I am actually quite impressed that I have managed to stay quiet for so long on the whole gorilla-killing and other events in the animal kingdom these last couple of months. However, yesterday, a sad story about a suicidal killer whale caught my attention, and that was the final straw.
I firmly believe humans are above animals because God, the Creator of the universe, gave us dominion over all other creatures after He proclaimed creation good. Unfortunately, the fall of man in the garden, nature was cursed, and the punishment of mankind as part of that curse and the consequences of the fall led to humans and animals having a difficult relationship. The fact still remains though, that we are on top; we are different.
Now. That being said, many humans have abused that power of dominion and turned it into cruelty. We’re told in the new testament of the Bible that God does care about even the tiniest sparrows, but humans still feel the need to hunt for sport rather than food or need (Dances with Wolves is a movie my parents watched when I was very, very little. I sneaked out to see what they were watching and have since been unable to rid my mind of the hundreds of slaughtered bison who were killed for money rather than necessity.).
First, allow to look at an event that took place at Yellowstone several weeks ago. Tourists were afraid that a bison calf would freeze in the snow. Bison, which are one of the few animals actually native to this land for hundreds of years, are not typically known for freezing during a snowfall – especially when the baby has a mama somewhere nearby, which I am frankly quiet surprised did not attack the tourists in defense of her baby, which would do anything to keep her offspring alive. As a result of the sheer stupidity of those tourists, the calf was essentially kicked out of the herd and became a hazard to the safety of itself and humans driving through the park as it would run toward the cars. The rangers attempted to reintroduce it to the herd and other herds but eventually had to put it down. My personal feeling was that they could have sent the calf to a bison sanctuary, which do exist, rather than euthanizing it. They also could have have shot it and saved the meat.
Next, there was the whole gorilla in the Cincinnati zoo drama. I think the mother is at fault for not knowing where her child was for such a long period of time. I also think the responders to the situation did the right thing by shooting the gorilla rather than trying to tranquilize him. This is part of the having dominion aspect of humanity: when an animal attacks a human, the human comes first, especially when it is a young, tiny human who did not fully comprehend the severity of his decision. The decision to shoot was made by a team of experts familiar with not just gorillas in general, but also this specific gorilla. I trust their instincts and protocol so much more than the other so-called “experts” who have decided, from a distant, grainy video that the wrong decision was made because the video showed that gorilla might have been trying to protect the boy, or he was just going to play with him (think of how rough kids are on their toys; now think of a 400 pound kid playing with a toy). The actual experts on scene not only followed their protocol, which is a big deal, but went with what they knew was right based on experience and actually being there.
The very next week, another idiot happened through Yellowstone National Park. The lack of respect in this day and age led to that idiot trying to attempting to get a “selfie” with a mama elk. If you have never seen an elk or looked them up in a book or online for whatever reason, they are huge and very protective of their young. Understandably, the mama found the woman creeping up on her and her baby with a strange device (camera, maybe with one of those sticks, I’m not sure) a bit threatening. She attacked. The rangers did not interfere. I think that was the right decision. Perhaps they’re taught the same as fire and EMS and law enforcement: your safety first to prevent creating more victims and more dangerous scenario for the next round of responders. Maybe they were thinking of the Cincinnati ordeal the week before where people did their job and were now under investigation. Maybe they remembered, which the woman clearly did not, that it is a national park for the preservation of nature and animals, with signs clearly posted with the dos and don’ts of interacting with wildlife for those lacking in common sense.
Finally, I mentioned the suicidal killer whale in the first paragraph. Apparently, this poor whale had been injured in the wild and taken to a Sea World with the purpose of rehab. Now, rehab, for people anyhow and with most true animal preservation organizations, means that you keep that creature in as natural a habitat as possible while it heals. For Sea World, rehab means that creature never returns home; it is instead taught tricks. This injured whale, since healing and being taught tricks, has tried to, and this might sound a bit rude, bash its head in against a metal gate and beach itself after a show. This isn’t like the many other unfortunate animals at Sea World who were born into captivity and only have instinct telling them it’s wrong. This whale was born and raised in the wild and remembers that freedom!
I think zoos can be good and bad. I’ve been to several zoos where the bears were not in anything that even slightly resembled their natural home. I’ve also been to zoos where you cannot even see the animals, like the cheetahs, because of how large and well put together the habitats were. Those zoos are the ones that actually the preservation of animals as their core mission. In that case, I think it’s a great thing because it allows us people to see animals that have been hunted to near extinctions, animals we would never have the opportunity to see in their natural habitats. However, the zoos where the animals are kept in little better than cages with no room to run or climb or whatever their natural actions are need to be closed with their animals moved to actual sanctuaries.
Sea World has repeatedly proven they do not have best interest of animals at heart, so as much as I love to see ocean life up close without risking being eaten by a shark or stung by jellyfish, I don’t think I can go back there. I have refused to go to a circus since watching Dumbo and seeing the treatment of the animals there (good job, Disney! addressing the cruelty of circuses while still being cutesy.).
Overall, I wish people would go back to simply having dominion, hunting for food not just trophies, watching your children so animals who are already not in their natural environment are not killed because of the circumstances, and recognizing that dominion and cruelty are not synonymous. Dominion, in the Biblical sense, is closer to care-taking. We are to take care of the world.
Note: this is coming from somebody who cannot stand the treehuggers and green politics. They take it to the other extreme.