I was compelled to write after reading Donna Calver’s letter to the editor published in your paper.
I feel I need to address her arguments regarding the exotic animal show that they had at this year’s Interior Provincial Exhibition in Armstrong,
Ms. Calver argues that the exotic animal show was acceptable because it was educational in that the handlers talked about each animal’s natural habitat and other “interesting facts.”
Furthermore, she writes that the animals were rescued from “situations that could have proved fatal.”
Finally, she states that the show provided young children with a “better understanding” of the exotic species.
I vehemently disagree that any show that includes exotic animals in captivity is educational or promotes a better understanding of wild animal species.
As the mother of two small children, I want to them to learn how to treat all living creatures with respect and compassion.
I would never take them to see a wild animal travelling show, as I believe this would be damaging to what I want to teach them about animals and their welfare.
Shows like these do not show animals in their habitats interacting in any natural way with other species and their environments and are, therefore, only educating the public on how animals behave in stressful, captive situations.
Is this what we want our children to learn about exotic species?
According to psychologist Dr. Barbara Boat, “an industry based upon the use and abuse of wild animals has no place in either the education or entertainment of young children.
“We need to be teaching empathy, compassion, and sensitivity to the interconnectedness of all life, not abusive domination of others.”
If we want to educate our children about wild animals, we are lucky to have access to television programs and the Internet which provide many opportunities to observe animals interacting with other species in their natural environments.
I would also like to point out that just because the animals in the show were rescued from abusive situations does not mean that they should be forced to travel across the country in small crates and cages only to be gawked at by thousands of people.
The absence of abuse does not necessarily equate to a happy existence.
There are organizations that are dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of injured or abused animals.
The Wildlife Rescue Association and Elizabeth’s Wildlife Centre are two examples in B.C.
Both of these organizations state on their websites that they do not allow the animals to come into contact with the public as it is too stressful.
Of course, there are animals that are unable to be released due to an injury or their reliance on humans.
In these cases, the ethical thing to do is to provide the animals with the largest and most natural enclosures possible and allow them to live a life that is as near as possible to what their existence in the wild would have been.
Amy Cohen, Vernon