This past Tuesday, Oct. 17, 49 exotic animals were killed in Ohio. They were:
- 9 male lions,
- 8 lionesses,
- 6 black bears,
- 3 mountain lions,
- 2 grizzlies,
- 2 wolves,
- 1 baboon . . . and
- 18 Bengal tigers (By the way, Bengal tigers are on the endangered species list)
One report (Pat Summers of www.AnimalBeat.blogspot.com writing for NewJerseynewsroom.com ) sited the cause of this horrendous tragedy to be due to “lack of tight regulations.”
I’d like to offer a different perspective. It wasn’t due to a lack of regulations. The root cause of this is a “erroneous cultural mindset” that has been around so long as to be virtually invisible. This mindset can be traced at least as far back as the Old Testament if not farther:
“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.” (Gen. 1:26)
This mindset is foundational to our current Civilization. The mindset of Civilization is hierarchical in nature and guess who we’ve put at the top? Us, of course, which means every other species on planet Earth is under our dominion. However, consider this:
“But what does ‘dominion’ really mean? It is traditionally interpreted as ‘to subdue’ or ‘to rule over.’ When taken to an extreme, it can include oppression and exploitation. However, an exploited planet Earth does not leave humanity richer. Perhaps there is a deeper, more sustainable aspect of dominion that includes a sense of service to one’s fellow creatures and even a compulsion to protect those who cannot protect themselves. (From The Christian Science Monitor)
I’d like to propose that a much more sustainable, workable, even life-saving mindset is an ‘integrative perspective’ — that our species is an integral part of the whole of nature — no better, no worse, just an integral part of life.
How would this mindset have affected the tragic incident in Ohio? Would the 56 ‘exotic’ animals have even been in Ohio in the first place? After all, the definition of exotic is: From another part of the world; foreign. As Summers pointed out, Ohio is “not where lions, tigers, bears, wolves and primates belong.” (at least not, non-human primates)
And for sure, from a integrative perspective and a mindset of “service to one’s fellow creatures” if the animals had somehow found themselves in Ohio and then been released, we’d not have jumped to the immediate action of killing most of them, not if we operated from a “compulsion to protect those who cannot protect themselves”.
Yes, I may be overly sensitive to this case, having been a small animal veterinarian for much of my life, and certainly a devoted animal lover since my earliest memories. But I do wonder how Zak Bates, Ra-kit (the magic cat) and Sampson (the flying dog) — my characters in Dominion Over All might have responded to the killings in Ohio. I believe they would have entered into a state of mourning and prayer for our fallen comrades, including forgiveness for those who “know not what they do.” I think I’ll join them in those prayers.