Circuses, zoos, aquariums, dog fighting, hunting, fishing, horse racing, bullfighting… all of these practices keep animals in captivity and use them against their will for human entertainment. People take part, considering them fun, entertaining, artistic or cultural, but none justify the forcing of animals into confinement, to suffer and die, for our benefit. In the past, in Roman circuses, elephants, humans, tigers and other animals were killed for the sake of amusing spectators. In England, bears were forced to fight dogs until one of the two died. Until very recently, in a Spanish town, goats were thrown to their deaths from the church tower during festivals. All of these forms of entertainment have finally been rejected by the majority of society, though still many more forms of abuse are yet to be questioned and eliminated. Many of these legal abuses disgust us, whilst others appear to be perfectly acceptable, but just like the Roman circuses it is probable that they will one day be seen as unacceptable in our society.
Circuses attract the public, especially children, for being colourful, fun and original. Sadly the reality is a sad one for animals incarcerated in them. Because circuses often travel many miles between different sites, animals invariably suffer. The temporary accommodation for animals, confined quarters, aswell as abusive training practices inflicting pain and stress means a life of misery for lions, tigers, elephants and domestic animals in circuses. Natural behaviours are thwarted and animals have to endure performances several times a day.
Visitors to animal circuses learn nothing about the natural behaviour of animals only that is acceptable to enslave them. The practice of enslaving animals and teaching them tricks implies that the animals’ own lives hold no inherent value in their own right. Animal Equality urges people to visit animal-free circuses, as these are indeed fun. For everyone.
Zoos are prisons in which hundreds, sometimes thousands, of animals are encaged for the enjoyment of paying visitors. Animals in zoos are caged for life and deprived of the opportunity to develop and fulfill the full range of their interests and needs. They lose control over their lives and the environment they live in. Social animals are often forced to live in the misery of solitary confinement. Animals who would prefer to live alone are often forced into close contact with others. Some animals are confined next to their predators, and some are held in crammed, barren environments where they are constantly bullied by cagemates. Many animals are taken from their families and sent to other zoos, or killed when their group size exceeds the space allotted to them.
Many zoo animals suffer from ‘zoochosis’, a term used to describe repetitive stereotypic behavior such as swaying from side to side, head bobbing and pacing. The complex emotional and social relationships animals need to thrive are destroyed in captivity.
The alleged ‘educational’ role of zoos needs to be challenged if we want to live in a just and equitable society that respects animals. If zoos teach anything, they teach us dangerous lessons. They teach us that humans have the right to enslave animals and reinforce the notion that animals have no other purpose other than for our gain. Zoos do not teach us to respect individuals.
The behaviour of animals in zoos is typical of many other animals in captivity. It is stunted and unnatural. Zoos do not teach children about the natural attributes of animals, on the contrary zoos provide a distorted image and teach them how animals should not be living. The disturbed and often bizarre behavior of animals in zoos provides further evidence that holding animals captive is simply wrong. If we want to instill values in children such as respect for others, we should start by not visiting places that enslave and cage animals for life.
Animal Equality carried out an extensive investigation into Spanish zoos and observed animals living in squalid environments among their own faeces in a state of anxiety. The findings of the investigation can be observed here: www.SpanishZoos.org
Hunting is considered a sport in many countries around the world. As a result millions of animals die every year. The most common practice is ‘small game hunting’, in which the victims tend to be partridges, turtle-doves, rabbits, and aquatic and migratory birds. There is also ‘big game hunting’, in which the victims include wild boar, deer and rams. Hunters use guns to kill certain individuals, and lead pellets to kill, injure and mutilate others. Cruel and barbaric bloodsports have no place in modern day society.
Fox hunting originated in Britain, but is practised all over the world, including in Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy and the United States. In Australia, the term also refers to the hunting of foxes with firearms similar to spotlighting or deer hunting. in Britain, ‘hunting’ without qualification implies fox hunting (or beagling, stag hunting and mink hunting). In Britain, hunting animals for sport is illegal, however the law is being broken.
Fox hunting was banned in Britain in 2004, but it still practised on a weekly basis all around the country. A foxhunt is a cruel and bloody event and involves the chasing of a red fox by a pack of trained foxhounds or other scent hounds and a group of hunters on horseback or foot. When being chased by the hounds, a fox will often attempt to escape underground. At this point a terrier is often sent down the hole to hold the fox at bay while the terriermen dig out the fox. As the fox is unable to escape it will then experience high levels of fear which, without being able to escape, will increase over time.
In the autumn of each year (August–October), hunts take the young hounds out cub hunting to kill young foxes. However, foxes are not the only animals to suffer. Historically it has been common practice to put hounds down at the end of their working lives around 6 – 8 years, or when a foxhound becomes too slow to keep up with the pack. There have also been numerous occasions when hounds have been injured or killed on roads and railway lines and when terriers have been injured or killed during terrier work.
Just because something was once a way of life does not mean it is right. We live in a modern, progressive society and allowing dogs to chase and kill wild animals for entertainment is simply not acceptable.
Aquariums’ are aquatic prisons in which thousands of marine animals, such as tropical, fresh and saltwater fishes and cetaceans are confined. Many of these individuals would otherwise swim thousands of kilometres a day and possess senses which guide them through their aquatic habitat, but are frustrated in tanks where they are condemned to spend their entire lives. Through the glass of the aquarium we do not see the full picture. We do not see the boredom, the monotony or the suffering endured by the animals behind the screens. Seeing the reality would surely prevent us from participating.
Other spectacles exist where animals are used to serve a human purpose. Rodeos, horse and greyhound racing are just some examples. In all of these the same wrong is repeated: Animals are created, raised, bought, sold and used for human entertainment to their detriment.
There are countless forms of entertainment which do not cause harm to, or oppress, animals. We can go to circuses that do not use animals, the cinema, the theater, concerts, shows, art galleries, museums, or go for hikes in the countryside whilst observing animals respectfully in the wild. The possibilities are almost endless. But above all this we can make a difference in our lives by informing others about why these places should not exist. We should all be able to enjoy freedom, human or not.