animal rights

What Children Learn from Animals in Circuses

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On 14 January 2017 Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced that they will be closing down permanently as of 21 May 2017.  They will perform a few shows between now and the 21 of May 2017, but after that Ringling Bros no more.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is a United States traveling circus company.  Their main show is called “The Greatest Show on Earth” which includes animal performances such as camels, monkeys, dogs, horses , lions, tigers,and elephants.

Without even touching on the inherent cruelty in training and confinement of the animals, some people would still argue that animals in circuses are a good way for children’s education.   I completely disagree.

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Animals in circuses teach children that it is ok to confine somebody for our entertainment.  It teaches children that it is perfectly ok to confine, abuse, and objectify non-human sentient beings if that entertains us.

Up until the mid 20th century (1950s) the western countries such as the United States hosted freak shows using unwilling participants as a form of entertainment.  Up until the similar era the United States also displayed African American humans in zoos.  These are instances where we have confined, abused, and objectified other human beings for the sake of “entertainment”.  In modern society, anybody who identifies as a “normal” person would be shocked if freak shows and zoos with humans re-opened.  How is using animals for “entertainment” different?

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Where is the evidence to say that animals “want” to be in zoos or perform in circuses?  Most of the animals used in circuses are non-domesticated animals that are either captured from the wild or bred in captivity.

Animals in circuses teach children that it is OK to dominate and control other beings if they are “different” to us.  they teach that objectifying and using others for personal entertainment is ok.  This creates a lack of empathy in children that could carry into their adult life and adversely affect their human and other non-human interactions. As if our society doesn’t have enough social problems already.

See another article about this topic here.

The well known Australian moral philosopher and animal rights activist Peter Singer said:

“When children see animals in a circus, they learn that animals exist for our amusement. Quite apart from the cruelty involved in training and confining these animals, the whole idea that we should enjoy the humiliating spectacle of an elephant or lion made to perform circus tricks shows a lack of respect for the animals as individuals.”

I welcome the permanent closing of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in May 2017.  I just hope the retiring animals are surrendered to reputable sanctuaries to live out the remainder of their lives.  Sadly there are already talk of them being surrendered to other cruel industries such as animal research facilities.  Such is the fate of this lot of unfortunate animals.  My silver lining of  hope is that other circuses follow Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus lead and cease animal performances so that new animals are not captured and bred into this outdated industry.

Psychology & Veganism

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I am taking an Edx course called “UQx: Think101x The Science of Everyday Thinking”. Lesson 7 of this course discusses why it is hard to change people’s minds about various things, particularly when it comes to long held beliefs. I thought this is particularly relevant to veganism as we know how frustrating it is to hear the same motivational excuses repeated over and over again as the basis for carnism.

Why it is hard to change people’s minds? The Edx course says that it’s because of the following two things:

1) Source amnesia. We have difficulty remembering why it is we believe in something. Think about this. What makes you think you have access, that you can instantly recall the exact basis for why you believe something?

2) It is hard to reconcile what it is you believed previously with this new data. It’s cognitive difficulty. You can’t replace your former belief in the heat of the moment. It takes some work and time to put new wealth of evidence.

Evidence alone is not enough to get people to change their minds. We need evidence and a good story to show people what they can change their minds to.  The course suggests the following 6 leads for prompting opinion change.

6 Leads of Opinion Change

1) Ask yourself “what do you really believe anyway?”

2) How well based is the opinion that you already hold?

3) How good is the evidence for changing your opinion? Is it based on experiments or appropriate research?

4) Does the evidence really contradict what you already believe?

5) If the answer to question 4) is “no”, then what would be enough evidence to contradict what you already believe?

6) Is it worth finding out about? Why or why not? What is the cost of changing your belief?

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December 

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It’s the month of Christmas spirit.

Please take a moment & think.

Spare a thought for those who suffer –

In the name of food, clothing, fun & games.

Yes we can cease that suffering –

Cruelty so void, so unnecessary.

We can live & thrive as vegans –

Live our lives without taking others’.

Holly’s Story

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Meet Holly, a six-and-a-half year lady hen. This is her story.

Holly’s first 18 months of life was less than ideal. Born to the intensive egg industry she was doomed to a life in a cage that was barely bigger than a sheet of A4 paper. She could hardly move, let alone spread her wings. At the tender age of 18 months she was facing an untimely death because the egg industry considers that the ladies are ‘spent’ by the mere age of 18 months. This is like 12 human years!

