Pet Shop Boyhood
When I was a kid, there was a little crowded pet shop at the mall. I would go there to look at the budgies and parakeets, the guppies and guinea pigs. I remember the smell of wood shavings and pet food, the cacophony of parrots and the burbling of aquarium pumps... Then the shop closed and the space became part of a grocery store.
How long would an animal live in one of those cramped cages at the store? What was the casualty rate? How often did they make a sale? Did the owner keep backup animals at home, to be able to re-stock the cages? Where did they get the merchandise from in the first place? Were there guinea pig wholesalers?
There seem to be few pet shops around these days that keep birds and mammals for sale on the premises. My gut feeling is that any animal that needs to be kept in a cage is simply wrong as a pet. But then again, if the animals thrive and procreate, I suppose a suburban cage is an excellent biotope. Gerbils certainly don't seem to mind.
As my friend Jens Heimdahl has pointed out to me, in nature there's no right or wrong, only adaptive success and failure. So abolishing pet cages would actually be to destroy valuable habitat. I guess only an over-sized brain can make an animal believe that abstract freedom is more important than abundant food, shelter and safety.
[More blog entries about pets, ethics, freedom, Sweden.]