Marine Mammal Monday – An Uncomfortable Truth

Story 1…

There are a circuses in developing nations… locations kept secret… who’s vast majority of performers are young children who perform tricks to willing audiences. An audience happy to pay considerable sums of money to be entertained. These children are forced to do shows repeatedly through the day… hour after hour… from morning to night. If they do not perform well, or refuse to perform, food is withheld until they do their tricks & get them right. The circus arenas are small & quite often open to the glare of the hot sun. The living quarters for the children are even smaller &, again, often exposed to the elements. These children don’t have the luxury of their free brethren. They don’t get to run in the fields, play games on their own terms or learn life-skill’s from their parents. Many of the children where separated from their mothers when they were very young & still reliant on them for growth & development. They will never have a chance to learn about their culture, their language, their family or proper human etiquette.

The circus owners ignore the natural development of the young girls… In normal human society a young girl may come into womanhood at 13 years of age but will, in all likelihood, not have her first child till 15… if not later. At the circus the young girls are pushed into motherhood as soon as their bodies are fertile & it’s usually through forced insemination. Because many of the girls have had no mother figure to teach them how to raise a child they end up rejecting their babies. No matter. The circus owners raise them themselves… an ever ready supply of performers separated from the laws of the outside world.

These children are worked to death… literally. Those that are lucky to survive their first few years will, on average, be dead before they’re 20! Disease & exhaustion claiming them. Rather an abhorrent death rate when a human, free of this kind of servitude, can live until they’re 80!

A few performers, brought in when the circuses were starting up, have made it into their 30’s. But time has taken its toll on their health & mind. Some of these adults have lashed out in frustration against the circus masters. In so doing they find themselves placed in solitary confinement. Isolated from their own kind. Humans are an incredibly social species & this kind of isolation causes depression (for which they are fed anti-depression drugs) or more violent outburst… yet still the circus masters make them perform tricks. Freedom comes with death.

Story 2…

There are a circuses in developed nations… locations widely advertised… who’s vast majority of performers are young orca who perform tricks to willing audiences. An audience happy to pay considerable sums of money to be entertained. These orca are forced to do shows repeatedly through the day… hour after hour… from morning to night. If they do not perform well, or refuse to perform, food is withheld until they do their tricks & get them right. The circus arenas are small & quite often open to the glare of the hot sun. The living quarters for the orca are even smaller &, again, often exposed to the elements. These orca don’t have the luxury of their free brethren. They don’t get to swim the ocean depths, play games on their own terms or learn life-skill’s from their parents. Many of the orca where separated from their mothers when they were very young & still reliant on them for growth & development. They will never have a chance to learn about their culture, their language, their family or proper orca etiquette.

The circus owners ignore the natural development of the young orca females… In normal orca society a young female orca may come into womanhood at 13 years of age but will, in all likelihood, not have her first calf till 15… if not later. At the circus the young female orcas are pushed into motherhood as soon as their bodies are fertile & it’s usually through forced insemination. Because many of the females have had no mother figure to teach them how to raise a child they end up rejecting their calves. No matter. The circus owners raise them themselves… an ever ready supply of performers separated from the laws of the outside world.

These orca are worked to death… literally. Those that are lucky to survive their first few years will, on average, be dead before they’re 20! Disease & exhaustion claiming them. Rather an abhorrent death rate when an orca, free of this kind of servitude, can live until they’re 80!

A few orcas, brought in when the circuses were starting up, have made it into their 30’s. But time has taken its toll on their health & mind. Some of these adult orcas have lashed out in frustration against the circus masters. In so doing they find themselves placed in solitary confinement. Isolated from their own kind. Orcas are an incredibly social species & this kind of isolation causes depression (for which they are fed anti-depression drugs) or more violent outburst… yet still the circus masters make them perform tricks. Freedom comes with death.

*******************************

So which of these two stories made you the most sickened or outraged?

I’m sure if a cause was created to help free the children from the first story you would be a willing participant. You would be furious that this type of thing can still occur in our civilised society.

What about story 2? Would you be as willing to join the cause of freedom or would you be the same as thousands of other people & buy a ticket to the show… to gorp, & laugh & go “ooooo-aaaah” as the orcas perform their tricks?

Story 1 is purely a work of fiction yet Story 2 is true. Are you one of the people who sees the enslavement of young people as abhorrent whilst the enslavement of orcas (& their dolphin cousins) makes you shrug your shoulders & go ‘meh’?

Last week PETA went up against $eaworld in court to argue that orca should be freed* under the 13thAmendment. The case was quickly thrown out by the court as they claimed that the 13th Amendment only covered humans.

The 13th Amendment

SECTION 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

SECTION 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Now I don’t pretend to understand law & constitution but Section 1 does not mention humans. If a 21stcentury lawyer was to write that Amendment specifically for humans then I would expect the words ‘human’ or ‘person’ or ‘mankind’ to feature in it. With the wording of the 13th Amendment as it stands I can understand why PETA took up the case against $eaworld. I assume Section 2 is where they came unstuck, as the court enforced this article in their own appropriate way.

However PETA has a very important point. Going back to my two stories in can be though that the treatment of orca in captivity is akin to slavery. What’s more is that more & more scientists are calling for cetaceans to be classed as non-human persons. Their can be no denying cetacean intelligence & how it mirrors our own… they recognise themselves; they morn their dead; they have their own cultures, gained through knowledge passed down from mother to calf & they can learn to communicate with (& take orders from) us through complex sentences.

PETA may have lost this particular battle but the powers that be can’t turn a blind eye to the slavery of sentient species for ever.

*When we talk about freeing orca we mean intense rehabilitation & then freedom. We DO NOT mean simply chucking them back out in the ocean to fend for themselves, as most pro-caps would want you to believe.

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