Last night I had a dream that had to do with kindness. (It was the focus of a message at church Sunday, so probably that was the brain stimulation...cool huh?!) The dream progressed into a discussion about cultural behavior and how they're seen by other cultures (YEAH I DREAM WEIRD, OK?) and when I woke up the primary thought stuck in my brain that I had been getting ready to say was "Christians aren't always logical, but they should always be kind." I check the news in the morning and looked at the story about the female trainer killed by an Orca at SeaWorld. The comments caught my eye and got me thinking about the topic of right and wrong when it comes to animals. We used to love going to SeaWorld in Ohio until they were bought out. We went ONCE during that transition and were dismayed to find changed in the animal behavior. Dolphins that previously seemed happy and affectionate remained out of view except to come and snatch up food being offered. I asked about this and was told there was no longer adequate supervision, and ignorant parents were allowing their kids to misbehave around the dolphins, so they had learned to fear the visitors instead of enjoy them. We never went back. I've always justified visits to such places as SeaWorld and zoos because I know the money goes to conservation costs, and they charge an arm and a leg for extras and it's all good. People enjoy the animals, and in many zoos the keepers are trained and skilled to keep the animals comfortable, safe, and as happy as possible in their settings. The zoos try to recreate natural settings as far as is logical and possible. I never would go to a circus and hated seeing exotic animals at fairs, as most always they were not at all cared for in an appropriate way and knowing a tiny bit about animal behavior, it appalled me to recognize the signs of extreme distress. Right now we hold year long family passes to our local zoo. I never had felt right that such places exist, but it seemed needed because most people won't care or pay for conservation without seeing the animal and developing a sense of attachment to nature. Rarely do people get the chance to see animals up close. We've always enjoyed it, but one of the comments I read on the SeaWorld story made sense. We have other methods of education now. The amount of knowledge is high and highly available to the masses. There is the Discovery Channel, tons of nature shows on television, National Geographic. The books, magazines, movies, and all that are available. On the other hand, scientists can learn a lot about animals from keeping them in a zoo and studying them. But does that justify as many zoos as we have, and exploiting them with human training and such? We have been admonished in Scripture to care for the animals. Are we violating or helping uphold that when we become part of encouraging zoos and SeaWorld's and the like with our money?