Category Archives: Animals

Opening Our Hearts…To Animals

“The quiet young man had come to me looking for love, ideally at first sight. I asked my usual questions about his work, where he lived, how he spent his free time. I asked about his great loves of the past… Then I asked how he felt about being jumped on, slobbered on or getting mud all over his couch. ‘I’m O.K. with that,’ he said. ‘Can I meet Chance?’ Ah, Chance. The young lab-mix, with a puppy’s zeal for life, who loved to chew on the shelter volunteers’ hands as we leashed him. ‘Behave yourself for once,’ I urged Chance as I opened the kennel…when we turned to leave he began to buck wildly. My heart sank. Then I saw the face of the young man waiting by the door. He’d gone all moony. He only had eyes for Chance.” A. Sutherland, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: Opening the Heart’s Floodgates, With a Paw By Amy Sutherland, The New York Times

“Much to my surprise, I have become a matchmaker. On Saturday afternoons I pull on my gray T-shirt and head to the Animal Rescue League of Boston, where I help people find their canine soul mates amid the barky din. Doing this work, I’ve not only learned how to pair up people and canines, I have received a master class in the expansiveness of the human heart, a lesson that I very much needed. Being a matchmaker was never my plan. I began volunteering at the shelter to help dogs. Just dogs. And the more time I spent with the dogs, the more my love for my fellow man withered.

At the shelter, I walked dogs that had been abandoned for trivial reasons or for no reason at all. I cared for pups that had been tied to utility poles on the street in wintertime, others so thin they had to wear coats in balmy spring weather, lacking the body mass to stay warm at 60 degrees. The more I walked these dogs, the more I became an animal person. To be called an animal person is not necessarily a compliment, not when it implies that you love animals with a passion matched only by how much you loathe your own species.

Best friends

Then one Saturday afternoon I noticed a young, outdoorsy couple walking down the row of kennels, stopping to say hello to each dog. I asked if they wanted to meet one. ‘Can we meet Ciera?’ the man asked. ‘Ciera?’ I squeaked. ‘Really? I mean yes, of course you can.’ No one ever asked to see Ciera, a young mutt with skinny legs... Shiny and black, like a seal, she was cute but regularly pooped right in her kennel, then ran back and forth in it. This was her big chance. I didn’t want to mislead this couple about what a nut she was, but I did want her to find a home…

As I began reading the notes on Ciera out loud, I dropped her leash and hoped for the best. She began ricocheting around the room, bouncing off the couch, the bookcases and the man’s legs…As I muffled a sigh, the couple laughed. Hard. I looked up. Their faces glowed. ‘I love her,’ the man said. ‘Me too,’ said the woman. ‘We want her.’

Many of us have more love inside than we know what to do with, but are too bottled up. Which is where dogs [and cats] can come in. With them, we can let our love flow freely without fear of being judged or rejected. They are like safety valves. With humans, I had bottled myself up. And love doesn’t like to be bottled up. ..I returned to the kennels to help more people toss their hearts away.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. I have become a matchmaker.
  2. At the shelter, many dogs had been abandoned.
  3. To be called an animal person is not necessarily a compliment.
  4. So many people love animals with a passion.
  5. I had a dismal opinion of people.
  6. I didn’t want to mislead this couple.
  7. She was an air-bound blur of black fur.
  8. As I muffled a sigh, the couple laughed.
  9. There were ancient hounds and juveniles who hopped like kangaroos.
  10. We had no miniature dogs that day.

Reading Comprehension

Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Watching people fall/fell in love/loving so completely with dogs, I begin/began to see how humans/humanly long to give their hearts/heart away.

Of course, there are outliers: cool/cold customers sit/set on French bulldogs of a certain shade, or people who turn up their noises/noses at pit bulls, even the smoosh-mouthed little ‘pittie puppies.’  And the difficulties of human relationships can keep the love from flowing/flying.

Grammar Focus

Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Prepositions:  in, for, of, with, by,  on, at, to, as, into, across, around, over, through, from, during, up, off,

Animal people can be judgmental, self-righteous and cranky, all ___which I was becoming.___I spent more time ___the shelter, I found that I became less patient ___human beings, even my sweet husband. Walking the dogs would cheer me___, but my mood would darken___ I fixated___the stupidity and carelessness___my fellow Homo sapiens.___ the subway ride home I often caught myself frowning ___strangers___the train.

III. Post Reading Activities

Graphic Organizers: Finding the main idea

Directions:  Have students use this advanced organizer from Write Design to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main idea and points from the article.

Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: In groups have students answer the following questions. Topics may be used for writing.

  1. With your group list at least 3 good reasons for adopting a pet.
  2. List 3 reasons against adoption.
  3. How many members of your group has ever adopted an animal? Describe the experience.
  4. Have each group compose a letter or note to a  person mentioned in the article telling her/him their thoughts on the topic. Share the letters as a class.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Animals | Tags:

Monkeys Would Talk…If Only They Could

“Primates are unquestionably clever: Monkeys can learn how to use money, and chimpanzees have a knack for game theory. But no one has ever taught a nonhuman primate to say ‘hello.’ Scientists have long been intrigued by the failure of primates to talk like us. Understanding the reasons may offer clues to how our own ancestors evolved full-blown speech, one of our most powerful adaptations.” C. Zimmer, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

They think we can’t talk. Image-Big Think

Excerpt: Monkeys Could Talk, but They Don’t Have the Brains for It-By Carl Zimmer, The New York Times

“On Friday, a team of researchers reported that monkeys have a vocal tract capable of human speech. They argue that other primates can’t talk because they lack the right wiring in their brains…Human speech results from a complicated choreography of flowing air and contracting muscles. To make a particular sound, we have to give the vocal tract a particular shape. The vocal tracts of other primates contain the same elements as ours — from vocal cords to tongues to lips — but their geometry is different…the range of vowel sounds that monkeys could make was quite restricted, compared with those produced by humans.

Monkeys-youtube

In theory, the researchers concluded, monkeys can make a fairly wide range of sounds. Looking at the most distinct vocal tract shapes, Dr. Fitch and Dr. Ghazanfar identified five separate vowels among the possibilities. What you get are the vowels in ‘bit,’ ‘bet,’ ‘bat,’ ‘but’ and ‘bought…When the researchers played these sounds to people, they were able to correctly distinguish them most of the time. The scientists could even assemble the sounds into recognizable sentences.So what prevents these monkeys from gabbing all day long by the watering hole? .

Monkeys Lack Brain Circuitry to Speak. image I4U News

..researchers argue that the key to the acquisition of speech lies somewhere in the brain. If they had the brain, they could produce intelligible speech, Dr. Ghazanfar said. Dr. Lieberman isn’t convinced: His view is still that the evolution of human speech had to involve changes in both the brain and the vocal tract. Monkeys in the new study, he noted, failed to make the most distinct sounds in human speech, such as a long e. Without such a full repertoire of distinct sounds, he argues, it’s not possible to speak clearly as we do.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Primates are very smart.
  2. Researchers  are intrigued by  monkeys.
  3. Monkeys have a vocal tract capable of human speech.
  4. Scientists debate whether primates can make speechlike sounds.
  5. A crucial part of the evolution of speech was a gradual anatomical change.
  6. Ghazanfar is a neuroscientist.
  7. So what prevents these monkeys from gabbing all day?
  8. If they had the brain, they could produce intelligible speech.
  9. Our ancestors may have evolved special brain circuits.
  10. Monkeys can open their jaws and move other parts of their vocal tracts.

Reading Comprehension

Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Dr. Lieberman would go on to study/studied  chimpanzee vocal tracts and lock/look for clues/glues  to speech in the fossils of ancient/accent humans and Neanderthals. He argued/agreed that a crucial/special part of the resolution evolution of speech was a gradual anatomical change/chance  to the vocal tract in humans. Crucial to this transition was the human tongue’s decent/descent back into the throat. It’s not until about 75,000 years ago that you find fossils/fossil  of fully modern humans with a vocal tract like that, Dr. Lieberman said in an interview.

 Grammar Focus

Using Adjectives  to describe pictures

   Directions: Have students choose a picture from the article  and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.

For a review of Adjectives visit ESL Voices Grammar

III. Post Reading Activities

Directions:  Have students use this advanced organizer from Write Design to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main idea and points from the article.

Discussion/Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them  discuss the following statement. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class.

  1. “While monkeys may not have the full range of human vowels, Dr. Barney said, their repertoire is a very good starting place for speech. Still, she cautioned that the new study left important questions about speech unresolved. Vowels are important to speech, for example, but so are consonants. What they’ve shown is that monkeys are vowel-ready, not speech-ready.”
  2. With your group  create a list of topics that you think monkeys would talk about if they could speak. Share the list with the class.

