Xavier, Zoo to host pigeon symposium

By: Jess Larkin ~Copy Editor~

Xavier University and the Cincinnati Zoo are hosting a symposium to commemorate the extinction of passenger pigeons.

The last passenger pigeon in captivity, named Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914. Xavier and the Cincinnati Zoo hope to memorialize these creatures in the symposium.

The passenger pigeon was once an abundant species, making up more than a quarter of all birds in North America. The species’ population ranged from 3 to 5 billion, making it possibly one of the most numerous species in the world.

Though its extinction once seemed impossible, human interference drove the species to destruction over only a few decades, accentuating the need for wildlife conservation.

The extinction of the passenger pigeon became a leading catalyst for the modern conservation movement. The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden included the symposium as a part of its year-long commemoration of extinct wildlife and the importance of conservation. The project, which is called Project Passenger Pigeon, emphasizes the importance of a stronger relationship between people and nature.

The passenger pigeon stands as a symbol of how human interaction with nature, if there is no intent to conserve it, can be dangerously fatal to abundant wildlife.

Project Passenger Pigeon hopes to educate and motivate people to be environmentally conscious and understand the impact a heavy human hand can have on nature’s frailty.

According to Project Passenger Pigeon’s website, “The passenger pigeon’s story is proof that even common species can be lost forever if we do not interact with them in a sustainable manner. The centenary of the passenger pigeon’s extinction provides a portal through which we can highlight the connections all of us have to the natural world and the power we each have to influence the world for good.”

The history of the passenger pigeon, how we can learn from the extinction of the species and the moral challenges faced in the 21st century regarding conservation will be discussed by a panel of experts at the symposium.

Speakers featured on the panel will include Joel Greenberg, John Reiger, Nancy Stranahan and Thane Maynard.

The symposium will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Oct. 29 in the James and Caroline Duff Banquet Center in Cintas Center. The symposium is free and open to anyone who is interested.