Tag Archives: soapbox

Animal Exploitations?

I will fully admit that one of the big things that put Thailand on my map of places to visit was because of the Tiger Temple.  When I first heard about it and saw pictures from a customer at my workplace I was in absolute awe!  You mean you can walk beside, pet and sit with REAL tigers????  I was sold!!  I wanted to be a part of that!!  I had heard things like; there is a Temple in Thailand where monks live and care for the tigers; the tigers are fed cooked meat so they don’t look at humans (raw meat) as being a food source; the tigers are docile and are pretty much exactly like house cats, except much larger.  A Tiger Temple was even featured as one of the locations where they went in The Amazing Race during the first season.  I was highly intrigued!!

tiger temple_1
tiger temple_1

Then I started doing research…  There isn’t just ONE tiger Temple in Thailand.  They are a dime a dozen (here in Kanchanaburi you can barely walk 10 feet without seeing a sign for a tiger tour).  Tour groups are taken daily to the various Temples so that each tourist can have a “genuine” experience with the tigers… I should have figured.  After really looking into it, I can’t help but wonder whether these “Temples” aren’t so much about the benefit of the animals as they are simply another way to bring in the tourist, essentially exploiting the tigers along the way.  I’m not saying the tigers are mistreated.  I doubt they would be since it is such a popular tourist attraction.  What I am saying is tigers are by nature wild.  As much as I love the fantasy of being able to chill along side a tiger, I would much rather have a genuine encounter (much to the fear of my family I’m sure) in the wild (where tigers really belong) with one than to stand in line, wait my turn and get my picture taken with a “tame” tiger.

tiger temple_2
tiger temple_2

I’m not sure how these Temples began.  Perhaps the first did originally start as a place where tigers that would otherwise die in the wild were taken in and cared for.  Then perhaps from there it evolved into the circus it is today?   I’m not sure.  But I now know I don’t want to be a part of that.

For all the animal encounters I wish I was able to have, I certainly won’t if it’s at the potential exploitation of the animal.  That is why I didn’t take an elephant ride in Ayutthaya.  I’m always very wary of how the animals are treated before paying to be a part of an activity with them, though I did buy a basket of food to feed to them (since the food was going directly to them).  There were several elephants off giving rides to tourists down the street and back and three remained at the main location without any harnesses on, but tied by their foot with a chain to the hitching post beside them.

tiger temple_3
tiger temple_3

It was hard to see chains around their legs, but here I will play a bit of the devil’s advocate.  As a horse back rider, we tie horses up with halters and a lead lines to keep them in one place.  We don’t tie a leg of course nor do we use chains in tying a horse, but I had to wonder if since elephants are soooo much larger, if chains are just the equivalent to a cotton or nylon tether to a horse?  Elephants are highly intelligent however so I also wondered why they would need ties at all to stay within an area?  And again, since I’m not educated enough on the proper treatment of elephants and whether these ones were properly cared for, I didn’t agree to a ride, just a direct feeding to them.

 

Elephants
Elephants waiting for food

In Ayutthaya they also have a place called the Elephant Kraal and the Ayutthaya Elephant Village, right next to the floating market.  I did think to go check them out, but thankfully read up on some reviews first… This review was also confirmed by a couple staying in the hostel who had personally gone to see it.  First the floating market is nothing but a tourist trap.  Second, they said that the elephants look stressed and unhappy, that they made the baby elephants do tricks that were unnatural for an elephant to do and third they also had TIGERS that they kept in small cement cages with their legs tied to the edge of the cage.  The couple said the tether was so tight that it was cutting into their skin.  Absolutely unacceptable!!!

Soapbox time…  Though it may not make any difference (because most people are too much into their own needs to care) I urge people NOT to support any cruelty to animals and subsequently do NOT support places or people who treat their animals in foul ways.  The best way to get them to stop is simply to not support them.  Unfortunately many of these kinds of places open up because tourism drives them.  Since they have animals native to their lands that many other places in the world consider exotic, many places make a buisiness out of exploiting the animals so tourists can get up close and personal with them so they can show off to friends and family back home on what they got to do with a wild animal.  If we don’t support these businesses, they can’t survive.  The drive will die off and those who exploit animals for profit will no longer make money.

