NY Times Article Cites "Humane Revolution" in Animal Treatment
A recent article published in The New York Times by Nicholas Kristoff notes a “humane revolution” in terms of the general treatment of animals.
The article began by recapping the gruesome details of the killing of Topsy, a circus elephant who was tortured to death in 1903 after she killed a man for abusing her. By beginning the article detailing the sad life of this elephant, Kristoff then goes on to outline all the many mainstream progresses that have been made in terms of animal rights.
Calling it an “arc of moral progress”, he compares the story of Topsy with the situation of Ringling Bros. in the present, where they have retired all of their elephants to Florida (although their fate of “leisure” is being disputed), and also to SeaWorld, who after a partnership with the Humane Society of the United States, announced that they would stop breeding orcas and invest in the rehabilitation of marine animals.
Kristoff then noted the fact that large retailers and chains such as Walmart, Costco and more have announced a newfound commitment to animal welfare standards, by opting to use only cage-free eggs. He noted that although some organizations see supporting these inutilities as compromises, the effect is significant. He states:
“These corporate changes have vast impact: Walmart or McDonald’s shapes the living conditions of more animals in a day than an animal shelter does in a decade.”
In the article, Kristoff writes about Wayne Pacelle’s work as a long-term vegan working for basic welfare standards and on his latest book The Humane Economy. Apart from his own convictions, Pacelle states that “animals jammed into cages and crates cannot wait for the world to go vegan”, and that is why the progress being made is significant in its own right. Both Kristoff and Pacelle seem to agree that at the very least, there is a shift happening that should not be underestimated.
As Pacelle himself notes, while there have been major strides in animal welfare and rights recently in surprising places, it is a time to practice cautious optimism. He writes:
“We’ve gone in a bit more than a century from making a movie about torturing an elephant to sending circus elephants off to a Florida retirement home. But, boy, there’s so much more work to do.”
Perhaps that is something everyone can agree on.