I am a vegetarian. My brother is a hunter. Our whole family gets together at Christmas. Imagine the debates over the Christmas dinner.
Our family would all call ourselves conservationists. According to any activists, we would be judged differently. I work with captive marine animals. My brother promotes killing animals for a living.
During our Christmas gathering this year, my brother and I had an earnest debate. He spoke of how he had been caught up in a rhino hunting debate where he had defended the action. I was appalled at the thought. He defended his position saying that the amount of money achieved in this type of activity goes directly towards conservation. Money that is seriously required. He mentioned that the deaths of these hunted animals were ethically achieved. He then showed me a picture of an ex Ms Mississippi standing over a Zebra corpse, rifle on hand. Her trophy picture of her hunt in Africa. I was totally overwhelmed at the image. Wondered how anyone could pose next to an animal they had killed and feel any sense of pride. Once again, my brother defended the gun-happy beauty queen, mentioning that single-handedly, through her hunting in South Africa she has contributed significantly to conservation activities.
Sadly, on some level, he is right. We no longer live in a perfect world.
What a sad day this is where we have to look at the financial implications of any actions in order to make a judgement call. Acceptable losses – a term that was coined when governments and kings sent young men to fight a war. When did we get to the point where we were able to make compromises based on taking lives.
I sometimes feel like I don’t belong on this planet. There is not a bone in my body that has the capacity to look an animal in the eye and pull the trigger. Let alone an animal that is endangered. I always assumed that we all felt this way at an essential level. Perhaps not. This thought makes me even sadder.
And the realistic side of me tells me to wake up. Who am I to point fingers. I have chosen to work in a captive scenario when I don’t really believe this should exist either. This is my “modern day imperfect world” compromise. Because I know how we manage to change the attitudes of people out there through our exhibitions. I am fortunate to love the animals in my care and interact with them daily. Many wish they had my job.