While some people live in fear of “the wild” many harbor what Harvard professor E.O. Wilson termed biophilia, or the innate love of nature that humans have. The recent story of a penguin that was “lost” in New Zealand, and dubbed “Happy Feet” after the movie starring animated penguins, demonstrates Wilson’s principle. In the movie, with its theme of human dominance of the natural world as seen by waste in the oceans and overfishing, the main character Mumble helps alert human populations as to the damage caused by their actions. Mumble, a cute and cuddly penguin, catches people’s imagination and connects with their sense of wonder, to use Rachel Carson’s phrase.
This quotation from a woman interviewed by NPR goes a long way toward solidifying this point. “I feel as long as the penguin does well, I’ll do well.” While this may be a bit extreme, it does demonstrate one level of the connection between humans and nature. Having seen penguins in the Galapagos (shown in the post’s picture), I too feel that there is something special about these animals.
From an ecologist’s standpoint, it is important to understand the interrelated nature of species from the microscopic to the gargantuan. This interconnectedness goes a long way to demonstrating the relationship between humankind and the natural world.