Animal Emotions

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'Animal Practice' Canceled: Faulty Media Fails

This show has been canceled due to protests about animal abuse and inaccuracies.

Because of my interests in nonhuman animals (animals) I was very curious to see what the show Animal Practice would be all about. However, when I saw the teasers for the then-upcoming series, I was horrified by how the animals were portrayed with a total lack of respect and dignity, and I also questioned the training techniques that were used to get them to do stupid and unnatural things.

I wrote to NBC to protest the inaccurate and repugnant representation of the animals and how their treatment of them was thoroughly disrespectful and demeaned who they truly are, and I figured that was it. Well, I was wrong, and happily so. I've just learned that NBC has canceled the series (see also). The ratings for the show were very low, as they should be. People want to know about other animals as the beings they really are, not as silly or stupid individuals as some media portray them to be.  

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This news story is worth noting because it shows that people are becoming increasingly intolerant of the misrepresentation of other animals and how they're trained—in many/most cases, coerced or "broken"—to do stupid things and dressed up in silly human costumes (see also and also).

More and more people also are offended by knowing that these animals are often torn away from their mothers and other family members and friends to be used solely for entertainment. In addition, shows like Animal Practice send the message that it's okay to keep exotic animals as pets, and of course, nothing can be further from the truth. Cruelty is no laughing matter

Cruelty and the misrepresentation of animals can't stand the spotlight and I applaud NBC for pulling this ridiculous show. The protests and positive move by NBC must be used to spread the message that media must be held responsible for portraying other animals as whom they are, not as what we want or make them to be. This is a wonderful precedent and warning that faulty and misleading media will no longer be tolerated. 

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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