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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Perspectives on wildlife from the practice of wildlife rehabilitation
by Pospisil, Heather, M.A., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2014, 185; 1568352
Abstract (Summary)

Current research about wildlife has tended to emphasize the contributions of scientific perspectives. This thesis argues that the practice of wildlife rehabilitation (WR) also offers significant information to academic discourse. The goals of my study were to explore and describe the different perspectives and knowledges generated about wildlife through the practice of wildlife rehabilitation and the rehabilitators' relationships with their wild animal patients, through the use of qualitative methods including semi-structured interviews and autoethnography. I interviewed seven WR professionals about their nonhuman animal patients, education animals, and human staff and volunteers. The autoethnographic information used in this study was gathered from my own experience as a wildlife rehabilitator.

Five key themes emerged from my research. 1) The altruistic roles taken on by wildlife rehabilitators (both caregiving and training roles) improve communication with other animal individuals. 2) The subjective experience plays critical roles, both positive and negative, in the practice of wildlife rehabilitation and the ability to understand wildlife. 3) The sense of obligation and responsibility to address anthropogenic injuries to other animals leads humans to become wildlife rehabilitators. 4) Wildlife experience with, and education about, other animal species are important factors in forming an appreciation for wildlife. 5) The practice of wildlife rehabilitation generates significant information about wildlife and medicine that is useful to discourse about wildlife.

This study will be relevant to professionals from other fields that work with wildlife and nonhuman animals: conservation, wildlife management, animal communication, and to the new field of trans-species psychology, among others. Captive environments and enrichment for education animals at WR centers could be used as models for captive animals in other industries: entertainment (zoos and circuses), as well as laboratory and research institutions. Finally, this theoretical analysis of WR, placed in the context of power relations, offers a significant contribution to human-centered studies such as those of human ethics (biomedical, especially, and around human test subjects), medicine and public health, and studies of social justice.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Allison, Elizabeth
Commitee: Arora, Alka
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Philosophy and Religion with a concentration on Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 53/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Wildlife Conservation, Philosophy, Environmental Studies
Keywords: Animal communication, Anthropomorphism, Caring ethic, Education animals, Human-nonhuman relationships, Wildlife rehabilitation
Publication Number: 1568352
ISBN: 978-1-321-30784-9
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