Let me attempt to define what I mean by pleasure activities involving animals. This is any activity that involves an animal, or animals, that humans derive pleasure or gratification from, where the animal/s involved have
- Either been trained into submission over time to partake in the required activity
- Forced against their will to partake in whatever is being required of them
- Removed from a situation that is healthy for that animal to a situation that is far less desirable for that particular animal or animals
In short abuse and domination by human beings are at play.
There has been a solid amount of research done on the link between animal abuse and human abuse. So much so, that in certain States in the USA and New Zealand, the animal shelters and domestic violence units are starting to work in conjunction with each other. Invariably when a case of animal abuse or neglect is reported it is an indicator of abuse going on in the home amongst the people living there, and visa versa.
“a history of animal abuse was found in 25% of aggressive male criminals, 30% of convicted child molesters, 36% of those who assaulted woman and 46% of those convicted of Sexual homicide (Petrovoski 1997)’.
you can also visit the following website for more information on this interesting topic http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/abuse_neglect/qa/cruelty_violence_connection_faq.html
“Too many law enforcement officials still don’t realize that violence is violence,” said Ponder. “Animal cruelty is wrong in its own right, but it also can lead to eventual violence against people if it is ignored.”
For more information on The HSUS’ First Strike! Campaign, visit The HSUS’ web site, www.hsus.org.
Week after week, I see acquaintances and Facebook friends posting pics of their kids catching fish with captions reading ‘Bert’s first catch’. Then the nauseating comments that follow ‘well done Bert’, ‘like father like son, what a catch’. Really? Let’s re phrase this ‘Bert’s first kill’. If these are the levels of compassion being role modelled for our kids, and the activities sanctioned and encouraged by parents, then its little wonder our world is full of violence, intolerance, hatred and disrespect.
Does this mean young Bert is going to end up a serial killer, child molester or sexual predator? Probably not, however the line between killing that fish, hunting that antelope, and hurting or bullying (verbal or physical) your family pet and then your peer, friends (or partner in later life), becomes a finer line than it was before.
So some of the cruel activities we support in pursuit of pleasure needs to be interrogated if we are to start eliminating the circle of violence in our society. This does not mean if you have at any stage supported the following, you are on a slippery slope downhill, however if you are not prepared to take a look at what sits behind these activities, acknowledge them for what they are, and take a personal stand against supporting them, then that, for me, is a worrying mindset.
These are some of the activities that come to mind – horse racing, rodeo, running with the bulls, bull fighting, dog fighting, cock fighting, sea world, petting zoos, zoos, live animals in education, snake milking, snake charming, hunting, fishing, circuses that use animals, elephant interactions, petting baby lions, religious ceremonies, such as Kapparot involving the use of live chickens and the Gadhimai festival in Nepal, bug collecting boxes, And of course if I really want to open a can of worms, eating animals measures up against the criteria I have outlined above.
Let’s have a look at some of these leisure and pleasure pursuits in more detail.
Hunting and fishing are pleasure activities. Both are activities where the individual involved gleans a measure of excitement and pleasure off killing. There are very few hunters left in the world that hunt purely for survival, and they are certainly not the hunters who may end up reading this post. Hunters throw in the out of date ‘conservation’ argument, the ‘I eat everything I shoot’ argument, the ‘at least I have the guts to kill my own food’, ‘I do it cause I love being close to nature’ blah blah. At the root of it all, is a pleasure based activity which involves suffering and death.
I have yet to see a hunter being dragged out on a weekend hunt with his/her mates crying out ‘oh I really wish I didn’t have to do this, but the lions of South Africa need me to pick off one of their family members for my wall’, ‘oh I really wish I did not have to spend large amounts of money on this expensive rifle – would have much rather given the money to my favourite charity!’.
Let’s stop pretending that hunting and fishing are anything other than a sport that comes at great cost to animal at the end of the barrel or line. There is no altruism in hunting/ fishing, for the most, it is an entirely selfish pursuit. What greater disrespect to another being on this planet than to take its life for fun.
Whenever and wherever animals are at the core of a large and lucrative business, there invariably becomes an animal rights and animal welfare infringement or multiple infringements. So when gambling, a highly addictive and very lucrative business for those at the top, is thrown in the mix, we start to get ‘animal welfare disaster’ industries popping up, such as horse racing, rodeo, cock fighting, and dog fighting.
Theme parks, petting zoos, circuses, snake milking, snake charming and zoos provide a central gathering place for people to have picnics, meet friends, and entertain themselves and their children off the suffering and incarceration of other species. Again, these are businesses that derive their income from the abuse of animals. Parents, have you ever considered what animals in a petting zoo are exposed to? These animals are handled throughout the day, with little time to eat, rest or groom, fundamental to the health and wellbeing of any creature. They are most often subjected to the inexpert and unsupervised mishandling by your children, leaving them bruised and often injured.
A popular party activity for kids in South Africa in the more affluent homes, is to hire a travelling petting farmyard to come to your home. The truck arrives with a calf, 2 lambs, some cute bunnies and a sheep or two. A temporary pen is set up in the garden to house the animals for the afternoon. The birthday girl or boy is then offered the treat of feeding the calf or one of the lambs with a bottle. These stressed out babies are further stressed through inexpert feeding, over petting, and constant handling. There is little time for rest for a working baby. The owner of one of these business proudly stated he can do up to 4 parties a day.
So 8 ½ years ago I hired a petting farmyard for my daughters second birthday. What a stressful party, mostly for the animals that were brought along, but also for me, as the jaw dropping horror of what these animals were going through dawned on me through the afternoon. I also realised that the young calf brought along was a one week old calf, victim of the horrific dairy industry. Calves are pulled from their mothers within the first 24 hours. They are either hand raised to go back into the dairy industry or raised till 18 weeks for veal. This baby had been pulled from his mother, put to work, and within a few weeks of him growing too big to be a safe and cute party calf, he would be sold for slaughter. The lambs where in a similar predicament. How else does one ensure that the stars of your show remain cute and cuddly indefinitely?
Bug boxes! What a silly idea for the unfortunate bugs that get crammed into a box to be observed and studied. Why can you not just observe the bug with your kids while it goes about its daily business? Most bugs live such short lives, and taking them out of their finely balanced daily routine geared for survival is just unnecessary, and cruel. And again, bug boxes are aimed at the younger consumer, who has limited co-ordination and who’s fine motor skills, not so great – which inevitably leads to the loss of a delicate wing, leg or both. Too often I have seen forgotten bug boxes thrown randomly into a toy box with an equally forgotten dead bug inside.
Using animals in ritual slaughter? Not ok. It is a purely selfish pursuit, and is a pleasure activity. It is not essential to our survival and often makes no sense. The Jewish ceremony Kapparot, is a case in point. Kapparot is an atonement ceremony, a time to cleanse the sins of the family. The ceremony is usually performed by swinging a live rooster or hen above the person who is being cleansed and then slaughtering the chicken who has taken on the sin, thereby removing sin from the sinner (?!). I have written often on the animal welfare transgressions inherent in the Kapparot ceremony. Again, we look at the selfish and self-serving nature of this ceremony, specifically when a cruelty free alternative is offered, which serves more than one person. Take money, put the sins of the family onto the money and give the money to someone in financial need.
I am not outlining the cruelty in every one of these industries, there is tons on-line that has been written about this before, and with more expertise than I give to it. There are numerous documented cases of animal cruelty to give us more than enough information to make an informed and cruelty free choice when choosing your next leisure activity (see our first deadly sin committed while living unconsciously on elephant interactions).