Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Monday, March 31, 2008

Bloodless Bullfighting in California

Growing up in California, I always heard about the bullfights associated with the religious "festa." I went to one as a senior in high school in an arena outside of Gustine. There were Portuguese, Mexican and Portuguese-American matadors. The one I attended had "spikes" for the bulls, but they attached to the bull by what appeared to be velcro. The bull and the matador would go through their artistic dance and then at the end, a bunch of cows were released into the arena to herd the bull back inside.

No blood, no guts. And one could appreciate the artistry of the match. And, yes, someone could still get hurt. That's one heavy bull. And the bull is symbolically "emasculated" because he is technically beaten by the matador. But he's alive.

Apparently, this bloodless bullfighting in the Portuguese community of California is starting to rise in popularity. Last summer, there was an article in the San Francisco Chronicle and another in the LA Times.

Here are links to Rancho Cardoso which is heavily involved in the promotion of the activity as well as breeding the bulls.

I'm not into any kind of tormenting of animals, of course, but I'm the first to admit that the dance of a matador and a bull is exciting....as long as there is no blood and no killing. And careful regulation of course.

But as for killing...judging by the California practice, that can definitely be left OUT of bullfighting.

Photo by amenfoto.

Dolphin Slaughter Captured on Film

If you're a dolphin lover, brace yourself. It's not pretty.

Members of the group Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) spent seven months filming the annual dolphin hunt in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, part of Japan. The film is due for worldwide release this summer.

There are some powerful images captured for the film.

Captured dolphins were filmed writhing in pain as Taiji whalers speared them repeatedly or cracked their spines with spiked weapons. Stricken dolphins are also shown thrashing about wildly, blood pouring from their wounds until they finally succumbed. Meanwhile, a number of dolphin trainers and officials from the Taiji Whale Museum are shown cooperating in the slaughter — some even laughing — as the killing cove's bloodied, ruby-red water swept round into the adjacent capture cove.

But perhaps the most iconic scene is one in which a baby dolphin leaps to its death on the rocks after its mother is killed. This really was a surreal and incredibly sad sight to see.


What is especially mind-boggling is that the dolphin meat is not even considered safe for human consumption due to high mercury levels.

One of the officials OPS filmed was Taiji City Councilman Junichiro Yamashita, who organized certified tests on local dolphin meat bought from retail outlets in the town. The shocking test results revealed mercury and methylmercury levels that were 30 and 16 times, respectively, above advisory levels set by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. As a result, Yamashita hastily distributed newsletters to Taiji residents warning them to avoid consuming the meat — which he called "toxic waste."

So, another example where harm to humans and harm to animals clearly intersect.

Photo by Farl.

Sea Shepherd Mixes it up with Canadian Coast Guard

Once again, Sea Shepherd is in the thick of it. This time, with the Canadian Coast Guard over the seal killings.

A Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker and a ship steered by animal rights activists opposed to Canada's annual seal hunt collided in the Gulf of St. Lawrence overnight, officials said Monday.

A Fisheries and Oceans department spokesman said the Coast Guard vessel Des Groseilliers twice "grazed" the Farley Mowat owned by the militant Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

There was "no damage done" nor any injuries reported, he said.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Canadian Seal Killers Said to be Breaking New Law

Well, that didn't take long. The Canadian government's new requirement that hunted seals be actually dead before they skin them is already being ignored.

Activists from the Humane Society of the United States and the International Fund for Animal Welfare were using helicopters to monitor the hunt's opening days.

"We've just filmed four seals being killed and not a single one was bled out before moving it," said Sheryl Fink, a hunt observer with IFAW.

Another observer, Cheryl Jacobson, said: "We filmed as a sealer struck a seal with a hakapik before it slipped into the water. The sealer tried to pull the seal out by the hind flippers but it slipped underwater anyway. This wounded seal will most likely die underwater."


What a dirty disgusting business.

Here is a slide show from the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Gray Wolves May Be Hunted in US

Now that gray wolves are no longer in danger of being wiped out, we can get back to killing them! Hoo-ahh!

Good news for gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains: They no longer need federal protection. The bad news for the animals? Plans are already in the works to hunt them.

Federal Endangered Species Act protection of the wolves was lifted Friday in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, giving those states management of the estimated 1,500 gray wolves in the region.

Even though environmentalists plan to sue the federal government next month to restore wolf protections, hunts are already being scheduled by state wildlife agencies to reduce the wolf population to between 900 and 1,250.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Polar Bears and Dogs

Very cute. 'Nuff said.


Polar Bears And Dogs Playing - Awesome video clips here

Fox Releases Garbage Press Release as "News"

How friggin' lazy can you get. Fox news prints a phony "news" story about a group that favors animal research called Speaking of Research. From the article:

ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 28, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The tide could be turning against animal rights activists who demonstrate on campuses around the nation. Today marks the launch of Speaking of Research (SR: 7.52, -0.05, -0.66%), a student outreach organization, which aims to rally students and faculty in support of lifesaving medical research using animals.

Speaking of Research seeks to challenge animal rights dominance of the isshttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifue by participating in talks and debates on campuses across the country in the coming months. The group's website, http://www.speakingofresearch.org, provides students with the information and encouragement to enable them to speak out on the issue.

Oh no, the tide is turning! Based on what? Because some group funded by animal testing labs creates a front organization to push their agenda. The group behind this is Americans for Medical Progress. Here is their Board of Directors.

Aside from the whole astro-turf aspect of this "story", it pretty slimy for Fox to release this as news. It's not. It's a press release. Since when is it their job to launder this kind of crap and make it news? Oh right, I forgot. It's Fox.

3 Makah Whalers Plead Guilty, Prepare Selves for Stern Wrist Slapping

3 members of the Makah tribe have pled guilty to a misdemeanor of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Frankie Gonzales, William Secor Sr. and Theron Parker pleaded guilty Thursday to a single misdemeanor count of taking the whale in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The government agreed not to recommend a sentence of jail time to Magistrate Judge J. Kelley Arnold. Arnold could impose up to one year behind bars. The charge also carries a fine of up to $100,000. But it's unlikely that such an amount would be imposed on the men who come from the impoverished fishing village of Neah Bay.

Without the imposition of jail time, the men could receive up to five years of probation and be ordered to perform up to 100 hours of community service.


That really sucks rocks. I knew the tribe would go easy on them. I was hoping the feds would be a little tougher. Probation and community service? That's probably what you would get for spray painting the windows of a 7-11. They killed a whale for crying out loud!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

China National Kennel Club

Here is the web site to the China National Kennel Club. They are the "official" body created by the government for "enthusiasts devoted to the breeding and raising of dogs". I didn't see any recipes there, but it is the English version. And I must say the picture of a a dog they have has a sad creepy look of a puppy on his way to a stew pot.

Being a dog in China is probably about as fun as being a Tibetan monk.

EU May Target Canadian Seal Hunt

Seal hunting is a barbaric practice. The EU may take steps to put pressure on Canada to stop it.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas is "looking into the nature of the inhumane killing of seals" and is drafting a text to be presented before June, EU spokeswoman Barbara Helfferich told reporters.

