Animal Rights and Animal Welfare

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Animal rights are a large issue at hand right now; animals are abused all over the world and have no say in it. In the Copenhagen Zoo a young giraffe that was just the age of two was slaughtered and given to the lions as their meal. During the slaughtering, whole crowds full of children were watching as the giraffe was being fed to the lions, says Malin a writer for the Asbury Park Press.

Deborah Nelson, a writer for Mother Jones, tells about how a circus elephant named Kenny was forced to perform while ill. During one of his performances his bottom started bleeding and he could barely stand, yet the show must go on so, so did Kenny. The veterinarian told the trainers that Kenny should skip the last show. They disobeyed these orders and had Kenny perform. By the end of the night a night attendant found Kenny dead on the concrete floor.

If the circus trainers would have let Kenny skip both the second performance and the night show, Kenny would have been fine. These are only two examples of the rights of animals being violated. Although many people feel that humans are superior to animals and that animals are only here for their entertainment, animal rights activists have a different perspective and they claim that animals deserve rights especially pertaining to zoos, circuses, and medical testing and experimentation.

Worries about animal rights have just started to pop up around the world, even though animals have been abused for a very long time. Animal rights laws didn’t exist until the 1800s says Jennifer Hurley author of the book Animal Rights. Today, and back in the day, “Neglecting a pet by depriving it of food, water, or medical attention is a misdemeanor crime penalized by costly fines or sometimes jail time. More severe forms of animal cruelty, such as torture, are considered felonies”(Hurley 8).

Animal abuse was very common in England during this time. A popular form of entertainment was dog and bull fights, and in the 1800s it was perfectly legal for dogs to fight with bulls and that it would end in a cruel death of both animals (Hurley 8). It is a fact that animals were so badly abused in England because people back then believed all they were was property and nothing more. Now a days most pets are treated like little prince and princesses. Today many pets are pampered day in and day out, yet some are still tortured until death.

Finally, in the late 1800s animals started getting the attention they needed. Writers would print articles in the newspapers about how they support the humane treatment of animals and people would start to listen. One such supporter, Richard Martin, a spectacular and popular member of the English Parliament, was able to generate support for the cause of animals as no one else had done. A passionate advocate of animals, Martin “had been so angered by an incident in which a man deliberately shot and killed his Irish wolfhound that he fought the dog’s owner in a duel”(qtd. In Hurley 9).

In 1821 Martin tried to pass a bill in Parliament to prevent animal cruelty to cattle and horses; it was dismissed. The following year the bill was reintroduced and got passed as Martin’s Act. This bill was just the start animal rights activists needed to give animals the rights they deserve. His act caused many more legislatives to push laws against animal cruelty and it really got the attention animals needed to finally have the freedoms that were rightly theirs. Two years after the passage of the Martin’s Act, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) was founded, which is still an association today (Hurley 10). The main purpose of this group was to push cruelty of animals as a crime and that if people practiced this they could be punished by law.

As animals eventually started to gain multiple rights in the mid 1800s, yet they also started to lose them. Doctors and scientists became very interested in animals and medical experimentation, also known as vivisection. “Although vivisection was accepted within the medical community, the general populace, which was somewhat suspicious of medical knowledge, regarded vivisection as “barbaric”(Hurley 10). These cruelties made people hate animal experimentation even more, especially when they understand how animal experiments are very hostile, and ridiculous. Another animal rights movement started in the early 1970s and Peter Singer, a animal rights author, was protesting that animals do suffer.

Today, the most public animal rights movement is PETA. PETA stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “PETA focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in the clothing trade, in laboratories, and in the entertainment industry” (PETA). PETA is not afraid to tell the unpopular truth if it means benefiting the animals. Their main goal is to stop animal abuse around the world. PETA puts the animals first even if they are useful to humans. PETA believes that animals are not ours to tamper with as in experimenting, eating, wearing and even for our own entertainment. PETA tries to explain to the world how we could do everything better without torturing animals (PETA).

Supporters of zoos claim that around the world as a safe environment that animals can live and be protected. Zoos are one of the most entertaining places for humans and are a very good thing to have around; it’s how humans learn about and get up close with the wildlife. Fans of zoos claim people learn more than they ever could from zoos and if they didn’t have them, endangered species would be even more in danger. Amy Miller who writes for the scholastic news says that “The California zoo is famous for its work helping to save China’s giant panda. Three panda cubs have been born at the zoo already. The San Diego Zoo now has the largest population of giant pandas outside mainland China.” Most people believe that zoos are helping to save animals because of this, but they really don’t know is how they are torturing them.

