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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Another Back(woods) Industry

Published 02/02/09
By Sharie Lesniak, Vice President of Marketing

Do you ever feel as if we’re the only ones going forward? You know, moving toward a better future where people really care about the earth and all its inhabitants — and I’m especially thinking about the animals here.

In skimming through some articles the other day, I come across this one that says, “By raising captive animals, we can save the wild ones at the same time. It takes far more effort to hunt a wild animal than to raise one, so by farming these animals, we are playing an important role in protecting their wild counterparts.” Um, what?!

Oh right, that sounds like some other backward thinking I hear animal (ab)users like Ringling Bros. spout, that they are conserving wild elephants by breeding more captive ones to spend a life in chains performing from the fear and beatings of a bullhook. Um, what’s that again?!

Then there’s the zoos: backward thinking at its finest. Take the LA Zoo, for example. They propose to spend $42 million to construct a new exhibit area and bring in more elephants. Now Will, our CEO, visited Billy the elephant in the LA Zoo and mentioned to the press that the same amount of money is double the entire 2007 operating budget of The Kenya Wildlife Service which is charged with protecting some 6,000,000 acres with thousands of species (lion, leopard, cheetah, giraffe, etc.) and some 33,000 elephants! So if zoos really wanted to help animals, you’d think they’d want to help the greatest number of animals they could, right? It just seems a little backward to spend $42 million to build a cage for a few captive elephants versus the same cost for 33,000 wild elephants and thousands of other species. Or, um, am I missing something?!

Sadly, the zoo and the LA city council went even farther and acted on their backward thinking! They closed their minds — and hearts! — to common sense, a struggling economy, the world’s greatest elephant experts and what’s best for Billy and sentenced him to a maddening life in captivity.

Usually purchased as cute infants, primates start to exhibit unpredictable behavior after the age of two yearsOh, and what about these characters – those wacky people who think that a tiger, bear, or monkey makes a great pet? During our investigation into the backward world of keeping exotic animals as pets, an “owner” of a primate told our investigator, “You see they [primates] are horrendous biters. I mean, they bite so bad that they can just rip tendons and ... they go for your jugular.” Alrighty then ... maybe I’m just not following the logic here, but I just don’t understand how going for the jugular or ripping out your tendons are the kind of traits that make a great pet. So um, am I the crazy one here?!

And no Backward Thinking club would be complete without those “responsible breeders” (an oxymoron if I ever heard one!). Now let me say this responsible-breeder line out loud so I can make sure I’ve got it: “Even though millions and millions of healthy, adoptable dogs and cats are put to death every year, I am a ‘responsible breeder’ because I breed purebred animals and make sure I sell all the puppies/kittens to people I know will take good care of them.” Um, come again?!

Maybe there’s just a clock somewhere like in Benjamin Button that somehow makes people who work in the fur industry, run zoos and circuses, or breed captive animals think backward. Maybe instead of growing older, their brains are just getting more immature so that they just end up thinking in reverse. What’s up is down, what’s black is white, and what’s compassionate is uncaring.

Maybe we just need to find that clock and smash it so we can finally all move forward, together.



*It seemed to be the best way to sign off a backward blog

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