Parents haunted by their negligence.


Parents take a child to the zoo, (not such an unusual occurrence)  the child aged four, ends up in the gorilla enclosure,  (somehow he crawled through a barrier and fell into the gorilla’s enclosure) the parents of the child are almost universally demonized, in a frenzy of comments in the media and social media,  especially by animal rights supporters.  The witch hunt has well and truly began.

The Mother tries to defend  herself,  “As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids. Accidents happen […],” Gregg wrote, as cited by several media outlets”.

It’s true that as a parent it is impossible to watch your child all the time.  Maybe as a parent I am over-cautious and protective.  Take your eye of a child and they could be doing anything,  drinking some toxic liquid,  running out into the road,  picking a poisonous mushroom…all is possible. There are so many appalling potential scenarios, we just hope that no such things happen to our child.

I don’t really like at all the idea of zoos, however I have taken my son on quite a few occasions. I have never been concerned for my son’s safety in terms of some unlikely  encounter with a wild animal, I have been more concerned  he could be snatched by some weirdo, or child predator.  Of course if I saw my son doing anything dangerous around an animal enclosure, I hope I would react quickly and decisively.

What can you do to make a young child safer?  Teaching  and trying to instill common sense, seems a good idea.  For example as parents we have already tried to instill road safety  into our three year old.  We try to teach him to look out for cars and look both directions before crossing the road. Of course he has no notions of the dangers of a speeding car,  but educating a child about potential hazards, should be a part of parenting.

I wonder how much of a percentage of people condemning  the parents are parents themselves? Some are saying the parents should be held accountable.

An eye witness’ account of the event is less damning.  Deidre Lykins viewed the drama unfold, and the boy dropping  into the enclosure. Her account is that she saw the mother calling out for her son and was next to him when he disappeared.  She claims the mother is not at fault, and went as far as to write on Facebook: ‘This mother was not negligent and the zoo did an awesome job handling the situation! ‘This was an open exhibit! Which means the only thing separating you from the gorillas, is a 15 ish foot drop and a moat and some bushes!’

Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the zoo should have had a second barrier around the exhibit adding “Even under the ‘best’ circumstances, captivity is never acceptable for gorillas or other primates, and in cases like this, it’s even deadly,” PETA said. Obviously if a four year old can enter an enclosure the fencing must have been far from sufficient. The zoo however claimed the exhibit opened nearly 40 years ago, and this was the first breach.

In a rather contradictory statement another eye witness said  the small child said he wanted to get in the water before the incident, to which his mother, who was also watching several other children, replied: ‘No, you’re not, no, you’re not,’

The zoo issued a statement “We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child’s life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made.”

Added to story is the fact that the father (of four) has a long criminal record, with offenses such as burglary, firearms offenses, drug trafficking, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and kidnap. It obviously does not take much time to dig up somebody’s shady past.

The fact of the matter is…that a beautiful animal,  the innocent party  in this saga, the Gorilla named Harambe, lost its life, through no fault of its own.  If the child had died, there would have been a different  kind of outrage.

Meanwhile in Japan a boy of seven was punished by his parents (his crime throwing stones at cars) by leaving him in an area populated by brown bears (renowned for being particularly aggressive). The parents had to change their story to the police, at first they didn’t dare tell the truth of their utter stupidity. .

Both sets of parents will be forever haunted by what has happened.  The eyes of the world are focused on their negligence.

The negligence of Kate and Gerry McCann is still to this day being called into question. While on holiday in Portugal, they went to dinner, leaving their children unattended.  Their daughter Madeline was abducted (although there are other versions) . Whatever happened that night is still a mystery but the McCanns have had untold criticism for leaving their children alone, from all manner of different people, including celebrities. Their guilt must be unbearable.  A parent’s worst nightmare.

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Z is for Zoos.

Serpent and Apple

What is your take on zoos? In one way  the very  idea of them is abhorrent to me.  Once working with children, we went on a day trip to a zoo,  I still remember the sight of monkeys, totally bored, totally depressed, while people on the other side of the bars laughed at them.

In some parts of the world most zoos  these days have moved on from the zoos of old when cement cages and steel-bar enclosures were commonplace.  The zoo closest to where I live Parc de Vincennes, having closed for a quite a long time opened with enclosures that seem to take into account the animals natural habitats.  Planners opted for limited, better-constructed habitats, allowing more animals, however smaller ones.  The zoo’s veterinarian Alexis Lécu, points out the team considered ecological needs and required habitat sizes for the nearly 1000 animals in the new spaces.  “We had to make some choices since we are limited.  We can’t have everything,” he said. Some animals  which were part of the zoo before the renovation were excluded,  for example there are no elephants,  or brown bears.

There seems a lot of positives about  this zoo, particularly some of the space afforded to the animals, however  I wonder think about the open space a Giraffe or zebra might normally cover in a natural habitat compared to the space it has in this zoo. A Giraffes long legs allow giraffes to run as fast as 35 miles (56 kilometers) an hour over short distances and cruise comfortably at 10 miles (16 kilometers) an hour over longer distances and like zebras are designed, and are built, to run across miles of terrain, something they cannot do in captivity. The chances are, that despite a conscious effort to improve the animals environment,  the likelihood is that it won’t  equate what the animal would have if free and the animal will most likely get depressed.

Unfortunately not all zoos are like Parc de Vincennes, . Take Giza Zoo in Egypt for example. Hundreds of their animals have died due to poor living standards and the fact that the zoo cannot afford medical care for their animals.

Essentially zoos are like jails, the animals have their freedom taken away from them and they are being  humans to gawp at them.  On the other hand, if you have a young child it is a wonderful opportunity to show them animals, such as Lions, and other wild cats, that they would have little chance of seeing (given that such animals don’t  exist in Europe).

