Would You Like to Be a Pet?

You would get fed, you would never have to work. You would be kept for your looks and petted regularly – like a trophy wife. I’ve heard it’s something of the pinnacle of aspirations when it comes to livelihoods. 

Whose pet, you would ask, and you would be rightly cautious.

Maybe your owner would be a crazy pet lady with a thousand other cats – not realising that she is torturing you. Maybe he is a programmer feeding you pizza and making you sick. Maybe your owner totally loves you and you are his family – but dies before you do and you are found months later, lying next to his corpse. Maybe he pets you – but inappropriately. So yeah, the owner matters.

So how about something less personal and intimate? How about institutional care? You get the perks, but you are not dependent on the whims or sanity of one person only. If one pets you too much – the others intervene. Like a zoo.

But you were still wrong. It is not about the master – it is about being owned.



Image: The Daily Telegraph

Imagine a conversation between a zoo animal and a free one.

– Who brings your food?
– No one. I hunt it.
– But what if there’s no prey one morning?
– Well, I hunt some more.
– But what if…
– Shut it!
– But how do you know whether your food is safe?
– Safe?
– How do you know which animals to hunt or which berries to eat? Who checks it for you?
– You’re an idiot.
– Alright then, what are the visiting hours? Do you need to work a lot for shelter?
– Visiting hours?
– And how big is your enclosure? I’ve heard that they’re shrinking and you can’t get a decent sized yard for a year’s work.
– What is an enclosure?
– Do you get free healthcare?
– WTF?

Sounds funny, but it isn’t.

When you look at zoos, you are prone to think that how comfy it is for the animals. As in, food and shelter taken care of – all the visible, material needs. And then you quickly add with a certain pathos that it is not worthy of them. They have no freedom. Whatever that means.

Curiously, you have no such hang-ups when it comes to you and your own freedom. A pompous, well-supplied cage is widely considered a royal trade-off among human animals. You probably think it’s the pinnacle of delight, being a trophy wife. Or being kept by a wealthy and generous welfare state. Only animals should live up to their true nature and be free.

But if you think it’s not dignified to live in a zoo, wait till the cameras and the delegation of politicians go away. When funding runs out and subsidised ticket prices can no longer cover the running costs of the larger-than-we-can-afford facilities. But low prices are enshrined in law to protect the public from the pain of paying for things what they cost.

Look around the zoo when the system collapses. In Ukraine in 2014. In North Korea. In Romania, after Ceausescu. In Kaliningrad, after 1990. In Yemen, Gaza, Kabul, Jakarta, Athens. Or just look at it while it functions the way it was meant to be, like in Denmark.

It doesn’t have to be money or war. It can just be the cruelty that inevitably stems from your complete dependence. Power gets to people’s heads – even when it’s power over an animal. And people love animals more than their fellow people. So what gives?

Make no mistake, these are not outliers and war zones. (Not that war is any way unusual or unlikely.) A dreadful end is not the side effect. It is the logical consequence of being kept on mercy. Being kept for their utility in pleasing others – rather than to live for their own sake.


Image: www.socialgrocery.com

What happened to them can happen to you. When services are no longer available because your keepers have fled. Or they haven’t fled but they don’t have the money to buy you fresh fruit and freeze it in cute ice cubes in the summer heat. Or they have died. Or you just became a surplus giraffe and get fed to the lions – who are then fed to other lions.

I never understood people who picture dependence as some sort of luxury. Being kept by a welfare state means that you have to hope that you die before the money runs out – like in a zoo. Similarly, being kept by a rich husband means that you have to do is please him and hope that he keeps his money and you keep his affections – like a pet that is banged regularly.

That is a trade-off for slaves and idiots. All you do is hoping to die before consequences kick in and bills come home to roost. If you are lucky and manage to live your entire life during the unsustainable boom years, you die lucky. Pray to die on time.

By all means, do buy healthcare. But you must have an option to take your custom elsewhere if the service is insufficient, otherwise it’s not yours at all. If they give it to you “for free” – it will cost you your life. And a lot of money too.

Adelaide Panda Funi Celebrates First Australian Birthday
ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 23: Funi the Panda enjoys eating her birthday cake to celebrate her first Australian birthday at Adelaide Zoo on August 23, 2010 in Adelaide, Australia. Funi, meaning ‘Lucky Girl’, turns four years old today. Funi, who shares an enclosure with Wang Wang, are the only Giant Pandas in the Southern Hemisphere and the first to live permanently in Australia. (Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)

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