General Question

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Where do you draw the line on what is acceptable in using animals for sport or entertainment, or what use of animals is acceptable or unacceptable?

Asked by Adirondackwannabe (36550points) September 24th, 2010

This is a highly charged issue and the debate may get a little heated, so please respect the opinions of other jellys. We use animals in a lot of ways and there are a lot of different views on what uses are acceptable. I think most people would condemn bullfighting for the obvious reasons. But how about horseracing? Dog racing? The circus? Hunting? Is it acceptable to cram chickens into little cages for their entire life? What is the place where you say enough is enough?

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22 Answers

chyna's avatar

I can’t even answer about circus animals without getting hot about it. The way elephants are treated makes me sick to my stomach. Elephants were not meant to wear little hats and spin balls on their trunks. Dog fighting, cock fighting, any kind of animal fighting is illegal and should be punishable by jail terms. I do not understand bull fighting and why it is legal, as it is cruel and dangerous to the bulls. Ok, I’m getting mad just thinking about all the things I want to say here, but I will stop now.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Our relationship to animals has always been complex and different cultures have nagivated this complexity in a myriad of ways, some better than others. In many ways, due to religion or simply because we could, humans placed themselves above animals and nature – as an extention of this, we have okayed using animals to progress ourselves (medical research, for example, is something I feel ambivalent about but tend to support, nonetheless) but haven’t done much, in return. Some ancient peoples and some cultures still have honored animals for what they have given us – we are very much unlike those people, in so many ways. We take animals and the environment around us for granted. We think it’s okay to use animals for entertainment or to hunt them for sport but it isn’t, not in my opinion anyway. We think “ain’t it great, the circus! my kiddies can go and laugh their eyes out’ without considering how horrid circuses are behind closed doors in terms of animal treatment. We think ’‘awww, we’ll go the zoo…they’re protecting animals and we feel warm inside about that” without realizing the complex relationship behind the history of zoos, the quality of zoos and what they’re really all about. We think “things have always been this way, we eat animals and that’s that” without realizing how things have changed. There are many things we think that are simply incorrect, factually but would rather not deal with, in reality. We’re all about rescuing abandoned kittens and buying tutu skirts for our teacup poodles but we’re adamant about defending our food choices even if we can’t imagine eating our pets – if all the people whose hearts bled for kittens watched Food, Inc., maybe they’d realize how hypocritical it is to care about our goldfish whilst sporting an expensive leather tote. So let me just say, to all your questions, no…it’s not acceptable to cram chickens, to keep cows pregnant, to inject turkeys with antibiotics, to make cocks fight each other, to keep puppy mills or to eat meat, period. We are all guilty but we can all do better – because everything and everyone matters and that includes animals.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@chyna I know it’s a tough subject, so I understand. Your’s are some of the worst examples. How about horse racing, show jumping, etc. I would just like to see the jockies get rid of the whips.

MrItty's avatar

Causing them pain, repeatedly, for pure sport or entertainment, is probably where my line is. I’m all for killing animals for food and medical research. I’m all for them being used-and-not-killed for sport and entertainment (circus, for example). But causing pain without the release of death, such as bullfighting, dog fighting, etc…. that’s a little much for me.

Hobbes's avatar

@chyna – The thing is, animals weren’t “meant” to do anything. Elephants certainly don’t wear little hats and spin balls on their trunks in the wild, but they aren’t hurt or even stressed by doing so. Bullfighting obviously causes harm, but it’s very entangled with the local culture and so is a difficult issue to unpick. Dogfighting is obviously harmful and has no culture or benefit other than moneymaking, which is why it’s so unanimously illegal.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Just to clarify, I’m referring to the Spanish version of bullfighting, where the bull is always killed.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Oh, well then it’s not okay ~

chyna's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I don’t know when it was that I realized the jockeys used whips, I think I must’ve been in my 20’s, but I remember being horrified.
@Hobbes I remember reading about an elephant that was in the circus going crazy and killing the trainer and escaping. I don’t remember the entire story, but I remember the story stating the elephant was stressed from being confined. I will try to find the story (it was a long time ago).

Hobbes's avatar

@chyna Well, the stress in that case was confinement, not wearing little hats and spinning balls on their trunks. Animals kept in cages too small for them will become stressed, no matter what the context.

Jude's avatar

@Hobbes forcing them to do something that is unnatural (for them). Do we really need to see that? No.

CMaz's avatar

Spinning them in a blender is not my idea of a good time.
Nor is providing them with an income that is greater then my own.

