Saturday, February 27, 2010

Animals and ahimsa

My dad wrote this op-ed piece on in response to the tragic death of the orca whale trainer this past week.

I especially like the quote by the late Jacques Cousteau:

"There is about as much educational benefit to be gained in studying dolphins in captivity as there would be studying mankind by only observing prisoners held in solitary confinement."

I watched The Cove last night, which I think everyone should see. There is an unbelievable amount of horror and violence occurring, which we unknowingly support by our consumption of seafood and our marvel of beautiful animals at zoos and aquariums.

I couldn’t agree more when my dad writes:

“The best, most compassionate way for us protect, learn about and appreciate the beauty of wild animals is to watch them from a distance, but never, ever touch. We need to leave them alone -- in the wild -- and stop interfering in their lives.”

This all comes back again to the fundamental yogic principle of ahimsa, or non-violence.


  1. i wholeheartedly agree with your dad.

  2. I was listening to the producer / creator of that movie on NPR the other day and it was really interesting. I can't wait to see that movie. You should download the podcast if you're interested. He was really good.

  3. I also agree with your dad. Go Dr. Palmer!!!

  4. I generally agree, especially when you've seen the horrible conditions in which animals are kept in zoos in the developing world (you think it's bad here!). At the same time, I can't help but recall the sense of wonder and inspiration I felt when I first went to a zoo or aquarium. It inspired my original course of study in college! I think zoos/aquariums can be eye-opening and allow people who live sheltered lives to gain a better understanding of nature, ecology, and the rest of the world. How do we balance fair treatment of animals with those values? For street kids in Paraguay who will never, ever see wild penguins it can be a true learning experience about the environment and global warming to see them in captivity. I think it takes a certain investment to take to make the sizes of cages/tanks more representative of the space wild animals use, but not impossible. And I do agree that there is no need to train animals to do tricks or to entertain when they are already so magnificent performing their natural behaviors. Is it necessarily an oxymoron to imagine an ethically responsible zoo?