ANIMALS: Indian and “Western” attitudes—Quien es más civilized?

Four-year old Couscous: Murdered by the "shoot first, ask questions later" reflex drilled into humans when it comes to supposed "animal threats."
Four-year old Couscous: Killed by the “shoot first, ask questions later” reflex drilled into humans when it comes to supposed “animal threats.”

Editor’s Note: Many in America and others in the “developed World” are accustomed to thinking they live in a superior civilization, and that people in India and much of the Third World, still stuck in miserable conditions and dreadful underdevelopment (read: they lack the plethora of goodies we almost take for granted), must inhabit “lesser” of “failed” civilizations.  This is of course nonsense. The mere abundance of consumer goods cannot be the measure of a civilization’s worth, as the case of modern America so mordantly reminds us. But, assuming that kind of society were desirable, per se, what kind of price would we be willing to pay to still call ourselves civilized and not merely technically superior barbarians? Wrapped in our selfish values, and mired in political corruption and disorder, we are a long way from putting such questions at the top of our social agendas, where they rightfully belong. But as human populations continue to expand all over the globe, the spatial and ethical question underscoring the clash between human and non-animals grows ever more acute and in need of a fair resolution.

But how do you resolve something fairly when most of the power lies on one side, in the hands of a highly chauvinist and self-serving species? In this context, and still far from having a civilized form of world government, the way our own society reacts to this pervasive issue acquires a special dimension, one that tells us a great deal about who we really are. By that standard, as the articles in this filing by R. Eisenbud show, it is we in the West, especially in America, profoundly alienated from nature, who seem to be impoverished—morally impoverished, that is, and ecologically on a suicidal path. At this late hour it behooves us to put tribalistic pride aside, and start looking around with great humility.  We may realize that there’s still a huge amount of learning to do, and that the quest for superiority is actually a race toward painful isolation from our fellows and eventually collective death.—PG


Ruth Eisenbud, Independent animal advocate

“People keep spreading like cancer and wiping out all the beautiful life, but at least in India they don’t usually murder the poor animals for existing.”

The shoot first reaction towards animals in the USA is a direct result of the devaluation of their lives by dominion… Despite deadly attacks in India by wild elephants and a leopard, the animals were not killed. They were taken deep in the forest, so that both humans and animals would remain safe. It is understood that they are entering human spaces because their territory has been encroached by human development. The animals are not punished for human destruction of their territory. (articles enclosed)

Another animal has been added to the toll in dominion USA. This time a captive lion (Couscous), frustrated by his confinement attacked a woman who entered his enclosure. For daring to stand up to his dominion captors, he was shot on the spot, as is the case. No effort was made to evaluate the circumstances, or assess the nature of the wrong done by confining an animal accustomed to roaming a large territory, so that humans could experience the thrill of watching him. The lion was victimized twice: he lost his freedom and his life, so that profit could be gained by putting him on display.

While it is tragic that a well-meaning young woman who entered the enclosure was killed, the lion was shot and killed for who he was: a wilderness animal confined to a small space, so that he could be an exhibition for human enjoyment:

Lion kills woman at private California big cat park

Couscous was raised at the private park from the age of eight weeks old

A lion has killed a volunteer intern at a private big cat park near Fresno, California, officials say. The 26-year-old woman was attacked and killed when she entered the lion’s enclosure, Project Survival founder Dale Anderson said in a statement.

Fresno County police say they found her severely injured, still lying inside the enclosure with the lion nearby. Deputies shot and killed the animal so they could reach her but she died at the scene, a police spokesman said. Investigators were trying to determine why the intern was inside the enclosure and what might have provoked the attack, Fresno County Sheriff’s Sgt Greg Collins said.

The facility, known as Project Survival’s Cat Haven, is normally closed on Wednesdays, and only one other worker was present during the mauling. When officers arrived on scene the victim was still in the enclosure. The 26-year-old woman was not identified by police. Mr Anderson was crying as he read statement to reporters on Wednesday, saying the group would investigate if their protocols were followed before the attack.

The lion was a four-year-old male named Couscous, a California Fish and Wildlife spokesman said.
Couscous had been raised at Cat Haven since he was eight weeks old, said Tanya Osegueda, a spokeswoman for Project Survival. Lt Tony Spada of Fish and Wildlife told the Fresno Bee this type of incident was “very rare” because of the safety measures required by the state and because regulations require minimal human-animal interaction. “This facility has a very good history,” Lt Spada said. “In this case, someone just got too close.”  Cat Haven is about 45 miles (75km) east of Fresno.

The project opened in 1993, and has housed numerous big cats, including Bengal tigers, Siberian lynx, jaguars and leopards.


