Animals are frequently abused for the sake of human entertainment, a practice that takes both legal, supposedly benign forms, as well as illegal forms that are routinely condemned.
Animals in circuses, amusement parks, and sports, as well as so-called animal “actors,” are often exotic animals that can only live a natural, fulfilled life, expressing behaviors normal to their species, if they are in their natural habitats. Instead, they are cruelly trained to do dangerous tricks and “perform” for a human audience. When they are not performing, these animals are kept in cramped, filthy conditions and are often treated brutally by their handlers. When they are no longer useful, they are often abandoned, killed, or sold to “canned” hunts to be brutally shot.
Animals in zoos suffer from a similar plight. Often the excuse is given that their species needs protection for future posterity, but they are in fact prisoners who exist to be gawked at by visitors. Most zoos are designed to optimize the experience of the viewer, not the lives of the animals. Their movements are heavily restricted and they must rely on humans to feed and shelter them.
Our society distinguishes certain animal entertainments from others as legal or illegal, but qualitatively, many of these practices are more similar than different. We consider dog and cock-fighting illegal and immoral, but rodeos and sport hunting are legal. All of these practices share an indifference to the suffering of the animals who are considered objects of entertainment rather than living, feeling creatures with their own interests.
- Why Should We Care?
- Animal Testing
- Companion Animals
- What to Do?