Sun. Nov 27th, 2022

A few weeks ago, I got into an Internet debate. It is pretty standard for things like that to happen, since people feel safe behind their computer screens and think that they can flaunt their true opinions without caring about the consequences.
We were arguing about the Western Black Rhino. It had been declared officially extinct due to human poaching and lack of conservation efforts, and we had very different ideas about what kind of affect its extinction would have on the world. I felt that it was a big deal: that’s one less species hat future generations will get to see, but will instead only hear about in science books along with dodos and wooly mammoths.
His view was that it did not matter. He did not care in the slightest. I was a bit shocked, to say the least. I do not expect everyone to be heartbroken and society come to a halt because one species of rhino went extinct, but at least consider the effect it will have beyond your life for two seconds!
“There are always zoos. I’ve seen rhinos before,” he typed. But how great are zoos? Sure, you get to see animals live and up close, but can you really count that? We’ve taken these animals out of their wild, natural habitat and forced them into a tiny box with high walls. And yes, there are a few different species of rhino, but will he care when the next species goes extinct? Probably not, but I’m hopeful that he realizes his carelessness.
“They have caretakers, and they model the cage to look like their home,” he responds. “What’s the big deal? They seem okay.” How happy can a prisoner be? If I were in a cage and couldn’t escape, what would upset me the most? Probably seeing my surroundings made to look like what I’m missing. Don’t get me wrong, I am not harassing zookeepers for their choice in career. However, there are a plethora of research studies regarding the psychological welfare of zoo animals. Their mental state can deteriorate quite quickly after long years of incarceration and even small amounts of mistreatment, not to mention that many zoo animals typically suffer from depression.
The clearly learned gent that I had this intellectually stimulating conversation with stopped responding before I got to the part I was waiting for. I wanted to know his view on the reason the rhino went extinct: humans poaching them for their horns and lack of effort by the people in charge of its conservation.
I absolutely abhor violence and the infliction of pain in any way. It disgusts me, especially towards wild animals that otherwise would never even bat an eye at you. I’ve been hunting before, and shooting guns at targets for sport was much preferable. Poachers must be so egotistical and self-aggrandizing (possibly compensating for something). You want to kill an innocent animal, take one small part of its body, and leave the rest to rot, just for some Black Market quim to write you a big check? If you want a big hunk of keratin (the protein hair, fingernails, and rhino tusks are made of), grow it yourself.
If you have or have ever had a pet, you know that animals can and deserve to have as good of a life as anyone else. If you’ve never had a pet, I suggest you try it. You can learn a lot from all things furred, scaled, and winged.
Basically, love everything and everyone. We all matter equally, but that doesn’t bring our collective meaning down. Love things with two legs, four legs, red legs, blue legs. Think what you want, but don’t use your opinion to lessen the value of others’.
Dillon Sweigart is a fourth-year student majoring in liberal studies. He can be reached at DS734656@wcupa.edu. 

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