Monday, June 1, 2015

"In Defense of Slavery" and SeaWorld (unrelated, right?)

For paper #4, I was rereading an excerpt from Marjorie Spiegel's piece titled "In Defense of Slavery"where Spiegel connects human slavery with animal oppression. A very interesting read from earlier in the quarter, definitely, but something stuck out to me when I read it again. Spiegel includes an interview with a egg factory worker in her work. Here is the passage I am referring to:

"Q: Why do you have to de-beak [the chickens]?

A: The chickens will, in their pecking order, pick on the weakest chicken... Once they draw blood, then they just keep on going. They're quite cannibalistic.

Q: But when they're in a barnyard that usually doesn't happen.

A: No, but then the one who's being picked on can get away."

What interests me about this passage is that the behavior the chickens exhibit while living in the farms is completely caused by humans. Our demand for eggs has created these farms where chickens are kept four to a cage in order to maximize profit. These chickens cannot move around, let alone walk or run, so their behavior is altered to become more violent towards each other. This shift is not seen in places where chickens have plenty of space to move. Human demand for eggs has indirectly created this behavior, and human demand has indirectly caused thousands of chickens to be debeaked.

This reminds me of the orca whales at SeaWorld who have droopy dorsal fins and have been known to exhibit dangerous behavior. Orca whales in the wild have very firm dorsal fins that stick straight up, which allows them to maneuver in the water much more efficiently. In captivity, orca dorsal fins are drooped. The collagen within dorsal fins remains rigid in wild orcas due to the depth and pressure they experience in the open ocean. Orcas in captivity live in tanks that are 40 feet at the deepest, which does not exert enough pressure on the orcas' dorsal fins to keep them upright and functioning properly. Orca whales are also thought to be dangerous animals due to events that have taken place with orca whales in captivity. Although they are also known as killer whales, there has never been a documented case of an orca in the wild attacking or killing a human being. The only time their violent behavior has been seen is at aquatic centers such as SeaWorld.

This example is just one of many that demonstrate how humans have used animals as sources of revenue with no regard to the animals' wellbeing.

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