it should further raise admission and consider a schedule of discounted days for local residents. That is the only way it will become an institution worthy of such a large city.  

As a kid, I was sometimes brought to the terrible Slater Park Zoo in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Here is an article about the mistreated Fanny the Elephant from that zoo. I recall that the Slater Park Zoo, now closed, was once featured on 60 Minutes in a segment about awful zoos.  

The animal in the picture is an Okapi. These beasts are the only living relatives of the giraffe and live in central Africa. Please click here to learn more about this creature.

November 25, 2007 Posted by | Cincinnati, Houston, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments