Imagine you are trapped inside a wire cage only big enough for you to crouch down on your hands and knees. There is no padding underneath, only four metal wire walls. You cannot turn around or stretch out. There isn’t even enough room for you to lie down completely. You’re terrified, confused, alone, and helpless. This is the reality that countless numbers of animals have faced. Although there are many people who fight for animals’ rights, there are still those who trap animals for entertainment, profit, and even experimentation.
Some parents bring their kids to the circus or an aquarium to see all the animals that they don’t normally see. Wild and exotic animals such as killer whales, arctic penguins, lions, giraffes, snakes, bears, jungle birds, and basically any kind of animal have been brought into captivity for viewing. The issue lies in the treatment of those animals, and the number of humans who see no harm in it. The animals that are forced to be displayed have to go through unfair treatment and degenerative conditions. “In one case, USDA investigators responding to allegations of elephant abuse brought by a former Ringling employee made an announced visit to a Ringling facility, where they observed a bloody hole above one elephant’s ear consistent with a bull hook puncture wound” (Beverage, 2010, p. 159). Some people might assume that the Ringling Circus would face consequences for their actions.
The bull hook mentioned in the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law (2010) is described as “a two- to three- foot-long metal or fiberglass rod with a steel hook and point at one end that trainers use to control circus elephants” (p. 163). Thankfully, the same article stated that “several countries and municipalities have even banned the use of wild animals in circuses in response to public reaction to animal abuse” (p. 178). This horrific example is one of many that occur all over the country and even the world.
Some animals are subject to entrapment for reasons other than entertainment. There are many researchers or hunters who trap animals for profit. One man named Jonathan Franzen (2010) visited Cyprus and observed some of the trapping techniques used for wild songbirds. He recalls a sight that he saw while walking down the road one day. “In hot sunshine, the two Italians worked together to free the flycatcher, gently liberating individual feathers, applying squirts of diluted soap to soften the resistant gum, and wincing when a feather was lost. Rutigliano then carefully groomed gum from the bird’s tiny fee” (para. 3).
In Frazen’s article, he explains how people in Cyprus have trapped and consumed songbirds since the sixteenth century. More currently, it is not quite as common because it is illegal. However many people look right past that law and actually cook and eat these birds. He was told that the people who still enjoy this process “are the same ones who go to cabarets, the lounges where there’s pole-dancing and Eastern European girls who make themselves available. In other words, people with not a high level of morality, which is to say, most Cypriots” (Franzen, 2010, para. 58). It appears that many people have this type of nonchalant attitude regarding the treatment of animals. Hunters and poachers all over the world have set and pushed past their own boundaries, and this is evident by the numerous species that are now extinct.
Experimentation is one of the most controversial reasons for trapping animals. Although there has been much debate on the subject, scientists are clearly still allowed to test on animals. One physician reports about the methods used in a pain response test done on mice. “In that extremely controversial study, researchers used a wide range of methods to subject mice to various levels of pain. They immersed the animals’ tails in hot water, used radiant heat on them, attached a binder clip to their tails, injected irritants into their feet, induced bladder inflammation with a chemical that causes painful cystitis in humans, and injected acetic acid, causing the mice to develop abdominal constriction and writhe. They performed surgery on the mice and did not provide postoperative analgesics” (Ferdowsian, 2010, para. 3). Some may wonder if those
scientists ever thought twice about what they were putting those animals through. One justification that has been given for these types of actions is that it’s for the greater good. In other words, some people have it set in their minds that they are completely dominant over animals. Within Ferdowsian’s article, she notes the findings of one scientist. “Marc Bekoff, a professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, pointed out that the emotional and moral lives of animals matter. It is now widely acknowledged that animals do suffer, Bekoff explained” (2010, para 20, 21). Although people like Bekoff try to encourage a change regarding animal experimentation, there are still labs that conduct these types of pointless, harmful studies.
Reports of animal mistreatment have been seen all over, from television commercials to magazine articles. Countless people have heard what is being done to these innocent animals and yet it still occurs. Parents still bring their kids to the big tent circus to see the elephants and lions perform. Maybe they don’t see how miserable those animals must be. Or maybe they just don’t care. Regarding the researcher who dipped a mouse’s tail into hot water, perhaps that individual never felt the deep, stinging pain that hot water causes. It is clear that some part of the world population can witness or cause the suffering of a living, breathing creature. It is also clear that there are organizations working towards helping animals, including the ASPCA and PETA. With the help of groups like these, one day animals may be treated with complete respect for their life and well-being.