‘There are people so poor that the only thing they have is money.’

Hello!

Today, I’m going to be writing about money. I’m no financial expert, I don’t know if anything in this post will be useful, but it’s what I fancy writing about.

Money is the most important thing to many of us. We may not even realise it, but at the end of the day, we need it to live in western societies. We absolutely, 100% rely on it. I hate that. Money controls us every single day. Money is the reason most of us work. We need a career to be successful and buy a house, car, etc.

Money is something I constantly say I don’t have – ‘I can’t do this, I’ve got no money,’ ‘No, I can’t afford that!,’ ‘I don’t want to go to town, I’ll spend money I don’t have!’

At the same time, I am constantly spending money. Yesterday, I bought some chocolate and lady products. The day before, I spent a small amount for a game. The day before that, car insurance and rabbit food. Before that, MacDonald’s. I’m not sure when I last went an entire week without spending money.

I have no income. Despite all my spending, I have no job, no hobby I’m making money from, nothing. Through student finance and my previous job, I’ve saved up enough that I’ve been able to spend all summer, despite constantly claiming I have no money. When I look at what I’ve spent though, I’m pretty horrified.

Why do I choose to spend money on Macdonalds, and then tell my friends I can’t go for a drink? The money I spent on the game is enough for a coffee, or parking for an hour or two. Chocolate bars are so expensive these days I could have bought a house (joking, obviously, but it could have been 70p in my piggy bank). I simultaneously spoil myself whilst living frugally, and the stuff I buy gives me no long-term satisfaction whatsoever. I said 4 years ago I was going to save up for a macro lens for my camera. Do I have a macro lens? Nope! Have I been able to afford one since saying I’d get one? You bet! I spent two years of that time working full time. I could have my macro lens, another zoom lens, a decent car, or even just tyres (literally avoid driving my car when it’s raining because my tyres are so bad, I’ve skidded out about 4 times). I could have the money to go back to Africa sat in my account. I could have gone on one or two beach holidays.

Sometimes I think about what my life would be like if I’d chosen to stay in full time work instead of studying. I could have the deposit for a house by now, easily. There’s a high chance that I would have been promoted (I had already been promoted twice, neither time I asked or pushed for it, I got on with my manager well and worked hard). But I’d be bored. Working in a coffee shop for my whole life is not for me. I am too passionate about animals to stick to just having pets. I always want more. I always push for me, whilst simultaneously holding myself back, e.g. by spending the entire summer jobless.

Working with animals and wildlife conservation is not going to make me rich. I am fully aware that until I’ve got 50 years of experience and a PHD, giving me the opportunity to be head of department at some university, I will likely only ever earn a below average wage. I could have been a vet if I wanted money, but a vets job, to me, seems boring. I don’t mean any offense of course, I have enjoyed learning about animal health, but there’s no bigger picture or purpose. You vaccinate and treat animals, you save some lives, but for what? So that a domestically bred and raised animal can hopefully live a happy life. That is great, but also not natural. I’m a complete hypocrite because I’ve had pets all my life, and I currently have two beautiful rabbits, and of course I’m incredibly grateful that vets can protect them against all kinds of diseases and health issues…But it isn’t natural. My poor bunnies serve no purpose other than to line the pockets of the breeders and give me a personal level of satisfaction.

Working with wildlife and conservation is more than that. It means I’m contributing to an entire planet. If I can educate people about ecosystems and animals, help people understand the damage we do and how we can turn that around to aid ecosystems instead, to stop mindlessly destroying habitats and decimating other species – that, right there, is a purpose.

I have gone completely off track but maybe the point to this post isn’t really about money, but about ourselves. Money is a necessity, yes, but don’t let it rule your life. I am not a happy person, but I am probably more deeply satisfied with what I’m doing than those who have settled for money, those you don’t allow themselves time to live because they’re working too hard and those that are trapped in menial jobs or careers that they don’t enjoy, just because it was a better financial option. I know that when my degree is over and I find a job, it’ll be a job I love. Sure, it’ll have bad days and good days, let’s be realistic! But I will be satisfied.

Where is Home?

Hello!

I’ve been away for a few days. My lovely other half took me to Southampton to meet a couple of guys he lived with when he spent some time in the Falklands, and the following day we stayed in Windsor. It was a lovely weekend, and we also went to Thorpe Park where I was persuaded to go on some of the bigger roller coasters, including the SAW ride, which is actually pretty cool.

I loved walking around Windsor, and the ground of the posh estate hotel we stayed at. I saw buzzards, cows, wild parakeets (I had no idea they were a thing, it’s a feral growing population that was started when people released some into the wild in certain areas), rabbits, geese, swans, and even a red kite!

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Forgive the poor quality image, my phone is awful.

