Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Life and Death in Captivity - RIP Kalina

I have enjoyed my share of visiting the zoo, the circus, the local pet shops, the large aquariums, and any other place that I could view real, live animals in their simulated homes. As an animal lover, I also enjoyed watching the commercials for Sea World, and even wished that someday I could go to Sea World and see the sea animals do spectacular tricks. I bet there's a ton of "oooohs," and "aaahhhhs" throughout the show, and much excitement and clapping to see the sea creatures perform amazing feats for the audience. However, a few years ago I was enlightened and today I will never, ever again visit a zoo, a circus, and definitely not Sea World or the like, no matter how entertaining it might be for me, an animal should not have to suffer for my enjoyment.

Recently there have been a couple orca (killer whale) deaths at Sea World, deaths for unknown reasons. Actually, there is much data collected to show that these large, long-lived animals do not belong in captivity. The United States Humane Society released a press release today that shows a collection of data taken from the past 45 years showing that these large family-oriented mammals do not survive or thrive in captivity. Not only are the Orcas dying in captivity, but there have been quite a few human deaths related to these animals, yet in the wild these animals have been known to live 90 years and there are no reports of human deaths related to these animals despite the many contacts humans have made. The question being begged to ask is why?

Have you ever thought about what is going on from the animals' perspectives?

First, they are captured and taken from their homes, their families, their extended families or herds, then they are doomed to spend the rest of their lives behind bars in a simulated environment much smaller than the home they came from. They will no longer spend their entire lives with their family members as they would in the wild, and no longer will they be able to swim through the ocean for 100 miles a day or pick their own mate. They will now be fed simulated meals and no longer have to hunt for their food, and while this may seem like an easy life, to them it is taking away a part of who they are and what they instinctively know to do. They are then trained to do tricks and "act" for us humans, so that we can be entertained by them, but have you ever wondered how these animals are trained? The ways they are disciplined for unruly behavior? Yet when the animals acts out and hurts or kills their trainer or another human being we blame the animal.

I always just accepted that these animals were meant to amuse me, as a human being. I never thought about what they must endure. I never thought of what is going on behind the scenes, and I never thought about how difficult it must be for them to live under these circumstances in their simulated environments, to be taken from their homes, separated from their families, and forced to put on a show for human amusement. Yes, this is exactly what it comes down to: animals being abused so that we humans can be amused and a few can gain economically, and this problem persists because those of us who want to be entertained pay to view these captive animals. Many people still see nothing wrong with this! If we turn the tables and put ourselves in their paws, wings, or fins for just a moment, I think we would all agree that this is wrong and unethical, and a serious invasion of the rights of God's creatures.

Think about this scenerio for a few moments:  What would happen if Orcas took over the world and starting collecting select humans and keeping them in simulated, escape-proof environments in the middle of the ocean, far away from our family, friends, and homelands; kept us in tiny cages where we could never stretch or exercise how we were intended to do, and then began training us with whips and zappers for their entertainment and to make money off of us. Would this be exploitation? How about an abuse of our rights? Would that be unethical? Would we be a bit resentful? Angry? Frustrated? Depressed? Lonely? Would we and our young ones survive to a ripe, old age? And do you suppose that we would sometimes lash out when we've had enough emotionally, physically, and psychologically? And if so, who's fault would that be, and how should we be disciplined for acting out?  Should our penalty be to be put down? 

"A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history." ~Ghandi

RIP Kalina and all other animals who have died in captivity due to human entertainment.

Written by Tsilos Schoener


Rachael said...

As a child in the 60's and 70's I used to love going to Zoos and visited Bristol Zoo on numerous school trips and also visited London Zoo and Dudley Zoo amongst others. Of course, back then I took it all on face value but now I know better. I do think that some of the breeding programmes that go on in Zoos are valuable and can do good but I don't like to see an animal kept captive purely for us to gawk at. The same with seeing peoples holiday photos of some poor snake draped around a persons neck or a monkey on a chain...It's wrong but fortunately, albeit slowly, this is changing.Your article is an interesting read.

