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Young people, passionate about ethology and dissemination, create ETHICOSCIENCE to give an alternative to those who love animals, nature and travel but are neither an unbridled animal rights activist nor one of those who enjoy them without caring about their conservation. I'm Chiara Grasso and Christian Lenzi, two professional ethologists with all the necessary knowledge to talk about these issues and at the same time the great and precious freshness of their age and the adventures they lived, the ability to communicate in a positive and winning way, young and "smart" also principles of ethics and respect that in the mouth of others could remain (and often remain) unheard. Let's get to know them immediately.
1) How was Eticoscienza born and what is your main mission?
Let us introduce ourselves: we are Chiara Grasso and Christian Lenzi, a couple in life and in work. We are two ethologists, passionate about travel, ethics and good food. In May 2018, fresh from a degree in ethology, we founded ETICOSCIENZA pushed by passion for ethology and disclosure. We realized how much in Italy there was an ethology on the one hand that was excessively animalist and unscientific that trampled the principles of conservation and environmentalism and on the other hand a utilitarian ethology that thought only of profit and that for example supported circuses with animals, completely trampling the idea of animal welfare.
We thus wanted to create a new ethology, which combines the concepts of animal welfare, but also of ethics, environmentalism and science. ETICOSCIENZA aims to provide services in the sectors of training, scientific dissemination, eco-tourism, environmental education, scientific research, naturalistic volunteering and cultural activities. The Association bases all its activities on the principles concerning theEthology Ethics®, which is a scientific discipline that deals with all moral and zoo-anthropological issues (man-animal relationship) that involve fauna and Nature in general. It is a new multidisciplinary subject that aims to study the correct and respectful approach between humans and other animals.
2) What has your career and career path been up to now?
Chiara graduated in psychological sciences in Turin and Christian in biological sciences in Rome. We then met during the master's degree course in ethology (ECAU: Evolution of animal and human behavior) in Turin. Our theses were respectively on sociability of zebrafish in the laboratory e hierarchies of giraffes in a controlled environment, through Erasmus projects in Spain and Romania. Once we finished the university course with flying colors, we started traveling to implement what we had studied.
The Italian university had prepared us very well on theory, on books, but we wanted to touch ethology (but not animals!) And so we were in South Africa as volunteers in a sanctuary where monkeys are free, after being rescued from human abuse, where they were used as pets in people's homes. We were then wildlife manager of a wildlife recovery center in Costa Rica, where even there we were able to see how wild animals are ruined by interaction with humans. We often wanted to free animals in nature ... but unfortunately they were broken by the past in contact with man and this prevented us from releasing them into their habitat, forcing them to a life in a cage.
Once back in Italy, Chiara was trained as environmental hiking guide for nature walks in Italy and, after a 5-month course in Africa, it officially became safari guide FGASA, the only South African government certificate that authorizes you to work in reserves of South Africa and take tourists to see free animals in the savannah. In the meantime, we have devised and coordinated the I national congress of ethology, ethics and conservation, and Christian served in a laboratory of ecotoxicology and animal behavior in Poland.
3) Which training initiatives have you implemented and to whom are they addressed?
We organize regularly scientific events in the field of animal sciences and tourism including university seminars, conferences and congresses. We also offer our members the opportunity to take part in courses of online training on various topics: communication and scientific dissemination, behavior and animal welfare, tourism with animals and nature photography. These training activities are mainly aimed at university students or recent graduates, but there are no age limits and no particular requirements are required. We also often publish practical guides and in-depth materials, as well as participating in meetings open to all (both physically and on our social channels - Facebook, Instagram and Youtube -) with the aim of spreading the principles ofEthology Ethics®.
4) What does Ethical Tourism mean in practice and what are your initiatives in this regard?
In our opinion, ethical tourism means traveling in a manner eco-sustainable and responsible, respecting local populations, fauna, flora and the environment. Our association has always been committed to promoting ethical tourism (our practical guide on this subject entitled “Travel green in nature” - Sonda Editions), also collaborating with operators in the sector. We deal with dissemination on sustainable tourism on our website and on our Instagram and Facebook portals. We are also active in the field of scientific research writing papers with an international impact on the right human-animal relationship.
