2014-01-14

Co.Labs

Former Salon Editor-In-Chief Will Head This Upscale News Site About Pets

The Lerer family, backers of Buzzfeed, is funding a new site devoted to animal news, a place where "we’ll celebrate animals, and not just laugh at them."



The Internet was made for (and by) cat people. Compilations like Ultimate Funny Cat Videos have ruled YouTube since its inception, but there may be something deeper here. Articles like this one entitled "Why Do Cats Run The Internet? A Scientific Explanation" explore what New York Times columnist Frank Bruni says is "an era of what might be called animal dignity."

Advancing our collective obsession one step further is The Dodo, an online magazine just launched this week devoted to exploring "our fierce and fraught bond with animals broadly and enthusiastically, from animal testing to the ethical eating movement." The site is backed by the Lerer family--Ken Lerer cofounded The Huffington Post, but this site belongs to his daughter Izzie, who is finishing her PhD at Columbia University studying the impact of animal and human interactions.

The Dodo's premiere homepage includes an article by Arianna Huffington, "On the Importance of Appreciating Animals," a post titled, "Justin Bieber's Monkey is Doing Fine (No Thanks to the Biebs)," and, of course, "Maru is the Viral Cat We Can Really Celebrate."

The site is riding the coattails of the success of last year's documentary Blackfish that detailed SeaWorld's ill-treated killer whales, as well as Hillary and Chelsea Clinton's well-documented fight against elephant ivory-poaching.

The CEO and editor-in-chief isKerry Lauerman, former editor-in-chief of Salon. A close friend of Bruni's, Lauerman explained that the motivation behind The Dodo was that, “there’s this growing obsession with animal cognition. We don’t want animals just for comfort. We really want to know them.”

There are plenty of animal meme sites out there, but none as highbrow as this. Combining the world's infatuation with animals and actual scientific investigation into their cute little proclivities, The Dodo could be a viable contender.

[Image: Flickr user Keenan Browe]