In 2011, David Slater, an amateur photographer, traveled to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi to photograph the crested macaque monkeys. To capture a more distinct close-up without intimidating the monkeys, Slater rigged the camera’s shutter to be triggered by the monkeys themselves, effectively facilitating a monkey “selfie”. The resulting series of photos soon went viral after publication in the British press. According to the available revision history, on July 15, 2011 Wikipedia user SørenKierkegaard submitted a revision to the Wikipedia article “Macaque” to include one of Slater’s photos. Similarly, the next day, anonymous user 22.214.171.124, named after an IP address traced to Tallinn, Estonia, added the same photo to the article “Celebes Crested Macaque”. By adding the image to the Wikipedia article, it became a part of Wikimedia Commons, a “media file repository making available public domain and freely-licensed educational media content,” and thus became a freely-licensed image with no copyright attributed to Slater. Following the revision, many within Wikipedia’s diffuse online community discussed the use of the images, eventually settling on the opinion that they should remain as the images were the work of the macaque, a non-human animal, and thus has “no human author in whom copyright is vested.” The Wikimedia Foundation, the central non-profit governing the various projects of the platform, further endorsed this opinion in their Transparency Report of 2014 maintaining the image on their websites despite a takedown request submitted by Slater. This dispute soon gained publicity itself, following a series of articles on the site Techdirt, which included opinions by countless experts and authorities, including the United States Copyright Office. Taking it one step further, in 2015, the organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) commenced to sue Slater and his publishing company, Blurb, on behalf of the monkey, whom they had named Naruto, to grant the monkey the copyright for the images and divert any revenue from their publication to benefit the macaques. In an out-of-court settlement in September 2017, Slater agreed to provide 25% of the revenue from the images to the macaque reserve in Sulawesi, effectively ending the legal disputes, while the original “monkey selfie” file remains on Wikimedia Commons, noted as “in the public domain”.
Outside of the publicity circus and grandstanding of the oftentimes petty back and forth surrounding Naruto and Slater, the dispute typifies many of the deep technical and philosophical discussions surrounding the rights of non-humans as they exist within our (human) legal system. One such discussion, while far less publicized outside the world of academia, but nonetheless consequential is that of animal property rights. The chief account of this theory is authored by the philosopher John Hadley, detailed in his 2015 book, Animal Property Rights. In it, Hadley details the mechanics, justifications and practical implications of a theory wherein wild animals are granted rights to their habitat. To facilitate this, Hadley proposes for a “mentally competent guardian to exercise ownership powers on behalf of the animals concerned.” The fundamental idea of the theory is that these guardians would represent and negotiate on behalf of a specific species with only the interests of that species in mind, which would be different from current conservation systems wherein “regulatory agencies must balance the interests of a range of stakeholders.” While avoiding a deep dive into the specifics of the theory and their application, it is worth noting a few main points. The theory relies on territorial behavior to determine the boundaries of these animal property rights. Also, Hadley positions the theory as a potential common ground to the similar but often divergent ambitions of environmental rights and animal rights, bridging two discussions, one of space and one of the individual.
Perhaps wittingly, through his theory of animal property rights, Hadley has engaged a discussion of the spatial world. My goal in this essay is to test some of the implications of his theory against the spatial world as well as interpolate a set of potential futures. While not discounting the philosophical and ethical issues inevitably involved within this discussion, I will not be engaging them in this work.
In order to provide an insight into conceptualizing animal property, Hadley investigates how territorial borders are defined and how they could work within the human system. While the definition and idea of “territory” is itself up for debate, Hadley assumes the common understanding of territory for his discussion, that is, a geographic space which can be defined through specific measurement and geometric description. Even taking that narrow understanding of “territory” proves problematic as Hadley encounters a “widespread disagreement in ecological literature over what ‘territory’ actually means”. He cites two such studies for the territory of wild dogs in South Eastern Australia, which “vary from between eighty to one hundred square kilometers in one and twenty-five to forty-one square kilometers in another.” Hadley suggests GPS as a possible solution, which in his mind could, through “considerable experience and expertise,” ensure “the production of authoritative determinations of territory,” without acknowledging the inadequacies of a territory defined by demarcation. A study which illustrates this dilemma comes in the work of James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti published in the book Where the Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics. In the book, Cheshire and Uberti map the movement of animals on their own terms. One investigation plots the circumnavigation of Antarctica of two grey-haired albatrosses, #1332083 and #1320457, over the course of two yearly migrations. The drawings, connecting the migration of the birds to patterns in Polar easterly winds, serve to illustrate the inherent lack of cartesian tidiness with wild animal inhabitation. The reference lines and borders in these drawings sit in faint gray, woefully incapable of containing the erratic tangents of the albatross.
