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What Cecil the lion's death can teach us about empathy

What Cecil the lion's death can teach us about empathy

Posted 30 July 2015   by Amy         Permalink | 1 Comment

Tags: Cecil, lions, hunting

The tragic death of one of Zimbabwe's most loved lions – Cecil – has sparked global outrage. And understandably so. It's hard to fathom why anyone would want to kill such an incredible animal. The American dentist who hunted and shot Cecil with a bow and arrow, reportedly paid $55,000 for a permit to kill a lion. Reports say that Cecil was lured out from the protection of the Hwange National Park (where it is illegal to hunt) and killed.

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Cecil's death is undeniably devastating. But it begs the question -- would this story even be told if it had been any other lion who was shot? Approximately 600 lions are killed every year on trophy hunts. In a statement, the hunter who killed Cecil said:

"I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion."

This lion.

Had he shot any other lion (or any other animal) we might never have heard about it. But Cecil had a name. He had a personality. He was loved.

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Cecil nuzzles a lioness at Hwange National Park.

Does having a name make Cecil's life more valuable? All lions have unique personalities. They have loved ones. They may have cubs, like Cecil did. But their deaths would not make global headlines.

Rightly or wrongly, it is an undeniable trait of human nature that we care more about those we know than about those we barely know. With Cecil, we see on a global scale that even by simply knowing an animal by name, we feel more connected to them. We understand that they are someone. If you've ever given a house spider a name (I know I have) you'll know how something so simple can build a bridge from 'other' to 'friend'.

And if we look at humankind's "best friend" we can see how deep this connection between humans and animals can go. Most of us will have at some point in our lives welcomed an animal into our homes. We will have learned about their likes and dislikes, watched them experience joy and fear and loved them just like a member of the family.

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If you've ever loved a companion animal you'll know that you'd never let anyone hurt them. And it's this love that has dictated the protection our pets have in broader society. In Australia there are legal ramifications for cruelty to dogs and cats that are not afforded to millions of other animals. If someone were to take a dog and cut off his tail without any pain relief, they would face cruelty charges. And yet, this painful procedure is inflicted upon countless piglets in factory farms every single day.

Recently, there was worldwide outrage over the dog eating festival in China. I'm the first to be saddened by the thought of a dog being killed and eaten but perhaps some cultures just don't know dogs like we do? If they did, surely they wouldn't consider them "food." Meanwhile, here at home, countless animals who are really no different to dogs are killed everyday ... to be turned into pork, bacon and ham. Why do we not feel outraged by this?

Dogs and cats have a special place in our society simply because we know them as individuals, we love them and we stand up to protect them. What if we could expand our compassion to the animals who we don't know? Imagine how different the world would be if we stood up to protect all animals?

Just like dogs, pigs have a desire to live, and feel love and have in fact proven to be even smarter than the tail-wagging slobber monkeys we share our homes with. Chickens too each have their own unique personalities, likes and dislikes and the capacity to feel pain.

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Meet Stefa Meet Little Miss Sunshine

Cecil's life mattered not because he was a lion, or because we knew his name. Cecil's life mattered because all lives matter.

Every day we make choices about how we treat individuals who we will never meet -- from what we wear, to what we buy, and most especially what we eat. To create a kinder world, we need only harness the power of our everyday choices to transform the lives of these animals for the better. And we can start today. Take the first step here.

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Do lions belong in a circus?

Do lions belong in a circus?

Posted 30 January 2013   by Anthony         Permalink | 8 Comments

Tags: lions, circus, Gold Coast

You know what they say about the Gold Coast - beautiful one day, forcing lions to perform circus tricks the next. Read on for the full story and what you can do to help.

Traditionally, you can find clowns INSIDE the circus. But on the Gold Coast this week, it seemed like some of the clowns had run away to join the Gold Coast City Council. In a vote of 8-7, councillors on the Goldy overturned a 2009 ban on exotic animal in circuses. This means that travelling circuses with lions and other animals can once again use public land for their out-dated and increasingly opposed shows.

Gold Coast circus protest.

100 protestors turned up to the meeting to urge councillors to extend the ban, as opposed to just 8 people (former circus owners) who wanted the ban overturned. Still, the councillors made the disappointing decision to let the circuses back into town.

For animals, life in a circus is no fun. Instead, it is boring and unnatural. They spend months on the road in small enclosures with no opportunity to express their natural behaviour. Circuses don't even pretend as though they're offering education or conservation of wild animals - so the lifelong confinement of circus animals is all for a few minutes of human "entertainment".

Lion circus adEven though the Gold Coast has taken a backwards step on animal protection this week, YOU can show them what caring individuals think of their decision. Take the pledge to boycott circuses that use exotic animals. And if one comes to your town, make sure you let your friends know that lions belong in the wild (and in awesome dreams!) - not in circuses!

If the thought of lions confined in tiny places bothers you, you might be shocked to know that pigs and hens are kept in even smaller cages, and what happens to them is even worse. Discover the truth for yourself!

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Lion cubs spared from the circus!
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Lion cubs spared from the circus!

Posted 23 February 2012   by         Permalink | 1 Comment

Tags: Circuses, lions, activism, exotic animals, entertainment

Right, it's confirmed - Animals Australia Unleashed members are the best ever!

Thanks to stacks of emails sent by you guys to Darling Downs Zoo, two innocent little lion cubs have been spared the cruelty of a life in a travelling circus!

When our big sis Animals Australia broke this story last month, you helped us make it spread like wildfire across Facebook and Twitter and eventually the owners of the cubs listened to the community's views and did the right thing.

Had the original plan gone through, adorable Spike and gorgeous Spot would have faced a life on the road in a small boring enclosure without any opportunity to act like lions.

I'm sure you're as thrilled as we are, and this really goes to show just what can be achieved through PEOPLE POWER!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, two older lions have just been rescued from a French Circus and are settling in at a Wildlife Park in the UK. Brutus and Clarence are now learning how to be lions again - something that, thanks to you, Spike & Spot may never have to do.

Don't forget to take the pledge to help end circus cruelty by clicking here!

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