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According to the Bible, man is to have dominion over everything on earth: “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (King James Version). When God looks at what is happening, it’s too bad he doesn’t have a special session and spend an eighth day defining what dominion means. Does it mean we can do any damn thing we please with anything on earth? What are the limits? We have to eat something! Now we have a group of scientists researching how broccoli, asparagus, carrots, and other vegetables feel as they go into a food chopper. Something new to think about.
When I was a farm boy feeding corn bundles into the silage cutter, I just never considered that I was committing corn mass murder. As a teenaged farm kid, I always felt I had pretty good relationships with all the animals that ended up as our food. Out of our twenty cows we usually had only one or two that turned out be a Lizzie Borden or Lucretia Borgia. Most of them would nose around for a good friendly scratch behind the ears or a pat on the neck. We raised everything we ate: ducks, geese, pigs, cows, chickens, and rabbits. About the first thing I remember was a mama goose who bit me in the butt for fooling with her goslings when I was about five. I deserved it. We had five horses: two Belgians, two Percherons, and a nondescript grey. The grey was just mean. You had to carry a 2x4 about 18 inches long to put between her and the stall or she would try to crush you. A very nasty feminist.
The Saga Of The Great Dallas Safari Club Black Rhino Conservation Plan
Two animal stories got me going on this column. The Dallas, Texas Safari Club decided to auction off a Namibia hunting license for a black rhino, claiming they were really funding a conservation plan for saving black rhinos in Africa by killing one. That didn’t seem to sell too well with the environmental crowd, who said, “The hell you say! Kill one to save one? That’s nuts!” After they had aroused the passions of most of the civilized world, the license committee responded, “Oh, it will be an old black rhino near death that can’t get it up anymore.” But it didn’t say on the license, “Old-black-rhino-near-death-that-can’t-get-it-up-anymore.” That didn’t sell too well, either. Then the committee said the rhino their licensee would kill was picking on middle-aged hale and healthy rhinos in their wild. Then the environmentalists suggested a “near death” rhino would not be chasing prime black rhinos around for his amusement.
This whole episode proves that God should have had a special session. Anyway, some great white hunter from Texas topped the auction with a $350,000 bid. What will he do with the carcass? Stuff it for his man-cave? Put the head on the wall without the horn? The horn will sell for about $30,000 a pound to some old can’t-get-it-up Chinese guy who thinks animal horn is an aphrodisiac. It will look funny on the wall without the horn. Another Texas hunter might have spoiled the hunt. When asked about the hunt, he said, “Hunting a black rhino? Why, that’s like shooting a parked car.”
The Retirement Of
Bushwacker, Superstar Bucker
I watch bull riding on the tube once in a while for a few thrills. We were always very careful around bulls on the farm. My dad had been gored once, so he always carried a pitchfork with him when he was in proximity to a bull. Our bulls always had nose rings we could use if we had to move them. Bulls can’t be trusted. Short of brains anyway, they usually had only one thought in mind: creating the super race.
It seems Bushwacker is the best “buckoffer” in the bull riding business. He is eight years old and has been ridden for the required eight seconds only twice in his last 52 times out of the chute. Bull riding champ J.B. Maumey finally finished eight seconds on Bushwacker on his tenth try. Mauney, who has lost count of his broken bones, praises Bushwacker: “He’s got brains. He’s smart. You can watch 20 videos of that bull, and he will never do the same thing twice. He’s big [1,750 pounds!]. He’s strong. He’s got the power. And when the gate opens, you can’t set a game plan for him. He’s the world champ.” Bushwacker does not like other bulls, so wherever he goes he has his own space.
Bushwacker’s owner Julio Moreno is going to retire him to his ranch next year in October. Moreno probably has made a few million off Bushwacker, so he has planned a 15-acre irrigated clover pasture, a little barn for shelter during rough weather, and about 20 girlfriends for sexy interludes. On the side he will probably sell Bushwacker’s semen for about $5,000 a package. That will keep both of them happy.
Should Animals Have Some Legal Rights?
About ten percent of the wills written today have stipulations about how pets, particularly dogs, will be taken care of after the owner’s death. Chimps and orangutans have 99 percent of the genes human have. That’s pretty close to some of my relatives. The Dallas Zoo is providing therapy for a male gorilla who bites females instead of loving them. He gets along great with humans and male gorillas but is very cranky with females. The therapy’s purpose is to get him to breed so that the zoo can sell the offspring for a profit. Having a 430-pound gorilla on the psycho couch and trying to convince him to make love not war during foreplay must be fascinating work.
Some lawyers make good money defending dogs or other animals in court. The Nonhuman Rights Project in New York recently filed habeas corpus suits on behalf of four captive chimps it was trying to free so that they could go to sanctuaries. Project director Steve Wise believes animals should have some rights—not the right to vote or freedom of religion, but a limited right of bodily freedom.
