Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Teasing a tiger

Saturday found the entire family at an outing to Zoobic, the zoo attraction at the Subic Freeport Zone. It was a rainy afternoon and we managed to catch the last tour.

The highlight of the trip was the tiger safari. City slickers like us piled into a jeepney modified with passenger cage enclosure. Then we rode off into the enclosure where several tigers roamed in relative freedom. The rain actually helped because the cool weather made it conducive for the tigers to be out. Tigers, apparently, are one of the few species of big cats who like water.

One of the passengers purchased a chicken (and a very expensive dressed chicken it was) and the guide teased the tigers with it through a small enclosure on the side. What a thrill! But part of me was wondering whether it was right to be doing so.

Wasn't it cruel to be teasing such a majestic animal with a bit of chicken? Was it even right that they should be in this zoo instead of roaming out in the wild? Why were we asserting our dominance over a fellow creature?

That got me wondering how and why I felt that way. Then it dawned on me: I've been brainwashed by radical modern literature on animal rights and the environment.

Oh, I understand that it's not right to be cruel to animals. But apart from my reflexive mental reaction, what exactly was cruel about this? The cats were not hurt or wounded in any way, and they actually seemed to be having fun pushing against the jeep. Besides, 400 lbs of striped predator doesn't seem to need a whole lot of pity. They can fend for themselves.

Okay, criticize me or criticize the zoo. It was still quite an experience.