From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Animal rights in China: Galloping forward

Like the Eastern Han Dynasty’s Bronze Galloping Horse, China’s animal rights policy just took a flying leap forward.  However, unlike this bronze horse (which is stepping on a swallow), China’s new policy is upholding the rights of defenseless animals.

According to The Huffington Post, this new policy went into effect on January 18, 2011.  It includes the following zoo prohibitions:  no more routine extractions of tiger-cub teeth; no more body-part hawking in the souvenir shops; no more exotic animals on the restaurant menus; no more throwing of live animals to the big cats for sport; no more inadequate animal housing; and no more monkey-fighting showmanship.  Long-term lobbying by the Animals Asia Foundation has played a significant role in the adoption of this new policy.

Does this perhaps mean that the adoption of a significantly-improved Chinese human rights policy is not far behind?

Studies have long linked the treatment of animals to the treatment of humans.  PAWS quotes famed anthropologist Margaret Mead as saying:  One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it.  It also reports on the AniCare Model of Treatment for Animal Abuse, which is based upon research linking cruelty to animals with all sorts of violent human-to-human behaviors.  This treatment model shares some of the accountability aspects of China’s new policy.

If cruelty towards animals can lead to violence towards humans, perhaps a reduction of cruelty towards animals can also lead to a reduction of violence towards humans.  In 2007, AP writer Dennis Passa reported that this public statement was made by the Dalai Lama during an hour-long visit to an Australian zoo:  Taking care of animals is essential to developing more happiness in human beings.

Buddhism has long upheld the interconnectedness of all sentient beings.  As one of the major official religions of China, it might therefore be instrumental in extending increased rights to humans also.


Copyright January 23, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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