Are We Loving Animals To Death?

Photo Courtesy World Animal Protection USA

Earlier this year, in an attempt to unleash my inner “metaphysical hippie”, I decided to pick up a book on modern shamanism. For those of you who may not know, a “shaman” is loosely defined as someone who has access to the spiritual world. Often shamans connect with spirits and energies through the natural world including various animals.

The book I chose followed the journey of a rather typical suburban, working mom and her years long pathway to becoming a full-blown professional shaman. It was well written and interesting and, until the very last chapter, I was enjoying it.

What, you ask, was in the last chapter that blew my enjoyment of the book and a large chunk of my respect for the author out of the water?

Simple, the Author rode an elephant.

What the living what?

It’s a sad fact that some of the worst animal abuse is supported by and even celebrated by people who “love” animals.

Even the most well-meaning people I know run afoul of slick marketing when it comes to animal cruelty. A very darling lady I know worked for years and paid a substantial sum of money to visit a fairly well known lion “sanctuary” in South Africa. It was, for her, the trip of a lifetime, volunteering with “orphaned” lion cubs. Imagine her horror when it was revealed, several years after her visit, that the “sanctuary” was no more than a front for a large scale breeding operation supplying lions for game hunting.

Years before their grotesque cruelty was made known to the public, I visited the notorious “tiger temple” in Thailand. I was, what is known in sales as an “easy mark”. I love all animals and who wouldn’t want the opportunity to see real, live tigers up close and personal? Besides it was run by monks, how bad could it be?

Pretty bad, it turns out.

The notorious tiger temple, since shut down.

People who LOVE animals dream their entire lives of swimming with dolphins, of having their photo taken with apex predator cubs like lions and tigers, getting up close and see with their naked eyes wild and exotic species like elephants.

And, just like I did, it’s all too easy to convince yourself that what you a