The Bear

I remember some months ago I was reading a blog post about The Cove and was utterly irritated by a comment the author received on that post.  I can’t remember the whole comment but the part that jumped out at me was “well animals were put here for our entertainment.”

I have not always had the attitude I currently have about animals.  The idea of being a vegetarian was once an absolutely absurd thought to me.  But…I don’t think I ever thought that animals were put on this earth to entertain us humans.  But with that comment I learned that some people do think that.

Zoos, Sea Parks, and Circus type animal shows are good business.  People are amused by looking at animals in captivity and watching them do tricks.  Even my family has a membership and donates regularly to The Tallahassee Museum, which is, in essence, our local Zoo.    The Animal Kingdom at Disney World is one of our favorite places to visit.  Watching The Cove made me doubt my love and support of those two places.  What I can say for both of them though is that at least the animals in their care have room to roam.  Although they have the space for many more exhibits, The Tallahassee museum instead offers large areas holding native animals so they are at least somewhat “at home.”  They nurture sick animals back to health and offer educational resources to the public.

While in Maryland we visited the Salisbury Zoo.  This Zoo was about the same size as ours here in town, but housed some very exotic animals.  One of these animals was the Spectacled Bear.  This bear is native to South America.  Salisbury Maryland is not it’s natural habitat (although I did learn this particular bear was born in captivity).  When we stood before this exhibit, my heart broke.  I couldn’t believe the sight.  I think the bear had a small fenced in “yard” over to the side, but the area it was in as we watched it was a walled in area with a small “pool” and lots of concrete.  As we watched for 5 to 10 minutes the bear simply paced back and forth.  Even more disturbing was the pattern at which she moved her head.  At each end she swooped her head down and then back up.  I couldn’t figure out exactly why but there was a shadowy outline behind her on the wall and she literally traced it with her nose.  It was so apparent that she was suffering.  As we stood there, people walked through.  “Look at the bear.”  Then they continued on their way.  This animal was obviously in such great pain.  There was even a sign next to her exhibit that said something like “Please do not be disturbed by this bear’s behavior, we are doing all we can to help her.”  Yes, folks, please don’t bother to feel empathy for this animal…she was merely put on this earth for your entertainment.

I came home gung-ho to save this bear.  I contacted a friend who used to work for ASPCA.  I asked her if there was a way to find an animal sanctuary and initiate a rescue of some sort.  Sadly, she said that conditions are like this in nearly every zoo animals display this kind of OCD behavior in nearly every zoo and there is really little anyone can do to help the animals.  The best we can do is have some compassion for these creatures and take time to see them as more than our source for food and entertainment.  And maybe, perhaps, speak up when we witness their suffering.

**Renee’s comments are the best!  She always makes me think about whether what I wrote is truly accurate or skewed by my bad memory.  I went back to the message exchange with my friend and made the change above.  Basically animals in most places despite how good or bad the conditions are just react to not being where they are meant to be.  This bear’s conditions, in my opinion, were bad.

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Dominion

I “like” the Vegetarian page on Facebook and today there was an interesting post that started a discussion.  It stated that humans weren’t created to eat animals.  Of course one of the responses was that the “Good Book” says differently.  This was in reference to the idea that God gave humans dominion over the earth and creatures.  This is an idea that bugs me because I think that it is abused.

As human beings we have abilities that most animals do not.  We can think, reason, and make rationale decisions.  We have intelligence that allows us to adapt and invent in order to make life easier.  The fact that we can use our abilities to create makes us like God or “in his image,” and with that comes a degree of power.  But with this power or dominion also should come other qualities of God like respect and love.  Most of what is done and defended by “The Good Book” is lacking both of those.

Calves are taken away from their mothers and fed formula while their mothers are pumped full of hormones to provide milk for human consumption.  Cows are fed corn which they are not intended to eat and cannot digest so that we can eat Big Macs.  And because they are not built to eat corn they get sick and are pumped full of antibiotics so that we do not become sick.  What happens instead is we ingest these levels of antibiotics in the meat we eat and then become immune to them so that when we actually need antibiotics they don’t work.  Chickens are overfed and pumped full of hormones so that they will grow bigger, so big that they can’t even stand up.  Basically animals are tortured so that we can eat unhealthy levels of meat.  I looked at the passages in Genesis and from what I read it sounds like the Vegetarian FB people are right.  Genesis 1:29-

“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”

In my interpretation I’d say that if we are to eat animals it should only be as a last resort.

Dominion or not if we believe that it is God’s creation and we claim to be Godly people we should have respect.  For years we have been raping and pillaging the earth using the bible as our defense.  We hunt and kill animals for fun or to feel powerful.  We clear land and cut down trees to build new houses and shops while older houses and shops are left abandoned.  There is a balance in nature and we have a role in the circle of life.  We have been upsetting the balance for a long time and it is time to live more consciously and stop using The Bible to excuse ignorant behavior.