On the 1st of July 2015, American dentist Walter Palmer shot and killed Cecil, a lion famous in Zimbabwe, who had been living Hwange Park. Palmer lured Cecil out of the enclosement, shot him with an arrow, and let him roam around injured for 40 hours, before being finally shot, skinned, and decapitated. Public outrage generated quickly over news of the death of Cecil. High profile celebrities such as Judd Apatow, Mia Farrow and Ian Somerhalder have all taken to Twitter to express their anger and disgust for Palmer’s heartless killing of Cecil. It has been reported that Palmer has gone into hiding, facing numerous threats against his life.
PETA has made a statement announcing that Palmer should be hanged for his misdemeanor, not surprising for a group that has questionable marketing techniques and actions. As per usual, there have also been a number of conservatives complaining about no such hype and outrage being made for the harvesting of fetal tissue in Planned Parenthood clinics. However, a majority of people on the internet have reacted strongly to the death of Cecil, being angry and outraged, some saying that Palmer should have the same thing done to him.
This has made me, and many other people concerned about the well-being of animals all over the world, ranging from vulnerable lions, to factory farmed chickens and pigs, think: “Why can’t people have such a strong reaction to the deaths of all the innocent animals out there, especially the ones confined and tortured in factory farms? Why do people find the death of one lion so disgusting and vile, when they mindlessly eat meat that comes from corrupted and exploitative factory farms, where the animal gets abused and slaughtered mercilessly?”
I realize that the murder of Cecil the lion is not completely comparable, or the same to the millions of animals killed for food each day, but I don’t think we should overlook this issue. According to IUCN Red List, Lions are considered Vulnerable, one step down from endangered. We also don’t farm lions for food, which makes it hard for some people to see the sense in comparing a lion to factory farmed animals. Additionally, Cecil was a lion that was famous in Zimbabwe, so the amount of outrage over his death was more amplified than the death of a lion on another wildlife park in another country. Another reason why the public reacted so strongly to the death of Cecil was the way in which Palmer went about in the slaughter of the lion. Luring him out of his home, while injuring him and letting him limp around injured for 40 hours, then skinning him and decapitating him, seems like the most inhumane and disgusting way you could kill an animal. It is completely vile, and there was no compassion or any amount of humanity to Palmer when he did that. All these reasons, along with the fact that Palmer killed Cecil simply for pleasure and fun, explain why so many people were completely stricken and rage-filled about the death of Cecil.
There are people like myself, who believe that animals are sentient beings, which can feel pain, love others, and make connections and bonds. They all have specific personalities, and they have desires and interests. Anyone with a pet would know that their animal is an individual, and that is completely possible to have an attachment and bond with them. That is what I stopped to think about when I heard about the death of Cecil. Why can’t people be outraged for the deaths of billions of animals a year in the food industry, animals who are more often than not, made to live lives a fraction of their normal lifespan. Animals who are subjected to abuses every day, who endure immeasurable pain, just so we can have a quick fix of a cheeseburger, or a mince pie? The horrors of the meat industry have been kept partially at bay by the massive corporations in charge, and by the government who supports the atrocities, by Ag-gag laws, CAFO’s in hidden locations, and by proving that disinformation and propaganda can influence people’s decisions. People seem to live in denial that the meat they eat comes from a live animal. They use the four N’s to justify their consumption of meat. It is natural, it is necessary, it is normal, and it is nice to eat meat. But just because things are commonplace and legal doesn’t make them right. Slavery was legal, slavery was an age old practice that people used the 4 N’s to justify the abuse. However, that doesn’t justify it.
Many people don’t think it’s worth it. Many people believe that all animals are equal, and that all animals deserve life and happiness, not just Cecil. The death of Cecil is a tragedy, but it can also be used to bring to light the atrocities that go by unnoticed by a majority of the population every day. ALL ANIMALS ARE CECIL. All animals deserve to be fought for, just like we all would have fought for Cecil.