Earthlings is the most widely recommended documentary to anyone who requires a deeper understanding of just how engrained and common the use of animals is, how little (if any) rights they have, and the suffering which is inflicted upon them. Take a mere 1.5 hours out of your day to watch Earthlings and to encourage those in your life to do the same.
Created in 2005, Earthlings uses hidden cameras and never before seen footage to chronicle the day-to-day practices of some of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit.
Earthlings is by far the most comprehensive documentary ever produced on the correlation between nature, animals, and human economic interests. There are many worthy animal rights films available, but this one transcends the setting.
View the full movie transcript below.
The images you are about to see are not isolated cases. They are the industry standard for animals bred as pets, food, clothing, for entertainment and research. Viewer Discretion is advised.
The Three Stages of Truth:
- VIOLENT OPPOSITION
earth’ling: n. One who inhabits the Earth.
Since we all inhabit the Earth, all of us are considered earthlings. There is no sexism, no racism or speciesism in the term ‘earthling’. It encompasses each and every one of us: warm or cold blooded, mammal, vertebrate, or invertebrate, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish and human alike. Humans, therefore, being not the only species on the planet, share this world with millions of other living creatures, as we all evolve here together. However, it is the human earthling who tends to dominate the Earth, oftentimes treating other fellow earthlings and living beings as mere objects. This is what is meant by speciesism.
By analogy with racism and sexism, the term speciesism is a prejudice or attitude of bias in favour of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species. If a being suffers there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration. No matter what the nature of the being, the principle of equality requires that one’s suffering can be counted equally with the like suffering of any other being.
Racists violate the principle of equality by giving greater eight to the interests of members of their own race when there is a clash between their interests and the interests of those of another race. Sexists violate the principle of equality by favouring the interests of their own sex. Similarly, speciesists allow the interests of their own species to override the greater interests of members of other species. In each case, the pattern is identical.
Though among the members of the human family we recognise the moral imperative of respect (every human is a somebody not a something), morally disrespectful treatment occurs when those who stand at the power end of a power relationship treat the less powerful as if they were mere objects. The rapist does this to the victim of rape. The child molester to the child molested. The master to the slave. In each and all such cases, humans who have power exploit those who lack it. Might the same be true of how humans treat other animals, or other earthlings?
Undoubtedly there are differences, since humans and animals are not the same in all respects. But the question of sameness wears another face. Granted, these animals do not have all the desires we have; granted, they do not comprehend everything we humans comprehend; nevertheless, we and they do have some of the same desires and do comprehend some of the same things. The desires for food and water, shelter and companionship, freedom of movement and avoidance of pain?
These desires are shared by non-human animals and humans beings. As for comprehension: like humans, many non-human animals understand the world in which they live and move. Otherwise, they could not survive. So beneath the many differences, there is sameness. Like us, these animals embody the mystery and wonder of consciousness. Like us, they are not only in the world, they are aware of it. Like us, they are the psychological centres of a life that is uniquely their own. In these fundamental respects humans stand “on all fours”, so to speak, with hogs and cows, chickens and turkeys. What these animals are due from us, how we morally ought to treat them, are questions whose answer begins with the recognition of our psychological kinship with them.
So the following film demonstrates in five ways just how animals have come to serve mankind…lest we forget.
Nobel prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote in his bestselling novel ‘Enemies, A Love Story’, the following:
As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behaviour toward creatures, all men were Nazis. The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle might is right.
The comparison here to the Holocaust is both intentional and obvious: one group of living beings anguishes beneath the hands of another. Though some will argue the suffering of animals cannot possibly compare with that of former Jews or slaves, there is, in fact, a parallel. And for the prisoners and victims of this mass murder, their holocaust is far from over.
In his book “The Outermost House”, author Henry Beston wrote:
We need another and wiser and a perhaps more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilisation surveys the creatures through the glass of his knowledge and sees a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronise them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below us. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.
PART ONE: PETS
For most of us, our relationship with animals involves the owning of a pet or two. So where do our pets come from? Of course, one of the most obvious ways animals serve man is as companions.
For these pets it starts with a breeder, though not all breeders are considered professional. In fact, in this profession, just about anyone and everyone can be a breeder.