She would not say if the measures could include an import ban on products derived from Canadian seals or other economic or political sanctions.

Animal rights campaigners and lawmakers are putting increasing pressure on the EU's executive office to take a tougher stand against the annual hunt, which has been criticized as cruel.


Canada recently introduced the innovation of cutting the throat of clubbed seals if they aren't dead yet. Isn't that nice of them?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sea Shepherd Targets Canada's Seal Hunt

I don't care what Greenpeace or anyone else says. I love Sea Shepherd. Why? Because they FIGHT BACK instead of just wringing their hands and wagging their fingers.

Despite a stern warning from Ottawa to steer clear of Canadian waters, animal rights activist Paul Watson is vowing to head to the ice floes in the Gulf of St. Lawrence next week to oppose the annual seal hunt.

Watson said Wednesday he and members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will sail into Canadian waters aboard the Farley Mowat to document the "perverse abomination" of the hunt from outside Canada's 12-mile territorial limit.....

Federal Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon is threatening Watson with prosecution if the 54-metre, ice-class ship enters Canadian waters because he claims the Farley Mowat doesn't meet international shipping standards.


Photo by red.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Canadian Seal Hunt to Start Friday

The Canadian seal hunt starts Friday. Oh joy. Certainly something to make Canada proud.

Canada's contentious seal hunt starts on Friday with new rules requiring hunters to make extra sure the animals are dead before they are skinned.

So regulations are necessary to make extra sure animals are DEAD before they are SKINNED?

Sick.

Photo by animalrescueblog.

Russia Says OK to Kill Bear Cubs

The International Fund for Animal Welfare is reporting the following on bear hunting in Russia....

Hunting for bears with young cubs is illegal in Russia, but the rule is not enforced for hibernating bears.

......under the proposed new regulations, hunters will be permitted to shoot cubs if they discover they have killed the mother in the den.


There are so many things wrong with these two sentences, it's hard to know where to begin. First of all, I just don't understand why you can't kill wide-awake bears with cubs, but you can kill hibernating bears with cubs. It can't be for the benefit of the bears. They are sitting targets when they are hibernating. It must be to protect the almighty hunter. They have a cleaner and safer shot when the bear is hibernating. Otherwise, a mother protecting her young may actually be dangerous and create conditions for a fair fight.

The other is the issue of killing babies. Now, someone could argue that it's "humane" to kill the cubs because they are now motherless and may die from abandonment. But I refuse to be that dismissive and analytical. Because these are BABIES. That is heartless to me. Even though bear hunting is a tradition in Russia, to kill a baby bear is unfathomable to me. I wouldn't even want to meet the hunter who could do it.

Of course, they probably hunt baby seals too so it wouldn't really phase them a bit.

Photo by animalrescueblog.

Animal Law a Growing Field

The Chicago Tribune has a good (and long) article on the rise of animal law as a specialty. More schools are teaching it, and there are more people out there practicing in this particular area.

I won't pretend it's not a pretty controversial area. I think what concerns most people is the question on standing. Do they have certain legal rights? Is not being beaten or killed a right for an animal, or is it the humane treatment that we owe them as stewards of the planet? It's a question that needs answering. Every time I see something dealing with animal law, I see comments from people talking about being sued by a German shepherd. Yes, it's silly, but that's how many people view this stuff.

If you can leave your estate to a dog, does it become a property owner? Doesn't that open up a can of worms. Next thing you know they'll be barking at you to get off their lawn!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Quote of the Week

Poignantly, some people take good care of their animals; they treat them when they fell sick, feed them as per the required standards, provide them with good shelter and sometimes talk to them nicely. Do you know that animals talk? Try to talk to them and they will tell you how you are supposed to treat them.

--Jack Meena, journalist based in Tanzania

Koreans Want Dogs Treated as Livestock

The Korean solution to the poor treatment of dogs in their country is to re-categorize them as "livestock". That's sure to go over well with the rest of the non dog-eating world.

The proposal aims to solve the ironic situation where many Koreans enjoy eating dog meat despite the absence of regulations on the sale of dog meat amid ambiguous categorization of the animal, a city official from the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) said.

``The real problem is, we cannot regulate the sanitation process of how dog meat is served due to the lack of regulations,'' the official said. ``We will have a series of public hearings to discuss the issue as it's a necessary step.''

Under the current law, dogs are categorized in the same group as donkeys, rabbits, horses and deer, not as livestock such as beef and chicken.

The categorization allows for the mass breeding and butchering of dogs and serving of their meat at restaurants, but does not let the authorities apply regulations for livestock to the trade of dog meat.


Disgusting.

Photo by Mr. Sellers

Animal Planet ...... To the XTREME!!!!

Animal Planet is trying to appeal to the young and the hip.

The new strategy, which will include a mini-series about Sea Shepherd's recent confrontation with Japanese whalers, is to get a better demographic for advertising. I suppose we can expect more When Wild Animals Attack! type stuff.

What worries me is they start using animals in an "edgy" way, the shows lose much of their educational value. It's all about the drama. And the Benjamins...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

King County, WA Shelter Accused of Neglect

We live in Seattle which is part of King County, WA. For a long time, we've been aware of the rumors that King County animal shelters were poorly run. A very sad testimonial for 1) a pretty rich county and 2) a progressive County Executive named Ron Sims. Well, since September 2007, actual reports are showing that the rumors are quite true. And the King County Council needs to enact some change.

In September 2007, a citizens advisory committee thoroughly reviewed the county's animal shelter program. (Thanks to Councilmember Julia Patterson who spearheaded this effort.) They said that conditions were "deplorable," pointing to poor sanitation, outbreaks of canine parvovirus and feline upper-respiratory infections, a veterinary staff too small to do its job well, failure to vaccinate some animals and no place to isolate sick dogs.

An outside consultant's report was issued this past week. It gets worse!

Cats and dogs are locked in filthy cages without food or water in King County animal shelters, and nothing short of a thorough overhaul of the county's apathetic animal-control operation can turn it into the model program the County Council wants it to be, a consultant told the council Monday.

Other findings....

• Logs in the cat infirmary and other areas wrongly indicated that cages had been cleaned and animals had been given food and water.

• Some cats have been cleared for adoption but haven't been moved into a room where people interested in adopting can find them. One-third of the cages in the cat-adoption room were empty.

• Not all animals coming into the shelter are being vaccinated against diseases common in kennels.

• Disease rates are high, and deaths in kennels "have skyrocketed."

• Two dogs impounded last August as part of an animal-cruelty investigation are still being held as evidence — "even though there's no case pending."

• Five managers, most without shelter backgrounds, have run animal programs in the last seven years. The previous manager, Walt Washington, was sometimes pulled off the job to help with election operations.


The consultant is Nathan Winograd, a former operations director at the San Francisco SPCA and a national advocate for reducing animal euthanasia.

Here's another article about the mess. And here's the consultant's Powerpoint presentation.

Photo by nanadebmomstretch.

Happy Easter. Don't Forget the Dumped Rabbits

Every year, people buy rabbits for Easter, and soon tire of them and dump them in parks. They don't last long on their own.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ronaldo Bullfighting Ad Generates Anger

And that's the cleanest headline I could come up with.

