All the travelers internet-preaching about the ethical treatment of animals, please listen up.
I just wrapped up my trip to Thailand where I neither rode an elephant nor petted a tiger. I’d fully intended on visiting Tiger Kingdom, and I regret my decision not to.
I love animals; always have.
My childhood was consumed with pets – fish, hamsters, frogs, dogs, whatever I could get my hands on. Interacting with animals is a highlight of my vacations. And Thailand is the holy grail of animal attractions.
A week before takeoff, I ran across a review of the Tiger Kingdom. While the article mentioned no foul play, other travelers crucified the author with comments. After an hour of research, I’d heard by both sides of the kitty-petting argument and was no closer to the truth.
As a precaution, I canceled the activity. I didn’t want to risk patronizing a place that treated animals poorly.
The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, however, with its classic sob story received terrific reviews across the web.
As we fed and played with these impressive creatures, we were sold the story of rescued and happy elephants living their lives in a welcoming sanctuary.
I allowed myself to believe the elephants enjoyed our interactions. And I patted myself on the back for not subjecting the elephant to the arduous task of carrying my 140 pounds on its 12,000-pound frame.
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So, no. I didn’t ride an elephant or pet a tiger, but later that week I got a fish pedicure after eating sweet and sour pork.
The Ugly Truth You Don’t Really Want to Know
While the fish hungrily nibbled my toes, I wondered about their quality of life.
Were the fish starved so they would voraciously exfoliate my feet? Were they over-breed to fill the tanks on every block?
What about my piglet lunch? Did he have plans for the future? Or kids awaiting his return?
And I thought about all the other animal products we use. Every. Single. Day.
Few people are talking about the disgusting treatment of animals who make our food supply. From the meat on your grill to milk in your cereal.
And let’s not forget the hair and leftover parts that go into products you’d never imagine. Can we say jello?
It’s scientifically proven that we judge animals based on which ones we eat. The critters fried, sauteed, and baked are seen as dumb or disposable.
Maybe that’s why our outcry for elephants is louder than that for pigs.
Mistreated Animals Permeate Your Everyday Life
Few people are mentioning the worthless drug and healthcare product testing conducted on animals.
And no one is talking about how many animals are bred to amuse us in our homes. Have you considered how many MILLIONS of pets end up in shelters or euthanized? It’s mind boggling and just the tip of the iceberg once we factor in zoos and circuses.
While folks outcry practices in Thailand and Uganda, who’s looking at the stats for the good ole US of A?
As much as we’d like to pat ourselves on the back, few people are truly ethical when it comes to how we use animals. I didn’t ride an elephant, but I’ve munched on cows and a ridiculous amount of other cute animals including zebra and gazelle.
How many of you reading this have really taken the time to cleanse your hands of animal blood? Or have you decided which animals are worthy of fair treatment and which animals don’t matter?
I’d guess the majority of those crying out for rhinos could recite reasons why these creatures are more important than the spider they squished on the wall. What a God complex.
Yes, make decisions. Stand by them. Share the reasons with others. Just end all the ridiculous judgment.
So what if someone wants to pet a tiger? They have the same option to use that animal as others use chicken babies for breakfast.
Pets are animals held captive (and often accidentally killed – don’t question me on this; I worked in a pet store) for our personal amusement. Where is the #FreeSpot hashtag? I triple, double dog dare you to watch this video.
We don’t have to test medications on rats and monkeys. The results of those tests don’t benefit the animals, nor are they reproduced in human trials, so why is this outdated method still so prevalent? Here’s another video to ruin your blissful ignorance.
The truth: our society has decided that using animals to promote human life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness is justifiable.
We Are All Unethical, Animal Misusers
At the end of the day, we are all unethical. You’d have to be a monk floating on a cloud not to be.
Travelers: do what you want.
Research and make a decision based on what you feel is right. Share what you learn, but understand that people are free to make whatever decision they choose. I’m so over reading critical, regurgitations of investigative journalism. Don’t be that person.
Elevating the wants of humans over other animals is ingrained into most cultures. Inescapably.
In the wise words of Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
In the wise words of that adorable little girl who broke the internet, “Worry bout yourself.”