Tag: lions

?⁠ Captive Animals, Captive Humans ?⁠

(I wrote this letter to the Washington Post in response to their article about animals in zoos during Coronavirus a couple days before a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for Covid-19.)

In reading the end of your article about how “some zoos and aquariums … are streaming live-feeds of their exhibits to keep the public connected to their animals,” I couldn’t help but see the irony in live-streaming videos of captive animals to the homes of captive humans.

The fact that zoonotic diseases like Covid-19 pass from animals to humans is another irony that should also not be lost on your readers. While Covid-19 (and SARS before it) originated in a live market where wild animals are kept to be sold for human consumption, it is precisely confinement of wild animals and their proximity to humans that increase the chances of zoonotic diseases passing between human and non-human animals.

Perhaps a silver lining in all of this will be a heightened awareness that other animals’ desire for freedom, life, autonomy, and self-determination is as strong as our own. If we’re frustrated by our temporary lack of mobility and independence, imagine how they feel.

We can admire birds in our backyards; watch bees pollinate flowers; or spot wild turkeys, deer, and lizards while on a hiking trail.

We can be captivated by animals without holding them captive.

~Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

?Writing (thoughtful, respectful) letters to editors of newspapers — locally, regionally, and nationally — is a wonderful way to be a voice for animals and helps you articulate your thoughts about a given subject.

?For more on animals and coronavirus, check out my series on the Food for Thought podcast about how the virus affects and is affected by non-human animals.

?Please feel free to share any or all of this letter.

Some related essays you might be interested in:

Animals and Coronavirus: Poaching and Eating Wild Animals

Coronavirus and the Lethal Gifts of Livestock

Vaccines Are a Bunch of Bull: Animal-Related Words for Diseases and Cures

3 Tips for Avoiding Animal Cruelty When Traveling

Animal Abuse, Then and Now

On a recent trip to Italy, while touring the baths of Pompeii, a woman in my group looked up at a graphic depiction of a boy swimming with dolphins and declared that the ancient Romans must have loved animals. I conceded that they most likely regarded animals with awe, while reminding her of the grueling chariot races in the Circus Maximus, the gruesome fabricated “hunts” in the Roman Forum, and the egregious animal slaughter that took place in the Colosseum – all for the sake of human entertainment.

The ancient Romans were, like us, a diverse and complicated people. They were resourceful, intelligent, and innovative. They were also violent, ignorant, and opportunistic. In all these ways – both good and bad – we are the same.

The Colosseum in Rome is a testament to this. Awe-inspiring though it was to stand inside this architectural feat and to contemplate the ingenuity, hubris, and labor that went into its design and construction, it was equally disquieting. Imagining the amount of blood shed, bodies strewn, and lives wasted over the centuries it was in use was unsettling – not only because so much unnecessary torment once took place but mostly because it continues to.

The practice of using and killing animals for our own pleasure runs throughout history and cultures. It’s certainly not unique to the ancient Romans, and it did not end with them. We like to pretend that we’ve shed our barbaric selves, but the violent echoes of the past resound in our own amphitheaters.

*In modern horse racing, horses are pushed beyond their limits only to be discarded and often slaughtered when there’s little chance they’ll earn a laurel crown for their riders.

*For our contemporary circuses, majestic wild animals are beaten into submission for the entertainment of stadium spectators.

*In “canned hunts,” animals are pursued in a confined area and then slain to be displayed as trophies.

We like to believe that we’re more advanced than our ancient predecessors, but when it comes to our relationship with the non-human citizens of the world it seems that little has changed.

With a Perspective, this is Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

The ancient Romans were, like us, a diverse and complicated people. They were resourceful, intelligent, and innovative. They were also violent, ignorant, and opportunistic. In all these ways – both good and bad – we are the same.

The Colosseum in Rome is a testament to this. Awe-inspiring though it was to stand inside this architectural feat and to contemplate the ingenuity, hubris, and labor that went into its design and construction, it was equally disquieting. Imagining the amount of blood shed, bodies strewn, and lives wasted over the centuries it was in use was unsettling – not only because so much unnecessary torment once took place but mostly because it continues to.

The practice of using and killing animals for our own pleasure runs throughout history and cultures. It’s certainly not unique to the ancient Romans, and it did not end with them. We like to pretend that we’ve shed our barbaric selves, but the violent echoes of the past resound in our own amphitheaters.

*In modern horse racing, horses are pushed beyond their limits only to be discarded and often slaughtered when there’s little chance they’ll earn a laurel crown for their riders.

*For our contemporary circuses, majestic wild animals are beaten into submission for the entertainment of stadium spectators.

*In “canned hunts,” animals are pursued in a confined area and then slain to be displayed as trophies.

We like to believe that we’re more advanced than our ancient predecessors, but when it comes to our relationship with the non-human citizens of the world it seems that little has changed.

With a Perspective, this is Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

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