Programs and Tours
Ethics and Living Collections: A View from the Zoo
Lecture by Ron Kagan, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, The Detroit Zoological Institute Zoos are unique societal intersections where nature, science, and human values converge. Like most museums, we conserve artifacts. The zoo and aquarium community strives to advance the conservation of thousands of living species and animals. Effective conservation efforts that advance populations and the welfare of species do not necessarily advance the welfare of individuals. Is it ethical to ignore individuals to conserve species? Furthermore, picking which species we conserve often means de facto picking which species may ultimately become extinct. How do we sort through those ethical dimensions? For many museums the ethical considerations of the collection or objects (for example, a work of art) center around ownership. For zoos the ethical choices truly often revolve around life and death. Though zoo environments are predator-free, they are also captive spaces, limiting and foreign to animals that are often denied basic freedoms. This presentation addresses the complex and significant ethical issues confronting those who take seriously their responsibility to protect and optimize the lives of their animal collections – what we now call the living resident population. Ron Kagan is the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Detroit Zoological Society, a position he has held since 1992. Kagan's career spans 35 years working in zoos including the Dallas Zoo and Aquarium and the Jerusalem Zoo at Hebrew University. Throughout Kagan's tenure at the Detroit Zoo, he has been steadfast in his commitment to treat the animals with respect and empathy. The zoo has transitioned away from a more traditional approach to become a national leader in the compassionate treatment of animals in captivity. The zoo has also participated in the rescue of thousands of animals and been able to provide them with a much improved quality of life. Kagan was educated at Hebrew University, and his dedication to the proper care of animals is a lifelong commitment for him.
Wednesday, 06 November, 2013
Helmut Stern Auditorium
University of MichiganMuseum of Art
525 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1354