Animals in the news

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Kudos to the Cloverdale rodeo for dropping calf-roping and three other similar events from next year's event.

Brickbats to the Aquarium for continuing to keep cetaceans in captivity.

And, big, big, ups to the Great Ape Project for their fight to have human rights extended to primates.

Flame on... a different debate for a change... what rights should we extend to animals? Does being an omnivore make one a hypocrite to want rights for creatures and where do we draw the line in deciding who (or what) is deserving of the same protections we extend to people?

Yes, one calf was injured 3 years ago and now calf roping has been dropped. Now I'm no rodeo fan (don't even know where Cloverdale is - the place on highway 1 where it starts to stink of cow?) but COME ON!

I guess we need to take all the animals that were involved in this barbaric sport and PUT THEM IN THE FOOD CHAIN!

The Aquarium should release all the animals back to the wild, where they would quickly die, but at least they would die out of our view. The Vancouver Aquarium is the kind of institution that we need MORE of. It promotes education and awareness, brings in tourism and is a fantastic entertainment option that is not based on media-sponsorship overload. Family membership - we go all the time. My 5 year old wants to go to Lancaster Sound to see Narwhals! The Aquarium has given her a sense of the diversity of aquatic life and the scope of the Canadian eco-system. And yes, the larger animals (Dolphins/Beluga Wales/Sea Otters) are all part of the picture.

Society does have some major issues to solve, but lets concentrate on the real problems people!

m2c

P.S. I'm fairly certain that Great Apes should be exempt from coming to a full stop at a red light.

Two calves euthanized at the Rodeo in the past three years. Two miscarriages for the dolphin Hana in the past two years. Just to correct a small error in your statement.

I think we need to differentiate between cetaceans or primates and salmon or cows in terms of animals in captivity. I wouldn't back a "Free the Starfish" campaign, but I believe whales and dolphins are capable of understanding the difference between captivity and freedom and would probably choose the latter... as would most primates. Maybe not. Maybe they view the Aquarium as a posh hotel. But... it's the Hotel California. Until we've determined that they can't and won't choose non-captivity we are imposing our will upon them.

All sentient beings (self-aware) deserve the fundamental right to pursue the same thing humans want... to live exist in a state and place of their own choosing.

p.s. the animals will die in the Aquarium too. That's not the issue. I agree the institution performs a valuable educational function too. Would you accept captivity if it informed the public about the habits and lifestyle of Ultimate players?

"All sentient beings (self-aware) deserve the fundamental right to pursue the same thing humans want... to live exist in a state and place of their own choosing."

Define sentience. Cats and dogs? Frogs? Fish? Spiders? Jellyfish? Birds?

"Two calves euthanized at the Rodeo in the past three years."

Two calves of how many? How many do you think would have been euthanised in an agricultural setting (assuming farmers would rather put a calf down due to injury rather than introducing it to a meat grinder)?

"Two miscarriages for the dolphin Hana in the past two years."

What's to say this wouldn't have happened in the wild? Who are we to say that Hana isn't an unfortunate mother, just as there are in the human population, and likely in wild dolphin populations?

Defining sentience... perhaps cogito ergo sum? Can a jellyfish know and understand its place
within the universe? I don't think so. The dictionary defines it as capable of sense and feeling.
Primates, cetaceans, probably elephants -- have all demonstrated a self-awareness akin to
that of humans and several degrees above most other animals. To me this should accord
them a special status and some of the same rights as humans (freedom from torture or
forced captivity). If we don't, what's to stop the logical progression of keeping alive the Terri
Schiavos or hydrocephalics of the world for organ harvesting purposes? They can't express
self-awareness right? So, logically we should be free to use them as we see fit. Is that a road
we should consider travelling?

Dogs are a special breed (pardon the pun) having been conditioned and bred for millenia to
occupy a place beside humans. Wolves and other wild canines don't willingly set up house
with humans. We already accord them (dogs) rights and privileges not given to feral dogs or
other wild canines.

If a cat has any thoughts outside "Scratch my chin and bring me dinner" I haven't seen much
proof of it. Still, we also give them more rights and privileges than a bobcat or cougar. Just
try to get a cat-trapping licence! Can you imagine the outcry?

