The Animals In My Life…

….and your life and everyone’s lives…

Companion Animals aka Pets

When we think of animals most of us will automatically think about the dog, cat, hamster or fish that we currently live with. Maybe they sleep in our bed, share our food or take up valuable space on the settee. According to the Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association over 40% of homes here in the UK have pets. In the United States, more people live with pets than children (62% of the population – Demello, 2012, 190). And it’s not just the number of households that have pets which is astonishing – the 11 million homes with pets in the UK equate to over 57 million animals (Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association) although I’m not going to lie, a vast majority of those are fish. But doesn’t it say something that even animals we can’t cuddle everyday or don’t necessarily think of as “cute” are given the arguable elevated status of being considered a pet.

Issues include:
Widespread abandonment of animals leaving animal shelters at crisis point and meaning many healthy rehomeable animals are euthanised every day.
Physical and Sexual abuse of animals meaning many abused persons stay for fear of their animal’s safety.
Over/Inbreeding of pedigrees resulting in sometimes serious health issues.
Cat population (both homed and stray) devastating wild bird populations.

Farm Animals

Ahh farm animals, arguably one of the most controversial and divisive of animal groups.  The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) estimates that farms in the UK rear about 900 million creatures for meat each year while over in the United States the Department of Agriculture estimates they have yields of over 10 billion (Irvine, 2009, 40). Neither figure includes the millions of fish also farmed each year. Animals are also of course farmed for clothes from sheep for their wool to mink and other animals for coats, gloves, handbags etc.

Issues Include:
-Cruel animal practices including factory farming and religious slaughter methods.
-Debates surrounding the intelligence of creatures such as pigs.
-Ethical debates about whether or not animals should be used in such a way.
-Vegetarian/Veganism – How far is too far?

Zoos

Humans have been displaying animals since the Ancient Egyptians and zoos have long been associated with the rich and powerful. London is home to oldest scientific zoo in the world (it opened to Fellows of the Zoological Society London in 1828) and it has been the home of many famous animals from Jumbo the elephant for whom the Jumbo Jet was named to Winnie the black bear who inspired A.A. Milne’s stories of Winnie the Pooh. Over 700 million of us visit zoos annually across the world and for many zoos provide their only experiences of the natural world beyond what we may see on our television screens. Today zoos often have a mission statement focussing on the conservation of the natural environment and the education of the public

Issues Include:
Should wild animals be kept in captivity?
-Not all zoos are built equally nor share the same goals.
Are zoos actually succeeding in their missions to conserve the natural world and educate the public?
Can zoos be anything other than a legacy of colonialism?

Animal Testing

Billions of animals undergo testing each year for the needs of humans. Many governments have laws in place to say medicines, medical procedures, cosmetics and other products can not be licensed without first being tested on animals. Currently the EU has some bans on cosmetic testing on animals so the only way to buy Cruelty-Free is to look out for the Leaping Bunny sign on products. There is much debate on whether or not it is acceptable to test for things on animals given our many differences but man has been using animals for experiments for centuries. Heck, we even sent flies, dogs, rabbits, cats and primates to space.

Issues Include:
-Are animals biologically similar enough to humans to warrant testing?
-Is is acceptable to perform this tests on animals when they have no way to give consent?
-How do governments manage animal testing within their Animal Welfare legislation?

 

So as you can see, we cross paths with animals or animal products and by-products all the time, whether we know it or not. As you might have guessed the issues I’ve highlighted will be covered in upcoming blogs as well as:

Film Reviews – from War Horse (2011) to Marley and Me (2008) to King Kong (1933-2017)
Book ClubAnimal Farm (1945) through to Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation (1975)
Animal Icon Series – Famous animals through history
Animal Species Highlight – Everything you could possibly want to know about some of  the weird and wonder creatures out there.
Animal Champions – From conservationists to authors to celebrities
Our Closest Relatives series – All the primates
Food, Glorious Food – Tried and Tested Animal-Friendly Culinary Delights

……and many, many more…..

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