It was a lovely weekend, but I’m very aware that I’m not happy. I am trying, but I just can’t seem to get there. I think I’m bored. I’ve been jobless through choice since May, I’ve had no university to keep me going and I haven’t really done much apart from stress myself out this holiday. I went to Poland and had this weekend in Windsor, but as I’ve been pretty disconnected, Poland never sunk in and there was a few things that made that event stressful, although in general it was pretty good.

I want to start job hunting, but I don’t ‘feel’ ready. It’s awkward. I’m aware that I’m getting low on money and I’m about to move again and have car insurance, but I feel like I’m stuck until I move. I feel like that’s the moment I’ll be able to be me again – when I’m out of this shithole my parents call a home.

I’ve really, really struggled with UK life since I got back from Africa. I think, in a way, I’ve always felt homeless. If anyone has experienced real homelessness, please don’t think I’m trying to belittle your situation, past or present, by saying this. I’ve always physically had a roof over my head, and to compare it to real homelessness would be insulting to those who are suffering without, I’m aware that this is an emotion that’s probably limited to those who physically live ‘comfortably.’ I’m talking about an emotional homelessness. I’ve never lived anywhere where I felt I could be 100% myself, bar when I had a flat with my ex but he was never home (we’d broken up) and I was living by myself. That felt like home. Africa also felt like home.

I detest UK life. It’s boring and mundane and full of little bullshit issues that don’t make a damn bit of difference to anything on a larger scale. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but there is no passion. Most of us end up in mediocre jobs that we are just doing to get by. We don’t want to do that job for the rest of our lives, it doesn’t give us any satisfaction, but we plod along, living to work and working to live a life we don’t have time for. We all go around with these big dreams in our heads of being rich, owning holiday homes or boats or flashy cars. I know that to complain about such a life would be deemed as being petty or spoilt, but it really is bullshit. We have lost ourselves.

We are so detached from nature by work and government and society and medicine that our lives have become meaningless. We have stripped the land bare for farmland and buildings and energy plants. Our wildlife is nothing. We went from having wolves, boar, beavers, lynx…to what? Sheep and cows, basically. The forests that once covered the land are gone. The UK is an empty place to live. You know you’ll survive, because we have the means to keep everything alive, but for what? Without being born into money or having great social skill, and knowing how to play society, you are left to trundle along, earning money for the big bosses, for the ones who know how to play the game, to ease their way up the financial and social ladders.

Maybe my issue is that I am too passionate. I’ve been through emotional trauma as a child and seen things kids shouldn’t see, only to come out the other side for this life to be waiting for me. This life with no challenges because we live in a western society, where we don’t need to fight to survive. We just survive.

Saying all this, because I never had to face off to physically dangerous situations, never had to hunt, never had to keep warm (bar a couple of winters with no heating), never really had to physically test myself, I am probably far from physically capable of doing such things now. At 26, my body shape is what it is. I do relatively little exercise, my muscles are weak, I’m not even a great cook because I don’t need to be. The chances are that moving into a community that’s anything other than the one I’ve known all my life would make me seriously ill, AND I’m terrible with languages.

So where is home? Where can I challenge myself without damaging myself? Where can I find satisfaction?

The search continues.

Confidence Diary: Day 3.

Hello!

I haven’t done one of these properly for a few days because either side of doing nothing, I’ve been doing everything. Last weekend, I went to a wedding event with my partner. I knew absolutely nobody there, and I still enjoyed it! Whey!

If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll know by now that I am no social butterfly. In fact, this very week I have reduced my number of female friends down from 2 to 1. I shy away from new situations because they’re scary. For a lil while last year, I was very good at socialising. I taught myself to see new social interactions as opportunities  – the good kind, not opportunities to make an ass out of myself, which is my current mind set. I live in hope that one day, new social interactions might excite me again, but for now, I just can’t do that.

Despite that, I had fun! I wasn’t left out despite knowing nobody, my partner was excellent and included me in everything. I feel like he made a real effort for me, but I’m really proud of myself for making the effort too.

I managed to make my rabbits a larger run with panels and string. This sounds ridiculous but it’s been playing on my mind that my bunnies currently have a crappy tiny run. I was supposed to build them a huge one, but I’m actually moving in like two weeks and the crappy weather has delayed the building of the proper run. Now, I may as well put it all up at the new place instead of building it to fit my parents garden. The new garden is smaller, but having a look today, I think I can still make it the same size as I’d planned, which means building can commence, aside from the weather. One of my rabbits, Rafiki, has seemed particularly unhappy recently. He started chewing at the rubbish run every time he was in it, and out of fear he’d cause permanent damage to his teeth, I stopped letting him in the run, so the only times he’s out is either on my single bed or on a harness. This is not ideal and he has not been having the exercise he needs. He’s less than a year old and is a ball of energy. I haven’t known what to do about it because I’ve been in such a funk, until yesterday. I finally had enough of having a depressed bunny and did something about it. I’m quite proud of the makeshift run – it’s not perfect by a long shot, but there’s room for me to sit in there with them, and more room for them to hop about, yay!