Another such example of trying to define an ecology within a political boundary illuminates many of the issues Hadley notes, but at a much larger scale. The Marianas Trench National Monument, the largest marine sanctuary in the world, sits deep within the Pacific Ocean, an area of “approximately 95,216 square miles of submerged lands and waters.” Signed into law via proclamation by President George H.W. Bush late in his presidency, the national monument is defined simply through a series of coordinate points extending “from the northern limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to the southern limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States in Guam”. Looking at the map it becomes hard to imagine any type of containment within such a boundary, especially with underwater species and ecosystems, the insufficiencies of a line above “submerged lands” to define a habitat are all the more implausible. Enlarged by Barack Obama through a similar proclamation, to almost 6 times its original jurisdiction, the national monument is now facing reconsideration according to leaked documents of the current Trump administration. In the memo, penned by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the monuments are reviewed to find the “smallest area compatible” to protect “objects”, an absurdly broad term, which encapsulates “historical landmarks”, “viewsheds”, and “prehistoric structures” but also “ecosystems” and “other objects of scientific interest”. This territorialized view of habitat is clearly problematic, as it is can be defined and manipulated by political authorities, but it also highlights a fundamental understanding of nature that is lamentably unable to approximate how nature uses space.
Returning to the book of Cheshire and Uberti, the map of the movements of a clan of olive baboons at the Mpala Wildlife Conservation Site in Kenya provides a distinctly terrestrial example of animal habitation. The map is a product of a much broader research project to determine how baboons actually move through the space of the jungle and the various mental decisions they make along the way. In reviewing the map, the movements of the baboons would suggest their use of space as transitory, and incidental to the movement between the “sleeping trees” and foraging areas of their habitat. It is crucial to understand, however, that the categorization of different spaces by use, as is typical within the human environment, does not imply a hierarchy within the habitat of the baboons, and, in fact, all spaces are equally critical to their habitation.
This leads us to a relatively burgeoning development in the world of wildlife conservation which accounts for the movements and migrations of different species. Wildlife Corridors, as they are called, are natural links between protected habitats which function to connect otherwise unconnected local populations with the fundamental goal of increasing genetic flow and diversity. Corridors are offered as a means to begin to address the problems of extreme habitat fragmentation and loss currently experienced by many species populations; a veritable suture on the body of nature. At the local scale, these can be simple pathways designated between protected zones, designed to follow existing movement patterns, while at the large scale these corridors are continuous protected areas spanning across entire nations. The ideal of wholesale habitat protection is often unviable either politically or financially, so corridors, in optimizing positive impacts, provide conservationists the ability to get the most out of the areas they fight to protect. On a map these corridors may appear as connectors within a network, implying a human-like pattern of habitation with cities and highways, however, these corridors are the product of compromise. Corridors are also unique in the staggering diversity of technical knowledge required for their development. Scientists as disparate as foresters and marine biologists work with cartographers and data analysts to collect and analyze data from scientific experimentation and observation as well as GIS. The software designed for processing all this data is entirely open source, couched in the scientific community and developed from the bottom up. One such program, Circuitscape, first released in 2006 and developed by engineer-turned-ecologist Brad McRae and software engineer Viral Shah while at University of California Santa Barbara, incorporates circuit theory from the world of electrical engineering into its corridor modelling. They even have plans to add least-cost methodology borrowed from transportation planning. While nonetheless impressive, it is revealing of our spatial interaction with animals that so much intense technology is required to comprehend the intersection of the human and non-human domains.
