In a bizarre ploy, a woman with a drugged tiger cub crammed into her suitcase, along with a stuffed toy tiger, tried to board a plane in Bangkok. Apparently, she thought nobody would notice – even putting the cub through the baggage x-ray – which is an indication of how disconnected she was. That, and the fact that she treated this rare and living creature, just three months old, like a child’s doll.
But even a child appreciates that the approximately 3,500 critically endangered tigers left in the wild are not toys. In fact, in their innocence, children still appreciate the wonders of wildlife. But this woman, in her quest for money, was blinded to the beauty of the tiger cub. How did she end up so insensitive? One might better ask: how did we end up so checked-out as a species? For every day, on a macro scale, we do the same thing to our planet.
To paraphrase Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd, if the world is a ship, we are popping its rivets (species) and selling them, all the while expecting the vessel to carry and support us. That’s not going to happen. We’re going to kill off one species too many and the ship will sink, the oceans will die, and all that is wild and wonderful about our world (like baby tiger cubs) will be gone, leaving humans to subsist on a denuded world. Because unfortunately, we live in a world of rivet-poppers. This greedy and clueless smuggler is just one more in a long line, from do-nothing politicians that allow oil companies unfettered exploitation of wildlife preserves to multi-national corporations clear-cutting bluefin tuna from our seas to Japanese whalers illegally killing whales.
This woman was no doubt motivated by money, but what do we expect? What she did on a micro level is being done globally every day. She is simply the product of a system that says it’s okay to destroy wildlife for money. She, like the many others on the planet, is disconnected from nature, from animals and ultimately from herself. She couldn’t even see that if the cub hadn’t been detected the cub went through the baggage x-ray), it would most likely have died. As it was, the baby tiger was exhausted, dehydrated and couldn’t walk when it was found. On its way to Iran, where it was going to be sold for the heartbreakingly small sum of $3,200, it would have lived its life in a cage, the boasting rights of some other disconnected human.
So how do we heal this disconnect? By healing ourselves, each of us working on our own connectedness to the planet and the animals that are our co-passengers on this journey. It requires a change in thinking. At Global Animal we believe that animal welfare is the next great ‘rights’ issue confronting humankind. A hundred years from now, if we survive, we will look back aghast at how we currently treat animals in much the same way we look back at slavery today. We must recognize the importance of changing the way we view animals, not least for our own humanity.
Only then will our disconnect from nature and animals be healed. Only then will we stop treating animals like stuffed toys, to be used and discarded for our pleasure.