The concept of making a TV show sounds amazing. You have a team of writers. You could have a group of people from different backgrounds, races, genders, sexualities, and they could draw from their own experiences to make a super complex, realistic, interesting and diverse group of characters, with interesting story lines. Yet, somehow they manage to create the same awful straight white guy over and over again.
These are some of the terms and definitions that I personally use. They change a lot as I get new info and I didn’t create any of the words lol. Other people have other definitions and I’m not trying to insinuate that mine are the “right” meanings. They’re simply just my thoughts on things.
Spirits: Funny enough, the hardest thing for me to define. I want to say anything that doesn’t exist in the physical realm, aka anything without matter. But there’s a difference between spirits and simply energy and that’s where things get fuzzy. Also, there’s a lot of things that don’t have matter that I wouldn’t consider spirits just because of that such as concepts like justice or things like heat (aka a non woo energy).
Etheric Copy: Also known as the “energy body”.
This is actually more so a type of energy that makes up a spirit than the spirit itself but I felt it was worth mentioning. It applies to the spirit that lies within physical beings, living and nonliving and is the energetic form and feeling that their spirit takes. Sometimes the etheric copy isn’t an exact copy of the physical form where one’s etheric copy can have aspects of their astral form, such as wings on a human’s copy.
Entities: Living spirits that are still going about their lives. They can grow, have families, withdraw money from the bank, die, etc. They can be super complex beings or just simple, mindless creatures. The important things are that they can still age and that they don’t have physical bodies.
Ghosts: The spirits of the dead, whether they were originally physical or not. These are the spirits that you’d meet from the bones and remains of earthly organisms but you can also meet ghosts from entities that have passed. Usually hang out in graveyards, places that they used to live, or the respective netherworld of their culture. If you kill an entity, you might still need to deal with their ghost.
[Name] Guardian: A spirit that encompasses many other spirits. For example, a “species spirit” which is a spirit of an entire species of organism, not just an individual, would fall under this. (They aren’t literally made of the individuals that fall under them). I also just sometimes write the name in all caps like COFFEE for Coffee Guardian.
Nonliving Spirits: The spirits of objects. These can have an etheric copy if working with physical objects but it also applies to objects in the nonphysical worlds. Usually are dormant and need an energy input to be “awakened”. They usually like to do what they were made for, examples being hammer spirits that like to hammer, lamps that like to be turned on, etc. On the other hand, some nonliving spirits have the strength of gods but their nonliving nature means that they’re not actively looking for worshipers or to strengthen their power like most true gods (Ex- the Sun and the Moon).
Demons: A “catch-all” term for the diverse group of spirits that usually live in the lower realms of the astral. They also usually work in “darker” magics but there’s some who are “lighter” and others who don’t do any magic. A lot of spirits with different names, appearances, cultures, personalities etc. fit under this broad classification. Think about how we use Kingdom Animalia to describe thousands of species that share only a few characteristics.
Gods: Strong entities with access to power levels and areas of the universe that are inaccessible to humans and other spirits. For example, humans can create life by using their personal will and energy (and perhaps that of spirit allies too) to make thoughtforms and the like whereas gods can create life (and free will from the get go) simply by using the energy from a life-creating domain of the universe. The more connections they have to these domains, the stronger they become. A lot of their strength also comes from worship and its many forms though not all gods are a part of a religion and not all gods interact with humans. They can also form different “aspects” which are like different versions of themselves that are usually influenced by the way their followers worship and work with them. They can create these without influence though it’s not as easy.
Servitors: Simple, mindless spirits that are created from a human’s (can be an entity’s too probably) will and energy. Programmed for one certain task and are fed through the creator’s energy aka their creator giving them attention. The creator can dismantle them and incorporate their energy into new servitors, back into themselves (not recommended), release their energy into the universe, or forget about them so that they disappear into the universe on their own. They lack a mind, free will, personality, emotions, etc. unless they’ve gone rogue. A rogue servitor is one that their creator no longer has full control over and no, that’s not a good thing.
