In today’s society, animal abuse and cruelty is sadly the norm. The desensitization to animal pain and exploitation starts at a young age for many people. Some children are brought to circuses, others have visited a petting zoo, and most children attend a field trip to the zoo at some point during their school career. The idea that is solidified through these experiences is that animals basically exist to somehow benefit our existence. They are jesters, props, food, living exhibits – not sentient beings that deserve respect.

Sadly, unless challenged, people maintain this way of thinking through adolescence and eventually into adulthood. Some will keep the desensitization trend alive and bring their own children to zoos and circuses, others will simply eat meat and dairy without a second thought, and a select few will go on to become deeply involved in an activity that directly harms animals. Sport hunting, for example, is a multi-billion dollar industry across the U.S., UK, and Africa. And people who participate in this activity tend to be very vocal about their support of the industry, a task that is somewhat easy when you’re on the other side of the gun. But what happens when a pro-hunting advocate sees an animal die a slow and agonizing death right before their eyes? What happens when they realize that hunting may actually be as cruel as those trying to ban it claim it is?

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Well, for Sir Ranulph Fiennes, a former pro-hunting polar explorer, it was enough to completely change his mind about the industry. Despite the fact that Fiennes previously spoke at pro-hunting events and even accused politicians of using the hunting ban for political gain, he retracted his support in its entirety after witnessing firsthand the death of a fox who was being hunted down by a pack of dogs. Fiennes and his wife recognized the fox as a frequent visitor to their farm who had actually raised some of her cubs nearby. They called a vet and tried to get the fox to eat medicine, but sadly a few days later they found her curled up, dead in a field shelter next to the house. The disheartening scene upset Fiennes so greatly that he decided to completely reverse his previous plan to support the government in their desire to repeal the ban on fox hunting.

“Hunts talk about wildlife management, but the only ‘wildlife management’ hunts do is the raising of fox cubs to be hunted or baited,” said Fiennes at the Conservative Party conference organized by League Against Cruel Sports. “They talk about tradition. But the so-called tradition of terrifying wild animals for pure enjoyment is now, as it always has been, a brutal and insupportable self-indulgence.”

We couldn’t agree more with Fiennes. No animal deserves to die simply for the entertainment of others or purely for tradition. Despite the fact that hunters like to claim that foxes die a “quick and painless death,” the scene that Fiennes bore witness to reveals that this is hardly the case every time. Sometimes it takes seeing the abuse and cruelty firsthand and putting yourself in the place of the animal, for people to truly realize how unjust an industry we blindly support is. While we find it very unlikely that every single pro-hunting advocate will be put in a similar position as Fiennes, or would even feel similarly if presented with the same situation, we hope that this explorer’s words and thoughts will get more people thinking about the types of industries they support.

Image source: RT Images/Shutterstock