For pet stores, most of their animals are acquired from puppy mills, even if they may not know it. Puppy mills are low-budget commercial enterprises that breed dogs for sale to pet shops and other buyers. They are often backyard operations that expose animals to filthy, overcrowded conditions with no veterinary care or socialisation. Dogs from puppy mills often exhibit physical and psychological problems as they grow up.
Strays, if they are lucky, will be picked up and taken to a shelter or pound, where they can only hope to find a new home again. An estimated 25 million animals become homeless every year. And as many as 27% of purebred dogs are among the homeless. Of these 25 million homeless animals an average of 9 million die on the streets from disease, starvation, exposure, injury, or some other hazard of street life. Many others are strays, some of whom were presumably dumped in the streets by their caretakers. The remaining 16 million die in pounds or shelters that have no room for them and are forced to kill them. Sadly, on top of all this, almost 50% of the animals brought to shelters are turned in by their caretakers.
Many people claim they don’t visit shelters because it’s depressing for them. But the reason animals are crowded into such dreary places as these, is because of people’s refusal to spay or neuter their pets. Several pet owners feel, particularly men for some reason, that neutering a pet emasculates the owner somehow… or they may just want their children to someday experience the “miracle of life” so to speak. In either case, pet owners like these unknowingly take part in the euthanasia of over 60,000 animals per day.
Euthanasia, generally defined as the act of killing painlessly for reasons of mercy, is usually administered by an injection in the leg for dogs, and sometimes in the stomach for cats. It is a quick and painless procedure for the animals, and by far the most humane, but not always the most affordable. Due to increase of euthanasia in shelters and the growing, constant, demand for drugs like Euthasol, some shelters with budget constraints are forced to use gas chambers instead.
n a gas chamber, animals are packed very tightly and can take as long as 20 minutes to die. It is, by far, the less merciful, more traumatic and painful. But the procedure is less expensive. Perhaps some of the tough questions we should ask ourselves about animals that we keep as companions are: Can we keep animals as companions and still address their needs? Is our keeping companion animals in their best interest, or are we exploiting them? The answers to these questions may lie in the attitudes of the human caretakers and their abilities to provide suitable environments for companion animals.
Most human beings are speciesists. This film shows that ordinary human beings (not a few exceptionally cruel or heartless humans, but the overwhelming majority of people), take an active part in, acquiesce in, and allow their taxes to pay for practices that require the sacrifice of the most important interests of members of other species, in order to promote the most trivial interests of our own species.
The hope for the animals of tomorrow is to be found in a human culture which learns to feel beyond itself. We must learn empathy, we must learn to see into the eyes of an animal and feel that their life has value because they are alive.
PART TWO: FOOD
[SLAUGHTERHOUSE WORKER ATTEMPTING TO FIRE A CAPTIVE BOLT GUN INTO A PIG’S BRAIN WHILST IN FULL VIEW OF ANOTHER PIG]
“Oh, I missed. I missed you, honey. But I’ll get you again!”
“I got you! Good boy!”
What happens in slaughterhouses is a variation on the theme of exploitation of the weak by the strong. More than ten thousand times a minute, in excess of six billion times a year, just in the United States, life is literally drained from so-called “food animals”. Having the greater power, humans decide when these animals die, where they will die, and how they will die. The interests of these animals themselves play no role whatsoever in the determination of their fate. Killing an animal is, in itself, a troubling act. It has been said that if we had to kill our own meat, we would all be vegetarians. Certainly very few people ever visit a slaughterhouse, and films of slaughterhouse operations are not popular on television.
People might hope that the meat they buy came from an animal who died without pain, but they don’t really want to know about it. Yet those who, by their purchases, require animals to be killed, do not deserve to be shielded from this or any other aspect of the production of the meat they buy. So where does our food come from? For those of us living on a meat diet, the process these animals undergoes is as follows.
For beef, the animals are all branded… in this instance, on the face. Dehorning usually follows. Never with anaesthetic… but rather a large pair of pliers. In transportation, animals are packed so tightly into trucks, they are practically on top of one another. Heat, freezing temperatures, fatigue, trauma, and health conditions will kill some of these animals en route to the slaughterhouses.
Milking cows are kept chained to their stalls all day long, receiving no exercise. Pesticides and antibiotics are also used to increase their milk productivity. Eventually, milking cows, like this one, collapse from exhaustion. Normally, cows can live as long as twenty years, but milking cows generally die within four. At which point, their meat is used for fast food restaurants.
