16 April 2020

Exploiting Animals And Bicycles

I don't have a lot of money.  And my apartment, while clean, well-maintained and safe, is hardly what starry-eyed young people in the steppes imagine when they dream of living in New York.

Still, I know I'm privileged.  For one thing, I've been able to travel overseas in each of the past five years.  (I don't think I will this year because of the COVID-19 epidemic.)  I can do that mainly because I don't have to support anyone besides myself and Marlee, and I really don't have expensive hobbies. (For all of the bikes and bike-related equipment and schwag I have, I really haven't spent a lot on them, compared to some with a two-wheeled obsession.)  Also, besides working, there really isn't much I have to do.  So, I can spend my time riding, writing, reading or doing other things I like, simply because I want to do them.

Who, me?

Another reason I know I'm privileged is that Marlee doesn't have to do a damned thing to "earn her keep" or justify her existence.  In most of the world, the animals people keep serve some purpose or another.  In fact, some beasts work all day for the privelege of becoming dinner that night.  Marlee doesn't have to worry about anything like that.  She sleeps 15-17 hours a day, and I wouldn't be upset if she slept a few more.  Of course, I benefit because sometimes she dozes off in my lap, or by my side, and I drift off into dreamland, if only for a brief spell.

Now, I can understand keeping animals as beasts of burden.  I might have a more difficult time caring for and feeding an animal--and developing a bond with him or her (as I inevitably will:  that's how I am)--only to find him or her on my lunch or dinner plate.  Still, having been in rural southeast Asia, the Middle East and even parts of this country, I can understand how people can raise animals they know they're going to eat--or that will be eaten by someone else.  I understand that I, as a city dweller, have the option--all right, let's call it what it is: privilege--of not having to look at or touch an animal before eating it.

(That said, I don't eat nearly as much animal flesh as I once did.  I don't think I'll ever be entirely vegan, though, because I like dairy products--though I don't consume as much of those, either, as I once did. )

On the other hand, there really is no reason for what some people train or force their animals to do.  I have long believed that dolphins are the most intelligent animals of all--or, at least, they are more intelligent than we are--because while naval forces around the world have used them to detect mines and protect ships, there are some things those beautiful creatures simply would not do.

As much as I love cycling, and I have sometimes wished Marlee, Max, Charlie and my other kitties could accompany me on rides, there aren't many reasons to make an animal ride a bicycle.  It's usually done for yuks, or other kinds of exploitation.

I'm thinking now of the zoo in Thailand that made one of its chimps ride a bike in human clothes, with a mask over its face.  Now, if I had to wear those clothes, I might want to wear a mask, too.  But it gets worse:  the poor primate had to ride with disinfectant tanks strapped to its back--and spray that disinfectant around the zoo.

Oh, as if that weren't humiliating enough, before beginning his "shift", the chimp is chained to a wooden block while pulling on a diaper, shorts and the tacky shirt.

This video is disturbing. But I must say that it achieves something:  How often have you seen something in which both an animal and a bicycle are abused?


  1. Aside from any personal or ethical preferences, it is really not practical to keep livestock of almost any sort in a New York apartment. Poultry maybe, but I think the neighbors would not be pleased to be woken up by a rooster crowing.

  2. Steve—Years ago, I lived below some Pakistani Muslims. They didn’t keep animals, but they butchered them. Once, they cut up a goat and the blood dropped into my apartment. And the smell was putrid : It’s a wonder I didn’t become a vegan then!

    That said, I am not sure I’d want to hear crowing in a neighbor’s apartment!