September 24, 2003

Homie Bear posted a frightful article about the mistreatment of an abducted bear cub by a sad and clearly brainless individual today.

In a seemingly random coincidence - or perhaps the position of the moon is prompting humans to behave as appallingly as possible to their fellow mammals - this story about a Bengal tiger shot dead by a drunken American soldier surfaced today. There are, at last rough estimate, a mere 3000 tigers left in the wild. To put this in perspective, my high school graduating class in Vancouver was upwards of 1000 students. And that's one grad class out of one school in all of Vancouver. Tigers, on the other hand, count barely 3000 members in their entire species. Does that sound like a lot? It isn't. But don't worry, that number gets smaller every day. So by the time your yet imaginary children are old enough to care, you may not have to concern yourself with explaining what a tiger looks like. It will be like a pterodactyl. Or a wooly mammoth. The difference with tigers, as with all endangered species tenaciously clinging to the planet these days, is that cosmic interference and evolution did not the tigers kill. No, that was us. Mankind. Humans. Through vigorous hunting, poaching, and moving in on their natural habitat, we have managed to make almost the entire globe anti-tiger. There are reserves in India and a research program in Siberia and other than that there are a handful of tigers attempting to outwit, outlast, and outplay their wild counterparts in zoos. Until today. When America brought the hunt back to life right between the cage bars.

Tigers are not man-eaters. Despite what popular legend and Hollywood lore would have you believe, tigers only eat human flesh when their own prey is unavailable. In other words, when we have encroached on their land so far that deer-like species flee or when we go to war and banish the zookeepers so that meals are no longer delivered. In that case if you stick your hand through the cage on a kegger dare you'll lose it. Shooting a Bengal tiger three times in the head in retaliation for a single finger isn't justice. It's abuse on a shocking level. Until we learn to respect the non-human creatures we share this planet with, how can we hope to respect each other? If we can't protect nature's vulnerable, how will we protect our own?

I never want to read another story like this again. And I'm sure I'll get an "Amen" from Homie Bear to that.

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