DawnWatch: Captive wild animals in two Sunday NY Times book reviews 6/5/06

June 5th, 2006 6:26 pm by mad mags

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From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch [dot] com
Date: Jun 5, 2006 4:02 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Captive wild animals in two Sunday NY Times book reviews 6/5/06

The Sunday, June 4, New York Times Book Review has two reviews of interest to animal advocates. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, well-known for “The Hidden Life of Dogs,” reviews “Kicked, Bitten and Scratched: Life and Lessons at the World’s Premier School for Exotic Animal Trainers” by Amy Sutherland.

The book is about the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program (EATM) at Moorpark College in Ventura County, Calif. We read, “EATM produces specialists who train animals for television and film and hold jobs at aquariums and zoos pdf herunterladen pc. Thousands of young people, especially women (who make up an overwhelming majority of students at EATM), long for such careers and wonder how to achieve them. Some will be applying to Moorpark before they finish Sutherland’s last chapter.”

Marshall gives the book a positive review. And Marshall’s review shows off her own insight, with the following passage for example:

“Yet Sutherland has little to say about the actual substance of training, and her unquestioning acceptance of trainer values will raise some hackles herunterladen. She refers to SeaWorld as a ‘mecca,’ which would not be the view of those who study wild cetaceans and feel these animals should have their freedom. She skims over the fact that many of the social animals at EATM are caged alone except when with a trainer, and therefore would suffer from loneliness and anxiety. One must read between the lines to surmise that their loneliness serves to facilitate the training process.

“Sutherland also uncritically accepts the trainers’ glib, often inaccurate interpretations of animal behavior surveymonkey umfrage herunterladen. She describes the process by which students learn to take a wolf named Legend out for a walk on a leash. Legend, alone in her cage, ‘yearns to be in a group,’ Sutherland writes. ‘To train and walk the wolf, the students must become her pack members.’ First, they must enter the wolf’s cage, which is like ‘changing the guard.’ The trainer, a woman named Holly Tumas, ‘steps through the door first, closing it behind her,’ we are told. ‘Then a student does the same. When they are in the cage they never, ever turn their backs on Legend. Meanwhile, as Tumas commands, Legend sits on a tree stump in the middle of the cage download images from dropbox. . . . ‘On your mark,’ Tumas orders in her deep, firm wolf voice. Legend does as told by her alpha.’ But this does not describe behavior in a wolf pack, and there are no ‘pack members’ here, potential or otherwise. This describes a wary slave and her masters.”

However her review has problems. She writes, “Despite such shortcomings, Sutherland’s book does showcase the importance of training in a world where wild places are quickly disappearing and many species may soon exist only in captivity.”

Yes, it is true that some species will disappear if not in captivity, but there are about five zoos in the USA doing any sort of meaningful conservation work. The vast majority are simply displaying captive animals for human amusement.

Then Marshall continues by taking on animal rights activists, and PETA, while apparently misunderstanding their position. She writes:

“Despite the beliefs of animal rights activists, many captive animals welcome their training. With nothing to do, they can suffer miserably from boredom. Training gives them a life. Some kinds of circus animals — tigers in particular — are healthier and happier and live longer than their counterparts in zoos. Circus tigers seldom pace or sleep as if in coma. When not in the ring, they are awake and alert, interested in the nearby tigers and the activity going on around them. When their trainer comes by, they chuff a greeting.”

I don’t know any animal rights activists who hold that wild animals are best kept alone and bored in zoo enclosures. I think a life behind bars, with absolutely nothing to do all day, whether it be on a quarter of an acre or three acres, would be a fate worse than death. And I don’t know any animal rights activists who wish to see wild animals taken out of circuses and put into zoos. I would like to see the cessation of their breeding for the purpose of human entertainment, and see those bred for conservation living naturally on huge reserves as they would in the wild.

You can read the full review on line at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/04/books/review/04thomas.html

The other review of interest to animal advocates is that of “Water for Elephants,” a new novel by Sara Gruen. The novel is about a man who becomes a veterinarian in a depression era circus and explores his relationship with the star elephant. I have not read the book, so cannot comment on it, but the review shares a passage that suggests that the book explores the cruelty of the circus.

Reviewer Elizabeth Judd writes:

“Gruen, whose first novel was ‘Riding Lessons,’ turns horses and other creatures into sympathetic characters. According to an author’s note, she studied elephant body language and behavior with a former handler at the Kansas City Zoo. The research pays off. August’s mistreatment of Marlena pales beside the visceral wallop of his nonchalant cruelty toward Rosie: ‘I look up just as he flicks the cigarette. It arcs through the air and lands in Rosie’s open mouth, sizzling as it hits her tongue. She roars, panicked, throwing her head and fishing inside her mouth with her trunk. August marches off. I turn back to Rosie. She stares at me, a look of unspeakable sadness on her face. Her amber eyes are filled with tears.'”

You can read that review on line at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/04/books/review/04judd.html

Either or both of the reviews provide good opportunities for letters about the use of wild animals for human entertainment. The Book Review section takes letters at books [at] nytimes [dot] com

Please be sure not to use any phrases from me or any other activist in your letters. Papers will not publish letters that appear to be part of a campaign. Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.

Yours and the animals’,
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. To unsubscribe, go to http://www.dawnwatch.com/cgi-bin/dada/dawnwatch_unsubscribe.cgi
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