Show compassion to animals on Vesak Day

by Chin Kee Thou, Today Online, May 8, 2017

Singapore -- The report “NParks, PUB teaming up to warn against releasing pets into the wild” (May 3) comes at the right time.

It reminds followers of Buddhism to show compassion to animals on Vesak Day, by not buying them from pet shops or farms and releasing them.

In ancient times, animals were hunted for food, and freeing them from traps was indeed a compassionate, noble deed. Saving lives is a virtue worth cultivating, but releasing pets into the wild is not a compatible practice in this era.

Birds are trapped in neighbouring countries, and fish and terrapins are raised in farms. If released into an unfamiliar, hostile environment, these animals would eventually perish.

In a popular story in Buddhist literature, a prince retrieved a swan that his cousin had shot down with an arrow. Both claimed possession and appeared before a mediator, who decided that the person who saved its life should keep it.

Trading in and holding animals in captivity is not a wholesome occupation, and buying them would encourage the trade. Devotees should refrain from such practices and not only save lives but also money, which can be donated to worthy causes instead. On Vesak Day, Buddhists should allow all living beings to rejoice.