Cristiano Ronaldo is a Portuguese soccer player who is paid millions to kick balls around for Manchester United. He recently starred in a Fuji Xerox tv advertisement where he played himself acting like a matador, just using a soccer ball instead of a cape.

It's generating controversy because, clearly, he is promoting the blood sport of bullfighting.

My family is from the Azores, an archipelago that belongs to Portugal. I used to go to bullfights in the Azores when I spent summers there (they ran the bulls in the streets instead of an arena). I also am a fan of the Portuguese national soccer team and cheered them when they finished fourth in the last World Cup. I even have a soccer jersey with "Ronaldo" on it. Portuguese people celebrate whatever we can get.

But let me tell you, that I'm not wearing that shirt anymore and, frankly, I hope I never see that t^&* play again.

Of course someone drove a truck load of money up to his mansion. But, really, I don't care. I'm tired of this glamorization of the blood sport of bullfighting. It's a blood sport that should die out (no pun intended). It's not a fair fight and the bull is merely a sacrifice. It's not even a quick death.

The problem is not just the money behind the industry and the innate blood lust of humanity though. This is also a MALE activity. In many minds, the bullfighter is a symbol of the ultimate masculinity and virility. It is something to be emulated. It is virtually dripping with testosterone. And many women play into this by watching and even thinking these men are sexy. I was very disappointed in Penelope Cruz who was on a recent cover of Vanity Fair with some admiring matadors in fancy finery. All gorgeous, but all killers. There is no sexuality here, and if there is, it's probably that machista type that is tinged with brutality and sexism. Ronaldo himself does not have the greatest reputation in this department, (you'll see if you read the whole article.)

Ronaldo probably thought he was helping his image, and maybe he is in some quarters. But that shirt is not coming out of my closet again.

Photo by donttread22.

Friday, March 21, 2008

South Seas Dolphins Face Hunting and Captivity

Aw man, not the dolphins too! But it's true. Being cute and smart means NOTHING! We still want to harvest and exploit you too!

Woo hoo!

While the rest of the world sees dolphins as spirited creatures to be admired and cherished, the people of the Solomon Islands, an impoverished nation in the South Pacific, are not so sentimental. Every year, from December to March, men living in remote villages in Malaita province use dug-out canoes and boats to hunt dolphins.

Far out to sea, they attract the creatures by banging stones under water. Pods - as many as 200 dolphins - are herded towards the shore where the animals panic, driving their muzzles into the sand and suffocating. Villagers eat the meat but it is the teeth of certain species, particularly the spinner, that are most prized, used for special financial transactions such as paying dowries or 'bride price'.

The Malaitans are not the only people who see dolphins as a valuable commodity. Two hours by boat from the capital Honiara, on Gavutu Island, one man controversially claims to be working to save dolphins from the traditional hunts by selling them to aquariums.

The 40-acre island, surrounded by coral reefs teeming with life, has been leased by Chris Porter, 37, a former sea lion trainer from Vancouver, who established a dolphin export business in 2003. There was such an outcry over his first shipment of dolphins to a theme park in Mexico - nine of the mammals died soon after arrival - that Porter's activities were suspended amid fears that international condemnation of the trade would bring a boycott on the Solomon Islands' tuna fishing industry.

Last year the islands' government overturned the ban and he is back in business, employing 37 islanders in his burgeoning empire. Last October he sent a second shipment of 28 wild dolphins to Dubai. The animals were put on a barge, settled on mattress-like material, draped with wet cloths and transported from Gavutu to Honiara's domestic air terminal - closed for the occasion in case animal rights protesters tried to get near.


I know that a lot of people will accuse me of"cultural imperialism." These impoverished islanders need the employment and the dolphin teeth sales. This is economic survival. People first!!!

That argument gets tired after a while. Why do we punish animals for our own mistakes? Why do impoverished peoples have to rely on city slickers like Porter or the unsustainable harvest of animals for survival? Usually because they have no other opportunities or choices. They need to feed their families and survive. But why are they in this situation in the first place?

It's not the animals' fault. It's our fault as a species, particularly the members of wealthy corporations and citizens of the developed world. We create the global economic conditions that have left so many people in poverty that they have to rely on the land and its dwindling resources to survive. Why are the gorillas dying in Virunga? Because of war, poverty and corruption. Why is there war, poverty and corruption? Because of fights for resources. Why are there fights for resources? Because of human greed. We can't share. We take what we can get and then leave everyone else to fight for the scraps. And then we get angry because some people believe that the animals should not pay the price for saving the poor of the world.

They shouldn't pay the price. We should because our global economic system is the one responsible for this mess. We have to take responsibility for what we've created.

So next time you shriek "cultural imperialism" is causing poverty, look at yourself and see whether you may be playing a role in it too. Because it ain't the animals honey.

Photo by princessangel.

Beijing Olympics an Insult to Human and Animal Rights

There are a lot of reasons why those Olympics should not be in Beijing. The country's human rights record alone is enough. But China's treatment of its animals is horrific as well. Holding the Olympics in Beijing is a reward for bad behavior and it never should have been chosen as the site. Then again, Berlin was the site of the 1936 Olympics.

Here is a UK web site with a page including all sorts of links to information on animal cruelty in China. It includes pictures and video. It's not a pretty site, but it's got lots of stuff. But be warned that you need a strong stomach for what it has to offer.

Photo by Paul's-World.

More on Berlin Zoo - Allegations They Sold Animals for Chinese Medicine

Here is more on the Berlin Zoo selling animals from profit. Berliners are rightfully upset about this. If guilty, I hope this guy goes to jail.

The allegations are a public relations disaster for the zoo following a huge rise in its profile over the past year with the celebrity of the polar bear Knut, the cub abandoned by its mother to be raised by human hand. Knut has turned the zoo into Berlin's biggest tourist attraction and earned it £6 million.

Claudia Haemmerling, a member of the Berlin parliament and an expert on animal rights, filed the criminal complaint which also includes further allegations that the zoo bred "bastard" cross-breeds of a panther and a Java leopard which were sold along with tigers and jaguars to China where they ended up on the shelves of traditional medicine stores marketed as "impotency cures."


What is it with the Chinese and their impotence cures? I would think they would have developed a Viagra knockoff by now. Oh wait, they've already done that.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Controversial Project to "Rewild" Chinese Tigers

Here is another great example of the frequent conflict between wildlife conservation and animal rights. In this particular case, while I understand and relate to the animal welfare position espoused by some groups, I think that the overall survival of an endangered species must take precedence. I'm not saying the program in this article will succeed, but sometimes the survival of the many calls for the sacrifice of the few (sorry, I think I'm channeling Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan).

The project, run by the charity Save China’s Tigers and set on a 33,000-hectare ranch in South Africa’s Free State Province, basically tries to “teach” the big cats to hunt for themselves and other survival skills. It is the brainchild of an energetic Chinese woman named Li Quan.

The hope is that the adult tigers will impart their acquired skills to their offspring which can then be released into the wild in China. Estimates and data are scanty but there are only believed to be around 10 to 30 individuals left in the wild of the Chinese sub-species of the tiger family, also known as the South China tiger.

