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The lure of ‘get up close’ animal attractions

The temptation to get up close and friendly and take selfies with iconic and cute creatures is almost impossible to resist.

The following are excerpts from reviews of a tiger petting facility in Thailand posted on TripAdvisor.

“First Time I Used A Live Tiger as A Pillow. This place is cool. Good food, drinks, and the opportunity to get into a cage with live tigers. Tiger Kingdom allows you to choose from entering cages with small, medium, or large tigers. Getting into the cage is thrilling and the photos with the tigers will be the ones your friends like the most.”

“Better than expected – honest animal lover’s review. It’s important to remember these are captive Tigers, they have grown up around humans and wouldn’t survive in the wild. . The keepers did have sticks, but I only saw them use them to run them along the ground to play with the Tigers or gentle taps to discipline the young tigers. In the wild, being clobbered by their mother’s paw to discipline them would be a lot more painful.
What a crazy experience! We paid to see all of the animals and you should too!”

“I’m an animal lover and I was skeptical of if I would agree with the treatment and care of these animals.  I wouldn’t feel comfortable endorsing this place if I thought the animals received even the slightest bit of poor treatment. Go be amazed of beauty and size of these animals, you won’t regret it.”

The main message that these reviews reveal is that in our modern times animals are still inconsequential in society and no one really cares about their rights, welfare or needs only having a good time. It also confirms that despite social media publicity of animal abuse and better education we have not moved on from the days of viewing animals as objects and chattels to make use of. I despair at how naïve This naivety and complete lack of comprehension and awareness of animal rights and welfare issues, particularly by the young, is depressing. It would appear that animal abuse is inescapable in our modern age.

What is even more frustrating is that self declared “animal lovers” see no wrong in patronising obviously cruel animal attractions because “loving” animals according to them only involves the selfish desire to be close to them, stroke them and have their picture taken despite the circumstances or the way they are treated. Or to use a tiger “as a pillow”, “have good food and drinks” and be amazed that they come in all sizes.

Tourist elephant riding

The message is that all these attractions are cruel

I realise that for a person with no genuine empathy for animals the temptation to get up close and friendly and take selfies with iconic and cute creatures is almost impossible to resist. Thanks to social media this enticement outweighs any other considerations. The truth is that all these attractions no matter how well run you believe they are, all have a component of cruelty and abuse connected to them either before, during or after the animals have participated, or all three.

Imagine the reaction to a puppy petting farm where the pups are constantly interfered with by hordes of visitors.

The tiger cubs are bred purely for  the purpose of stocking these petting establishments. When older become the breeders of the next generation just like puppy farms that we all supposedly hate. So imagine a puppy petting farm where the pups are constantly pestered by hordes of visitors and then when older, banished to breeding pens to produce a constant supply of puppies to be manhandled.

Would you be so eager to visit such a place then? These petting zoos have no conservation or rescue purpose at all and only exist to make money for local entrepreneurs. If we didn’t frequent them they would not exist and the tigers would not be put through all the trauma and stress. And of course these establishments are a health and safety nightmare.

It should be enough to see wild animals from a safe distance without molesting them. I hate to say it, but it is even more preferable to patronise a zoo than frequent these places. It is also a shame that large corporations such as TripAdvisor cannot do more to restrict the encouragement to visit these establishments by monitoring the reviews.

Please people – get real and avoid these places and find somewhere else to get a thrill!

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Human Precedence – why humans always come first

Without probably realising it we are all influenced by the stance of the law towards animals because there are three major drawbacks with all animal law. The first is that animals always lose out as they are considered as chattels or things or the property of people. The second is that they are viewed more as ‘subjects’ of protection rather than having legal rights themselves and the third is that prosecutions are not taken seriously which is reflected in the paltry fines and punishments given. These factors demean the status of animals and conveys a message to us that it is not so bad to ill-treat or abuse them because we have the confidence that human interests will always be put above theirs.

Basically, property cannot have rights over humans and so whenever there is any conflict the outcome is predetermined.

Historically, livestock was kept for food production and wild animals protected for hunting, but the common theme was that they all belonged or were owned by someone and therefore animals became enshrined in law as property. Basically, property cannot have rights over humans and so whenever there is any conflict the outcome is predetermined. This mind-set is deeply rooted within us, so much so that we are now unable to contemplate viewing them in any other way.

Many people feel that they should possess the basic right not to be treated as a ‘thing’ and there has been a lot of comparison to the slave trade when slaves were not thought to have interests and were looked upon as things or commodities and even to feminism whereby historically women were oppressed. The situation is basically the same worldwide and animals are secondary to their ‘natural predators’ humans, possessing little legal protection from being caused harm and suffering by us as long as it is beneficial to us. This is one of the main factors why the animal rights movement came into being.

Animals will always come second to humans whatever the situation or circumstances as we could never bring ourselves to perhaps save an animal at the expense of a member of our own species.

Under the new UK Animal Welfare Act 2006 this premise continues and older UK laws like the Criminal Damages Act 1971 and the Sale of Goods Act 1979 declares them property or as goods and chattels, but at least these differentiate them apart from inanimate objects and treat them as living entities. This status under animal law has been the main factor in keeping them subjugated and allowing us to do basically want we want with them. If their property status was abolished it would be a great step towards their rights as it would make it almost impossible for us to exploit them and for that sole reason it will never happen because of the considerable detrimental impact it would have on the way we live.

Animals will always come second to humans whatever the situation or circumstances as we could never bring ourselves to perhaps save an animal at the expense of a member of our own species, but we could do more to protect animals from our mistakes. This very important fact probably passes most people by and is what, quite rightly, upsets so many animal rights advocates.

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