These corridors, unlike the conservation areas they connect, often require their own man-made structures to establish the connection. The wildlife crossings located in the Canadian Banff National Park are built out and over the roadway of the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH), echoing the common form of a highway interchange but topped in soil and trees rather than pavement; a spillage of landscape across the transcontinental highway. In the 1970’s, as traffic increased on the TCH, Public Works Canada (PWC), the construction arm of the Canadian Federal Government, proposed twinning, or doubling the lanes of the TCH. During that same period the federal government established the Environmental Assessment and Review Process to review all construction projects in Canada, as a means of addressing growing ecological concerns, and, in turn, denied the initial TCH proposal. The review board, in dialog with the engineers and transportation designers of PWC eventually settled on a subsequently approved proposal which included fencing and crossings for wildlife protection, incorporating the design recommendations of the biologists, archaeologists, landscape architects, and engineers of the review board. Prior to their construction, very little research existed for wildlife crossings, as a result these initial overpasses in Banff have become a litmus test for these types of wildlife protection infrastructures. As of January 2007, researchers have recorded over 84,000 crossings of the 24 bridges since monitoring began in 1996. The researchers have also suggested the presence of a learning curve within the animal populations, where, after the first few uses of the crossings, as in the case of Grizzly bears, the animals would become comfortable and begin regularly passing through. The movement patterns of the animals eventually adapt to rely on the crossings, resulting in a drop of nearly 80% in the traffic-related mortality rate of large mammals within 10 years.
A similar example appears in the Australian territory of Christmas Island where every year hundreds of millions of the local red crab migrate to the sea. Here, in conjunction with a series of barriers and grates, a five-meter tall bridge over a main road of the island channels the crabs between their nests in the forest to the beach where they lay their eggs. The bridge concentrates the crabs into a flowing stream of red, a popular and widely publicized seasonal tourist attraction, which makes the bridge perhaps the most famous wildlife corridor in the world. The bridge itself though would never have been required if not due to increased traffic on the road due to the recent development of a human detention center on the island. Located within the island’s National Park, the Christmas Island Immigrant Detention Centre (IDC) was constructed between 2002 and 2008 to contain and process asylum seekers, referred to as “unauthorized boat arrivals” in official documents. The crab bridge, developed in conjunction with the IDC, then falls into an odd symmetry with the concrete and electrical fences of the detention center; an architecture for regulating flows, both human and non-human.
The increasing use of wildlife corridors as supplemental to wildlife conservation efforts, has instigated further studies of more inadvertent forms of corridors, chiefly human infrastructure. In the rural areas outside Krakow, Poland, Dawid Moroń and a group of researchers at the Polish Academy of Science have been studying the ecology of decommissioned railways and the altered landscapes of their embankments. Through netting populations of bees and other pollinator species at different points along the railway and analyzing their size and food specialization, they’ve found a marked increase in their biodiversity, concluding that the embankments “may be a good example of man-made alterations in the environment that meet the demands of both civilization and biodiversity conservation.” While this study is understandably cautious in their assessment of human infrastructure having a positive effect, some environmentalists have taken a bolder stance. Sam Droege, a wildlife biologist with the United States Geological Survey, has stated that utility right-of-ways have the potential to “serve as a network of conservation reserves roughly one third the area of the national park system.” Indeed there have been many discoveries lately that would attest to this, the most remarkable being the rediscovery of the wild bee species Epeoloides pilosula, not seen in the United States since 1960, beneath power lines in Massachusetts. Additionally, the New York Power Authority, Arizona Public Service, and Vermont Electric Power Company have all completed training for a program called Integrated Vegetation Management, where low-growth vegetation underneath power lines and other utilities, are left to grow rather than maintained through mowing and herbicide. This practice has also been demonstrably cost-effective, as it removes much of the ground maintenance requirements typical of these sites. This conclusion, that human intervention could potentially benefit ecosystems, is a potent revelation, and, could even prove to be dangerous if wielded by a non-scientific authority.
In returning to Hadley’s theory of animal property rights, and after probing possible definitions of how animal property would be defined, it is worth speculating on how it would function. Private property rights and property itself are central to a capitalist economy. Granting animals proprietary rights to their habitat, is to also include them within the capitalist economy, wherein land has an inherent quantifiable value. In this hypothetical scenario, animals, through their guardian, could buy and sell their land as real estate, with the opportunity to accrue capital gains, or even engage services from the position of client. While Hadley avoids humoring this scenario, as is prudent for his purposes, it is nonetheless an interesting possibility. With animals owning property they would also have the power to develop the land of their habitat for their own purposes, perhaps damming a river to create an artificial lake, planting specific food crops, or crops which manipulate the nutrients available to apex predators, basically any alteration that could be proven to be in the best interests of the owner/species. In this context, we could even see the practice of space-making and architecture enter the realm of the animal world. Placing non-human animals in the role of inhabitant/client holds broad implications for architecture.
