The word "animals" conjures up many different images in our minds. When people think of animals, do they think of them in a zoo, in the wild, as pets, or as humans (and, after all, we are animals)? Do we respect them as part of our universe, or do we consider them inferior and don't care what happens to them? Our attitude toward animals often reflects the way we treat each other.



An example of that is the small child who begins to tie cats' tails together or drowns kittens and grows up to be a rapist or serial killer. That is the extreme, of course, but history shows it to be true. The Boston Strangler was said to have trapped dogs and cats and shot arrows at them when he was a child. Jeffrey Dahmer, though he was reputed to love animals, was obsessed with their dead bodies when he found them, and we know what he did later to dead human bodies.



Conversely, people who have shown a respect and love for animals have contributed a great deal to our knowledge of them. Dian Fosse, whose story was portrayed in the movie with Sigourney Weaver, "Gorillas in the Mist," studied mountain gorillas in Africa. Her research led to her fight against the extinction of these great and intelligent creatures.



We, as humans are part of this environment and share it with animals of all species. Unfortunately, we are destroying a lot of habitats that not only benefit the creatures that live in them, but us as well. Many of our medicines come from rainforests, yet we continue to tear down trees in many parts of the world. There are many animals living in these rainforests who are on the verge of extinction. The jaguar from South America, many species of monkeys and the Bengal tiger are just a few.



Our abuse of animals doesn't stop at ruining or eliminating their environment either. Poachers are still killing the animals for their tusks or horns. Asian elephants and the rhino are both on the endangered species list. If we are to save these animals and ourselves, we must find alternative solutions.