According to a piece of research released last week by WWF and the Zoological Society of London, animals are dying a lot. And, as usual, it's our fault.
The Living Planet Index, which measures "the state of the world's biological diversity", showed alarming rates of decline in the animal population, which is estimated to decrease by almost 67 percent by 2020, in relation to 1970. This is largely attributed to our hunting, deforestation and pollution habits, as well as climate change and the proliferation of invasive species.
This is actually such a radical shift that we are said to be entering a new geological era, where human activities are defining the survival of entire species. Taking that into consideration, everyone's got favourites, right? So since humans are in charge of everything, can't we choose some species to die off over others? For example, trade bunnies for mosquitos? Dogs over frogs?
We went to the London Zoo to ask people in the queue which animals they'd rather lose.
VICE: Hey Lafe, what are your favourite animals?
Lafe: I don't really have a favourite – they all have their own part in the world.
Do you have any animals you don't like?
Insects, really. I have arachnophobia.
So recently a study said that, by 2020, if we don't stop going the way we're going, we'll lose two-thirds of the animal population. Would you get rid of spiders to keep some of the more appealing creatures?
No, because everything has a purpose – it's a cycle. So if you get rid of spiders it will upset the balance they perform within their natural environment. I don't like them, but I'd keep them – just away from me.
So a study came out saying that if we continue as we are, by 2020, we'll have lost two-thirds of the animals of the world. Would you get rid of any animals to save tigers and horses?
Gytis: Seriously? I guess I'd probably get rid of domestic cats to save the wild cats. Those are the ones I would give up.
Evelina: I don't know. I think bugs – yeah. Spiders and snakes. The ugly ones.
All the ugly ones?
Gytis: Yeah, even though they're important. They're not my favourites and I have to give something up, right?
You do. Do you think that in the future we'll only be able to see wild animals in zoos?
Gytis: I hope not. But the way things are going – the way the human population is going up – I'd think that for our egos, the cities that we have right now are going to be too small for us; we're going to expand and the forests are going to continue to be cut down. I think that's going to be the reason we're only going to be able to see animals only in zoos or reservations.
What can we do to change that?
Gytis: Cut down the number of humans. Overpopulation is a big problem.
So cut down the number of domestic cats and humans.
Yeah, I guess. That makes me sound mean, doesn't it. Did everyone else say something like that?
I've only spoken to one person so far. Tune in on vice.com to see what everyone else says!
What are your favourite animals?
Charlotte: Oh, don't make us choose!
Cheryl: The only thing in the animal world I don't like are creepy crawlies. Still, I'd never harm them. We love any animal, really – it's a nightmare when we're trying to get somewhere because we stop to pat all the dogs. We have two dogs, three cats, two guinea pigs and a gecko – and that's downsizing.
You don't even dislike snakes, rats, anything like that?
Charlotte: Oh no, we love snakes and reptiles!
Cheryl: Rats are fine, too.
A recent study said we'll lose two-thirds of wildlife by 2020 if we continue as we have been. You'd still not get rid of creepy crawlies to keep the cute dogs?
Charlotte: Not in the wild, no, because everything plays its role.
Cheryl: I'd hate to think that maybe a tarantula or a scorpion was going to bite an animal and kill it. Mostly because there are more insects out in the wild than mammals. But I'd only get rid of them if it was done humanely, not just stomping on them or anything like that. So a certain control...
Charlotte: Really? But everything plays its role!
Cheryl: It does, but when certain animals are coming to extinction...
Charlotte: But that's because of us.
Do you like animals?
Matt: I mean, I like animals. Ramola doesn't like spiders so I'm taking her to the spider enclosure. I'm really looking forward to the reptiles.
Ramola: Yeah, I don't like spiders. I'd say my favourites are penguins.
Aside from spiders, what are your least favourites?
Ramola: I think it's only spiders for me.
Matt: I'd say the boring ones. Like birds, maybe. They're not for me.
There's been a study that says if humanity continues the way it is, by 2020 we're going to loose two-thirds of wildlife. Would you get rid of birds and spiders to keep reptiles?
Ramola: I wouldn't get rid of anything. I think they've all got a purpose – not that I know what that is.
Matt: I'm not anti-bird, let's be clear about that. I'm just less enthusiastic about them.
So what's the solution for us to be able to keep all of them?
Matt: I mean, you probably can't. There's a natural process to these things – maybe not two-thirds disappearing, but we certainly don't have the same balance of animals that we would've had 2,000 years ago, or 50,000 years ago. The world changes, and we can do our bit in terms of conservation areas and investing in things like the London Zoo to keep rare breeds going, but to a point, life's about extinction and evolution, so animals do become extinct. It's just the natural course of the world.
So no use us crying about it?
Matt: I mean, it's not like that – two-thirds is an accelerated rhythm and obviously humanity's played its role on it, but to the same point there are certain species that are just going to become extinct. Like the panda, for example: what can you continue to do with the panda to keep it going? There's only so much you can do until you go, "Well, it's not really working for you." It's not as though, we, as a race, can be accused of not trying with the panda. We can sit back on reflection and say, "Well, we did a lot to keep that bad boy going." It just feels like the panda is coming to the end of its run.
Hey guys. You've just been to the zoo. Do you like animals?
Nathan: Yeah, we do. Very much so.
Did you know a study was recently published saying that if we continue at the pace we're going in we'll loose two-thirds of all species by 2020?
Nathan: I heard about something like that, yeah.
What's your favourite animal?
Nathan: I don't think I have a favourite. Actually, probably the giraffes. They're really cool and they're indoors in the London Zoo as well, so you got to go really close to them, which is sweet.
Jade: I like Komodo dragons. But I only saw one today.
Are there any animals you don't like?
Nathan: No, how can you dislike any animal?
So none you'd rather die instead of the giraffes?
Nathan: I don't think so. It depends on – it's conservation, isn't it? You've got to balance it out; I wouldn't go around killing off random animals.
Not even bugs?
Jade: No, I really like bugs. They're cool.
Do you think we're only going to be able to see animals in zoos in the future?
Nathan: I'd think the way we're going, yeah, but I hope not. It's nice, though, because you can come here and see everything. If you were to go see them in the wild you'd have to travel all over the world.