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Questions about animal rights and more answered for kids

This page is meant for the somewhat older kids, youngsters. It is about different kind of aspects of animal rights and our relationship with animals.

Do you have questions? mail us: kids@NOSPAManimalfreedom.org

 
Do we have the right to confine an animal?
Do we need to eat animals to stay in a good health?
Is one allowed to kill an animal?
Do animals love humans?
What does "respect for animals" mean?
Are humans of a greater value than animals?
What is the objection against free mutual trade between countries?
Are zoo animals really happy?
May we teach animals tricks like in a circus?
     
 
   

Do we have the right to confine an animal?

Animal Freedom thinks that humans and animals are different, but have an equal right to freedom. Freedom is the most important thing there is. Throughout the history of nature, there's never been an animal species that gave other animals so little space as humans do today with the bio-industry. In the past, pets used to walk around the house freely. They ate scraps of food, which humans left over and were eaten themselves at a certain moment.

Animal Freedom believes that we shouldn't confine animals in such small spaces (think for example of a goldfish in a bowl), in order that they aren't able to express their natural behaviour. We do think that putting a fence around a pasture, to make sure that animals won't escape, is all right. On the other hand, humans have the right not to be bothered by animals living next door. Freedom is bound by borders.
If you want a pet, it's a good thing to first consider whether you want to confine an animal. Don't get an animal from an asylum thinking that it will be liberated by you. After all, another animal will then take its place. Maybe it's a better idea to ask your parents to visit places, where you can meet animals, more often.
Animal Freedom believes that we shouldn't confine animals in such small spaces (think for example of a goldfish in a bowl), in order that they aren't able to express their natural behaviour. We do think that putting a fence around a pasture, to make sure that animals won't escape, is all right. On the other hand, humans have the right not to be bothered by animals living next door. Freedom is bound by borders.
If you want a pet, it's a good thing to first consider whether you want to confine an animal. Don't get an animal from an asylum thinking that it will be liberated by you. After all, another animal will then take its place. Maybe it's a better idea to ask your parents to visit places, where you can meet animals, more often.

   

Do we need to eat animals to stay in a good health?

No, we don't need to eat animals to stay in a good health. Nor need we drink milk or other dairy products. Milk is for young animals. Just as calves, children don't need to drink (mother) milk any longer once they are growing up. It isn't unhealthy to eat dairy products, but it neither is necessary.
Eating meat also isn't necessary. Indeed, meat contains some substances, which humans require, but these substances are first broken down to building blocks that are also found within plants.
Thus, eating meat is a detour. A valid argument for eating meat is that it takes less effort to stay healthy. If you don't eat too much meat that is! People like vegetarians, who don't want to eat any meat or fish at all, have to be more careful to make sure they ingest all of the essential building materials. This is even more for important vegans. People who want to sell lots of meat and dairy products will do anything to make you believe you really need it. They even make you think that animals want nothing more than to be eaten by you. Have they become stupid from eating meat?

   

Is one allowed to kill an animal?

In the Netherlands, you aren't allowed to just kill an animal. We do however make a difference between animal species. Killing an insect, like a mosquito, isn't prohibited. For a pet it's necessary to have a good reason if you want to have its life put to an end. You are not allowed to do that yourself. This has to be done by a veterinarian. Unless the animal's very sick or very old, the veterinarian won't put it to sleep.
Nor are you allowed to kill an animal you're going to eat. Only butchers are authorized to do that. In the Netherlands this arrangement is to prevent unnecessary suffering of the animal when it is slaughtered.

So what about hunters?

All hunters must have a hunting license to shoot animals and they only are allowed to shoot a few species. Hunting is prohibited during spring season when animals look after of their cubs.

But hey, don't animals kill each other in their natural environment?

Indeed, animals do kill one another in their natural environment. It often happens quickly however and the reason is almost always to obtain food and hardly ever for fun or out of annoyance.
Animals don't kill insects, but use their tail to chase off annoying insects. Killing to obtain food has happened for millions of years. Consequently, equilibrium has established between predatory animals and hunted animals. As long as animals are in good health and not too old their odds of survival are good. The same goes for plants. This way, nature stays beautiful. Death is the fate of animals that aren't able to take care of themselves (no more).
Animal Freedom has the opinion that animals have the right to come to a zenith of beauty before they die, just as humans. This is only possible in freedom.

   

Do animals love humans?

You'd think this is true, when a cat rubs up against you. Cats do that to mark your clothes with their scents. Other kinds of behavior, that give you the idea they love humans, are often related to the wish of the animal to be fed. In addition, many pets are bored, so they are in need of some distraction, like a dog. Humans often make the animals artificially dependent on them in such a way that it seems as if the animal appreciates the given care. You could say that many animals want to live close to humans, because there is much food to be found near them. Animals will make sure though they want get caught, because they like their freedom even more.

   

What does "respect for animals" mean?

Parents often say that you must have respect for other people. Usually they mean people who stand out because they are different. For example, they are old and because of that slower or they're from abroad and speak the language badly. 'Respect for animals' actually implies that as well. Animals want humans to keep a little distance. That's precisely what the word "respect" means. It's a Latin word and means (freely translated) that you'll have to keep some distance and first consider if others want to have contact with you. Many animals don't want to be picked up or caressed. Respect also means that you consider the correctness of your judgment. Some animals like dogs and cats appreciate a lot of attention; other animals like birds and fish just want to eat and to be left alone. There is not a single animal that appreciates being locked away in a small hutch. Respecting animals thus involves that you won't do something like that.