The problem in the eyes of some animal welfare groups is that the tigers are being trained to hunt through the use of live animals such blesbok, a kind of antelope, which are released into a 40-hectare camp.

South Africa’s SPCA claims in a statement on its website that “Life Feeding - It Happens Here” and has taken the issue to the courts.

“It is a spurious argument that carnivores need to be fed animals, live. Not in captivity they don’t!,” the SPCA, which regards the practice as cruel, says.

Photo by wAlanb.

African Journalist Addresses Animal Welfare


This is a moving and insightful article about animal welfare in the developing world. The author is Jack Meena, a journalist based in Tanzania.

In the article, Meena also discusses the growing threat of agrobusiness in developing countries. This concerns me deeply. As reform of factory farms progress in developed countries, these practices will simply be transplanted and "outsourced" to developing countries desperate for the economic growth. Traditional animal husbandry will be supplanted by the crueler industrialization of meat production.

Asia, South America and Africa are now becoming major growth areas for the development of factory farming. This growth is often supported and encouraged by western agri-business interests.

Livestock production worldwide continues to grow and is tending to move from extensive marginal land use and mixed cropping to industrial or factory farming. Nowhere is this expansion more marked than in developing countries.

According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa will be the world’s leading producers of animal products by 2020 and much of that meat will be produced in industrial systems (Delgado, 1999).


Photo by endaf.

More on Irish Hare Coursing

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports sent us a link to a site that has videos of the "sport". It's banbloodsports.com. Check it out.

Here is some of their video of this horrific practice:

German Zoo Sold Animals for Slaughter

According to a Green politician in Germany, the Berlin Zoo sold several older animals to be slaughtered.

Not all the animals in Berlin zoo receive the star treatment lavished on Knut the polar bear. As visitors snapped the once-cuddly celebrity yesterday, the zoo came under fire for allegedly dispatching three elderly black Himalayan bears and a hippo to the slaughterhouse to make the most out of their skins and meat.


How revolting.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Park Chief Arrested in Gorilla Killings in Congo

This is a shocking development.

It was a gorilla massacre that shocked the world. Among the victims: the majestic silverback Senkekwe, his body riddled with gunshot wounds after a brutal execution; a female named Mburanumwe, killed with her unborn baby inside; and another, Safari, burnt to a cinder.

The rangers of Congo's Virunga National Park who bore the corpses of the rare apes on stretchers to be buried were visibly shaken by the wretched crime. Now it seems that some of them may have orchestrated the slaughter.

Honore Mashagiro, director of the park at the time of last year's atrocities, was arrested yesterday at his home in the eastern town of Goma on suspicion of arranging the killing of the endangered gorillas. Another six foresters are expected to be questioned in the coming days about trapping and killing the apes on the director's orders.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New Zealand SPCA in Financial Trouble

The SPCA in New Zealand is in financial trouble and it is having to euthanize animals it does not have the resources to care for.

The organisation put down 29,484 of the 59,654 animals they received in 2006, SPCA chief executive Robyn Kippenberger said. About five per cent of them were healthy.

Ms Kippenberger said most branches had a policy of providing board for animals for as long as it took to find a home for them, but it was ultimately dependent on the ability of the SPCA to care for them.

"What most shelters try to do is to offset that (euthanasia) by holding as many animals as they possibly can and then be really active about rehoming them.

"We hold animals for seven days and then we basically make a decision."

The Gisborne branch was most recently hit by a chronic lack of resources and was in danger of closing.

Rotorua and Hamilton recently came close to closing but got past crisis point when their communities got behind them.

The SPCA receives no government funding and relies on public donations to meet costs.


What is going on in New Zealand? Why is public support of this organization decreasing?

Photo by sarichelle.

New Russian President a Cat Owner

Well, we can't always be serious here. New Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is the owner of a Siberian Colorpoint cat.

A Russian tomcat will move into the Kremlin when his owner Dmitry Medvedev is sworn in as president in May, replacing the outgoing leader's Labrador, Connie.

Dorotheus, a blue-eyed Siberian colorpoint, is an independent-minded and quiet creature. However, he once had a serious fight with a cat that belonged to Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader who at one time lived next door to the Medvedevs, Moskovsky Komsomolets said.

Dorotheus, now four years old, was defeated and had to be treated with antibiotics for over a month. Worse still, he had to be castrated to stop him prowling and looking for more fights, the paper said.


Here is a link to what the breed looks like.

Looks very similar to Jenny, our Norwegian Forest Cat.

Mulesing Controversy in Australia

Here's an in-depth article about the practice of mulesing sheep in Australia. The practice has received much criticism.

It refers to the slicing of a patch of skin from the rear of Australian merino sheep to prevent flystrike. Often done without anaesthetic - due to reasons such as cost and previous unavailability - the procedure is aimed at removing permanently the wrinkly skin that otherwise becomes a moist haven for blowflies to lay eggs.

Yikes.

Photo by ariehsinger.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Northern Ireland Needs to Improve Animal Welfare

Northern Ireland is best known for all the political turmoil that has occurred there for dozens of years. But there are animals there too, of course, and a group of citizens are finally addressing the vacuum of animal protection laws in the area.

The Animal Welfare Acts which were recently introduced in Scotland, England and Wales, put a legal ‘duty of care’ on owners to understand and provide for the needs of their pet. No such legislation currently exists in Northern Ireland.

A new group backed by Jim Wells, MLA for South Down, has been formed to support the development of companion animal legislation in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Companion Animal Welfare Committee (NICAWC) brings together vets and animal welfare organisations across the UK with the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Representatives recently met officials from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) to discuss future plans for improving the welfare of pets in Northern Ireland.


Photo by Moochin Photoman.

NYC Horse-Drawn Carriages Draw PETA's Fire

I'm not always a fan of PETA and their philosophies, but there are some campaigns I strongly support. I am no fan of horse-drawn carriages and I would like to see the practice end.

Here in Seattle, horse-drawn carriages and their working horses were not even inspected until the last year. A few weeks ago, one of the owners was arrested for neglected horses on his property. He had been allegedly seen trotting a horse and carriage up a steep hill downtown.

Trotting? That's cruel.

Even if all owners are wonderful, it seems unfair to place these animals in dangerous situations, vulnerable to cars, harassment, and poor weather conditions.

Anyway, here's PETA going after the most famous carriage city, New York.

Photo by CCintheSouth.

Spotlight on Chinese Animal Abuse

With the coming of the Olympic games to Beijing, I want to shine a bright light on Chinese animal abuse. They aren't the only nation with animal abuse issues, but they are surely one of the worst. Dogs kept in cages so cramped they can't even stand up, only to live a short miserable life before being eaten. Many of their zoos are hellholes of neglect and abuse. They have neither the will nor social pressures to treat animals humanely.

When I first started this blog, I remember reading articles in the Chinese press warning of the dangers of rabies and problems with stray animals in Beijing. I spent enough time in my college years reading foreign communist press articles to see the writing on the wall. Sure enough, a wholesale butchery of dogs and cats was being prepared to make nice for the Olympics. Don't click on that link if you don't like seeing cats crammed into cages. It's disgusting. And it's not some fringe element in Beijing. It's the government. The very same people who would be enforcing animal cruelty laws in China (do they even have any?).