At a fundamental level, architecture is shelter, relating most with human inhabitation, and the fulfillment of the needs of shelter by separating and protecting humans from the nature surrounding them. Basically, mitigating the natural effects on a space through construction. This essential divide, of the inside and the outside is a central goal for most all architecture and building. From borders, to fences, to walls, to doors, property development is about asserting a level of control over ones environment. In this sense, animals, as elements of nature, possess a unique and varied relationship to architecture. Only when domesticated, and thereby controlled, are animals allowed inside, be it a fence, a wall, or even the boundaries of a city. Even when allowed within, this still possesses its own spatial hierarchy, with “wild” animals the furthest away, farm animals inhabiting a nearer orbit, and finally pets who are allowed within our air-conditioned homes, albeit sometimes with their own restrictions even within that space. In imagining an architecture for wild animals, a fundamental reassessment of these goals is essential. While this hierarchy is prevalent is most architecture, there exist many examples, both historic and contemporary which embody alternate understandings of architecture’s relationship to non-humans.
In the traditional practice of Zoroastrianism, the recently deceased are brought to the Tower of Silence, or Dakhma, a circular building with an interior ring open skyward on which the bodies are laid. The ritual is based on the belief that dead bodies require sun and the gradual consumption of the flesh by scavenger birds (most often vultures) to prevent “contamination”. The architecture of the tower offers a unique inversion of the typical animal/architecture relationship with the space specifically designed to invite the wild birds inside while simultaneously resisting inhabitation by living humans. In recent years this practice, while nonetheless popular, has become harder to perform in certain areas of India due to reductions in vulture populations as a result of a specific antibiotic being used in cattle which is toxic to the vultures. One such sect of Zoroastrians has even hired the designer/architect Thomas Heatherwick to design a combination Dakhma/ossuary to simultaneously perpetuate the tradition while encouraging vulture populations. As opposed to the typical architecture rendering, the visualizations for this “21st century Tower of Silence” are presented with only non-humans for scale.
Another architectural project with ambitions outside of the typical architecture/nature relations is the Dolphin Embassy by the art and architecture collective Ant Farm. The initial proposal, which received initial funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, was for a giant floating city, designed to facilitate interaction, and potentially linguistic communication, between humans and dolphins. This program required spaces for the use of both dolphins and humans. First appearing in the magazine Esquire, the embassy proposal included plans and rendered perspectives showing the fantastical submarine-cum-building as well as images documenting attempts to engage dolphins in conversation. While the project lost momentum soon after the scale came into focus, the name and general conceit has been adapted by an unaffiliated group calling themselves “the Dolphin Embassy.” This group produces films and hosts festivals such as “Dolphinity” with the goal being to “enhance human life and happiness” through “the central experiences in the life of Dolphins”. This resurrection, in name only, suggests that our ambitions for spatial and communicatory interactions with nature have morphed from transgressive to hedonistic in the popular imagination, romanticizing the experience of animals rather than embracing interaction.
While finding the edges of the human/non-human dichotomy within architecture, a few examples present themselves which purposefully address the space of the animal. The project Cancer City by the Swedish architecture team Visiondivision concerns itself only with the space of the crayfish. Hired by a “country gentlemen” the project was developed as a means of encouraging crayfish populations to remain within the estate of the client. The “building” utilizes a specifically engineered type of concrete, Butong, containing the mineral calcite which attracts the crayfish. Additionally the peaks and valleys of the underwater topography provide refuge from predatory herons, while also concentrating the crayfish for easier harvest by the landowner. Here we have an animal architecture, which, through intelligent human design, functions not only to preserve its non-human inhabitants but actually optimize their habitation and improve their well-being.
Similar human designed animal architectures can be found within the work of Nancy Hwang and her office “The Ants of the Prairie”. With the project Bat Tower, the firm designed and constructed a tower for the functional purpose of providing a much-needed habitat for local bat populations. Through close collaboration with researchers, the building was designed to provide an optimal environment for the bats, from the spacing of the slats to the accumulation of heat. While ostensibly for the use of bats, a main goal of the project was also to engage the human public in awareness of the role of bats in the ecosystem and highlight their presence as non-pests. For this reason, the scale and form of the tower are purposefully imposing, designed to sit within its site, a public sculpture park, not as a piece of ecological infrastructure but a singular monument. When imagining an animal architecture, it would be natural to assume that formal and symbolic agendas would be surrendered in favor of the purely functional. With the Bat Tower, however, we can see that, perhaps, the language of architecture could still find use, even when the client may not be human.
