Every now and again something happens that reminds me how close we are to our Neanderthal ancestors and how little we’ve learned about the responsibilities that come with our place in the pecking order.
Obviously, as we exist at the top of the food chain, we assume we have dominion over the lower orders and treat our cohabitees accordingly. Generally we turn a blind eye to the millions of farm animals routinely mistreated on farms and wildlife that struggles to survive in our world but sometimes something happens to upset our cosy ignorance. Last week, an American dentist decided that what he needed to make him feel like a real man was to kill a lion with a bow and arrow. With a little help and protection from armed Zimbabwean locals this fellow managed to consummate his perverted desires and slaughter a King of the Jungle after luring this beast out of the sanctuary of the park and onto some farmland. Job done. This vile little man then announced he’d like to kill an elephant with his arrows but was told it wasn’t possible.
The next day it turned into world news after it was discovered that the big cat was part of Oxford University’s research project and known to locals as Cecil.
The fate of Cecil has quite rightly triggered a massive response from animal lovers outraged by this pointless death but the miserable deaths of many of the faceless animals that end up on your barbecue this weekend will pass unnoticed and that’s where my disappointment with the human race lies. If all the animals had cuddly names and ‘personalities’ we’d feel a lot more guilty about casually eating burgers made from Buttercup and Daisy. It’s a well-documented feature of smallholders’ handbooks that you don’t give names to your livestock because they become your friends and we don’t eat our friends do we? Food animals have a place in the food chain and I’m entirely happy to eat them but maybe it’s time we gave a thought to how these creatures lived and died?
If any good can come from the death of Cecil the Lion, it has to be that it forces some of us take another 30 seconds to check out the butchery counter and chiller cabinet and perhaps ask how the pork chop was raised and slaughtered….and if you don’t like the answer then maybe you ought to consider taking your business elsewhere. We have many choices but those nameless animals have none.
At the other end of the animal rights movement we heard from ‘Peta’ activists last week who called for Skegness to dump their Jolly Fisherman mascot because he represented mutilation and cruelty to fish as he plies his trade on the sea. Whether you accept that Peta has a valid point or you believe they might just be off their rockers is debatable but either way it’s good to see people re-thinking the way we all treat our fellow beings.