So, when the games start in Beijing in August, swept clean of all those poor neglected animals, we'll be showing the other side of China. And of course, I know the statements above are a broad brush. So we will also be spotlighting Chinese groups that are trying to make a difference.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Robots to Replace Animals in Chemical Testing

I keep hearing about all these innovations to replace animal testing...laboratory-engineered human skin, robots, human eyeball replicas, yadda yadda.

Here's another example of something "in development." When is this stuff going to start actually being USED?

Call me impatient.

Researchers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Health will be working together to help create robots that can test the safety and toxicity of chemicals.

According to the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), more than 100 million animals are used annually in experiments in the U.S., of which 15 million are used in toxicity tests.

The robots would work by testing a cell culture of a chemical using a special computer model. They’ll resemble medical research machines which test thousands of molecules for medical usefulness in just a few days.

If it works, it could mean much faster testing of chemical safety. This is good news for companies as well as health agencies. Products from pesticides to cleaners must be safety tested before being released, so the robots would get products on the shelves or back to the lab faster.


Photo by Nyx.

Romania Considering Bear Cull

Romania is the only European country experiencing a population growth of bears. Supposedly, there's too many now and they are coming into contact with humans too often.

Too many bears in Romania? Get rid of them!!!

Recently, the bear crisis {in Romania} has provoked a fierce debate over how best to deal with the population growth. Biologists estimate that the natural bear population should be not much more than 4,000; most agree that the population shouldn't grow above its current levels.

This has led a number of conservationists, including members of Mr. Negus's centre {Brasov-based Forest Research Institute}, to call for a bear cull, similar to the government-sanctioned wildlife culls that Canadian governments regularly authorize to keep predator populations down to acceptable numbers.

While that idea has received strong backing from people and local governments in Transylvania, it has outraged some ecological and animal-rights groups, which point to the extinction of bears in the rest of Europe.


Photo by londonconstant.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Human Rights Side of the Beijing Olympics

This is a site dedicated to animals, but when it comes to China and the Beijing Olympics, remember that the government's cruelty affects animals and humans.

Please remember the Tibetan monks and their supporters who are dying right now as they protest one of the worst human rights situations in the world, the Chinese occupation and cultural rape of Tibet. Buddhism comes the closest of all organized religions to honoring ALL life and we want to honor the Tibetans' fight for their rights and their country.

The Olympics have no place in Beijing.

Photo by Twodeadpoets.

Iowa Town Rescinds Stray Cat Bounty

Boy, was this harsh. An Iowa town had a $5 bounty for every collarless cat turned in to a vet.

The City Council approved the bounty after receiving numerous complaints about feral cats. Under the initial policy, which went into effect March 1, stray cats without collars would be taken to a veterinarian, and if they weren't claimed, they'd be euthanized. That caused an uproar among animal lovers.

On Thursday, the city voted to end the bounty and form a task force involving three organizations, Maryland-based Alley Cat Allies, Best Friends Animal Society of Utah and Feline Friendz in Nebraska.

But the Mayor still wants those meddling cats GONE!

Trively still wants the cats gone — and said returning them to town is not a solution.

"How would you like it if a dozen cats come around there every morning as you tried to feed pets and they gobble up food and chased your pets away and then left a calling card on your yard or walk to step on?" he asked.

A calling card? Is he talking about cats?

Photo by crausman.

Australia's Kangaroo Cull Draw Fire From Activists

The Australian Government recently announce a plan to kill 400 kangaroos.

Sydney - Animal rights activists declared themselves human shields Saturday and vowed to prevent authorities from killing kangaroos which have overrun a Canberra military base. Last week the Australian government enraged animal lovers by approving the killing of around 400 kangaroos at risk of death from starvation.

Contractors have been engaged to shoot the kangaroos with tranquilizing darts and then kill them with lethal injections.

"We are all determined to see that the kangaroos aren't killed," protest organizer Pat O'Brien said. "There's a lot of anger in a lot of people about this, and that's what it will come to - we will stand between the kangaroo and the darts if necessary."

O'Brien, president of the Wildlife Protection Association of Australia, urged authorities to go back to their original plan, which was to round up the animals and shift them to an area where there is enough food for them.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett, the former Midnight Oil singer, said he was unmoved by threats from London-based animal welfare group Viva! to organize an international boycott of Australian goods and services if the cull goes ahead.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Feds Revoke 2004 Award for Chino Slaughterhouse Involved in Beef Recall

They've even asked for the plaque back. Oh the humanity! I can only hope our fearless leader awards the company president a Medal of Freedom if he's not to busy fantasizing about fighting the brown people in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has revoked a "supplier of the year award" given to a Southern California slaughterhouse after inhumane treatment of cows prompted the largest beef recall in history.

A USDA spokeswoman says the government is also asking Chino-based Hallmark/Westland Meat Co., for its plaque back. The plant, which supplied one-fifth of the beef used in the federal school lunch program, won the award in the 2004-2005 school year.


Think about all those places that DON'T win those stupid plaques. Heckuva job there Georgie!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Stupid Santa Ana Stunt to Involve Elephant

Is this really necessary? I am really annoyed with the science center....why give legitimacy to this stupid stunt and this use of such intelligent animals?

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

A plan to wrap a giant soap bubble around an elephant has some animal rights advocates and zoo professionals crying foul.

The stunt is planned as part of the 12th annual Bubblefest at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, where bubbles are used to teach children about molecular structure.

A letter signed by 11 zoo professionals expressed concern that the Asian elephant, a critically endangered species, "will be used in a trivial and sensationalist manner."

It is not the first time controversy has swirled around one of Tai's performances. Last year, it raised a ruckus when her body was painted to blend into a background for an art exhibit.


See this post's photo to see what the "art exhibit" looked like. You can judge for yourself.

Photo by bradley j.

Iceland May Begin Whaling Soon

Iceland said they may begin whaling soon. I hope it will be met with the same revulsion as when the Japanese do it.

Iceland is likely to start whaling again this summer in a move certain to draw the ire of conservationists, the BBC said on its website on Thursday.

Iceland ended its ban on commercial whaling in 2006, but in August last year its fisheries ministry said it would not issue new quotas until market demand increased and an export agreement with Japan -- where whale meat is popular -- was in place.


What utter crap. They are going to start whaling so they can export it? And since when is whale meat that popular anywhere?

It's just as barbaric and sick when blond-haired fair skinned people do it too.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dolphin Saves Beached Whales

How cool is this?

Conservation officer Malcolm Smith told the BBC that he and a group of other people had tried in vain for an hour and a half to get the whales to sea.

The pygmy sperm whales had repeatedly beached, and both they and the humans were tired and set to give up, he said.

But then the dolphin appeared, communicated with the whales, and led them to safety.

PETA vs Best Friends: Death and Life for Rescued Animals

PETA can't kill rescued dogs fast enough. Best Friends prefers to rehabilitate and rescue animals. The NY Times has the story on how the Vick case has divided them.

