Background of Animal Domestication

Domesticated animals have provided humans with innumerable products, services and hours of labor, many of which are greatly taken for granted by mankind today. Early uses of animals by humans largely revolved around consuming their meat as food. Over time eventually, people realised that animals can be useful for work, clothes, protection and transportation.

Wild animals can be wary of other animals and display ferociousness, protectiveness, as well as other strong survival characteristics in order to fend for themselves in the harsh world. Across many thousands of years humans have since changed such behaviours through domestication, whereby some animals became gentler, submissive to human instructions and needs, and be naturally accustomed to living among and interacting with humans. In domestication, people artificially selected ideal characteristics in animals that they like, enjoy, or benefit from the most, and preserve these traits by only allowing these specific members of the species to reproduce.  

Some domesticated animals are kept or raised as household pets, living intimately under the same roof as human owners; others are kept as farm animals to which people rear, look after, consumed as food or/and even utilised for various functions such as farming and transportation. Having said, not everyone believes animal domestication is a good thing (check out this blog’s section on Animal Rights in Domestication!).

Some people on the other hand, look upon the history of animal domestication in a much gentler light. Author Stephen Budiansky (in his book The Covenant of the Wild: Why Animals Choose Domestication) argued that domestication is a perfectly natural process which provides advantages to animals as well as humans. He subscribes to the idea that some animals actually chose to be domesticated, preferring the comfort that captivity is able to bring about in comparison to the harsh wild. He also highlighted that some species had (or could) been saved by humans from extinction, all thanks to the act of domesticating them. 

Regardless of the perspective on animal domestication, ultimately, no one can ignore the enormous contributions domesticated animals have provided in the advancement of mankind.

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