ASI W9900779r1.0

Moon Miners' Manifesto

#8 September 1987

Section the Artemis Data Book

Animal Life in Settlement Biospheres

by Peter Kokh

In her recent article in the first issue of Moon Miner's REVUE: "Some Preliminary Considerations for Lunar Agriculture", MLRS member Louise Rachel brought up the topic of animal life. Red worms in composting trays; honey bees and nectar sipping bats for pollination duty, honey, and guano; fish and chickens were mentioned as early contributors to the settlement's biosphere.

I have had lots of experience with bats ( no doubt, some will say, in my belfry ), but I had thought of them mostly as insect, blood, and fruit eaters. But apparently some tropical and semi-tropical plants depend on them for pollination. Another useful pollinator that might add delight as well would be various species of hummingbirds. And perhaps some species of butterflies!

For meat, rabbits and cavies ( guinea pigs -- they are a meat staple in their native Peru, breed fast, put on meat efficiently, and are easy to raise ) would be good complements to chicken and fish, and both have extensive cuisines developed about them. For extra incentive, rabbit and cavy fur -- and even cavy wool -- would be welcome complements to cotton.

Two things are important when considering meat animals. First they should not require special food crops but should be able to thrive on the parts of plants grown for human consumption that are not eaten by man: cobs, leaves, stems, shoots, roots, etc. This way they are integrated into the human food chain and fit in the scheme of things by recycling vegetable and grain wastes. Increased, not decreased, food chain efficiency will result. Of course, the amount of such vegetable and grain waste will then set a limit on how much meat can be raised. But I would _utterly_ disagree with James Lovelock ( The Greening of Mars. Michael Allaby and James Lovelock, 1984, pages 126-9 ) that all animals are food rivals of man.

How much meat per person per day will this sensible stricture allow? Probably a lot less than most Americans are used to enjoying. Meat may either be reserved for special occasions or more likely used more as an ingredient or garnish instead of as an entree -- as in salads, casseroles, and stews, and as in oriental cuisines.

Second, food animals should convert fodder to protein efficiently. In general, smaller animals do a better job. My dairyman brother ( who will read this ) will kill me for this, but goats are more efficient milk producers than cows ( and no, so far I haven't been game enough to try any ) so that if the settlers wanted to move beyond soy substitutes for dairy products, then goats, not cows, would likely find a berth on the next ark.

But I am more concerned with human-animal interactions and thus with provision for pets and for planned urban "wildlife". In the lunar home, parrots, toucans, macaws, and similar colorful birds would be at home on perches in the solarium-garden and not need to be caged. Parakeets, budgies, and canaries, and other birds would also add song, color, and delight.

Other house animals should be small and sustainable on kitchen and table scraps -- vegetarian pets being far preferable for this reason. There might have to be some sort of restriction such as so many pounds ( or ounces? ) of pet per so many pounds of family members. Vegetarian gerbils and hamsters and show breeds of Guinea pigs would be in line with these restrictions. Unfortunately, dogs and cats are both relatively large, and what is worse, fare poorly on vegetarian diets. For inveterate dog lovers like myself ( I have three ) this would be one of the hardest sacrifices of accepting a chance to settle on the Moon. So see the ad below. Meanwhile, monkeys, anyone?

If it were decided to introduce goats, thought should be given to restricting the herds to schools where students could take turns caring for them, even on off days. Nothing is better for the growing child than positive personal interaction with animals large enough to relate to. Goat products could be sold by student associations to raise money for other activities. Even apart from the benefits of exposure to animal life, such Junior-Chamber-of-Commerce type activity will be invaluable as preparation for adult life.

If the lunar settlement's "streets" are indeed built to be greenways ( see PARKWAYS in this issue ), I would favor an urban wildlife of song and humming birds, butterflies, maybe even carefully chosen species of squirrels and chipmunks, all chosen with due consideration to ability to coexist with the plant life without becoming pests. A central parkway of generous width, complete with stream down the middle, might also support a small flock of ducks, swans, or even to truly suburbanize the place -- pink flamingos.

Animal haters notwithstanding, in all of human history there has never been a human community without its animals; and a world with no animal life would not be one I'd care to call "home". It is not only man who must go to the Moon and integrate it into the human scene, but GAIA, that is, Earth-life in general, in representative species, plant and animal alike. Our historic path to becoming human has been inextricably bound up with animal life. We cannot stay human without continuing that involvement.



  1. What species of animal life might over time develop larger forms in the low lunar gravity?
  2. Why someday might Luna City's floral gardens be famed throughout the Solar System?
  3. What effects might lower gravity have on plants in general?
  4. Will it rain inside lunar Colonies?
  5. What is meant by "Luna Incognita"?
  6. What handy feature does the Moon offer for experimenting with new species that might not be compatible with those already on the scene?


  1. Flying creatures have an upper limit on their growth on Earth that is imposed by weight / lift ratios. But large birds also need lots of room and the lack of this in lunar biomes may be the dominant factor.
  2. Stalks could be taller, and blooms larger, without drooping. Floral forests may someday provide enchanting surroundings for romance, weddings, etc.
  3. Being laden with fruit or moisture will be less stressful. Fluids will move upwards more easily, downwards less so, signaling physiological change.
  4. Dew and dripping condensation, yes. Man-made mists and showers, yes. Rain, no. [Despite a great depiction of such an event in the subsequent 1991 ABC made for TV lunar helium-3 mining settlement classic, Plymouth.]
  5. An area along the east limb of the Moon's south polar region which was somehow never photographed satisfactorily by the several NASA lunar orbiters. But by careful visual and photographic observation when favorable lighting ( local sunrise or sunset ) combines with the turning of the area slightly towards the Earth by libration, members of the American Lunar Society are even now adding to our knowledge of this "unknown moon"-territory. [This area was finally photogaphed thoroughly from orbit by the DoD Clementine probe, in 1994-5.]
  6. The high lunar vacuum imposes a natural quarantine between unconnected settlements or outlying facilities. Thus no two separate moonburgs need have the same flora (plants) or fauna (animals). Vive la difference!

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