Fear of the Animal Planet: The Hidden History of Animal Resistance

Fear of the Animal Planet: The Hidden History of Animal Resistance

Jason Hribal

Language: English

Pages: 125

ISBN: 2:00240063

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


“Until the lion has his historian,” the African proverb goes, “the hunter will always be a hero.” Jason Hribal fulfills this promise and turns the world upside down. Taking the reader deep inside the circus, the zoo, and similar operations, he provides a window into the hidden struggle and resistance that occurs daily. Chimpanzees escape their cages. Elephants attack their trainers. Orcas demand more food. Tigers refuse to perform. Indeed, these animals are rebelling with intent and purpose. They become the true heroes, and our understanding of them will never be the same.

“Animal fables, jungle books, Aesopian tales were the discursive evidence of cross-species interaction that survived into modernity as children’s literature. When the carceral replaced the domestic system, as the zoos, circuses, and laboratories became the primary site of interaction replacing the barnyard and the wild wood, the animals began to resist. Here are their hidden stories. Jason Hribal takes us behind the zoo scenes, the phoney exhibits, and cute displays to reveal an ugly economy of exploitation, international trafficking in exotic animals, over-work, cruelty in training, incessant and insolent teasing from the public. He chronicles the escapes, the assaults, the demand of food, and the refusals to reproduce that resulted. Here is animal resistance neither “wild” nor “instinctual” but responses to specific injustices. Single-minded, eccentric, and delightfully cranky, Hribal is the annalist nonpareil of animal escape. With light but unforgiving misanthropy he carefully names the animals (the pachyderms – Jumbo and Tinkerbelle, the primates – Moe, Kumang, Little Joe, the sea lions, dolphins, and Orcas (Corky, Kasatka) while leaving the keepers, trainers, and showmen in shameful anonymity. From the escape of Tatiana, the Siberian tiger from the San Francisco zoo, to the latest orca killing Hribal relentlessly gathers the evidence to witness these risings of the creatures.” —Peter Linebaugh, author of The Magna Carta Manifesto and The London Hanged

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only did the animals have a history, they were making history. For their resistance led directly to historical change. In the case of Tatiana, her eyes were burning bright that Christmas day. She inspired others and brought about larger questions concerning captivity and agency. Concerned citizens, animal advocacy groups, and the City Board of Supervisors all got involved. Even the Wall Street Journal published an article exploring the incident. The San Francisco Zoo, for its part, still has not

receiving no veterinary care for the disease. Tillie remains at the ranch. Moja Newspapers referred to her simply as “M.” Was this a key anonymous source? An unknown serial killer? Or, maybe, a protected crime victim? In actuality, the answer was none of the above. M. was an elephant, who lived at the Pittsburgh Zoo. An eight-year resident, she had just days earlier injured a handler. Yet, when questioned by the local media, representatives for the park—who on normal occasions are quite verbose

facility was forced to try artificial insemination. Ah, success at last. Two females, Kri and Tique, became pregnant. Shedd triumphed the news to anyone who would listen. Finally it would have its calves. Wrong. Kri’s calf ended up being a stillborn. And Tique neglected to nurse hers. Was this a refusal to reproduce? The aquarium suggested that it was simply a matter of maternal inexperience. Tique’s calf soon died of starvation. Chuckles at the Pittsburgh Zoo never had sex. He spent much of his

built-in to their performances to deal with whale work stoppages. “You have to make allowances for the animal,” one administrator acknowledged, “because they can recognize the show ending…They will just stop and refuse to perform.” To prevent such strikes from ruining the show, he continued, “a lot of variability and flexibility is built into our shows.” If trainers are losing control of a situation, they will often switch whales. If this doesn’t help, they will distract the audience by giving a

the nets around some of the pod, a torch was lit on the stern of the fastest chase boat. Then the captors started to light the underwater explosives (seal bombs). As fast as they could light them, these were dropped in the water to drive the whales into the circling nets. It was a tragic scene. Some whales were inside the net and some were outside. The whales were crying out to each other. Explosives were going off, motors were being revved up full, captors were using pike poles to push and drive

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