The case of Harambe

The furor over the shooting of Harambe has resounded worldwide. My friend Ana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is outraged, and humankind is once again reminded of the plight of wild animals held in zoos or worse, in tight indoor cages. We lament Harambe’s loss of his own habitat, and then we lament further at his death by gunfire. We have come a long way (except for China, Vietnam, Thailand, and South Korea) because:

If you only thought back 60 or 70 years and longer than that you would be truly horrified at the brutal treatment we handed out to wildlife which we did not believe had much feelings or intelligence beyond their natural instincts. I think of a gorilla I watched sitting behind bars in a concrete enclosure measuring 10×10 feet in Central Park, New York City. He (and I assume it was a male) leaned on one hand and with the other picked at insects creeping across the floor. He drooled as he bent his head, and there was absolutely nothing…nothing…no one…for him to do or see or communicate with. That was 40 years ago, and that gorilla had to have, thankfully for him, died well before now.

I think of Ernest Hemingway, that guts and glory writer whose hobby was shooting large wild animals and being photographed beside their corpses. He was a good writer, and I enjoyed his journals for the Toronto Star, and I know his kind would be badly out of step with our perceptions today.

And I think of Donald Trump, who thinks it is wrong of Ringling Bros., at the behest of animal rights petitioners, to retire their elephants. If Trump only knew. He, as well as his two sons, is as clueless as Hemingway would have been in our present world.

There is nothing more to say.


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