Animals Are Wonderful—in Their Place
THROUGHOUT the ages, man has benefited from the animal creation. Besides providing dairy products and wool for clothing, some animals, such as the camel, donkey, horse, elephant and water buffalo, have long furnished power for transportation or heavy work. Man’s interest in animals, however, has not been limited to their utilitarian value.
Back in the second millennium before our Common Era, the patriarch Jacob used a variety of animals—from the lion cub and strong-boned ass to the horned snake and slender hind—to describe characteristics among certain of his twelve sons. (Gen. 49:9, 14, 17, 21, 27) And in his far-ranging wisdom, King Solomon spoke not only of the trees, from the cedar to the hyssop, but also “about the beasts and about the flying creatures and about the moving things and about the fishes.” (1 Ki. 4:32, 33) So, man has long appreciated the animal creation for more than its material benefits. He has found it an intriguing subject for investigation and a genuine source of enjoyment.
Yes, how much richer in interest life on this planet is because of the animal creation. A walk through the cool shade of a forest is pleasant in itself. But when you see an occasional squirrel or chipmunk or hear their chatter, or listen to the song of a thrush, or watch a woodpecker drilling his way in to his meal in the bark of a tree, does this not add greatly to your pleasure of being there?
Best of all, these creatures reveal something to us about our Creator. The enormous variety of creatures inhabiting earth’s land and seas simply staggers the imagination. And their different forms, colors, living habits and abilities give reason to marvel at their Creator’s wisdom, the incredible scope of his artistry and inventiveness.
Source of Companionship
Men have also found a measure of companionship among animals. Particularly on farms, a boy and his dog sometimes seem inseparable. At night, the lonely shepherd finds enjoyment in the presence of his sheep dog. Similar relationships develop between the cowherd and his horse, or the Arab bedouin and his camel. But in these cases the creature usually serves some basic purpose other than just companionship. That leaves another category of animal relationships: that of “pets.”
Not just dogs and cats, but baby alligators, boa constrictors, panthers, otters, monkeys and just about any creature you might find in a zoo can also be found in some homes around the earth. The disciple James’ words are as true today as they were nineteen hundred years ago: “For every species of wild beast as well as bird and creeping thing and sea creature is to be tamed and has been tamed by humankind.”—Jas. 3:7.
However, as an article in Life magazine (April 9, 1971) pointed out: “The experts agree [that] wild animals make poor house pets—and most homes make very poor zoos.” One dealer in “exotic” animals states that “75% of all imported animals die within the first year.” The noise, frequent damage to the home, as well as the smell, often leave the owners of wild animal pets disenchanted. Frequently the “pet” winds up in a backyard cage, a roadside zoo, or is destroyed. Large zoos generally do not want these animals, since they have been spoiled as far as living peaceably with other zoo animals is concerned.
A major problem is that the owner’s freedom is often greatly limited by having a so-called “exotic” pet. Owners of large cats, such as leopards and lions, find they not only cannot afford to have good furniture or rugs, but they often are afraid to leave on a vacation, finding it extremely difficult to have the wild animal cared for in their absence. Life quotes a lady who owns a South American jungle cat as saying: “For all the lack of freedom you have by owning them, and for all the lack of freedom they have by being owned by you, you might as well make them into fur coats.”
It seems evident that, in many cases at least, certain animal pets are simply “out of place” in homes. Some are of such size and nature that they were obviously made to roam the wide open spaces or slink through the deep forest or jungle regions. Others, like the alligator and otter, were designed to be around bodies of water. Others need trees (not living-room chandeliers or curtains) to climb about in. Still others need food that is simply not native to the area of the owner’s residence. When they are brought into the residence of humans, something, as it were, ‘has to give.’ This is true to a lesser degree when the animal is kept in the family yard. The ‘giving’ is largely on the part of the owner and may involve remolding one’s way of living to accommodate the animal.
Owners sometimes go to amazing extremes to accommodate a pet. One family with a pet otter had two bathrooms in their home. The humans all shared one and turned the other over to the private use of the otter. As the Life article reports: “Slowly, many owners find the pet has become the master.”