Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Humane Society's Explanation for Working with Michael Vick

Found this piece from May 2009. It's the Humane Society explaining why they teamed up with Michael Vick on his community service work. I'm still torn about that, although I certainly understand their logic.

FDA Recommends Banning Antibiotics from Feed

Not the solution or end to factory farming, but if big ag can't rely on antibiotics, then they may have to rethink the filthy conditions of factory farms. Animals would get sick much easier, possibly affecting the bottom line of profit above all. It could effect some small amount of improvement...maybe. If the FDA's recommendation is accepted.

From Opposing Views.com....
Citing research showing that feeding antibiotics to animals on factory farms in order to promote growth "is not in the interest of protecting or promoting public health," the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is recommending that farmers stop routinely mixing antibiotics into animal feed.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Chicken Wars in the Pacific Northwest

Silly piece in a way about the battle between people who want urban chickens and those who don't.

Phoenix Restaurant Serves Lion Burgers

No, I'm not making this up.

From the Associated Press....

A restaurant owner who put lion burgers on the menu in honor of the World Cup has felt a roar of anger from outraged animal rights activists.

Cameron Selogie, owner of the Il Vinaio restaurant in Mesa, served burgers made with African lion this week as a nod to the tournament in South Africa. Reservations sold out, with a waiting list 100 long.

But the burgers also attracted international attention and the scorn of animal rights activists, who picketed outside the restaurant. Selogie has even received some death threats.

And now Selogie himself is questioning whether the meat was fair game.

"I was led to believe they were not hunted, they were not shot, they were not abused," Selogie said. "I feel I was misled by this."

Serving African lion meat is perfectly legal, said Michael Herndon, a spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration. Game meat such as lion can be sold as long as the species isn't endangered, and the CDC hasn't prohibited importation of African lion, although its Asiatic cousin is on the endangered list.

Friday, June 25, 2010

New Microchip Simulates Human Lung

According to technewsdaily.com, this "lung on a chip" imitates the inner workings of a lung and could help lessen the need for animals as research subjects.

Man Arrested with Frozen Tigers and Panther in House

This happened in Vietnam. The guy was clearly trafficking in illegal parts as there were about 50 kg of bones belonging to other tigers.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sad Orangutan Trade

Very, very sad picture of baby orangutan. Be warned.

Malaysia Approves Controversial Research Lab

The investigation cleared the animal lab.

From Straits Time...

MALAYSIA will not shut down a controversial British-funded animal testing lab after investigations showed that the animals were not exposed to torture, a senior official said on Thursday.

The veterinary services department launched a probe this month after animal rights campaigners accused the Progenix Research lab based in the northern state of Penang of cruelty to animals.

The lab, which is run by the Britain-based Alpha Biologics, uses monkeys, dogs, rodents and rabbits for toxicology testing. Veterinary services department director Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin said there was no evidence that Progenix abused animals and that it would not order the facility to be closed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Funny BP "Commercial"

I thought this was kind of funny. From "Barely Political"...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Whales Share Some Human Traits, Study Shows

From the AFP...

As the future of whales once more comes under global debate, some scientists say the marine mammals are not only smarter than thought but also share several attributes once claimed as exclusively human.

Self-awareness, suffering and a social culture along with high mental abilities are a hallmark of cetaceans, an order grouping more than 80 whales, dolphins and porpoises, say marine biologists.

If so, the notion that whales are intelligent and sentient beings threatens to demolish, like an explosive harpoon, the assumption that they are simply an animal commodity to be harvested from the sea.

Calgary Zoo in Big Trouble

We've written about the Calgary Zoo here before. Not a stellar reputation. Now, the results of a long-awaited audit shows that this place truly sucks and needs a lot of improvement.

From eCanadaNow.com...
To many people, the number of animal fatalities at the Calgary Zoo in newer years seemed very high. A hippo passed away following a long, horrible transfer from another zoo. Over forty stingrays died following somebody messing up the oxygen levels in the tank. A huge spiral-horned goat got trapped in a toy rope and choked.

A study released by the associations that accredit zoos across North America said that the occurrence of deaths was not a fluke. It reported that human error surrounded more deaths than at any other zoo and forced immediate plans be taken to make sure of the animals’ safety. Woodyer wanted Lanthier to quit and for the zoo’s accreditation to be taken away. She additionally announced the City of Calgary to quit funding the zoo unless it could demonstrate the issues have been resolved.