Whether or not Hana would have miscarried in the wild is irrelevant. The real question is,
given the choice between the open ocean and a small tank, which would she choose?

The two calves euthanized at the rodeo were killed because in the course of chasing them
down and throwing them to the ground they were injured and had to be put down. They were
bred, hurt, injured, and eventually killed for entertainment purposes... a far baser thing than
being quickly killed for food. If you think that's OK (calf-roping et al) then I guess you don't
have a problem with bull-fighting, cock-fights, bear-baiting, dog-fighting, or monkey knife
fights? (insert obligatory "Furious George, what have they done to your beautiful face???" :-)

You're making spurious comparisons that aren't germane to the issue I.N.

Believe me... I'm not claiming to have all the answers, but I believe we need to modify our
laws in some way to recognize which animals are more like us than others. Perhaps that will
mean extending rights to those who don't necessarily deserve them, but that is the human
way after all. I find the issue particularly compelling esp. when one ponders which is the more
ethical approach -- eat a local animal, or chow down on tofu made from soybeans transported
thousands of kilometres at a greater overall cost to the environment?

There's a difference between the rodeo and the aquarium. Chasing down and tying up a pig/calf/etc... is quite different than nurturing and taking care of dolphins/seals/etc... I am not a fan of the rodeo for several reasons, one being the violent nature of the activities that take place to and with the animals. However the aquarium serves pretty much the complete opposite function by tending to injured animals and going to great lengths to care for all the animals at the aquarium. I can only imagine the hysteria if there were dolphin wrangling or beluga riding for 'sport'.

As for the dolphin/elephant/monkey's opinion on whether they'd rather be free or in captivity--it's pretty much unknowable. We can assume they would want to be 'free', but if I'm a seal and I have to fend for myself in the ocean--spending 95% of my time searching for food and fending off killler whales OR spend 95% of my time lounging around, being fed and having experts take care of my every ill...

I guess I should have been more clear. What I was looking for is: where do you draw the line for sentience? How do we know a jellyfish can't ponder? It has a neural net. It may not have a brain as we envision it, but that doesn't mean it can't ponder its own existence. We simply cannot know. It's a gray-area argument similar to the pro-life/pro-choice. When does a fetus become a human? Conception? Three months? Six months? Birth? What rights do we bestow upon it at each stage?

You say that the dictionary defines sentience as capable of sense and feeling. Cut off a frog's leg and tell me it can't feel that, or pull off a cockroach's antennae and tell me it can still sense the world around it. Sense and feeling are pretty broad terms.

I never said calf-roping was ok. I dislike that sort of shit-for-entertainment, and similarly I don't like boxing, UFC, kick-boxing, etc. Sure, the humans have a choice (maybe?), but I don't like violence for entertainment. Period. I was simply trying to compare an injured calf (albeit the reasons for injury are awful) to one that would have been normally injured. Perhaps I should have used another example, such as a wildebeest in the wild. An injured calf would be eaten by predatory animals, and I'm sure the death wouldn't be pleasant. Indeed, I'm sure if the calf had the choice, it would rather take a bullet to the brain than have the jaws of a lioness clamp around its throat, but I digress.

"The real question is, given the choice between the open ocean and a small tank, which would she choose?"

This is assuming that there is a choice to be made. The Vancouver Aquarium already does not accept animals that have been taken from the wild, but rather have been born in captivity or moved to captivity to save their lives. The Animals at the Aquarium can not be released with any expectation of survival in the wild. However, in the wild they would either starve to death or be eaten without our knowledge so is that alright?

One of the sea otters "in captivity" is a Valdez Oil Spill survivor and was rescued, cared for, and raised to adult hood by humans looking to make a difference. Now she lives in a tank and gets fed every day without the possibility of being hunted or harmed.

It's easy to say "but they are not free", but while freedom is a very good thing, it is also a human concept and it's very hard to say what a non-human would consider a preferable existance. Is it more humane to eat a calf then tie it up in a competition? I know which one I would choose, but I don't know about the calf. And what are their lives like other than during that 6 seconds? Better or worse than a calf in a pen being fattened up for the slaughter?

