Many animals will suffer this Christmas and every other day of their lives, exploited by humans for entertainment.
Animals exploited for entertainment
OneKind is completely against the exploitation of animals for entertainment, so we oppose any practice which can cause them harm. Animals are sentient, individual beings, with their own priorities and personalities. They may not show their emotions in the same way that humans do, and this means we can miss the signs of their suffering. That’s why we are asking for your support. Please donate if you can.
Animal advocate and friend to OneKind, Peter Egan sums it up perfectly. We are very grateful to him for lending support to our campaign.
“We human animals are very soft on ourselves when we compare what we want and can endure ourselves and what we are happy to impose on all other species with whom we share our wonderful planet.
Elephants, tigers, lions, snakes, spiders, and all other wildlife that makes our planet rich in its biodiversity, we imprison, hunt or just kill for fun and for food.
We are all earthlings…we are all onekind…no animal should be caged and used by us for fun or curiosity…we all want the same thing…a life of freedom and happiness.”
Thousands of animals are suffering in captivity, denied the right to live the lives that they choose. Their only purpose is to entertain humans, and the main reason for keeping animals in captivity is profit, not their wellbeing.
Reindeer are suffering for our “magical moments”
Reindeer are native to the Arctic Tundra. They are used to quiet wilderness, open space, and cool temperatures. It is very difficult to meet their needs in captivity. However, they are kept in small pens at garden centres, theme parks, and schools, where they are exhibited for hours on end. While it might feel “magical” to see live reindeer at Christmas, these events are harmful to the animals involved.
- Reindeer hide their stress very well because they are prey animals. Therefore it’s easy to think they are relaxed when they are actually suffering.
- It is very stressful for reindeer to be transported and exhibited and stress can make health problems worse.
- Reindeer need specialist care. It’s unlikely that everyone working at seasonal events with reindeer has the required knowledge to care for them properly.
- Captive reindeer can suffer from poor muscle development, weight loss, diarrhoea, and antler malformation.
Moreover, exhibiting live reindeer for festive celebrations causes them physical and mental suffering. We dress them up to suit our ideals around Christmas and deny them their dignity. Exhibiting reindeer in this way also suggests that animals are props for us to do as we please.
We expose these shy animals to loud noises, bright lights, and children desperate to touch them. Unfortunately, many captive reindeer suffer in these situations each Christmas.
A positive step, but still a long way to go
OneKind has protested against live reindeer displays for a long time. We were pleased that many were cancelled last year due to COVID, and are glad that the number is reducing. Aberdeen’s Trinity shopping centre axed reindeer displays in 2019, and Mercat shopping centre in Kirkcaldy also agree that exhibiting reindeer is cruel. However, there are already five displays (that we are aware of), occurring in Scotland this Christmas. Reindeer will be forced to travel against their will into schools and other venues where they will be exhibited for hours.
What about other captive environments?
There are many other environments where animals are kept and used for human entertainment. They include animals in zoos, aquariums, safari parks, falconry displays, petting zoos, and birds of prey displays. These animals suffer from mental health problems and stress, forced to live a life that they would not choose.
Zoos and safari parks
Zoos and safari parks exist to exhibit animals to the public and maximise profit. They do this by buying, selling, trading, borrowing, loaning out, and breeding animals.
- Many animals would usually roam large distances in the wild. Zoos and safari parks cannot provide sufficient space for them.
- Animals can suffer from stress and boredom, live in inappropriate social groupings, die prematurely, and can be euthanised if they are viewed as “surplus to requirements”.
- Animals can display their stress through pacing, rocking, over-grooming, and inflicting injuries on themselves.
- Conservation of species is often used to defend the existence of zoos and safari parks. However, most animals kept in these environments are not endangered.
- Conservation is more successful when carried out on the animals’ native territory.
- Protecting a species with a captive breeding programme only allows us to keep them in captivity.
- It is almost impossible to release a captive-born or bred animal into the wild. They simply don’t have the skills needed to survive.
- There is no evidence to suggest zoos are better at educating the public on conservation than more animal-friendly alternatives.
Conservation, or repeated exploitation to boost ticket sales?
Giant panda Tian Tian at Edinburgh Zoo has been artificially inseminated eight times. It has been stated that the purpose of this is part of a “critical” international breeding programme, yet pandas are no longer considered endangered. Of course, there’s no doubt that visitor numbers would soar if Tian Tian delivered a cub. Furthermore, in the wild, pandas choose their own mate but Tian Tian hasn’t been allowed to do this.
David Field, RZSS chief executive, said: “Giving Tian Tian the chance to experience pregnancy and parenthood is important for her wellbeing and provides a vital opportunity to express natural behaviours.” Artificial insemination is an invasive, stressful, and complicated procedure. Is repeatedly forcing her into this process really contributing to her wellbeing? Each time she has been inseminated and the anticipation of a cub breaks the news, none of the headlines celebrate her chance of displaying maternal behaviours.
