It’s a Snap:  Webcams for People, Not Just Eaglets

By Shlomo Maital


Snap the Eaglet

  A new series in the New York Times Opinion section, called “Menagerie”,  launches today (June 21) with a fine story by Jon Mooallem about Snap, Crackle and Pop:  Three bald eagle eaglets,  shown on a webcam installed in a nest somewhere in Minnesota.  The webcam is called the Decorah Eagle cam.  It was put in place by the state’s Department of Natural Resources, and is aimed at increasing empathy and consideration for wildlife.

   Great idea!  Except – inadvertently, Snap’s mom or dad  stepped on her and broke her wing.  So many people watched daily on their screens as little Snap suffered.  The wildlife experts on principle will generally not intervene, because that interferes with Nature.  That’s reasonable. Except viewer outrage was so enormous, the Department finally had to use a lift to extract little Snap and euthanize her (she wasn’t strong enough to be saved). 

    It’s quite amazing how much empathy, sympathy, love and concern can be aroused for animals   (dogs, cats, dolphins, whales), especially if they are cute and furry.  When our little mixed-breed Yorkshire, Pixie, went missing for a few anxious moments recently, the sense of panic we felt was indescribable.   A webcam on a bald eagle’s nest can arouse immense public feeling, among millions.

     So, I have a modest suggestion.

      Can we perhaps install a webcam in the hut of a Darfur or South Sudan family, struggling to find water and raise babies?

       Can we install a webcam in the shack of a Syrian refugee family, in the Jordanian refugee camp that houses untold thousands of them?

       Can we put a webcam in the home of an illegal immigrant family in Italy, or America,  or Israel, where authorities threaten deportation daily?

       We do need to treat animals humanely;  it’s part of treating ALL living things humanely.  But we especially need to treat suffering HUMANS humanely, especially children.

     Sorry, Snap.  We do feel for you.  But I wish the same passion and empathy could be aroused for human babies and children, even though they don’t have fur or feathers.