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"The academic panel concluded that there appears to be little evidence to demonstrate that the welfare of animals kept in travelling circuses is any better or worse than that of animals kept in other captive environments" - Executive Summary of the DEFRA Circus Working Group 2007

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Thursday, 27 October 2011

PeTA: Slave to Dogma by John Dineley

Caricature Slavery 1738Image via Wikipedia

Just when you thought that PeTA couldn't get any more extreme with its plan to produce pornographic films interspersed with scenes of animal abuse we see them spending yet more of their gullible supporters' money in an inane court case against the marine parks group Sea World. PeTA are trying to sue the park citing the USA 13th Amendment against human slavery and twisting this law to include five killer whales.

Sea World actually owns 24 killer whales. These five are the only ones that were caught in the wild - the last in 1983 some 28 years ago. The other 19 animals were all born in captive care and this is a tribute to the excellent care Sea World gives to it animals. And as pointed out by some commentators this is also an abuse of the 13th Amendment and an insult to many humans that are still in real slavery around the world who would gladly swap their lifestyle to be treated like the whale at Sea World.

But should we be surprised? No, because PeTA and the other animal-rights groups such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are not interested in animal welfare but the political ideology of animal-rights.

To this end Naomi Rose, the Humane Society's marine mammal biologist, stated in support of PeTA cause that there is: “a growing body of research suggesting that whales, dolphins and porpoises have the cognitive sophistication of 3-to-4-year-old human children." Once again equating animals as humans and evoking the well know manta of Ingrid Newkirk founder and current president of PeTA: “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy”.

 Of course, Rose’s position on the much vaulted intelligence of cetacean is not shared by many main-stream scientists. As long ago as 1988 an article debunking this myth entitled “Brains, Behaviour and Intelligence in Cetaceans” was published in the New Scientist magazine. The author Dr Margaret Klinowska (a well known researcher on whales and dolphins) made a very interesting point at the end of this article stating that: 

“All living species must be highly 'intelligent' in a broad sense in order to survive. From this point of view, humans are no more and no less than one of the species living on this planet with particular adaptations (specialised "intelligence") for their own way of life. This perspective allows us to view the superb professionalism of all species with equal respect, and not in some artificial ranking order of higher or lower "intelligence" (with the hidden assumption that they are more or less worthy of conservation and consideration, and that as humans are, of course, in the first rank, their wishes have priority). Dawkins (1980) recognises that suffering in animals may be difficult to measure and that misinterpretations of the meaning of animal behaviour can arise from projecting human feelings on to animals. Being 'human-like' or 'higher' or 'more intelligent' is considered a poor guide to whether an animal experiences suffering. Behavioural and physiological evidence are more reliable and, taken together with information on the treatment of the animals, the situation can be evaluated. Without this basic preparation, suffering may be seen where there is none or, worse, may be overlooked because it does not wear a human face.”

Thus putting forward a more coherent argument based on the science of animal-welfare rather than the dogma of animal rights.

One final grim point. One of the animals that PeTA want to obtain is Sea World large breeding male “Tilikum” who on February 24, 2010 was involved in a incident when he killed trainer Dawn Brancheau. If PeTA won its case would also be possible to charge this animal with murder? Which, of course, under the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution he would be entitled to enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.

Further Reading:

Human Exceptionalism versus  Animal Rights
The Human Burden

Also by John Dineley
Morgan - A suitable candidate for rehabilitation and release?

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  1. Well researched and written. Out of interest if the whale was charged and founf guilty of murder could he face the Electric Chair.

  2. Interesting point Jolyon. Lethal injection?

    More seriously this is where the argument for animal-rights breaks down as it seems that groups like PeTA want to give animals ‘rights’ but without the responsibilities that we humans have to considered that go with our rights. A case in point being murder.