At this slaughterhouse, the branded and dehorned cattle are brought into a stall. The captive bolt gun, which was designed to reduce animals unconscious without causing pain, fires a steel bolt, that is powered by compressed air or a blank cartridge, right into the animal’s brain.
Though various methods of slaughter are used, in this Massachusetts facility, the cattle is hoisted up and his or her throat is slit. Along with the meat, the blood will be used as well. Though the animal has received a captive bolt to the head, which is supposed to have rendered him or her senseless… as you can see the animal is still conscious. This is not uncommon. Sometimes they are still alive even after they have been bled, and are well on their way down the assembly line to be butchered.
This is the largest glatt kosher meat plant in the United States. Glatt, the Yiddish word for “smooth”, means the highest standard of cleanliness… and rules for kosher butchering require minimal suffering. The use of electric prods on immobilised animals is a violation. Inverting frightened animals for the slaughterer’s convenience is also a violation. The inversion process causes cattle to aspirate blood, or breathe it in, after incision. Ripping the trachea and oesophagi from their throats is another egregious violation, since kosher animals are not to be touched… until bleeding stops. And by dumping struggling and dying steers through metal chutes onto bload soaked floors, with their breathing tubes and gullets dangling out, this “sacred task” is neither clean or compassionate. Shackling and hoisting is ruled yet another violation, nor does it correspond to the kosher way of killing animals. If this was kosher, death was neither quick nor merciful.
Veal, taken from their mothers within two days of birth, are tied at the neck and kept restricted to keep muscles from developing. Fed an iron-deficient liquid diet, denied bedding, water, and light, after four months of this miserable existence they are slaughtered.
Sows in factory farms are breeding machines, kept continually pregnant by means of artificial insemination. Large pig market factories will “manufacture”, as they like to call it, between 50,000 and 600,000 pigs a year… each.
Tail docking is a practice derived from lack of space and stressful living conditions so as to keep pigs from biting each other’s tails off. This is done without anaesthetic. Ear clipping is a similar procedure, also administered without anaesthetic. As well as teeth-cutting. Castration is also done without painkiller or anaesthetic, and will supposedly produce a more fatty grade of meat.
The electric prods are used for obvious reasons: handling. Electrocution is another method of slaughter, as seen here. Throat slitting, however, is still the least expensive way to kill an animal.
After knife sticking, pigs are shackled, suspended on a bleed-rail and immersed in scalding tanks to remove their bristle. Many are still struggling as they are dunked upside down in tanks of steaming water, where they are submerged and drowned.
In regard to poultry, Americans currently consume as much chicken in a single day as they did in an entire year in 1930. The largest broiler companies in the world now slaughter more than 8.5 million birds in a single week.
Debeaking prevents feather-pecking and cannibalism in frustrated chickens, caused by overcrowding in single areas, where they are unable to establish a social order. Today, done with infant chicks, the procedure is carried out very quickly, about 15 birds a minute. Such haste means the temperature and sharpness of the blade varies, resulting in sloppy cutting and serious injury to the bird.
As for their living conditions, anywhere from sixty to ninety birds can be crowded together in a single building. The suffering for these animals is unrelenting. It is a way of life. Although their beaks are severed, they attempt to peck each other. For hens, they live in a laying warehouse, crammed inside so-called “battery cages”. Many lose their feathers and develop sores from rubbing against the wire cage. Crowding prevents them from spreading their wings, and the hens cannot even fulfil minimal natural instincts.
During transportation, all animals suffer, and many die. And they suffocate when other animals pile on top of them in overcrowded, poorly loaded cages.
Chickens and turkeys are slaughtered in numerous ways. Some may be clubbed to death or have their heads cut off. But most are brought through the assembly lines of factory farms. Dangling upside down on a conveyor belt, their throats are slit, and they are left to bleed to death. Others may be placed head-first in tubes to restrict their movement while they slowly bleed to death. Surely, if slaughterhouses had glass walls, would not all of us be vegetarians? But slaughterhouses do not have glass walls. The architecture of slaughter is opaque, designed in the interest of denial, to ensure we will not see even if we wanted to look. And who wants look?
[SLAUGHTERHOUSE WORKER VIOLENTLY BEATING A PIG TO HERD HER OUT OF HER GESTATION CRATE]
“Go mother fucker! Don’t fuckin’ stop!”