I’ve also driven for the first time in a week or so. Generally, low confidence = an aversion to driving. My car is 16 years old, the air con leaks, it makes a funny noise that sounds like creaky metal, I’ve had all kinds of welding done on it and it is in DESPERATE need of new tires. I have skidded out more than once on a wet road, as has my sister. I promise you it’s not my driving! I have never skidded in another car and nor has she. I’ve also never crashed, beyond very very very gently bumping a wall when I hadn’t driven for a year (pulling forward into a parking space…) and curbing the car when I very first passed my test because my bag fell from the passenger seat. I don’t put it on the passenger seat anymore…Back to the point, I drove! And it was all fine! Yay!

What else? I’m meeting some people that my other half lived with in the Falklands for a year or so. I’m excited about this! He was in the Falklands before we were an item. I had a huge crush on him before he went, but we both ended up in other relationships. He kept in touch more than I did, and would send me incredibly penguin photos he’d taken, pictures of a horse in a boat they were ferrying from a nearby tiny island, and other ridiculous things. I’ve heard so, so many stories about these two guys, both of which sound lovely, so I’m looking forward to that.

Anyway, that’s it for today I think! It’s had it’s moments, but it’s been a pretty good week!

Behind the Cage

Let’s talk about zoos for a moment.

This post is for anyone, regardless of whether you agree with disagree with zoos. My view point will become obvious very quickly, but please hang with me even if your view is conflicting. This is a post based on fact and may provide a new way of thinking that people haven’t considered. If I mention anything that isn’t true, please feel free to comment to let me know, but if you can also provide evidence against what I’ve said (for the purposes of learning, not because I think my word is law), that would be great!

Whether or not zoos are good or bad depends on who you ask. There are many conflicting views out there, particularly among people who think they’re campaigning for animal welfare. I will explain why I’ve used the phrase ‘…who think…’ later on in this article.

I can completely understand being against zoos. These are ‘wild’ animals being kept in cages or behind perspex glass, the space they have is very limited, they’re being kept in countries with climate that does not match what they’re adapted to and, in some cases, it appears that the purpose of zoos is just to allow the public to get a good look at animals they wouldn’t see in the wild.

Zoos in some countries are diabolical. With tiny, dirty enclosures, incorrect diets leading to malnutrition and health needs not met, I do not agree with those zoos. They are awful and it upsets me greatly to see animals kept in such a way. For some, the intention is good, they genuinely feel as though they want to help the animals, but the lack of education surrounding the needs of the animals lets them down. For others, it’s probably to do with power and money. They want to profit off the animals backs, and ignore the needs of the animals. This type of zoo tends to be in poorer countries – I’m from the UK and it’s unlikely you’d see such an image that I’ve described over here.

That does not mean all zoos in the UK or Europe or other richer parts of the world are ‘good’ though. I’ve visited a few zoos in the UK, Salzburg zoo in Austria and Berlin Zoo in Germany. Two of the worst zoos I’ve personally seen are here in the UK. One of the best is also here in the UK, and another is Salzburg zoo.

So so conservationists tend to support and work with zoos?

For a start, zoos have come a very long way, particularly in some richer countries. Once barren enclosures that were designed to be convenient to clean are now full of enrichment designed for the animal it houses. Expansion is constantly taking place in some zoos, and the research surrounding the animals in their care is vital to endangered species. It gives scientists and behaviorists a chance to examine to physiological and psychological aspects of animals that they simply wouldn’t be able to do in the wild. Research that can be done in the wild is often compared to the same research done in zoos in order to measure the captive animals welfare, but also to allow successful breeding programs in captivity. Once successful breeding in captivity is achieved, they can move on to successful breeding on reserves and such, which will ultimately contribute to the wild population (hopefully).

In the UK, it’s a legal requirement that zoos make some effort to contribute to conservation, whether that be by donations or physically owning a reserve. Colchester Zoo is the biggest zoo near where I live. I have been there many times and although some areas could do with much improvement, some are huge and filled with natural enrichment. Colchester Zoo ‘owns’ (I’m not sure if it’s complete ownership or a partnership or another arrangement, but the reserve gets a LOT of support from the zoo) a reserve in South Africa, called the Umphafa Reserve.

DSC_2024 copyWM.jpgMale Lion at Colchester Zoo. The lion enclosure is one that I feel needs improving. They have enrichment, but more space would be much better.

