Humans Should Respect Animals in Coexistence

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By Alisa Patience

Humans share the planet with about 8.7 million other species, according to BBC News recent estimates. The Cross River gorilla, Eastern Lowland gorilla, hawksbill turtle, Malayan tiger, Sumatran elephant, blue whale and the monarch butterfly are just some of many endangered species we share earth with. Yet the majority of us have the audacity to believe that humans are the only ones who matter.

The Declaration of Animal Rights is a project stemming from the group, Our Planet Theirs Too, and it has been traveling the world collecting signatures. Afterwards, it will be sent to government officials. Another noteworthy group is You for Animal Liberation (Y4AL) a club here at the University of Utah that is “focusing on compassionate, cruelty-free, and plant-based lifestyles” according to theHum Facebook page. It has held events promoting animal rights and vegan lifestyles.

While many believe that animal rights are not important, perhaps arguing that God gave us animals for food, I believe it’s important that humans recognize their place in the world. If we were meant to eat meat, we shouldn’t need to cook in order to make it safe to eat. We have a high chance of getting sick if we eat raw meat. We can only eat raw meat in places like high-end restaurants that serve things like beef tartare, and that’s only if it’s very carefully stored and prepared, which means we go out of our way to eat something that has its own life. Meat is a luxury, not a necessity.

A common argument in line with the “humans rule the world” perspective is that we’re the only species intelligent enough to exercise real global authority. We use our intelligence as a weapon, but perhaps we should be using it as a way to help the animals that can’t help themselves. As humans we believe that we have more rights than animals because we can talk and have opposable thumbs. Well, for a species that supposedly rules the world, we sure don’t do a lot to take care of it.

How would you feel if a stranger came into your home, trashed the place, lit it on fire and then left? Typical pet animals seem to have more rights than others. It’s wrong to treat dogs and cats badly, but if a type of animal isn’t your typical pet, that seems to take away that animal’s right to live in the eyes of some people. Even higher intelligence doesn’t seem to give animals more rights; dolphins, elephants and chimpanzees are all endangered, yet show astounding parallels to human rationale.

We don’t do anything to contribute to the planet. Without us, animals would go on living, and the ecosystems would work themselves out. The only species that would die are maybe the ones we’ve created artificially. Meanwhile our existence is counterproductive. All we do is ruin animals’ homes and eat them. We capture animals for entertainment; we tear apart their bodies for jewelry. I enjoy seeing and learning about animals as much as anyone else, but putting them in cages is not the way to do it. When I last visited the zoo, it was boring and depressing. None of the animals were doing anything; they just laid there and looked sad. I think the best way to visit animals and learn about their natural ecosystems is to actually go to their ecosystems, with ourselves in a cage.

In the words of Disney’s Pocahontas, “You think the only people who are people are the people who look and think like you, but if you walk the footsteps of a stranger you’ll learn things you never knew.” It’s time to start thinking about the other animals we share this planet with.

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