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Finding Nemo, Harry Potter and Zootopia are GOOD for the environment, experts say

Finding Nemo, Harry Potter and Zootopia are GOOD for the environment: Animal movies promote awareness and don’t increase risk to species, say researchers

  • Scientists decided to look into the plight of clown fish after Finding Nemo
  • Reports claimed people rushed out to buy the species to take home as pets
  • Similar claims have been made about Harry Potter, Zootopia and other films  
  • Experts found the opposite was true and films can help endangered species

Emotive warnings made in the wake of Finding Nemo over people rushing out to buy the species as pets putting them at harm were largely unfounded, experts say. 

The outcry even led to an appeal from one of the film’s characters Little Dory – voiced by Ellen DeGeneres – asking viewers to stop buying the creatures. 

Similar claims have been made about animals featured in Harry Potter, Zootopia and  Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles. 

Scientists found that the opposite was actually true, and that such films can benefit species by bringing them attention they would normally not receive.

Warnings made in the wake of Finding Nemo (pictured) over people rushing out to buy the endangered species as pets were largely unfounded. The outcry even led to an appeal from one of the film's characters Little Dory asking viewers to stop buying the creatures

Warnings made in the wake of Finding Nemo (pictured) over people rushing out to buy the endangered species as pets were largely unfounded. The outcry even led to an appeal from one of the film’s characters Little Dory asking viewers to stop buying the creatures

The outcry even led to an appeal from one of the film's characters Little Dory - voiced by Ellen DeGeneres - asking viewers to stop buying clownfish (pictured)

The outcry even led to an appeal from one of the film’s characters Little Dory – voiced by Ellen DeGeneres – asking viewers to stop buying clownfish (pictured)  

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT CLOWNFISH? 

Clownfish are a small marine fish which gained worldwide popularity after appearing in the 2003 animated movie Finding Nemo.

There are 28 different species of clownfish that inhabit Indian and Pacific oceans, Red Sea and Australian Great Barrier Reef. 

Clownfish lives in the warm water, near the coral reefs. 

The biggest threats to the survival of clownfish are pollution of the ocean, overfishing and destruction of their habitat. 

While clownfish are not currently endangered, some experts this could soon change.

Researchers from Oxford University decided to look into the alleged plight of clown fish after the 2003 blockbuster, dubbed the Nemo Effect.

A study of search data taken from Google Trends and purchase patterns from a major US importer of ornamental fish and 20 aquariums across the nation revealed it was all hype.  

Lead researcher Diogo Veríssimo said: ‘We think these narratives are so compelling because they are based on a clear causal link that is plausible, relating to events that are high profile – Finding Dory was one of the highest grossing animated movies in history.

‘My research looks at demand for wildlife in multiple contexts. As such I was intrigued as to whether the connection between these blockbusters and demand for wildlife was as straight-forward as had been described in the media. 

‘My experience is that human behaviour is hard to influence, particularly at scale, and it seemed unlikely that movies like Finding Nemo, Finding Dory and the Harry Potter series indeed generated spikes in demand for the species they feature.’ 

Similar claims have been made about animals featured in Harry Potter, Zootopia (pictured) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Similar claims have been made about animals featured in Harry Potter, Zootopia (pictured) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 

Scientists found that the opposite was actually true, and that films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (pictured) can benefit endangered species by bringing them attention they would normally not receive

Scientists found that the opposite was actually true, and that films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (pictured) can benefit endangered species by bringing them attention they would normally not receive

Allegations have been made linking the Harry Potter movie series (pictured) to spikes in demand for certain species, but experts have found no evidence for this

Allegations have been made linking the Harry Potter movie series (pictured) to spikes in demand for certain species, but experts have found no evidence for this

Scientists say it is hard to determine exactly how reports of ‘the Nemo effect’ originated.

Past research mentions a number of press articles in the UK, USA and Australia, published shortly after the release of the movie. 

These were amplified by numerous other outlets around the world. 

‘Our results suggest that the impact of movies is limited when it comes to the large-scale buying of animals,’ Dr Veríssimo added.

‘There is, however, a clear effect in terms of information-seeking which means that the media does play an important role in making wildlife and nature conservation more salient. 

‘This is particularly the case for animation movies which are viewed by a much more diverse group of people than, for example, nature documentaries.’

The full findings were published in the journal Ambio

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