Whether it is my animal zodiac sign of Tiger that is believed to be highly incompatible with anyone with that of monkey, let me just clarify that monkeys are my least favorite animals. However, that doesn’t mean that I should not feel strongly about the article from a recent issue of BBC Wildlife about the U.K.’s primate trade accompanied by the title photo of the baby marmoset named TikTok. Call it milk of human kindness. I cannot just leave the pages closed and forget about it as a piece of memory. The images and words still haunt me, which prompts an enduring reckoning, resulting in writing this essay.
The primate trade in the U.K. and here in the States evokes the human history of slavery. Under slavery, human lives were counted as chattel, and the families were continuously disintegrated because of volatile trade-offs. On the same token, keeping primates as pets seems no less different from colonialists or slave owners whose eyes were set upon the exotic physical attributes of the people they subordinated.
The article has also taken me to my brief research into the U.S. primate trade with the following facts: in 2012, 19 states, including California, where I live, had outright bans on private monkey ownership. The primates are considered a threat to wildlife and public safety and health because their habitats and nature are not agreeable to our environment despite our conventional knowledge of primates as the closest to our species lost in the evolution tree. Come to think of it, the idea of “Planet of Apes” has a point in reversing the directions of gaze from humans to apes, and vice versa, showing us why the two species could not cohabitate by confining them in the opposite environments.
We should not think of animals as live toys or ornaments that will satisfy our whimsical, capricious tastes. From pets to wildlife, animals are not our property but companions. I know it for sure when I feel a little heart of my cat Toro sleeping at my feet.
RE: July 16th, 2018 article of “On the Grounded in Commerce City, Colo. : Inside America’s tomb for illegal wildfire trade by David Kelly of the Los Angeles Times
Imagine the vistas: a cornucopia of a mounted tiger fetus with its tiny ears, a grand giraffe head, a pair of shiny python skin-made thigh high boots, a black bear’s toes coupled with its gallbladders, and many more artifacts made out of animals that will never cease to blindside your vestige of humanity and overawe your tactile senses. If your mind tells you to think that the imagery is but a visceral affectation of a surreal painting of Salvador Dali, you just think yourself awake in the stupendousness of dreamlike morbidity. They are just a few illustrations of taxidermic animals confiscated in the course of international illegal trafficking of endangered animals exhibited in the National Wildlife Property Repository (the “Repository”) located in Commerce City, Colorado.
My opinion on the report of the Repository as to its existence and nature is threefold: First, I can’t believe that there is such a horrendous and macabre exhibition of the animals killed and stuffed – and in the shoddiest way – open to the public, especially aimed at school students. Second, the grim underworld of a huge illegal trading market where a great demand of the coveted animal products is constantly met with a colossal supply of the dead animals is a stark reality even in this age of technological supernova. Third, it shudders me to think the wantonness of avarice and gluttony for which the sinners would find themselves in the third and fourth circles of Dante’s Inferno. What’s more, the fact that the Repository of such abhorrent kind is located not in the outpost of civilization where the artifacts of the sorts would be regarded as a cultural tradition but in Commerce City in Colorado chills me to the bone.
It is reported that the purpose of the Repository is to educate the public on the gravitas of poaching and trafficking of endangered animals systematically perpetrated in global criminal syndicates of Chinese origin active in South Africa. However, I am concerned about the effects it intends to produce, however noble it may seem, which will likely work at cross-purposes, even counter-productively, pace its original intention to raise social awareness and ethical context of the issue. It might be all over but the shouting that rather than promoting awareness of destruction of the ecological system and its inevitable adverse impacts on mankind as well as the nature itself, the sight of the mutilated dead animal bodies and/or parts may be regarded as a freak show for those who have bizarre tastes of necrophilia and/or sadism emanating from the perceived sensual pleasures of watching animals torn apart from rib to rib, ear to ear, or head to toe in perpetual torture.