It seems we can’t get enough of funny animal videos. Indeed, it would be difficult to calculate the collective hours of our lives lost to (enriched by?) footage of cats in boxes, parrots dancing, crows sledding, and dogs, well, dogs being dogs. We are endlessly fascinated by animals at play. But an unusual thing happens within the genre of funny animal videos, which is that it’s one of the few forums focused on animal personalities in which farmed animals are also welcomed and celebrated. Case in point is the latest funny animal video to take the world by storm, “Chèvres en Équilibre,” or, the incredible Balancing Goats. Since it was first uploaded to youtube on February 17, this footage of joyful goats delighting in a game of trying to balance on a sheet metal hoop has garnered nearly 8 million views. (For the record: while I got a big kick out of seeing these goats play so happily, I felt very sad for the big guy on the tether. More on that later.)
While it’s true that goats’ highly curious, clever natures seem to lend themselves to particularly comical situations (see also: Baby Goat on a Pig), goats aren’t the only farmed animals who make us LOL. There are also:
Funny animal videos starring chickens
Check out this rooster getting a blow dry:
Then go from tears to laughs with Flipper the Shoe-Wearing Roo:
Funny animal videos starring cows
This footage of jazz enthusiast bovines has won the hearts of nearly 8 million viewers.
Funny animal videos starring sheep
Hide and go sheep. This one speaks for itself.
Funny animal videos starring pigs
The field of funny pig videos, while large, is overwhelmingly dominated by the micro or mini pig. And while these adorable little oinkers get up to some hilarious hijinks, we’d be remiss not to mention the full-sized (make that queen-sized) “cochin comédien” known as Esther the Wonder Pig. A glorious ambassador for ill-fated farm pigs everywhere, Esther is a formerly slated-for-slaughter farm pig herself, now living safe and free from harm with her happy family of two Dads, two cats, and two dogs in Toronto. Earning nearly 100,000 followers in only a matter of weeks, Esther’s facebook page is a veritable internet sensation, updated daily with funny photos and videos that will have you, well, snorting with laughter. Fair warning: you’ll never look at pigs the same way again.
So all of this fanfare begs the question: why do we love cute videos of animals that we then (some of us) eat? Perhaps it’s because funny animal videos allow us to see farmed animals as unique individuals with distinct personalities, just like our beloved cats and dogs. They have as many different moods, preferences, joys, idiosyncrasies, games, pleasures and delights as our companion animals do; as we ourselves do. In short, they cherish their lives. Yet farmed animals on even the most so-called humane farms suffer abuses and indignities we would never inflict on the animals we love. And all so we can eat their flesh, milk and eggs that we have no biological need to consume.
Philosopher Albert Schweitzer once wrote:
“As in my own will-to-live there is a longing for wider life, and for the mysterious exaltation of the will-to-live which we call pleasure, with dread of annihilation and of the mysterious depreciation of the will-to-live which we call pain; so is it also in the will-to-live all around me, whether it can express itself before me, or remains mute.”
The quoted passage is from Schweitzer’s treatise The Ethics of Reverence for Life, perhaps the wisest and most beautiful ethic I know. Which reminds me: please don’t miss Free from Harm’s favorite happy animal video of all time; we saved the best for last. You can see the video, and also learn more about living vegan, here.