Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo is pictured in this undated handout photo provided by Cincinnati Zoo. REUTERS/Cincinnati Zoo/Handout via Reuters
The murder of this magnificent nonhuman-person, whose western lowland gorilla species is critically endangered, with fewer than 200,000 individuals left in the wild, has been discussed at length already. I just wanted to make a couple points, and reproduce a pertinent quote from the book I’m reading.
The only logical conclusion that this tragedy should engender is that zoos are fucking terrible, *inherently.* No exceptions. They are nothing more than prisons for those who’ve committed no crime. Kidnapping animals from the wild; breeding and then keeping captive animals; unnatural, toxic, pitiful facsimiles of the real nature these animals should be in, even at what most people consider the best zoos; and at the end, the most harmful aspect of them all regarding zoos–they treat, view, teach, say, and demonstrate the idea that nonhuman animals are/as property. The glass windows through which humans crowd around to stare at zoo animals and their “habitat” should more appropriately be seen as a mirror that reflects back at those attendants some of the most awful characteristics of humanity; industrialized humans’ hubris, vanity, greed, sociopathic selfishness, denial of facts, cruelty, stupidity, and ludicrous, baseless worldview that humans are superior to all nonhuman life in any way or form that truly matters. The most brilliant, scathing analysis about the innate atrocity of zoos also comes from–not suprisingly–Derrick Jensen and photographer Karen Tweedy Holmes‘s gorgeous, heartbreaking coffee table-type book, Thought to Exist in the Wild: Awakening from the Nightmare of Zoos.
I’d like to mention a few things about this tragic (though all-too-predictable) event and its resultant media and social media firestorm. The number of people outraged by it is of course a great thing. Everybody should be angry. We should be calling for the sterilization of the boy’s mother😉 But we also need to realize that–similar to oil spills, like the 20 thousand gallons of crude oil Shell just leaked into California’s Central Valley (which itself was just two weeks after Shell spilled 90 thousand gallons into the Gulf of Mexio!)–zoo animals being murdered by their captors is simply an inevitable cost of doing this kind of business! Toxic chemicals and carcinogens get “accidentally” released into the air/water/soil by giant multinational corporations that deal with toxic chemicals, and animals will be abused in industries that rely on their exploitation!
The answer is not to reform this genocidal culture; the answer is to destroy it!
Finally, there’s a certain moral schizophrenia, in the words of animal rights attorney and professor Gary Francione, within anybody who is upset about Harambe but has not yet gone vegan. What happened to Harambe is incredibly MILD and UNCRUEL compared to what the BILLIONS of nonhuman individuals trapped in the meat, dairy, egg, vivisection, fur, leather, and other industries. If you’re not vegan, you’re literally paying people to torture animals, keep them sickeningly confined to the point where they can hardly move their entire short, pitiful, miserable lives, and slash their throats in unspeakably savage, barbaric slaughterhouses. If you care about Hirambe, GO VEGAN!
And now, the passage that motivated me to write this blog. From THE MYTH OF HUMAN SUPREMACY by Derrick Jensen (who called me “One hell of a writer.” How amazing is that?!)
“Regret the extirpation of a species? Not on your life. Regret our not being able to exploit them further? Now we’re talking.
“This is one reason nearly all news articles about an endangered species must include reference to this species’ financial value to the economy. From the perspective of human supremacists, financial value IS value. The inherent value of the other–the value of this other to itself [sic] and to its [sic] family or community or larger biotic community–is either going to be ignored, or at best, grossly undervalued.”
This passage made me think of Harambe, who was murdered by his prison captors; as the above passage draws to mind, his “property value” was lowered by the event’s inevitable media coverage, and so, even though he wasn’t going to hurt anyone, and even though his kidnappers could’ve stopped Harambe by using nonlethal means, they were better off simply killing him. This is business as usual in a culture of human supremacists. I’d frankly be more surprised if they HADN’T murdered Harambe the gorilla!
And that says more than all the articles combined.
Enjoy this piece? Sign up for my monthly e-newsletter
for exclusive content, fun stuff, and monthly prizes!