Wednesday

Tigers in the house

The lady and I were appalled by this program - the contrast of the jolly, madcap tone against the actual horror of what was happening was enough for us to switch off. Here's a few reasons why.

To start off with, the zoo keeper in question (in Australia) was portrayed as someone who had wanted to work with tigers since childhood, a dream now fulfilled. To say this is anything other than selfish and obvious is odd, as illustrated by a variation on this comic: http://explosm.net/comics/3557/
This man doesn't apparently love animals as a rule, just the sexy ones. At least, that's how it's edited. I wouldn't claim to know really.

Then the story kicks off, which is that this tiger is going to give birth and then they're going to take the cubs away for some reason to raise in a house. We were assuming that something dreadful was  going to happen to the mum, or they got rejected, but no - everything was completely fine. 

I can't really work out exactly why the cubs are taken away. It can't just be this zoo keeper's ego - why would a zoo allow that? It's all ostensibly done in the name of conservation, but with the caveat that 'these tigers will never be released into the wild so they better get used to domesticity'. The zoo itself is all hands-on and cutesy, so that explain raising them as house cats rather than wild animals.

So the cubs arrive home at two weeks old, and have to get used to drinking tiger formula milk from a bottle, get used to being toileted by humans, get used to being taken back to the zoo for antibody inhextions, get used to the sound of dogs and being handled by all different humans, being moddled by shipped in straw that smells of mum... Clearly, this is not happening in these tigers' interest, or their mum, who had to be monitored fur anxiety. All this to jolly music and jaunty narration. We switched off.

The morning after, it struck me, terribly, what all this reminded me of: the aboriginal stolen children http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Stolen_Generations. I hate how apt the analogy is, down to the location. This is the story of children stolen away from their mum specially to break the cultural link and raise them in a white, 'civilised' home. Children thought of as too rare to risk leaving things to nature. I'm schocked that that exact mindset has not been destroyed, merely moved from 'animals' to animals.

It's not conservation to take an animal from the wild and turn it into a theme park ride, conservation is a breeding program for repopulating the forests. Domestication will destroy the Sumatran tigers as sure as killing them. But, you know, cute tiger cubs chewing on sofas, awww, who gives a fig what the bigger picture is and what the backstory is and what the meaning is.

Bad.
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