TS Beading said...

Breeding in captivity has its own set of problems and I think it needs to be re-evaluated. In some instances they do more harm than good. Orcas typically don't survive through infancy while in captivity, and those orcas who are kept captive have never lived to reach the average lifespan of the orcas that live in the wild.

I can see how breeding programs help endangered species populations, but there are other ways to do it than in a zoo where the animals are exploited and abused. I think I'd go psycho if I ever had to live through what those animals have to go through.

PFS said...

After reading the article, I have this to input the reason there are "Zoo's" is that human curiosity has commanded that they exist. We human animals are at the top of the food chain and therefore expect that other animals must need an be the same as we are. Yes both require food and some sort of shelter. But what dictates that desire, and how do we humans differ from our fellow animals? We hunt for food differently some are better at it than others Mc D's or home cooked and prepared, some gather theirs from a box others have the knowledge how to gather theirs from a field. Some choose to own their castle some pay to use a castle for shelter, some can build some can instruct others to do the same. Can a monkey build a house? yes for a monkey but not for a human, can a fish find shelter? Yes but only the smart ones evade being caught or preyed upon. Same holds true for humans some are more intelligent than others some are handier than others. Do I like to hunt and fish, yes do I do it just for sport and not utilize the product of my endeavors , yes, does everyone ,yes in some manner shape and form we do. What separates us humans from animals is that we choose to do what we do and how we do it and have the knowledge on certain levels to choose the out come of such choices. Do animals choose to be in Zoo's? Not hardly but they have no choice in the matter can humans assimilate a animals habitat? Too some degree yes do animals do that for humans they would rather not have any contact with humans to the best of their ability.Funny how we humans think we know what is best for our fellow inhabitants of this planet. We try because of our curious nature to do what we feel is best for them on some small or grand scale but what is really the best is to observe from a far not up close and personal that is really what separates us from animals we feel the need to be in an intimate relationship with them they do not feel the same. We place concrete and asphalt in their homes and expect them to move? Would a human do the same? Think about it those of you who live in areas that have wild animals become very upset when your property is damaged or destroyed, how would you react to your home one day becoming half or a quarter smaller each second, minute, hour,week, season?, Or being looked at by another species endlessly?or being made to propagate without choice...(its called rape)? do you like being made to or forced to do something you do not want or that is in your nature to do? No not really if you are human. Yes there are reasons for game preserves and animal sanctuaries, valid reasons, have Zoo's been helpful in preserving certain near extinct species? Yes, are they all involved in that? No. So I ask what gives us humans the power of the almighty creator to play that role?
Nobody and nothing except our choice

El at Tantalizing Stitches said...

This is an unfortunate problem. I agree that animals that cannot survive a captive habitat should not be forced into captivity.

However, animals that can live a comfortable life in captivity may actually benefit animals. I say this because there are many people in this world that have never seen a giraffe (or name some other animal - honestly I can imagine some people who have never seen a dog) and have no idea what a giraffe is (I have met a person that thought giraffes have stripes).

Anyways, my point is that when people are far from animals they don't understand the strength of having the animals on this planet. Many animals are extinct because of this.

By sharing animals with people (in captivity) we are bringing to people something that will hopefully make them respect animals more.

For example, I can imagine that many people exposed to animals at a younger age tend to have more compassion for animals than those who were exposed later in life.

Just imagine this world if no one had contact with an animal unless they went on a safari. Many would not work that hard for their first contact.

Nathalie Brault said...

I had a cry while reading this sad story,
and also found the comments very interesting.

I really think that the orcas should not be kept in captivity.
It should definitely be forbiden

As for the Zoos, they do do more harm then good. and simply should be banished.

That was a great article.

TS Beading said...

It's good to have some healthy discussion on these issues, thank you all for replying, and hopefully some others add their views as well.

