Santa Whales

There has been a big outcry over the Japenese whaling efforts. This article weaves complaining over the whaling with an outcry about the santa hats on the Beluga whales at a Japanese aquarium . I find it interesting that nobody is complaining about the outfits the staff are being made to wear!

Personally, I really think there are more important issues to pursue. All captive animals are used for entertainment of some sort. It is the human perception or perspective that is the only thing that is different.

I remember when dolphins used to pull boats around in different skits but after more and more public outcry, the skits changed. Today, the public withnesses the same behaviors (dolphins pull and push objects naturally) in a more palatable manner.

Which is better?

Granted, the educational aspect is an important one. The only reason people end up caring about animals is when they have an understanding about them–or a close encounter.

Perhaps I am skewed having been around the animal field for some time–because I don’t judge the activities that give animals mental stimulation and a quality environment–human perspective is often skewed by judgement calls that have little to do with the reality.

Does this mean I support santa hats on whales?

Hmm, I just see the hats as props for the seasonal visitors and doubt the whales mind them.

How about pets that are wearing different clothing or costumes? I guess the question really is, are we making animals into toys or dolls instead of seeing them for the intriguing creatures they are?

I worry more about all the special effects in the movies. They give animals voices, have them exhibit anthropomorphic (humanlike) traits and emotions, and generally make a mess out of things.

That is why whenever a particular breed is featured, suddenly a big demand for the animal sweeps the country. Some examples? 101 Dalmations, Lady & the Tramp, Eight Below, Call of the Wild, the Incredible Journey…and then there are the television animal actors…

There I go, heading into a rant again…back to the topic…

On the other hand, people tend to forget that every culture is different and want to force change or fix things based on their cultural perspective or belief system.

I remember getting in trouble for training animals in captive situations–and now it is common place for mental stimulation and husbandry. You see, I came from a background of training animals for cooperative behavior and not the “let’s keep them in a wild state” mentality that was rampant at the time.

It never made sense to me. So, the animal is in captivity, was born in captivity, and we are going to pretend they are still in the wild?

We are a mess aren’t we?

Today, people are dressing up their pets and indulging in upscale purchases for bowls, beds, and other pet supplies. Is this crossing the line? Who is ultimately responsible for how animals are viewed?

I’d be interested in your thoughts on this issue. Please do comment below.

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  1. Great rant! I enjoy these pieces you write.

    I don’t mind the anthropomorphizing so much; after all, we even anthropomorphize inanimate objects such as cars, buildings, etc.

    However, I completely agree that belugas wearing hats is a non-issue. I’m not the biggest fan of keeping wild animals in captivity, but if that’s where they live then at least let them have some fun and variety in their lives.

    Domestic animals are different – we’ve bred them over the centuries to depend on their relationship with humans. Dogs and cats are intriguing creatures but they aren’t the same wolves and lions that we see in the wild… or in the zoo.