Frederic Remington - The great beast came crashing to earth

Frederic Remington – The great beast came crashing to earth – 1889 – ink on board 35x48cm

This artwork conveys such strong emotion, and says so much about where man has been and still is with regards this world and its creatures. Like the “domestic” cat there is still this part to our nature that links to attitudes and impulses for survival in more feral circumstances.

All creatures have a singular awareness and desire for living, finding joy and satisfaction in life when things go well; from the smallest ant carrying that massive crystal of raw sugar on a marathon trek across my kitchen bench, to the birds finding food and partners in the trees out the backyard, or to humans and our pets where we are most conscious of the individuality of creatures (having a separate existence or awareness and, if complex enough, a discernible unique individual character).

Man is at his worst when he thinks only of himself. Scientists believe they can be cruel if it is for the good of mankind, or simply because of our curiosity drive to learn more about our existence. The cruelest things are done when we believe we are doing the right thing. All those awful experiments with mice and animals and now with bees, done because we are curious.

Even when our intentions are good it is not always clear that our actions are beneficial for the creatures we would like to help. In the process of trying to help we may inadvertently make things worse. I’m not convinced all this business of trapping, measuring and tagging of animals is a good idea. Can scientists really be sure that the animal is not disturbed by the action; for instance, it may now avoid what was previously a safe route and move into taking a riskier option.

As well I worry about David Attenborough. Can he really say that at no time in the process or contrivance for getting his “dramatic” footage that animals were not interfered with or natural events interrupted in some way?

Also, what is the big deal about documenting a new species? Does that mean killing one and taking it apart? We send down a mini sub to the bottom of the ocean to not only observe the fantastic life forms but to bring them up dead for study and brag about it.


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