As for Dogs and Cats, hard to say. We just killed a bunch of "pets in captivity" by feeding them poison food. No Dog is "free" as I would define it, but should all Dogs as pets be banned?

I think the Aquarium is a model institution that should be supported (and expanded). I don't care about the Rodeo, but the bar used to ban some events was just set very very low...

m2c

I notice no one will touch the great apes and say it's good to keep them in cages. Why not?

I don't have a problem with the Aquarium as an entity. It does some valuable work. But I
question our right as humans to enslave other beings so like us simply because it is expedient
or educational.

"I know which one I would choose, but I don't know about the calf."

Nor do we know about the choice that would be made by the elephant, the whale, or the ape.
And because we don't know, we have no right to presume.

Again, I think it's safe to make a distinction between high-functioning animals capable of
many human behaviours and cud-chewing automatons simply playing out a pre-programmed
biological script -- based upon our current knowledge of creatures and their behaviour and
habits. (No offence to all you cows out there!)

"Society does have some major issues to solve, but lets concentrate on the real problems
people!"

Perhaps if we could extend some basic rights to those who are unable to argue in their own
defence we'd start finding it harder to countenance giving 18 year olds guns and telling them to
kill their fellow man or woman for meaningless symbols like lines on a map or the flavour of
politics, religion, or economics they might practice.

"Chasing down and tying up a pig/calf/etc... is quite different than nurturing and taking care
of dolphins/seals/etc"

Yep, it's like the difference between jail and a hospital. Sentient beings are usually allowed to
leave hospital when they are ready. Nobody makes sure they have a job and food in the
fridge at that time.

"I am not a fan of the rodeo for several reasons, one being the violent nature of the activities
that take place to and with the animals. However the aquarium serves pretty much the
complete opposite function by tending to injured animals and going to great lengths to care
for all the animals at the aquarium."

Owners of rodeo livestock would take offence to that statement and say they take the utmost
care of their animals. I don't doubt that they do. It's in their best interests to keep the
animals healthy and available to use for whatever purpose they choose, be it riding, roping,
or slow basting with a nice tangy sauce. At its core the aquarium is no different. It's not there
for the good of the animals, but for the purposes of human entertainment. Notice the
aquarium makes distinctions between classes of animals too. Would you rather be Hana or a
herring at the Vancouver Aquarium? Which one gets the full range of medical treatment and
which one ends up bad breath on a sea lion?

"I can only imagine the hysteria if there were dolphin wrangling or beluga riding for 'sport'."

Sealand. Marineworld. 'nuff said?

Our treatment of animals is already arbitrary. We eat animals some cultures consider sacred
and make pets of creatures others like stir-fried. I think this conundrum needs further thought
and I also believe we would do better to show more reverence and less pragmatism in this
regard. By no means an easy issue... but we as a species have shown a tendency to accept
the easier path of action rather than extend protection and rights to encompass those we can't
understand. It's both our privilege and our duty to use our ability to think about how we treat
all living things and act in accordance with what's right rather than what's expedient.

"Cut off a frog's leg and tell me it can't feel that, or pull off a cockroach's antennae and tell me
it can still sense the world around it. Sense and feeling are pretty broad terms."

I think the difference w/r/t sentience may be the difference between the animals that can see
the knife and extrapolate what's going to happen next. If the cow knew what the bolt-gun was
for, slaughterhouses would have a whole new set of problems.

i don't know where the line should be drawn but I do think erring on the side of inclusion is the
more humane (and human) choice.

as for marineland or sealand or aqua fun park: do you not see the difference in a dolphin swimming around and jumping through a hoop then rewarded with food as being different than a calf, scared shitless being tackled and bound?

"It's not there for the good of the animals, but for the purposes of human entertainment."

I would imagine those working at the aquarium or those studying marine biology or veterenary medicine would take issue with that statement. there's no doubt there is some element of entertainment with regards to the aquarium (as in jumping through hoops) , but it is hardly the sole reason they operate.

and of course they make distinctions, just as you have previously in this thread. would you yourself not argue a dolphin is a sentient being while a herring is not?

