One of the favourite battle cries of the anti zoo army “look into their eyes!”
Look into their eyes and you will see….what?
Above is a series of photos of elephant eyes, taken from pics of wild, captive zoo, circus and sanctuary elephants.
Can you tell who is who just by looking into their eyes? Assuming that by doing so you can tell which animal is happy and which animal is sad?
It is amusing when I hear people chant this little ditty. How many times do you look at your cat or your dog and project your own human perception of emotion onto them? Yes we can sometimes tell when our pets are feeling happy, sad or scared; but by merely by gazing into their eyes? Sometimes my cat, while lying with his head down in a relaxed cat pose looks sad. But he isn’t sad, his body posture and the tilt of his head give him a sort of adorable appearance that inspires an emotional reaction from me. I start to think human thoughts, is he hungry? is he sick? did something happen? Or is it perhaps that he is just a cat, lazing about with thoughts I will never actually be able to fully know or understand…maybe he is just content thinking his cat thoughts. It is outlined a little more in detail in this interesting blog post http://melissaasmith.hubpages.com/hub/sad-zoo-animals and I tend to agree with the writer.
As humans we tend to relate everything we experience back to our own emotional experiences and this includes how we perceive others as well as animals. To me it is a bit narcissistic bordering on speciest to gage the emotions of living creatures against our own human emotions as if ours were the standard by which all life on earth should be compared to. They say they are the voice for the voiceless. To me this is kind of like an aggressive and unsolicited offer to interpret for a deaf person when you don’t know the first thing about sign language. Yes it is rooted in compassion and caring to want to be a voice for animals but when human advantage and motive begin to take centre stage that voice becomes your own, not one for animals. And the human species is rarely a purely selfless creature no matter how kind or good you might think you are. Ego is ever present, be it the ego which pats yourself on the back for doing what it considers to be an act of kindness to the ego that wants to compete, to win, perhaps to win a campaign for a cause. Personal motivation can be sly and covert even an unconscious parasitic crippler of good deeds. If one is not aware enough to recognize that they do not have super magic Dr. Doolittle powers of animal telepathy what are the odds that they are self aware enough to assess the influence their personal ego might have over their actions and words?
Perhaps there are many voices for the voiceless. Who decides whose voice is the right one? Surely being the loudest does not simply make you right.
“As empty vessels make the loudest sound, so they that have the
least wit are the greatest blabbers.”