They all love the animals, but can’t seem to get along with each other.

The divide surfaced in the aftermath of the Vick trial when the judge, Henry Hudson, ordered Vick to pay $928,073 in restitution for the “past, present and long-term care of all the dogs.” The court allocated $5,000 for dogs deemed likely to be adopted, and $18,275 for each of the dogs going into longer-term or lifetime sanctuary care.

PETA argued that dogs trained for fighting should be destroyed because they are unsafe and unserviceable. PETA said the Vick money would have been better spent spaying and neutering, as well as providing care for more suitable and less well-known adoption candidates.

The folks at Best Friends Animal Society argued that the fighting dogs had been forced to lead brutal lives and should not receive death sentences.

There are more groups then Best Friends that would prefer to save animals. They just happen to be one of the larger ones.

Ontario to Improve Provincial Cruelty Laws

According to this article, Ontario has lagged behind other Canadian provinces in terms of animal cruelty legislation. Considering how bad Canada's animal welfare laws are in general, this is pretty awful.

But the province is finally taking steps to correct this sad state of affairs.

Ontario will introduce legislation to increase penalties for animal abusers and impose strict new rules on the province's 50 roadside zoos - assailed by activists as among the worst in the world.

The legislation, aimed at overhauling a 90-year-old law, is expected to set standards of care for small zoos and give the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals the right to inspect the operations, The Canadian Press has learned.

The bill, if passed, will also likely ensure there are tougher consequences for people who abuse animals by making it a provincial offence to hurt an animal, sources said.

Ontario's regulation of roadside zoos, when compared to other provinces, has been routinely criticized by animal rights activists.

Newfoundland and Labrador spells out how specific species should be housed and treated, and Alberta recently brought in tougher zoo regulations. In other provinces, the SPCA can go into zoos and inspect the animals.

I'm hopeful this legislation will pass, but my preference would be a complete ban on roadside zoos. I think they are all bad and there is no purpose to them other than for entertainment. There is no conservation or education purpose...it's just a business with the animals as assets. I have yet to hear of a "good" roadside zoo....but if any are out there, let me know.

Photo by Insomniac101.

Continuing Struggle for a Saipan Shelter

There is still no animal shelter on the island of Saipan, but the mayor has not given up on its construction. (This project has been slated for years, but now he wants it completed before he leaves office.)

SAIPAN Mayor Juan B. Tudela is considering asking the private sector to help fund the construction of the animal shelter project.

“I will see what I can get from them,” Tudela said.

He said he may hold a fundraising activity to help finance the project.

“I want to finish this project,” he said.

Tudela, whose second term ends in Jan. 2010, promised to implement the 1995 stray dog control law when he ran for mayor in 2001.


Photo by bach_illusion.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Of all the creatures ever made he (man) is the most detestable. He is the only creature that inflicts pain for sport, knowing it to be pain."

-Mark Twain

WWF Warns of Mass Baby Seal Deaths Due to Global Warming

The WWF is warning that baby seals in the Baltic might face starvation due to global warming.

According to a Monday warning by the environmental lobbying group WWF, hundreds of baby ringed seals born this winter could die in coming weeks due to lack of food or from cold because there is not enough snow and ice in the Baltic Sea.

"The situation is dramatic," Cathrin Münster, of the WWF's Baltic office, warned Monday in a statement. "It could turn out that not one of the seal babies born in the last few weeks will survive."

Seal mothers usually create deep burrows in the snow to protect their young. With those burrows now melting too early, the young pups are forced into the icy waters before they have built up protective layers of fat. They are also too young to defend themselves against predators like foxes and eagles.


That's sad. And I'm not sure if there is much we can do.

Killings Begin a National Dialogue in Puerto Rico

The tragic killings of the dogs thrown over a bridge last year shed light on Puerto Rico's poor treatment of animals.

I'm glad to see the media is still writing about it. This detailed article is from the New York Times.

News of the event became an international embarrassment for Puerto Rico and something of a vindication for animal rights advocates here and on the United States mainland who had long tried to draw attention to the plight of animals on the island.

Animal rights advocates contend that the inhumane disposal of animals was routine, with unwanted dogs, cats and even farm animals hurled from bridges, intentionally crushed by vehicles or butchered with machetes. Government nonchalance, they say, has allowed this to go on.


Now, international attention is having some impact. Not only is it spurring some government action, but it has unified animal welfare groups and brought the issue to the attention of Puerto Rico's citizens.

“In our culture we have not addressed these issues because, probably, we did not think they were important,” said Carlos M. Carazo, director of the animal disease division of Puerto Rico’s State Office for Animal Control, in an interview in San Juan last month. “In Puerto Rico, we have so many issues to address, we haven’t had the leisure time to think about animals. But this is probably the time to start thinking about it.”

Puerto Rico, among United States territories, has long had a poor international reputation for the treatment of animals. There is no government program for mass sterilization or registration of pets and little animal welfare education in the schools. The island has only about a half-dozen animal shelters, and while municipalities are charged with rounding up strays, that duty has largely been ignored, government officials and animal advocates say.


The key is to keep the pressure on the government and to work together. Groups get too easily fragmented over turf. This is too important for the animals (and let's not forget tourism dollars!)

Photo by amaliasoto.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Seattle Columnist Points Out that ALL Torture is Bad

I really like Robert Jamieson Jr., a columnist with the Seattle P-I. I may not always agree with what he says, but he is always thoughtful and fair.

A lab at the University of Washington is under investigation for animal cruelty by the National Institutes of Health. PETA complained to the NIH, which reopened an investigation and found that "instead of one researcher and three monkeys subjected to too many experimental surgeries there were 14 monkeys, five UW researchers and 41 unauthorized surgeries".

Last week, about 100 people protested in front of the building where the experiments are occurring.

Robert Jamiesen laments the fact that the same amount of attention is not paid to cruelty against humans (this common opinion is unfathomable to me.) But I appreciate his closing remarks.

The UW maintains there was no cover-up.

Then again, dead monkeys tell no tales.

I don't agree with animal rights folks on everything. Some research is necessary to ensure the safety of drugs for human use, but science must occur within guidelines. This is why the UW is in hot water. Rules are rules.

Animals shouldn't be unnecessarily or unlawfully tortured in the name of science.

Just like human beings shouldn't be unnecessarily or unlawfully tortured in the name of war.

Walking away from the protest, I wondered about the thin line between animal abuse and people abuse.

Both types of torture are wrong -- both warrant protests.


Photo by kweervegan.

Canada to Kill 275,000 Harp Seals

Canada has set a quota of 275,000 harp seals that will be clubbed or shot. This despite a large outcry from environmental groups. They have, however, adopted new "humane" slaughter methods. Club it, check if it's dead, and then slit an artery if they aren't. That last part is their new innovation. Real nice.

Hunters will be allowed to kill 275,000 young harp seals on the ice floes off eastern Canada this year, the government said on Monday, a number that animal rights activists said was totally unsustainable.

The quota is slightly more than last year's 270,000, when ice conditions were poor, but considerably below the 335,000 set in 2006.