Thoughtforms: Essentially the same thing as a servitor but they’re usually more complex with thoughts, feelings, minds and potentially more than one task programmed into them. Just like servitors, they’re dependent on their creator for food but a properly made thoughtform would have another food source that they can rely on. Initially, they lack knowledge beyond what their creator already knows and free will, however, through experience and interactions with others they can gain both of those things. The only way to know if a TF truly has free will is if they go against the task they were programmed for (a companion TF no longer wants to be a companion, a guardian TF no longer feels the need to guard what they were instructed to, etc.). When they have completed their task, they can be “put to rest” and released into the universe or released as an independent being since they do have the other food source. They can also go rogue if they become independent without their creator’s “permission” and can be dangerous to the creator and others depending on how they gained their independence (*cough* abused/neglected TFs ).
Egregores: Spirits that are created from the will and energy of multiple people. Pop-Culture spirits are the most obvious example but egregores can be created by a small group of people like a coven or just a bunch of friends too. Like thoughtforms and servitors, they are fed by attention and smaller egregores can die if they aren’t given enough attention and don’t have an alternative food source. I find that similar to gods, these usually have “aspects” with different facets depending on how many people were involved in their creation (the more people, the more aspects). They’re more powerful than thoughtforms.
Godforms: Human-created gods. Usually come from extremely successful egregores that obtained the attention and energy of many, many people. I’d say characters like Pikachu or Harry Potter have reached this level or perhaps even the spirit of the USA or McDonald’s. They can also be intentionally created gods like if a group of people began worshiping a being as if they were a god. While egregores are usually controlled in some form by the people that created them, godforms are completely independent and no longer require their attention just to exist. But just like gods, more attention means more power so they probably seek out more “followers” by trying to expand their influence. I don’t know for sure if they have connections to the exclusive domains of the universe that regular gods have but I can see things like the USA godform gaining access to the same domains that war gods have or Pikachu being connected to an electricity domain like Zeus is.
Some would argue that all gods are actually godforms but I don’t know enough about the nature and origins of gods to make that judgement. (I’ve seen “megregore” used as a term for a godform that isn’t “religiously” worshiped but I personally don’t differentiate the two).
I’m gonna start posting Witch tips for people who don’t have a whole lot of money if anyone has suggestions, let me know.
So tip #1: making your own incense
I don’t always have enough money to buy incense, the only shop in town that sells it is a smoke shop that you can’t enter unless 19+ and they sell it for ten bucks for like 3 sticks. Plus, the incense is loaded with perfumes and chemicals which just aren’t my thing. So I’ve started making my own. It’s sooooo easy and most online tutorials are super expensive and complex.
*Crushing your herbs is optional
In a bowl, mix together the following ingredients
•dry (crushed) herbs of your choice (you can Google what kind of herbs to burn) I chose lavender, chamomile, and rosemary.
•honey (keep mixing in more honey until herbs create a thick paste)
After mixing, form into balls or cones and create a flat base.
Leave balls/cones to dry out for a few days.
Then once dry, place in incense burner and burn.
(Bonus, these last longer than the sticks and once it’s fully burned you can make incense with the ashes)
i love sense8 like. of the 8 main characters, four are women. there isnt one token lgbt character, but at FOUR in canon (bonus: actual trans girl casted to play trans girl). all the characters are super complex and interesting people. there are biracial couples. it depicts both healthy and complicated relationships with parents. and my favorite is that it doesn’t go the ~edgy~ route with angst about how the world is a shitty place– ultimately the message is that humanity is beautiful because it’s based on empathy and emotion and friendship and everyone is connected and i just LOVE this show
(A table of contents will become available at the end of the series. Recent additions can be found in the meantime in either the posts by pear or the relationships tags. This series will remain open for additional posts and the table of contents up-to-date as new posts are added.)
Part Seven: Writing Siblings
Luckily for me, and all the stories I want to see, siblings tend to appear in stories quite a bit more than parents, but still not as often as a group of friends or acquaintances that come together to work as a team. Siblings are another tether to your character’s family–to their past and their roots, to all the secrets in their past you may have built into plot devices for later. They’re cut from the story as easy pressure points for evoking emotion; in a similar way to how significant others and date-mates may be killed off to serve the story, siblings often find themselves in a similar fate. Siblings are a fantastic resource for stories and provide an opportunity for intense relationships to your character if you bother to let them stay in the narrative.