“Let’s go, let’s go!!! Come on, bitch!”
It was Emerson who observed, more than a hundred years ago: “You have dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.”
And for those who think eating seafood is “healthier” than land animals, just remember how much irretrievable waste and contaminated sediments are dumped into our oceans. In the past… oil… nuclear… and chemical industries have done little for the protection of marine environments… and dumping on or under the seabed has always proved a convenient place to dispose of inconvenient wastes.
Today’s commercial fishers intensify this situation on massive scales. They use vast factory trawlers the size of football fields and advanced electronic equipment to track and catch fish. Huge nets stretch across the ocean, swallowing up everything in their path. These factory trawlers, coupled with our increased appetites for seafood, are emptying the oceans of sea life at an alarming pace. Already, thirteen of the seventeen major global fisheries are depleted or in serious decline. The other four are overexploited or fully exploited.
The recent outbreak of Pfiesteria, a microorgasm 1,000 times more potent than cyanide, spawned from millions of gallons of raw hog faeces and urine, poured into rivers, lakes, and oceans, turning their ecosystems into unflushed toilets, is proving the most alarming. Threatening sea life and humans alike, Pfiesteria has killed over 1 billion fish, the southeast’s largest fishkill on record, and it’s spreading. Traces of Pfiesteria have already been found from Long Island to the Florida Gulf, at distances of up to 1,000 miles. In fact, this water-based Pfiesteria invasion stands as one of the worst outbreaks of virulent microorganism in U.S history. It is a Level Three Biohazard. Ebola is a Four. Aids is a Two. And this bug mutated as a direct result of our mass consumption of animals, particularly pork. With hog farms fattening millions of pigs for slaughter, grain goes in and waste comes out. This waste finds it’s way into our oceans and water-supply systems, contaminating the animals that live in it, as well as those that eat from it.
Finally, whaling. Though the International Whaling Commission prohibited commercial whaling in 1985, many countries continue to kill whales for their so-called “exotic meat”. They use harpoons, firearms, blunt hooks, even explosives, or drive them into authorised whaling bays where they are made to beach and can be killed with knives in the shallows.
Every winter, between the months of October through March, thousands of dolphins are confined and brutally killed in small towns across Japan. Sounding rods beneath the water’s surface interfere with the dolphin’s sonar. Once disorientated and enclosed within the nets, the dolphins panic. Fisherman often injure a few captive dolphins with a spear thrust or knife slash… since dolphins never abandon wounded family members. Mothers and babies call out in distress as they are seperated, hoisted up and dragged off… soon to be mercilessly hacked to death. These are benign and innocent beings… and they deserve better. Yet here, as they lay stricken and needful, writhing helplessly on cement floors, they are cut open with machetes and left to slowly suffocate… convulsing and contorting in the throes of agony… while school children walk on by.
Such images of slaughter and bloody red water clearly show the Japenese government has little respect for the state of the world’s oceans with their inhumane methods of fishing… often in violation of international treaties, laws and conventions designed to protect over-exploiting the oceans… and the creatures that live in them. Dolphin meat is later sold in markets and restaurants, though often mislabeled as “whale meat”. But as though cruelty toward animals raised for food wasn’t enough, we’ve also found ways of making use of them for all our clothes. Jackets, shoes, belts, gloves, pants, wallets, purses, and so on, the next question is obviously: where do our clothes come from?
PART THREE: CLOTHES
The demand for leather comes primarily from the United States, Germany and the UK. Just about everybody wears it, with little or no thought of where it came from.
Thousands of India cows are slaughtered each week for their skins, purchased from poor families in part of rural India who sell them only after the assurance that the animals will live out their lives on farms. To relocate animals to a state where they can legally be killed, since cattle slaughter is forbidden in most of India, the animals must be shoed and roped together in preperation for a “harrowing death march”, which could last for several days.
Forced to walk through the heat and dust without food and water, coupled with the sheer stress of this terrifying experience for them, many of the animals collapse and are unable to continue. Bear in mind that most of the cattle are being placed in a truck for the first time in their lives and are likely to be frightened, especially if they have been handled hastily or roughly by the men loading the trucks. The noise and motion of the truck itself is also a new experience; one which make them ill. After one or two days inside the truck without food or water, they are desperately thirsty and hungry, especially since it is normal for such cows to eat frequently throughout the day. But when the cattle become weary and grow faint, the bones in their tailes are broken in an effort to get them back up on their feet. This is done by repeatedly pinching the tail in several areas.
