Have you heard that the hand-washing orangutan went viral? If not, let me let you the orangutan story behind it.
In November, a Florida sanctuary, the center of Great Apes, uploaded a video on YouTube in which Sandra was rubbing her hands with water. After that, a few weeks ago, the team considered it would be relevant and cute to share that video to Twitter again.
From here, the social media gaming of broken phones followed. Different people watched that video and reported it with their own thoughts, draining it of context and maybe inadvertently twisting the message. The story changed: Sandra began washing her hands, it was stated, as she viewed her keepers doing it again and again during the coronavirus crisis.
An orangutan story was made and ran extensively through different social media platforms.
After spreading the Sandra video on different social media platforms, this November 2019, with a wrong orangutan story, her keepers at the Center of Great Apes deleted it from their YouTube.
The founder of the center, Patti Ragan, deleted that video from the national park’s channel on 2nd April, despite getting millions of requests from different social media platforms to license the film. Ragan states she does not need numerous people to wrongly consider the center is helping Sandra learn some tricks – Sandra was the first orangutan around the globe to be legitimately announced as a non-human person – or any ape. “I am very conscious about her dignity’s protection,” Ragan explains. “I removed it as I cannot control the message.” She cannot do anything about dozens of wrong tweets that people post on different social media platforms.
This orangutan story may appear familiar. Well! Fifteen days ago, National Geographic posted a report that resulted in many similar stories – misleading or fake posts on social media about mammals behaving differently due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Around 4.5 million people read that story.
Some individuals convicted us for breaking the orangutan story, looking no harm to believe such stories. Thus, we set the question to researchers – and many confirmed that such fake myths result in conservation efforts in the long run.
The fake stories remain.
Some of them are ordinary: Ducks show up in Roman fountains, although the epidemic started getting 20,000 upvoted on Reddit. The commenters pointed that the ducks are always there. The moderators of Reddit removed that post later.
A wrong claim that Vladimir Putin, a Russian President, had released almost 500 lions on the streets of Russia to keep individuals indoors was debunked quickly after it made rounds on different social media platforms.
Other people have been illogical: Putin released about 500 lions into the streets of Russia to keep individuals inside. It is quite unbelievable that it must not need to be debunked; however, the web myth-buster did it anyway. The picture that showed the lion stalking a Russian street was taken in 2016 in South Africa, Johannesburg, with a movie production firm let the big cat loose.
The wrong tweets about prosperous wildlife during the COVID-19 have spread in India. A picture claimed to show deer loafing on the part of Southern India highway as taken in Japan, Nara, a few years ago. A tweet explaining that “although individuals are at home, nature takes a heavy breath” revealed a video of peacocks going outside the national park, stabbing through garbage. As per some locals, the birds are usually outside the national park.
Twitter claims that an endangered Malabar civet was spotted in India. Kerala was debunked on Twitter by an Indian environmental official, who explained that the animal is a small Indian civet that seems sick. And a video got 10,000 retweets explaining to show an occasional, endangered Malabar civet walking into the Kerala street appeared out to be a common civet in India, an Indian Forest Service official confirmed on Twitter later. After being released from captivity, the animal might have been snapped, written by an official, explaining that it looks sick.
However, what is the harm?
When National Geographic uploaded the real orangutan story, we mostly got the question: What is the harm in trusting a happy story of an animal, right or not? Some individuals explained that breaking a harmless white lie was akin to announce that Santa Claus is not actual.
However, others fortified the report. A conservation and ecology professional, Jennifer Dodd, at Edinburgh’ Napier University, explained on Twitter what the harm was. She wrote, “miscommunication results in making people discouraged, resulting to apathy, and eventually a reversal in the conservation engagement.”
If individuals feel foolish or tricked to believe in an inspirational animal-recovery orangutan story that turns out to be false, they can lose their interest in the conservation.
On 29th March, Mallard ducks swim in the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola of Rome. The posts on social media celebrated ducks’ presence in the fountain as an unusual event as people were indoors. The ducks mostly visit the fountains.
The impression that animals can bounce back when human beings retreat ‘overestimates the speed of the recovery,” Dodd stated in an interview on the telephone. “It is relegating the active conservation needed to reverse the effects we have had on this planet.”
An amphibian and reptile research leader, and a conservation biologist, David Steen at the Wildlife and Fish Research Institute of Florida, echoes the concerns of Dodd. “Effective efforts for numerous species now need intensive intervention, even in secured regions, and this work is not inexpensive,” he states. “I am suspicious that if most individuals considered all we had to do for different species to recover is walk away, they could be less probable to support the work that requires to be done to keep them.”
A researcher who mostly interacts with people on Twitter about the conservation importance, Steen states he wants individuals to appreciate wild animals for what they are. Depending on untrue and viral videos to make my situation would undermine that goal only.”
As human beings have withdrawn in the past weeks, there are dozens of right orangutan story oddities. A small wild goats’ herd wander through a Welsh area, delighting the dwellers and the internet. The orcas are found in the inlet near Vancouver, in the rare sighting. The dolphins came a bit close to docks in Sardinia as the cruise ships had not crowded the port.
Maybe the Sardinia dolphins or boars or goats brought you happiness. If they flashed a wish to secure nature, you are in luck. Dodd states there are numerous citizen science programs around the glove that require the help of people monitoring the biodiversity – the occurrence and distribution of plants and animals – in their communities. She states that through participation in citizen science, you “can energetically help feed into how the landscape is handled.”
It is not clear how the COVID-19 pandemic can affect conservation efforts in the long run. Dodd states that some of the projects of her students that include “All ecosystems from mammals to parasites” are on hold and will probably suffer a gap of a yearlong.
Dodd states she thinks that, eventually, individuals who thought wrong myths about nature flourishing in human beings’ absence will know the importance of conservation work. She confirms, “there are many points where we have changed the globe, so it cannot recover at all without any intervention.” For more, visit our website.