#8 September 1987
Section 184.108.40.206.008.of the Artemis Data Book
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
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
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,
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.
Q&A: COLONIST'S I.Q. QUIZ
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