Sunday, July 29, 2007

A creationism vs. evolution discussion,. Part 8C

Lions and tigers and cantaloupes- oh my!

In yet further installments of their idea that carnivores can easily turn vegetarian, Answers in Genesis presents several articles and makes some broad statements to support their idea that, even today, lions and tigers can be vegetarians.

Many pet owners speak of the capacity of meat-eating animals to live on vegetarian diets…we have heard that during World War II, when meat was expensive and in short supply, zookeepers successfully kept lions and other carnivorous species alive by supplementing their diet with vegetables.
Tigers and pigs…together?” states that, at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Thailand, tiger cubs have nursed on pigs, and piglets on tigresses. This much is, actually, true. The article then goes on to state that this is done because the cubs grow better on pig milk. As usual;, no scientific source is provided for this statement; their citation is just a link to a news article touting the tiger zoo’s economic success.

In reality, this cross-fostering is being done as a show for tourists- along with these popular exhibits, visitors to the park can watch a circus complete with tigers jumping through flaming hoops, feed a tiger a bottle or watch women wrestling crocodiles. And the “successful tiger breeding program” isn’t adding tigers to the wild- in fact, the Tiger Zoo has sold over 100 of its tigers to China for use in making traditional medicines.

Incidences of animals adopting young of another species are extremely common, so much so as to be a staple of “feel-good” nightly news stories such as a cat raising a squirrel or a cheetah raised with a golden retriever.

There is a great deal of scientific study of this phenomenon, known as “cross-species fostering.” It is commonly used, for example, to raise more individuals of endangered species and to study which behaviors in a species are instinctive and which are learned.

The article concludes in its footnotes, “The scenes at Sriracha Zoo demonstrate that if nutritional needs are satisfied, there is no need to hunt.” This is an utterly puzzling conclusion. Cubs do not hunt anyway, and the adult tigers are not being fed salad for dinner- they subsist on meat. “The staple of these tigers’ diet is raw chicken carcasses from a nearby poultry processing plant."

Well- that may no longer be true, since avian influenza killed 80-100 tigers at Sriracha. One notices that in dozens of photos and films of the tigers online, there are never any adult pigs…

AiG next tries to convince us that lions can be vegetarians. They offer us a story of a lion that supposedly never ate meat. This book, “Little Tyke-The Amazing True Story of the World Famous Vegetarian African Lioness ” by Georges Westbeau , was first published in 1956 but recountied a story that happened many years before, and, as one reviewer noted, “no explanations offered. Ripley's believe it or not is offered as a witness.”

A reading of the full text shows us several things. The author starts out by claiming the story is “to remind us of Biblical prophecy.” Biblical references are sprinkled throughout the story. The lioness was used extensively as a spectacle to draw tourists to the town.
In the years that followed, Little Tyke brought thousands of visitors to the town. She appeared in practically every magazine and newspaper throughout the world, as well as in news-syndicate stories and over television.
They even used her in contests-
We advertised the fact that we were willing to pay one thousand dollars in cash to any person who could come up with a formula including meat that Little Tyke would eat, but nothing worked.
They do not, of course, give any information on how such a contest was judged!

She also appeared in parades, helicopter dedications, hotel press conferences, etc,
She was even made to pull a sled though snow for the press value.
I quickly took several more pictures, for this was another historical and unbelievable "first." Later that afternoon I developed the negatives in my darkroom and then made several large prints. I then called a friend of mine who worked for the newspaper, and I was proudly and pleasantly surprised the next day when I saw the fruits of my efforts displayed on the front page of a newspaper in the
largest city in our state.The following day the wires of the Associated Press picked it up and carried it to the far corners of the earth.
They made money by selling pictures of her lying down with a lamb.
There had been so many requests for pictures of Little Tyke and the lamb lying down together, that we had thousands printed to sell at a nominal cost.
After a television appearance in which, as part of the filming, she was made to stand in the sun for most of two days while retake after retake was done of her pulling a child in a cart, she developed a respiratory problem and died.

The author firmly believed that animals were carnivorous not by physiology, but because of starvation.
There, in their shipwrecked state, without sufficient God-given food of the fields, they have learned to devour each other in their pitiful flight, just as man has repeatedly done and will do this day if circumstances bring him to a tragic plight without food.
And, of course, even if the Westbeaus really didn’t feed meat to Little Tyke, they admit that much of her diet consisted of milk and eggs- which are animal proteins. Cats cannot survive without a source of animal protein; they absolutely cannot be vegans. For example, cats require taurine, an amino acid found only in animal proteins. Without it, they go blind and develop fatal heart enlargement. The remainder of her diet was said to be cooked grain. The cooking would be essential as cats cannot digest uncooked grain. Even if one makes the rather feeble claim of "yes, but that's still a vegetarian diet and could be possible in Eden!" one still has to account for where all the milk and eggs will come from, and who will cook the grain for the wildcats!

It certainly appears that the Westbeaus were out to create a story of the gentle, Biblical lioness laying down with the lamb. In their day, they certainly received enough publicity. However, using a more than 60-year-old tale as evidence for the ability of lions to become plant-eaters is ludicrous.

So, once again, AiG has made some outlandish proofs but offered no real support for them.

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