Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I was watching the Animal Planet channel while working on a craft project last night. One program was about teaching tigers born in captivity to live like jungle animals. During the program the tigers were taught how to capture food, and the shots were quite graphic with two tigers pouncing on one poor victim from the antelope family. We were supposed to be happy to see that the tigers had discovered how to catch lunch, proving in the process that they were still capable of being real tigers even though they were raised as pets. They term it "releasing into the wild."

The tigers, of course, had names, elevating them to a status somewhere between man and animal, and certainly above the level of the antelope. It was a vicious killing and was accomplished with the aid and encouragement of the tiger's trainers.

Following the tiger program was Animal Cops--at least I think that's what it's called. During that program the animal police hauled a dog owner and a horse owner before the judge for cruelty since the dog had been starved to death, and the horse had an injured leg that wasn't cared for. They talked a lot about pain and suffering. In other words, those with power over the animals didn't take care of them and so they were presented as sub-human misfits.

But in the tiger program, those with power over the antelope didn't take care of it either, and encouraged the brutal slaughter of the beast who surely felt intense pain as it died.

I just don't get it. I kept wanting to tell them "but wait a minute..." The logical disconnect for me was so intense that I shut the TV off. How can you be in sympathy with an animal lover who wants to get even with the cruel people, then switch off those emotions for the next so that you can see the value of teaching a tiger to kill? Either animal life is sacred and inviolable, as the Animal Cops seem to portray, or animal life is animalistic, which is what the conservation of tigers program portrayed. I don't think you can have it both ways.

Or is it that giving the animal a name and taking note of its personality in some mysterious way elevates the animal above the animal kingdom and thus entitles it to privileges not granted to other species or even to other animals of its own specie?

Is this concern for animals of historical duration, or is it flowing out of the generation that has decided babies are a bad idea, but is still stuck with the need to nurture?

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