It’s sad Cecil got killed. He looked like a majestic animal in the prime of his life. And from all accounts the economic benefits he brought to the people and animals around him were immense.
It’s even sadder that he got shot by a man with more money than sense. $50,000 to kill a lion? What kind of world can he possibly inhabit. But then there’s little to be gained from gasping in wide-eyed astonishment at what really wealthy people spend their cash on. That way lies madness.
I feel a deep sense of unease, though, at the outpouring of grief, indignation and animosity that Cecil’s death has attracted on social media. Like fox-hunting, it is a red herring to anybody who is seriously concerned about animal welfare.
Presumably all these people who are so indignant about Cecil being killed (or about the possibility of fox-hunting being reintroduced) eschew intensively reared pork products? Or how about intensively reared chicken? Turkey?
There are real issues in animal welfare much closer to home, and we are talking about millions of animals. More than two million chickens a day are eaten in the UK alone. How many of them are free range? Judging by what I see on the supermarket shelves, it’s a small proportion. Battery hens have seen an improvement in their lot. But they still live in small cages and have miserable, short lives before being sent to the chicken pie factory. And the issues associated with intensively reared pork never really gets any airtime.
The real shame about this is that we could actually have an impact on these issues, because we could all just stop buying factory farmed pork and chicken. It would change the industry overnight.
Free range meat is a bit more expensive, but we could all just eat a bit less of it if we need to stick to a tight budget. So why don’t we? Do we not care?
The sad truth seems to be that most people don’t really care that much about animal welfare if it’s not waved under their noses.
Cecil is a celebrity lion. We definitely need to look beyond the cult of celebrity when thinking about animal welfare.