With his theory of animal property rights, Hadley proposes for the inclusion of animal agency within our laws, a transition that could very well prove to be a positive step forward for conservation and animal rights efforts. Absent from Hadley’s discussion, however, is the question of whether this inclusion in our human systems of ownership, can even be considered as a type of animal liberation. As Hadley draws parallels with native human territory ownership in his argument, I too, see a precedent which could provide insight into this question. The island of “Manahatta” was originally “purchased” from the Lenape Indians by Dutch colonists in exchange for trade goods worth roughly 60 guilders. It is believed the Lenape either misunderstood the transaction, as they possessed no concept of private property ownership, or were unqualified to make the sale on behalf of the greater clan. Regardless, the Lenape did not relinquish the land, eventually resulting in exploitation and genocide. In awarding property rights to animals are we not also providing for a similar outcome? Opening up the possibility of exploitation through different means? Granted, animals are ignorant to the machinations of human law practice, but through granting them these “rights” are we not entering them into a system in which one’s survival is linked to possessions of some sort, where previously no such obligations existed?
Perhaps then, we should seek out a model where, instead of doubling down on our systems and laws to incorporate non-humans, we actually take a step back and reconsider our understanding of property and hence, the built environment from a broader perspective. This is closest to the work of Michael Serres and his “Natural Contract” which transposes Rousseau’s famous social contract to modern sensibilities as a means of renegotiating our relationship to nature in the face of the Anthropocene and global climate change.
A final example, predicated on little more than mutual benefit, exists in the ancient walled city of Harar in Eastern Ethiopia. Here, wild Hyenas in their undomesticated existence, enter the city at night to roam the streets in search of food scraps. By morning, they’ve cleaned the streets with their scavenging. They are not feared, and their benefit is appreciated by the inhabitants of Harar. In this context, no sense of property or borders inhibits the movements and resource transactions between the humans and non-humans. The interaction is not optimized or designed, but merely occurs due to the mutual expectations of the people of Harar as well as the Hyenas. In a practice going back to the 16th century, the locals offer the Hyenas porridge mixed with butter and goat meat as a way of marking the birth of the prophet Mohammed. It is believed that if the hyenas refuse the sacrifice, the country will have bad luck.
 John Hadley, Animal Property Rights: A Theory of Habitat Rights for Wild Animals (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2015), 1.
 Hadley, Animal Property Rights, 1.
 Hadley, Animal Property Rights, 2.
 Hadley, Animal Property Rights, 25.
 Hadley, Animal Property Rights, 26.
 Hadley, Animal Property Rights, 27.
 James Cheshire, Oliver Uberti, Where the Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2017,) 49.
 Michael E. Soule, Michael E. Gilpin, “The Theory of Wildlife Corridor Capability,” Nature Conservation 2: The Role of Corridors, ed. Denis A. Saunders, Richard J. Hobbs, (Surrey Beatty), 1991, 3-8.
 Bruce F. Leeson, Geoff G. Allan, “The Banff Highway: Pleasing the Park,” Parkways: Past, Present, and Future, (Boone, North Carolina: Appalachian State University, 1987,) 48–52.
 Anthony P. Clevenger, "Highways through Habitats: The Banff Wildlife Crossings Project," Transportation Research News, 2007, Volume 249, 14.
 Clevenger, “Highways Through Habitats”, 16.
 Peter Chambers, Border Security: Shores of Politics and Horizons of Justice, (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2017) 112.
 Dawid Moroń, Piotr Skórka, Magdalena Lenda, Waldemar Celary, Piotr Tryjanowski, “Railway Lines Affect Spatial Turnover of Pollinator Communities in an Agricultural Landscape,” Diversity and Distributions: A Journal of Conservation Biogeography, August 30, 2017, Volume 23, Issue 9, 1090–1097.
 Conniff, “Electric Power Rights of Way”
 Michel Serres, The Natural Contract (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1995)