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The Pain of Animals

March 14, 2010

David Suzuki’s article The Pain of Animals is one of the most absorbing essays I have read in a long time.

While the content may be not be the most pleasant of topics, Mr Suzuki ‘s plain language and direct tone make it, if not an enjoyable read, at least an interesting read for anyone. He uses personal experiences to attract the reader right away and keeps he reader interested by appealing to our sense of morality. Even though Mr. Suzuki  is the voice of this article it is hard to avoid the feeling that he wrote this piece for the whales, chimpanzees,  rats and all other animals that are subjected to our desire to either prove our worth as sportsman or advance the world of science.

The intended audience of this article are individuals who are involved in the progression of animal rights as well people who are interested and/or curious about the subject. I don’t believe that this essay was intended as a persuasive piece, although it is obvious where Mr.Suzuki stands on the issue.  I believe instead that this essay was meant to make to you think about your feelings. To make the reader challenge their own thoughts and take a side, whichever side that may be. The idea of this essay is stated clearly in the closing line, “And so the impending epidemic of AIDS confronts us not only with our inhumanity to each other but to other species.”

The article also raises the question of where we as individuals draw the line. Is hunting for food okay? Is going to a zoo for the sake of learning and expanding our minds okay? Is keeping animals in cages and testing them for the sake of possibly of discovering a life saving cure for humans okay? We all have our own idea of what is okay. Mr Suzuki made up his mind as to where the line is for him but I unfortunately cannot say the same.  Three years ago on a road trip down the coast of the United States my friends and I stopped at a “wildlife exhibit”. I didn’t feel comfortable going in because something about it felt wrong. It has always seemed wrong to me to keep an animal locked up in a pen that is without question much too small, especially compared to their natural environment, but I went in anyways and to this day I still feel weird about that decision. I suppose that experience made me realize where my line is, on a fairly superficial level at least.

Although the Pain of Animals was written many years ago it is still extremely relevant today, which makes me wonder how far we, as humans, have progressed. Animals are still on display in circuses and in aquariums and are most definitely still used around the world as lab tests and experiments. I am not claiming to know how to solve the problem of advancing medicine and science without these experiments but there is no doubt in my mind that these animals feel pain, fear, and depression just as humans do and that there must be a better way.

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