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PANDEMIC PRISON: What next for non-human animals?

Every day is a lockdown for captive animals. Do we want to live in a future where the suffering of billions of animals is accepted as normal? The time for this collective reflection is now.

MARK BANAHAN: The pandemic has had a catastrophic impact upon the human world… The almost uniform response to the crisis has been lockdown – the severe restriction of movement and freedoms, designed to limit human interaction and subsequently decrease viral transmission…

Whilst the impact of the pandemic on humans is well known… prolonged periods in these unnatural conditions have led to warnings of an increase in anxiety, loneliness, depression, poverty and destitution… What impact has there been on non-human animals?… It is not just humans who are social animals – many other species enjoy a rich social life, with friends, hierarchies, and complex relationships with other creatures…

For animals living in captivity, things don’t look quite so rosy… Every day is a lockdown for captive animals… Zoos around the world are on the brink of collapse as their main source of income – visitors – has completely vanished. Zoos, unlike many businesses, cannot reduce costs drastically. The animals still need feeding and housing temperatures must be maintained.

Many zoos are now reliant upon food and financial donations to keep the animals alive, however, it is unclear how long this can continue for… Other zoos are reporting that animals are missing the human interaction that they get from visitors. Artificial interaction with humans through glass walls can only ever be a pale substitute for being in family units, troops, prides or herds, socially mixing freely with members of their own species…

For most of the 70 billion non-human animals kept in captivity whilst being farmed for food, life is a permanent state of fear, suffering and restriction. Our lockdown pain may be unprecedented, but for farmed animals it is not. Their suffering far predates this pandemic and will continue beyond it unless something in our collective psyche changes. Nobody knows what the next few months will look like, let alone the next few years, but we are thinking about how we might move forward and make better choices as a species…

The pandemic has thrust humanity’s relationship with nature into the forefront of public consciousness… One thing seems certain. We need to reflect carefully on our relationship with other animals and the fragile ecosystems that we all share. Do we want to live in a future where animals are kept in captivity for entertainment, where profit takes precedence over sentience and where the suffering of billions of our fellow Earthly inhabitants is accepted as normal? Or do we want to live in a future where we value all animals equally? The time for this collective reflection is now.  SOURCE…

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