For millennia, man and animal have coexisted on this earth. Cave paintings in Northern Spain that date back to roughly 30,000 BC portray creatures large and small. Ancient Egyptians based all of their deities around powerful creatures: hawks, cats, the ibis. Before the car, there was the horse. Even today, cute cats and delightful dogs dominate the internet with videos and photos of their misadventures. Animals have always played a role in our lives, but as times progressed, that role changed.
At the beginning of time, mankind was fearful of the beasts that roamed the earth. They allowed animals to control their lives—if a creature had claimed territory, humans respected it and found new land. There was almost an understanding between early man and the creatures that inhabited their lands. The only interaction between the two was when one hunted the other. It was simple. However, as time progressed, so did the idea of nature.
Soon, mankind became tired of roaming, of living a life controlled by the habits of their prey. Through a slow and tedious process, mankind began to domesticate creatures for food. Cattle and sheep became as common as gardens. Instead of a former understanding, man began to control the weaker forms of wildlife. The line would not be drawn here, however.
As villages became cities and cities became empires, more efficient transportation became a necessity. Horses became staples to both the merchants and the military. Yet again, there was a need for more. Rulers like Hannibal trained war elephants, the largest land mammal, to do their bidding. Previous humans could not even imagine what was happening, but there was more still to come.
With the invention of the motor, the need for domesticated means of transportation dwindled: Cars replaced carts, horses were replaced by horsepower. Farms became less popular as fields quickly transformed into sprawling cities. The domestication of animals began to recede. The popular pet became cats and dogs, not cattle and chickens. Domestication disappearing left a hole in the need for animal companionship—a hole that was not empty for long.
In the mid-1800s, a new idea began to emerge: zoos. Beginning in New York, zoos began to spread like wildfire throughout the US and Europe. The untamable beasts of the wild were shoved into ironclad cages as a simple form of amusement for children and field trips. The mighty lion, the mysterious tiger, the powerful bear—all became amusements to gawk at. The men and women dragged animals out of their natural habitats and threw them into sad attempts to replicate the world human's stole.
A complete 180 turn was reached when man began to decide where animals could and could not live. Through hunting-induced-extinction, reserves, and zoos, man became the top of the food chain. Humans did something that no other species could—they conquered the world. The dynamic shifted permanently. This was never how it was supposed to be. We were supposed to live in harmony, not in a state of control.