Letter: Is teaching tricks to animals worth it?

First Posted: 3/3/2010

The death of a trainer at Sea World has prompted discussion about the use of animals for entertainment. As sad as that incident is, it is thankfully rare. Unfortunately, the death of animals in captivity is too common.

At Sea World, many orcas have died. In the wild, they can live to 80. In captivity, they are lucky to survive a decade. Many whales and dolphins have bled to death from collisions while performing for the amusement of humans.

Circus animals are kept in cages for hours and transported all over the country or the world. They are brought out to train or to perform on demand. The manner of training can be severe. Prongs, electricity and chaining are often used. Majestic animals are dressed in costumes and made to endure unnatural routines.

I understand that this type of exposure serves some purpose. Education is provided and fondness for animals is fostered. But, really, is it worth it? Is it necessary? Do we teach the right lesson by presenting animals as a trick or a laugh? I am awe-inspired when I see animals in their environment doing what they do naturally.

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