Adventures in Ethics and Science


Yesterday, the Free-Ride family visited Circus World. It was a full day, and we’re still working on digesting the experience, but there were some animal performers that made an impression, including dogs, a pony, a camel, and an elephant.

This put us in mind of our visit with Bora last July to the Circus exhibit at the Lawrence Hall of Science.

That exhibit featured specimens (simulated and odorless) of droppings from various animals that have been part of traveling circuses. And here’s where the reader participation comes in.

For each of the following dung samples, (1) what is the animal that produced it, and (2) what facts about the animal (in terms of its diet, digestive system, etc.) help you identify it as the source of the pictured scat?











Note that I probably won’t be online to approve your comments until sometime Sunday, but don’t let that stop you from playing!

If someone gets them all right (and provides good criteria for identification), I’ll provide some suitable reward.


  1. #1 Jen and Zach
    August 23, 2008

    From Jennifer & Zachary, Jen’s guesses are 1st, Zach’s are 2nd:

    Sample 1 – Rabbit, Raccoon
    Sample 2 – Elephant, Camel (because they drink alot of water
    Sample 3 – Deer, Rabbit
    Sample 4 – bear, horse
    Sample 5 – horse, deer

    Jen (9) and Zach (7)

  2. #2 Lab Lemming
    August 24, 2008

    Where is your scale bar?

  3. #3 Ned Wright
    August 24, 2008

    Ah, Baraboo!

    I was just in Reedsburg and Madison M-Th.

  4. #4 Acai
    September 6, 2008

    I would have to guess sample one as the elephants.

  5. #5 Tania
    September 9, 2008

    The elephant fecal sample looks like it is more liquid that normal wild elephants. Normally, the feces are in a dryer big round fecal ball. Maybe the sample is more liquid due to a richer diet of the elephant in captivity. Could also be due to stress or disease.

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