I’ve got two questions to ask you. The first one is: What’s The Similarity Between Jeremy Corbyn and a Quinoa & 3 Bean Chilli?
I’ve just caught up with BBC’s Horizon: Should We Close The Zoos? programme. Or more accurately, it’s just caught up with me. I’m one of those animal welfare people you see. Not one of the ones you consider “annoying” – Naked, scaling a statue, tossing cruelty-free Quinoa & 3-bean chilli sans carne down to the enraptured. I’m one of the ones you consider “really annoying” – One who argues, doesn’t let things go, and tries to convert. This carnivorous, misplaced annoyance is actually a very effective allegory. For just as hardened, softened and semi-on Tories alike have to attack Jeremy Corbyn for his ties, or his singing, because he basically seems to be an honest, logical, compassionate person and politician, the anti-peta set attack the animal welfarers’ methods because it’s either that or face the facts. Another similarity between the animal-subjugators and the Corbyn-bashers is that they eternally evade having to answer simply “Why?”
Elephants with rotting, bleeding feet trudge their perimeters. Gorillas rock in Ritalin rage clouds like bereft gang mothers. Polar bears drift, skinny, like miserable hairy ice cubes in manufactured, grey, tepid European mini-ponds. Lions and Tigers ache for space, sunshine, and sleep. A family’s £75 entry fee would be just as well-spent on a megaphone through which to ironically bellow “ABOUT TURN!“ at the resident Hippo, before Dad-on-holiday becomes a sadistic sergeant, dropping the megaphone to “beast” the disobedient hippo. He can’t “about turn”, he’s in a hot tub. Indoors. At least Dad-on-holiday can, 3 weeks later, show Grandad-not-on-holiday a photo of the Hippo’s miserable face and feel some acknowledgement for his fulfilment of his shit bucket list, ticked off with an ivory quill dipped in blood.
“Conservation” is a self-aware, malevolent, bullshit blanket. A zoo pleading “conservation” is like a breathless, busted Paedophile pleading “Blockie 1,2,3 paedo.” The only remotely plausible element of the Conservation argument is the claimed process of: Breed in captivity > Increase population > Release back into the wild. Unfortunately, as Horizon shows, this just doesn’t happen. It either fails, or was never actually attempted. Acknowledged and agreed upon by Zookeepers, Scientists, Programme-makers and true Conservationists alike – It doesn’t happen. Certainly, increasing population is not possible at any meaningful level. Numbers can only grow so marginally within a zoo’s 6 walls, as Copenhagen zoo showed in 2014, by masking a space-saving giraffe cull as a vivisection family day out. Mirroring exactly how SeaWorld masks the murderous, enforced insanity of their imprisoned, beautiful Orcas as…well, as nothing really…it just turns its face to the wall.
All this so an English child can see a camel? If I suggest an interested family go to where camels live, or not see camels, am I being insensitive to whether or not people have enough money to do so? Because that’s not my fault either. Humans of all compassion saturations, inside varying watchtowers along an opaque political spectrum, can disagree all they like about whether a person’s lack of reasonable money is the fault of the system, or the individual, but they agree it’s not my fault, and it’s definitely not a misplaced camel’s fault either. Regardless, do most of them really want to see a camel? On Sunday, I stood in Regent’s Park looking over the London Zoo fence at 2 camels in an enclosure about the size of a 2 bedroom flat (not that I can really remember what one of those looks like) and 2 lions in an area the size of a convenience store. And I don’t mean a central London Tesco Express. I mean a Northern McColls size. To the left, there were 2 children of 5 or 6, facing directly away from the camels, climbing up a statue of a tiger. The parents, on the other hand, seemed to be feeling content that they’d provided certain experiences to their children. As a result, 4 shit, blurred photos of a camel’s back will sit and rot on a low-end Canon from Argos until the day the model breaks, long after it has become unused and obsolete. This, perhaps is the most fitting tribute to the camel itself, who will sit and arthritically freeze for around half of its life expectancy, before dying, unnoticed in a mock sandy corner in London Zoo
The day before, in Manchester, I had a taxi driver who covered the usual intellectual insights, compassionately understood and responsibly phrased. Not only was this man able to drive and navigate superbly towards Old Trafford, but also he, and he alone knew who should be allowed to live where, how and why your birthplace matters, how to detect a benefits cheat, and which nations want to work more than others. He asked me where I lived and I said London. And he said “Fuck me mate. Good luck. I couldn’t fucking handle it down there. It’s mad. Noisy, busy, dangerous. Fucking crazy.” One point would be, why is someone who doesn’t live somewhere telling someone who does what it’s like? But the main point is – If Manchester to London is a leap too far, for a freedom-enjoying, language-possessing, money-owning, unthreatened, accepted-as-worthwhile member of our species. Then surely the Arctic to London is a leap too far for a Polar Bear? Although, to be completely fair, we’ve now stopped bringing Polar Bears over into the warm weather. Now we take the warm weather over to them instead.
Why must we always let things continue for 40 years after we all realise they are wrong?
What are the issues that matter to you? A scan of your Facebook news feed bluntly makes the point that the drug legalisation squad tend to be addicted cannabis smokers, the anti-immigration squad are usually racist, the people selling us their brilliant lives the most, are often the least secure. The people campaigning for artists to be better paid are all the people I studied a pointless Contemporary Music degree with. And so the second question is – what, then, are we, the annoying animal welfare crusaders?