The audit, created a picture of aging, crumbling institutions and outlined vital communication problems between staff and managers. For example, there was a higher-than expected number of bats passing away each year between 2004 and 2008, but the zoo didn’t do anything to decide why. Instead, it brought a new bat species into the exact place in the year 2009 — twenty-five of those creatures also passed away. There were also reports that the zoo may have concentrated too hard on enhanced visitor experiences without being sure that exhibits were up to par — something that could have led to many of the deaths.

The stingrays passed away right after an interactive display opened that let visitors put their hands on them. The study reported that the zoo was not properly able to handle the marine animals. The audit was requested after a capybara, a giant central American rodent, was pounded to death when a staff member shut a hydraulic door.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Interview with PETA re: Captive Orcas

This is an interview with Lisa Wathne from PETA regarding captive animals in aquariums. It's from MacLean's.

Marine Animals Trying to Escape from Oil Spill

From ShortNews.com....literally, short, short news!
Like forest creatures trying to escape a fire, marine animals such as dolphins, sharks, mullets, crabs, rays and fish are congregating in surprisingly shallow waters off the Florida coast line as they flee the encroaching oil spill.

Meanwhile, oil-covered birds crawl deep into swamps and don´t come back out. Scientists say that these animals wouldn´t behave like this if their normal habitat had not been destroyed, and now they may compete for oxygen in close quarters.

Rare Tortoises Found in Luggage

I've finally started getting email updates from Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network. Here is one of their stories about tortoises being smuggled in luggage....note the drug connection.

Enforcement agencies discovered 300 tortoises from Madagascar bound and packed in two suitcases that also contained drugs at Kuala Lumpur International Airport last week.

The bags contained 285 Radiated Tortoises Astrochelys radiata, 14 Spider Tortoises Pyxis arachnoides and a single Ploughshare Tortoise Astrochelys yniphora, one of the rarest tortoise species in the world.

The tortoise- and drug-filled bags had come in on 1 June on an Air Mauritius flight and were discovered by Customs officers at the airport.

The tortoises, all still alive, have been handed over to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) which is making arrangements for their return to Madagascar, news reports said.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sea Turtle Breeding Threatened by Oil Spill

Each day, I'm having a harder and harder time wrapping my mind around the enormity of this disaster and its ecological impacts.

Here's an article about the potential impacts on sea turtles, many starting to show up dead or sick.

Why I Question Animal Testing 2.2

I particularly question the use of chimpanzees in medical research. From what I recall, chimpanzees share at least 95 percent of human DNA, although the number that floats around the most is 98.6 percent.

The following is from The Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan....
If chimpanzees have consciousness, if they are capable of abstractions, do they not have what until now has been described as "human rights"? How smart does a chimpanzee have to be before killing him constitutes murder? What further properties must he show before religious missionaries must consider him worthy of attempts at conversion?

I recently was escorted through a large primate research laboratory by its director. We approached a long corridor lined, to the vanishing point as in a perspective drawing, with caged chimpanzees. They were one, two or three to a cage, and I am 80 percent sure the accommodations were exemplary as far as such institutions (or for that matter traditional zoos) go. As we approached the nearest cage, its two inmates bared their teeth and with incredible accuracy let fly great sweeping arcs of spittle, fairly drenching the lightweight suit of the facility's director. They then uttered a staccato of short shrieks, which echoed down the corridor to be repeated and amplified by other caged chimps, who had certainly not seen us, until the corridor fairly shook with the screeching and banging and rattling of bars. The director informed me that not only spit is apt to fly in such a situation; and at his urging we retreated. I was powerfully reminded of those American motion pictures of the 1930s and 40s, set in some vast and dehumanized state or federal penitentiary, in which the prisoners banged their eating utensils against the bars at the appearance of the tyrannical warden. These chimps are healthy and well-fed. If they are "only" animals, if they are beasts which abstract not, then my comparison is a piece of sentimental foolishness. But chimpanzees can abstract. Like other mammals, they are capable of strong emotions. They have certainly committed no crimes. I do not claim to have the answer, but I think it is certainly worthwhile to raise the question: Why, exactly, all over the civilized world, in virtually every major city, are apes in prison?

