Dr. Zhou Jinfeng: Ethical Considerations on Exotic Pets in Era of Ecological Civilization
2023/5/15 9:42:00 本站

Dr. Zhou Jinfeng, the Secretary-General of the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF), was invited to give a lecture entitled "Contemporary Ecological Crisis and Environmental Ethics" as part of the "Science Ethics and Technology Ethics Masters Lecture Series" at Southern University of Science and Technology. The lecture was hosted by Professor Tian Song of the Humanities and Social Sciences Center at Southern University of Science and Technology. Dr. Zhou Jinfeng's speech on "Exotic Pets" is summarized as follows:

In July 2022, two exotic fish species, the Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula), were found in Yunchan Lake in Central Park, Ruzhou, Henan Province, China. In order to capture these invasive species, the park drained 200,000 to 300,000 cubic meters of water from the lake from July 26 to August 26, 2022, just to catch two Alligator Gars. This action attracted great interest and attention from people across China. But what was the cost?

First of all, draining such a large volume of lake water has had a huge impact on the local ecosystem. So why go to such great lengths to catch two Alligator Gars? It is because Alligator Gars are invasive species that pose a great threat to the local aquatic ecosystem.

It should be noted that invasive species are one of the top five direct drivers of global biodiversity loss, along with changes in land and sea use, direct use of organisms, climate change, and pollution.

So, why do invasive species like Alligator Gars appear in an inland province like China? The reason is that people's lives have become more affluent, and there is a demand for exotic pets for spiritual purposes. Some people feel that traditional pets like cats and dogs are not enough, and they want to have more exotic pets. As a result, a variety of exotic pets such as exotic snakes and parrots, Alligator Gars, and Red-ear sliders (from Latin America) have appeared on the market. Does this constitute an ethical issue?

In recent years, with the economic development following China's reform and opening-up, the exotic pet industry has grown rapidly. However, after foreign exotic pets were introduced into China, they were often released or abandoned due to various reasons, eventually entering the natural environment. These invasive species have caused significant harm to the local ecosystem, which is evident. Moreover, the enormous breeding industry and ecological costs associated with capturing and releasing exotic pets in China have become a severe biological and environmental ethical issue in society today.

Foreign invasive species are one of the driving factors of the ecological collapse that humanity is facing today. Additionally, the insatiable desire for luxury is another critical cause. As material conditions improve, simply being "well-fed" is no longer enough for some people; they also seek to satisfy their desire for luxury. Unfortunately, the earth's resources are limited, and we can no longer meet our desires, leading humanity into the sixth mass extinction.

Therefore, we must begin a new civilization and establish new ethics. What is the new civilization? It is to change our inappropriate production and lifestyles. Humanity should not continue to demand from nature and life without limits while still saying "respect nature." We firmly support legislation to further regulate human consumption behavior. Establishing a new civilization requires comprehensive changes.

What does civilization include? It includes politics, laws, systems, norms, standards, culture, art, ethics, morality, fashion, and more. We must comprehensively promote ecological civilization construction, which inevitably requires corresponding new laws and regulations. Under the new civilization's advocacy, we must seriously learn about ecological civilization and what "green water and green mountains" mean. Keeping wild animals in captivity at home is not "green water and green mountains." Only when they return to their natural habitats can we establish an ecological civilization.

In summary, the exotic pet industry's growth and the subsequent harm it has caused to the local ecosystem is a severe biological and environmental ethical problem in Chinese society today. To establish a new civilization, we must change our inappropriate production and lifestyles, comprehensively promote ecological civilization construction, and pass corresponding new laws and regulations. Only then can we achieve the goal of "green water and lucid mountains."

Reporter: Daisy
Translator: Littlejane


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