Pokémon & Animal Training (Miranda)

One other thing I found out is that Pokémon Go players are sometimes referred to as ‘Pokémon trainers’. We had already discussed Pokémon and its frankly disturbing overlaps with cockfighting but this got me thinking about our relationship with animals and, more specifically, all the crazy things we’ve trained them to do. Dogs are a great example: we use them for companionship, to herd livestock, in search and rescue, to hunt, in law enforcement, for protection, to assist people with disabilities, to detect cancer… it’s an endless list.

There are also some pretty bonkers historical examples: Lionel Walter Rothschild trained zebras to pull his carriage through London in the 19th century; Mr Henry Cooke entertained the public with his celebrated ‘Circus Troupe of Educated Dogs and Monkeys’ and, in the 1920s, Mabel Stark hit the headlines as the world’s first woman tiger trainer.

Walter Rothschild & His Zebras (Natural History Museum)

Walter Rothschild & His Zebras (Natural History Museum)

No animals (or Pokémon) were harmed in the making of this podcast.

Lovely books on bizarre animal training:

  • KALOF, L. (2007). Looking at animals in human history. London, Reaktion Books.
  • OROZCO GARCÍA, L., & PARKER-STARBUCK, J. (2015). Performing animality: animals in performance practices.
  • TAIT, P. (2012). Wild and dangerous performances: animals, emotions, circus. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, Palgrave Macmillan.

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