Should we ban the use of animals in sports?

Should we ban the use of animals in sports?

Should we ban the use of animals in sports?

The use of animals in sports is an intense topic of debate and ethics in today’s world. Throughout history, humans have utilized animals in traditional sports and entertainment, ranging from horse racing to bullfighting. The main concern, however, is whether sport needs to do away with using animals since societies are developing and thoughts about animals’ well-being are now clearer than before.

History of animals in sports

Throughout history, people have engaged in sports involving animals, often for entertainment or competition. The Greeks and Romans participated in chariot races and engaged in gladiatorial combat with animals. While sporting activities such as horse racing, dog racing, and bullfighting have become popular within the world today.

Heather Browning, a philosophy lecturer at the University of Southampton in the UK specializing in animal welfare, ethics, and consciousness, expressed concerns about the Melbourne Cup in Australia. “The race has become increasingly controversial due to the frequent occurrence of horses falling, breaking their legs, and dying.”

Joanna Grossman, a senior policy advisor at the Animal Welfare Institute in the United States, highlighted the issue of people administering drugs to animals or whipping them to achieve the desired performance, often due to the high stakes involved.

Animals can feel pain

Should we ban the use of animals in sports?

Animals have the ability to feel pain, suffering, and fear. In the past, there was a lot of debate about the extent to which animals could experience these emotions, which unfortunately made it easier for people to take advantage of them.

However, in recent years, a group of researchers from various fields has come together to study animal sentience. They are dedicated to understanding the capacity of animals to feel pleasure or suffering.

It is now widely accepted that mammals like dogs, horses, and primates can feel pain just like humans do. This is because their brains are very similar to ours in structure. Additionally, there is a growing consensus that birds and fish are also sentient beings, capable of experiencing emotions.

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More Bans on Greyhound Racing

Should we ban the use of animals in sports?

Greyhound racing, a popular sporting event that involves greyhounds chasing a mechanical lure around a track, has faced increasing bans in various countries. This sport, which used to attract more spectators than horse racing, has been a source of entertainment for many years.

However, recent scrutiny has shed light on the confinement of these animals to lonely lives in kennels, the harsh training methods employed, and the fate of the dogs once they are no longer needed for racing.

“The welfare of these animals is a major concern, especially considering the punishment-based training methods used to ensure their performance,” Browning expressed.

Currently, dog racing is legal in only 10 countries worldwide, with four of them being in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland).

Wild Animal are Losing Popularity

Should we ban the use of animals in sports?

Wild animal performances are losing their appeal among audiences. The traditional circus acts that involve animals like elephants, tigers, giraffes, and lions are facing growing criticism. People similarly disapprove of including dolphins and other marine creatures in shows centered on sealife.

Trainers subject these animals to mistreatment in order to conform to their expectations, according to Grossmann. This goes against their natural instincts as wild and exotic creatures, who should ideally be roaming freely. In some cases, trainers resort to forceful methods to make them comply.

Several countries worldwide have prohibited the use of wild animals in circuses, including Bolivia, Costa Rica, India, and Iran. However, it remains legal in many European nations.

In 2021, a million European Union citizens advocated for a continent-wide prohibition on the utilization of wildlife in circus performances following a study revealing that nearly 90% of animals rescued from European circuses experienced behavioral issues, self-harm, or physical ailments due to practices like declawing.

France, the EU member state that has previously housed the largest number of wild animals for circus purposes, has opted to outlaw their presence in shows starting in 2028.

Conversely, in Germany, exhibiting wild animals in circuses remains legal. This is in spite of surveys indicating that 75% of Germans oppose the practice, coupled with a growing awareness of the challenges faced by lions, bears, and primates during transportation.

Browning stated that it seems impractical to offer an animal a spacious and complex enclosure while it is always in motion.

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The Future of Blood Sports is no more

Blood sports, like bullfighting, where a bull and a matador engage in a public spectacle, have increasingly sparked controversy.

Humane Society International (HSI) reports that organized fights claim the lives of approximately 250,000 bulls every year, rendering it a highly contentious issue.

Grossman strongly condemns this “extremely violent and cruel” sport, which she believes is rooted in brutality. She views it as a clear example of causing unnecessary and unjustifiable suffering, where humans terrorize and ultimately kill animals.

However, there is some positive news as various jurisdictions and countries have taken steps to ban different forms of blood sports, signaling a shift in public opinion.

Many countries that once embraced bullfighting have now banned the practice, such as Argentina, Canada, Cuba, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Only eight countries globally permit bullfighting, with Spain, France, and Portugal as the only European nations where it is legal.

And while Grossman acknowledges that there will always be individuals advocating for the legality of blood sports, she has noticed a growing public concern for animal welfare.

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Is there still a way to responsibly keep animals in sports?

The welfare of animals in sports heavily depends on how they are housed and cared for. Owners euthanize many animals once they are no longer useful, after spending a significant portion of their lives not participating in the sport. This is why strict regulations are crucial, as stated by Browning.

However, merely implementing laws is not sufficient. “We must ensure that there are an adequate number of inspectors who are consistently carrying out their duties,” she emphasized.

Grossmann pointed out that social media has played a role in revealing what goes on behind closed doors. “It has allowed the public to witness firsthand the reality of the situation,” she remarked. Browning concurred, suggesting that exposure to animal abuse could potentially deter individuals from supporting events where such cruelty takes place.

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