The Mouth of Nature
An "animal rights activist" has told authorities they must kill a polar bear cub born in a zoo because they have no right to raise a wild animal as tame. The bear cub has been ignored by his mother, but zoo authorities are hand feeding it. This has outraged the "activist". (Apparently there is some dispute now over whether this activist is being fairly quoted by the English-language press. So be advised that he may not have said what is attributed to him in the context presented.)
Berlin Zoo's abandoned polar bear cub Knut looks cute, cuddly and has become a front-page media darling, but an animal rights activist insisted Monday he would have been better off dead than raised by humans.
"Feeding by hand is not species-appropriate but a gross violation of animal protection laws," animal rights activist Frank Albrecht was quoted as saying by the mass-circulation Bild daily, which has featured regular photo spreads tracking fuzzy Knut's frolicking.
"The zoo must kill the bear."
Being an "activist", especially one for nature, is an interesting job in several ways. First it gives one the authority to speak on behalf of a transcendant and awesome phenomenon without any obvious qualification or power of attorney. Ancient Greece had individuals who claimed to channel the thoughts of nature, or at least the deities. They were called oracles.
An oracle is a person or persons considered to be the source of wise counsel or prophetic opinion; an infallible authority, usually spiritual in nature. It can also be a prediction of the future, from deities, that is spoken through another object or life-form. In the ancient world many sites gained a reputation for the dispensing of oracular wisdom: they too became known as "oracles", as did the oracular utterances themselves, whose very name is derived from the Latin verb orare, to speak.
But in one sense at least Frank Albrecht is claiming to speak for man. "Feeding by hand is not species-appropriate but a gross violation of animal protection laws." And here's the problem. By basing his argument on law Albrecht is implicitly acknowledging the power of humans to determine what is "species appropriate".