From the depths of the North Pacific Ocean, a 170,000-kilogram blue whale rises through a swarm of krill on its way to break the surface. In eastern Africa, giraffes wander across the rolling grasslands of the savanna with no particular destination. Meanwhile, herds of wild yak’s graze on sedges atop the wind-swept and immensely vacant Tibetan Plateau. On the other side of the planet, a poison dart frog takes cover from deluge beneath a waxy leaf on the floor of the Amazon jungle.

One of the greatest pleasures in my life is knowing that I share the planet with a staggering diversity of other creatures. I try to frequently conjure images of animals like the ones above to remind myself of what magical biological and ecological events are taking place. Personally, seeing animals in nature and reading about their habitats and behaviors drives home the responsibility we have as an intelligent species to protect them. Our society places such a strong emphasis on maximizing human well-being that it can be easy to forget that there are animals of absolute grandeur and importance that need to be considered as well. As an intelligent, highly motivated and resource-utilizing species, it is truly our responsibility to protect and respect these creatures. It is our moral obligation.

On the note of gratitude, just take a moment to consider how bonkers it is that we inhabit the same planet as the species shown in this image. They are aliens — so strange and beautiful. The simple action of acknowledging this has made my morning wonderful. I have said it before, and I will say it again: I love creatures.

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