For all we know, occasional viable crosses between humans and chimpanzees are possible.* The natural experiment must have been tried very infrequently, at least recently. If such off-spring are ever produced, what will their legal status be? The cognitive abilities of chimpanzees force us, I think, to raise searching questions about the boundaries of the community of beings to which special ethical considerations are due, and can, I hope, help to extend our ethical perspectives downward through the taxa on Earth and upwards to extraterrestrial organisms, if they exist.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Anti-Research Advocacy in Madison

Interesting article on anti-animal research advocacy in Madison, WI. Madison is a key battleground because it is one of only 8 cities with primate centers in the country.

Monday, June 14, 2010

British-Funded Lab Under Investigation in Malaysia

Malaysia, under pressure from animal rights activists, is going to investigate Progenix Labs.
Malaysia is considering shutting down a controversial British-funded animal testing lab if there is evidence of cruelty there, the goverment's top veterinary official said on Sunday.

Animal rights campaigners have accused the Progenix Research lab, which uses monkeys, dogs, rodents and rabbits for toxicology testing, of poisoning the animals to death.

Veterinary Services director Abdul Aziz Jamaludin said the company will be ordered to shut down if his department finds animals were subject to abuse, the Sunday Star newspaper reported.

"If animal testing cannot be conducted in the United States or Europe, I see no reason why they should be allowed here," Abdul Aziz was quoted as saying.

Mountain Goats Accidentally Killed in Study

From the Daily Interlake....
A mountain goat study in Glacier National Park has been suspended following the deaths of two goats after they were shot with tranquilizer darts.

The University of Montana study, aimed at exploring the effects of climate change on mountain goats, got under way this month with preliminary field work in the Many Glacier Valley.

A 6-year-old male mountain goat died Tuesday after it was darted in the Ptarmigan Lake Trail area near Mount Altyn by Dr. Robert Moore, a Wildlife Conservation Society veterinarian....

The cause of death later was determined to be respiratory arrest because the tranquilizer dart punctured the goat’s ribcage.

After meeting with park managers on Wednesday, researchers were allowed to resume their field work.

However, a second male goat died after it was darted on Thursday. Its cause of death has not yet been determined.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Why I Question Animal Testing 2.1

This is a continuation of an earlier post about why I question animal testing.

Oftentimes, scientists seem to think that they just need to waive their PhDs and research projects in everyone's faces and we should all shut up and bow our heads to their great wisdom. But universities and scientists are not always there working for pure learning or the improvement of humanity. There may be a business component there as well. Now, some people may be just fine with that, but my point is that universities and their scientists are not necessarily being motivated by pure, altruistic purposes.

I read the following in a book about the pharmaceutical industry by Marcia Angell (the first woman to serve as the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and currently a Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Medical School) called The Truth about the Drug Companies. It is about the Bayh-Dole Act and it has really stuck with me....
{The Bayh-Dole Act} enabled universities and small businesses to patent discoveries emanating from research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the major distributor of tax dollars for medical research, and then to grant exclusive licenses to drug companies. Until then, taxpayer-financed discoveries were in the public domain, available to any company that wanted to use them. But now universities, where most NIH-sponsored work is carried out, can patent and license their discoveries, and charge royalties. Similar legislation permitted the NIH itself to enter into deals with drug companies that would directly transfer NIH discoveries to industry.

Bayh-Dole gave a tremendous boost to the nascent biotechnology industry, as well as to big pharma. Small biotech companies, many of them founded by university researchers to exploit their discoveries, proliferated rapidly. They now ring the major academic research institutions and often carry out the initial phases of drug development, hoping for lucrative deals with big drug companies that can market the new drugs. Usually when a patent held by a university or a small biotech company is eventually licensed to a big drug company, all parties cash in on the public investment in research.