This is one of my favorite things about sibling characters: They share a special history. If they grew up together, they have many of the same experiences: holiday traditions and family trips, opinions about a family member and all the remember-when moments. They know the tics of their parents, know what happened when a certain button got pushed one too many times. They know what each other went through, and they know each others strengths and weaknesses; they know how to support each other with that shared history. Friends can come to develop that over time, but siblings come with it inherently if they were lucky enough to grow up together.
If a character didn’t grow up with their siblings, there’s a beautiful opportunity when/if they do meet to begin building that shared history they missed out on. You get to watch as two people not only come to be friends, but also realize that their friendship could become something deeper if they wanted it to: a true family relationship. If both characters accept the family tie and are interested in pursuing a connection between them, there’s so much story depth that can be added through scenes watching them go from laughing at the same joke to realizing that losing the other would tear them apart.
Shared history also extends to family background, too, so if your main character discovers something about their lineage, their sibling is also affected. This is an important thing to remember since you can spin more complex tales using it–all of a sudden, it’s not just your character dealing with the discovery, it’s also the sibling, and it’s not just how your character’s relationship to their family changes, but also how their relationship with their sibling changes, too. Your plot devices like prophecies and chosen heroes and go-it-alone-only-you-can quests and no-one-understands-the-struggle dilemmas all of a sudden get a lot more interesting, much more faceted, and provide lots of nooks and crannies of emotion and character development to explore.
Relationship with their sibling:
We know that siblings share a connection deeper than just friendship–they’re family. Portraying that part of their relationship to your character is vital to making them feel right and real. There are a couple of things you can use to help get that across.
Using that shared history is going to help no matter what. Your siblings are going to be able to reach each other easier because they can bring up things they both experienced and relate those emotions back to what they’re going through currently. They’re more likely to be able to coach each other through situations and more likely to have things to say or remember that are poignant, relevant, or impactful in some way for your character. Because of this, an added side effect is that emotional reactions that are instinctual when it comes to other people may not be the same toward a sibling. For example, an acquaintance may say something that sends your character into a rage, however if a sibling had said something similar, it might have been funny instead. Our relationships with others slowly change our emotional reactions the more familiar and comfortable we become.
Take into consideration personality, as well. Do these siblings get along with each other? What contributed to that? My family moved a lot, so my sister and I wound up very close because we were our only constants in our lives; we knew we’d both be there to face new places, and we lived in cars and hotels together for weeks at a time, so we had to get along or we’d kill each other. It helped that we liked a lot of the same things, some of which were shared by our parents as well. Remember that while you want to have well-rounded characters that are capable of standing on their own as full individuals, it doesn’t mean that your siblings have to embody completely separate, opposite personalities in order to be effective characters. Maybe they’re both quiet and smart, which allows them to ping ideas off each other and solve super complex problems; maybe they’re both defensive and it causes them to butt heads because of it. Don’t lock yourself into the idea that they need to be juxtaposed against each other to create interesting dynamics between them.
Your siblings will provide an opportunity to portray a relationship full of familial love–just as deep as romantic love, but without any pressure from readers for it to get sexual. (And if you were planning that really common foster sibling or separated sibling love relationship, please don’t. It’s very awkward for literally everyone involved and there are 1,000 more conflict and emotional growth opportunities out there than that. Ugh.) That positive portrayal will go a long way toward not only reestablishing siblings in literature but also showing real-world siblings a reflection of themselves.
Think about your plot and whether their sibling status has any kind of impact toward the plot or whether it’s simply a minor detail. How will your siblings’ connection change how they react to certain situations by shading their goals? What are those goals for each sibling and are there ways they connect and interact? There should be some that each sibling doesn’t share–goals that are specific to each individual as a person, not solely joint goals as a functioning unit together. After all, these are not one person, but two people who care about each other. How can those goals feed into your plot or into the character development of either and serve to escalate or resolve other conflicts?
Do they like to stay in communication with each other? Is their communication mostly long-distance, or face-to-face? How often do they see each other?
What are a couple of key memories and the emotional reactions that go with them? How do their personalities interact and how can you take advantage of that with the plot? Would manipulation of one bring out the best or worst in the other? What would happen to your character’s mental state if one of their siblings was to be put in danger or injured? How protective are they of each other, and how much would one sacrifice for the other? How well do they handle being apart, and how much do they respect each other’s space when it’s self-initiated vs. circumstance-initiated?
