Letter to the editor: Local fairs abuse exotic animals

Dear editor, I’ve been in Vermont for only two years, but I can already attest to the inquisitive character of the people. Vermonters care about their environment, about where their food comes from and they strive to look beyond the surface to see what is really happening beneath. We need to look beyond the surface of exotic animal acts at our fairs in which giraffes, monkeys and lions, to name a few, are displayed and ask – is this ethical? Although it can be exciting standing face to face with a lion, we must realize traveling animals lead lives that are not nearly as rich as they would be in the wild. You might think the lion pacing in the cage has more room to roam when he’s not at an event, but that’s likely untrue. The animals are shuffled from show to show and sadly, showing off these animals is a business; more space means more money spent. Many of these animals were taken from their habitats at a young age and trained immediately for entertainment. Trainers use methods ranging from fear and intimidation to more brutal practices. If you don’t have the money to travel abroad to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitats, you can still watch them on TV. It might not seem as thrilling, but you’ll actually get to see them in their environments where they display their speed, strength and true traits. It’s a lot more educational – and definitely ethical – than watching them perform tricks for our amusement. Sincerely, Jocellyn Harvey Green Mountain Animal Defenders Intern