Extra: Web Search

Directions: In groups/partners have students “Google” the topic and see what additional information they can find. Students can either have further discussions or write an essay about the subject.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Animals

The Man Who Loved Rhinos

“A South African expatriate’s desire to protect rhinoceroses from poachers is driving an unusual plan to breed the giant animals down under. The plan is to airlift 80 white rhinos to Australia over the next four years, with the first batch of 20 to be brought over by the end of 2016. I have a deep passion for rhinos, the 67-year-old tells me. The rhino is the closest thing you will ever see to the dinosaur. They’re incredible animals.” J. Donnison, BBC, Sydney

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Ray Dearlove (pictured) plans to establish a population of rhinos on a reserve somewhere in Australia.

Ray Dearlove (pictured) plans to establish a population of rhinos on a reserve somewhere in Australia.

 

Excerpt: The audacious plan to airlift 80 rhinos to Australia By Jon Donnison BBC News, Sydney

“Now Mr. Dearlove wants to bring rhinos on the same long journey to Australia that he made three decades ago.  Some would say it’s far-fetched, just the idea of another dumb South African, he admits with a smile. But with rhinos we’re close to a tipping point right now. We need to start thinking laterally.

black and white rhino comparison. (Thompson Safaris) Kruger Park

black and white rhino comparison. (Thompson Safaris) Kruger Park

Mr. Dearlove’s love of the rhinoceros can be traced to his childhood. He was born and raised in the north-east of South Africa, close to the border with Mozambique…It’s estimated that poachers killed about 1,300 rhinos for their horns last year in Africa.The reason is that rhino horn is literally worth more than its weight in gold.

Authorities in Kenya set fire to a huge quantity of rhino horns, elephant tusks and ivory figurines in April. Getty Images

Authorities in Kenya set fire to a huge quantity of rhino horns, elephant tusks and ivory figurines in April. Getty Images

It sells for about US$60,000 (£41,000) a kilo, sometimes more, with much of it ending up in China and Vietnam where it’s believed – most would say wrongly – to have medicinal properties. Mr. Dearlove says there have been numerous attempts to slow down the poaching trade. They’ve tried dehorning the rhinos but it didn’t work. The poachers would still shoot the animals just to dig out a couple of inches of the stump of the horn from their skulls.

Authorities have tried cutting horns off rhinos to make them less appealing to poachers, but the killing has continued. Getty Images

Authorities have tried cutting horns off rhinos to make them less appealing to poachers, but the killing has continued. Getty Images

 They need to be in a secure environment where they can breed. Mr. Dearlove is keeping the exact location close to his chest for now, but says his dream is to one day to have a smaller version of the Kruger National Park somewhere in Australia.

White Rhinos. Photo- Shannon Benson

White Rhinos. Photo- Shannon Benson

The target is to increase the size of the herd from 80 rhinos to about 130 before eventually repatriating them to Africa, if and when the poaching situation improves.

A three-day-old white rhino calf. Photo-sandiegozoo.org

A three-day-old white rhino calf. Photo-sandiegozoo.org

Special cargo planes will need to be used for the 11,000km journey from Johannesburg to Sydney, at an estimated cost of about US$60,000 per rhino. But Mr. Dearlove believes it’s worth it.

What price do you put on saving a species from extinction?”

 

Related:

WILDLIFE WATCH: As a symbol of Africa’s fight against illegal poaching of endangered species…Kenya Sets Ablaze 105 Tons of Ivory 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Some call this an audacious plan.
  2. The goal is to protect rhinoceroses from poachers.
  3. Dearlove is A South African expatriate.
  4. Rhinos  are incredible animals.
  5. They take the pristine nature of the country very seriously.
  6. There was some concern about the animals potentially bringing in disease.
  7. The governments have been supportive.
  8. He  acknowledges the project has been bureaucratically challenging.
  9. Australia has strict quarantine controls.
  10. Dearlove is saving a species from extinction.

 

Reading Comprehension: Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Conservationists have also tried___ dye into the___ to ___them, but with ___success.

The Australian ___Project is about spreading the risk,” Mr Dearlove says.The___ is to airlift ___white rhinos to ___over the next four years, with the first___of 20 to be brought over by the ___of 2016.

Word List: end, Rhino, devalue, injecting, Australia, horns,  batch, limited, plan,80,

 Grammar Focus: Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Prepositions: in, for, of, with, by,  on, at, to, as, into, across, around, over,  through, from, during, up, off,

Snapping___his ankles___ his home___ suburban Sydney is a somewhat yappy little terrier.

Mr Dearlove wants___ bring rhinos___ the same long journey___ Australia.