While most hens are killed so young, some are lucky enough to find kindness and ‘forever homes’. Holly is one of those lucky ones because she found her way to some kind humans and found a new forever home.

Holly’s new humans didn’t think she’d live past 3 years of age. Against all odds Holly is still kicking and thriving at the age of over 6 years.

You see, hens like Holly can actually live up to 10 years, but the egg industry overloads their little bodies so much that most don’t live past half their natural life span. Not Holly though. Holly doesn’t lay eggs and hasn’t for years. Her body is just not equipped for that anymore. This is a blessing in disguise because we think this has actually helped saved her life by retaining the much needed calcium and other nutrients within her fragile body. You can see that Holly has now grown into a beautiful lady.

It is quite easy to see that Holly is not any different to your average companion animals like kitties and doggies. She is very social and quite intelligent. Holly, like all hens, displays a range of emotions just like humans. Holly was best friends with Frannie, another rescued hen. The two were inseparable. When Frannie passed away, oh boy did Holly mourn! Holly refused to be part of the flock for quite some time. Eventually she accepted the loss and befriended some of the others.

Holly loves food. Well actually, one particular food: grapes. Holly’s humans say “red grapes are her favourite, though she will do white if she must”. Below is a photo of Holly eating a grape.

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Holly eating a grape

Once you meet hens like Holly you will wonder how you ever ate chicken or supported the egg industry. But don’t worry, you can still have chicken for dinner; just not in the way everybody else thinks 😉

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Picture Credit: Evolve Campaign

Visit the Animal Liberation Queensland website or Animals Australia to learn more about factory farming and the battery hens and find out how you can help girls like Holly.

http://alq.org.au/factory-farming

http://www.animalsaustralia.org/media/videos.php?vid=battery_hens

 

ANIMAL EQUALITY: Why are some more equal than others?

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The shelter kitten who changed my life

I am an engineering professional in my late 20s. I had a pretty ordinary childhood, except during my childhood I was never allowed to have pets. Not because we particularly disliked animals, but because my parents were too busy. Both my parents worked full-time. My mother barely had any maternity leave when she had me and my sister. So I grew up being quite indifferent to animals, even scared of little kittens and puppies.

It wasn’t until my 21st birthday that I ever had a pet. On my 21st birthday my then boyfriend convinced me to adopt a kitten named Winkle from the RSPCA shelter. Winkle changed my life.

Winkle made me realise that animals have personalities; they feel joy, sadness and pain just like humans. And so my transformation began.

Following Winkle, I welcomed Billy, Meg, Lily and Speckles into my life. I have also watched hundreds of foster animals come and go. I called myself an animal lover.

But I felt something was not right. So I started questioning what was so different between the animals we love, like cats and dogs, and the animals we eat, like chickens, cows, pigs, and goats. The answer was nothing.

Subsequently I changed my lifestyle. I stopped consuming and using animals. I felt liberated to finally call myself an animal lover. My actions finally aligned with my values.

I have visited various farm sanctuaries. I have met Heather – a sow rescued from a piggery, Coco – a rooster rescued from a broiler farm, and Mary – a dairy cow who has had her babies taken from her for the majority of her life. My interactions with Heather, Coco, Mary and many of their other friends only confirmed that humans and animals share the same capacity to suffer and enjoy life.

The more I learned about the animal agriculture industry, the more I believed that I have done the right thing by eliminating the consumption and usage of animals. For example, I learnt that male piglets are castrated without anaesthetics and unwanted baby pigs are killed. Apparently this was standard industry practice.

I was heart-broken. I think any person who aspires to being a good, kind and compassionate person would be.

I also read the recently published 82-paged “Life of a Dairy Cow” by Voiceless which reports that the dairy cows are impregnated and their offspring removed within days of birth. The male calves are then killed while their female counterparts are grown to endure the same fate as their mothers.

The way the animals are treated in today’s society affects the way I function my life. This includes my work, what I buy, what I eat and what I do.

Living a life that has no direct contribution to the use and abuse of animals has benefitted not only those animals but also myself. My diet is much healthier now and as a result I am healthier. I am contributing less to adverse environmental impacts by not actively participating in animal agriculture, which causes greenhouse gases, water pollution, deforestation and climate change.

We are privileged to live in a time where there are various non-animal based products available – to eat, wear and use. So if we can thrive without hurting others, why wouldn’t we?

I believe that we should thrive for a world without the use and abuse of other creatures. It will lead to a better future for creatures on earth, including us humans.

Some Resources: