Cecil and Obie: Owning animals, dead or alive


Photo from Care2 petitions – click image

Kathleen Stachowski     Other Nations

Cecil the lion is dead, long live Cecil. Obie the tiger lives–and dies–in successive purgatories for 45 years running.

Cecil, a unique individual and beloved personality, was slain by a small and hollow man for no reason other than ego. This one “special” lion’s death triggered a tipping point and unleashed worldwide condemnation.

And then there’s Obie, one beloved football mascot who has required a veritable breeding mill to produce the 45 individuals who’ve served as namesake. Make no mistake–it’s the mascot who’s beloved, not the unique tiger cub plugged into the role annually. Old Obies live and die in obscurity as wild captives no longer cubbishly cute, as now-dangerous adults consigned to–well, who knows? Who cares?   Continue reading

A human-bear tragedy in Yellowstone


“Blaze” & cub in 2011; Amy Gerber photo. Click image for more photos.

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

A 63-year-old male hiker is dead, killed and partially consumed by a grizzly bear while hiking in Yellowstone National Park.  A 259-pound mother grizzly, who was at least 15 years old, is also dead, killed by the caretakers of her home in Yellowstone National Park. Her two female cubs-of-the-year, likely seven or eight months old, are dead insofar as their ability to live wild, free-ranging lives goes; they’ve been shipped off to the Toledo Zoo for lifetime incarceration.

It was the hiker–a man referred to by the media as “an experienced hiker”–who set this string of tragedies in motion by breaking cardinal rules for hiking in griz country: he hiked alone, off trail, without bear spray. While acknowledging that his tragic death has left a grieving human family, his apparent lack of regard for the safety measures that could have saved his life as well as the bears’ lives is squarely responsible. Bears do what bears do for their own reasons. When we enter their home, it’s up to us to do so with respect and humility.  Continue reading

Animal Law Job!

David Cassuto

A great opportunity:


Nonhuman Rights Project

Essential Qualifications and Skills

The Nonhuman Rights Project is seeking an intelligent, creative, self-motivated, and deeply committed attorney with significant civil trial and appellate experience, excellent writing and research skills, an ability to work well both independently and at a distance with others, who possesses the confidence and ability to litigate pro hac vice in multiple state jurisdictions simultaneously and is willing to develop and litigate issues that have never been litigated before at both the trial and appellate levels. A degree in science, philosophy, or history is a plus. This is not an entry-level position. This is an exceptional opportunity to join the civil rights organization that is creating the field of animal rights jurisprudence.

The position would begin January 1, 2016, but we are flexible.

To Apply:

Please send your application packet, combined into a single PDF, which includes each of these documents in the following order: a cover letter, resume/cv, a list of at least three professional references, and a short writing sample (no more than 10 pages) to info@nonhumanrights.org. Please include “Attorney Application” in the subject line of your email. Only applicants selected for interviews will be contacted. No phone calls please. Continue reading

How Hurricane Katrina Turned Pets into People

Credit: Best Friends Animal Society

Credit: Best Friends Animal Society

Nearly half the people who stayed behind during Hurricane Katrina stayed because of their pets. Helicopters and boats would come, but the rescuers largely refused to take cats and dogs. So many owners, unwilling to abandon a family member, refused to go — and many of them died. Others did leave their pets, convinced they would be able to retrieve them in a few days. But officials kept them out for weeks, leaving the animals to fend for themselves. Dogs waited on rooftops, cats clung to debris in toxic waters, and pets starved to death in barricaded homes. Even for a nation grappling with the human tragedy of Katrina, the plight of dogs and cats struck a nerve. The public flooded Congress with letters, and in 2006 the legislature — despite being bitterly divided over war, immigration, and seemingly every Continue reading

Cecil the Lion: Will U.S. Laws Hold Trophy Killer Accountable

All around the world, people are outraged by the trophy killing of Cecil the lion, and not simply because he suffered needlessly for days, or because lions are charismatic animals, or even because a rich white American killed a much-loved member of a national park halfway around the world in the African nation of Zimbabwe. Why has Cecil reached our hearts when so many other animals are poached (and, animal advocates remind us, so many other animals suffer every day)? Why is everyone – from animal advocates to hunters to talk show hosts to the New York Times and the Guardian – so horrified by this brutal killing? The answer lies in freedom.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 3.38.44 PMCecil, a 13-year old lion, lived safe in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe under legal protection. But he was unfairly lured out of his refuge, tricked by poachers who tied a dead animal carcass to the back of a truck. Father to many cubs (who will likely now die), Cecil was an easy target while eating. Minnesota dentist and trophy-hunter Walter James Palmer then shot Cecil with an arrow. But Cecil suffered for 40 hours before he was tracked down, killed with a rifle, beheaded, and skinned. His body was left to rot in the sun.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 12.14.46 AM

His head—with its distinctive (and incriminating for the trophy-killer) black mane–was missing, along with the now notorious Walter Palmer (the head has now been turned over to Zimbabwean authorities).