A dead lion lays on the ground in Terry Thompson's farm near Zanesville, Ohio, Oct. 18, 2011. (see appendix A for entire article)
A dead lion lays on the ground in Terry Thompson’s farm near Zanesville, Ohio, Oct. 18, 2011. (see appendix A for entire article)

In dominion USA  a man who had been holding every manner of wild life captive, ranging from tigers, lions, to bears and others, released them prior to committing suicide. Perhaps he had remorse for imprisoning them. Though the animals had done no harm upon release, almost all were killed by sheriff deputies. Perhaps it was a great opportunity to display macho prowess, or they were pumped up by dominion inspired fear and fury, or perhaps they were so terrified of their own cruel instincts, not possessed by the animals, the only reaction they had was to kill. In any case these killers did not understand that the animals they massacred also had the right to live. Such deeply embedded ignorance is a product of Judeo.Christian conditioning, where animals are viewed as disposable trophies or violent criminals when they protest imprisonment. 

It is biblical teachings that claim to elevate man above the animals, despite the fact that none of the animals killed would ever go on such a brutal rampage…Many of the animals massacred included species very close to extinction such as bengal tigers. But this mattered little to the men taught to kill by the allowable violence of dominion. which incites to fear and rage towards animal and human kind. A macaque monkey is also targeted for death, as is with the case with dominion, the excuse that this monkey might carry disease. Any excuse for killing is appropriate.

When the carnage was over, 49 animals were slaughtered, including 18 Bengal tigers, 17 lions, six black bears, a pair of grizzlies, three mountain lions, two wolves and a baboon, all in the name of mankind’s self-proclaimed superiority over the animals:


True to his Judeo.Christian roots, Jack Hanna, self-proclaimed wildlife expert, pictured in a macho animal skin hat, appeared on TV to justify the massacre. Based on the wealth generated by the exotic animal business, which includes canned hunts, zoos, animal acts and associated products, Hanna did not want to jeopardize this lucrative industry. The possibility that the animals might harm a human, though there was no indication that this was in any way imminent, would have threatened profits. In keeping with the biblcal mandate it is always better to kill the animals first and ask questions later.  Michael Mountain (Best Friends) expressed the position of Hanna as follows:

“This week, instead of jumping in to protect the animals who’d been set loose to fend for themselves by the criminal Terry Thompson in Zanesville . instead of saying that it would be wrong for law enforcement officers to launch into a massacre of the lions, tigers, bears and others . instead of standing firmly for saving the lives of these innocent animals . what does Hanna do? He steps forward to advocate the mass shooting…Why? Because for people like Hanna, it’s never about protecting the animals; it’s always about protecting the industry.

Hanna’s immediate calculation was based on how to minimize damage to the captivity and entertainment business. The last thing he wants is a long-drawn-out series of news reports focusing on danger to his potential customers. The last thing he wants is the possibility of stories of lions chasing people through the woods or down the streets. Get the whole thing over with that same night, swallow the bad news, and be back on Leno and Letterman as quickly as possible with cute baby sloths and exotic kitties to woo people back to the zoo.”

Michael understands that within the framework of a Judeo.Christian paradigm for animal compassion, no matter that humans have caused the problem, it is always the animals that must be made to pay. This injustice is explained by Prof. Richard Schwartz as follows:

Proverbs 12:10: “The righteous person regards the life of his or her animal.”
“In Judaism, one who is unnecessarily cruel to animals cannot be regarded as a righteous individual.”

The paradigm of righteous wrongdoing, that is dominion, will not change until the semitic religions abandon this heartless biblical doctrine, or until we send these religions the message that we want nothing to do with their brand of pious cruelty.

Take a lesson from India…

Such a massacre would not have occurred in India, where the Wild Life Protection Act prohibits the killing of animals who make the wilderness their home…

In India it is understood that animals do not live by human laws, so when an animal such as an elephant or leopard wanders into a densely populated area and kills or harms humans it is understood that the animal is not a criminal to be [automatically] executed. Instead it is understood that man has encroached on animal territories, driving them into heavilly populated urban areas. In two recent lethal animal attacks one involving elephants and the other a leopard the animals were not harmed, but returned to a safer natural habitat. Monkeys roam freely among human populations and are never culled, massacred or shipped abroad.

anim-ElephantRampIn India animal protection takes its cue from the Jain/Hindu concept of ahimsa (unconditional compassion for all who live). This tradition does not give angry and aggressive individuals the right to terrorize, torture, enslave and slaughter animals. In fact it is the arrogant right of dominion to violate animal lives that helps reinforce aggressive individuals to act out. The man hoarding these animals, Terry Thompson, undoubtedly felt he had the right to hold them captive due to his superior human status. Ahimsa of the Jain religion insists that both human and animal lives must be respected and preserved. Ahimsa has been incorporated into the mainstream indian consiousness, resulting a more copassionate view of animals. Therefore when an animal who has been displaced by human incursion on his/her territory behaves aggressively, sometimes harming or accidentally killing a human, the animal is not destroyed, but rescued and returned to his/her home or to a sanctuary. The two items which follow illustrate the influence of ahimsa on the treatment of animals. In the first case a leopard driven from his home, frightened and disoriented in an urban environment attacked and even killed one individual. The leopard was captured and released to a sanctuary…to live out his life as a leopard. In the second item two marauding elephants, pushed from their home by human incursion of their traditional home, charged through the city of Mysore, harming and killing those who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Again, Indian wild life protection officials tranquilized the elephants and returned them to their home:

