Throughout history, people have endured many social injustices and abuses. Human beings have justified slavery, sexual violence, wars, and child abuse by believing, in error, that those who are “different” don’t experience suffering and aren’t worthy of freedom. Just a century ago, human beings classified as “different” by those with power often faced torture, exploitation, and even death.

We still have a long way to go in ending social injustice, but there are now some laws in place that forbid discrimination based on gender, race, religion, disability, age, and sexual orientation. Most of us are horrified to look back on the abuses inflicted on others once classified as “different.” Our society no longer believes that any human being has the right to enslave another human being for any reason.

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Our history of exploiting animals for “entertainment” also goes back centuries, yet we continue to steal animals from their families, lock them up, force them to breed and perform, and deny everything that’s natural and important to them for the sake of our own curiosity and amusement. When will we realize that ANIMALS ARE NOT OURS? And when will we make things right?

Here are four ways in which humans still exploit and betray animals:

We still lock them up in zoos


Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals 

No animal wants to be stuck in a cage and put on display. Zoo enclosures are extremely cramped and dull compared to the natural habitats that animals were meant to exist in. Depriving them of areas to roam, trees to climb, ponds to swim in, and space to fly keeps them from fulfilling their most basic needs.

We still confine them to concrete tanks in marine parks.

Seaworld orca trainer

SeaWorld confines orcas—who naturally swim up to 100 miles a day in the wild—to tanks that, to them, are the size of a bathtub. No animal would choose to be ridden like a surfboard or do other stupid tricks for a reward of dead fish. If given the opportunity, whales, dolphins, and other marine animals would live with their families in the ocean. Animals at SeaWorld and other marine parks are miserable and lonely.

We still beat them, chain them for days at a time, and make them perform uncomfortable tricks in circuses.

Ringling baby elephant training

Animals used in circuses are hauled from city to city in cramped boxcars or trailers and beaten in order to get them to perform on cue. Big cats are whipped or hit in order to “train” them to be afraid of the trainer and not to attack, and trainers beat elephants with bullhooks—heavy, sharp weapons that resemble a fireplace poker. When animals aren’t being trained or performing, they spend most of their lives alone, chained in arena basements or locked away in barren cages

We still force them to perform for television and films and then discard them.

Tell Nickelodean to Stop Chimpanzee Abuse  Featured Action

Animals don’t dream of being in show business—they’re forced into it by humans who want to make a profit. Wild animals used in film and television are routinely subjected to abusive training methods to make them perform. After they become unmanageable or are no longer profitable to their owners, they’re typically discarded—sometimes to awful roadside zoos. The American Humane Association’s “No Animals Were Harmed” seal of approval is extremely misleading to filmmakers and audiences alike.

No chains. No cages. No tanks. 

Animals don’t exist for us. They’re not here for our amusement or for us to force into captivity so that we can gawk at them behind bars or through the glass of a tank. They exist for their own purposes—and just like us, they want to be free. Together, we can make captivity a thing of the past. Find out how.

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