.....The Reagan years and Bayh-Dole also transformed the ethos of medical schools and teaching hospitals. These nonprofit institutions started to see themselves as "partners" of industry, and they became just as enthusiastic as any entrepreneur about the opportunities to parlay their discoveries into financial gain. Faculty researchers were encouraged to obtain patents on their work (which were assigned to their universities), and they shared in the royalties. Many medical schools and teaching hospitals set up "technology transfer" offices to help in this activity and capitalize on faculty discoveries. As the entrepreneurial spirit grew during the 1990s, medical school faculty entered into other lucrative financial arrangements with drug companies, as did their parent institutions. One of the results has been a growing pro-industry bias in medical research-exactly where such bias doesn't belong. Faculty members who had earlier contented themselves with what was once referred to as a "threadbare but genteel" lifestyle began to ask themselves, in the words of my grandmother, "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich? Medical schools and teaching hospitals, for their part, put more resources into searching for commercial opportunities.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

More Bad News for Birds in the Gulf

Here's an article exploring whether it's pointless to try to rescue oiled bird in the Gulf.

This article states that most of the oiled birds probably won't even show up before they eventually die, so we'll never know how many have actually been killed.

Four Mountain Gorillas Die

There are only 380 left in this particular Virunga population so the loss of four is pretty devastating percentage-wise.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Unregulated Wildlife Trade in Baghdad

Here's an article in the Times Union about the wildlife trade in Baghdad. It's unregulated and there are many exotic pets being sold, like primates and lions.

Awful.

The Unknown Costs of the Oil Spill

This post on Mongabay.com discusses whether we'll ever know the full extent of the oil spill's impact on wildlife. There are many animals that are "charisma species" that capture our attention, like pelicans and turtles, but what about the animals farther down on the food chain that we don't see. They may not be cute and charismatic, but they are the ones that support those that are.

In Defense of Animals Decries Another Captive Orca Death

Taima, a 20-year-old orca at Sea World died Sunday while giving birth to her stillborn calf. In Defense of Animals is calling for the the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to create regulations to prohibit captive breeding and phase out the public display of orcas.

I wish them luck.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Obama to Reopen Offshore Oil Drilling in Shallow Waters

He is going to add new safety regulations, but I don't like off-shore oil drilling AT ALL! At least BP will hopefully get nailed with lots of penalties. Although it doesn't really matter because those dead animals will never get their lives back and who knows if the habitat will ever fully recover.

From the Wall Street Journal....
The Obama administration, facing rising anger on the Gulf Coast over the loss of jobs and income from a drilling moratorium, said Monday that it would move quickly to release new safety requirements that would allow the reopening of offshore oil and gas exploration in shallow waters.

Gulf Coast residents, political leaders and industry officials said delays in releasing the new rules, along with the administration's six-month halt on deepwater drilling—both issued amid public pressure—threatened thousands of jobs.

Well-owner BP PLC, meanwhile, faces penalties "in the many billions of dollars," for the Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster that has been spewing an estimated minimum 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf, said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. The costs of the spill will "greatly exceed" the amount BP could recoup by selling any of the captured oil on the market, he said Monday.

Why I Question Animal Testing 2.0

I'm updating this rant from a few years ago regarding why I question animal testing. I'll probably do this in a series of posts because I just can't seem to sit down for long periods of time to write.

I get frustrated when people accept a scientist's opinion in support of animal testing simply because that person is a scientist. I think one should try to understand that scientist's motivations. For whom do they work? Do they work for a drug company that tests on animals? Is their job therefore dependent on that company's success? Or do they work for a university which is dependent on grant dollars for research involving animals? It's very difficult to buck the system when your livelihood is at stake.

(to be continued)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Moose Poaching Video

Posted on Youtube.... Graphic.

Is BP Hiding Dead Animals?

That is the issue raised by this blog post.
A CBS News crew was threatened with arrest when it tried to photograph the spill, and a BP representative in Louisiana told a Mother Jones reporter that she couldn’t visit the Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge without a BP escort. TP has the story in this repost.

On Monday, journalists from the New York Daily News were also “escorted away from a public beach on Elmer’s Island bycops who said they were taking orders from BP.” However, they managed to get a covert tour of the Queen Bess barrier island from a BP contractor who is fed up with the oil company’s attempt to cover up the disaster:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

PETA Buying Corporate Stock

I'm sure this is old news, but PETA keeps buying corporate stock to gain influence in corporate decision-making. I think this is a great strategy.

From the AP....
Companies don't always change their policies, but Byrne said the effort has paid off. After PETA bought stock, Safeway grocery stores and restaurant companies Ruby Tuesday, Sonic and Burger King agreed to give purchasing preference to suppliers that abide by what the group says are more humane rules, such as not confining chicken and hogs in small cages, she said.