“Leopard in deadly attack in Indian city of Guwahati

By Amitabha Bhattasali BBC News, Calcutta

anim-LeopardAttack<—This man was one of four people injured in the attack

One person has been killed and several others injured in an attack by a leopard in the Indian state of Assam. The man died after the leopard attacked several people in a densely populated area of the city of Guwahati.

The leopard strayed into the Shilpukhuri area of the city on Saturday and attacked residents, one of whom died the next day of his injuries.

The animal has now been released into the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, forest officials said.

For the people of Guwahati, bomb blasts and other terror attacks were not uncommon till recently, because of repeated attacks by the secessionist United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa), but a leopard straying into a town is rare, particularly during the day.

Chased out

The leopard was first sighted on Saturday morning near a crematorium in the town. As the funeral of a Congress Party leader’s son was going on, the place was full of dignitaries, ministers and other VIPs. Police sent them to a safer place and chased the leopard out, but it turned towards the Shilpukhuri residential area.

“First, it jumped across several multi-storey buildings, including a bank, then jumped on to the ground,” said Manas Paran, photojournalist for the Sunday Indian magazine and an eyewitness. Local people armed with sticks and iron rods tried to chase the leopard away. The enraged animal then started attacking locals, Mr Paran told BBC.

Mr Paran kept following the big cat at extremely close quarters to get good pictures for his magazine. Deb Kumar Das, aged around 50, was one of the first people whom the leopard clawed at. He suffered severe wounds to the head, ear and neck. He was treated in hospital but later returned home, where he was found dead on Sunday.

Several others suffered the ire of the big cat. One of them, Kripesh Dey, had part of his scalp removed in the attack. Later, when the leopard entered a shop, locals locked it up. Forest officials and vets reached the scene after some time with tranquilisers and were able to capture it.

“After it was tranquilised and treated in Guwahati Zoo, we released it in the Manas Wildlife Sancturary today”, said Utpal Borah, head of the zoo. This incident has once again brought to fore the conflict between humans and animals in India. Assam’s forest officials say humans are encroaching onto leopard habitats. Residential areas built right in leopard habitats have become vulnerable to such attacks.

This is the second death from leopard attacks in five years. Elephant rampage causes terror in Indian city. The three-hour rampage caused panic in the streets of Mysore. Two wild elephants have gone on a rampage in southern India, killing at least one person, officials say. The elephants left a trail of destruction in a suburb of the city of Mysore, in the state of Karnataka. Officials say the animals walked into the city from a nearby forest, leaving residents running for their lives. Officials say that one elephant barged into a women’s college compound and wandered the grounds, while the other wreaked havoc in a residential area.

Forest rangers and officials from Mysore Zoo later tranquilised and captured the animals.


A 55-year-old man who left his house in the Bamboo Bazaar area of Mysore after hearing the commotion was trampled to death, Karnataka state Higher Education Minister SA Ramdas told AFP news agency.  The elephants are thought to have come from a nearby forest. Mr Ramdas said schools and colleges in the city were closed throughout Wednesday and extra police had been deployed as a precaution.

State forest department officials said the young elephants came from forest about 35km (22 miles) from the city.  They say that two other elephants remain at large on the outskirts of Mysore. One official blamed the rampage on human encroachment into areas traditionally inhabited by elephants.

“Unregulated expansion of farm lands and increasing movement of people and vehicles through the elephant corridor are making the wild jumbos enter into villages and towns in search of food and shelter,” he told AFP. Mr Ramdas said that the two captured elephants would be released back into the wild.”

If the Judeo.Christian tradition of dominion is not reigned in, the only nation to have any animals left  living in the wilderness will be India. Wildlife services in dominion nations will find a way, reason and means to cull every animal deemed expendable, bolstered up by cruel religious doctrine, unprincipled politicians, and fearful police departments (fearful of lawsuits, of getting fired, and so on, all of which are all too common a response in litigious and badly organized America.)


Ruth Eisenbud has spent decades fighting for animals. Her uncompromising persistence has alienated some but also expanded the views of others in connection with animals and our place in the web of life.  The animal question, entailing the brutal tyrannization of untold billions of creatures at the hand of humans, is no issue to be ignored much longer (now that it has been shown that factory farming contributes more gases to global warming and pollution than all vehicular emissions combined, for example) and no apologies should be made for injecting it into “everyday” conversation. 

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