captivity

Another ethical grey area: Duck cuddling

duck and veteran

Image description: On a suburban street, a burly man in sunglasses and a trucker cap tenderly cuddles a white duck in his arms, talking to him or her and scratching his/her tummy. The duck is relaxed and cozy-looking. Three more ducks walk around behind them, among chain link fencing and an orange construction fence.

This is one of those things that I see as a vegan and wonder if it could be done ethically. The story behind the image is that this guy is a veteran living in Ohio who keeps ducks for therapy. According to this short Gawker post and the AP article it links to, this “keeping” apparently consists of caring for them, watching them, and spending time with them. It doesn’t say anything about taking their eggs or feathers, or eating their bodies, or breeding or selling them. Maybe some of that is involved; maybe the particulars of this situation are in some way exploitative. My guess is that these animals weren’t rescued from a factory farm, for example.

But what I’m seeing here is the potential for a very sweet and symbiotic way for veterans and other humans to take a lot of solace in the company of animals who need homes. If sanctuary animals in need of adoption were paired with humans who need their company, that seems like a smart, benign, and even beneficial relationship. Could the concept of “therapy animal” be expanded to become an explicitly mutual, respectful relationship intended to benefit both parties?

Read the article and tell me what you think about this subject.

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India announces dolphinarium ban

dolphinarium

Good news for dolphins from WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation:

In a highly progressive move for dolphin protection, India’s Central Zoo Authority has issued a circular announcing the decision of India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests not to allow the establishment of dolphinaria in the country and advising state governments across India to reject any such proposals. To demonstrate just how progressive this decision is, the circular notes “cetaceans in general are highly intelligent and sensitive, and various scientists who have researched dolphin behavior have suggested that the unusually high intelligence… means that dolphin should be seen as “non-human persons” and as such should have their own specific rights and is morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purpose”.

Read more…

Do you support the rights of whales and dolphins?

If you support animal rights, sign the Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans: Whales and Dolphins:

Based on the principle of the equal treatment of all persons;
Recognizing that scientific research gives us deeper insights into the complexities of cetacean minds, societies and cultures;
Noting that the progressive development of international law manifests an entitlement to life by cetaceans;
We affirm that all cetaceans as persons have the right to life, liberty and wellbeing.
We conclude that:

  1. Every individual cetacean has the right to life.
  2. No cetacean should be held in captivity or servitude; be subject to cruel treatment; or be removed from their natural environment.
  3. All cetaceans have the right to freedom of movement and residence within their natural environment.
  4. No cetacean is the property of any State, corporation, human group or individual.
  5. Cetaceans have the right to the protection of their natural environment.
  6. Cetaceans have the right not to be subject to the disruption of their cultures.
  7. The rights, freedoms and norms set forth in this Declaration should be protected under international and domestic law.
  8. Cetaceans are entitled to an international order in which these rights, freedoms and norms can be fully realized.
  9. No State, corporation, human group or individual should engage in any activity that undermines these rights, freedoms and norms.
  10. Nothing in this Declaration shall prevent a State from enacting stricter provisions for the protection of cetacean rights.

Agreed, 22nd May 2010, Helsinki, Finland

Do you support this declaration? Click here to add your name.

Human News

Yu Chan swims again: A sea turtle with prosthetic flippers

Yu Chan swims again: A sea turtle with prosthetic flippers

yu-sea-turtle-prosthetic-finsThe researchers who made these prosthetic fins for Yu Chan are working on another, even more comfortable version (this is her 27th pair). I feel bad for her that she’s apparently lost her freedom, but it looks like the folks that are working for her are trying to get her to a place where she would be more able to survive on her own outside of captivity – so maybe that’s still in the cards. Anyway, this is an amazing video. Beautiful swimming, Yu!

As an aside, live animal exhibits at aquariums and zoos are usually profit-driven. If you want to go to places like the one shown in this video, please make sure they’re rescue- or sanctuary-based. For instance, at the “aqualife park” where Yu is living, there are dolphin and otter shows. Why are they not allowed to just do whatever they want, instead of performing for crowds of humans? Why are they not free, swimming in the ocean, instead of living in captivity, in tanks? What happens when they get old and are no longer attractive “exhibits”? Is their captivity for their benefit or for human benefit? If it’s primarily for our benefit, how can we morally justify continuing this practice?

Via Jezebel

Photograph from Suma Aqualife Park via Reuters