Here are the fundamental points of what we define EtiCO-Turismo:
- Respect for local cultures
- Respect for the animal world
- Respect for the environment
- Prefer local products and cuisine
- Minimize the environmental impact
- Prefer sustainable means of transport
- Ethological ethical approach
- Participation in the conservation and safeguarding of the territory
- Contribute socially
- Promote local and fair trade
5) Can you give us some examples of NON ethical tourism, helping us to distinguish it?
To answer this question we would need a 300 page manual. We invite you to watch Chiara's video from TEDx "What they don't tell you about tourism with animals"
Unethical tourism it is everything in which the tourist is at the center of the trip and not the environment. Environment intended as animals, nature, but also culture, local populations and place. Unethical tourism with regards to the environment and animals, for example, is going to visit structures that allow us to interact with wild animals (ride elephants, walk with lions, pet monkeys, take cheetahs for a walk). These mock recovery centers / sanctuaries are detrimental to animal conservation and welfare. Chiara herself, in 2015, was the victim of a volunteer experience in which, without knowing it, she had been an accomplice and executioner of a tourism made on the skin of animals that she herself was there to save, theoretically. Monkeys passed off as orphans who were bottle-fed and napped, theoretically recovered cheetahs that were taken for a walk by tourists. Let us remember that a wild animal, even if it has been saved or is orphaned, should never interact with humans.
Interaction with Man is an unnatural thing that in Nature clearly if free and healthy they would not do. So imagine how insane and against Nature it is for them to do so. But do not get it wrong: it does not mean that the wild animal must necessarily be mistreated in order to make it interact with man. It is necessary "only" to snatch it from its mother and raise it by hand, accustoming it to the human being from an early age, taking away all the wildness and nature it should have, making it a doll for our selfish desires. If an animal was indeed recovered, even if it is impossible to free it in Nature, they must still be preserve its wildness and its wild animal needs, protecting it from human habituation.
Unethical tourism is that which feeds the wild animals found in Nature only to have them closer, which puts bait outside the house to bring raptors, foxes or fawns closer. Unethical tourism is what it is alters ecosystems, disturbing animals, picking up starfish, making them die just for a photo, going swimming with seals or dolphins forced into a hellish life instead of letting them go by simply admiring them from a boat.
Think that every year, according to the latest scientific research, they come more than 550,000 animals exploited for the tourism industry. Half a million animals abused by tourists every year, of which 8,000 are just lions in South Africa used for the Canned Hunt. There Canned Hunt it is a tourism practice in which lion cubs are suckled by volunteers and tourists who believe that these cubs are orphans (but in reality they are raised). When they grow up, these lions, now accustomed to Man, are placed in hunting grounds, where the tourist at this point shoots the lion and takes the trophy home. That's why you need to avoid interactions with wild animals, especially in tourism.
Ethical tourism it is to do whale watching, observing marine animals from boats, savannah safaris, observing free animals without disturbing them, bird watching to observe birds fluttering in the trees. Ethical tourism also means visiting REAL serious recovery centers, in which the animals are not safe to see, in which they are found in natural conditions and in which the tourist is strictly forbidden to interact.
6) What do you think of the Friday4future movement?
We are certainly living in an unprecedented environmental crisis. The Earth is in serious danger and with it the future of many young people. In this sense, the movement Fridays4Future it represents a glimmer of hope, the sign that perhaps all is not yet lost. The idea that this admirable initiative was born only from the tenacity and commitment of a Swedish girl is a source of great inspiration for us. We hope that the governments around the world can open their eyes and act as soon as possible, with serious interventions, to solve the countless environmental problems, including pollution and climate change.
7) Today we are experiencing an "extreme" moment, the CoronaVirus is upsetting our personal lives and our societies. What is this period teaching you personally and what do you hope it will teach the world?
He is teaching us a take time. Time for ourselves, to stop and reflect on how fast this world goes. It is teaching us how much Nature without Man can regenerate. Without the machines, the industries, the noises. Without the ships, the seas are finally clean of pollution and plastic, the fish swim peacefully, the dolphins approach the coasts, the seabed is clean, the beaches are empty and the crabs can go out quietly without fear that some child will put them in. a bucket. This Coronavirus emergency is teaching us that our life hangs in the balance, every day, and that we must respect the air we breathe, the elderly neighbor, the defenseless animal. There was no need for a pandemic to understand all this and there is no need for the human being to disappear from the Earth in order for Nature to breathe again. Maybe it would be enough for all of us to learn a respect our planet, behaving in a more sustainable and more ethical way in our small, in our daily life.