I‘ve seen two letters now criticizing Bryan Burns for bringing in caged exotic animals to the Interior Provincial Exhibition this year, so I thought I should try to write something about the benefits of such a show.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do not necessarily condone having such magnificent animals in captivity.
I have been to Africa and have experienced the thrill of seeing lions, zebras, elephants, camels and giraffes, among other creatures, roaming wild and free.
So my very first reaction when I saw the Xtreme Wild animals in their cages was, “Oh.”
But my husband and I sat through their show and it changed my opinion.
These animals appeared well fed and well cared for. At least two of them were rescued when their mothers were killed.
Had they not, they would not have survived.
All of these animals in the show have been captive so long, they could not be released to the wild without extensive and expensive rehabilitation efforts.
During the course of the show, it became apparent that this was an educational experience presented towards the children but not lost (hopefully) on the adults.
Wildlife conservation and environmental issues were discussed. For example, did you know that there are more white tigers in captivity, most of them in Texas, than in the wild?
The reason? Their natural habitat is being destroyed by man. Most captive animals live longer their their wild counterparts because they have access to medications and do not have to worry about predators.
The host asked the audience what the world’s most dangerous predator was and the audience answered correctly – man.
We are the reason so many of these wonderful creatures are becoming extinct and without more care and attention, future generations will not be able to experience seeing them in the wild, or worse, will not even be able to see them in zoos and wildlife parks.
This education needs to be presented to all of us to remind us that only we, man, can slow down this extinction or perhaps prevent it altogether.
The column by Roger Knox in the paper (Extreme love for animals) even pointed to another concern – rodeos.
There are some groups of people who wish to have chuckwagon races, bronc riding, and other events prohibited because of a history of deaths of some of the participating animals.
What about chickens (not the free-range ones) raised in commercial buildings who spend their entire lives in a small cage producing eggs?
What about those wonderful little steers, raised with care and love, who are rewarded by being auctioned off to the market?
Do we quit eating eggs, chicken and meat?
No, instead we try to change laws to make these animals lives as comfortable as possible.
There is no perfect solution here but I don’t believe we should criticize Bryan Burns for trying to present something different and educational.
I applaud his ingenuity and his “thinking outside of the box” approach to the fair.
Was is appropriate for an agricultural fair? Opinions will vary.
But I for one appreciated the attempt to educate our children, who are our future legislators and voters, to the danger of losing such beautiful species to extinction.