Oral Presentation Australasian Association of Bioethics & Health Law and New Zealand Bioethics Conference

The ‘Myth’ of Bambi: Idealising Nature and the Grim Reality of Wild Animal Suffering (1016)

Asher Soryl 1
  1. University of Otago, Dunedin, OTAGO, New Zealand

When we think about wild animals, it is easy to imagine that they live relatively good lives in nature because they are free. Films like Bambi and The Lion King paint an idyllic picture of the natural world, and while we know that the lives of wild animals contain many hardships, most accept that they have generally acceptable levels of welfare when left alone in nature. But when we look the population dynamics and most common life history strategies of wild animals we find that many – perhaps most – wild animals who come into existence lead very short lives which predominantly consist of suffering. This suggests that their welfare may be very poor, which has serious implications on how we conceive of our ethical attitudes toward helping wildlife. This talk will explore some of the reasons for why suffering might be so prevalent in nature, contrary to our intuitions. It aims to show that the commonly held belief about nature being ‘happy’ for its inhabitants is a scientific misconception, and that there is a serious gap in the way wildlife research has been carried out to date.