About the author, Jay M. Cooney

The author aboard a ferry crossing a portion of the Strait of Juan De Fuca, vigilant for signs of the Salish Sea’s rich marine biodiversity.

I am currently an undergraduate student at Canisius College where I am pursuing a major in Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation (ABEC) with a minor in Anthrozoology. Since August of 2016, I have been an assistant with the Canisius Marineland Orca Research Project studying beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) at Marineland of Canada under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Noonan. I have been contributed to data collection for ongoing studies of of seasonal mating behavior, stable social associations, water manipulation, and birthing process. I personally collected, managed, and analyzed data on rates of aggression following pool merges and consistent individual swim patterns in beluga whales, and subsequently presented academic posters on these two topics. In February of 2018, I had the incredible opportunity to be a part of a Canisius Ambassadors for Conservation (CAC) team who produced an educational film on the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park, and the challenges facing their potential restoration to Rocky Mountain National Park. I also travelled in Spring of 2017 as part of a CAC team to observe terrestrial and marine fauna along the Salish Sea while evaluating the impact of local ecotourism practices. My future goals are to obtain my PhD in Conservation Behavior and enter into Academia, with a particular interest in the impact of human activities on the behavior and ecology of cetartiodactyls (even-toed hoofed mammals including whales). I have long aspired to teach and conduct research as a college professor, and also hope to engage in science communication to the public through authorship of popular articles and books. I am currently a contributor to the e-Newsletters of Bear Trust International through a writing internship. My inspiration derives from such luminary scientists as Edward O. Wilson, Frans de Waal, Valerius Geist, and the wonderful ABEC staff at Canisius College, whose studies of the animal kingdom I wish to echo in my career. I have read numerous books, attended lectures, traveled to various zoological parks and nature reserves, visited museums, and communicated with fellow researchers in hopes of advancing my knowledge. I am currently employed at the Erie Zoo and have also gained informal experience in the natural world through birding, hiking, hunting, and fishing. It is my hope that my writing will both educate readers regarding the breadth of our planet’s biodiversity, and inspire them to live consciously in accord with the preservation and well being of our nonhuman kin.

A persistent point of my curiosity has been our species’ reconciliation with its animal nature, and the manner in which we have both embraced and denied it. The human ego causes many people to forget that we too are a species of animal dependent on the biosphere and the delicate tapestry of life that it hosts. In reality, our evolutionary heritage connects us to all inhabitants of the natural world, from the largest blue whales to the tiniest insects. Thus, the title of “Animal in the Mirror”: encouraging readers to contemplate this profound relationship with biodiversity, and express celebration of our kinship through positive interactions with the nonhuman animals they encounter and the wild places they enter into. For the past five years, I have been the author of a blog titled “Bizarre Zoology” which has received over 450,000 views. Animal in the Mirror will continue to host my musings relating to animal behavior, ecology, and conservation, as well as the spectrum of biophilia embodied for better or worse through human actions.

Works Referenced in:

Naish, Darren. Hunting Monsters: Cryptozoology and the Reality Behind the Myths. London: Arcturus, 2016. Kindle.

Shuker, Karl, and Roy Mackal. Still in Search of Prehistoric Survivors. Landisville: Coachwhip Publications, 2016. Print.

The author presenting an academic poster at the Rochester Academy of Science 44th Annual Fall Scientific Paper Session