"do you not see the difference in a dolphin swimming around and jumping through a hoop
then rewarded with food as being different than a calf, scared shitless being tackled and
bound?"

One animal has been brainwashed (trained if you prefer a more neutral term) and is suffering
from Stockholm syndrome and the other is just scared shitless?

Would you make a child perform tricks before feeding it?

"no doubt there is some element of entertainment with regards to the aquarium (as in
jumping through hoops) , but it is hardly the sole reason they operate."

Research is not the primary function of the aquarium sadly. Entertainment is. Surely this is
obvious?

"and of course they make distinctions, just as you have previously in this thread. would you
yourself not argue a dolphin is a sentient being while a herring is not?"

Yes, I would argue a dolphin is sentient... and a herring is either bait or dinner. Where we
make the distinction is my entire beef (LOL) with the whole issue.

Great discussion but I gotta go. Bjork is calling and I loves me those pixie-esque singers from
whaling nations! :-)

"I think the difference w/r/t sentience may be the difference between the animals that can see the knife and extrapolate what's going to happen next."

So you're saying a dolphin, elephant or great ape, which I'm sure everyone this side of the Mason-Dixon line could agree upon as being intelligent, could see a knife and go "oh shit, I know what's happening next?" Neither can a baby. It's a matter of training, and I'm using that word in the very loaded sense. The dolphins are trained to jump through hoops for food. Dogs are trained the same. We're trained to work (/ jump through hoops) for food. Lions are trained to hunt for food. It's really no different.

Training takes place at the most fundamental level in the animal world. Think of the birds that no longer eat poison arrow frogs because they have either seen their friends die from the toxin, or have been taught by their parents (or perhaps genetic memory, another interesting topic). I don't think we can define sentience as the ability to be trained, but it'd be close to a start, at least.

Whether you choose to believe this through your jaded eyes is another matter but:

"The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre is a self-supporting, non-profit association dedicated to effecting the conservation of aquatic life through display and interpretation, education, research, and direct action."

There are numerous activities at the aquarium including one I am very familiar with, aquaschool. Look into if you like--i know some kids who spent the week at the aquarium and seeing them in that environment, learning and experiencing all of it was amazing. i doubt the rodeo association or whatever umbrella organization cowboys are under have similar activities...

"I don't think we can define sentience as the ability to be trained, but it'd be close to a start, at
least."

I disagree. Sentience IMO is in part the ability to reject your training. We may be trained for
work for food but it's our right to choose to be unemployed and hungry. Is Hana extended the
same privilege? I don't think so.

"The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre is a self-supporting, non-profit association
dedicated to effecting the conservation of aquatic life through display and interpretation,
education, research, and direct action."

Note that display is first and research fourth.

No doubt the kids had a great time. Would a lack of cetaceans have compromised that
experience so radically? My five year old is as enamoured of butterflies as belugas.

I'm not saying there's no place for the aquarium... merely questioning whether cetaceans should
have a place there. Have I not made this distinction clear enough?

The kids were 12-14 so yes belugas are more interesting than butterflies. there's no doubt the lack of anything larger than a fish would have been a much less engaging. The trip was a year ago and the few kids I still deal with are more aware, informed and continue to keep themselves more informed and aware of the issues and actions being taken at the aquarium and in the news in general.

There's no denying the aquarium uses displays and entertainment as a large part of what they do. But that's how they pay the bills and I doubt they'd get much money displaying sea cucumbers and algae as the main attractions.

Is it ideal? No-but the work they are able to do through the revenues gained is incalculable if not only for saving/preserving/conserving different species but also for the education and awareness they afford for kids and adults.

now i must run to the bus/skytrain for my ridiculously long commute to ubc.

"We may be trained for work for food but it's our right to choose to be unemployed and hungry. Is Hana extended the same privilege? I don't think so."

How is she not? How can she not reject her training and go hungry? Indeed, I suspect were she to do so, she would still be fed, lest her trainers/captors/however you want to call them wished to be labelled as cruel to animals. How is that any different than you and I making the decision to live on the streets?

I prefer not to think of any "motivations" some people might use to "encourage" her to accept her training, thanks. Blech.

