Below is a brief rundown of ways animals are abused for so-called 'entertainment'.
Circuses, Mascots And Animal 'Actors'
Wild animals - eg. primates, elephants, bears, big cats, wolves, etc - are taken from their mothers as babies to be used in circuses, on television, as mascots for sports teams, and as novelty displays in places like restaurants.
All of these animals spend most or all of their time in confinement. In the case of those in circuses and the so-called 'actors' among them, they also endure painful training methods that involve chains, whips, bullhooks and beatings.
Bear baiting is a bloodsport where Pitbulls attack a declawed, detoothed chained-up bear. The bears are stolen as babies from the wild, while the dogs are purpose-bred for this bloodsport.
Both the bears and the dogs sustain horrific injuries and sometimes die during the baiting. While they're not in the baiting pit, the animals endure constant confinement and also suffer terrible physical abuse at the hands of the humans who keep them.
The torture of 'dancing' bears starts when they are stolen from their mums as babies.
Their claws and teeth are ripped out, and holes are burnt into their noses using a red-hot poker. A rope is passed through these holes and it's that rope that becomes the means of control throughout their entire lives.
The bears then learn to supposedly 'dance' by being forced to stand on a hot plate. They lift their feet to try to avoid the excruciating pain and that becomes the so-called 'dance' they do to entertain the public.
A 'dancing' bear's day-by-day existence consists of confinement and severe beatings.
. After that, the matador supposedly 'fights' the dying animal who has around half a dozen long skewers piercing his body. To end this so-called 'fight' the matador delivers a killing stab to the back of the bull's head.
There are also horses involved in bullfights. They are blindfolded and have wads of newspapers put into their ears so that they don't spook from the noise of the crowd or the charging bull. The horses often get gored and sometimes killed, by the frightened bull who is bleeding to death and trying to protect himself from anyone around him.
During the event called the running of the bulls, the bulls are forced to run through noisy, crowded streets where people taunt, terrorise and hit them. And, of course, it all ends with the bloodied body of a tortured bull in a bullfighting stadium.
Greyhound And Dog Sled Racing
The racing industries breed dogs as much as possible so that as many winners as possible can be produced.
Dogs who don't perform to standard are either dumped in the wild, bludgeoned, electrocuted, drowned, or shot. Others are sold to laboratories to endure painful medical testing for the rest of their lives.
The dogs who are fast enough to race spend most of their time either tethered or confined. They are physically pushed to the limit to the point where they sometimes - in the case of the Iditarod - die mid-race.
And the end of their racing days is the same as those who were never fast enough to begin with: they're either abandoned and left to die, killed, or sold to a laboratory.
Horses pull heavy carriages on concrete streets, while dodging traffic and breathing in exhaust fumes. They are forced to work for very long hours in all types of weather and, every year, horses are involved in accidents - many of which are fatal.
Then, when the horses are too old or ill to pull the carriage, they are sent off to be killed and end up as food for dogs, people, or animals in zoos.
The horseracing industry breeds as many horses as possible to try to produce as many fast, profitable horses as possible. And the many thousands of horses bred every year who are not fast enough to race are sent to the knackery to be killed and made into food.
The horses fast enough to race spend most of their time confined, and are pumped with performance-enhancing drugs, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. When racing they are whipped by the jockeys, and some even collapse while racing. If the collapse results in a broken limb, the horse is shot on the track.
Those who survive their racing days are eventually retired when they're no longer fast enough. And 'retirement' for a racehorse involves the same fate as those who were never fast enough to begin with: they're shot, chopped up, and made into meat.
Pitting Animals Against Each Other
The animals forced to participate in dogfighting, hog-dog rodeos and cockfighting are confined, beaten and starved to make them aggressive.
The unhappy ending for the losers of the fight is to either die in the fighting pit or be killed by being drowned, hanged, shot, burned, or electrocuted.
There is no happy ending for the animals who win the fight either. They continue to be neglected and abused until they eventually stop winning, and suffer the same fate as the animals before them who lost their fight.
Cows, bulls and horses have a strap cinched extremely tightly around their abdomen which causes them to buck wildly to try to escape the terrible pain. They are also shocked with electric prods and kicked with razor-sharp spurs in order to rile them up. This is all done so that the person riding them can seem brave and tough.
Calf roping is another typical rodeo event. It involves someone on horseback chasing a terrified baby cow who is roped around the neck and dragged about.
Needless to say, many animals are seriously injured and some are even killed during rodeos.
Zoos come in many forms: traditional zoos, marine parks, aquariums, travelling zoos, roadside zoos, petting zoos, drive-through wildlife parks, backyard menageries, and pseudo-sanctuaries.
There are even some 'specialty' zoos too. For example, there are bear zoos where the bears are starved so that they can supposedly 'entertain' visitors by begging for food. There are also zoos where predatory animals, such as lions, are starved so that visitors can choose and pay for a prey animal which the lions rip apart and eat while the crowd cheers.