Handlers must constantly keep the cattle moving, pulling them by nose ropes, twisting their necks, horns, or tails. They lead, or rather force, the cattle down embankments and in and out of trucks without ramps, causing injuries like broken pelvises, legs, ribs and horns. Chili pepper and tobacco are also used to keep the animals walking. This practice is done by rubbing the pepper directly into their eyes, in order to stimulate the animal back onto his or her feet. And all this before the slaughter. As many as half of the animals will already be dead by the time they arrive at the slaughterhouse. But to make the experience even more traumatic and terrifying, they are often killed in full view of each other. And instead of the required “quick slice” across the throat with a sharp knife, they are generally killed through hacking and sawing with a dull blade.
Afterwards, the skins from these animals are sent to tanneries that use deadly susbtances like Chromium and other toxins to stop decomposition. Remember, leather is dead flesh. It is dead skin, and, therefore, natural for it to decompose and rot away unless treated with such potent substances as these. And for people, the health effects of such chemicals in tanneries, in lieu of the continued demand for leather goods, is yet another issue. Ultimately, leather from Indian cattle make their way to clothing stores all around the world. Most major chains sells Indian leather… leather that comes from completely different cows than those we eat.
And what about fur? Over 100 million wild animals are murdered for their pelts every year, 25 million in the United States alone. These animals, obtained by hunting and trapping, are kept on fur farms in conditions like these. Naturally, these undomesticated, wild animals are not accustomed to being caged, and cage madness develops when frightened and frustrated animals are driven crazy from the stress of confinement. These wild, free-roaming animals, and their offspring, find themselves unable to live a natural life, can never take even a few steps or feel the earth beneath their feet. Instead, they are reduced to scratching, circling and pacing endlessly.
The physical injuries these animals endure on fur farms… involve broken and exposed bones… blindness… ear infections… dehydration and malnutrition… exposure to freezing temperatures… lack of veterinary care… and slow death. No laws indicate the killing of animals on fur farms, and the least expensive methods are the most appealing. Carbon monoxide poisoning, Strychnine, suffocation, breaking the neck, and anal electrocution are some of the more common methods used. Removed from his or her cage with a heavy neck-pole, the animal is walked past the rows of bodies of slaughtered foxes, sables, raccoons and wolves, among others. Death by anal electrocution is a crude process that requires a probe to be inserted in the rectum while the animal bites down on a metal conductor. Often times this inept procedure must be repeated to actually kill the animal. And the skinned carcasses seen here will later be ground up and fed to the animals still caged.
“How much is this one?” “This is… $49,500.”
PART FOUR: ENTERTAINMENT
And so we move on to entertainment. Mark Twain once said: “Of all the creatures ever made he (man) is the most detestable. He’s the only creature that inflicts pain for sport, knowing it to be pain.”
In rodeos, bulls and broncos don’t buck because they’re wild, but because they’re in pain. A belt, called a flank strap or a bucking strap, is secured around the animal’s body over the genital area. As the animal leaves the chute, a tight jerk on the belt is enough to start him bucking in pain. Apart from other injuries animals incur at rodeos… such as broken legs… they are also worked up by being slapped… teased… given electric prods… and otherwise tormented… to bolt out of the chute in a frenzy. Roping, as seen here, involves throwing a rope around the neck of a frightened animal running full speed, jerking the poor creature to a halt, and slamming him or her to the ground.
Like any other business, dog racing and horse racing are industries motivated by a common denominator: profit. At fair grounds across the country, animals are used to race, bet with, and spectate over. Training for these events is accomplished by withholding food and sometimes water. These animals… unfamiliar with their surroundings… the noise… the crowds… even what they’re supposed to be doing… are all-too-often injured and discarded…[PIGEON BOWLING IS SHOWN] in pointless… trivial… outlandish contests… designed to make profits and entertain.
Besides loss of habitat, hunting is the number one threat to wildlife today. Hunters kill over 200 million animals every year. Deer, rabbits, and squirrels top the list of desirable targets. There is no denying it, if hunting is a sport, it is a blood sport. The targets are living, and they undergo violent deaths.
