A man in China wanted to impress two female onlookers by breaking into the enclosure of a sleeping panda. The man scaled a four foot tall barrier, passed over a 10 foot deep moat to sneak into the panda enclosure. He repeatedly poked the sleeping panda on the head until the panda woke up and grabbed the man by the jeans, not harming him but warning him to get out. He quickly left the enclosure and the zoo.
This is something that is occurring all too much (Harambe, Cecil the Lion, and many more) where ultimately the animal because the victim and ends up dying because a human wanted an interaction that wasn’t warranted.
As much as I would like to argue using Kant’s Humanity Formula, animals are not members of the moral community in Kant’s eyes (which I think is wrong because they do suffer at the expense of their wellbeing due to human fault; simply a means to an end for human entertainment such as zoos).
Instead using Plato’s Ring of Gyges it becomes a clear argument that people will act unjustly because they can get away with it no matter the expense of the victim, in this case a sleeping panda.
We act unjustly, whether it be to impress in this instance or get ahead or whatever the excuse may be, because we can get away with it without suffering consequences even though in Plato’s argument that is what prevails us to act justly. In the case of Harambe a mother was not watching her child and he fell into the enclosure where the ultimate consequence was the animals life, not a human consequence.
Luckily this situation didn’t end as so, but what is to say that it won’t be happening again? If we continue to act unjustly to impress at the fault of an animal, when will it finally be enough to call recognition to the issue at hand?