Earlier I wrote a bit about the word 'domesticated' and how often summary words serve to obscure and hide sometimes complex and weighty phenomena. Wild is also such a word especially when applied to our animal relatives.
According to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary site, wild means:
"1a : living in a state of nature and not ordinarily tame or domesticated <wild ducks>
b (1) : growing or produced without human aid or care <wild honey> (2) : related to or resembling a corresponding cultivated or domesticated organism
c : of or relating to wild organisms <the wild state>
2a : not inhabited or cultivated <wild land>
b : not amenable to human habitation or cultivation; also : desolate
3a (1) : not subject to restraint or regulation : uncontrolled; also : unruly (2) : emotionally overcome <wild with grief>; also : passionately eager or enthusiastic <was wild to own a toy train — J. C. Furnas>
b : marked by turbulent agitation : stormy <a wild night>
c : going beyond normal or conventional bounds : fantastic <wild ideas>; also : sensational
d : indicative of strong passion, desire, or emotion <a wild gleam of delight in his eyes — Irish Digest>
4: uncivilized, barbaric...."
Hmmm, the first entry about growing or existing without human care or aid is actually what the phrase "wild animal" should mean. Actually, if we look at the term wild and consider that "domesticated" essentially means dependent on humans, then "wild" actually means independent...the wild ones don't need humans. Probably a much more appropriate and meaningful way to talk about animals viz-a-viz humans would be to term them as being either dependent or independent.
But that isn't what we do. First of all, notice, we often (almost invariably) frame our consideration and thinking about other animals by primarily referencing them re humans...that is either wild or domestic. We can't use either of those terms without dragging ourselves into the mix because saying wild actually means independent of humans and saying domestic actually means dependent on humans.
But, the subtle baggage that is tacked onto wild are the various other meanings that are vaguely or specifically negative. Notice wild also means uncontrolled, agitated, barbaric, desolate. When we think about or reference another animal with the adjective "wild"...these additional shades of meaning often get covertly or overtly dragged into the mix.
So...I am going to, henceforth, try to think about other animals in different terms. Then it is easily noted that an animal is...at least insofar as dealing with humans...either independent or dependent. Because the fact is that those animals that don't depend on us to make their way on this planet and to live their own lives in their own way...why should we burden that independence with any shadings of negativity?
They, like us, have the skills and capabilities to live on this planet as autonomous beings...they don't need us for anything. We are unnecessary to their existence (in fact our principal role in their lives is as a threat to their existence). Maybe our unnecessariness is what bothers us about them and makes us reference them with a word (wild) that has additional negative connotations.
Independent or dependent...you can help save the lives of animals if you go vegan.