With such a high rate___ poaching, it’s going___ take time___catch up, says Mr Dearlove.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion/Writing Activities

Directions: Place students in groups and have them  discuss the following statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following  topics.

  1. “The target is to increase the size of the herd from 80 rhinos to about 130 before eventually repatriating them to Africa, if and when the poaching situation improves. But rhinos take time to breed.They have a gestation period of about 16 months and only have one calf at a time.Usually they will wait three to four years before having more offspring.”
  2.  “Australia’s main concern is bio-security. They take the pristine nature of the country very seriously, he says, referring to Australia’s notoriously strict quarantine controls. Initially there was some concern about the animals potentially bringing in foot-and-mouth disease, but those fears have now been addressed.”
  3. “Nowhere is totally safe. But I do think Australia is safer than pretty much anywhere else…Border security is a major focus for both state and federal governments. There is no poaching in Australia today, thank God, and there is no comparable poverty. I really believe that if one rhino got poached in this country all hell would break lose. The Australians would just find it unacceptable.”

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Animals | Tags:

Chimps Can Cook!

Chimpanzees have the cognitive ability to cook, according to new research, if only someone would give them ovens… scientists from Harvard and Yale found that chimps have the patience and foresight to resist eating raw food and to place it in a device meant to appear, at least to the chimps, to cook it.” – D. Frank and J. Gorman NYT

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Research reveals that Chimps prefer cooked food. Photo utahthepeoplespost

Research reveals that Chimps prefer cooked food. Photo utahthepeoplespost

Excerpt: Chimpanzees Would Cook if Given the Chance…by David Frank and James Gorman New York Times

“That is no small achievement. In a line that could easily apply to human beings, the researchers write, Many primate species, including chimpanzees, have difficulty giving up food already in their possession and show limitations in their self-control when faced with food.

But they found that chimps would give up a raw slice of sweet potato in the hand for the prospect of a cooked slice of sweet potato a bit later. That kind of foresight and self-control is something any cook who has eaten too much raw cookie dough can admire.
The research grew out of the idea that cooking itself may have driven changes in human evolution, a hypothesis put forth by Richard Wrangham, an anthropologist at Harvard and several colleagues about 15 years ago in an article in Current Anthropology, and more recently in his book, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human.
He argued that cooking may have begun something like two million years ago, even though hard evidence only dates back about one million years. For that to be true, some early ancestors, perhaps not much more advanced than chimps, had to grasp the whole concept of transforming the raw into the cooked.
One obvious difficulty in creating an experiment was that chimps have not yet figured out how to use fire, and the scientists were wary of giving them access to real cooking devices. So the scientists hit on a method that presents the chimps with problems that emulate cooking…two plastic bowls that fit closely together with pre-cooked food hidden in the bottom tub.
When a chimpanzee placed a raw sweet potato slice into the device, a researcher shook it, then lifted the top tub out to offer the chimp an identical cooked slice of sweet potato… The chimps showed a number of indications that, given a real cooking opportunity, they had the ability to take advantage of it. They resisted eating raw food and put it in the device, waiting for cooked food.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

KWL Chart

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about chimps. Then students discuss the information they would like to learn about chimps. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

KWL Chart from Creately.com

KWL Chart from Creately.com

II. While Reading Tasks

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Cooking is no small achievement.
  2. Many primates  have difficulty giving up food in their possession.
  3. Chimps have  shown foresight and self-control.
  4. Chimps would give up a raw slice of sweet potato.
  5. Cooking itself may have driven changes in human evolution.
  6. A device that emulated cooking was used in the experiments.
  7. They resisted eating raw food.
  8. The experiments showed that chimps had the patience for cooking.
  9. The use of fire was the major impetus.
  10. Chimps understood the transition from raw to cooked food.

Word Map Education Oasis

Reading Comprehension

Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

When a chimpanzee placed/place a raw sour/sweet potato slice/slip into the devious/device, a researcher shook it, then lifted the top tub out to offer/off the chimp an identical cooked slice of sweet potato.

It was known/noun that chimps proffer/prefer cooked food, but it was an open question whether/weather chimps had the patience/patients to wait/wade through the pretend shake and bake process.

 Grammar Focus

Preposition Exercise

Prepositions:  in, for, of, with, by,  on, at, to, as, into, around, over,  from, during,

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices presented. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

The research grew out ___the idea that cooking itself may have driven changes___ human evolution, a hypothesis put forth___Richard Wrangham, an anthropologist___Harvard.

One obvious difficulty___creating an experiment was that chimps have not yet figured out how___ use fire, and the scientists were wary___giving them access___real cooking devices.

