Urban Wildlife – 4.22.22

Dear College of Science Faculty and Staff, Right outside my kitchen door on Tuesday was a turkey. It was smart in glossy brown, striped and spotted feathers, making its gobbling sound. My yard is fenced to keep the dog in, but the turkey had entered somehow, and now looked contemplatively at the neighbor’s yard. It’s amazing to me that turkeys can fly at all, given their shape, but it must be true, for in a moment the turkey was next door. Urban wildlife seems very important. Our urbane, campus squirrels foraging outside Cabot, the rabbits on the lawns by Curry, the confident robins all over, and bumble bees bravely seeking out Northeastern flowers outside Richards. They give us a true glimpse into a different life. For most people (and 70% of us now live in cities), it may be the only wildlife you see. The privilege of seeing an elephant or kudu in the wild is rare, and even in a zoo it’s not so frequent, and can you truly love and respect animals you’ve never seen for real?    Of course, by VR you can almost experience elephants in the wild, in a clunky way. Have you seen Upload? It’s a wildly creative series that explores substituting death with uploading your personal map to a VR venue, where you can ‘live’ forever and stay connected (sort of) to those you left behind. Mind you, the sumptuous breakfast buffet there is pretend, and you need a lot of gigabytes to live comfortably. Tellingly, the aspiration is to ‘download’ back to a real body, still in risky experimental stages. Which brings us back to my turkey and our campus squirrels. This is real, precious wildlife, and how important to encourage plantings that have pollen for insect nutrition, and that provide shelter for animals in our cities. On Earth Day 2022, let’s honor urban wildlife, making their homes alongside our own.

Best regards,

dean signature

Hazel Sive PhD
Dean, College of Science
Northeastern University