Monkey See, Monkey Do
Man may not be the biggest, best or most sociable of primates, but he has mastered the art of subjugation…
“The majority of husbands remind me of an orangutan trying to play a violin.”—Honore de Balzac
The expression “monkey see, monkey do” has fallen out of favor since its heyday in the 1920s, but the idea of mimicry with limited knowledge and ignorance of the consequences is with us still.
Man may not be the biggest, best or most sociable of primates, but he has mastered the art of subjugation.
Consider, for example, Safari World in Bangkok, Thailand. Described on its website as “Thailand’s greatest open zoo and leisure park that offers a great variety of entertainment for everyone,” adding that “Safari World has it all,” that all includes orangutan boxing, a presumably “good-natured show,” according to the Daily Mail, “for the amusement of locals and tourists.”
We’ve seen boxing kangaroos and fighters wrestling octopi, but watching orangutans in a ring wearing boxing gloves and trunks is a new wrinkle on an old abuse.
PETA, naturally, has leapt to the animals defense, because that’s what they do, it’s their raison d’être. Meanwhile, people who can no sooner afford a fur coat than a Lamborghini will instinctively reach for PETA’s throat, because that’s what they do.
Samantha Fuller, a teacher from America working in Thailand, saw the show and was appalled. She said the orangutans are “so smart…they can tell when they’re being laughed at—it upset me so much I had to come home and shower just to wash it all off.”
That might be nothing more than Lady Macbeth crying “out, damn’d spot!” as she tries to wash the blood of the king of Scotland from her hands, or it may be more prosaic.
Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, told Metro.co.uk, “It is shocking that such cruel and exploitative treatment of animals continues for the so-called ‘entertainment’ of tourists.
“Orangutans are highly intelligent and sensitive animals that share 97% of their DNA with humans and they do not belong in a ring where they are dressed up and made to fight.”
The argument against such lily-livered assessments is that orangutans are only animals, unlike us hominids, who are of course only animals.
But for those who fail to appreciate the thought of orangutans in the square circle, Safari World, in a fitting touch to the Thanatos/Eros paradigm, also has orangutans in bikinis holding round cards.
A PETA spokesperson said, “When you see these animals performing what are uncomfortable and stressful tricks, know that they’re not doing it because they want to—they’re doing it because they’re…often subjected to electric shocks, cigarette burns or beatings if they do not obey in training.”
“Electric shocks, cigarette burns or beatings” may be a way to get recalcitrant fighters to the gym, but it’s inappropriate for animals who can’t talk back.
“Orangutans are also arboreal—they swing through trees—so the act of standing up on curved feet is hard enough for them.
“Many of those animals who are disrespected and abused at these tacky tourist traps were also torn away from their mothers within days or weeks of birth.”
Will the complaining never end?
I lament the collapse of civilization and those with a fondness for ruins, but if somebody out there doesn’t take up Safari World’s defense, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.