III. Post Reading Tasks

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

1. The following  three statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each statement in your own words, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group.

“Richard Wrangham, an anthropologist at Harvard….argued that cooking may have begun something like two million years ago, even though hard evidence only dates back about one million years. For that to be true, some early ancestors, perhaps not much more advanced than chimps, had to grasp the whole concept of transforming the raw into the cooked.”

“The chimps showed a number of indications that, given a real cooking opportunity, they had the ability to take advantage of it. They resisted eating raw food and put it in the device, waiting for cooked food. They would bring raw food from one side of a cage to the other in order to put it in the device. And they put different kinds of food in the device.”

“In 1999, when Wrangham proposed the cooking hypothesis, it seemed silly to some to think that the use of fire was the major impetus to convert upright chimpanzee-like creatures into the first species of humans, but this paper makes that scenario the leading hypothesis in my mind.”

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

 

Category: Animals

Chimps: “Legal Persons” With Basic Rights?

Steven Wise is a 63-year-old legal scholar in the area of animal law who believes that animals of higher intelligence should be able to sue their owners for their freedom. After witnessing the cruelty of a caged chimpanzee named Tommy and three other chimps in similar situations, Wise plans to represent the chimps by filing lawsuits against the current owners. The lawsuits will be the first of their kind in American history.Steven Wise. Photo NYT

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: ‘Animals Are Persons Too’ by Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker NYT

“How does a thing become a person? In December 2013, the lawyer Steven Wise showed the world how, with a little legal jujitsu, an animal can transition from a thing without rights to a person with legal protections.

Tommy the chimpanzee lives in a dark basement  cage in Gloversville, N.Y.

Tommy the chimpanzee lives in a dark basement cage in Gloversville, N.Y.

Chimps Hercules and Leo live in a research lab similar to this one. Project Release and Restitution.

Chimps Hercules and Leo live in a research lab similar to this one. Project Release and Restitution.

This Op-Doc video follows Mr. Wise on his path to filing the first-ever lawsuits in the United States demanding limited “personhood” rights for certain animals, on behalf of four captive chimpanzees in New York State.

After he started his career as a criminal defense lawyer, he was inspired by Peter Singer’s book “Animal Liberation” to dedicate himself to justice for animals.

Book: Animal Liberation by Peter Singer.

Book: Animal Liberation by Peter Singer.

He helped pioneer the study of animal rights law in the 1980s. In 2000, he became the first person to teach the subject at Harvard Law School, as a visiting lecturer. Mr. Wise began developing his animal personhood strategy after struggling with ineffective welfare laws and regulations that fail to keep animals out of abusive environments. 

The current focus of Mr. Wise’s legal campaign includes chimpanzees, elephants, whales and dolphins — animals whose unusually high level of intelligence has been recognized by scientific research. The body of scientific work on chimpanzee cognition, in particular, is enormous, and scientific testimony is crucial to Mr. Wise’s legal arguments. 

His team, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), selected as its first plaintiffs four chimps living in New York: Tommy, Kiko, Hercules and Leo. 

He chose these animals in large part because New York’s common laws are favorable to habeas corpus lawsuits, and because there are great ape sanctuaries that could accommodate them. Read more…

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours. 

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video clip.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing. 

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Ask students to examine the titles of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Based on these sources,  ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article.  

  K-W-L Chart 

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about chimpanzees in captivity.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic. K-W-L chart from Michigan State UniversityAdvanced K-W-L chart.Intervention for Reading copy

 

II. While Reading Tasks

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Freeology Word Chart for assistance. Have students prepare sentences using the words. 

  1. The lawyer Steven Wise is working on behalf of four captive chimpanzees in New York State.
  2. Mr. Wise  has spent more than 30 years developing his strategy for attaining animal personhood rights.
  3. After he started his career as a criminal defense lawyer, he was inspired by Peter Singer’s book “Animal Liberation”.
  4. He helped pioneer the study of animal rights law in the 1980s.
  5. Mr. Wise had to struggle with ineffective welfare laws.
  6. The welfare laws and regulations failed to keep animals out of abusive environments. 
  7. Legal personhood would give some animals irrevocable protections that recognize their critical needs to live in the wild.
  8. New York’s common laws are favorable to habeas corpus lawsuits.
  9. This fall, the cases will be likely to go to New York’s intermediate appellate courts.
  10. His plaintiffs, the four chimps, will be deemed legal persons and relocated to outdoor sanctuaries around the United States.