Hobbes's avatar

@mama_cakes – It is possible to tell when an animal is stressed or uncomfortable, and as far as I know elephants do not become stressed or uncomfortable as a result of performing these tricks. When humans train a dog to do tricks, to sit on command or retrieve thrown objects, they are influencing the dog, but the dog is not harmed by it. Similarly, I think teaching an elephant to spin a ball on its nose does not do it any harm. If it is kept in too small a cage and goes crazy as a result, I certainly think that is unacceptable.

Jude's avatar

@Hobbes That’s your opinion and I disagree. It’s not natural. Elephants need to be out in the wild, where they belong.

Hobbes's avatar

I think if an animal were distressed by performing tricks, it would show it. As far as I know, elephants don’t show any signs of stress at being taught to spin balls or wear hats, and often form close bonds with their trainers.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Hobbes Why do they have to perform tricks?

Hobbes's avatar

They don’t “have to” because they’re not being forced to. The relationship between an animal and a trainer is largely a willing one. If the animal were unwilling, it would become stressed, aggressive, or unpredictable. The relationship is also usually mutually beneficial – the animal gets security, reliable food and companionship in return for doing those tricks.

Jude's avatar

^^ That’s bullshit. They go along with it because they don’t have a choice. Willing, my ass.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Hobbes I don’t see how perceived lack of stress (however you define it) = consent. If I couldn’t speak, let’s say – doing tricks on a unicycle wouldn’t really stress me out but I wouldn’t want to do it.

chyna's avatar

condtions circus animals live in
@Hobbes If you read the link, it tells of the bad conditions the circus animals live in and about the “sharp, hooked wooden stick” used to “train” beat the animals into submission or to do the “tricks” they perform. A wild animal is meant to live in the wild, not in stalls and stuck on trains to travel from town to town. Don’t tell me that traveling on a train or living confined in a stall or being beat into submission does not cause stress.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Just because I don’t like a thing or approve of it, such as bullfighting, cock-fighting or dog-racing, doesn’t make it wrong. And conversely, just because I have a pet dorg and treat her pretty well (in my eyes) doesn’t make it right, either.

Who’s to say that my treatment of my dorg isn’t “cruel”? After all, she’s shut up in the house all day and only has one full meal per day. She can’t mate (not any more!) and she can’t meet other dorgs or hold a job or vote or anything. Maybe someday people will look back at this point in our history, or even at me in particular, and exclaim, “How barbaric!” But we get along okay; she seems to like me regardless. (Maybe it’s just the canine Stockholm Syndrome.) And you have only my word to know how she’s treated: she can’t tell you herself, and there’s no way for her to contact you to complain even if she could speak. (Well, she can, but you probably wouldn’t understand her, and she’s a lousy typist. Also the worst speller ever, and I kid her about syntax and vocabulary all the time.)

And on the other hand… a lot of the animals you mention wouldn’t even be alive (I’m thinking of the animals raised for food, specifically) if there wasn’t a market for them as food. Who would support the raising of chickens, turkeys, cows and pigs, for example, at least in the quantities that they are raised, if it wasn’t for their value to us as food and other byproducts?

And bulls used in bullfighting, for example, are not “mindlessly” butchered. In the culture of that “sport” (which I don’t subscribe to myself), the bull is an honored opponent, and must be accorded nearly the same respect and dignity as the matador. And who would raise that bull as a pet, or for any other purpose (other than breeding or eating)? What chance is there that such an animal would even HAVE a life, if it wasn’t for the fact of being raised by humans in the first place?

I don’t have answers for you, only more questions.

In general, I don’t support things that cause animals (or people, either) needless pain and suffering. But all of those terms need to be defined: “needless”, “pain” and “suffering” are all just buzz words until we agree very specifically what they mean.

Hobbes's avatar

Of course being confined to a stall and being beaten constitute stress. They are abusive behaviors. But not every circus abuses its elephants, and there are much better and less harmful ways to teach an animal tricks.

I think we should recognize the fact that animals are living, feeling beings but I think it is possible to have positive relationships from them. I think most human-pet relationships are fairly stable and mutually beneficial, and the animal bonds with the human. There are some terrible abuses taking place in the world today, but not every human-animal relationship is abusive.

Another thing that I think needs to be taken into account is how harsh a wild animal’s life is. A constant struggle for food and other resources, always aware of predators. A captive-bred animal would have no chance in the wild, and most zoos and pet-owners provide security.

@CyanoticWasp – “Needless Pain and Suffering” is a good way of putting it, though you’re right that those words need to be defined.

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