Recently, internationally, a giraffe was set to be euthanized. People went totally crazy: at least twenty-seven thousand were so incensed they signed a petition to try and prevent it. Then, after the aforementioned euthanization, tens of thousands signed a petition to have the head of the zoo fired.
Look, I’m not a vegetarian and have a basic understanding of what meat is. These are in only passing conflict with each other. The reaction here is ridiculous.
Based on systems in place long before I was born and solidified by corporatist influence more recently, our food is raised, killed, grown, cleaned, manufactured, processed, distributed, and sold by entities with a legal obligation for profit and no moral obligation at all. Thus, chicken nuggets are fifteen cents and I have no idea—and no desire to have an idea—of what they are composed of, mostly, except that I am aware an animal had to die along the way to my plate.
Zoos are horrifying places that house wild creatures in tiny manufactured spaces for our amusement until they slowly die of disease, morose, or, apparently, by being shot in the head. These are not glorious or virtuous places. There is as much nature in a typical zoo as their is in Avatar.
Nature is something we’ve spent most of our existence brutalizing so it’s not surprising we are loathe to actually see it in action. Children may be too young to see an animal torn apart and then fed to a carnivore, but it’s sort of how things work.
But then, giraffes!
Your first reaction is likely, “What the hell, man, you can’t just go around killing giraffes!” They are lovely, majestic creatures that are as bizarre as they are endearing, so it’s completely understandable. Then again, maybe we could use a little perspective here.
Five giraffes have been euthanized by EAZA zoos since 1828—about one every seventeen years. More than one-hundred-fifty million animals are killed for human consumption every day.
These kids volunteered to watch and learn with parental approval. They learned that nature can be brutal and saw just a tiny bit of how it works. A few hundred years ago, it’s very likely they’d be doing the tearing apart. Tiny hands are very useful.
It’s a bummer that a seemingly adorable giraffe like Marius was put down. It’s culturally bizarre in the US to think of young children being able to watch a public dissection. But is it better to hide from children how 1500 nameless, but also seemingly adorable, animals are butchered in similar fashion every second because they just happen to be delicious?
Then again, certain people think giraffes are amazing, so forget what I said. This is a fucking outrage!