Stump, if I recall correctly (and I may not) you have a child. Can you say with all honesty that you've never responded to good behavior with a toy, a snack or some other reward? If this is logically different than what you're railing about, would you please then explain how? Or if it isn't, can you explain why you believe your progeny is not sentient?

As for me, I'll consider signing a petition to free Hana the moment she signs it.

"Can you say with all honesty that you've never responded to good behavior with a toy, a snack or some other reward?"

Not really. It seems genuine praise and a sincere thanx is usually enough. In our family good behaviour is expected (and the norm) not cause for celebration.

Certainly never for the entertainment of others (I don't make my kid jump thru hoops to garner applause in exchange for her food).

"How is she not? How can she not reject her training and go hungry? Indeed, I suspect were she to do so, she would still be fed, lest her trainers/captors/however you want to call them wished to be labelled as cruel to animals. How is that any different than you and I making the decision to live on the streets? "

Can u rephrase this? I don't understand what point you are trying to make.

"The kids were 12-14 so yes belugas are more interesting than butterflies."

You're projecting what you want to believe. We have no idea whether or not the aquarium can be interesting w/out whales, but given the training and expertise of the staff I know they can and do make most of the creatures there quite fascinating.

Anyway, it doesn't matter for the purposes of the discussion. By that rationale it would be OK to cage and display freaks (One of us, one of us) as long as there's an educational component.

"As for me, I'll consider signing a petition to free Hana the moment she signs it."

So literacy is required for freedom to be granted? That's just silly.

Funny how cetaceans can be trained to do all sorts of things, except that which is a money-loser, equipped to return to their natural habitat.

Why not live herring in the tank instead of dead herring in the mouth?

" but given the training and expertise of the staff I know they can and do make most of the creatures there quite fascinating."

surely you meant brainwashing and exploitation for entertainment of the staff?

sux to run out of rational arguments hey? :-)

no stump, i could continue-- i'm simply trying to have some fun--a little humour. you see earlier you said training was the same as brainwashing and that the aquarium was simply for entertainment--and then later you said that through 'training' the staff could do great things. (although aren't staff at the aquarium just circus entertainers?)

anyway--i appreciate the condescending/patronizing attitude...

Stump - it comes down to opinion and belief - you believe that whales, apes and all the other stars of Disney movies are to be given rights equal to or approaching humans.

Others, like me disagree. My belief system is based upon growing up on a farm where animals are to be productive - either food or work wise. The cat had to mouse, the dog had to protect the livestock from predators and help in hunting. The pigs (supposedly 'smart' as well), cows, chickens, ducks et al were food or generated food.

The belief systems of other people stem from the bible which basically stated that all other living creatures were under mans dominion and were for the benefit of man. (my understanding of the wording not a direct quote).

Others just don't care.

I'd like to think I am somewhat intelligent and can discern for myself that which is right and wrong wrt to 'animal rights' according to my beliefs. I think most other people feel the same way. And thus I, and many others, go to the aquarium, for education and entertainment. Many others also do so....apparently enough to keep he aquarium and other animal displays in business. We are voting with our feet and wallets in sufficient volume as to be heard.

Until your beliefs are taken on as the vast majority and very few people go to the aquarium - only then will the changes you propose to the expression of 'animal rights' be acted upon.

Some comments…

"Nor do we know about the choice that would be made by the elephant, the whale, or the ape. And because we don't know, we have no right to presume"

But you are presuming – that these animals are better off not in the rodeo, not at the aquarium. Better off dead I guess…

"Sentient beings are usually allowed to leave hospital when they are ready"

You are using 'Sentient' to just mean 'Human' in this case. Human Society is set up to not devour people once they leave the hospital after being raised in assisted care due to some injury. In fact there is a whole support system to help people with the transition. Is this clearly the case with the Dolphin and the Calf? I think not.

"Would you make a child perform tricks before feeding it?"

Parents do this all the time, they just don’t know it. Do we make kids jump through a hoop? No. Do we expect them sit at the table before eating? Do we make them eat this (dinner) before they can eat that (dessert)? Do we not allow them to start a fun activity (play outside) before doing a less enjoyable one (clean up room). I guess Stumpy's childeren came out of the shoot with good behavior (which is interesting as "good behavior" is a subjective thing, but the rest of society has been raising kids this way since the start of time). No Stump, you have trained them as well. Maybe in a different way, but you have trained them just the same. And there is nothing wrong with that.

