Story last updated at 3/11/2009 - 11:07 am
In response to "Contrast between human and animal behavior" (letter to the editor, March 4 CCW):
It is always interesting to think about behavioral differences among animals, and so as a biologist and animal ecologist, I enjoyed reading last week's letter about the life history of a species of penguin. I'm not going to comment on the author's opinions about abortions, or two female humans raising a child, or having babies out of wedlock. However, as a biologist I would be remiss if I didn't point out some misconceptions about animals that were implied in last week's letter.
First, there is no contrast between human and animal behavior, because humans ARE animals. A lot of people forget this, or deny it for various reasons, but we are a species of great ape. You're an ape, and I'm an ape.
Second, I do agree that there is contrast between human behavior and penguin behavior, but to imply that monogamy and complete dedication to offspring is the norm in the Animal Kingdom is incorrect. Monogamy is extremely rare among animal species; much more common are polygamy, promiscuity and serial monogamy, which still rear their heads even in human societies.
Third, lots of animal parents abandon their offspring in times of low resources. If an offspring-rearing partner bails, or it's a drought year and there isn't enough food, many animals will abandon their babies and wait for better years to try to raise offspring. Is this immoral? Who am I to say. My main point is that the way penguins do their thing is the exception. Sure, maybe penguins wouldn't go to Planned Parenthood. And if you don't like Planned Parenthood, you're free to choose not to go either.
Carolyn Bergstrom, Juneau
Letter policy: The Capital City Weekly welcomes letters from readers. Letters should not exceed 300 words and will be edited for length, grammar, clarity and libelous content. Please include your full name, hometown and phone number.. Send letters to Editor, Capital City Weekly, 134 N. Franklin St., Juneau, AK 99801, or firstname.lastname@example.org.