Many people think that the animals in zoos should simply be released, but this is unrealistic and dangerous. I would love to support this idea, but here are some of the factors rendering it impossible.
1. Most of the animals in captivity today were bred in captivity, particularly in richer countries. Although some smaller, more exotic zoos may still illegally take from the wild, and all animals will be descendants from some that were caught from the wild, this is likely to be a good few generations ago. This means that most of the predators would struggle to hunt and most prey animals would struggle to recognise true danger. I’m not saying this is true for all animals, but to ‘re-wild’ most of the animals would be incredibly costly and time consuming, and detrimental to the animals involved.
2. Most animals in captivity will survive longer than they would in the wild. Animals that have the proper care, nutrition and environment will lead a long and relatively relaxed life. A rhino in the wild has a much higher chance of getting poached, being preyed upon or fighting with other wild rhino/animals. I’m not saying zoo animals have a higher life expectancy, but say 1 in every 4 rhino was poached in the wild. The remaining rhino could have a lifespan beyond that of 4 captive rhino, but there’s a much higher chance of all 4 captive rhino surviving to a decent age than the wild ones. This is a key point to zoos – protection. It angers me that animals are safer in this environment over their natural environment, but it’s undeniable.
3. Lack of habitat. One of the main forces behind the decline of many species is a dwindling habitat and human encroachment. We are constantly building over animal habitat for houses and farmland and power-plants etc, and we’ve reached a point where habitats aren’t sustaining the animals. There is just not enough left. Often, what is left is in ‘pockets,’ and whereas animals like tigers used to roam a huge range, providing regular mating’s with tigers they haven’t encountered before, they are now restricted to their ‘pocket,’ which is causing a loss of genetic diversity due to only a very small population of mating tigers being available to them. This is causing inbreeding, and this doesn’t just affect the tiger. Without the habitat to sustain current wild populations, releasing all the tigers from all the zoos would quickly cause a huge decline in overall numbers. Assuming that the tigers can survive and they can hunt etc, this would mean food resources will dwindle even quicker than before, and the tigers that are surviving will quickly die off.

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Baby White Rhino at Salzburg Zoo. This zoo was overall very good, with large and natural enclosures for most of the animals.

In nature, it’s completely normal for an abundance of prey to cause an abundance of predator, which leads to less prey and therefore less predators, until the prey populations recover again, and the predators follow suit. This is a natural cycle in sustained populations, but many populations have suffered so ferociously at human intervention that this cycle simply stops. We take both predators and prey, we cull antelope and take up land for livestock, and then we kill the predator for taking the livestock, even though the chances are that the land that holds the livestock used to hold natural prey.

We are stripping nature and destroying animals at a rate that is only comparable to previous mass extinctions. As it explains here (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/), extinction is a natural process, just as climate change is, but the rate that it is currently happening is not natural. I can’t say if this next sentence is 100% fact because I can’t find the source for it, but I have read that our current rate of extinction is fast than even that of the dinosaurs. Mass extinctions are usually long, drawn out processes. What is currently happening is happening incredibly quickly in comparison.

Anyway, that is why, currently, we need zoos. Not all zoos, but good zoos. Zoos that support conservation as well as the animals they are housing, zoos that provide research and protection, and zoos that encourage the public to care about wildlife.

DSC_6562 copy WM.jpgRed Panda taken at Banham Zoo. This is not a great zoo in my opinion, enclosures are small and although they clearly try to include enrichment, I strongly believe all of the animals could do with more space, particular their large cats, which include cheetahs and snow leopards. One thing that upset me greatly at this zoo was seeing vultures display abnormal behaviour.

*Featured Image taken at Colchester Zoo. The tiger enclosure is a reasonable enclosure, they have a lot of space and a lot of foliage.

Back to Life

Hey!

So I took a couple of days to myself to do almost absolutely nothing. I think the emotional strain of the last week caught up to me a bit and I really, REALLY didn’t feel myself. I wasn’t just disconnected, I felt ill – like you know when you have the flu and your brain just flicks between random thoughts that have no connection to each other?

I was also completely physically exhausted. No matter what I ate, I had no energy afterwards. Just laying in bed, holding my phone above my face made my arms ache. I could have fought it, and got some things done anyway, but I figured that was my body telling me I needed a minute to sit down and process. I napped during the day yesterday and the day before, and I generally dislike napping if I haven’t actually done anything to wear myself out. Both times, I had insanely vivid dreams where I was aggressive to other people. I have no explanation for this, one of the dreams involved my sister who I have no anger towards, she has been so lovely to me recently while I’ve been going through everything, she’s driven me places and bought me food, she’s listened to me go on about myself and my problems and offered advice. She’s basically been a really good sister.

Anyway, I’m feeling a bit better today. I slept a LOT yesterday and still managed a good nights sleep. I still don’t feel 100%, but I feel more stable and connected, which is what I need.

So that’s where I’m at today. Later, I shall be making a post about the pros and cons of Zoos as a tool for conservation.