I enjoy how this book raises the issue of why we treat animals the way we do. The author (Urbanik) discus’s how amazing it is to contemplate about how we think about animals currently. “We eat them, wear them, live with them, work with them, experiment on them, try to save them, spoil them, abuse them, fight them, hunt them, buy, sell and trade them, love them fear them or hate them” (1). We have all of these different approaches towards animals and have disagreements over why are some animal’s food and some animals’ pets. There are many different views on animals and their status in our society today about trying to save them and killing them for food. Many activist’s groups try to save some animals from getting killed while others are looking for fair handling of animals. A good example is the tiger. There are more tigers in captivity today as pets in United States than there are in the wild. We have always have had a interest with tigers and want to save them from their wildness by taking them out of the wild and wanting some of the wildness for ourselves. We see it with people keeping tigers as pets and as a way to connect with their power by using them as mascots, emblems, and cartoon characters.
In the 2nd Chapter, she talks more in depth on animal geography and the different phases it has gone through. When talking about animal geography, they first needed to study the animals. Study of animals was key part of discipline of animal geography and came to be known as zoogeography. This was seen as the first wave of animal geography and is defined as “the scientific study of animals on the earth and the mutual influence of environment and animals on the earth and the mutual influence of environment and animals upon each other” (28). Marion Newbigin, a Scottish geographer, viewed that animal geography should recognize how animals that live in natural regions form part of the features of that region.
The second wave of animal geography saw a rising interest in the impact of humans on wild animals and in human relations with livestock. The third wave or “new” wave is different from the other two by how a subfield that “focuses squarely on the complex entangling’s of human-animal relations with space, place, location, environment and landscape”. We usually see this with the use of animals as landmarks or visuals on buildings.
There are two different features that distinguish the “new” wave from the first two. The first is an expanded notion of human-animal relations beyond the domesticated livestock to include all locations of human-animal encounters and second that it attempts to bring in the animals themselves as subjects of their own lives- whether part of ours or not-instead of just as objects of human control.
Along with the topic of animal geography, she also mentioned Bill Lynn and his concept of geoethics. His concept provides a way to think through issues of right and wrong and how we can determine how we should live and interact with other species. He challenges paradigms such as anthropocentrism (Human matter), biocentrism (living beings matter), and ecocentrism (both living and nonliving systems along with their interactions matter) arguing that they are too rigidly ideal to be useful in sorting out human-animal relations. I like how geoethics recognizes both the whole (ecosystem) and the parts (individuals) that constructs a value paradigm with plural centers of moral value. For example, even though we might not treat a certain animal like a human, we should still consider them.
To be honest, the second half of the book wasn’t as good as the first half of the book. The second half started talking about the geographies of animal parts and about the first animal welfare legislation at the turn of the 19th century in England, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). The interactions of farmworkers and farm animals were talked about and how farmers felt like the only power that they had was over the animals and the powerlessness over human that they were feeling resulted in violence towards the animals.
We are accustomed to how we prepare our food today and how it is prepared. It hasn’t always been like it is now and the process of accessing water and food, the ability to protect and control a herd of animals, and breeding practices have changed dramatically. Post WWII period, the Western world changed the way animals were raised. With improvement in industrial technology, more animals were able to be confined in smaller living quarters, medicine was made to keep the animals from getting sick, and breeding was done that allowed for larger scale production. This led to what we have already talked about before, factory farms and how the mistreatment of animals in these farms have caused worldwide discussions about the mistreatment of the animals in the farms. We have really only talked about farms in these factory farms, but there are other animals as well. The bear for example is also used for their bile that the Chinese have been using in their medicine for thousands of years. Bears are the only mammal to produce ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), and demands for it are high, even though it can be produced synthetically now. China is actually the highest number of farmed bears today. As well as having the most bred tigers in their tiger farms, which is more than all the members of the six subspecies combined still in the wild.
Millions of animals are being kept on fur farms in North America, Europe, and Russia and are kept alive long enough to use their pelts for fashion. Animals are electrocuted so the coat is not ruined, which is wrong, especially since after all the talk about the mistreatment of animals.