Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rudolph’s Christmas Wish

This is a post on the old chestnut of how we humans relate to our animal relatives. There has long been a debate about the value of Zoos and the use of wild animals in Circuses. Here in Barkingside we have the annual demonstration against a visiting wild animal circus and down in Wanstead there have been protests about restaurants selling Foie Gras. While most of the obvious and unpleasant animal cruelty such as Bear Baiting, Dog or Cock fighting etc has been banned it has become more difficult to know where to draw the line. Particularly when most of us eat animals and animal products. Anyone who has complained about Kosha or Halal methods being inhumane has probably never seen the industrial methods now used in farming, transport and slaughterhouses.

Which brings me to Flesh is Grass, herself a vegan, who draws attention to the exploitation of reindeers and penguins for commercial purposes at Christmas time, specifically here in Redbridge. Hence the title of this post which refers to the Captive Animals Protection Society’s campaign aimed at dissuading us from attending such events.

Each year, as Christmas approaches, event organisers around the country begin to advertise live reindeer parades and shows. Often held in shopping centres, these animals which are perfectly adapted to live in huge herds in the cold arctic and sub arctic regions of the world are transported up and down the country to be placed in small pens under glaring lights, surrounded by people and noise for days on end. We believe that if Rudolph had a wish, it would be to stop the use of his friends in this way.
In the face of this the owners of these animals are, as you would expect, defending themselves and their livelihood with statements on animal welfare accompanying their publicity.

I just don’t know at the moment. What really worries me is that we appear to be raising a generation who do not know that the milk on their cornflakes comes from a cow, that potatos and carrots come out of the ground and heaven knows what they think their burgers are made from or where eggs come from. While the frontiers of nature, the wild places where the deer and the antelope roam, are constantly under threat from Big Global business we are losing touch with nature and the diversity of life on this planet. It’s being sanitised, wrapped, packaged, marketed and sold to us ready cooked on a plate and before we know it, it will be gone and we will have Soylent Green. There must be a place for contact between humans and animals, I just don't know what it is.

And by chance this just crept into my radar. The Nenet reindeer herders. "If you don't drink warm blood and eat fresh meat you are doomed to die on the tundra". Sound advice for the elderly given the weather forecast for this winter?


1 comment:

  1. Thank you B21. To respond to a few things in your post.

    Industrial slaughter methods - certainly not a good death. When Animal Aid filmed 9 slaughter houses, they found that 8 were operating outside animal welfare law.
    Compassion in World Farming find precious little compassion:

    Reindeer and penguins in Ilford. I think we should all care about people's livelihood, but that's fully compatible with welfare for the most vulnerable. After all, we've done it with child labour and we generally frown on putting conjoined twins in freak shows. I think the best entertainment is the most creative. A quick look at some other London boroughs shows that several are staging live animal shows over the Christmas season - but even more have abandoned animal exploitation for more creative things. For example Southwark has hidden some goose figurines in local shops so kids can hunt them down and win a prize (while also bringing customers to the shops). Camden has a huge topiary reindeer - good for lights and photos. I'm sorry to say that Havering is using reindeer - but on the plus side it has fire dancing in Elms Park, which sounds great.

    Nenet reindeer herders. Let's instead focus on Northern Hemisphere consumer societies like ours - we're the ones with the social and environmental choices. We have different responsibilities from subsistence herders.

    Looking at confined animals far away from the habitat to which they're adapted, and unable to retreat from the noise, the glaring lights, the people, the heat or the cold doesn't seem festive to me. I'd urge people to avoid your local live animal shows this Christmas but give your support and attention - and cash - to local alternatives.