Last week in Cophen­hagen, the city’s zoo killed a 2-​​year-​​old giraffe named Marius with a bolt gun to pre­vent inbreeding. His body was dis­sected in front of school­children, his remains then fed to hungry lions.

Despite 27,000 people signing a peti­tion to stop the killing, and an offer of a new home, the zoo would not be swayed.

The story got inter­na­tional atten­tion — and the public outcry was so extreme that the zoo’s sci­en­tific director received death threats.

At the same time, of course, vio­lence raged across Syria, famine loomed in South Sudan and sto­ries of chil­dren beaten or mis­treated sur­faced in America. Was there as large an outcry?

When reports of animal vic­tim­iza­tion reach the news, they seem to over­shadow traumas and tragedies that befall human beings. Not a month passes, it seems, without at least one story of some act of animal cru­elty fol­lowed by hun­dreds if not thou­sands of people denouncing it.

But do people really care more about harm to dogs than to humans?

To find out, we had 240 stu­dents at the school where we teach, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, read one of four fic­ti­tious news sto­ries that depicted either a puppy, an adult dog, a human infant or a 30-​​year-​​old human being severely beaten with a base­ball bat. The stu­dents were then asked to rate how much sym­pathy and dis­tress they felt for the assault victim.

Read the article at New York Post →