Keeping wild animals in captivity can be dangerous
There have been several incidents in Zoos around the world where wild animals have attacked people. This is most likely due to stress and the captive environment they are forced into. Three visitors were mauled in Beijing Zoo over a three-year period after falling or jumping into giant panda enclosures. Edinburgh Zoo had its own dangerous incident, when a leaked email and CCTV footage revealed that a member of staff could have died when a giant panda made its way into the enclosure before she was finished cleaning it. Additionally, the email also suggested that the animal could have escaped to public areas of the zoo.
Blair Drummond Safari Park
An investigation took place into Blair Drummond Safari Park following the deaths of 5 animals between 2016-2020. Deaths include:
- Two lionesses in 2016 euthanised as a result of injuries inflicted by a male lion. This was due to alleged inappropriate social grouping.
- A hand-reared nilgai antelope who staff reportedly stated “shouldn’t have been housed with other males” was left with internal organs protruding from an injury inflicted during an altercation with another male.
- A lemur killed after escaping into the tiger enclosure in 2018
- A Barbary macaque mauled by lions in front of visitors in 2020 after escaping its enclosure.
Blair Drummond Safari Park did not receive any charges for these brutal fatalities, and insist animal welfare is of paramount importance. However, this raises questions about the ethics of keeping animals in such environments once again.
Marine animals in captivity
Many people are fascinated by dolphins and whales, and want to get as close to them as possible. There are numerous holidays which offer people this opportunity, either by swimming with dolphins or visiting SeaWorld. People assume that the animals happily perform tricks, are well cared for, and are living a great life. Unfortunately, the opposite is true: animals suffer greatly within these environments. Their sole purpose is to perform for humans. Aquariums and marine parks have similar welfare issues to zoos.
There’s been a positive change in people’s attitudes to animals being used in entertainment. The documentary Blackfish, about the controversial capture of orcas, is just one example of the shift in public perceptions. Blackfish raised awareness of the welfare issues suffered by captive orcas. Since its release, more people have started boycotting Sea World and other marine parks.
- Marine animals are taken from their natural environment or bred to spend their lives in captivity.
- They are forced to perform repeatedly for humans, deprived of their natural habitats and family groupings.
- Many animals spend most of their lives alone, in tanks that are far too small to adequately meet their complex needs.
- There are many stories showing how these environments negatively affect these animals. You may have read stories of orcas attacking trainers or physically harming themselves as a result of their stress.
- By supporting UK aquariums, you could be unknowingly funding the suffering of dolphins and other marine mammals across Europe.
- Food deprivation is a technique often used to force the animals to comply with their trainers.
Aspro Parks – exploiting animals for human entertainment
There aren’t any whales or dolphins in captivity in the UK but many other aquatic animals are kept in aquariums, denied the opportunity to live a life they choose. These include sharks, octopuses, turtles, and rays. Deep Sea World in South Queensferry allows the handling of animals and shark diving experiences. You can even host children’s birthday parties with a private handling session of reptiles.
Furthermore, Deep Sea World is owned by Aspro Parks, which has 68 centres across 10 countries. Some of these parks do have dolphins performing in shows. They also offer experiences to swim with dolphins. Aspro Parks own 10 centres in the UK. You can find a full list of them here.
Petting zoos and falconry displays
It might be tempting for some to give their children a special birthday party at a petting zoo. These businesses often provide exotic animals for handling, such as snakes and lizards, exposing them to noisy children who crowd the animals. This can be an extremely stressful situation to force these animals into.
Likewise with bird of prey displays, animals are tied to a post for hours on end and occasionally put on the arm of a child or adult in noisy and busy environments. Typically, they can be seen in shopping centres or at supermarkets. The animals are not benefitting from living in these environments; they are being exploited purely for our entertainment.
What can be done to help animals exploited for entertainment?
As long as animals are kept in zoos and aquariums, OneKind wants the Government to ensure that local authorities are enforcing welfare legislation. At the moment, Zoos do not have to be inspected annually. OneKind believes that they should be visited by an independent inspector each year, as welfare conditions can deteriorate rapidly and animals may be left in poor conditions for long periods if inspections are infrequent.
We also believe that there should also be a central list of these establishments that have licences. The Government should define which species are considered unsuitable for keeping in zoos and refuse to license such keeping. As it is not generally possible to provide satisfactory welfare for wild animals in captivity, OneKind would expect this list to include many species which are currently kept in zoos.
Please help us end the use of animals in entertainment
However large or small, your gift will help to raise awareness of the plight of thousands of animals kept in captivity and denied their dignity just to provide a “day out” for humans. With your support, we can continue fighting for an end to the exploitation of animals in entertainment. You can also download our leaflet to share with friends and family.