Friday, February 26, 2010


Annie Hocker sent a query about self- appointed "spokesman" Chris Palmer on the orca tragedy:

"...Palmer has a big pulpit in his role as head of the environmental film dept. at AU, as well as being on the board of several other school and film festival depts. across the US. I did note that a couple of his speakers last winter were from PETA. Two out of maybe twenty, so I figured it was "equal time." Now I'm not so sure. I"ve never seen a show of performing marine animals so I can't speak to anything but the concept. What's the difference between a bird show and a show of jumping dolphins and orcas, other than sheer body mass?"

Matt was blunt:
"This stuff drives me crazy. This morning I heard that Californians are talking about instituting an "animal cruelty registry," like the sex offender list. I guess we'll all be on it.

"The letter from the film maker is asinine. He contradicts his own points in numerous places. And it's obvious the guy knows nothing about animals "as people," meaning how they really are, as we (falconers, hunters, trainers, herders, etc.) know who share their lives in a personal way.

"He bemoans our "modern distance from nature," and our "thwarted desire to interact with our natural world -- an impulse that we have suppressed," and then concludes (somehow!) that:

"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."

"WTF?! Is he even listening to himself?

"Amazing to note: This guy makes his living selling wildlife films to an audience he disparages as being "more comfortable watching from behind the safety of a clear barricade or on TV from the comfort of our couch." Hello? Your customers are reading!

"I would guess most of his Op/Ed came from AR sources, pre-written. That would be the most complimentary thing I could assume of him."

I had this to add:

"I have heard of this guy before and he REEKS of AR. Some of the most important and obscure (and weird) AR documents I have read are big on this "distance" thing-- some even argue we shouldn't watch animals closely because we will be faced with ethical dilemmas ie to save prey from predators or not--! To me it is code language like "guardian".

"Re Marine shows: "orcas", renamed from killer whales (and that in turn from the old whalers' "whale killers"-- a group of scientists less than ten years ago saw a pod wipe out a entire pod of sperm whales!) probably shouldn't be kept as performers, though "Shamu's" case shows it is hard to socialize them back. They are huge, intelligent, extremely social, and dangerous, and cover huge territories. Captivity for such is inherently cruel, and besides, this one had already killed two people. But there are differences between all species. I see no reason that relatively well- socialized groups of dolphins can't enjoy life in a marine show.

"Big cats? There are probably so many in captivity that there is pressure to euthanize them. Better a live show than a sterile cage I think."

They are everywhere...


Mike Spies said...

This stuff drives me crazy. This morning I heard that Californians are talking about instituting an "animal cruelty registry," like the sex offender list. I guess we'll all be on it.

This idea is the latest in sanity from California's Senate Majority Leader, Dean Flores (D-Fresno). The bill is California SB1277. Flores is 'reforming' chicken farming, dairy farming, and last year worked (but unsuccessfully) to pass legislation that would mandate surgical sterilization of all dogs and cats in the state of California. He is an unabashed champion of the AR agenda, and has close ties with HSUS.

He is widely expected to have a run at the Lieutenant Governor slot in the next election. Can we send him down to NM for a visit and attitude adjustment?

I was born and raised in California when it was a paradise with moderate, friendly people. Massive immigration over the past 30 years was changed all that. Where's my parachute?

Anonymous said...

Being a zookeeper myself(in a purty darn good zoo), I definetely have a dog in this fight--I often DAILY have to fend off irate AR's who come to the zoo just to bitch and moan about everything they see. They are usually incredibly ignorant(no suprise there) and therefore pitifully easy to detract--but "never underestimate the danger of large groups of stupid people"--who said that, or a fascimile of that? It is a famous quote of someone.... HOWEVER, sometimes such ranting DOES help improve things for the animals--something I'm always for, and something that often gets prioritized down low on the list well after other "administrative" and "artistic" concerns--don't EVEN get my lowly, poop-shoveling, peasant keeper-self going on THAT issue(er I might git fired!). So I often suprise the heck out of hecklers by actually AGREEING with them on some issues(which are sensible and actually well-thought-out: not common with the AR types, but they DO occur), and encourage them to leave a suggestion/complaint in our zoo's visitor comments box at the entrance. Sometimes such ranting DOES help improve things for the critters--look how much improved what a "good" zoo is now compared to in years past! But I agree we can still improve much more....L.B.