"We may be trained for work for food but it's our right to choose to be unemployed and hungry. Is Hana extended the same privilege?"

What would happen if Hana stopped jumping through the hoop? Would they stop feeding her? No! No matter if you believe it or not, the ‘training’ of the animals at the Aquarium does serve a purpose that those involved do not think that they point is brainwashing.

"Note that display is first and research fourth"

Conservation is first

"I'm not saying there's no place for the aquarium... merely questioning whether cetaceans should have a place there."

Interesting Aquarium story – Some weeks ago I was waiting outside the Aquarium and a tour group of 10-14 year olds were going in, the teacher was giving them the "behave" speech (brainwashing?) and then said "There are 2 Must Sees at the Aquarium, make sure you take time to watch the Dolphin and the Beluga sessions".

I don't think there is anything wrong with having cetaceans at the Aquarium, but from a market point of view it’s also the sizzle that sells the steak.

m2c

As to sentience - how much of the research is truly showing that the animal is sentient and how much is just anthromorphizing. How much of sentience is just thousands of years of genetics. Meerkats can act very human in their care and treatment for others of the brood. But does that make them sentient or are they just acting in a way that best protects the brood and the genetic path?

How many animals bury their dead in a way that expresses some knowledge or faith in an afterlife? I know of none that meet that definition of sentience - and don't bring up elephants because all they do is recognize a past acquaintaince and stick around him until they realize he's not waking up. Definitely not a ritualistic behaviour expressing knowledge or faith in an afterlife no matter how you translate their actions.

"I don't think there is anything wrong with having cetaceans at the Aquarium"

The point of the discussion for me is that there's plenty of evidence that cetaceans are capable of understanding the issue, but we don't give them any option to determine their own future. I find that problematic. Same thing with the Great Apes. We wouldn't display humans for entertainment and education and I think we should extend the same courtesy to other species capable of making the choice.

If you love something set it free, as the old saying goes.

"How many animals bury their dead in a way that expresses some knowledge or faith in an afterlife? "

I don't believe in an afterlife nor do I care what you do with my body after I die. Not a good criteria to gauge the ability for self-determination in my opinion.

The research on cetaceans and great apes is pointing more towards intelligence and self-awareness than mindless biological responses. I don't think anthropomorphication is going on with those studies AFAIK.

So how do we communicate with them to find out what they want?

Like I said, belief is the key word.

Note though, that the burying of our dead is one of the critical markers in the development of man from ape ancestry for the archaelogical community. And yet you dismiss it out of hand as not applicable although it it seen as a very important differtiator in what makes us human and sentient. But you know science is just mumbo jumbo and big words.

Also there is a difference between self-awareness and sentience. I'd find it hard to believe that any above the single cell level that in some way is not self-aware. Intelligence is jus the ability to be trained to higher and higher levels.

"So how do we communicate with them to find out what they want?"

We learn their language. Until we can communicate with these clearly intelligent, highly social
creatures we have little or no right to determine the state of their existence IMO.

"Note though, that the burying of our dead is one of the critical markers in the development
of man from ape ancestry for the archaelogical community."

But perhaps not for whales. Perhaps they have no superstition or attachment to the physical
body once it has ceased to function. We don't know.

i don't dismiss it out of hand. It IS a marker in the development of humans. But whales
aren't humans.

There are really only two issues here, despite some very muddied waters.

1) Are cetaceans and great apes (I tentatively include elephants but am not completely
certain of their ability to 'know') able to make the same distinction between freedom and
confinement as humans?

2) If so, who are we (as a species) to confine and display them for any purpose, no matter
how altruistic?

