Opinion-in-brief: Time to get off the hamster wheel of animal cruelty

Hong Kong Goes on Hamster Crackdown After Shock Delta Flare
A worker with Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department disinfects the Little Boss pet store in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. Hong Kong, suspecting that imported hamsters may have spread Covid-19 to humans, ordered the culling of thousands of the small mammals, closed shops selling them and sent more than 100 pet shop visitors into quarantine camp as part of its increasingly fervent quest to eliminate the virus. Photographer: Chan Long Hei/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Yesterday, Hong Kong authorities announced they would cull 2,000 small animals – mainly hamsters – because they had caught Covid-19. There is no evidence that pets can transmit the virus to animals.

It is reminiscent of the Danish PM’s decision to cull all minks in the country in 2020. The mink massacre led to the resignation of the agriculture minister.

British parliamentarians were busy debating the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill. The bill would recognise that some animals have feelings and can experience pain. This would spell huge changes for animal breeding.

Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate keeping cows in tiny pens, separating calves from mothers, and fattening them up with antibiotics.

If these animals do have feelings – which is something scientists have argued for ages – this method of producing meat is simply cruel. Maybe, just maybe, the time has finally come.


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