Help Animals Be Free From Exploitation
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On February 3rd, 2018, there was a "Snow Day" event organized by Healthy Kids Community Challenge, in cooperation with the City of Greater Sudbury, which took place at Bell Park. While most of the activities were centered around getting active and having fun, one of the activities that took place was not so "fun" for everyone involved: a petting zoo and pony rides were offered that day, from 11 AM to 3 PM.
This activity raises concerns on a few levels: firstly, it took place on a winter's day. The animals were forced to stay outside in the cold, in below freezing temperatures, for hours on that day. As we now know, pets should be kept indoors when it is cold outside, and there being smaller animals in the petting zoo, they should not have been kept outside for that long, without proper shelter. Someone who was present at the even witnessed some of the animals "shivering inside their small cages".
Secondly, animals are not here to be used for our entertainment. We acknowledge that coming into contact with an animal can be an exciting and special moment for anyone, at any age. We don't know who looks after this petting zoo, how they obtained their animals, or how they treat them behind closed doors. We do know that they were willing to put them out in the cold in the middle of winter, for the sake of being pet and giving rides, and that some of them were kept in small cages. This most likely put unnecessary stress on them.
What is the kind of message we are sending to our kids when we treat animals this way? We are quick to support petting zoos, animal rides, and different forms of animal entertainment without investigating further into how these animals are being treated, for what purpose, and whether it is just. While it's currently legal to do so and it has been practiced for a long time, WE have the duty to ask ourselves whether it is ethical to keep perpetuating the practice. After all, human slavery was considered legal and part of tradition, until small groups of people started speaking out against it. Now, we recognize it as completely immoral. Animals are simply non-human animals, who want to live according to their own nature.
We put forth the motion that to set a truly healthy example for our children, we must treat animals with complete dignity and respect. Animals do not choose to be kept in captivity, and while rescuing them and nurturing them to health while they cannot live in the wild is good, too often, we domesticate animals that belong in the wild, or even breed them to serve no other purpose than to please us, with no concern for the animal's natural instincts and optimal well-being.
Part of a healthy lifestyle is one where we treat non-human animals with love and respect, and that we develop the conscience to stop supporting practices that treat them as non-conscious beings, as objects, or as property.
We respectfully ask that Healthy Kids Community Challenge take these points to heart, investigate, discuss, and most importantly, consider removing all animal rides, petting zoos, and any form of animal exploitation from their future events. Health involves developing a healthy relationship with nature, and this can be achieved when we refrain from teaching each other that animals are here for us to enjoy, and instead focus on activities that are respectful and filled with dignity, for everybody involved.
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