We have created a culture where animals are routinely and mindlessly verbally abused. You animal! is one of the strongest insults in our language. One of our fundamental, deeply entrenched beliefs is that we have the right to exploit animals for our pleasure, comfort, profit, and survival. We prefer to ignore the right of animals to live a natural life and die a natural death, without human interference or exploitation. Never mind humans are the only primates who are "above the apes," some humans are not very far removed, considering their behavior, especially toward animals. Just looking at the list of "blood sports" that humans have been engaged for betting and entertainment makes one's blood freeze: Bear-baiting, Cock throwing, Cockfight, Dog fighting, Fox tossing, Goose pulling, Bullfighting, Organized Horse fighting, Hyena-baiting, Hare coursing, and Jackal coursing. Many of these blood sports are still practiced by our "fellow" humans in our days.
When it comes to animals, human behavior is borderline schizophrenic. On the one hand, fascination with animals has always been strong, especially in America. The mascots of the political parties are mammals. American automobile manufacturers are obsessed with animal names: Cougar, Mustang, and Thunderbird (Ford); Colt, Eagle, and Viper (Chrysler); Firebird, Skyhawk, and Skylark (General Motors). Animal names are particularly popular for (useless) sports teams: Gators, Wildcats, Bears, and Bulls.
On the other hand, humans tend to project onto animals their own weaknesses and imperfections. "Are you a man or a mouse?" Are you a courageous person or a coward? The assumption is that the person is timid and fearful, like the common house mouse. But unlike certain despicable categories of humans, rodents and house mice in particular protect their pups and fiercely attack intruders. The donkey has long been stereotyped as a stupid animal. To "be asinine" and "make an ass of yourself" is to behave like an ass. Just because the donkey is hard to ride or to control does not make him "stupid." Besides, in the survival sense, it is smarter than the horse.
Here is another example of intentional misinterpretation of animal behavior pattern when human malicious practice is compared to totally innocent animal behavior. Backbiting in animals consists of one individual attacking another from the back which takes place between siblings or between a young animal and a parent to let the offspring know that this is not the way to behave. Human "backbiting" is speaking maliciously of someone behind their back, or figuratively stabbing them in the back with bad gossip.
Humans routinely abuse innocent animals by branding them as guilty of behavior associated with the real perpetrators, as is the case with "badger hounds" (the dachshunds) and terriers. The badger was branded as an annoying and pestering animal, hence the expression "to badger someone." But in real life, it was the dogs that attacked and bit tethered badgers to death (and were themselves brutalized in the blood sport), not the other way around. Despite having been illegal for over 170 years, badger baiting has continued in a clandestine manner throughout Britain and Ireland until the present day. Shame on you, British and Irish humanoids.
Let's take a look at another phrase. "As slippery as an eel" may refer to a politician who is hard to pin down or a criminal who is hard to catch. The eel is indeed a snakelike scaleless fish. However, from the way the human mind operates, the phrase creates an association between an eel and individuals with propensity toward crime. Surprise! Scientists have recently made a discovery that groupers and giant moray eels engage in coordinated hunting making a perfectly complementary pair. The moray eel can enter crevices in the coral reef, whereas the grouper hunts in open waters around the reef. Prey can escape from the grouper by hiding in a crevice and from the moray eel by leaving the reef, but prey has nowhere to go if hunted by a combination of these two predators. When it comes to survival, highly intelligent solutions based on cooperation are within the reach of animals as different from us as fish. Compare this to Chinese human predators engaging in deadly cooperative destruction of the animal world and human habitat. We can stop subsidizing their criminal activity by not purchasing their junk. Well, it looks like a tall order. But we need to start somewhere. If we think we are still capable to evolve as human beings, we need to clean up our language that was polluted by those whose souls were corrupted enough to enjoy blood sports.