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Speciesism Among Animals

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In 2016, the world went into a frenzy when Harambe, a 17-year-old western lowland gorilla was shot and killed when a child fell into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. Many were horrified of his unjust death, but what is the difference between killing Harambe and killing a cow or a mouse or a deer? Speciesism is a type of discrimination. It is the “assumption that humans are superior to non-human animals”. Speciesism is a moral issue that is causing us to exploit, mistreat, or otherwise abuse nonhuman animals.

Exploiting nonhuman animals is inhumane. Why should a nonhuman animal have lesser value than you? Why do they get to sit in a tiny cage and suffer and you get to go about your day? Speciesism is a moral issue. Nonhuman animals are bred into existence to live imprisoned lives until slaughter day. Female animals are regularly impregnated only to have their children snatched away seconds after giving birth for human consumption. There are a hundred of cases in where nonhuman animals are exploited.

Factory farming is a cruel business invented by humans to minimize cost of production but maximize the harm of nonhuman animals. The lives of these animals mostly have no value beyond what they can produce for money. Factory farming is breeding and raising large numbers of animals in cramped, unnatural conditions while subjecting them to grotesque treatment in order to garner their goods (milk, eggs, meat). “An estimated 8 billion animals in the United States are born, confined, biologically manipulated, transported and ultimately slaughtered each year so that humans can consume them”. Pigs often live in tiny barred kennels where they can neither stand nor turn around. Chicken are de-beaked, cows and pigs get their tails torn off, they breathe unhealthy levels of ammonia and denied fresh air, and sunlight.

Nonhuman animals are used in laboratories for a number of reasons. When experimentation on humans is permitted it is always consensual between the experimentee. For nonhuman animals, this is not the case. Animal testing is the forced experimentation on live animals in laboratories that will cause pain, disorientation, and even death to see what side effects certain chemicals or products might have on humans. These experiments most likely end up in death. The most common animals used for experiments include guinea pigs, rabbits, mice, rats, and farm animals. According to Humane Society International, 115 million animals are tested on every year. Inside an animal testing lab, most animals are screaming, lying miserably on the ground or trying to escape their cage. Animal testing is inhumane and unethical.

Admittedly some people feel nonhuman animal testing is necessary because it makes sure a product is safe and effective for human use. Neuropsychologist Antonio E. Puente, PhD, states, “the many ways such research contributes to our understanding of cognitive, emotional and social processes and to the development of clinical interventions.” They also feel that it is necessary because it has contributed to many life-saving cures. Insulin was directly discovered after dogs had their pancreas removed. However, they fail to see that it is unethical and wasteful. It is immoral to let 100 million heart beating animals to life in a laboratory where are they will know is to feel fear. They also might not realize, according to Michael O. Leavitt, former secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, states, “Currently, 9 out of 10 experimental drugs fail in clinical studies because we cannot accurately predict how they will behave in people based on animal studies.” Drugs that pass animal experimentation fail in humans, so it is wasteful but also unethical to put nonhuman animals through agony to get nothing out of it.

Ending speciesism starts with considering one’s own frame of mind. People need to start asking why it is that humans believe they are superior to nonhuman animals. “Any being that is a subject of a life has inherent worth and the rights that protect such worth, and all subjects of a life have these rights equally”. Nonhuman animals are stripped of their worthiness to live, that argument for ending speciesism needs to come from a place of empathy. Understanding that we share this planet with all living beings is a step forward in solving speciesism.

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