This Guy Justified Commodifying Animals by Talking About The Circle Of Life
The Albany Herald has me singing “the circle of life.”
A guest columnist by the name of Doug Porter has decided to weigh in on animal life in captivity, and actually thinks that humans are helping (not using) the animals we imprison. He refers to the death of Chai, a beloved elephant of the Seattle zoo, as a “byproduct of the circle of life.” By his logic, death in a cage is as natural as death in the wild.
One fact he shares (from the Wildlife Conservation Society) is that “in 2012 alone some 35,000 elephants were killed in Africa, which works out to an astonishing 96 animals killed every day.” These numbers work hard to justify Chai’s passing, arguing that a longer life in chains somehow trumps what could happen to elephants left alone in Africa. I think he’s forgetting the obvious rationale that captivity isn’t in any way natural, or something an elephant chooses. He certainly escapes mentioning what humans have to gain from keeping them as exhibits.
I’d like to pose this logic to Porter with humans in place. Is it okay to imprison a child if we think that’ll help them live longer? Could we forcibly contain people against their will, because it’ll keep them away from danger? These scenarios wouldn’t fly. But somehow, we continue to believe that we know what’s best for other species, and that they’re somehow incapable of living well without us. This is just one excuse that lets us continue selling tickets to gawk at them.
Just like in many other cases, this is an example of humans trying to justify the commodifying of animals, and fooling others in to feeling good about it. Chai the elephant, and all others, don’t ask humans to intervene on their morality rates. Doug Porter might not mourn the death of one elephant because it happens everyday, but we should all mourn the animal life that isn’t left alone to live in the first place.