Still, whatever form they come in and no matter the exact conditions and types of abuse the animals experience, all zoos are essentially animal prisons.
The excuse all the different types of animal torture in the above list have in common is that of fun.
People enjoy the above activities and therefore support them - that's what keeps them going after all. Think about it: without paying customers, the above forms of animal abuse (and, in fact, any form of animal abuse) would cease to exist.
So the excuse of fun is really the underlying reason that all of this terrible abuse goes on. But beyond that lame excuse, there are others:
Now for some debunking of excuses.
To start with fun, romance, nostalgia, profit, and sport are all transparently trivial, idiotic and selfish reasons to torture animals. In fact, their triviality, idiocy and selfishness mean that they're not reasons at all - they're just utterly feeble and completely unsound excuses.
Culture and tradition can be solid reasons for an activity. But when that activity involves the torture and death of another sentient being, they become weak and unconvincing excuses. Therefore, culture and tradition as excuses for animal abuse are as trivial, idiotic and selfish as the excuses of fun, romance, nostalgia, profit and sport so transparently are.
Learning and preservation - which are the excuses given for zoos - can, at first, seem like actual reasons. But they're not. Think on the following:
You don’t need to see animals in front of your eyes to learn about them. If you had to see something firsthand to learn about it, then we'd each have to travel back in time to learn about history, and we'd all have to visit other planets in order to learn about the solar system. But we don't - we can learn about history and the solar system through other means, just as we can learn about animals through other means like books and television documentaries. Learning is therefore not a reason to lock animals up in zoos - it's just an excuse.
As far as what is learnt about animals in zoos, it's how they behave while they're locked up. The term 'zoochosis' describes a condition where animals rock, pace, sway and mutilate themselves because they're literally driven mad from the sheer boredom and severe loneliness of imprisonment.
This means that learning about animal behaviour from animals behind bars is like learning about children's behaviour from kids permanently locked in a cupboard. The information would not only be flawed, but the means by which is was gained is totally unethical. And let's say that something is learnt about animals in zoos that's not already known or that couldn't be discovered from observing them in the wild, it's not worth a damn anyway, because the price paid is the freedom and sanity of those animals.
On the second point of preserving animals who are endangered in the wild: keeping endangered animals safe in proper sanctuaries is an infinitely better way to save their species than locking them in zoos. Therefore, preservation is also not a reason to lock animals up in zoos - it's just another excuse.
Also, the better overall solution to helping endangered species is to stop the poaching of the animals and stop the destruction of their natural habitats for animal farming. Poaching and habitat destruction can therefore be prevented by people withdrawing their support of the animal products derived from poaching and animal farming.
Still, regardless of all the various excuses, when all is said and done, all of the above forms of animal abuse are carried out because people find them fun. Certain people set these activities up to make money from them, and others support the activities and allow them to continue.
My feeling is this: an animal's life is everything to them - just like our life is everything to us - and they deserve better than being tortured for human amusement.
It's a fact that there is abuse in all use of animals for so-called 'entertainment'.
Regardless of the precise nature of the abuse and the details of the torture, all of the animals involved endure physical and mental distress throughout their miserable existences. And their deaths are no more pleasant than their lives.
Like any form of animal abuse, all of these forms of abuse make money for the exploiters. And the exploiters are able to make money from abusing animals because there is public support for what they do. Think about it: without paying customers they wouldn't be able to continue to abuse animals. People finding animal suffering pleasurable to watch is what keeps these industries going.
So, anyone who attends circuses, rodeos, bullfights and the running of the bulls is supporting animal abuse. Anyone who attends or bets on animal races and animal fights is supporting animal abuse. Anyone who takes a horse carriage ride or gives money to a person leading about a 'dancing' bear is supporting animal abuse. Watching films and backing teams who use animal 'actors' and animal mascots is supporting animal abuse. And visiting any type of zoo is supporting animal abuse.
In other words, being a part of any of the above activities in any way is directly supporting the torture of animals.
The bottom line is that watching animals suffer shouldn't be considered a form of amusement at all. And for the thinking, caring person it isn't. For the thinking, caring person, seeing animals suffer is too horrifying to be a form of amusement.
The thinking, caring person knows that animals don't belong behind bars, or at the end of a rope, or ridden around, or stabbed to death. The thinking, caring person knows that animals don't deserve to have any abuse inflicted upon them as some sick form of so-called 'entertainment'.
The fact is that there are countless ways to amuse ourselves without imprisoning, torturing and killing animals. And the thinking, caring person simply chooses one of those.
Getting rid of all of the above abuses of animals comes down to withdrawing public support of them. And that goes for any form of animal abuse in any area. This is why being vegan is the answer. Because being vegan is living in a way which doesn't support harm to animals for any reason - including for so-called 'entertainment'.
SAY NO TO PUPPY MILLS! SAY NO TO ANIMALS IN PETSHOPS! SAY NO TO BREEDERS!
Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance
It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.
Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.
Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.
Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.
Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.
If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.
All information and photos are copyright © Despina Rosales.