Fishing is also a death sport, wherein the non-human animal suffers. Researches have distinguished that fish show pain behaviour the same way mammals do. Anatomically, physiologically, and biologically, the pain system in fish is virtually the same as in birds and mammals. In other words, fish are sentient organisms, so of course they feel pain. For those who think fish die “gentler” deaths, consider that their sensory organs are highly developed, their nervous systems complex, their nerve cells very similar to our own, and their responses to certain stimuli immediate and vigorous.
When going to the circus, rarely do we stop for a moment and consider: what incites an animal to do something unnatural, even dangerous, such as jumping through flames, balancing on one foot, or diving into water from shaky platforms high in the air? Animal trainers would like for the public to believe that animals are coaxed into such behaviours with the promise of rewards. But the truth is that animals perform because they fear punishment. In essence, circuses condemn animals who are wild by nature to live out their days isolated in tiny, barren cages, denied normal exercise and socialisation, shuttled around from place to place, and shackled in chains for up to 95% of their lives.
[TRAINERS TALKING ON CAMERA]
“Elephants are taught to perform with positive reinforcement, and never hit.”
“Never hit. Never, never, never will you see anyone use the ankus as anything other than a guide or a tool.”
Dominance, subservience and pain are integral parts of the training process.
[TRAINERS IN A BARN WITH A GROUP OF ELEPHANTS; ONE IS COACHING THE OTHER]
“Hurt him. Don’t touch him! Make him scream! If you’re scared to hurt him, don’t come in this room. When I say rip his fuckin’ — you know how I am about touchin’ him, right? So if I say rip his head off… rip his fuckin’ foot off, what does that mean? Because it’s very important to do it, right? When he starts squirming too fuckin’ much — both fuckin’ hands — BOOM! Right under that chin! Sit… and he better back up. Then when he fucks around too much, don’t grab that leg… you fuckin’ sink that hook and give everything you’ve got… and when it’s in there go, ee-eee-eee!!! And he’s gonna start screaming. When you hear that screaming, then you know you’ve got their attention a little fuckin’ bit! Right here in the barn. Can’t do it on the road. She’s gonna fuckin’ do what I want. And that’s just the fuckin’ way it is.”
[TRAINER APPROACHES AN ELEPHANT AND FOR SOME REASON BEGINS TORMENTING HER, THE THING SHE’S “DOING WRONG” DOESN’T SEEM EVIDENT AT ALL IN THE FOOTAGE. HE SHOUTS AT HER AND APPEARS TO DIG AN ANKUS INTO HER FACE, CAUSING HER TO SCREAM]
“Alright let’s go. Becky! Becky!!! You motherfucker. Get your motherfuckin’ — get up here! Motherfucker! Come here, Becky. Move up, Becky. Move up, Becky. Alright, tubs. Tubs! Hey, get loony. Hey, Becky. Go on, move up. Hey, I’m alive. I’m not a dead man. Move up. Come in line. Come in line, Becky. Motherfucker! Move, motherfucker! Yeah, come in line. Come here, Tommy. Why do they have to go through that because you motherfuckers don’t want to listen? Back up. You got a pussy-ass fuckin’ attitude, it’s just the way they die.”
We know animals feel. They feel fear, loneliness, and pain, just like humans do. What animal would choose to spend their entire life in captivity… if they had a choice?
[A CRAZED ELEPHANT (THE FAMOUS TYKE) BEGINS TO FIGHT BACK AND KNEELS AND BITES A TRAINER IN THE RING DURING A LIVE PERFORMANCE. SHE KICKS AND STAMPS ON ANOTHER TRAINER AND THEN MANAGES TO ESCAPE OUTSIDE. SHE ATTACKS SOMEONE TRYING TO STOP HER BEFORE BEING REPEATEDLY SHOT AT BY POLICE. THEY SHOW A CLOSE UP OF HER SAD FACE, AND DOZENS UPON DOZENS OF ROUNDS ARE FIRED INTO HER.]
“On the count of three. One. Two. Three. Take him. You’ve got to shoot.”
Are zoos valuable educational and conservational institutions? Sure, zoos are interesting, but they are only educational in the sense that they teach a disregard for the natures of other living beings. Besides, what can we learn about wild animals by viewing them in captivity? Zoos exist because we are intrigued by exotic things, and to zoo-goers, zoo animals are just that: things. In both cases, at circuses or zoos, wild and exotic animals are captured, caged, transported and trained… to do what humans want them to do.
