Monday, May 5, 2008

tragedy at the Derby

A beautiful horse, Eight Belles, died on the track shortly after the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. Perhaps you hadn't heard? That's because the press was furiously covering the victory of Big Brown, while she was laying in agony elsewhere on the track. I applaude People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for not allowing this tragedy to slip under the radar.

After the race, she collapsed from 2 broken ankles......and was euthanized right there on the track. Among other questions, PETA has launched an inquiry about whether she was injured before the finish, but was "whipped" into continuing. PETA is seeking a ban on whipping, limits on races and the age of racehorses, and a move to softer, artificial surfaces for all courses. And they want the jockey suspended.

I have mixed feelings about animals as "entertainment". Certainly, I find the circus abhorrent. However, venues like Sea World arouse my inner conflict on this issue. While it has been documented that the park's treatment of the animals is by no means despicable, I cannot help but assume that an orca would rather be swimming in the Gulf of Alaska. On the other hand, I appreciate how interaction with the animals gives the public an educated appreciation for them. And an awareness of their plight in the wild. I'm particularly aware of the benefits that manatees have received from Sea World.....the residents at their manatee exhibit are ever-changing because they are rescued manatees that are undergoing rehabilitation, courtesy of the park's experts, facilities and resources. And then they are released back into the wild. Because of this exhibit, public awareness of manatees has increased dramatically.....people from Ohio and wherever now know what a manatee is and that they're endangered, and why. So, I believe that although Sea World is a for-profit organization, they have some noble motivations.

The Kentucky Derby, however, is nearly 100% motivated by money. OK, and tradition. But is the public ennobled by seeing horses run around a track? I doubt that most who won Big Bucks by betting on Big Brown were concerned with the suffering and loss of Eight Belles as they counted their winnings. And I doubt that if there were no monies at stake, that many spectators would be interested in this race at all. And there would be no race. And no potential for horses to die this way.

I did not watch the race, but was appalled when I heard the news later. This is not an isolated's the second consecutive year that a horse has died as a direct result of injuries sustained in the Derby. Remember Barbaro last year?

I'm with PETA on this.....

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