Has the Born Free Foundation missed an opportunity?
The Born Free foundation has severed its ties with actor Martin Clunes following his ill advised decision to ride on an elephant and worse still to pull on its ear in the process. He has been denounced across social media and unfortunately has lost all his kudos as an ambassador for animals.
To be fair, Martin Clunes has shown beyond doubt in many of his programmes that he is a genuine animal lover, so should we judge him so savagely. It was a very bad error of judgement by him and he is probably mortified. He allegedly voiced his concerns to the production crew about hurting the elephant by pulling at its ear and climbing up on it.
TV producers and directors are the ones at fault.
The TV production company and its producers, advisers and director are mostly at fault for their crass decision to include such a shot in the show in the first place , but have escaped most, if not all, of the censure. Rather than use the situation to highlight the plight of these elephants they chose the audience pleaser route of pressurising Mr Clunes to make an exhibition of himself with little thought to the outrage it would cause. The whole incident highlights the media approach to and misunderstanding of animal welfare and rights issues, and reinforces their ethos that animals are purely there to be utilised for entertainment and as audience pullers particularly when you can have a gullible celebrity presenter paid to front it and perform as they are told.
Unfortunately, Mr Clunes has now added himself to the list of presenters who perpetuate this creed that is acceptable to misuse animals for entertainment purposes irrespective of their rights and dignity.
Getting up close and personal is too irresistible for some animal lovers.
Being an animal lover is a double edged sword and many find it difficult to draw the line between being lovers and abusers. Animal loving instincts can lead us all astray at some stage as for most people the whole point of “loving” is to surround themselves with animals and take every opportunity to interact with them preferably at close quarters.
The lure of getting up close and personal can prove too irresistible and when presented with perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity of riding an elephant, swimming with a dolphin, or having a selfie with a bird of prey, monkey or snake many find it difficult to ignore. We kid ourselves that just the odd encounter does not really matter, little realising that these animals are put through this manhandling and stress continually. There is an extreme conflict of interest involved in these situations and unfortunately many cannot resist.
It could be argued that the Born Free Foundation has missed a trick with this heaven sent opportunity to use this highly publicised incident to their advantage by initiating an ad campaign with Martin Clunes to highlight that everyone is vulnerable and capable of making such a bad decision, but once they have made the error they might think twice in the future.
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