PFS - your points are well received. Man often does take the role of God and attempts to create a perfect utopia. However, hasn't man learned by now that he only messes up the world when he changes things? For example: Killing all the buffalo seemed like a good idea until they were nearly extinct. Or the bald eagle. Introducing certain fish to other areas to control the home fish's overpopulation created a whole new issue that wasn't thought of prior. There are so many examples of human mistakes in the past, and some we have learned from, some lessons we are currently experiencing and learning, and for some lessons, it's too late. Many humans now, and throughout history, have had a ego problem. They always think they know what's best. But do they? Can we just stop thinking about ourselves for just a while and view the world through another's eyes? God didn't put these animals in cages or aquariums. Why should we? You are right. What/who gives humans the right to play God?

El - thank you for your reply, it's good to have another view represented, but I have to disagree, especially in today's technological age. People can view animals through photos, through video, on the web, by adopting a kitten or puppy, by lots of ways. To have animals in cages for the purpose of human amusement is abuse and exploitation. If they are rescued animals and need protection, such as a bird with a broken wing, then I can see helping it out and providing with a home and protection, then I can see helping them out, but most of the time the zoo animals are there to make someone rich by exploiting them. I don't think that any animal should suffer for the purpose of my amusement, how can anyone be amused by an animals suffering? It's sad to me. The small benefit people gain, to me, is not worth the suffering the animals endure.

Nathalie, I cried watching the video and learning about these poor animals. God's creatures suffering breaks my heart. I agree, zoos should be banished. So should SeaWorld and the like.

Becca said...

If there was ever a reason why wild animals should not be taken out of the surroundings & atmosphere they know, this is it.
I do not believe in capturing & caging or "housing" of animals in the wild for our amusement or education.
I also do not believe that animals born or raised in captivity should be returned to the wild.
Every animal generally lives what they are taught or learn by their own species & environment.
I saw "Free Willy" and was so upset that my daughter adopted a wild orca in my name for me at Christmas time. She was actually one of the whales in the group or "pod" of whales in the movie. She was free & died free.
I was so happy for Keiko when I heard that they made a deal with Mexico & were building the larger aquarium for Keiko at the Oregon coast & when they transported
I was stunned when they announced that they were going to set him free after re-integrating him & teaching him how to survive in the wild.
I thought "What idiots" when they were going to take him from a warm pool of water to Iceland.
I was devasted when I learned he died not long after. All because man did what "they" thought was best for him.
I've read & seen enough documentories on wild animals to know that there is a very low % that make it back in the wild, especially ones who have never been actually exposed to the wild.
Keiko was raised in captivity, he had a home & he had what he thought was his family, " humans". While doing what "they" thought best for him, it killed him.
In zoo's or amusment parks animals are kept prisoner in a cage or smaller area than the wild they once were use to. A cage is a cage.
Why can't man just live & let live?
FYI- Orca's (or killer whale-because they kill humpback baby whales,are not really whales. They are the largest species of dolphins.
It is not for certain that the 6 ton orca at Sea World "purposely" killed the trainer.
This & the article are also posted on my facebook page.

Rachael said...

I didn't watch the video.

Pam said...

This article provides a lot to think about. I would hope that the change could be one of providing better opportunities for the animals to still be seen by we humans, perhaps something akin to the elecameras at the Elephant Sanctuary. I love animals and never like to see them abused, but seeing them up close is an experience one cannot get from books. There are definitely problems that need to be solved, but I do appreciate getting to see animals in real life. Technology has come to the point where people could access video footage of animals in a more natural environment. I would appreciate that as well.

TS Beading said...

Video footage would be appreciated, and there is the problem of the number of animals in zoos, circuses, and the like who wouldn't now be able to survive in the wild because they've become dependant upon humans. As the case was with Keiko when he was released, then kept coming to places where people were, and then died shortly afterwards. It isn't something that I think could happen overnight, but something that I think needs to be changed in our society.

Animals used in scientific experiements are another category of animals being abused by humans for human "gain." But that is a whole different chapter. Another sad chapter of humans abusing God's creatures because they can, but in this case it's for human "advancement" rather than "amusement."

I definitely agree about being able to view animals, but perhaps they could house them in nature preserves, national forests, etc., where it is truly their home and not a similated environment that is in reality is just a small cage.