We as humans have often tried to take on a bigger role that is beyond our capacity. Over the course of our history, we have experimented in a multitude of ways that can be deemed as ‘playing God’. In the circle of life, we have established ourselves as the dominant species, thus, claiming control over the species around us.
In the case of animals, humans have dabbled in the creation of new breeds, with the intention to suit our needs or improve the animal’s ability to do so, which is regarded as a questionable concept in the world of science fiction. In the film, we see examples of this in a movie like the Planet of the Apes, where Caesar, the protagonist, is a creation of human engineering, made to outsmart the average ape, and is, in fact, becoming just as smart as humans themselves. Though our real-world examples don’t measure up to that specifically, humans have still tweaked and engineered the creation of other animals to their liking.
Look no further than the pets that humans have owned in their own properties. Dogs were initially bred to produce better hunters and herders; and nowadays, to be used as better pets, or show dogs. Breeds like pugs or French bulldogs, who are widely adored, become at risk of having respiratory problems, as well as being susceptible to overheating and having trouble sleeping, among other concerns that stem from this breeding alteration. Teacup piglets, as cute and small as they come, are attached to a plethora of issues themselves. They become malnourished because sellers told their new owners that they could live on a restricted diet, which led to them growing to unexpected sizes and seeking their own food in dirty places.
Worldwide, we find further examples of how humans have dictated the original traits of animals. Beyond the physical enhancement of horses for the purpose of racing, they have been altered facially, like the Arab horses with “dished” faces that have grown in popularity throughout the United States. This causes a dipped nose that also leads to respiratory problems, as a horse can only breathe through its nose, and this alteration can hinder its functionality.
Regarding these horses with dished faces, equine reproduction expert Jonathan Pycock has said that “The problem comes when you breed for particular looks and when those looks are detrimental to the horse’s health,” and that “This is a worrying development.”
It is important for people to be educated on the potentially damaging effects that animal trait alterations may bring. New Scientist states how The British Veterinary Association has provided guidelines to dictate how advertisers and sellers use animals for their products and events, but its impact is still up in the air.
This is a global and moral issue that needs to be addressed before it spirals down further. This extreme breeding and engineering for the purpose of cuter or faster animals must not come at the expense of the quality of their lives. We as humans must use this luxury towards bettering our fellow furry friends in a healthy, and positive way.
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