Zoobiquity

Zoobiquity transcends human-made barriers, drawing biological, anthropological, and evolutionary connections to show how animals can fall victim to “human” diseases. Researchers have found diabetes, heart disease, substance abuse, STDs, and many other conditions previously attributed to only humans in animals. Problems linked to social issues, such as depression and self-harm, are also found in animals, who respond to certain experiences much in the way that we do: eating disorders, mental disorders, etc. More importantly, the treatments for these illnesses are also similar. For example, beta blockers used for heart failure function the same way in humans as they do in monkeys. Zoobiquity not only facilitates the treatment of humans, but also aids in the diagnosis of disease. In one example, both birds and animals appeared to have the same disease that was resulting in deaths. What the CDC did not know—but veterinarians did—was that birds were only carriers of the disease; they did not die from it. Eventually, the perpetrator was discovered to be the West Nile virus.

The facts presented were very interesting, but none of them came off as surprising. Although the speakers distinguished between animals and humans, we are still part of Animalia. Therefore, I was not at all shocked (though it was sad) to hear that, like humans, zebras, rabbits, and flamingos could be scared into heart failure, or captive myopathy. The reaction in both humans and animals is the same; intense grief of some kind can flood the body with adrenaline, which leads to heart failure and sometimes even death. The idea of zoobiquity provides us the opportunity to delve even further into our evolutionary history and biology; we can tailor our treatments, better diagnose diseases, and see organisms holistically in order to better understand how to treat both animals and humans.

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