At best, the term “bullfighting” is a misnomer, as there is little competition between the sword of a nimble matador (which is Spanish for ‘killer’), and a confused, maimed, psychologically tormented, and physically debilitated bull. Many prominent former bullfighters report that bulls are intentionally debilitated with tranquilisers and laxatives, beatings to the kidneys, and heavy weights hung around their necks for weeks before a fight. Some of the animals are placed in darkness for 48 hours before the confrontation, then are released blinded into the bright arena. In a typical event, the bull enters and is approached by men who exhaust and frustrate him by running in circles and tricking him into collisions. When the bull is tired and out of breath, he is approached by picadors, who drive lances into his back and neck muscles, twisting and gouging to ensure a significant amount of blood loss, and impairing the bull’s ability to lift his head. Then come the banderillos who distract and dart around the bull while plunging more lances into him. Weakened from blood loss, they run the bull in more circles until he is dizzy and stops chasing. Finally, the matador, this “killer”, appears and, after provoking a few exhausted charges from the dying animal, tries to kill the bull with his sword. And this bloody form of amusement… is bullfighting.
The pleasure derived from all these activities and sports (a communion with nature, some would say), can be secured without harming or killing animals. The commercial exploitation of wildlife erroneously assumes that the value of wild animals is reducible to their utility relative to human interests, especially economic interests. But wild animals are not a renewable source, having value only relative to human interests. That perception can only be that of a speciesist. Nevertheless, these practices exist only because we do not take seriously the interests of other animals. In this light, are humans not the most callous speciesists of all?
PART FIVE: SCIENCE
The term vivisection is used to apply to all types of experiments on living animals and is said to be a form of medical science. The reason for experimentation of this type is to allegedly discover cures for human ailments and illnesses. But those who hope to find remedies for human ills by inflicting deliberate sufferings on animals commit two fundamental errors. The first is the assumption that results obtained on animals are applicable to mankind. The second concerns the inevitable fallacy of experimental science in respect to the field of organic life. Since animals react differently from human beings… every new product or method tried out on animals must be tried out again on man… through careful clinical tests, before it can be considered safe. This rule knows no exceptions. Tests on animals are not only dangerous because they lead to wrong conclusions but, furthermore, they retard clinical investigation – which is the only valid kind. Just remember the fact that any disease deliberately provoked is unlike any disease that arises spontaneously.
Unfortunately, such methods still sail today under the flag of science – which is an insult to true science, as well as human intelligence. And so vivisection applies to medical experiments… done with the administration of noxious substances… electric or traumatic shocks… unaesthetised operations… burns… drawn-out deprivations of food and drink… physical and psychological tortures… that lead to mental imbalance… infections… and so on. Head injury research involves partially or fully conscious baboons strapped down with restraints… and their heads cemented into a metal helmet, which will be thrust at a 60 degree angle at a force of up to 1,000 Gs. The purpose of this experiment is to simulate auto crashes… football… boxing… and other head related injuries. And this process is often repeated again and again on the same animals.
And finally, military research. This one speaks for itself. From sending monkeys into outer space, and testing atomic blasts on helpless dogs, to exposing primates to nuclear radiation. Twenty years ago, the number of animals dying of tortures through the practice of vivisection was astronomical, estimated at 400,000 per day world wide, and growing at an annual rate of five per cent. Today that number is almost beyond comprehension. 19,000 per minute. 10 billion per year.
Some uneducated persons pretend to know that less intelligent animals don’t feel pain the same way we do. In truth, we know very little about how specific animals may “feel”, except that they must also submit to the universal law that causes every organism dying by unnatural means to suffer greatly before that final release. But it’s nonsense to say that the animals do not suffer because they have a lower order of intelligence.
Pain is pain, conveyed by nerves to the brain, and there are other nerves than those of intelligence… nerves such as sight, smell, touch, and hearing. And in some animals these nerves are much more highly developed than in man. We know that there has never been an epoch in which we could learn something about the physiology of man by torturing animals; we only learned something about animals. And if there is something we can learn from them on the psychological level, it is not by means of steel or electricity, much less so through physical violences. The systematic torture of sentient beings, whatever the pretext and in whatever form, cannot achieve anything more than it already has: to show us what is the lowest point of debasement men can reach. If that’s what we want to know.
