Written by Alaina
I have a challenge for you. The challenge requires you to name one animal, just one, that is not exploited in any way. What is the meaning of exploitation? The action or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work (synonyms: taking advantage, abuse, misuse, and ill-treatment). Take some time to think about it if you like, because in all retrospect, all species are misused, mistreated, and exploited in some fashion.
Our own species has an obsession with conquering others whether it is other human beings or animals. Industries have taken advantage of this fixation and have used it solely to gain profits. Not for conservation efforts, not to educate, but at the forefront, their primary concern is pleasing the shareholders and funneling more money into their pockets. Our obsession with animals has led these creatures to severe cruelty and sometimes irreversible emotional distress. A loss of loved ones, traumatic physical pain, and a lifetime of this cycle only to be repeated again and again to further profits.
Tigers, orcas, elephants, camels, dolphins, cows, chickens, fish, bees, dogs, cats, and hundreds more live in this cycle every second of their lives if they are included in exploitation. Their power is not ours not lock in a cage, dump into a bathtub, or parade around in a coliseum. Their majesty is not ours to slather on our faces, rub in our hair, our outline our eyes. Their splendor is not ours to throw on a grill, stir in our coffee, or fry in a pan. Finally, their beauty is not ours to use a sweetener in our tea, moisturize our body, or use to cure a sore throat. There are plant based options for any manner you seek to nourish your body, enhance features, or use to cure an ailment.
Let me go back to my original question. Did you think of an animal that isn’t being exploited? Think of all sectors that humans exploit for their benefit, but let me continue on before you make a final decision.
Humans strive to be happy and throughout our lives we are always making changes to reach goals that will enable us to be content and pleased with our efforts. As we are exploiting animals in the manners we are today, we are directly excluding them of the basic rights we give each other. We do not go about our lives and tell or act in ways that deny other human of being happy. Why are we doing that every second of every day to millions upon millions of other species?
We are obsessed with their power, their beauty, their majesty. As humans we do not have all of the traits of these animals and we try to justify our exploitation in endless way.
Industries that market conservation are for profit and this is in order to remain in operation and keep up with maintenance at these facilities. Regarding of all of the safeguarding efforts of zoos and aquariums, why is poaching and hunting still as detrimental as it was decades ago? Shouldn’t these “conservation” efforts be helping animals in the wild too? We can’t keep all exotic animals locked up in cages away from the poachers, but true conservation efforts is looking towards the wrong doing of animal agriculture, because they are responsible for clear cutting the land for animals to live in order to raise livestock and grow food for livestock.
When Marius, a healthy 2 year old giraffe was slaughtered and fed to lions at the Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark, there was no empathy and “individual wild animals, whether captive or free-roaming, are not deserving of consideration as individuals—only ‘populations’ matter” (Wells, 2014) in the eyes of these establishments.
International policies need to be stronger and governmental officials need to enact laws that strengthen the safety and overall well-being of these animals. Education is the most vital route and for example, people in Asia eating shark fin soup is on the decline because of animal activists taking direct action against this industry and using education to help communities understand the importance of keeping these species thriving in the wild.
Regardless of the species, please remember that “The path of the norm is the path of least resistance; it is the route we take when we’re on auto-pilot and don’t even realize we’re following a course of action that we haven’t consciously chosen” (Joy, 2009). Take the challenge to reduce your exploitation on the creatures that roam this earth with us. Everyone has the capacity to take the path of least resistance, it is simply a matter of making mindful decisions everyday and recognizing that every step leads to greater happiness for yourself and others.
Joy, M. (2010). Why we love dogs, eat pigs, and wear cows: An introduction to carnism: The belief system that enables us to eat some animals and not others. San Francisco: Conari Press.
Wells, S. (2014, February 14). Legally brief: no zoo animal is “surplus”. Retrieved
March 21, 2016, from http://aldf.org/blog/legally-brief-zoo-animal/