Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Whales and helping the world
Name: Lauren Hurst
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 

I would like a biologist to answer my questions.
1. What do you think about taking animals from nature-made environments and putting them in man-made environments?
2. What would you do if you could help the world and how would you do it?
3. What do you think about whales being killed for oil or being killed for other reasons?
4. What is the hardest question you have ever been asked and how did you answer it?
Please answer my questions for me.

Taking animals from the natural environment and putting them in a man made environment is OK if it isn't done too much and it either helps educate people about the animals so they work to help preserve them, or if it helps endangered animals reproduce. If I really could, I would take away weapons and educated people, because ignorance often leads to prejudice, which often leads to violence. I would also try to get people from different countries to talk to each other directly instead of always listening to politicians.


I think it's important to remember that animals in zoos and aquariums receive the best care and live long and healthy lives. In order to learn about how an animal behaves (the study of animal behavior is called "ethology"), it is necessary to be able to observe the animals in a controlled environment, especially when we don't live where the animal does (like in the ocean), or if the animal travels so much that we can't keep up with it. We also need to learn about animal's biology -- that is , how their bodies work, and to do that we need to be able to work with the animals up-close. We learn some things about animals by catching them and examining them and letting them go right away, but we can't get very much information that way or study the same animal for a long time. Also, in my opinion, we need to have animals in captivity to teach people about them, and to help people realize that other animals are a lot like us! Where I work, we want people to meet whales and dolphins in person so they can see how beautiful and special they are, and start to care about them. We let people know that if they care about the animals, they also need to care about the animals' environment. Videos and pictures are OK, but people learn more when they see a real, live animal.

I think I already am helping the world... I'm a "naturalist", I teach people about nature. Hopefully, by helping people to understand our environment better, people won't mistreat or damage it accidentally when they need to make decisions or vote on things that affect the environment.

Whales have been killed historically for many products, from car wax, oil and leather to cat food! We had killed so many whales by the early 1900's, that many species were endangered -- that means there are so few left that they could become extinct. Today, we have laws to protect whales that are endangered. We make laws to protect these animals because any extinction is a loss to the world and to the environment. However, if a whale species is no longer in danger of extinction, and can maintain a healthy population even with some hunting, then hunting whales is really no different than hunting any other animal, as long as the hunting is controlled by laws that ensure we don't over-hunt and endanger these animals again. We also should remember that in many places in the world, like Canada, Alaska, and Russia, there are still people who need and depend on hunting whales for food.

Your questions are probably some of the hardest questions that I've had to answer, because you are asking for my opinions, and not simply facts that can be looked up.
Thanks for your good questions!


Click here to return to the Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory