Saturday, February 27, 2010

Captivity: Not Good For Man Nor Beast

A couple of years ago, I blogged about the increasing violence among disenfranchised elephants. Growing up being removed from the company of older, wiser adult animals, potentially seeing members of their families slaughtered for tusks or for sport, and driven off of lands taken over for farming, elephants are increasingly turning to violence against humans, other animals, and each other.

Now this week we have yet another case of intelligent animals with strong communication skills and close relationships who have taken to fighting back. With the Orca attack at SeaWorld this week, we are confronted with the issues around capturing sentient beings in their natural habitat and forcing them into a life of slavery and confinement for our entertainment purposes. I have to admit I've been to more than a couple of marine mammal shows at zoos, aquariums, and SeaWorld itself. This excellent article by Alexander Cockburn is making me think I will not ever be doing that again. These types of attacks are far from rare, and often are even coordinated between the animals in the tank. It's possible they are not so much random as deliberate acts of retribution. Having swum in the wild with cetaceans on more than one occasion, I have always been struck by the very feeling of intelligence you get from them. It's hard to believe that they don't feel much the same way we would if pressed into a life of servitude and enforced performance.

I will be interested to read the book mentioned in the article as well: Fear of the Animal Planet: The Hidden Story of Animal Resistance by Jason Hribal

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