As I write the above rant, the only concern that comes to mind of course is: What will happen to the animals themselves?  I don’t have all the answers.  If I could wave a magic wand I would have a place of my own (or enough money to support a place) that would provide safe and natural habitats to abused, mistreated and exploited animals.  Somewhere where they could simply be.  Sounds like a zoo, I know, but what I envision would be just large expanses of land where only the injured/unable to live in the wild would be in enclosures so they could be properly cared for.  The rest would roam free.  Until then, all I know is step 1 is to not support places like the above mentioned or any other.  And if anyone out there has better suggestions, I’m open to hearing them 🙂

I do hope there are genuinely good places here that really care for their animals, as I am interested in volunteering.  Whether that means shoveling shit, or any other nitty gritty “gross” job necessary to benefit the animals.  So far I haven’t found any yet but hold hope that they are here somewhere…

On To Gone to the Dogs

Back to Thailand

p.s… all tiger images in this post were taken from Google Images, keyword “tiger temple images”

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Edinburgh Zoo

Before getting into this section I will say that when it comes to Zoos in general, I have a love/hate relationship with them… I love them because one is able to see so many different kinds of animals that would otherwise never be possible to see, but I hate them because in a way zoos are exploiting the animals too.  I don’t doubt for a second that people who work in zoos absolutely love the animals and want to do right by them, but while it’s great to see a polar bear or chimpanzees,  etc., I wonder if we are doing right by them taking them out of their natural habitats… Again, I know that many zoos work hard to recreate the various animals natural habitats and that in some cases in the wild so many of the animals are on the endangered list so perhaps the only way to continue the species is because of zoos, but part of me wishes we didn’t have to interfere so much… If it wasn’t for us destroying the animals natural habitats or hunting them to near extinction then we really wouldn’t have a need for zoos at all… If only it were a perfect world…  Perhaps at this point as well the whole debate is moot because so many of the animals nowadays are born in captivity to begin with and could never survive in the wild as they are supposed to… I just wish it wasn’t that way… But wishing doesn’t do any benefit to anyone or any animal… I also realize that in my buying a ticket I’m supporting the efforts of zoos, so I’ve no right to dislike them since I’m supporting them… Basically as you can see zoos to me open up a huge can of debatable worms!!  Love them and hate them… Grrr!!

Ok, I’m off my soapbox… I’ve been to several zoos around the world at this point and I must say that while some were VERY disappointing and I felt really sorry for the animals (Costa Rica Zoo in San Jose) I thought that the Edinburgh zoo was quite well done!  The habitats for the animals are very spacious and the grounds go on forever!!  Thanks to E I was able to score a discounted ticket for the zoo and literally spent about 9 hours walking every inch of the zoo!  The variety of critters was impressive and again the habitats themselves were spacious (for those critters that need the space!) and the animals seemed generally content.  I must say my favorite bit (aside from the big cats) was the baboons!  They were so darn entertaining that I could have watched them alone for hours on end!  Just watching the interactions between the, probably 50 or so, baboons was better than any reality show on TV today!  There was drama, comedy, action, and lots and lots of mating!!  Must have been the season I guess… Anyway, if any of you reading this are fans of zoos, I do recommend the Edinburgh zoo.

Oh, and by the way, if any see the Wild Cat, I want to hear about it!!  Apparently there is a running joke among people who have visited the Edinburgh zoo where they say that though there is a habitat for the Wild Cat, there isn’t actually a wild cat in the habitat because no one has ever seen it!!  Personally, I have seen it and had I known about that running joke I would have taken a picture to show K&E, but alas I didn’t… I actually spotted it twice.  The first time did take me quite a while to find it because it was curled up sleeping way up high in a tree.  It was about mid-day the first time I saw it.  Then later as the zoo was starting to close I made my way back to the Big Cat area and saw it on the floor of the habitat awake and having a sip of water.

Sorry I’ve no pictures to share for this section… I did take a few pictures for myself but find it a bit exploitive to post them up… I know, I’m odd!!

On to Royal Mile Walking Tour

Back to United Kingdom