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Cash-Strapped Argentina Discovers Carpooling

Traffic jam in Buenos Aires
Traffic jam in Buenos Aires
Pablo Novillo

BUENOS AIRES — Cash-strapped amid a deepening recession but still, in many cases, reluctant to take public transportation, Argentines are turning to car sharing or carpooling to move about.

This relatively environmentally friendly practice is well-established in some U.S. and European cities, but is still embryonic in car-loving Latin America. In Argentina it is catching on as fuel and car maintenance costs rise and public transportation remains defficient. Martín Rubio, one of the creators of SincroPool, a platform which facilitates sharing, says his firm provides companies with "a webpage allowing employees to coordinate their trips. We already have more than 30 firms including Volkswagen, Santander Río and Mercadolibre, with more than 15,000 users."

Some firms are opening pooling to employees of other firms. Mercedes Benz, for example — which created teneslugar.com for its employees — now shares this with Bayer. Its business development chief Verónica Pagniez says that in initial trials "20% of employees used the service daily. We are now open to other firms joining. People share trips to come and go to work and move between the main office and one of the car plants."

"Time is needed for Argentines to make the cultural change, but young people are responding well and we even have directors offering their cars," she said. Argentines between 25 and 35-years-old are responding best, preferring a "non-committal" style of sharing — nobody gets upset if a trip is cancelled and people agree on costs.

While sharing is usually between colleagues, often for security reasons, there are also more public networks like Vayamos Juntos. One of its creators Alejandro Van Morlegan says they have "60,000 users and while some share their daily commuting, many now get in touch for weekends and even for holidays."

Who is to say the love of your life isn't about to get into your car?

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A Naturalist's Defense Of The Modern Zoo

Zoos are often associated with animal cruelty, or at the very least a general animal unhappiness. But on everything from research to education to biodiversity, there is a case to be made for the modern zoo.

Photograph of a brown monkey holding onto a wired fence

A brown monkey hangs off of mesh wire

Marina Chocobar/Pexels
Fran Sánchez Becerril


MADRID — Zoos — or at least something resembling the traditional idea of a zoo — date back to ancient Mesopotamia. It was around 3,500 BC when Babylonian kings housed wild animals such as lions and birds of prey in beautiful structures known as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Ancient China also played a significant role in the history of zoos when the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) created several parks which hosted an assortment of animals.

In Europe, it wouldn't be until 1664 when Louis XIV inaugurated the royal menagerie at Versailles. All these spaces shared the mission of showcasing the wealth and power of the ruler, or simply served as decorations. Furthermore, none of them were open to the general public; only a few fortunate individuals, usually the upper classes, had access.

The first modern zoo, conceived for educational purposes in Vienna, opened in 1765. Over time, the educational mission has become more prominent, as the exhibition of exotic animals has been complemented with scientific studies, conservation and the protection of threatened species.

For decades, zoos have been places of leisure, wonder, and discovery for both the young and the old. Despite their past success, in recent years, society's view of zoos has been changing due to increased awareness of animal welfare, shifting sensibilities and the possibility of learning about wild animals through screens. So, many people wonder: What is the purpose of a zoo in the 21st century?

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