Dissertation – First draft of chapter 1: Background study

by rnb10

What are the truths behind animal captivity and the exploitation of animals in the modern world?

In the modern world of today, we as humans manipulate and use what we can to our own advantage. One of the main things we seem to exploit and manipulate is animals, simply for our own entertainment.
Animal captivity has been a topic of discussion for many centuries with different views on whether or not wild animals should be kept in confinement, one of the beliefs behind the theory of the imprisonment is that we as humans need animals in captivity for our own education or that keeping animals detained is actually helping their survival, although there has been many proven scientific experiments that captivity does have a bad physical and psychological effect on animals.
Either way people have fought for both sides of the cause, both with what seem to be equally fair arguments.

This disquisition will be approaching the true or false perceptions behind the business of animal exploitation in a different light to most of the stories that have been told over time. Both arguments will be revisited fairly although the final outcome will be narrowed to one. We as a species choose to belittle the animal species, although we are more alike in body and soul than we may think.

The capture and presentation of wild animals began in the 1950s, the exotic creature would be caught and given to the rich as a trophy or a token of their affection. The amount and range of wild animals captured would be seen as a way of showing ones strength, courage and most importantly of all, ones wealth. The animals would not receive the right care, as they were just seen as an object to look at.

Berger (1980, pp.31) states that “The capturing of the animals was a symbolic representation of the conquest of all distant and exotic lands”. Reiterating that animal captivity began through ego and war, the status of defeating an exotic land.

At this same period of time, you would have seen the birth and rise of ‘The Circus’, many of the same animals being captured as trophies were then being sold on when no longer needed to performing companies. In this era the circus was a wealthy booming business, at its peak the famous Billy Smart’s circus toured with 200 animals, including elephants, lions, horses, polar bears, camels, sea lions and chimpanzees.

”There is one thing about performing animals which I think everyone must agree, namely, that to dress animals up and make them do these tricks and for humans to sit there and laugh at them is the most degrading spectacle. Surely, if humanity is never going to rise higher than that it is a very poor look out for the world”. Earl of Haddington, 1965. Our History. [online] Available at: http://www.captiveanimals.org/about-us/our-history [Accessed 3 October 2012]

The Earl of Haddington enlightens on the fact of how demoralising it is to force a beautiful exotic creature to perform in that of human clothing, it is not animalistic in any way. He points out how this reflects on us as humans and how we present ourselves as a species, if we want to rise up and better ourselves and the world, then our actions of mistreating animals has to change before we change ourselves.

Although for many years the travelling circus was an extremely popular business over time this has deteriorated, the circus today is some what completely opposite to the circus in the 1950’s.
The famous Rosaire’s circus is one of the last known family circus’s but what is different about this circus is that they only consist of rescued animals, like a sanctuary.

“Our mission has become really important over the last 20 years because of environmental issues, that are going on with animals disappearing. We are able to let people see them up close and personal, and it makes them much more willing to help them in the wild”. Vice, 2012. The Last Real Circus Family Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F24Fu4zSTwg

The Rosaire family argue that they are in fact saving the future of wild animals by housing them in their circus, here Kay Rosaire explains how keeping wild animals for the public to visit is actually giving the opportunity for man to form a bond with animals which will make them want to help, giving all types of species more of a chance of survival.