Even though zoos are supposed to be a type of safe haven for animals it is not always the case. Many zoos kill between one and thirty animals per year. “For every elephant born in a zoo, two more die, yet zoos continue to subject elephants to painful and frightening artificial insemination, just to churn out more cash cows” says Jennifer O’Conner, a writer for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. More elephants die in zoos then they do in the wild, proving that zoos aren’t protecting animals they are killing them. Tiger cubs are another “goldmine”, which is why tigers are still allowed to breed (O’Conner).

Even though they have no room for more cubs the zoo officials want them so they can make a fortune. Zoos make a fortune from these cubs because they are so cute that everyone wants to see them, so they will pay anything to see them. It’s sad to think that any tigers born in a zoo will never be able to set one paw out in the wild. Zoo animals are being tortured by being trapped inside large exhibits with only a small amount of space to roam and be free. Perhaps this is why all visitors see are the animals constantly sleeping. They must be very bored, especially because they can’t hunt for their own food or anything.

All around the world zoo animals are being treated in ways that are morally wrong and they don’t give rights to their animals. Another example of zoos treating the animals as nothing but property is how gorillas can be trapped in a cage with another gorilla that is not welcome. “Gorilla families are led by one dominant male, but so many male gorillas are born in captivity that zoos are being forced to find ways to create all-male “bachelor” groups” (O’Connor).

Creating these groups has brought about conflicts between mature gorillas, and since they are caged in with nowhere to go, they have no way to escape a violent gorilla. Zoos care more about the marketing factor then they do saving the endangered animals. Panda bears are one of the most endangered animals out there and yet all that is being done to save them is breeding centers. People do not know what they do to the female pandas to bring about more baby pandas.

“In China’s breeding centers, cubs are typically taken from their mothers before they reach 6 months of age to force females to go into estrus again”(O’Connor 1). Female panda bears are poked and prodded when they are ovulating and more than one male’s semen is put in to the female panda and this is a cycle that just keeps going and won’t stop until they get enough cute baby pandas for zoos to show off in the market. Also since the baby cubs are taken away they will probably never see their mothers again, which is cruel.

The main business of zoos is to sell the “cuteness factor” of all the animals, and yet the real question they feel is the morality of that idea. Zoos may have cute animals that draw people in but these zoos often do not have the right environment for the animals. “Even the most ”natural” zoo exhibits, which usually contain little more then a few logs and a patch of grass, fail to provide the most important element of nature: Zoo animals do not hunt for their food” says Hurley a expert who wrote Animals Rights Opposing Viewpoints (67). Normally animals in the wild spend most of their days searching for food, now stuck in a small exhibit all they have to do is sleep. There is nothing for these animals to do in captivity, they are bored and restless and want to be free.

Likewise animals in breeding programs aren’t being saved at all because they may never come out. Hurley blank says that “even though zoo officials say they keep endangered species in captive breeding programs, which are designed to help species develop a stable population that can be returned to the wild. This endeavor sounds noble, but every time the zoo captures a young animal for “preservation” purposes, up to ten adult animals may be killed due to attempts to defend the young animals”(Hurley 69). Most animals if they make it past the breeding programs aren’t equipped enough to deal with the challenges in the wild and its very costly to send these animals out into the wild. Most of the time zoos won’t even attempt to send out endangered species that have been through the breeding program due to this. The point of the breeding program is to help save the animals and eventually send them into the wild, but yet that will never happen. So the animals in the breeding programs are just there to be trapped and not live the life of a wild animal.

Another form of entertainment, the circus also interferes with the rights of animals. Supporters of circuses claim that circuses have been around for many years and have pleasured millions of families throughout its many years and we need to appreciate this tradition (Big Top Animals). Dr. Houck, the Chief Veterinarian of Ringling Bros, said: “I believe that exposure of animals to their own species, and to dissimilar species, their interaction with people, daily activity and the excitement of performing, which animals experience just as humans do, combine to make circus animals among the healthiest and most contented creatures you can find on earth” (qtd in Big Top Animals).

Circus trainers treat the animals like “they would treat any human” and they devote their lives to them says Ringling Bros. Circuses also provide daily grooming for the animals and around the clock cleaning of their stalls. Although this may be true for some circus companies many companies have other ways of caring for their circus animals.

Regardless of what Ringling Bros or any other thriving circus company says there is always “a catch” to the ways their animals are treated. Some anti-circus people even call circuses “the cruelest show on earth.” At the circus people see the animals are well trained and know just what to do. The one-thing circuses don’t tell people is how they get the animals to behave that way. Circus trainers use tools such as bullhooks or ankus to control them.

