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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Is domestication ethical?

By Jack Ashby, on 28 November 2011

Necessary or Unnatural?

Much of human society involves domesticated animals, from food and transport to pets and clothes. Is it wrong to breed individuals together to select for desirable traits? Should we be interfering in evolution? Does it matter what the reason is? Many domesticated animals are now unable to survive without human intervention. If domestication is unnatural, is it wrong? Necessary or Unnatural? display

This is the newest question we are asking our (online and actual) visitors as part of the QRator project, whose main presence is on the iPads in the Museum.

The specimens we’ve displayed along side it raise these points:

Wild boar are dangerous to hunt. However, in their domestic form, they provide a valuable source of food.

Dairy cows are selectively bred to produce as much milk as possible despite subsequent health problems.

Pekingese dogs can’t breathe properly and subsequently overheat due to their flattened faces, which are selectively bred for aesthetic reasons.

White tigers can only be produced in sufficient numbers for zoos by inbreeding. This causes serious defects and 80% infant mortality.

What do you think? Get involved in the conversation on the QRator website, and come and visit to see the display for yourself.

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