Three questions for…
Berlin’s zoos welcome the fact that increasing numbers of people recognise the significance of our work and want to cooperate with us on achieving a common goal – preserving the planet’s rich biodiversity. We want to talk to some of those people and find out what drives them and why they support us. This time, we chatted to author Lothar Frenz. His book Wer wird überleben? (“Who Will Survive?”) tackles the question of how life on Earth will look in the future.
Tierpark: Do you have a favourite animal?
I’ve always had a particular fondness for rhinoceroses. For me, they are wondrous remnants of a time when our planet was teeming with gargantuan, bizarre animals – mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers, giant sloths and armadillos as big as a VW Beetle, with a spiked club tail. Back then, a woolly rhino covered with thick fur grazed on Ice Age plains. Except for the critically endangered Sumatran rhino, today’s rhinoceros species are almost entirely hairless – apart from their tail bristles and the fringe around their cup-shaped ears. Take a look next time you’re at the zoo. Whenever I see rhinos, I always feel quite moved by those little tufts of hair on their otherwise bald, massive bodies.
Tierpark: So who will survive?
Which species get to continue to live with us here on Earth will mainly depend on us humans. Depressingly, the IUCN Red List is getting longer and longer. And I find the following statistic even more shocking: the biomass of all mammals alive on Earth today consists mainly of humans and livestock; wild animals make up only four percent! And the mass of domestic poultry is three times that of all other birds in the world! The good news is that we can do something about species extinction. Zoos play an important role in such efforts. Centuries after the species was hunted to extinction in the wild, well over 5,000 Père David’s deer are once again living in their natural habitat – and there are several wild herds in China. They all originated from just three individuals that came to Zoo Berlin from China in 1876.
Who Will Survive? Lothar Frenz’s new book
We are at an historic turning point in our relationship with nature. Biologist and author Lothar Frenz writes about his exciting expeditions – from the Amazon rainforest to Indonesia and Africa – when he gained valuable insight into the issues surrounding species extinction.
In impressive texts and images, Frenz sheds light on the multifaceted problems that we will have to solve in the coming years: What do we want life on Earth to look like? Who will be able to live here with us – and who won’t? What kind of planet do we want to leave to our children?
Wer wird überleben – Die Zukunft von Natur und Mensch, Verlag Rowohlt Berlin, 20 April 2021