Phil Jenkins, a spokesman for the Fisheries and Oceans Department, dismissed suggestions that the harp seal herd was in danger of shrinking.

"The seal herd is healthy and abundant right now at about 5.5 million animals. We want to see it continue to be healthy and so over the years we have brought back the total allowable catch," he said.

Photo by Yeimaya

Let the Cat Killing Begin! China Gets Ready for Olympic Games

Well this was utterly predictable. Chinese authorities have begun rounding up any stray animal they can get their hands on so they can kill them. This is their way of putting on a pretty face for the rest of the world for the Olympics.

Thousands of pet cats in Beijing are being abandoned by their owners and sent to die in secretive government pounds as China mounts an aggressive drive to clean up the capital in preparation for the Olympic Games.

Hundreds of cats a day are being rounded and crammed into cages so small they cannot even turn around.

Then they are trucked to what animal welfare groups describe as death camps on the edges of the city.

The cull comes in the wake of a government campaign warning of the diseases cats carry and ordering residents to help clear the streets of them.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

People Keep Wearing Fur

After all the public education campaigns and media exposure, people are still wearing furs. In fact, thanks to China and Russia, the purchase of furs is actually increasing.

According to the International Fur Trade Association, retail sales of fur hit $13.49 billion in 2006, growing 5.6 per cent from the year before.

In mid-February, pelt prices reached record highs at auction in Seattle on the back of a cold winter, according to Everest.

The uses of fur have expanded, experts say, and growing sales of luxury goods worldwide has also helped fur sales. But the key factor in the growth trend has been the emergence of Russia and China as major fur markets.

Zilberkweit estimates that Russia accounts for about 40 per cent of fur sales and China makes up about 30 per cent.


It's frustrating to me. I understand that there are parts of the world, like China and Russia, where there are weak animal rights movements and awareness is lagging. But there are other parts of the world where people are sick of knowing about the cruelties of the fur trade. Perhaps it's because of the fashion designers who are using fur, or perhaps it's because of the displays of shallow fur-wearing celebrities like Beyonce. Fundamentally, thought, people should know better and I get the impression that they do. They just don't care.

What a vain bunch of idiots we are as a species.

Photo by ezraitaly.

Australia Has Poor Record Preserving Wildlife

And, no, this isn't push back from the Japanese over whaling. This is according to an article in the Independent.

Australians love their wildlife – after all, who could fail to warm to a koala, or a wombat, or a kangaroo? But few Australians know that they have the worst record on the planet for conserving their beautiful and unusual animals.

Of all the mammal species that have become extinct in the past 200 years, nearly half are Australian. Since the British arrived, 27 mammals – about 10 per cent of the total – have disappeared. These are statistics that "embarrass many conservationists, myself included", says Tammie Matson, head of the species programme at WWF Australia.

Photo by Just-jen

Australia Rejects Talk of Compromise on Commercial Mailing

Australia has rejected any talk of allowing Japan to resume coastal whaling in return for discontinuing the discredited "Scientiffic Whaling" that Japan now currrently engages in. Other members of the 78-nation International Whaling Commission, however, might be more agreeable to such a compromise.

The gulf between Australia and Japan over whaling has deepened as some other conservation nations shift towards a compromise with the Asian power.

A possible trade-off of commercial whaling off Japan's coast for the end of its discredited "scientific" whaling has resurfaced at talks in London. Such a deal was rejected by strong anti-whaling countries, including Australia, which also stiffened its censure of Japan over the conduct of its Antarctic whaling.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Fathead Alert!

Bullfighting World Promotes Boy Matador

So, there's this 10-year-old Spanish boy being allowed to fight in bull rings in Mexico and Peru. He has scars from being gored in the leg and face. He uses a cloak and sword to kill bulls, like regular matadors. Supposedly, he has fought 56 bulls, slicing off 106 ears and seven tails as trophies.

Look at this picture that I found on flickr. Is this a real bull? Looks like a little calf to me!

Either way, this is not just animal abuse, but CHILD ABUSE as well, in my opinion.

A graceful entertainer since age five, Michelito, whose full name is Michael Lagravere Peniche, works mostly in Mexico because he says he is too young to perform in Spain.

"Ever since I was young, lots of bullfighters visited my house and I went with my dad to the fights," he told reporters. "That's how I developed a taste for bullfighting."

Over the weekend, Michelito defeated four bulls at Lima's bullring, considered the oldest in the Americas, after a young Peruvian matador he was supposed to compete against pulled out because of an illness.


Photo by Vladimir Terán.

Japan's Bizarre Whale "Research"

Scientists in Australia have conducted a study on Japanese whaling "research" papers, and have found them to be both strange and essentially useless.

Some of the experiments involved injecting dead minke sperm into cow eggs, others attempt to produce test-tube whale babies and thawing frozen whale sperm to see if it remained fertile.

Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research also injected cow and pig egg cells with minke cells as part of its whaling program.


Uh, yeah. That's real groundbreaking stuff there.

Japan Bribes Small Nations to Vote in Whaling Commision

We've always known this, but now the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands has come out and admitted it.

One of the whaler's key Pacific supporters, the Solomon Islands, has frankly admitted to Australia that Japanese interests normally finance its trips to the whaling commission, which is finely balanced between pro and anti-whaling groups.

"Usually Japan pays for our attendance," Prime Minister Derek Sikua said. But he said the Solomons had declined to attend a special closed meeting on the future of the IWC that wound up in London last night.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Economist Looks at Illegal Wildlife Trade

Leave it to The Economist to provide an insightful analysis of CITES' effectiveness in actually preventing illegal trade in wildlife and their parts. It's a good article and worth your time and thought...whether you agree with it or not.

The point is not that bans never work. They can, especially in the short term or when species are in dire danger. But their longer-term success depends on three factors. First, they must be coupled with a reduction in demand for the banned products. If a ban helps to shift people's tastes, so much the better. Second, they must not undermine incentives to conserve endangered species in the wild. Third, they have to be supported by governments and citizens in the countries where these species live. If these conditions are not met, bans are unlikely either to reduce trade or to maintain endangered species. They may even make matters worse.


Photo by IFAW Think Twice.

Animal Rights Takes Root in China

Animal rights in China is a very, very small movement, but it's there. It's all we can hope for in a country where even a human being is devalued.

Jill Robinson, a Briton, spends most of her time in Sichuan province, caring for bears rescued from bile farmers, who are compensated in return for shutting down their operations. She says support from local young people is rising fast, and attitudes are starting to change. If China can stop binding women's feet, she asks, why should it not abandon cruelty to animals?

Photo by North Sullivan.

Sea Shepherd Claims Japanese Whalers Tried To Kill Paul Watson

According to Sea Shepherd, Paul Watson was shot in the chest, and was only protected because of a kevlar vest. If true, this would be a shocking development.

From their site:

Today around 3:45pm Australian Eastern Standard Time in the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone of Antarctica, an attempt was made on the life of Paul Watson, Captain of the Sea Shepherd vessel Steve Irwin.

A single bullet was fired by what must have been an expert marksman at Paul’s chest, which embedded in his Kevlar vest and also damaged a metal badge worn behind the vest. Fortunately, this stopped the bullet penetrating his flesh.

