I am currently working on a few ideas for future posts. I have included some parts of each below and would love some feedback
Wild animal selfies
I personally think that we expect too much from animals. It is almost as if an experience is not rewarding enough unless we get to touch an animal or get as close as possible, regardless of how dangerous the situation, we want to touch and take selfies. I find it a wee bit grimmer when it comes to selfies as these are often not for our own immediate benefit, but rather to feed our ego by gaining as many likes as we can. The even grimmer part of the wild animal selfie comes when we see how many animals are killed, injured and left terrified as a result see https://www.sundaypost.com/news/world-news/cruel-reality-growing-trend-wildlife-selfies/ Do these people not care at all what happens to the animal afterwards?
The need to touch
I recently worked at a bird of prey centre and spent a great deal of time asking people not to touch the birds. I find it to be a huge shame that people come to these centres, where you feel as an employee, that a huge part of your job is to keep the animals healthy and displaying natural behaviours and you are constantly asking people not to touch them. I feel that this is the most unnatural act, however, some places practice it.
Just recently I saw pictures of a friends’ child stroking large owls at some outdoor event. With such pictures doing the rounds many now believe that their day at any animal centre is not complete if they didn’t touch anything. This is crazy when you think that it should be about seeing the animal, we are lucky to have that opportunity, and then we just want to reduce that fantastic animal to a cuddly toy. It’s terrible animal welfare for any place to allow this behaviour because it just feeds the need to touch. Quite often animal centres will make money from allowing people to touch animals and also get more repeat customers by using this as a selling point.
Many zoos and animal centres offer educational handling sessions/experiences which can be a fantastic way to get up close to some amazing creatures, and, at least in most cases, the animals being handled are far more suited to the experience and you get to learn something too.
I even had one guy at the centre stroke a barn owl that was on my glove about to be flown, he didn’t ask, he just did it. I told him off because in my opinion this is not what you do, he then informed me that at other centres he had been allowed to touch the birds and complained to my boss about me for telling him off. The entire experience was very uncomfortable and the guy was very lucky he wasn’t injured. He was clearly mortified about being told off and instead of apologising he felt the need to complain. Which brings me to my next question…?
Why do we feel so entitled?
I think we all understand the wanting to touch cute things, we grow up playing with soft toys resembling many species, especially cute ones and this fosters the need to touch. While I am certainly not saying we shouldn’t own soft toys, I think we need to be better educated when it comes to living animals both wild and captive.
It bothers me when you see people in the street approach a dog on a lead and pet the dog without asking first. This is not only rude, but extremely inconsiderate, how do we know that it’s OK to pet the dog? We don’t know that dog’s history, we are unlikely to know the owner, but we just think “I want to touch that dog” and we do. Don’t even get me started on feeding others animals as that is a whole post on its own.
Maybe, just maybe, we can consider ourselves fortunate to be able to see these animals, to want to touch, but to always have them slightly and safely out of reach.
What do you think?