Today marks the 6th annual Remembrance Day for Lost Species. Remembrance Day is an opportunity to set aside time to memorialize one of those lost species. To create a space that allows us to acknowledge and grieve for what we have lost. It is also a chance for us to tell their story and renew our commitments to ensuring the remaining are preserved and flourish.
This is the premise of my latest project, It Was Very Good, to catalog and remember the animal species lost due to human actions. The first post went live last week: The Atlas Bear. Next week’s will be the Auroch.
Today, though I’m going to set some time aside to mourn the loss of the Australian Thylacine. Eighty years ago the last known Thylacine, Benjamin, died in a zoo. No one living today knows what the Thylacine sounded like. No one is alive today knows how they moved or what their social interactions were. And no one will ever know these things. I think we are poorer for that loss and I think it is something worth mourning over.
There is nothing I, or you, can do for the Thylacine. But, there is also nothing any of us can do when a loved one dies. We acknowledge that loss though. We mourn and remember. As Abi Nielson so aptly put it, “Surely a failure to acknowledge, or to mark the passing of such losses is just one more disconnect between ourselves and the world we inhabit? We are humans, we are animals. We berate our rich politicians for being out of touch with the lives of the majority, while we ourselves remain out of touch with the lives of the majority of animals on this planet.” Remembrance Day is one small way we can help get ourselves back in touch.
The Atlas Bear was the only bear species endemic to the African continent to exist into modern times. The bear’s native habitat was the Atlas range of mountains between Morocco and Libya.
This brown bear is described as being brownish black in color with a reddish belly. It could reach a length of nine feet and weigh up to 1000 pounds.
The expansion of the Roman empire is a likely contributor to the decline of the Atlas Bear with 1000s of them being killed in hunts and captured for killing in public games and executions. Their extinction occurred shortly after the invention of modern firearms.
The last recorded kill of the bear in the wild occurred in the Tetouan Mountains of northern Morocco in 1870.
Congratulations to our second winner, Guildenstern, he’ll have his choice of the remaining books in this year’s giveaway! The giveaway continues this week! Lav your comments below and you’ll entered to win a book of your choice from the list. Below is another short review for one of the books in the giveaway, Going Clear. This review originally appeared in the San Francisco and Sacramento Book Review.
Lawrence Wright, a New Yorker staff writer best known for his study of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack, The Looming Tower, has just published his latest book, Going Clear. If you thought his previous work was daring and provocative Going Clear is going to shock you. Going Clear is a detailed, exhaustive history of America’s youngest homegrown religion, Scientology, and its founder,science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard. Wright’s dive into the enigmatic Hubbard and the religion he created, with it’s seemingly bizarre cosmology and ecclesiastical jargon, leads him to an even more troubling subject: Religion. What is a religion, how do we decide, what does it mean to believers? As Wright attempts to answer these questions for himself and his readers he introduces his readers to the complicated and turbulent history of the Church of Scientology from the internal struggle for power after Hubbard’s death to its recruitment of Hollywood royalty, and it’s decades long fight with various branches of the United States government. Wright does not shy from the controversial aspects of Scientology, but nor does he irrationally attack the church, its leaders, or followers. He presents the information he has in a powerful narrative that is damning all on its own.
Addendum: What I found most sinister about the church of Scientology, as presented in the book, are the numerous disappearances of members to remote locations where they are kept in worse than prison like conditions… All at these members own volition?!