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Animal Workers

Paul and Todd look at the idea of animals being part of the labor force.

Paul: Did you go to any other places, besides the tiger farm?

Todd: Yeah. Actually, they have a whole array of special animal farms. They had a crocodile farm, they had a snake farm, and they also had an elephant farm, and I went to the elephant farm, or rancher, whatever it was called.

Paul: All right. Could you tell me about that? How did the elephants treat that? How was the experience?

Todd: Actually, to be honest, I was surprised. I felt sorry for the elephants. I didn't really feel that sorry for the tigers, oddly enough, probably because they just lay around and sleep. But the elephants, you know, they kind of have to work.

Paul: Right.

Todd: I mean, it's definite work; they're put to work. And even though they've been doing this for years, for some reason, it just seems strange. Like they had a lot of the elephants chained to poles, you know, so they couldn't get away.

Paul: Right.

Todd: You have to figure, if you're chained inside, you know. It's kind of nature's way of saying that you want to go someplace else.

Paul: Yeah.

Todd: So, yeah, I did feel sorry for them. But, you know, they're really cute. Like you ride on the elephant, and then they give you, you know, this sugar cane. It's really cheesy; it's really commercialized. And they take you along this trail, and then every now and then, you can buy the sugar cane and feed it to the elephant. And then, the elephant does some little trick to show you that he's thankful, but it does seem pretty unnatural.

Paul: Yeah, I guess so. I mean, it seems unnatural, like forced. And you know, I guess it's kind of easy to be cynical about it, but essentially, we're talking about, you know, these animals. They're making money.

Todd: Right.

Paul: So, again, we're back to the kind of ethical or moral kind of point, you know. And I guess elephants are cute, and elephants have this, you know - we have this curiosity about elephants. So, you know!

Todd: Well, one thing that I thought was interesting is that when you do this trip, like the first part of the trip, you're on an elephant, and then eventually, you get off the elephant and they put you on an oxcart, an ox-pulled cart. Then later on, you're on like a bamboo raft. But, you know, when you're sitting on the oxcart and you're going along, it dawned on me that you don't feel sorry for the ox.

Paul: Right. That's interesting, yeah.

Todd: You know, like I had a connection with the elephant. I kind of felt a little bit guilty. But the ox, like nobody has any connection to it at all. It's just like, - Yeah, that's your job. You've been doing it for hundreds, thousands of years. So, you know, maybe that's it. Like the elephant, maybe in a thousand years, people won't even feel sorry for the elephant. They would just be taken for granted.

Paul: Well, maybe, yeah. I mean, I guess, like you say, we've used the ox over time for farming and such, so they've kind of been bred and that's been their role. Whereas, I guess, elephants do have that power. But I don't know, it seems a little skewed like that you feel sorry for the elephant but you don't feel sorry for the ox, right?

Todd: I know.

Paul: I mean, like why do we have this kind of categorization, where like some animals, we feel kind of some more of an emotional connection with them than others? It seems odd to me.

Todd: Yeah, it does make you wonder.

Learn Vocabulary from the Lesson

a whole array


They have a whole array of animal farms.

The phrase 'a whole array' means a wide variety.  Notice the following:

  1. The resort has available a whole array of water sports.
  2. Regulating animal farms provides a whole array of problems.

nature's way of saying


It's nature's way of saying.

The phrase ' natures way of saying' is an idiom we use to describe the negative effects humans sometimes have on the environment.  Notice the following:

  1. Global warming is nature's way of saying we have a problem.
  2. Japan's 2011 Nuclear disaster may be nature's way saying we should rethink our energy sources.



This thing is cheesy.

'Cheesy' describes something old and silly we've seen so often that it is no longer interesting.  Notice the following:

  1. The movie had a cheesy ending.
  2. I thought the elephant show was cheesy.



I had a connection.

When we have a connection with someone or something, that means we feel an emotional link.  Notice the following:

  1. While diving I felt a connection with the dolphins.
  2. I love dogs, but feel no connection with cats.



It seems skewed.

Here, the word skewed means something that, for an unknown reason, doesn't seem correct or fair.  Notice the following:

  1. The animal shows really skewed my opinion of Thailand.
  2. His opinion seemed a bit skewed.

Vocabulary Quiz

whole array • nature's way • cheesy
connection • skewed
  1. Did you feel any at all with the main character?
  2. I was overwhelmed by the of food at the buffet table.
  3. Fatigue is of saying you need some rest.
  4. His explanation seemed but I'm willing to trust him.
  5. I thought the design she chose was rather .
Answer the following questions about the interview.

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