Meet Bob and Dorney

My best friend Ju gave me two African Dwarf Frogs for my birthday.

I have to admit, i suffered a temporary crisis of conscience after whiling away my first hour with them in silent awe, because i hadn’t yet figured out for myself whether keeping pets is ethical.  This same moral dilemma is what moved me to let my parakeets go sometime in middle school or junior high, in the full knowledge that they would die in the “wild,” and probably within the hour.  I wanted them to be free, and i felt i had no right to own them.

So do i have a right to own these frogs?  I don’t know.  Should they be confined to my tank?  I don’t know about that either, but according to breeders, they’d be much better off in my tank than in a local river.  These frogs were raised to be kept as pets, so i’d essentially be committing murder if i released them.

I understand all that, but i’m still not comfortable owning them.  I don’t even know if they’re happy with me or comfortable in their tank.  And i’m not okay with pet breeding, period.  I don’t think humans have a right to breed animals for their own pleasure.

So i had these frogs in my hands, and i didn’t know what to do with them.  I liked them.  They’re adorably quirky.  For a while, i cursed Ju for having given them to me in the first place.  But she had given me a thoughtful (and unique!) present, and i didn’t have the heart to return them.  And, i liked them.

I’m still not sure where i stand on the matter, and i can’t help but feel like a hypocrite, but for now, i’m just trying to take good care of them and give them a happy little home.  When (and if) i leave for Seoul in August, i’ll have to leave a friend in charge of taking care of them for a year or two, and while i’m over there, i think i’ll read Animal Liberation (even though i really don’t like Peter Singer) to educate myself on animal ethics.  Maybe that’ll help me decide what to do about this in the long run.

And with that, i’d like to introduce Bob and Dorney (Bob’s the lighter-skinned one and Dorney’s the dark-speckled one):

Sorry about the poor quality.

ADFs are nervous wimps (after all, they can easily be swallowed whole by any aquatic creature with a mouth big enough for them), so whenever they need to surface for air, they jump up for a quick gulp and dart back down as fast as they can to hide under things, even each other!

^ Bob standing upright just like me

^ Checking themselves out?

^ These guys can swim fast…  In the background is a Southeast Asian wooden instrument carved in the shape of a frog.  I like to fuck with animals’ heads by showing them inanimate representations of themselves.  Does that make me sadistic?

^ Bob in one of his “zen” positions, sleeping.  ADFs will freeze in strange positions.  Sometimes they will balance on one foot with their arms and legs outstretched.  This is called “burbling.”

^ The new and improved tank, with Bob cautiously peeking out from their preferred sleeping quarters, the big moon snail shell in the middle.

^ Dorney sittin’ on a leaf

^ ADFs are shy creatures that love to hide.  Here, Bob is peeking out from the left moon snail shell and Dorney has his head buried under the dinner plate shell.


Filed under announcements, ethics, nature

4 responses to “Meet Bob and Dorney

  1. Interesting post. I’m not sure what I think about owning pets – I’ve never really thought of it that way. I don’t eat meat because I don’t think it’s ethical to do so, or to grow /breed animals for human consumption. I guess the pet industry is the same way and I should be against it.

    Do you eat meat?

    • n

      Conveniently, i already have this post up on meat consumption:

      Basically, i take the Darwinian view on this: any natural and evolutionary behavior is okay to engage in, so i eat meat. I guess you could argue that animal domestication for purposes essential to human survival such as farming (e.g. raising cows for plowing) is evolutionary, but i can’t think of any reason that could justify pet keeping. Is companionship a human necessity? I’m not sure. I should read up on the history of animal domestication…

      • Humans are different from other animals. We don’t need to eat meat for survival, so how can you justify it? We don’t need meat to evolve. We may have needed it once, as hunter gatherers, and I would say if you’re going to starve without meat it might be acceptable to have it. But I don’t see how eating meat can be ethical or moral or even necessary in any way in our modern society here in the U.S. There are also significant environmental consequences to eating meat. Ultimately we’re destroying our own environment by growing animals for our consumption. I really don’t see how this is acceptable in any way. I also think it’s strange to claim that killing an animal in the least painful way is not animal cruelty. Isn’t killing an animal cruel in itself?

        • n

          humans are natural omnivores, not herbivores. if we were at the evolutionary stage where we could be herbivores, we wouldn’t have a body meant for eating meat, which we do:

          “According to a 1999 article in the journal The Ecologist, several of our physiological features “clearly indicate a design” for eating meat, including “our stomach’s production of hydrochloric acid, something not found in herbivores. Furthermore, the human pancreas manufactures a full range of digestive enzymes to handle a wide variety of foods, both animal and vegetable.” (link)

          you also have to consider nutritional needs. if morality is a factor in a non-meat-eating person’s argument, then i think veganism would be the only suitable option, since vegetarianism includes animal products whose production may have involved animal cruelty. but veganism leads to vitamin B12 deficiency. some mushrooms have B12, but not enough for human health, and high quality soil has it too, but that’s not enough either, and you’d have to eat your vegetables unwashed, which could be dangerous, what with all the pesticides. and docosahexaenoic acid is a an omega-3 that only fish have and humans need.

          as for the environmental damage argument, chicken production contributes no more than 1 percent to global GHG, whereas rice production contributes 1.5 percent. more than half the weight of the rice we eat goes into the air as methane. point is, there are so many things that harm the environment more than cattle production. in the larger scheme of things, wouldn’t it make more sense to de-industrialize the world rather than eliminate a food group that the human species has been feeding on since as far back as humans existed?

          taking all things into account, i think Kevin Slaten said it well:

          “None of this means that we should ignore the pressing threat of climate change. But the plan of action need not be as bombastic as cutting out an entire section of the food pyramid. At the policy level, a carbon cap could tax the worst polluters in the livestock industry. Meanwhile, more money should be invested in technologies like in vitro meat and methane capture and storage. As consumers, we should think about diversifying our sources of dietary protein, eating less beef and pork and more dairy, poultry, fish, and soy.” (link)

          so as long as there is no bulletproof argument that a veg diet is more natural (not ethical) than an omnivorous one, i don’t have a problem killing animals for consumption. because it’s what nature intended.

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