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow: literally one of my fave books of all time, amazingly complex villain, super strong main character dates her adorable gf (neither of them say the word bi because it’s in the future but I’m pretty sure they both are), you will be genuinely confused which side is good and which side is bad, the three main characters are So Good, tw for an unhappy ending to this one, but a sequel is coming out and I’m confident the ending will be semi-happy.
Love Letters To The Dead: the wlw “side-romance” is honestly given just as much screentime as (if not more than) the main romance. literally one of my all-time favorite romances in anything ever, I read this book in my questioning phase and it changed my life
This Is Where It Ends: lesbians at a school shooting, primarily non-white characters, you will cry (spoilers: they both live and stay together)
The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie: lesbian pirate x lesbian sea monster trainer in the future. Literally. There’s a sequel coming soon, and I have faith that it will end happily. The author draws fanart of Swift and Cas kissing and posts it to her tumblr (again, not kidding, there’s some on my blog). Main character is asian. otp: equal footing
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray: f/f romance, one lesbian one bi girl and one trans girl. Hilarious social commentary, very feminist, lots of woc. Libba Bray also has another hist fiction series that I’ve heard is gay (the first book is called A Great And Terrible Beauty) but I don’t know much about it.
Lies My Girlfriend Told Me: Basically: Girl #1 finds out her dead girlfriend was cheating on her with Girl #2. Girl #1 and Girl #2 fall in love. This book is so adorable. The author has several thousand other wlw books so knock yourselves out.
Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan: a cheesefest with racial diversity. I love this book so much (it’s so good and PURE) even though it’s not hugely deep.
You Know Me Well by David Levithan + Nina Lacour: The authors alone should be enough to make you want to read this. I still am lowkey bitter the two boys didn’t end up together, but they stay friends and all so it’s fine. Found family!
Ash and Huntress by Malinda Lo: occur in the same world, although you don’t have to read both. Ash is lesbian cinderella. Huntress focuses more on character development and is my personal favorite, but tw for a bittersweet ending. Malinda Lo also wrote the Adaptation series, featuring a bisexual protag and her alien gf, but that one wasn’t my favorite. I know a lot of people who love it though!
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley: 1960s civil rights era lesbians, ends happily. It emphasizes all of the problematic tropes often used in “overcoming racism” stories and why they’re not okay. This was recced to me by a black person so I trust that assessment. I also really love her other books, which have a lot of wlw as well.
Otherbound: f/f romance, bi girl as main character. There’s literally not a single white character. It’s about body swapping and fantasy! talks frankly about the issues in the main relationship, suspenseful. Sense8 in a way.
Fat Angie by E. Charlton-Trujillo: A girl sees Angie for who she truly is and they fall in love. Probably the least fatphobic book with a fat main character I’ve ever read. Pure!
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld: Storyline between two authors in New York, ends happily and is paralleled to main romance storyline. the protagonist was confirmed acearo spec on Twitter (it’s pretty obvious if you read the book) which makes my ace wlw ass happy!
Everything Leads To You by Nina Lacour: moviemaker wlw! cheesy as all hell, but adorable and really deep. very much recommended if you’re into moviemaking or acting
The Dark Wife by Sara Diemer: Persephone / Hades, literally fan fiction. My gay classics student ass unabashedly loved this. I think you can get it free on the author'a blog? Attempted rape tw (not between the main couple, their relationship was entirely consensual)
10 Things I Can See From Here: Main character has anxiety and falls in love with girl who isn’t afraid of anything. This was cute and good for people with anxiety, although not quite as deep as it tried to be.
Some That Aren’t Love Stories Quite As Much:
Far From You by Tess Sharpe: crime thriller with bi / recovering drug addict main character and major f/f romance. Not a happy ending for the couple bc the romance is in the past, but happy ending for the protagonist. This is one of my all time faves.