“As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.” – Leo Tolstoy.
Ignorance is the speciesist’s first line of defence. Yet it is easily breached by anyone with the time and determination to find out the truth. Ignorance has prevailed for so long only because people do not want to find out the truth. ”Don’t tell me, you’ll spoil my dinner” is the usual reply to any attempt to tell someone just how that dinner was produced. Even people who are aware that the traditional family farm has been taken over by big business interests… that their clothes come from slaughtered cows, that their entertainment means the suffering and death of millions of animals… and that some questionable experiments go on in laboratories, still cling to a vague belief that conditions cannot be too bad, or else the government or the animal welfare societies would have done something about it. But it is not the inability to find out what is going on as much as a desire not to know about facts that may lie heavy on one’s conscious that is responsible for this lack of awareness – after all, the victims of whatever it is that goes on in these awful places are not members of one’s own group.
It all comes down to pain and suffering. Not intelligence, not strength, not social class or civil right. Pain and suffering are in themselves bad and should be prevented or minimised, irrespective of the race, sex, or species of the being that suffers. We are all creatures. And non-human animals experience sensations just like we do. They too are strong, intelligent, industrious, mobile, and evolutional. They too are capable of growth and adaptation. Like us, first and foremost, they are earthlings. And like us, they are surviving. Like us, they also seek their own comfort rather than discomfort. And like us, they express degrees of emotion. In short, like us, they are alive; most of them being, in fact, vertebrae, just like us. And we look back on how essential animals are to human survival; our absolute dependence on them (for companionship… food… clothing… sport and entertainment… as well as medical and scientific research), ironically… we only see mankind’s complete disrespect for these non-human providers.
Without a doubt, this must be what it is… to “bite the hand that feeds us”. In fact, we have actually stomped and spit on it. Now we are faced with the inevitable aftermath. This is evident in health reports due to our over-excessive consumption of animals. Cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, strokes, kidney stones, anaemia, diabetes, and more. Even our food has been affected… and at its very source. With antibiotics used to promote weight gain in animals (who can’t gain weight under the stressful, overcrowded living conditions in factory farms); with the overuse of pesticides and insecticides; or artificial hormones (designed to increase milk production, litter size and frequency); with artificial colours, herbicides, larvicides, synthetic fertilisers, tranquilisers, growth and appetite stimulants… it’s no wonder that Mad Cow Disease… Foot and Mouth disease… Pfiesteria… and a host of other animal related abnormalities have been unleashed on the human public. Nature is not responsible for these actions. We are.
So a change is inevitable. Either we make it ourselves, or we will be forced to make it by Nature itself. The time has come for each of us to reconsider our eating habits, our traditions, our lifestyles and fashions, and above all, our way of thinking. So, if there is any truth to the old-age saying, “what goes around, comes around”, then what do they get for their pain? Do we even give it a second thought?
If what goes around comes around, what do they get for their pain?
They are Earthlings.
They have the right to be here just as much as humans do. Perhaps the answer is found in another age-old saying… and one equally true: we reap just what we sow. So of course, animals feel, and of course they experience pain. After all, has nature endowed these wonderful animals with well-springs of sentiment so that they should not feel… or do animals have nerves in order to be insensitive? Reason demand a better answer.
But one thing is absolutely certain: animals used for food, used for clothing, used for entertainment, and in scientific experiments and all the oppression that is done to them under the sun – they all die from pain. Each and every one.
Isn’t it enough that animals the world over live in permanent retreat from human progress and expansion? And for many species… there is simply nowhere else to go. It seems the fate of many animals is either to be unwanted by man… or wanted too much. We enter as lords of the earth bearing strange powers of terror and mercy alike… but human beings should love animals, as the knowing love the innocent, and the strong love the vulnerable. When we wince at the suffering of animals, that feeling speaks well of us even when we ignore it, and those who dismiss love for our fellow creatures as mere sentimentality overlook a good and important part of our humanity. But it takes nothing away from a human to be kind to an animal. And it is actually within us to grant them a happy life… and a long one.
On the heath, King Lear asked Gloucester: “How do you see the world?” And Gloucester, who is blind, answered: “I see it feelingly.”
I see it feelingly.
Three primary life forces exist on this planet. Nature, animals, and humankind.
We are the Earthlings. Make the Connection.