Dying for Amusement

Oct 072003
Authors: Meg Burd

CSU is definitely a school tied in many ways to animals. With

some of our professors internationally recognized as developers of

systems to promote more humane ways to work with livestock,

renowned vet and equine programs and deep agricultural roots, we

students at CSU cannot ignore the important tie to animals that is

an undercurrent in the history and current situation of our school.

In that case, if not for personal moral reasons, at least we, as a

school known for educating the future maintainers of animal welfare

(veterinarians and others), should, as a community, be deeply

disturbed by cases of animals being used, abused and killed for the

purpose of entertainment.

Two potent examples of deaths of animals used for human

amusement can be found in two recent news articles. David Gonzales,

in an Oct. 2 New York Times article, discusses the death of two

dolphins at a swim-with-the-dolphins amusement park for tourists in

Mexico. Yolanda Alaniz, head of a conservation groups, says that

over 200 dolphins have been captured either locally or illegally

imported from other areas to the parks. Many of these dolphins are

trafficked in violation of international codes. In the Parque Nizuc

Wet’n’Wild Park, officials say that over 60,000 people swam with

dolphins in the last year. These dolphins, estimates Alaniz, can

bring in $7,500 a day each. With tourists clamoring jump in, the

dolphins are a highly profitable form of entertainment in the


Gonzales quotes park operators as saying that they continue

these programs in order to promote “knowledge and respect for

wildlife.” Opponents, however, say that these programs are often

inefficiently run and cruel to the illegally captured dolphins. Ric

O’Berry, former “Flipper” trainer, says in the article that “The

reality is they are all going to die if you stick around long

enough.” The death of the two dolphins, one from a stress-related

ulcer and the other from a blocked esophagus, suggests that this

dire prediction is true.

Another case of animal abuse and murder came to light at the

beginning of last summer. According to a Reuters article, the

bodies of 3,000 racing greyhounds were uncovered from a rural

gravesite, each with bullet wounds to the head or neck. Robert

Rhodes of Alabama, arrested in conjunction with these deaths,

admitted to killing thousands of dogs for profit. The reason they

were murdered? Because they had become too old to run the track and

entertain sufficiently. Dog tracks, it appears, would send out

these older dogs to be cheaply shot and buried by Rhodes. As the

district attorney of the area, David Whetstone, says “These dogs

are killed because they are slow. When you are no longer of value,

you are executed.” These dogs, like the dolphins, are animals used

and abused for entertainment value, and are being killed in the

name of amusement.

For those of us who agree with Mahatma Gandhi’s statement that

“the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being”

or those who simply value animals in general, these cases should

horrify us. There are many ways we can voice our disapproval.

Voicing our disapproval through letters and joining campaigns

against animal cruelty is one way, but we can also vote with our

dollars. While on vacation or spring break, avoiding parks or

activities such as these can at least ensure that we don’t

contribute to the continued suffering of “entertainment animals.”

Instead of allowing these animals to continue being viewed as

simple amusements, we can help promote their value as living beings

instead, and also uphold the reputation of CSU as a place that is

linked to animal welfare.

Is she affiliated with any animal welfare groups?





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