By David Worboys •
Published: 30 Nov 2023 • 12:06
Last month I read a short thriller in which animals vent their revenge on humans by attacking and destroying them. It was badly written, inconclusive and a waste of time – except it got me thinking.
The theme is that a pheromone substance is released into the air, which, through the vomeronasal organ, galvanises animals into identifying humans as prey. The substance diverts their natural instincts as, completely unprovoked, they rise up against humanity in a concerted effort, forgetting their own innate differences. Animals suddenly misinterpret human scents as attack pheromones. Ferocious wild animals start appearing in the streets with deadly consequences.
It affects all species – mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibia, fish and insects. Having been subjected to centuries of incredible cruelty, confinement and abuse by humans, it is their turn.
To avenge cockfighting, chicken factories and the millions of small birds imprisoned for life in cages, birds of prey start targeting humans. Condors rip open people’s faces and bodies in the Andes before migrating to join falcons in more populated areas. In recognition of the cruelty to dogs, chained up, beaten and used for illegal dogfights, numerous breeds suddenly become aggressive and attack or even kill their owners at home and members of the public in the streets. Freely roving farm animals, sensing the abuse of donkeys and the appalling conditions of intensive “farming”, attack their owners, unable to appreciate they are the lucky ones. Horses rear up and trample them; cattle charge at them and gore them. Wild boars and wolves run amok. Victims of zoos, circuses and hunting are avenged by their free ranging equivalents who, totally unprovoked, go on the rampage throughout Africa, America and Asia. Elephants, lions and buffaloes; from snakes and crocodiles to rats and hyenas, they all want to join in. And, of course, mosquitos and sharks.
Animal cruelty takes many forms. It may be one-on-one, such as pulling the wings off an insect for personal amusement or whipping an exhausted mule. It could be for “entertainment” as in dancing bears, bullfighting and horse-racing. Or negligence – by keeping an animal tethered for most of its life without adequate food, water and shade. Inhumane slaughterhouses or factory “farming”. Geese being force-fed to bursting point, frogs discarded with their legs chopped off and lobsters boiled alive.
Among other atrocities committed by humans are hunting, poaching and whale-harpooning. Experiments such as vivisection are performed on live animals. Marine life, trapped in nets, die a slow death or may eventually escape with serious injuries. The list is endless.
Many people, who would never dream of hurting another human, have no conscience in regard to animals, especially insects and fish. Harmless spiders, earwigs and salamanders are killed simply for being themselves. It is difficult to imagine that factory farming will cease to exist in a hundred years´ time and that human conscience will be sufficiently educated to care for all animals.
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