Born Free USA Blog
by Will Travers,
Chief Executive Officer
What can you say about a big-hearted bloke who has rescued dolphins, tigers, elephants and more and whose parents once helped a lion cub from a department store by caring for him in their backyard and engineering his rightful return to Africa? You can safely say that he's got great animal instincts! In 1984, Will Travers joined his parents — "Born Free" film stars Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers — to form what became The Born Free Foundation. With knowledge, passion and compassion dripping from his every word, Will's blogs are sure to make you embrace our crusade to Keep Wildlife in the Wild ®.
Did you hear the news that Iran successfully sent a live monkey into space? Round trip, that is, as part of the country’s nascent space program? Tehran claimed the accomplishment last Monday (Jan. 28) and mainstream media outlets reported the news as fact.
Well, now there are doubts whether the monkey survived. Or even if there was a monkey sent into space at all.
Regardless, this all brings back memories of the early space-race competition between the Soviet Union and United States, when they shot all sorts of creatures every higher upward. Dogs, mice, chimpanzees, frogs, rats, cats, fruit flies, wasps, beetles … apparently, that’s not a complete list, and such shenanigans began long before the 1950s (would you believe 1783, when a duck, rooster and sheep soared in a hot-air balloon?) and have continued into the 21st century, with France, China and Japan having joined in on the “fun.”
Count me as being skeptical — very skeptical — that any of this has served a vital scientific purpose. Surely instead of an animal who cannot talk about the experience, we could instead send up instrument panels that can measure whether the rocket-ship capsules, space stations or flying saucers can sustain life. Firing a robot into space isn’t as sexy as launching a monkey, but surely it’s a lot better for the monkey and for our consciences.
This latest incident, real or merely purported, in Iran also glosses over the fact that the individual animal matters, and exploiting these involuntary individual monkeys in the name of space science is not worth it.
I have a crazy idea. Instead of spending billions of dollars on frivolous outer space adventures, why don’t we invest a little more in some of the problems we have on Earth — including the exploitation of animals for dubious purposes.