Exit Pursued By A Bear by EK Johnston: About the main character’s rape and her subsequent abortion. Main character does not have a romance plot, but her best friend (the second most important character) is a lesbian and falls in love with another friend. This one doesn’t belong quite as much, but it’s one of my all time favorite books ever and it’s all about female friendship / love. (ALSO READ HER OTHER BOOK A THOUSAND NIGHTS)
Cherry: About female friendships and relationships with sex, really feminist. There are four girls, one realizes she’s gay, and her friends are just so pure and supportive about it???? there’s a bit of romance but I still feel like it’s more about the friendships between the girls.
Tricks and sequel Traffick by Ellen Hopkins: about kids forced into prositution, so all the tws. among main characters, there’s a gay guy and a bi girl who leans towards women (actual quote from her!). Ignore the back that says “four straight one gay” because it’s a lie. (I had so much fun with that the first time I read these.) Two separate f/f romances and a m/m romance. The bi girl is such an amazing character and I love her with all my heart. Don’t remember ending for couples but the girl is definitely happy.
Kissing The Witch: Sometimes-gay versions of fairytales, really really interesting.
If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan: realistic fiction about what wlw in Iran have to go through. tw for a not-great end for the couple, but there’s no death and the main character is happy. It’s more about the self-acceptance of the main character than about the romance. Also deals with trans issues.
Ask The Passengers by A.S. King: a very different sort of book? it’s hard to explain. more about coming out than about romance. Happy ending.
The Miseducation Of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth: again, more about coming out, but wow this book is amazing. Happy ending.
Fucked-Up Female Friendships Aesthetic
Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls by: This book is so freaky and messed up and I’m still not exactly sure how it ended, but it still blew me away. The Mr and Mrs Smith wlw au you never knew you wanted, although I’m not going to spoil how. Fucked up ending but still happyish?
Dare Me by Megan Abbot: This book is creepy as fuck and revolves around the relationship between two girls which is… really gay, like canonically gay. I liked this a lot, but be warned that it’s not a romance. Happy ending mostly?
Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas: This one had a lot of wasted potential in the form of a well-built story about the craziness of rich kids partying, but it is a very good murder mystery focused around two girls.
I’ve read all of these, so ask me if you have any questions about them! If you’re looking for more masterposts, try @wlwbooksource
I drew my Draenei Protection Paladin from WoW her names Chikonde and she’s 8 ft and hella buff and is super sweet with a super hero complex that she tries to protect and shield everybody and i love her
Hearty as an Ox Madara/Tobirama Words: 2,079 Rating: Gen - Sypnosis: Go home, Tobi, you’re sick. Pure fluff set in IzunaIsAlive!AU. -
Tobirama slumps in his office chair, contemplating on
committing the one act that is unheard of when considering his stubborn,
prideful hide; defeat.
Aches jostle every fibre of his muscles. His head is pulsing
like an angry, bleeding wound – Hashirama could’ve grown branches out of his
desks, repeatedly slam it on his forehead, and neither the frequency, nor the
severity of the throbbing would change. Chills penetrate his armour, making him
quiver. Exhaustion threaten to drag his eyelids close. Pure stubbornness had gotten
him dressed, fed and to his office this morning, but is quickly leaking out of
A sniffle escapes from him. Tobirama sighs and reaches for a
Around him is the hum, thrum and drum of chakra signatures,
adding to the pounding his head. Times like these, being an astounding sensor
becomes a double-edged sword. One aggravating chakra signatures is bouldering
their way towards him, and Tobirama grips his letter opener for his customary
His door slams open. “Senju–,” Madara seamlessly ducks as
the letter opener goes flying over his head. “That’s a pretty weak throw. You’re
losing your touch, Senju. Anyhow, I’ve got a bone to pick with you.”
Any other, normal,
person would take one look at the pure, unadultered hatred burning in his eyes, and body flicker away screaming. Not
this buffoon. No, this monkey is the type to poke a growling tiger with a stick
whilst snickering and end up wondering why he’s getting clawed to pieces.
Maybe Madara will catch fire from the heat of his glare,
wouldn’t that be ironic.
“What do you want, Uchiha?” snarls Tobirama, then cringes
because a snarl is only half as effective when it rings this nasally.
Madara’s jaw snaps shut. A leather gloved hand comes up to
tuck a wad of spiky fringe behind his ear, and the dark, soulless eyes roam up
and down Tobirama’s face. “You’re sick.”