It was wrong when we did it to circus freaks and the Dionne quintuplets wasn't it? I'm
suggesting we should broaden the net and err on the side of caution, rather than be seen for
barbarians if and when we confirm what many suspect.

well how realistic do you think that is in the near future?

what do we do in the meantime? we make assumptions because we have to. we assume an animal born in the wild would want to stay in the wild (as it's all they know). we assume an animal born in captivity would want to stay in captivity (again as it's all they know).

i guess what i'm saying is we have animals in captivity now, we can't change that. should we have started things like aquarium's in the first place? doesn't matter now. we can't just release animals that have been at the aquarium for years, you must agree they would have a very slim chance of survival. however, does that mean we should stop them from breeding so that eventually there are no more animals in aquariums? seems equally unfair to the animals currently at the aquarium to deny them that right.

"rather than be seen for barbarians"

hahahaha, i think there are numerous examples of 'us' as barbarians throughout history--that term hardly seems appropriate when talking about aquariums.

"that term (barbarian) hardly seems appropriate when talking about aquariums."

You're not a whale. Un-habituated ones may find the concept horrific.

"does that mean we should stop them from breeding so that eventually there are no more
animals in aquariums? seems equally unfair to the animals currently at the aquarium to deny
them that right."

It might be an effective stop-gap measure. We could probably find a way to prevent conception
without denying intercourse. Not a perfect solution, but one that only requires a single generation
to implement in terms of ending our attempts to breed cetaceans destined for captivity.

It's a good suggestion. I wonder what the Aquarium'$ objection$ would be? :-)

""that term (barbarian) hardly seems appropriate when talking about aquariums."

You're not a whale. Un-habituated ones may find the concept horrific."

attempted humour. i'll stop as it is apparently lost on you.

whale condoms? that would be a lot of latex!

"It's a good suggestion. I wonder what the Aquarium'$ objection$ would be?"

No one is denying the aquarium makes money off the whales/dolphins/otters/etc... am I missing your point?

Actually, a sense a humour might well be just the kind of indicator we need.

I assure you I have one, albeit dry enuff to warrant an olive or a pearl onion as garnish.

surely you see the humour in calling the aquarium barbaric while all around us today, yesterday and throught history actual acts of barbarism are taking place by 'us' on us, animals, the planet, etc... without nary a peep?

"whale condoms? that would be a lot of latex!"

I think the Pill or a tubal ligation might be a little easier to administer. I doubt quasi-whale
'fluffer' is a job many marine biologists would want on their resume. :-)

"surely you see the humour in calling the aquarium barbaric while all around us today, yesterday
and throught history actual acts of barbarism are taking place by 'us' on us, animals, the planet,
etc... without nary a peep?"

What word would you use to describe confining a being for life despite them having committed
no crime, purely for research and/or entertainment?

perhaps we define barbarism differently...

whatever word i would use it would be to a lesser degree than the word i would use to describe the countless events throughout history where life has been ended thoughtlessly ( i could name some but i'm sure you've read your history books or even the current newspapers...)

emd By emd

Thanks for posting the question Stump...interesting read.

While I do understand where you are coming from, I am trying to take a bigger picture of the goals and overall effect of aquariums, zoos, etc.

I see two options:
1) no sentient animals in captivity
2) some sentient animals in captivity

With option 1), how is one to learn about those animals? I am all for book and video learning, but seeing animals up close and personal is waaay better. You don't appreciate the size of an elephant until you see one only a few feet away from you. This then leaves one with two options, 1) never see these animals live or 2) try and see them in their home environment. That option has its own set of issues, n'est pas?

2) People see these magnificent creatures up close an personal and gain a better understanding of their plight (if they have one).

As an aside, if these darn animals are so smart and sentient, they shouldn't have let themselves be caught!

I AM willing to "sacrifice" a few animals so that people can gain a better understanding of the world around them.

Stump,
You seem to be basing your argument on two premises:
1. Cetaceans intelligence is superior to that of other animals excluding humans
2. If cetacean intelligence is superior to that of other animals excluding humans then they should have the same rights as humans.

I would like to challenge them both.

So far, on this board, we have not been presented with evidence of cetacean intelligence. Is there a study to which you can point that demonstrates that dolphins and whales are significantly more intelligent than other animals? If such a study does not exist the whole argument falls apart.

Even if we assume that the first premise is true why should we believe in the second premise? Cetaceans are smart … so what?

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