If Animals Are Our Friends, Why Do Pigeons Poop on Our Heads?

Isn't coping with pigeons, rats, roaches and law enforcement enough of a wildlife encounter for city dwellers? Why should urbanites care about the conservation of the ecology, too? Being divided by

Isn't coping with pigeons, rats, roaches and law enforcement enough of a wildlife encounter for city dwellers? Why should urbanites care about the conservation of the ecology, too?

Being divided by city barriers is no excuse, according to Thane Maynard, vice president of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

"Urbanites are really just one way to divide where people live," Maynard says. "We don't want to separate ourselves from nature. All the sources we use to survive come from nature. Being attached to that is essential to our survival. It's just as essential for people from urban areas as it is for people from rural areas."

It's the circle of life in full effect, he says.

"I think the reason we need to do it is we can't prosper, we can't survive without the natural resources of the world," Maynard says.

Wildlife conservation is a top priority for Jeff Corwin, the adorably quirky host of Animal Planet's The Jeff Corwin Experience. Yes, he who calls out "Mrs. Voorhees" as he tracks a bear through the California woods. He who will let his cameraman fondle him if it can garner a laugh.

On Friday, Corwin will deliver two presentations at the zoo's Member's Night, presumably using his off-kilter sense of humor to send home a serious message.

"He will talk about his experiences in filming all over the world and how he's involved in wildlife conservation," Maynard says.

Corwin couldn't be reached for comment because he was "off on assignment," according to the zoo's publicity department. Translation: Corwin's off communing with snakes in a part of the world with bad cell phone reception.

But Maynard has his own thoughts on wildlife conservation and its relevance to 9-to-5ers and other city folk.

"I think one of the most natural tendencies in humans is to love animals," he says. "Mammals are programmed to love and care for other animals. I think people, whether they live in the city or in the middle of Tanzania, deep down love animals."

Living among high rises and office buildings, how does one bring conservation into his or her immediate life? How can people balance urban development with conservation efforts?

Maynard cites the eventual green space down by the river as a healthy way for the city to conserve nature. The key to it all is planning.

"How can we do it smarter than just do it better?" he asks.

So killing a roach won't condemn us to eternal damnation?

"Hunting is not bad as long as it's well-managed," he explains. "In many African countries, the hunting of wild animals directly supports conservation."

Meat-eaters don't need to give up that prime slab of sirloin just yet. After all, changing one's diet just to conserve wildlife and nature isn't the right choice for everyone. What non-extreme measures can urbanites do to help in the conservation area?

"Specifically, the best thing is the four I's: to get informed, to get involved, to get in focus and to get inspired," Maynard says. "What they should do is find something that they completely care about."

Whether it's alligators or bald eagles isn't the point. "Well, the nice thing is that everything is connected to everything else," he says.

As Maynard explains, focusing on one species serves as an umbrella that will nurture conservation all the way down to those spineless invertebrates.

But don't the negative connotations of some creatures, such as the loathsome abundance of pigeons in downtown who enjoy pooping on office workers — no, this reporter's not bitter or anything — make it difficult to get city dwellers to embrace conservation?

"The secret of enjoying is to spend more time to look and listen in the natural world," Maynard says.

A trip to Spring Grove Cemetery, according to Maynard, shows more than 100 different species of birds residing here in the Tristate.

"It's only because people don't know how to look and what to look for," he says. "There is an amazing diversity of life. We should never underestimate the world around us."

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