“I’m not,” denies Tobirama. It would have been convincing,
if not for the pile of tissues in the rubbish bin beside him. Face stiff and
stony, Tobirama shuffles a foot over to tuck the rubbish bin under his desk –
Please tell me more about the time Jack accidentally got high off paint fumes
Oh god poor Medda deals with so much
Jack sleeps in the attic because nobody cares how messy it gets
the problem is the two windows are skylights and don’t have screens so when it’s raining or muggy (and since it’s florida it’s usually either or) he doesn’t like to open them because rain or bugs comes in
which means that sometimes there isn’t much ventilation, especially if he has his door closed, which he does because a lot of his art is private or he doesn’t like people to see it until it’s done
his crowning achievement in terms of art in his room is his ceiling
he spent months planning this intricate design for his ceiling that’s the night sky right above it in the summer
he spent forever taking maps of the sky and putting them to scale and then actually plotting it out
when he hyperfocused on his art, which he does a lot, he would work on his ceiling
when he got to actually painting it, he put tacks where the stars were going to be, he bought them in bulk and it took a week by itself getting them into where they belonged and his room looked ridiculous with a million tiny little colored tacks sticking out of the ceiling
and then he painted the background which is like all these shades of blue intertwining into a super complex pattern that shows all the colors of the night sky
the problem was he didn’t open his windows or his door and so there was almost no airflow and he hyperfocused and painted for hours and there were so many paint fumes in the room he totally got high off it on accident
and medda came upstairs to make him go to bed at like three in the morning to find him lying on his bed, either laughing or crying, and neither of them are sure which
and Medda knows man
Jack is loopy and out of it and staring up at his ceiling ranting more than usual about the color blue and there are tears in his eyes but he’s also laughing uncontrollably and the whole room smells like paint and there’s like five cans of it open and the ceiling is mostly blue but not all the way
and Medda has to help him downstairs because he’s so loopy and she doesn’t want him sleeping in the fumes
and he wakes up with this monster headache and like, “what happened and why am i on the couch?”
and after that medda has the rule that either the window or door has to be open when Jack is painting and a fan has to be going
which doesn’t stop Jack from accidentally getting high again but never to the scale of the first time
and poor Medda is just like, “why did I adopt the artist? why does he have to paint so much? how do i keep him from doing this all the time?”
Going to be taking a few simple character commissions!
Please read this post in its ENTIRETY before contacting.
USD Paypal Only
Email communication only, do not send me a message or ask on tumblr for a commission, I will redirect you to my email.
Priced Per Single Character, Extra Characters Cost The Same As Individual Characters Unless Significantly Obstructed or very small and simple. Up to 4 characters in one image, please. (EX: a small, simple creature sitting on characters head or shoulder, a character standing behind another character. In these cases, extra cost can be discussed. )
If you would like a prop, please ask me about it and we can discuss price! Simple props like a microphone/stool/simple weapon likely will not cost any extra, but a more complex prop like an electric guitar or saxophone, highly detailed gun, or ornate furniture will likely cost extra starting at around 5$.
If you would like a ref sheet, I will organize any drawings you would like into a ref sheet starting at $5 depending on complexity and detail. The cost of extra props/details can be discussed.
People, animals, anthro/furry, etc are all OK. If you can give me a reference, I can do it. These are NOT design commissions, though. Please either have a reference or a very good idea of what your character looks like. This is not the place to have me iterating and experimenting your design ideas. If you wish to make large changes and completely alter the WIP from what you previously wanted, I may ask for additional compensation for my time as these are flat rate and not intended to be design work.
For any special case not mentioned above, ask me!
Super complex characters may be subject to higher prices. (Ex: Extremely intricate tattoos, robots with lots and lots of small parts)
Will not draw:
Sexual Content Licensed Characters/Designs or Modified Versions of those Characters/Designs (Fan Characters are OK)
PLEASE INCLUDE WHETHER YOU WANT HEADSHOT/HALF BODY/FULLBODY AND WHETHER OR NOT YOU WANT SINGLE COLOR OR FULL COLOR, AND IF SINGLE COLOR, WHICH COLOR YOU WANT IN YOUR EMAIL.
