A Site Dedicated Entirely to CATS!

A few weeks ago we visited the Ellen Gifford Cat Shelter in Brighton, MA. According to their webpage “The Gifford Shelter is a cageless, no-kill facility founded in 1884 and sponsored by Ellen Gifford. The shelter is a pioneer in creating an environment that does not confine cats to small, movement-restricting cages.”

While on our site visit to the shelter our site contact, Karen, gave us a tour of the facility and gave us an overview of the basic functions of their organization. The property is split into two separate buildings. The main housing for the cats is lovingly referred to as “the Brick.” This building houses many of the cats that need basic attention and care and are waiting to be adopted, but it also houses—in a separate area—cats who are shy and need to be introduced or reintroduced to human contact. They’re the less “social” cats of the bunch, however, just as adorable. In the second building, where the main office is located, the upstairs has been turned into a safe place for cats with special needs. This is where we met Franklin, a cat who had recently been attacked outdoors and was left with several wounds and needing to have an eye removed. Post-surgery, the shelter has provided a comfortable space for him to be quarantined while he recovers.

Learn more about feral cats and TNR by clicking this cute little kitty’s face.

We learned that the Ellen Gifford Cat Shelter participates in the trap-neuter-return program. TNR is a process by which feral cats are captured, spayed or neutered, and then returned to live in their outdoor habitat. The idea of the trap-neuter-return program is to reduce the feral cat population so that these cats may live longer and healthier lives in an environment where they are not fully supported by humans. It also contributes to reducing cat fights and competition for resources. The ASPCA’s website outlines many of the questions surrounding the TNR process here.

Some activities our volunteers may get to participate in while at the Ellen Gifford Cat Shelter are: restoration of scratching posts and living spaces, yard work and upkeep for the facility, painting a sanctuary room for cats with special needs, and cat therapy (playing with the cuties).

The Ellen Gifford Cat Shelter, along with many of our other sites, is a 501(c)3 organization. They are tax exempt and function primarily off of donations and sponsors. If you love cats feel free to visit their site and donate!


Zoo: to be or not to be?

Hi friends! We have been confirming sites for Animals and we’re having a lot of fun. We would like to update you on what we have been up to.

One site that we visited on Wednesday was Stone Zoo. There were a few concerns as we were not sure what to expect from a zoo and we were talking about morality and ethics in terms of zoos. Today, we would like to discuss the argument for and against zoos as we really emphasize education during FYSOP.

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary definition of “zoo” is “a garden or park where wild animals are kept for exhibition.” These sorts of definitions and ideas are what boost the arguments of animal activists. Why should animals be kept for entertainment purposes? Scientifically, humans are animals too. An interesting idea would be to imagine if a different animal, say lions, were in our position and we were the ones enclosed in these spaces. How would you feel? Animals in zoos are in spaces that are not their natural environments and as much as zoos can try to recreate these environment, these animals still have limited space.

In terms of the ethical implications of zoos, the Captive Animals’ Protections Society (CAPS) make a good argument: “We believe that the keeping of animals in zoos sends a damaging message to the general public, and particularly children and young people, by the implication that animals can be maintained in captivity to satisfy our own curiosity, despite the animal gaining no benefit from the practice. The practice implies that the animals’ own lives hold no inherent value in their own right; the keeping of animals in zoos therefore have negative educational impact.” This argument is interesting because it says that despite our curiosity about the other flora and fauna in our world, observing these animals in this way is detrimental for our own education. In trying to learn about these animals, we are taking them out of their natural habitats and observing their habits which are affected by the limited spaces and taking these observations as fact.


A tiger in a zoo may not show all of its natural habits; however, accredited zoos such as Stone Zoo work to maintain the animals’ senses.

As part of our research, we have been looking at the mission statements of a few zoos. Some words that we look for include “research,” “entertainment,” “appreciation,” “education,” etc. Do some of your own research and check out these mission statements. What do you notice? What should a good mission statement be for a zoo?

On the other hand, one thing that we talked about at Stone Zoo was the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The AZA has a group of experts that check zoos’ standards, policies, and practices. Zoos accredited by the AZA have high standards of animal care. Unfortunately, less that 10% of zoos and aquariums are AZA accredited. To be AZA accredited, an institution must have certain standards, as well as have programs implemented to help conservation efforts for animals. All zoos in the United States must follow regulations by the US Department of Agriculture, but the AZA has more regulations above those standards. Below is a set of links to learn more, including two for the AZA, one being a set of statistics. Stone Zoo and Franklin Park Zoo are both accredited through AZA.

Although CAPS makes an argument against zoos in terms of education, education can also be an argument for zoos. This is the only way that people may see some of these animals. Zoos provide a place for the public to be exposed to animals and to learn about what human encroachment is doing to these animals and their natural environments. Accredited zoos have conservation programs to help maintain populations of species as hunting and destroyed environments have compromised the animals’ survival.

Zoos are a tricky subject and it is important to be informed. Use the links below to read articles or learn more about the subject and make up your own mind as to whether or not you support zoos. If you have any appropriate comments, questions, or concerns, feel free to post below.

The First-Year Student Outreach Project is excited to add on the Animals issue area to our programming and would like to educate ourselves and our volunteers.


Zookeeper killed by wolves in Sweden

US Department

Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary Definition of “Zoo”

Zoo New England (Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo)

Captive Animals’ Protection Society


Welcome to Animals FYSOP 23!

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to the blog site for the brand new ANIMALS issue area! This is the 11th issue area of the First-Year Student Outreach Project (FYSOP) and we are so glad to be part of the team to expand our program.  With 22 coordinators, over 250 staff, and over 1000 freshman participating this year, we know this is going to be an awesome and exciting adventure.

Take a minute to look around our site and get to know us, our staff, and read more about the animals. But first of all, let us introduce ourselves. We are Rachel Jensen and Jack Schell, the coordinators for the Animals issue area! This will be the third year of FYSOP for both of us and we couldn’t be more excited. It is going to be a busy and thrilling summer, but we can’t wait to see you all in August for FYSOP.


Make sure to keep coming back and checking out this blog. We will be posting articles and update our progress throughout the summer. Also, follow the Community Service Center on Twitter (@BUCSC) and if you would like to tweet about animals, make sure you include #fysopanimals. If you ever need to get in touch with us, feel free to e-mail us at fysopanimals23@gmail.com. Apply for FYSOP today and join the FYSOP family!

FYSOP love,

Rachel and Jack