History of Animal Abuse Essay

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According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the word Spectacle is defined as “Something exhibited to view as unusual, notable or entertaining. Especially: an eye catching or dramatic public display”. What is it about human nature or our predisposition that makes us crave a spectacle or a reason to see others making a mockery of other humans and animals? Over the age’s animal abuse has been both transparent and dense. For example, public slaughtering’s and executions in Roman and Middle Ages in relation to our current level of ethical treatment in the realm of circuses or zoos.

Animals in human history has been around since the beginning of time, evidence of this was documented by our Paleolithic ancestors 32,000 years ago through cave paintings. Animals until this time were hunted for as a means of survival from starvation and harsh climate and were later used as work animals for plowing land and bearing heavy weight. Public slaughter events became popular and widespread throughout Roman cities beginning in 186 B.C. Romans held long standing traditions of killing large numbers of wild animals as ritualistic means as well as entertainment. This again is just one example of where this type of interaction started. Many believe that this was established out of fear of what these animals could do to livestock and people of the villages/empires.

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In the Middle Ages instead of condemning an animal for no reason at all other than for fun the performance was amplified, animals were then tried by a court of law. Animals were given defense attorneys to contest on their behalf for the crime they were being charged. Animals were subject to the same punishment as people. A pig in 1266 was burned alive at an assembly after he lost his case for eating a child. Others were hanged, buried alive, and even mutilated. Swine were often a problem around young children during this time. In 1386 a pig was dressed in children’s clothing, mutilated, followed by an execution. These are just a few examples of historical events, since then animal cruelty at the hands of humans has become denser and behind the scenes. Looking now at hot topics of modern-day ethics: Circuses and Zoos.

Circuses on united states soil has been around since the early nineteenth century and in the beginning were about human spectacle. Animals have not always been the center of this spectacle, humans have also made a spectacle of one another. Barnum and Bailey for example would take regular people who were outcasts in society and make them famous. Hundreds or thousands of people would flock to these events to see all of the abnormal people and their genetic mishaps. After that became old news exotic animals were introduced into around the mid nineteenth century with the first elephant performer.

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