Texas News
10:49 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Bob Barker Says Dallas Safari Club’s Black Rhino Auction Is A ‘Cheap Thrill'

Bob Barker, the legendary game show host, has chimed in on the Dallas Safari Club’s black rhino auction that’s taking place this weekend. He wants the club to call off the event.

The club hopes to raise as much as $1 million to protect the rare black rhino by auctioning off the right to hunt one. But the auction has kicked up international controversy. Club members have been receiving death threats, and the FBI is investigating. (Update: On Saturday, the rhino hunt permit was sold for $350,000, the Associated Press reported.)

Friday afternoon, PETA released a letter from Barker, who hosted “The Price is Right” for 35 years. He’s also an animal rights advocate. (You remember his classic sign-off, right?: “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.")

The rhino to be hunted is an old bull that's past the point of helping sustain the herd. This is the sixth such auction in Namibia, but the first to be held outside the country. The Dallas Safari Club says 100 percent of the money raised will go toward conservation efforts.

But in his letter, Barker says it is "presumptuous to assume that this rhino’s life is no longer of any value."

“The rhino that your organization reportedly has in its crosshairs is an older ‘non-breeding’ male who has apparently been deemed expendable,” Barker wrote. “As an older male myself, I must say that this seems like a rather harsh way of dealing with senior citizens.”

Barker continues:

“Just because you’re ‘retired’ doesn’t mean you don’t have anything more to offer. In fact, I personally feel that I’ve accomplished a great deal since I quit my day job. Surely, it is presumptuous to assume that this rhino’s life is no longer of any value. What of the wisdom that he has acquired over the course of a long life? What’s the world coming to when a lifetime’s experience is considered a liability instead of an asset?

The Safari Club's executive director, Ben Carter, recently spoke with KERA about his group's efforts. Listen to that conversation here.

Here’s Barker's full letter, provided by PETA:

I am writing to ask you to call off your planned auction of a chance to kill an endangered black rhino in Namibia. The rhino that your organization reportedly has in its crosshairs is an older “non-breeding” male who has apparently been deemed expendable. As an older male myself, I must say that this seems like a rather harsh way of dealing with senior citizens.

I can certainly sympathize with this animal’s plight (and I would think that many of your older members could as well). How many seniors have been written off simply because they have a certain number of birthdays under their belts? But just because you’re “retired” doesn’t mean you don’t have anything more to offer. In fact, I personally feel that I’ve accomplished a great deal since I quit my day job. Surely, it is presumptuous to assume that this rhino’s life is no longer of any value. What of the wisdom that he has acquired over the course of a long life? What’s the world coming to when a lifetime’s experience is considered a liability instead of an asset?

There are only about 5,000 black rhinos still alive in Africa. What kind of message does it send when we put a $1 million bounty on one of their heads? These animals are endangered for that very reason: money. What makes you any better than the poachers who kill rhinos to feed their families? At least, they are honest about their less noble motives. You try to dress up greed under the guise of “conservation.”

True conservationists are those who pay money to keep rhinos alive—in the form of highly lucrative eco-tourism—as opposed to those who pay money for the cheap thrill of taking this magnificent animal’s life and putting his head on a wall.

If you want someone’s head to go on a wall, pick mine. I will happily send you an autographed photo to auction off instead. My mug may not fetch as much money as that of a dead rhino, but at least we’ll all live to enjoy another sunrise in our sunset years.

Sincerely,

Bob Barker