The elephants listen to them because they are scared and most of their life is spent in a small boxcar on a train or they are chained up. Circus elephants can be stuck in those small, cramped train car for days at a time. Most elephants in any circus are suffering with two rare diseases in the wild and yet these elephants are gaining them in captivity. These diseases are tuberculosis and herpes, which are very deadly diseases. Like Kenny, the ill elephant who died after the show, 3 more of the 23 baby elephants born in Ringling’s vaunted breeding program also have died (Nelson).

The tough life of a circus animal is only seen by a few. Most people think circus animals live a happy and full life. That is not the case at all. Kenneth Vail, who for decades lead the legal counsel on animal welfare cases says, “There’s no way to control an elephant without an ankus, a staff that they poke the elephants with, and the Animal Welfare Act doesn’t prohibit it. Maybe a time will come when bullhooks, chains, and elephants getting paraded around doing unnatural things is prohibited, but until then, litigating abuse is difficult” (qtd in Nelson). Supporters of circuses don’t understand what’s really going on behind the tents of circuses, one screw up from an animal means major abuse. All animals including the Asian elephants have feelings, and are smart, social creatures that just want to be free of the torture.

Zoos and circuses have problems with animals but perhaps the most horrific is animal experimentation. Supporters of animal experimentation say that all species including humans are struggling to survive and animal experimentation is helpful in this so that we can find new medical advances to save the human species. Animals may be able to feel pain and suffer, but “humans can feel more pain then animals,” says Adrian Morrison a writer for the book Animal Experimentation.

Some scientists don’t know whether they should test on animals or not and then “it comes down to faith in the process of science and knowledge of medical history, a belief that their work would provide a bit of knowledge ultimately useful for solving a human problem” (Morrison 78). Animals and humans share many things including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and many more (American Physiological Society). With all these things in common, animals are mainly researched to better improve the health of humans. Animals are a lot easier to work with then humans would be and it would be wrong to possibly endanger the life of a human.

On the contrary, there are many alternatives to testing on animals. Selective formulation, human cultures, cellular tests, and microdosing are all alternatives to the testing of animals. Selective formulation is testing ingredients to create new products so then scientists don’t have to test any more products. Human cultures is when scientists test on epiderm and epiSkin, which are human skin cells that are grown in test tubes. Testing on these is better then testing on the skin of live rabbits (Neal). Cellular tests are experiments used on chemicals and medical substances to see their response to the amount of white blood cells. Microdosing is when small doses of a test substance is given to a human to see how it reacts throughout the body. Scientists have all of these alternatives and yet they are still testing on innocent animals (Neal).

Besides alternatives animals need to be treated fairly. All animals feel pain, even the tiniest creatures. Mice can show pain through their different facial expressions. When being tested on mice show the same grimace facial expressions that humans would show if they were in pain. Mice are the most commonly used animals in research, but they are not covered by the Animal Welfare Act, one of the few legal protections afforded by U.S. law to other animals used in laboratory experiments (Ferdowsian). Not all animals are included in this Animal Welfare Act, so most of them aren’t even being protected. In addition to that scientists have no legal limit for how much pain they can put the animal through during experiments (Ferdowsian).

Animal Rights has just started to come around and it’s starting to pop up everywhere. In summary, animals appear to be put on the short end of the stick. Zoos seem like nice homes for animals but that’s because humans don’t see what really goes on, and circuses have been around for years and animals have been getting tortured since the beginning, yet no one has tried to stop it until now. Animals deserve to live a much better life then be trapped in a confined space, or poked and prodded until they die. Hurley says, “All animals are born with an equal claim on life, are entitled to respectful treatment, and have the right to live freely in their natural environment” (Hurley). These rights are taken away because humans decide that they want to ignore that animals have any rights at all. Therefore animals need to be treated with the justice they deserve.

Cite this paper

Animal Rights and Animal Welfare. (2021, Jun 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/animal-rights-and-animal-welfare/



What are the animal rights?
Animal rights are the belief that animals have a right to be free from human use and exploitation. Animal rights activists believe that animals should not be used for food, clothing, research, or entertainment.
What is the basic difference between the concerns of animal welfare and animal rights activist?
Animal welfare activists believe that animals should be treated humanely, but they do not believe that animals have the same rights as humans. Animal rights activists believe that animals have the same rights as humans and should not be used for human purposes.
What is the importance of animal welfare and rights?
Animal welfare is important because it ensures that animals are treated humanely and with respect. Animal rights is important because it ensures that animals are not treated as property and that they are given the same consideration as humans.
What is the same between animal rights and animal welfare?
Dogs and cats are animals that are capable of self-awareness.
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