Before I go any further, I will divulge that I am vegan, which means that I don't eat or use any animal products. I'm not evangelical. Most of my family and friends eat meat, and I don't judge or look down on them for doing so. All right, maybe I do a little.
I also enjoy a good cute animal video, like the Disney's DuckTales remake. Honestly, who doesn't? Nowadays, there's something for everyone. Pit bulls, domestic cats, tigers, monkeys... the videos are everywhere and I'm guilty of going down an hour-long rabbit hole of bulldog puppy clips myself. But at what point do we realize the root cause of the behaviors being displayed by non-domesticated animals that we have deemed "cute" may actually be fear or pain?
The first eye-opening experience I had regarding this was during a cute animal video binge. I came across footage of a girl in her home tickling what appeared to be a smiling and happy animal called a slow loris. Upon being tickled, the slow loris raises its hands above its head and looks like it's begging for more. I fell in love. I watched it over and over again. I wanted a slow loris of my own, so I researched the little creature and learned that it is a wild jungle animal that can only be obtained through illegal trade and is an endangered species. The motion of the loris raising its arms above its head is actually a defense mechanism. Whoops.
If you take another hard look at the DuckTales remake, do you honestly think the real ducks are having a good time? Large pieces of metal falling from the sky on a tiny duckling, hats strapped or glued to their heads, flashing lights, objects being thrown at them, pinned in a picnic basket. Doesn't sound like too much fun. It's hard to imagine that the ducks in the video can wrap their bird brains around what's going on. To me, the ducks in the video look like they are screaming for help.
Most animal videos are benign. Domesticated dogs and cats are close enough to humans to trust us, love us, and know that even if we put a silly cowboy costume on them (which I am guilty of doing to my cat), we would never hurt them. With wild animals or animals with lower cognitive abilities, such as ducks, that sense of calm and trust is not present, and while they may be docile, they're also scared for their lives when put in a situation they don't understand.
I'm grateful that my own perspective has been changed and more people are starting to realize that wild animals do not exist on this earth to entertain humans.
Even Steve-O, who's given himself paper cuts in his eyes and stapled his own ass cheeks together, is with it enough to know that taking animals out of their natural environment is selfish and not OK.
And yes, I know what a lot of people might think about my knee-jerk reaction to the DuckTales remake. "Get over it, they're ducks." "It's cute and just for fun." "Lighten up." "They're only birds." "You're a crazy, tree-hugging hippie." "Humans need meat." I've seen comments like these and much worse on the internet.
I am conflicted with my own veganism, being that I come from a family of gentle, animal-loving hog farmers who I love and support. While I don't force my lifestyle on anyone else, I do implore that you look within yourself and ask if turning a blind eye to pain and suffering in the name of entertainment is really worth it.
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