|Primates as pets~ not OK.|
We don't watch a lot of broadcast TV (we have hulu), but one show we have been turning on regularly is Tensai! Shimura Doubutsuen, a variety show about animals hosted by comedian Shimura Ken, probably best known to the internet for this sketch (the show ran from 1987-1993, not sure when the specific clip aired):
At first I was really against watching Shimura Doubutsuen for a number of ethical reasons, particularly the frequent appearance of Pan-kun the chimp, the featuring of exotic pets and the whole concept of zoos in general. Tiger really wanted to watch it, though, and I believe it is more constructive to watch a show I object to with him and talk about what bothers me as we go rather than banning him from watching something he is interested in. So, we started watching it, and although I have the same concerns now as I did then, I can also see the good the show does in promoting rescue dogs and positive training approaches.
Shimura Ken travels Japan with his rescue-dog Chibi, drawing crowds whenever they go and showing a cute and well-mannered dog with frequent references to his past as a 捨てられた犬, an abandoned dog. The good this must do in promoting awareness of rescues and raising the image and status of rescue dogs is obviously very valuable. Since we have started watching it regularly the show has also been featuring updates on two seriously traumatised nihon-ken who have been rescued and are being rehabilitated by the programme. Having spent their lives confined in a tiny space the two dogs were at first afraid to even come out of their kennel, but on a recent episode one was not only able to take a short walk outdoors but even raised her tail, probably for the first time in her life. I'm not the slightest bit embarressed to say that I cried a little bit during that episode.
Does the good outweigh the bad? If you watch (or purposefully don't watch) the show, please leave a comment and let me know what you think.