SeaWorld has always championed conservation, hoping that through connection they will inspire others to make a difference in this world. However, many have thought conservation as something referring to exotic locations such as Madagascar or Africa. However, Texas Untamed aims to prove that environmentalism can take place outside your front door.
Texas Untamed aimed to point out the amazing animals that call Texas their home. Many Americans regard The United States with little to no wildlife one would typically refer to as impressive. However, as Padre the roseate spoonbill soars overhead, they are quickly proven wrong. Padre, with his beautiful pink plumage, was once an endangered species, hunted almost to extinction for their pink feathers. Because of conservation efforts, they are now listed as least concern. Yet, like all animals, they still need to be protected, since pesticides still affect their eggs and oil spills can lead to a decreased habitat size.
We are then introduced to a couple of river otters. Traditionally, when confronted by the term ‘otter,’ one thinks of the California sea otter. Yet Texas is home to the river otter, a shy species that inhabits brackish water near the coast. Like many aquatic animals, they are vulnerable to pollutants poisoning their habitat as well as their food source. One can see otters at SeaWorld, but did you know SeaWorld is home to another Texan aquatic animal that has escaped the endangered species list? Marsha the American alligator is introduced along with the help of a volunteer. We learn about the success story of the American alligator, how they were nearly hunted to extinction, yet because of conservation efforts spearheaded by, surprisingly, hunters, they are no longer considered endangered.
Texas is of course home to several species of mammals, including gray foxes, skunks, and opossums. These animals have traditionally been considered disgusting for burrowing through trash, stinking up the environment, or being a menacing pest. What’s important to consider, though, is that these animals are behaving instinctually. It’s survival instinct for them to search for food wherever possible, whether that’s in a garden or a garbage can. Instead of poisoning them, one can take precautions to keep lids closed, not let their pets out after a certain time, or just leaving them alone. These mammals are not only scavengers; they also provide an important food source to birds of prey, such as great horned owls.
Speaking of raptors, we get a call back to the great birds of prey that soar up in the Texan skies. It’s understandable to call a turkey vulture ugly, but what they do isn’t. They are in charge of cleaning up all the dead carcasses that many would not ever think to touch. Without them, the roadways would be littered with animal corpses because bugs and maggots can only do so much. What’s incredible about them is that they have the largest smelling capability of any animal on the planet, allowing them scent decaying offal from high above. Joining them is the iconic bald eagle. Star, SeaWorld’s resident bald eagle, explains how harm can fall to any animal, as she is half blind due to an accident after birth thought to be because of a storm. Deemed non-releasable by NOAA, she educates others about the plights of her species as well as others.
Many people consider this last animal to be the ultimate Texas pest. They call them a murderer, and do anything to prevent it from harming their families. Yet it was here long before humans set foot in Texas, and will be here for years to come. The coyote is despised by many for eating their pets, specifically cats. However, the cat is actually Texas wildlife’s biggest threat. Feral cats have hunted species to extinction, and a quickly overpopulating because of people’s desire to cull their only predator. The coyote is only doing its job, to keep the secondary predators in check and to root out the sick and dying prey. The easiest solution to keep domestic cats alive is to have them be strictly indoors, in order to prevent the ever increasing population of invasive species. Returning to the coyote, it itself is the perfect predator, with sharp eyes that never miss a thing, strong muscles tipped with blunt claws, there is a certain beauty to it that often goes unnoticed.
Humans have an impact on the environment. Whether this is good or bad is up to the person themselves. However, knowing the animals that actually share our backyard might inspire the public to make a difference in their behaviors, to recycle instead of throw out, to prevent invasive species from spreading, to be aware of where chemicals they use go, the future starts with one action changing for the better.