I firmly believe that animals deserve our respect. There can be few things more beautiful than watching wildlife in it’s natural environment: think of, say, an elephant gracefully crossing the plains of east Africa, or a shoal of fish in the sea. All part of the majesty of nature and the network of life on earth. Yet inherent to that majesty is the connection between an animal and it’s environment: all animals evolve, after all, to suit their environment. Take an animal out of it’s environment and you create something artificial, fake. That’s why I object so strongly to so-called dog lovers treating their pets like human infants: a dog should be respected as a dog, not anthropomorphised in the pretence that it is something it’s not.
I just finished binge-watching Joe Exotic, Tiger King on Netflix. It is car crash tv of the worst kind, but it’s so addictive that I watched the entire series in two days. Centred around people who own small zoos in the American south, it is shockingly fucked up: the way these people treat one another, behaving like petulant children armed with guns, is disturbing. My chin was on the floor in bewilderment half the time, and I defy anyone to watch it and not wonder how a nation with such deranged psychopaths could become the most powerful country on earth.
Most sickening of all, perhaps, was the way these egotistical nutcases treated the animals they owned. They claimed to love them, but it’s very obvious they just used them as tourist attractions with which to make fortunes. I particularly disliked the way they encouraged visitors to take their photo with infant tigers, emphasising how apparently cute the animal looks. Yet animals aren’t supposed to be cute: in this case, tigers are supposed to be vicious predators from Africa and Asia. It made me sad to see so many animals taken out of their natural habitat and used to boost the egos of these fools; yet surely it’s just an aspect of a type of culture which uses and exploits animals as emotional crutches. Be it dogs, cats, tigers or chimps, people seem to project their emotions onto animals, using them as toys or tools for their own edification, rather than respecting them as the beautiful examples of evolution that they are.