“Extreme Huntress” and hunting’s flimsy facade

mtnliontrophy

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

How extreme does one have to be to earn the title of “Extreme Huntress”? Don’t let the diminutive -ess suffix trick you into thinking this title is a shoddy substitute for the real (male) deal. These women will get up off their childbirth bed to score a trophy–and tote two-week-old Junior along for the thrill of the kill.  Continue reading

Merck Pledges to End Chimpanzee Testing

 

Seth Victor

 

Taking further steps in the right direction, Merck, one of the largest drug producers in the world, announced last month that it is ending research on chimpanzees. Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues for The HSUS said: “Merck’s new biomedical research policy will save chimpanzees from unnecessary and painful experiments. Merck’s decision, and that of several other pharmaceutical companies, sends a strong message that private industry is moving away from chimpanzee research as the government has.”

 

Merck has made this commitment while simultaneously stating, “The company’s mission is to discover, develop, manufacture and market innovative medicines and vaccines that treat and prevent illness. Animal research is indispensable to this mission.” While that quotation ominously suggests that other animals will continue to be a part of the company’s research, the more hopeful interpretation is that while Merck relies on animal testing under FDA regulations for its drugs and other products, it joins other pharmaceutical companies recognizing that even though chimps might be valuable to this research, their welfare is more important, and other ways to test the products should be utilized.

 

 

 

White tigers: Tragic–not magic

KennytigerKathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

Kenny died in 2008. If you didn’t mark his passing (you probably didn’t even know about it), don’t feel bad. Kenny, you see, was not the beautiful white tiger on posters for glitzy magic acts. He wasn’t the star attraction drawing crowds of admirers to the zoo. As the product of unscrupulous white tiger breeding, Kenny’s life and death ran under the radar. It was only through the compassion of a wildlife refuge in Arkansas that he was able to live out his life in comfort and even found a modicum of fame (video)–one of the luckiest of the unlucky. He died at 10 years of age from cancer (source).   Continue reading

On Love and Polar Bears

Seth Victor

I’m going to keep this short and let others’ words speak for me.  Gus, the polar bear at the Central Park Zoo in NYC, was euthanized on August 27th. While reading about him, I found this article from 2011 when his companion Ida was euthanized because of liver disease. Diane Ackerman tries to glimpse into the emotions of Gus at that time, and raises many issues we’ve covered on the Blawg. Whether you accept that animals have emotions similar to ours, or believe that such thinking is the product of anthropomorphism, it’s an engaging meditation on the love we feel for animals, and the discouragement of trying to know what they feel. “We witness Gus’s grief and taste our own memories of love, loss and loneliness. Our wild heart goes out to him. Something deep inside us remembers being accompanied by other animals.”

Harming animals to help humans: When charity isn’t charitable redux

Impala and friend – click image

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

Can the act of killing an animal in Africa help addicted, teen mothers in Montana? Sadly, yes. That’s just the crazy, speciesist world we live in–the one created by us, for us.

Though humans today and forever have found divisions–think race, religion, country, tribe–over which to oppress and kill each other, one thing that unites us categorically is our species, particularly in relation to other animals. It’s us against them, or us over them–the human animal lording it over all “lower” animals. Except for those who have value to us as “pets,” the idea of noblesse oblige doesn’t cross species lines. What some of us recognize as brutal, self-serving exploitation of the other animal nations is seen, by many others, as the natural, beneficial order of things. Ain’t that how it goes with the privileged class?!?    Continue reading

The lion sleeps tonight–and so should you. List the lion!

Photo from Current Tonight, June 23, 2010Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

This post contains a call to action with an approaching deadline.

It’s a safe bet that when President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act in 1973, African lions weren’t anywhere on his radar. “Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed,” he wrote in his signing statement on December 28th. “It is a many-faceted treasure…”

Thirty-seven years later in 2011, a coalition led by the International Fund for Animal Welfare petitioned the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to list Panthera leo leo under our nation’s ESA (find the petition here).  It lists the usual culprits–loss of habitat and loss of prey due to human activity–as serious threats to lion survival. Throw in human population growth, the bushmeat trade, civil unrest, and desertification, and the King of the Jungle is hurting. Lions have disappeared from 78% of their historic range–which was most of Africa with a few exceptions–very dry deserts and very wet forests.

But why should a foreign species be listed under America’s Endangered Species Act? Continue reading

How do you value an alpha female wolf?

PBS Nature-click

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

When you live in what feels like a war zone–the Northern Rockies states are waging war on their own native wildlife–it’s easy to forget that the act of killing doesn’t rule the roost everywhere. Occasionally something comes along that makes you believe there might be hope (even if it’s not your hope); that at least some place (though not your place), sanity–and maybe even respect for animals–prevails. Today it is this: Costa Rica, one of the planet’s most bio-diverse countries, banned sport hunting on December 10th. Granted, one quarter of Costa Rica’s land is already protected in parks and reserves, so hunting wasn’t a big economic driver to start with. But still. Continue reading

After a while, crocodiles

CROCODYLUS NILOTICUS

Seth Victor                                                 

Just in case you were worried that a python outbreak wasn’t enough, there’s another top predator in southern Florida. This past fall there have been sightings of Nile crocodiles south of Miami. This presents a bit of a conundrum for wildlife supervisors. You see the Nile crocodile is on international threatened lists, and is disappearing in its native habitat. Because Florida, however, is not its native habitat, and because the state already has to manage with non-native snakes eliminating the mammal population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has authorized a state shoot-to-kill order. Though there are native crocodiles in Florida, the Nile crocodile is known to be fiercer and more deadly, and is one of the few animals left on the planet that still hunts humans.

While Nile crocodiles haven’t reached the infestation levels of the python, they are potentially more problematic in smaller numbers. FWC officers suspect that the crocodiles may have originated from an illegal captive breeding facility, but it is still unknown exactly from where they are coming, or how many there are.

Again we are faced with the same unresolved questions on how to handle non-native species that can drastically alter a habitat. Do we preserve a threatened species, one of the greatest and most resilient in history, or do we hunt down the crocodiles before they make other animals endangered or extinct? Or do we simply pit the pythons and crocs against each other in a winner-take-all showdown on prime time? Either way, it’s hardly an enviable decision for the FWC.

“Well-mannered predators” and other speciesist notions about animal captivity

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

No sooner do we turn the page on the sad story of two wild Montana grizzlies gone psychotic in a Midwestern zoo when along comes more tragedy involving captive wild animals. Yes, wild animals taken from their habitats or born into captivity to live unnatural, diminished lives are tragic cases in their own right. Witness a bear turning endless tight circles in her cement cell (instead of ranging across 100 square wilderness miles) and tell me this isn’t tragic.

But the latest calamities are compounded in that they are also human tragedies–and needless ones but for our speciesist insistence on keeping wild beings captive for our own pleasure and profit. Continue reading

Sea Mammals Weep While They Seem to Smile

Dong Luo

Dozens of protesters crashed through the gates of an Ontario theme park on Oct 7th railing against its treatment of marine life and managed to shut down a dolphin show at Marineland in Niagara Falls. Dylan Powell of the group Marineland Animal DefenSe, which organized the protest, says that the group is dedicated to ending animal captivity and is determined to shut down Marineland for good (Marineland closed for the season that weekend). Continue reading

Grizzly psychosis at the zoo: There’s no place like home

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

Circling Bear, left (emerging from shadow); Pacing Bear, right

“The animals in this zoo walk in circles.”

The boy, about eight years old, made this observation as he stood inches from a compulsively-circling grizzly, a thick wall of plexiglass between bear and child. He repeated it–now more question than statement–but neither parent responded. “The bear’s gone crazy from captivity,” I ventured in his direction. His mom agreed. “Yes, it’s so sad,” she said. “I feel sorry for them.” Meanwhile, the bear circled and circled while her sister paced a linear route back and forth, back and forth. Meanwhile, a lump was forming in my throat. Continue reading

Hog Wild: Where Florida Hogs Can’t Catch a Break

Seth Victor

Population control is a powerful justification. If a species has outgrown its habitat, the population needs to be managed, lest the over-abundance of animals wreak havoc on the natural environment. And if that habitat wasn’t destroyed by the animals, but instead was converted into pools and condominiums, limiting the range of the animal, it seems that the solution remains the same.

I don’t intend to discuss the hypocrisy of population control as a whole just now. I bring it up, however, because the way in which it is done is of great concern. The problems with wolf hunts have been covered extensively in this blawg. Recently, their ranks of the persecuted have been joined by a perhaps unlikely bedfellow – hogs. Continue reading

Nonnative Snakes Populating South Florida

Josh Loring

Earlier this month it was reported that officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission encountered a 16-foot Burmese python in the Everglades (this issue has been previously raised in the Blawg here).  Officials felt compelled to kill the snake so to prevent the further re-producing of the species, as well as preventing it from travelling north to more populated areas.  Officials report that at the time the snake was caught and killed, it had recently consumed a 76 pound female deer.  Continue reading

Feral cats: The government fix–or the humane fix?

www life with cats.tv

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

October 16th is National Feral Cat Day. That’s just under a month out, but forewarned is forearmed, and if feral cats aren’t on your radar now, perhaps they will be.

Feral cats (also called community cats) weren’t on my radar until my cousin Beth, a feral cat activist in Indiana, e-mailed to ask that I contact federal officials (via an action alert from Best Friends) about the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s role in undermining community trap-neuter-return–or release–(TNR) programs. Continue reading

Captive Animals, Dead People, Bad Reporting

David Cassuto

How many times have we heard the story of a captive wild animal killing someone?  This would be just another replay of the same sad and avoidable story except for a few details.  In this instance, which took place outside Cleveland, the guy who kept the unfortunate bear was not the person killed.  The victim, Brent Kandra, is a guy the WaPo refers to as the bear’s “caretaker” — someone who frequently helped the owner, Sam Mazzola, with his animals.  What animals?  A whole lot of animals — lions, tigers, bears, wolves, coyotes.  Mazzola, who had been convicted of illegally selling and transporting animals and who was also cited for illegally staging wrestling matches between bears and people, recently filed for bankruptcy.             Continue reading

Some Further Thoughts on Ohio

David Cassuto

I’m back in the northern hemisphere, missing the tropical juices and proximity to the beach but enjoying my family (human and non), my friends, and my deck with its accompanying martinis.  I’ve also been pondering the Ohio deal I blogged about before getting on the plane last week.  As you may recall, the ballot initiative in Ohio containing important agricultural reforms has been indefinitely postponed in exchange for a number of concessions.    Continue reading

A Deal in Ohio — But at What Price?

