“What we believe about the world, its nature, our place in it, and our purpose here, informs our behavior and shapes our relationships with ecosystems, people, and other species. If we believe nonhuman animals are simple and not complex, are not like ourselves, are here for the purpose of serving our whims and manufactured needs, are less than us, beasts, commodities to be sold, bought, and killed, then with that worldview belief we will treat them as a means to an end, and without question, subservient to humankind.” — Will Anderson
When a Facebook friend of mine Corvus Strigiform sent me this photo he took of caged ducks in a transport truck, I immediately thought of Suzanna, the Pekin duck I saved a few years ago from slaughter. And I realized that Corvus had provided me with a strong visual counterpart of the fate I spared Suzanna who now lives in a sanctuary near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
And years earlier, I remember ordering that duck breast entree on the menu. It was a choice based on a whim, an interest in trying something “different.” And I didn’t even like it. But during the process of ordering and eating that duck breast, I never for a second identified it with the once intensely-aware animal who was bred into this world only to be fattened up and slaughtered. There should be absolutely no mistake, ducks that are raised for their meat, as those pictured here being transported to slaughter, suffer an abysmal end to their short lives just to satisfy someone’s trivial menu choice, like mine.
Corvus Strigiform recently shared his “eyewitness” story with me about how he discovered these ducks. At the time, Corvus was living in Pittsburg and was on a trip with his partner and their child to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. They were enjoying the scenic drive when Corvus suddenly spotted a truck up ahead with what looked like feathers coming out of it. They pulled over next to the truck.
“I hung out the window to see there were ducks piled into crates, some of them dead and squashed under the others. They were terrified. It was obvious. I could see and feel their confusion and fear. I stuck my arms out and started taking images. We eventually decided to keep moving, that at that moment, all we could do was bear witness,” wrote Corvus.
They later stopped at a rest stop and found the same truck full of caged ducks. Corvus got out to take more photos. “My partner stood a little further away with their child, trying to make a decision on how to explain what they were seeing in the least damaging way. “Mommy, why are those ducks so broken?” the child asked. It broke our hearts. She talked about the broken ducks for a long time after that,” describes Corvus.
“As we finished up our photos, the truck driver started his truck and began to drive away. We realized then that he let us take the images. He wanted us to see. He was another piece of the machine forced to do a job just like we were forced to watch and do nothing to free them. Because of the world we live in and how it treats animals. I gained a feeling of humanity for him, thinking of what it must have done to him to cart all of those suffering lives to the slaughterhouse.
Lucky for us we were able to go to the farm sanctuary after and show my partner’s child some ducks that were not broken, who were saved from such a fate. We showed the owners of the sanctuary the images and they said they were likely headed to or from a foie gras facility nearby.
It was bittersweet. A beautiful sanctuary in the Catskills juxtaposed with the memory of why it existed in the first place.
I’ve never forgotten that vehicle from years ago. I have seen a lot. But it sticks out in my mind as one of the more disturbing things I’ve witnessed. It reminded me that no matter how ‘humane’ (or as I like to say, ‘less horrific’) a farm can be, this is always the fate of the animals. The terrifying transport and then the slaughter. My love for animals and decision not to contribute to their exploitation was already made when I saw the truck. But the truck added a new dimension to my understanding of their suffering.”
See photo gallery of Suzanna.