In his June 2016 blog post entitled “After Harambe’s Death, Rethinking Zoos”, published by the New York Times, writer Andrew C. Revkin argues that, especially considering the buzz the Harambe incident has created and the insights on animal rights and psychology emerging in today’s world, now more than ever we should be revaluating zoos and our perception of captive animals. Revkin eases us into the topic using a personal experience, making for a nice transition into his development of relevant background information, in which he cites multiple credible sources, ultimately organizing his post in a way that is easy to understand and effectively makes his point.
Andrew C. Revkin has no problem making his piece easy and enjoyable to read. He starts by recalling a trip to the Bronx Zoo he took years ago with his wife and son, an experience many readers can probably relate to. Then, effortlessly we are introduced to the matter at hand when, in describing the gorilla exhibit he observed with his family, he writes, “The exhibit was powerful and memorable; my wife and I are still haunted by our eye contact with such a close hominid relation.” This comment not only touches on the idea of animal “personhood”, which he mentions later in the post, but it is also reminiscent of Harambe, Cincinnati Zoo’s slain gorilla, a connection he then goes on to make. Such use of a vividly described personal experience, that can also be made relevant to a widely known news story, is a very effective way to get the reader engaged, while at the same time setting up a good foundation for the rest of the post.
In addition, Revkin organizes his writing in a way that is successful in developing his argument. Only after briefly stating some background information on the debate over zoos and animal rights does he go on to state his main point. Such an arrangement works because, even though it took some time to establish his point, he had been building up to it and essentially explaining what led him to the conclusion that we should “rethink” zoos. Subsequently, to further back up this idea we are presented with relevant sub-points, all unified through his use of words such as “tragedy” and “issue”, signifying a problem that needs to be addressed, or phrases like “times are changing” and “eventual shift”, suggesting an evolution. Thus, Revkin’s organization strategies manage to make his argument very coherent and easy to follow.
Furthermore, Revkin’s understanding of the topic and use of credible sources serve to drive his point home all the more effectively. Early on in the post, the writer attains credibility through mentioning his “having worked with Pace University students and faculty members” on matters dealing “nonhuman personhood.” He also explains how he has learned “much about animals’ feelings and rights from writers and scientists like Carl Safina.” Such relevant background information makes Revkin a more reliable source on the topic, because not only did he do his research, but he also has some firsthand experience. Additionally, in his post Revkin directly quotes credible sources, such as the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Marc Bekoff, an animal expert for Scientific American, both of which assert that in zoos an animal’s quality of life may not be up to par. The use of such evidence is effective because it comes from sources knowledgeable on the subjects of animal rights and psychology, therefore making their claims dependable and able to give reason to Revkin’s argument that we need to reevaluate zoos.
In conclusion, all of Andrew C. Revkin’s strengths as a writer work together to make “After Harambe’s Death: Rethinking Zoos” a successful post. His use of personal experience gives him a voice, allowing readers to more easily relate to him on a personal level and absorb his points. The structure of Revkin’s piece also adds to its overall readability and effectiveness, as all the ideas are introduced in a logical order, in turn presenting his argument in a way that is unbiased. Also contributing to this is the inclusion of outside credible sources, which make it easier for readers to see the validity in his statements. All in all, Revkin is able to effectively communicate his central point that, in light of Harambe’s death, “it’s time for a fresh look at zoos.”