Cecil wore a GPS tracking collar, as part of an Oxford University research project. Ironically, Oxford’s study challenges the ridiculous notion that killing animals incentivizes the public to conserve them (and conserve them for more killing, i.e. “hunting”). So it is simply beyond reason to believe Palmer didn’t notice that collar when he shot Cecil, twice, once using a crossbow scope and 40 hours later using a rifle scope, or when Palmer later skinned and decapitated the lion. Palmer is a marksman with at least 43 large game animals on his killing resume (according to the Safari Club International, who has now revoked Palmer’s membership), including a rhino, a lion previous to Cecil, a cougar, a leopard, a polar bear, and an illegally killed black bear (for which Palmer was convicted). Damage to Cecil’s collar suggests Continue reading

Lawsuit to Stop Kaporos Torture

David Cassuto

I could not be more proud of my former  student and research assistant, Jessica Astrof, for leading the legal battle on this!

The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos along with 20 additional plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court New York to issue an injunction against Hasidic rabbis and synagogues in Brooklyn from participating in “Kaporos,” a highly controversial religious custom which involves the confinement, torture and barbaric slaughter of kaporosmore than 50,000 chickens on public streets every year during the week preceding the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. The case also names the NYPD, NYC Department of Health and the City of New York for failing to enforce city health laws and animal cruelty laws, among others. The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos was formed in New York City in 2010 as a project of, and under the umbrella of, United Poultry Concerns, founded by Karen Davis, Ph.D. Kaporos using live chickens is also practiced in other cities throughout the U.S. and Canada, including Los Angeles. See 2014 Brooklyn Kaporos video here: http://bit.ly/1gsvAmw.


The 21 plaintiffs are a group of individuals and residents of the subject locations who have endured the inconvenience, nuisance, filth, stench, public health risk and emotional trauma involved in Kaporos for years. Each plaintiff is gravely concerned about the health risks in their community, the contaminants on the streets and sidewalks and the emotional trauma caused by the bloody animal violence they are forced to witness. 


Kaporos is allegedly a ritual of atonement practiced by Hasidic Jews as part of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. The ritual involves practitioners grasping live chickens by their wings and swinging them above the practitioners’ heads. The purpose of this act, followed by the slaughter, is allegedly to transfer the practitioners’ sins and punishment to the birds, allegedly absolving the participants of their sins. In order to conduct the slaughter of the birds, Kaporos involves the erection of make-shift slaughterhouses on the public streets and sidewalks of the City of New York.  Dead chickens, half dead chickens, chicken blood, chicken feathers, chicken urine, chicken feces, other toxins and garbage such as used latex gloves and filthy tarps consume the public streets.  There is no oversight and no remedy for cleanup.  Plaintiffs maintain that operating such illegal public slaughterhouses causes and creates a public nuisance, a public health risk, a public health hazard and a dangerous condition.   Continue reading

Corporate Moves Create Tipping Point in Animal Welfare?

Carrie A. Scrufari, Esq.

“Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push – in just the right place – it can be tipped.”  -Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping PointDay_old_chick_black_backgroundIn May, Walmart announced that its food suppliers should adhere to greater animal welfare standards.  This announcement received wide support from animal rights groups, and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) endorsed Walmart’s move.  Following suit, General Mills announced yesterday that it would commit to sourcing 100% of its eggs from cage-free facilities. General Mills released a statement proclaiming that it would “commit to working toward 100 percent cage free eggs for our U.S. operations.”  Although Walmart and General Mills’ announcements signal a significant turning of the tide with respect to animal welfare and a tipping point in terms of the market power that can be wielded to encourage stronger animal welfare standards, they fall short of what is necessary to implement timely, lasting, and meaningful reforms.

Walmart’s plan relies on voluntary compliance from its suppliers and does not contain any hard deadlines or timelines specifying when suppliers should meet these new animal welfare standards.  Walmart could – and likely will – receive positive press for its decision to prioritize animal welfare without actually ensuring its suppliers are complying with the new policy (which involve limiting prophylactic antibiotic use and eliminating the use of gestation crates for pigs and battery cages for egg-laying hens).  Similarly, General Mills has not committed to a time line for achieving its 100% cage free egg supply, Continue reading


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,455 other followers