A few summers ago, on a tour to the UK, I happened to be in Edinburgh, spending the evening in a hotel next to the well known zoo. So, in order to kill time, I decided to pay a visit and came across the enclosures with the usual occupants in various states of animation. I went inside the primate enclosure and saw this particular individual sitting in this state, and it made a great impression on me. It was as if I was seeing a human being, an old wise one, pondering on the sad state of life and it almost reduced me to tears. I wish I’d known what he was thinking. Was he contemplating on a happier past?I’m not sure if he was ever free or was born in captivity.
Now that we are in the midst of the most unusual situation of our lives — when people are rebelling, crying for freedom, even when we are living in our homes and have freedom of movement and the internet do we spare a thought for our fellow sentient beings? What have they done to deserve this awful treatment? That we go to gawk at them, even tease and instigate them. What right do we have to shut these beautiful creatures up in cages so small they can barely move. We jail them like criminals and sometimes even abuse them. I also speak of circus animals. And when they turn around on us we call them rogue– take for example the case of Tilikum, the killer whale, who was captured at the age of two and spent the rest of his life performing at SeaWorld. He was responsible for the death of three people allegedly as a result of psychological trauma he suffered. Please watch (if you haven’t already) the wonderful documentary Blackfish, available on Netflix to know more. It’s an eye opener.
Fortunately, nobody can enslave humans (at least by law), but slavery of animals continues unchecked and we lack the basic quality of humanity that defines us.