Be ready with image references, or detailed descriptions. I can work with lots of free reiin or specific instruction.
DO NOT bring me someone else’s character without permission and ask me to just change one or two little things. I will not do this. In general, don’t ask me to copy designs or concepts from other peoples work without their written permission.
I will do a loose WIPfor your approvalbefore moving on to the final. You will be free to pay me either entirely before the final, or half before and half after the final.
NO REFUNDS AFTER THE FINAL HAS BEEN DELIVERED AND APPROVED.
If interested contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I recently learned that my local zoo (Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium) forfeited its AZA accreditation over a disagreement about elephant handling...I'm conflicted now, because I take accreditation very seriously, and while I don't think they would drastically change their other care practices from when they were AZA accredited, it still makes me uneasy. Thoughts?
Don’t condemn the facility entirely based on that decision, because it’s a super complex topic and just because the directors made the choice doesn’t mean all the staff agreed with the choice. While losing accreditation forced the facility to drop out of major conservation programs and lose other funding (as well as potentially have to transfer AZA-managed animals back to AZA facilities), it wouldn’t change the quality of their husbandry or the ethos of the facility.
The disagreement was about whether Pittsburgh would switch from having the choice to work with their elephants without fences or barricades between them and the humans, or if they’d adhere to a new AZA policy that would have required to work with elephants through a barrier at all times.
The tl;dr of what happened is that elephants have been worked with free-contact for most of the existence of zoos, and a couple decades ago (after a few really nasty elephant keeper deaths) AZA decided to push for a new and radical type of management that only allowed for protected-contact elephant handling and positive reinforcement training methods. Over time, the new methods proved safer and better for animal welfare (and getting AR people to stop yelling) and AZA forced all of their zoos to shift over to stay accredited. (There are a couple major exemptions to this, such as the old ladies at Audubon in NOLA - elephants for whom free contact work was such a fundamental part of their life that it was decided that they’d be grandfathered out of that policy because changing it would be detrimental to their welfare). The policy that required places to go free-contact was outlined in 2012, and facilities had until 2017 to make the change. Most places did it - some folk at Pittsburgh didn’t agree.
One of the biggest things about AZA most folk don’t know is that the facilities are required to have the final say over the animals in their care - they can lose accreditation if a city or state organization forces them to change their animal care (or move their animals) because they’re no longer in the position of being fully and ultimately responsible for their charges. From what I can tell, the Pittsburgh facility felt that they truly knew what was best for their elephants - and it wasn’t changing to protected-contact management styles. It’s a pretty sensitive topic for the facility as a Pittsburgh elephant keeper who died back in 2002 was part of the reason AZA started looking into alternate management forms.
From what I remember seeing when it went down, not everyone at the facility supported the choice - it wasn’t a democratic decision. I don’t know if the elephant keepers supported it or not. Either way, the director/CEO decided it was what was going to occur, and staff were simply told it would happen. This is a huge deal - 68 other AZA facilities made the change to protected contact. AZA is fairly elitist about their organization and very strict about regulating member facilities - so the only option was for Pittsburgh to lose their accreditation.
Losing AZA accreditation came at a high cost - they lost a $5000 grant from the AZA for a new playground and suddenly no longer qualified for participation in a sea turtle rescue program that had operated out of the zoo since 2009, since US Fish and Wildlife will only send turtles to AZA accredited facilities. They also lost the ability to participate in more than 100 species sustainability programs unless they reapplied to the highly political organization looking to be a non-member partner (I’m not sure if this has since occurred - my google fu isn’t helping).
There are some pretty major philosophical differences regarding protected- vs free-contact handling for elephants, so it’s not necessarily a case where you can condemn a facility for refusing to switch. After all, some AZA facilities are still allowed to use it in special cases (but will be required to switch when those elephants pass way). Protected contact is much safer for human caretakers, but also limits what interactions staff are able to have with elephants - and this is a big part of the debate, as the relationship between highly emotionally intelligent animals and their keepers is definitely a defining aspect of their enrichment and welfare. AZA made their choice to keep staff safe and standardize caretaking to increase positive training, but that does not necessarily mean that their ruling is a one-size-fits-all solution. There’s no good answer as to who, if anyone, is in the wrong with what happened.