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

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K is for killing animals

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Why is it that man despite years of evolution has this strong desire to kill often beautiful animals. Where is the pleasure? What is the thrill people get when doing “trophy killing”? Could you kill a lion? If you did would it make you feel more powerful, perhaps more manly? Apart from vanity why would any person on this planet want to kill something so beautiful? What is this desire to kill? You often hear the slogan “Man is a hunter”.  Since the beginning of time man has had this huge desire to kill animals, as if it is something genetic.

A major story in 2015 was when  a dentist killed a lion and the world went mental.

The dentist a man from Minnesota was vilified, verbally crucified, his name banded around the social media with the utmost contempt. His dentist career seems destined to come to a dramatic halt (I’ve always thought going to the dentist a paradox…basically it is one of the few activities you routinely pay to be tortured)…This dentist must have made mint, to be able to slaughter big game animals.  On the day he made his kill thousands of animals would have been dispatched in abattoirs, thousands of birds (pheasants)  happily flying in the sky, shot for  hunter’s pleasure, as well as other animals for the sake of “sport”. On reading the reports on this killing, it turns out this vilified dentist not only killed this beautiful lion, he also inflicted a long and painful death, the lion finally died exhausted and maimed…having being been chased for two days by his pursuers, having been lured from a safe reserve.  It has to be said with trophy killing big bucks can be made. I was brought up in a family in which it was almost a rite of passage that the males took to shooting pheasants. I have never killed a bird…I have caught fish… it’s true, but during my childhood. By the time I had reached eighteen, my ideals concerning animals had been formed.  The number of animals Prince Philip (the man who is found a few steps behind Queen Elizabeth  on ceremonial occasions) apparently amounts to 30,000…we are talking deers, rabbits, all types of wild fowl.  In two decades his guns have seen to the deaths of 150,000 pheasants. He has been tiger hunting in India and has shot a crocodile.  Killing animals is a big part of the British Royals lives…but at the same time they are the figureheads for various wildlife charities…killing yet preserving…

Not everybody seems hell-bent on  attacking this “infamous” dentist. You can usually rely on somebody defending the indefensible (apart from the PR company the dentist is paying to put his side of the story across).  Ted Nugent (I never really liked his music much anyway) who also happens to be a hunter and gun activist, claims people upset by this lion’s death are in his plain simple words “stupid”. It is the old “hunter’s refrain” of such animals need to be controlled.

If rich people or members of the aristocracy  want to pay vast sums of money to go on “space tourist” trips into space… or spend money on yachts the size of football pitches, this is fine… but to go on trophy hunting trips to kill beautiful animals, that is another thing.  Killing an animal for your own “pleasure” or gratification is something I really can’t fathom…Sitting next to a lifeless creature, you have managed to place a bullet in…what does it do for the killer…You have to imagine the likes of Prince Philip must be psychologically imbalanced…there must be something psychopathic in his nature…to want to kill such a number of animals.

Next time you visit your dentist…I hope this dentist is not a psychotic animal killer…Sorry if you are a dentist reading this, maybe this man from Minnesota, is far from representative of your profession.

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

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The social media in a stir about pulsating meat shock…let them eat tofu


What strange meats have you eaten? Do you have any regrets? Have you ever been tempted to turn vegetarian? Perhaps you were vegetarian and then relapsed? What strange meat would you like to try?

Twitter is in all of a fuss over a disturbing video appeared showing a slab of raw beef appearing to pulsate.
This caused a melee of Social media users to consider the drastic step turning vegetarian after watching the disturbing footage. Haven’t they thought about what they eat before?
Some put this freaky zombie steak pulsations due to it being infested with maggots.
The video was taken in China’s Shandong Province where a woman thought the slab of meat was “beating” like a heart…surely causing some wannabe horror film maker to salivate over a potential idea for a film.
I once met a man who told me he had eaten lion. He was a really nice man for Cameroon. It wasn’t strictly legal, an “under the table” dish. There are some people who believe eating lion will make you strong…Apparently in 2010, an Arizona restaurant served up lion meat burgers in honor of the South African football World Cup. This “gimmick” naturally sparked criticism, but at the same time drew in a fresh set of patrons, eager to try the gamey meat.
Horror food
Have you ever eaten “Foie gras” …well think again…it is made from the grotesquely enlarged livers of ducks and geese who have been cruelly force-fed. Although France is the biggest producer (and consumer) of this so-called “delicacy”—France produces more than 20,000 tons of foie gras each year—force-feeding takes place on a few duck farms in the United States as well.
Then of course there are “torture chambers” for animals, namely factory farming… animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy, windowless sheds and stuffed into wire cages, metal crates, and other torturous devices. These animals will never rear their families, do normal activities that would come naturally to them, root around in the soil, build nests. Most bereft of the warmth of the sun and only get experience fresh air on the day they’re loaded onto trucks headed for slaughterhouses…what kind of existence is that? Well their only animals for God’s sake…but then consider this quote by one of the greatest men to walk this earth, Leonardo da Vinci “I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.”
The basic principal of factory farming is to exploit these animals to the maximum, while limiting the cost, with no consideration for the animal’s welfare. Squeeze as many animals as possible into the smallest amount of space will result in booming profits for large corporations.
The next time you tuck into your buns filled with mutated chickens with extra limbs, tube-fed genetically modified organisms…your taking just another chunk of “horror food”
Francis H Powell, is an author, his recent book is Flight of Destiny, follow him on Twitter, @Dreamheadz . For more information on Flight of Destiny