Schoolchildren petting alpacas is a form of speciesism

PETA have a very strict set of rules in respect of the relationship between people and animals. In fact, I’m sure that they regard people as another animal. I can completely understand it because we are. This strict approach to the use and abuse of animals underpins their decision to criticise St Edward’s Prep School in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK for letting its pupils pet and look after alpacas.

Alpacas at St. Edward's Prep School
Alpacas at St. Edward’s Prep School.

PETA have said that it is speciesist to look after and pet alpacas. Most people and organisations would see the idea of pupils looking after an petting alpacas as a good thing but PETA take an entirely opposite viewpoint. I have to say that I’m totally with them on this. Although you have to do think outside the box to understand their attitude.

They say that schools should be forbidden from having animals.

“Like sexism, racism, and all other toxic ‘isms’, speciesism – the idea that other species are here for humans to treat as toys or props, use, and abuse – has no place in an educational institution”.

They go on to say that:

“Edward’s Cheltenham should not be teaching children to view animals as objects for their amusement but rather be instructing them in what we know today about their sentience, intelligence, emotional life, and behavioural needs. Responsible parents should question the ethics of arranging for infant animals to be taken from their loving mothers and sold to the highest bidder. Peta urges Cheltenham Borough Council to reject the school’s animal “wish list”, and we’re rushing some of our humane education packs to the school. We hope that teachers and students alike will be inspired to replace lessons in insensitivity with ones in respect and kindness.”

Female alpacas cost between £3000 and £10,000, while male studs can fetch as much as £50,000.

The school says that their animal project is carried out to a high standard. The hygiene standards are excellent and the project is seen by 315 families who visit the school.

My take on PETA’s stance is that they take this very strict black-and-white attitude towards our relationship with animals, which sets an incredibly high bar, because it is the only way to improve standards to the point where animals are treated as equals to humans and have the same rights.

I totally agree with the objective of animals having the same rights as humans. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t have. It is simply the human psyche which has driven people to look down on animals as creatures to be abused and used to the advantage of humans.

Logically, and on a moral and humane basis, there is nothing that can support the human abuse and use of animals. So even keeping domestic animal is out of bounds for Peta. I agree. Cats and dogs were domesticated to benefit people. Of course the original wildcat arguably self-domesticated himself because he benefited from the relationship to but going forward 10,000 years from that moment, I think you would have to argue that, taken as a whole, the domestication of the cat has been a failure.

When you consider aspects of the relationship such as declawing in the millions and the tens of millions of unwanted cats in the US killed, not euthanised, at shelters you can’t come to a conclusion other than that it’s been a failure. Throw in the 80 million feral cats in America and the abuse that afficts them sometimes and once again you’re driven to the conclusion that the domestication of the cat has failed. There are many other examples.