Gorillas and Children

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you likely heard about the incident at the zoo where a small child got into a gorilla area.  The gorilla was shot to protect the small child.

There are several moral issues here.  The first is:  “Were the zoo keepers in the right to shoot the gorilla?”  The second is:  “Were the parents negligent in letting the child escape and make his way into the gorilla area?  The third is:  “Is it moral to have zoos?”

First, given the choice between the life of an animal and a person, the life, especially the life of a child (who has likely done no moral wrong to be placed in this situation), is the one that must be saved.  Given that the gorilla had already drug the child around and could potentially kill him at any moment, the zookeepers were morally authorized to kill the gorilla.  I’m sure that the zookeepers, who are around these animals, exercised sound judgement on the situation, and did this because there was no other option, and it likely pained them to do so.

Second, “Were the parents negligent?”  Possibly.  It warrants an investigation. Children can get away quickly, and seldom heed instruction.  Can we say for certain that the parents are at fault?  Not yet.  Condemning them yet, without a trial, is unjust.

We’ve all seen “feral” children at the grocery store; no parent in sight, and no parent seems to care.  If this was the case, perhaps it was child neglect or endangerment.

This would be a very difficult call; and we certainly don’t have the evidence yet. The fact that the parents were at the zoo likely means they were there to educate their children; unlike the feral children at the grocery store, who are there because they have to be.  More than likely, it was a tragic situation where one child got away while the parents were attending to the others.  It stil warrants an invesgiation, however.

The morality of zoos as such has also been called into question.  Do humans have the right to take animals out of the wild and place them in captivity.  Absolutely.  Animals are not humans, and thus are not entitled to any actual rights.  They are property.  Thankfully, in my opinion, some people have banded together to put some of these animals in a place where I can see them.

What about actual animal cruelty?  Is that moral?  Sometimes when you defend property rights, you defend the vilest of people on the basis of principles and precedent rather than on your personal opinion of these vile people.

If an animal is property, then an individual has a right to dispose of his or her property as he or she sees fit.  This is most unfortunate, as it does open the door to actual animal abuse.

If animals are not property, and entitled to rights, then you have no right to kill a cockroach on your kitchen floor- he has as much right to be there as you do.

If a person does not have the right to dispose of his or her property, they do not truly have property rights; they are merely borrowing the property from the state.  It is my right to buy a hamburger and throw it in the trash (albeit wasteful) regardless of the number of starving children around the world.  It is my right to decide to scrap myold automobile even though someone else might be able to use it (my yard full of old cars is a testament that this is not my actual mentality, however).  It is my right to blow my children’s inheritance in Las Vegas if I so choose (though there isn’t much to spend).

So what is to be done about animal abuse?  Nothing, actually.  However, given the tremendous waste and cruelty to animals, we can use something much more powerful than the government to end it:  the free market.  If you know that the owner of a shop fights dogs, and you don’t support that, don’t shop at his store.  If you know that someone beats his animals mercilessly, don’t associate with him.  Change can come from the free market and social pressures, and does not need government action.

Thank you for reading my post.

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One Response to “Gorillas and Children”

  1. Swoosieque Says:

    Thank you for writing your post!

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