The ships’ doctor was emphatic that without protection, the shot would have been lethal.

At the time the shot was fired, the Japanese whaling vessel Nisshin Maru was moving parallel to the Steve Irwin in stormy seas. The high level of movement indicates that the shot must have been fired by an expert.


They also threw flash grenades at the Steve Irwin. The Japanese are admitting that they fired "warning shots".

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Tales from the Animal Rights Trenches, 1.2

Last month we posted about the coyote in Discovery Park, Seattle. The park is about 500 acres of urban forest on the western edge of Seattle. There is a limited amount of private housing there and there are residential streets outlining the edges of the park.

A coyote killed a couple of cats and was seen approaching porches. There was a panicked outcry and, first, traps were set out to trap and kill the coyote. Then, a USDA guy came out to kill it with a rifle.

More outcry followed.

Finally, the City of Seattle stepped in and settled things down. With several partner groups, it held a "Living with Wildlife" workshop for the neighborhood. Because we live near the park, we got an invite too. So we went!

The meeting was very well run. Here were the represented groups, all with tables and information: Seattle Parks and Recreation, Washington Fish and Wildlife, Woodland Park Zoo, Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), and the Seattle Animal Shelter. I saw plenty of board members from Friends of Discovery Park too.

The meeting was effective because there was one presentation with a slide show....and then, instead of opening up the meeting to a shout fest (believe me, I was ready for it!), the meeting was disbursed for citizens to approach the represented groups for one-on-one talks about concerns. Brilliant, really. It diffused what could have been an angry confrontation into opportunities for real conversations and education.

There were a couple of people there ready to call for this coyote's death. One woman interrupted the presenter THREE times because two of her cats were presumably killed by the coyote. She was quite irate when he suggested she keep them INDOORS!

Another man sitting next to me said his wife was concerned about their three-old daughter. Obviously, this child is left alone in an urban forest where mentally ill and homeless people sometimes wander. But it's the COYOTE that is dangerous. My husband had to pull me away from that one.

Because we complain so much on this blog (for good reason!) I wanted to point this out as a good meeting, strategically planned for maximum effectiveness. As for the coyote, he (or she) is exhibiting normal urban wildlife behavior. As long as he doesn't threaten humans, he won't be shot.

Here's hoping we move onto another topic in Discovery Park.

Photo by Hard_Rain.

City in India to Poison 100,000 Dogs

From the Dept of WTF?

Authorities in Indian Kashmir have begun poisoning stray dogs in an anti-rabies program that aims to kill some 100,000 dogs in the region's main city, officials said Thursday.

Animal rights activists vowed to go to court in a bid to stop the slaughter planned by Srinagar city, saying it is an illegal, extreme and cruel solution to a problem that could be better addressed with other methods.

With the world's highest rabies fatality rate, India has grappled with ways to control the millions of stray dogs that live on its streets.

In Srinagar, city officials vowed to press ahead with the plan.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Kenya's Political Troubles Have an Effect on Wildlife

The recent troubles with the Kenyan presidential election have brought problems related to Kenyan wildlife, but not in the way that you might think. Tourists have been scared off, which in turn effects revenue for conservation projects.

Conservation projects to protect Kenya's rich wildlife, from its rhinos to whale sharks, are at risk if the country fails to attract tourists back after a post-election crisis, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

Kenya relies on its game parks to draw hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. But, the sector has been badly damaged by a wave of cancellations following ethnic clashes triggered by President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election in December.

The violence that killed more than 1,000 people prompted European tour operators to cancel chartered flights to the east African country, dealing a heavy blow to its tourism industry -- the leading foreign exchange earner in Kenya.

Funding for conservation projects has shrunk as a result of of the slump in tourist numbers, conservation officials say.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Canberra Kangaroos May be Culled

Kangaroos in Canberra are facing an uncertain future.

A review was commissioned after the Department of Defence applied to relocate mobs of eastern grey kangaroos to New South Wales from Belconnen.

Earlier Defence plans to cull the kangaroos met with strong opposition from animal welfare groups.

ACT Commissioner for the Environment Maxine Cooper says she will not confirm the future of the native animals until her report is released.

"My report has had to deal with that very complex issue and that report's with the Government at the moment," she said.

"I do think it'd be appropriate for us to wait for the release of that report so people can actually get the totality of all the issues that I've had to deal with rather than just focusing up on this one particular issue of the eastern grey."


Photo by mfunnell.

New Animal Torture Law in Utah Passes House

It may soon be a felony to torture companion animals in Utah. Too bad it won't cover feral cats and dogs. Or other non-companion animals. The bill was a compromise between pro and anti torture advocates in the legislature.

And here is how torture is defined:

The bill defines torture as ''intentionally or knowingly causing or inflicting extreme physical pain to an animal in an especially heinous, atrocious, cruel, or exceptionally depraved manner."

That's setting the bar pretty high there. What's extreme? Is beating a dog with a plastic baseball bat "heinous, atrocious, cruel or depraved"? How about swinging a cat by the tail?

And why is it only companion animals. If someone catches a stray cat and microwaves it, are they only going to be charged with a misdemeanor?

Malaysia Finally Passes Laws Outlawing the Trade in Endangered Species

Although CITES outlaws the international trade in endangered species, local Malaysian law had no such prohibition. That has now changed.

Thinking about buying the pretty star tortoise for a pet? Think again. Under newly passed laws, you face a fine of up to RM100,000 for having one of those reptiles. Same goes for other exotic pets such as the Madagascar radiated tortoise, African leopard tortoise, pig-nosed turtle, Madagascar tomato frog, South American poison arrow frog and Indonesian yellow-crested cockatoo.

Trade in these animals are either barred or regulated by range countries and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites, an international treaty to stop illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade) but they still end up in local pet stores and zoos – reason being, wildlife authority Perhilitan cannot act against traders because these species are not protected under local laws, namely the Protection of Wildlife Act 1972 (PWA).

This has now changed with Parliament passing the International Trade in Endangered Species Bill 2007 last December. The long-awaited Bill promises to stem unbridled sale of wildlife as it specifies the wildlife allowed for trade and imposes licensing requirements. It essentially enables Malaysia to fulfil Cites obligations and enforce Cites wildlife trade rules.


It's taking a long time for some countries, but it's good to see that they are finally doing things like this.

Photo by Yeowatzup

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sea Shepherd Clashes With Japanese Whalers

Things are heating up in the Southern Ocean.

Anti-whaling activists clashed with Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean on Monday, prompting a diplomatic complaint from Tokyo to Canberra and a rebuke for the activists from the Australian government.

Members of the hard-line Sea Shepherd group threw bottles and containers of foul-smelling substances at the Japanese factory ship the Nisshin Maru as part of the organization's campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt.

Three Japanese sailors were injured after the chemical cocktail splashed into the eyes of two coastguard crew and one whaler causing irritation, said an official with Japan's Fisheries Agency in Tokyo. He declined to give the location of the incident for security reasons.


Here is a link to Sea Shepherd's account
.

Here is some video:



Here is a little more: