In other words, they are no different from us. Except that their bodies have adapted to different circumstances, resulting in different body plans, different capabilities, different ways of manifesting their thoughts.
Yet we enslave them, control their reproduction, abuse and torture them, outright kill them en masse.
It is impossible to live in "civilization" without being at least complicit with much of this destruction (just imagine for a moment the thousands of factories that are needed to put a cell phone in your hands).
It is, therefore, impossible not to sound like a hypocrite when expressing such thoughts.
Well, fine. Being a hypocrite is better than being an "all-in" abuser.
And while I am not yet at the point in my life at which I can say goodbye to cars and cell phones, there are things I can do to minimize my hypocrisy and avoid overt support to human devastation of others.
Which brings me to zoos and aquariums.
I can't do it anymore. I can't wander around exhibits, whether indoors or out, whether spacious or cramped, whether "humane" or neglectful, that restrain animals that should be living free. The justifications for these exhibits fall flat, sound weak and defensive.
And if you do find any of them even slightly persuasive, simply substitute "Ota Benga" for "elelphant" or "stingray" and see how it "reads."
I do not look forward to the next time my family - my granddaughters! - wants to go to the aquarium or zoo, and I have to say "No thanks, you go without me."
But that's what I will be doing.