vocab Freeology

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T.  If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. Steven Wise is a plaintiff. 
  2. Mr. Wise is filing the first-ever lawsuits in the United States demanding limited “personhood” rights for certain animals.
  3. Mr. Wise has spent 4 years developing his strategy for attaining animal personhood rights. 
  4.  He was inspired by Pete Seeger’s song, “Animal Liberation”.
  5. Steven Wise became the first person to teach the subject of animal rights at Harvard Law School.
  6. Mr. Wise is defending  four captive dolphins in New York State.
  7. Elephants, whales and dolphins are also the current focus of Mr. Wise’s legal campaign.
  8. Tommy, Kiko, Hercules and Leo are the four plaintiffs.
  9. If Mr. Wise wins, he will have successfully broken down the legal wall that separates animals from humans.
  10. Mr. Wise will ask celebrities for help with his campaign.

 Grammar Focus

Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Mr. Wise  is fighting for animal personhood rights.
  2. He helped pioneer these study of animal rights law in the 1980s.
  3. Current laws fail to keep animals out of abusive environments. 

II

  1. Elephants are also the current focuses of Mr. Wise’s legal campaign.
  2. The body of scientific work on chimpanzee cognition is enormous.
  3. His team, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is helping.

III

  1. This fall, the cases will go to New York’s appellate courts.
  2. This Op-Doc is adapted from a feature-length documentary.
  3. We hope these works will inspire people to thinks differently about animals.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

Graphic Organizers: Finding the main idea

Directions:  Have students use this nice graphic organizer from Enchanted Learning  to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main points from the article. 

WH-organizer from Enchanted Learning

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

  1. The article states, “How does a thing become a person? In December 2013, the lawyer Steven Wise showed the world how, with a little legal jujitsu, an animal can transition from a thing without rights to a person with legal protections.”  How would you restate this idea  into your own words?
  2. The article states, “The body of scientific work on chimpanzee cognition, in particular, is enormous, and scientific testimony is crucial to Mr. Wise’s legal arguments.”  Explain why scientific testimony would be crucial to Mr.Wise in this case. Provide an example. 
  3. In your opinion, should animals have the same rights as humans? Why or why not?
  4. Can you foresee any problems with a law such as this one? If so, explain what kind of problems. 
  5. Do you own a pet? If yes, describe your pet and how you care for it. If no why not? Would you ever own a pet? How would you treat it?

IV. Listening Activity   

Video Clip:  Animals Are Persons Too | Op-Docs | The New York Times 4/23/14 Produced by: Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker

 “This short documentary follows the lawyer Steven Wise’s effort to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans.”


While Listening Activities

Sentence Fill-ins

Directions: Students listen for the correct word or phrase to complete the sentences taken from the video. They are to choose from the options presented.

 

  1. We’re saying/said non-human animals are going to be persons not people.
  2. In law the fundament/ fundamental distinction  is between being  a thing  and being a person.
  3. When she’s a thing she’s the same as the palm tree/three out there.
  4. When she’s a person she’s the same as my sum/son.
  5. In the United Sates alone for every beef/beat of my heart, 160 animals are killed.
  6. How do you get the attention of the judges/judge?
  7. The animals that we’re looking at are most closely the different speaks/species of great apes.
  8. He would like to learn a quick/quirk language.
  9. He wants me to come in and see him right new/now.
  10. In Japan there was a chimpanzee colony/colonize.

Post-Listening Activities

Questions for Discussion

Directions:Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.

1. After listening to this video has your personal idea of chimpanzees in captivity changed in any way? If yes, describe in what way. If no, describe your original opinion.

2. Did  you agree with everything the speakers said?  Discuss which comments  you agreed with and which ones you tended not to agree with. Explain why.

3.  With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask Steven Wise or the chimpanzees, remember that they can communicate a little!

ANSWER KEY: Chimps with legal rights

V. GROUP PROJECTS

Visual Creations: Students can create graphs, pictures, or collages of chimpanzees in captivity and in their natural habitat to demonstrate their understanding of the article. They can do this individually or in groups.

 Photo Activity for speaking or Writing: Students can visit a zoo or a sanctuary for chimpanzees. If permitted they can take photos  and write different captions for each one. Have a contest for the best one!

Related Articles

Should a Chimp Be Able to Sue Its Owner?  By Charles Siebert, The New York Times Magazine

Behind the Cover Story: Charles Siebert on the Fight for Animal ‘Personhood By Rachel Nolan, The New York Times

 

 

 

Category: Animals | Tags: ,