A Monkey Business
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A Monkey Business

The exploitation of capuchin monkeys by popular American baseball teams.

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A Monkey Business

There is an undeniable thrill in seeing animals perform in circuses, zoos, television shows, and amusement parks. Unfortunately, it's incredibly heinous to use real animals for these purposes. Animals who are forced to be entertainers lead a life of misery and indignity which involves abuse.

Popular baseball teams like Wilmington Blue Rocks and Frederick Keys conduct "monkey rodeo" events which are featured on game days at their stadiums. During these offensive displays, capuchin monkeys are forced to wear costumes and are strapped onto dogs, who are then made to race around the field. The dogs reach a speed of around 30 mph and as a result, the monkeys are violently jerked around and often suffer serious injuries. Surprisingly, this cowboy monkey rodeo spectacle has been called "an American sensation" and a "wildly popular entertainment act." We are so enchanted by game rituals and are so consumed in leisure and entertainment that we fail to recognize that behind this smokescreen lies an eminent issue: animal abuse.

The monkeys have no choice but to go for a terrifying ride for a few minutes. According to Julia Gallucci, a primate expert at PETA, such a type of event is extremely stressful for capuchin monkeys as they are easily stressed and undoubtedly experience trauma as a result of being repeatedly jerked back and forth at high speeds while strapped to the back of a dog in front of a screaming crowd. They are subjected to poor treatment, training and housing conditions that negatively affect the welfare of monkeys. The monkeys are also exposed to high, repetitive head accelerations, akin to what rodeo passengers experience when they meet with a motor vehicle accident. They are also vulnerable to neck injuries such as 'whiplash.' In addition, the dog can also accidentally run the monkey into objects such as walls, fences, and poles which can cause some serious injuries. Also, capuchins are small, yet perilous monkeys who can be aggressive and have been involved in numerous escapes and attacks. During these events, the monkey is not under the control of a handler and hence the public would be at risk if the monkey gets distracted and is charged off the field.

The cowboy monkey rodeos are booked by baseball teams like the Wilmington Blue Rocks, State College Spikes, Harrisburg Senators, Frederic Keys, and Erie Seawolves. The team Yard Goats is renowned for joining the growing list of progressive teams who have been compassionate and have called off the plans for cowboy monkey rodeo events. Several other teams like the Williamsport Crosscutters, The Lexington Legends, and The Sugar Land Skeeters have all made the decision to forgo similar barbaric practices intended towards animals.

The dilemma that lies before us is a cliché: culture vs morality. The "monkey rodeo" and other events such as this have been engrained into the social and cultural fabric of this country. They are celebrated for bringing together families and neighbors when they should instead be condemned for perpetuating animal cruelty.

This draws our attention to the fact that how human-animal relationship is akin to a subject-object relationship where animals are treated like the latter and their needs are considered secondary. The sentiment that animals are also beings and not objects and deserve to be respected is lacking. The fact that the system allows us to view animals as our resources, which can be eaten and exploited for our personal needs, is considered normal when it should be the contrary. Once we start looking animals from that lens, we are oblivious to their loneliness, pain, and even their death. This notion can also allow us to think that as animals are existing to benefit us and hence what harms them doesn't matter much.

The other idea that should also be eradicated is that human pain is only relevant and that the suffering of another being is also pertinent. Human beings' selfish instincts allow them to see animals in terms of their usefulness and even cruelty is acceptable to them if its fulfilling their needs and desires. Although, some animals are given some protection by anticruelty laws, the only protections are given to animals, who we humans prefer to see happy and healthy, like dogs and cats. Moreover, if someone harms or kills an animal on someone else's property, they are nor charged for cruelty or murder, on the other hand, they are charged with damaging or destroying someone's property.

Only because animals cannot sign a contract for claiming their rights doesn't mean that we should rob them of the same.

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