   

Are humans of a greater value than animals?

The value of humans is as great as they please. But what is the meaning of this word value? Values may be expressed in money, or in the amount time and effort one spends doing something. It's important to realize that no one is of such a great value that this allows him to do whatever he wants with animal and human lives. Or the other way around: No human or animal is so worthless that people can do with it whatever they want. In a way, their lives than become of less value.
People and animals, violating the freedom of others, run a risk of being killed by that person or animal.
Freedom for humans is one of few values for which they are willing to sacrifice their own lives. A much smaller group is also prepared to this for animals. This means that most people think humans are more important than animals. It does however not mean that humans are actually more important!
Animals are concerned with different things than humans; they know for example no ambition, sense of honor and a sophisticated language.
Humans and animals are equal in their right to freedom. You may appreciate differences and similarities between humans and in several ways, just as long as you respect the animals.

     
   

What is the objection against free mutual trade between countries?

From time to time all countries confer jointly about the regulations that should apply for mutual trade. These conferences are known as WTO-negotiations. What's going on?
Is freedom to buy and sell not very important, just as Animal Freedom represents freedom for animals. Isn't it important that people in other countries have enough money to buy food and other stuff?
True, but freedom can't be without borders, or otherwise it would be meaningless. If no one would have to act upon these borders, the strongest prevails. This applies between countries, in the schoolyard and upon the street. Because we already have a lot of free trade, you are able to buy cheap shoes of foreign manufacture and to buy apples from the far side of the world. Well that's good isn't it? Not always, for who manufactures these shoes? And who pays the price for the transportation of apples all over the world. Some shoes are manufactured by children in the Third World. If they must work all day, they can't go to school and than they don't have the freedom to choose a profession. Concerning the apples: People who haven't got anything to do with these apples contribute to the transport costs to your supermarket. This is done by means of taxes.

If the strongest can do what they want the weaker, liker elderly, children and animals become victims. Perhaps you don't feel sorry for grandparents and yourself, but just think about the circumstances of elderly and children in the Third World. They have nobody who looks after them. The pigs and chickens in the Netherlands (as in many western countries) are fed fodder grown in the Third World, on land whereupon people don't have the space any more to grow food for themselves. A part of the meat produced in our country is sold to the origin of the fodder. This means competition for cattlemen in the Third World. As a consequence some people over there don't make enough money to buy that meat or that there's not enough food supply from their own environment.

When each country in the world provides its own food, export shall only rarely be necessary, that would only seduce people into exploiting nature for that purpose. We are concerned with food made out of animals. For, if you want to make food from animals and you want to sell in other parts of the world, your selling price must be low. Otherwise, no one will buy it. The difference between the actual and the reasonably expected price is what the animals pay for. Therefore Animal Freedom thinks that meat (products) should not be exported to foreign countries and pleads that cattlemen in Holland will only keep cattle for internal market from now on. In exchange the farmer has the right to claim that consumers pay the costs involved.

     
   

Are zoo animals really happy?

Zoos were founded in the past by people who visited all corners of the world. They brought the animals home to show what kind of rare and beautiful species they encountered during their journey. That way, zoo visitors didn't have to travel themselves to see these animals. Of course the zoos made a fine amount of money by charging entry fee. But it became clear very soon that some animals weren't happy in this artificial environment. Because of the small space they had, many animals had to walk in circles. This is where the expression 'walking in circles' comes from. They were bored to death and eventually many of them went mad. Nowadays the composition of animals and their accommodation have changed. You hardly ever see predatory animals anymore, because these don't feel at home in small spaces, where they are incapable of hunting. Animals that are still being kept get as much free space as possible and their natural environment is imitated as good as can be done.
Zoo's are there for the public, not for the animals. If it is economically unattractive or otherwise unattractive to keep them alive, the animals are put to death (f.e. surplus and young animals that are not cute baby's anymore).
Because there's not much left of their natural environment as well, zoos received a new function: breeding animals that are threatened with extinction. It obviously is better to try and protect these animals in their natural environment too.
Animals are happiest in their own natural environment. This is why an Ecological Main Structure (EMS) is constructed. The EMS implies that all the small nature reserves will be connected to one another and to new reserves, in order that animals (and plants) can travel freely and encounter congeners. This will hopefully prevent them from becoming extinct.

     
   

May we teach animals tricks like in a circus?

In case you've read the answers to the pervious question, you probably know the answer to this one. Before we can make animals do tricks we first have to make them depend upon us. If they were to choose they'd never do tricks spontaneously. Why should they? Animals don't want to earn money or receive applause. They have no desire for such appreciation.
The position of animals can be compared to that of children. Children also depend upon adults and have to go to school to learn stuff, often against their will. Children too, prefer to be free. The major difference between children and animals is that children receive full freedom once they've become adults, whereas pets, circus animals and bio-industry animals never will. Animals Freedom thinks this is inequitable, don't you agree?