“Dominion” in the Christian Bible is usually interpreted to mean that humans are to act as God’s stewards: caring for, guarding, and controlling what happens on earth. Christians must show leadership, responsibility, and empathy to have that “dominion.” In that over 78 percent of the humans in the U.S. label themselves Christian, who are the non-Christians who are treating animals so badly in poultry, pig, and cow factory farms, puppy mills, horse farms, and other large communities of animals? Evidence is shown daily about the animal horrors taking place all around us:
(1) Hundreds of horses and other animals dying of starvation on farms and ranches. Christians would never do this. It must be the .06 percent of Muslims in the U.S.
(2) Placing sows in gestation stalls or crates that are so small the sow cannot turn around and only can take a step or two backward or forward. Piglet runts have been killed by bashing their heads on concrete walls. After each pregnancy of about four months, sows in a typical factory farm give birth, nurse their young for three weeks, and go through the same program for about three years. Then they go to the killing floor. These sows never roam in a pasture, never root around and eat grass or roots, never take a mud bath, and never lie in the sun.
Christians would never treat pigs like that. The owners must be the .07 percent Buddhists in the U.S. The communications director for the National Pork Producers says, “So our animals can’t turn around in the crates... I don’t know who asked the sow if she wanted to turn around.” Maybe God has a certain hot dominion for this guy.
(3) Cows only last about four years in factory farms. Drugs have extended the udders so much they might drag on the concrete. After all, the cow has been bred to give up to 22,000 pounds of milk a year. Hooves standing in cowshit all day have a tendency to rot. We grind up 33 million cows a year. Most never see grass. Because of antibiotics, cow bones become so brittle that they may have to go to the killing floor pushed by a forklift. Christian ranchers and meatpackers would never show dominion with a forklift. Must be Orthodox and Reform Jews who constitute 1.7 percent of our population.
(4) In the egg industry, male chicks are useless byproducts, so after the sex of the chick has been determined the males are tossed alive into a machine called a macerator and ground up. Egg layers often live in cages so small they can’t stand and stretch their wings. Christian egg producers would never do such a thing because of their religious upbringing. This is something so terrible that only atheists and agnostics would do it. They are now 4 percent of the U.S. population.
(5) Have you ever watched the high-stepping Tennessee walking horses? Some horses need greater dominion than others to learn the high-step. The recalcitrants are convinced to high-step by a technique called “soring,” the use of caustic chemicals on the legs that cause great pain in the feet. Consequently, the horse steps “high” to try to avoid the extreme pain. We all know that no Christian Tennessee Bible Belter would ever do that to a horse. We now have almost 20 percent of the population classified as non-believers. It has to be this faithless gang who would treat horses with such cruelty.
Are There Any Really Dumb Animals?
I remember the World War II campaign to train bats to carry small incendiary bombs and drop them over Japanese cities. They would then fly under the eaves of buildings and start a fire. For some reason it didn’t turn out. I guess they could never figure out how to time the bombs correctly.
Sometimes man just plain loses. A 15-foot Burmese python (the same breed that is occupying the Florida Everglades) was spied by a security guard crossing the road in front of the Bali Hyatt Hotel on the island. The 59-year-old guard tried to capture the snake. The guard did grab the head and tail, but the powerful snake, probably in the 200-pound range, crushed the guard when the snake wrapped its body around his middle.
Sometimes animals seek revenge. Last October, a five-ton elephant ironically named Patience crushed and killed her keeper in a Missouri zoo. The zoo officials decided not to discipline the 41-year-old elephant because of her circumstances. Patience had lived in the zoo for 24 years with two sisters, Moola and Pinky. Unfortunately, Pinky had a severe kidney disease and had lost nearly 1,000 pounds. She had to be put away about a week before Patience killed her keeper. Elephants are known for their long memories and their exhibitions of grief. Was Patience avenging the death of Pinky in her grief? The keeper had taken care of her for 24 years. Elephants have another unusual ability for animals: they recognize themselves in mirrors.
Bob Bailey, Dolphin Trainer: “We Never Found An Animal We Could Not Train!”
The Smithsonian magazine recently had an article about the Pentagon’s 270-acre “animal training” farm near Hot Springs, Arkansas, that was made operational in the 1960s. The trainers even trained a spider to defend itself when a laser light was turned on.
Ravens were trained to place listening devices on apartment window shelves in foreign “Cold War” European cities. Pigeons were trained to fly in front of columns of advancing troops to scout for the enemy. If the enemy was spotted, they would immediately land. They were tested 45 times in a row to spot the enemy and never failed. One problem: if there was no enemy to spot, the pigeons would take a flying vacation.
Cats were trained to carry listening devices and enter buildings and apartments where information might be picked up. We are all familiar with dogs that are trained to perform hundreds of services for humans, even sniffing out cancers and drugs. We should also remember that dogs are often on the dinner table in several cultures. In India, where rats eat about 30 percent of the grain crop, the lower-caste Indians use them as their main protein dish. I guess this all proves that man does have dominion over everything on earth. But it does not mean that cruelty, viciousness, and neglect do not matter.
Raymond is a former Marine officer and school board superintendent and resides in Detroit Lakes.