David Cassuto
In Ohio, HSUS, the ag industry and the state government have made a deal.  In exchange for HSUS not supporting a fall ballot initiative on animal welfare issues, the Ohio government and animal industry will take action on exotic animal importation, veal calf housing (they will “transition to group housing”), other livestock issues, and the puppy mill industry.       Continue reading

How About You?

 Seth Victor

I am in San Diego, CA, a legendary city named after majestic sea creatures. I’ve enjoyed some of the great sights, but I would have been remiss not to visit the “World Famous” San Diego Zoo. I did so with some hesitation (and with a certain singer in my head). I was previously under the impression that the San Diego Zoo was more like a wildlife safari, where the people are in the cage moving in the environment. I was disappointed to find out that it is not. The Wild Animal Park of which I was thinking is a totally different place. The zoo is a rather nice zoo. It emphasises its conservation of endangered and threatened species. Zoos, however, are a contentious issue for many in the animal rights world. The question is whether animal exploitation is acceptable when the purpose is to bring the animals closer to humans. That’s a simplistic way of phrasing it, since circuses also bring animals closer to people, but are not something to celebrate. Yet many view the boredom and enclosed lives of animals in zoos just as poorly, arguing that media sources such as documentaries bring animals to life in a way that does not cause them suffering. 

Continue reading

Exotic Animal Atrocities

Jonathan Vandina

Earlier this year an undercover investigator worked for a Texas wildlife importer. During the months of his employment he witnessed and documented some of the most horrifying and indiscriminate acts of wildlife animal cruelty in captivity that have ever been recorded.  The conditions these animals were kept in were unaccommodating, unsanitary and downright repulsive. This is not a new problem within the exotic animal trade.

Many of the animals were deprived of food, water and the veterinary care needed to merely survive. Additionally, the investigator is on tape requesting food (the feeder fish) as well as veterinary care from the owners of the establishment. The owners reply with “oh that’s right I forgot” or explain that they just can’t afford to do it or sometimes just laugh it off.  This behavior seems to continue for over a month. Continue reading

The Tropical Fish “Crop”

David Cassuto

The recent cold weather in Florida has hurt the tropical fish industry.  I have a few things to say about this.  For one, the NYT refers to the fish as a “crop.”  I’ve railed about rhetoric in this space before (here, for example) but this one feels really egregious.  Since when are animals a “crop?”  What is it about fish that demotes them from sentience?  Continue reading

Exotics Lose in Florida

Marjorie Levine

Last month, a red-bellied piranha was caught by a 15-year-old boy.  The next day, fish and wildlife officials caught two more in the same lake.  No, this didn’t take place in the Amazon; it happened in West Palm Beach, Florida, The Piranha is not a Florida native, but, like the New York Snowbirds, these animals like the heat!  From south of Florida’s borders, these non-native animals have invaded Florida due primarily to negligent pet owners. When pets becomes too large, people simply release them into the wild without thinking of any consequences. The pets survive and flourish in Florida because the conditions are so similar to that of their natural ecosystem.

Although Florida has laws about importing non-native species, pet stores are still able to obtain licenses to sell exotic animals cheaply, which in turn attracts people to buy these exotic pets without researching the specifics of their care.  Some released pets, such as the green iguana, are able to move on land, migrating to different parts of Florida where Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission finds them almost impossible to control.  However, these piranhas were confined to one lake in West Palm Beach.  They could not infest other areas of Florida, as land animals can.  Why, then, was the choice made by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) to poison the entire lake to remove this one species? Continue reading

Innocent Woman Mauled by Chimp: Who is to Blame?

Lindsay Macleod

ChimpanzeeIn February 2009, Charla Nash, a 55-year-old woman was visiting her friend Sandra Herold in Stamford, Connecticut, when Herold’s pet chimp, Travis, suddenly attacked her. The crazed chimp tore off Nash’s nose, lips and eyelids before being shot dead by cops. Nash was left with no face or hands and is now suing Herold for $50 million. Nash appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show this week and bravely revealed what remains of her face.

This was clearly a terrible accident, and I feel horribly for Ms. Nash.  But I also feel bad for Travis, who should never have been a pet to begin with. Chimpanzees are known to possess incredible strength, with the average adult male having four to five times the upper-body strength of an adult human. They are also very difficult pets. They typically act aggressively toward their owners when they reach adulthood, and once raised by humans, they cannot be re-introduced into the wild because other chimpanzees will reject them.

Continue reading

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