Be forewarned, this is a rant, and its going to offend some people.
This past week there was a lot of coverage and discussions about a famous Ontario destination for families, Marineland, due to some information and photos about the treatment and health of some of the animals. I was somewhat vocal about it on Twitter and followed along with the outrage from some people on there, biting my tongue at times, knowing full when that many people who get upset about the way these animals were treated are probably the same people sitting in a bar at night eating chicken wings, maybe even discussing the same topic while doing it.
I’m not going to get into a tirade about being a carnivore or omnivore vs being vegetarian or vegan, but I am going to point out that if you really want to be an animal activist or at least support animal rights, don’t be a hypocrite. Animal rights don’t begin and end with pets and animals in zoos and parks, they also apply to the treatment of animals that are being raised for food. Most people turn a blind eye to how we raise our food, seemingly thinking that meat just ends up on the plate, no harm done. Taking chickens as an example, typically they are raised in terrible conditions and driven to slaughter in such a way people should be outraged, only to be killed in a gruesome fashion right before butchering. Again, something that should outrage the public, but for the most part people are too busy being consumers to consider where their food comes from, or even the fact it was a living animal.
If you want to see how chickens should be raised, come to my house and meet ours, I’ll introduce you to each by name. You can hand feed them and see they are just a bird, like any other, only with more personality. They are pets, with the added benefit they give us eggs – try to get your pet dog to do that. It’s not a hardship for them, they do it naturally every day or so. They are free running, roaming the entire property and just enjoying their lives.
Game reserves, when run properly do the same thing, they allow us to have animals nearby that we wouldn’t typically get to see. Not all of us can fly to Africa to see them in the wild. Places like Marineland were set up originally to do just that, but over the years it seems the rules get lax and living conditions suffer. Seeing bears begging for sugary cereal is not a good way to teach our kids about wildlife. We all need to ensure all animals have a voice and are properly looked after when in our care. And if you insist on eating meat, do so with a conscious and a sense of responsibility, both for you and your kids. I can’t even count the number of kids I’ve met who just don’t understand that meat was once a living creature.
Thanks to discussions on Twitter some stories get a little longer life, and more coverage as they spread, but due to the constant craving for current news, most things have a shelf life of 15 mins. Roughly the length of time it takes a chicken to go from the truck to stunned, killed, gutted, processed and packed.
I’m glad the public saw the information about Marineland, and I hope that it is not just the grumblings of a few ex-employees tarnishing the name, although in some ways I suppose I hope that is all it is. But either way, shining a spotlight on an issue is typically a good thing, but lets not narrow that beam too much so that we only see one tree in the forest.