Friday, December 10, 2004

One of the things I am constantly aware of, and impressed by, re pets, is commonalities. In ordinary English, I keep on saying to White Cat that she walks, sees, eats, is warm, does lots of things just like me but just doesn't understand what I'm saying. Or does she? Warm cat on lap (though she's warming herself on your lap) is still a pretty comfortable and comforting association.

I have put up a bespoke infoblog which just carries some basic notes on animal associations. The plan is to refer to this from here and from two other sites I have put up: bitstreamer and weblogworld, which I am going to use to deal with aspects of the internet such as my current interest, " social software" and just exactly what is the internet? A question, admittedly, I am rather late in asking, but which I have a strong urge to work out my own answer to.

I'm not going to do a complete piece on Babs the gorilla right now but want the link to come back to later, when I think of some more ideas . She and her family sure do have so common features with us and that sparks off the emotion in us, as do the elephant graveyard stories. Part of this must be the "We are not alone syndrome". In the main this is focused wishfully outwards searching for life in outerspace. Just rarely, we get a message right from our own backyard that we really are not alone.

We have rather ignored, mistreated and misunderstood our fellow creatures over the years. There have always been bonds or sorts between us and other species. I am always impressed by man's loyalty to his dog; then appalled by his casual cruelty to him: usually not the same man and the same dog, needless to say.

In Babs' case the headlines themselves tell us a story:

AZcentral : Zoo allows gorillas to pay last respects to leader
MSNBC : Zoo lets gorillas pay last respects to companion
CNN : Gorillas hold "wake" for group leader
Excite : Gorillas pay last respects to leader

This leads me to a brief suggestion about the Fox hunting debate here in this country. My opinion has always been that it didn't involve that many foxes too worry about; that I didn't like foxes to be ripped apart ; and not objecting to the hunt per se. However, as the argument has hotted up and polarised in the UK with the introduction of the new law, something became obvious to me: a simple ethics could involve seeing that there are wild animals and animals under our control. So, in the case of hounds, since they are not wild, and we supposedly control them, they shouldn't really be allowed to chase and kill foxes. However, the same dogs, wild, ought to be allowed to chase and hunt them, because it is natural behaviour.

When we watch wildlife films of big cats killing prey, we are torn between nature and our standards. But ultimately we accept, despite our squeemishness, that this is natural and that they ought be be allowed to do it because that's their only way to survive. Now I accept more the taunting of their prey by domestic cats because I recognise they must hone their hunting skills. Maybe one day cats will not have tinned food to fall back on. Someone told me something I thought possible cat ethology-wise: the cat tosses the mouse (or vole or shrew) round so much because it is making sure it is going to provide fresh meat for its kittens. Makes sense to me. Though of course, in the hallway, with no kittens, it appears to be something else.

We are in direct competition with the fox : we don't want them killing our lambs and chickens. But this wouldn't be happening if we humans hadn't been so rapacious in the first place, reducing wild areas in countries like Britain to such an extent that animals like foxes find it more peaceful in towns and cities than out in the country! If we accept ecology we have to depopulate and let them have some of their territory back.

Even with the massive animal welfare systems that operate there is still casual and thoughtless cruelty to domestic animals. Lets face it, even our beloved dogs are being tortured daily through being kept in doors too much, when they want to be out marking their territory, and being prevented from creating their own packs, which humans are a poor substitute for.

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