News of Note

Animal rights group’s suit to allege Sea World is keeping orcas in slavery
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans Wednesday to sue Sea World for allegedly violating the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — which bans slavery — by keeping orcas at parks in San Diego and Orlando, Fla., organization officials said Tuesday.  The lawsuit, set to be filed in San Diego federal court, is considered the first of its kind and, if successful, would represent a large enhancement of the animal-rights movement. Part of the lawsuit asserts that it is illegal to artificially inseminate the females and then take away their babies.

Well’s Vegetarian Thanksgiving 2011
Every fall, Well goes vegetarian for Thanksgiving, taking the meaty bird off the table to make room for a spectacular array of vegetarian soups, sides, main courses, salads and desserts. So get ready to save a turkey and savor the flavors of your most creative Thanksgiving ever.

Exotic animals lived in ‘horrific’ conditions on Ohio farm
In new details released Wednesday, a Columbus Zoo and Aquarium employee described conditions at the farm where 56 exotic animals were freed as “horrific.”  Minutes from an Oct. 24 meeting of an Ohio task force charged with updating regulations for exotic animal ownership in Ohio were released Wednesday.  During the meeting, former Columbus Zoo director Jack Hanna urged the group to work quickly.  Hanna said new standards and fees need to be strong and costly enough to deter owners. People think they’re loving and caring for the animals, he said, but individual ownership is a “no-no.” “The world is watching us. Ohio is setting precedents for the entire country,” he said.

Smart Chimp Gets Speech Like a Human
A 25-year-old chimpanzee named “Panzee” has just demonstrated that speech perception is not a uniquely human trait.  Well-educated Panzee understands more than 130 English language words and even recognizes words in sine-wave form, a type of synthetic speech that reduces language to three whistle-like tones. This shows that she isn’t just responding to a particular person’s voice or emotions, but instead she is processing and perceiving speech as humans do.


Do Animals Know Right from Wrong? New Clues Point to ‘Yes’
For years, these scientists categorically ruled out the possibility that animals might have a sense of morality — that they know right from wrong. Lately, though, the tide is turning.  “People used to like to make that stark division between human and nonhuman animals,” said ethologist Marc Bekoff. “But there’s just no doubt that the scientific evidence for animal morality is accumulating as more and more animals are studied.”

Could we face the return of CJD? Experts fear it may lie dormant in thousands
New evidence collected by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) suggests that one in 4,000 people who were eating meat before 1996 is probably carrying CJD (after that date, cattle infected with mad cow disease were, theoretically, removed from the food chain).  The findings — which received little publicity when published a few weeks ago — are mid-way results of a programme testing 30,000 samples of tonsil and appendix tissue removed during routine operations across the country.

Wildlife officials meet with trappers, animal rights activists
Recent incidents of household pets getting caught in leg-hold traps intended to snare bobcats, coyotes and a variety of foxes and other fur-bearing animals have spurred heated debate in the Silver State.  Opponents say trapping wild animals is a barbaric practice that threatens domestic pets.

ASPCA: Carriage Horse Likely Had Underlying Medical Problems
A New York City carriage horse who died unexpectedly on his way to work in Central Park on October 23 likely had underlying medical problems, according to the results of a necropsy conducted at Cornell University.  “We are very concerned that Charlie was forced to work in spite of painful maladies, and these particular health issues can be difficult to diagnose because draft horses are by nature a stoic breed, not displaying signs until they are very severe,” said Pamela Corey, the director of equine veterinary services with the ASPCA, in a statement

Sudden death of famed show-jumping horse consistent with severe heart stress
veterinarian Peter Physick-Sheard said Hickstead’s demise is consistent with his studies into sudden death in competitive horses.  For the past several years, Dr. Physick-Sheard has been conducting research into the effects of intense exercise on the heart rates and rhythms of racehorses – both standardbred and thoroughbred – at Woodbine and Mohawk racetracks in Ontario.


Alaska veterinarians office treads lightly on animal care rules
The Office of the State Veterinarian is treading lightly as it begins work on drafting expanded animal health care standards for sled dogs, pets, horses and other animals.  The issue likely will be a heated discussion in a state famous for its sled dogs and sub-zero temperatures and the State Veterinarian’s office is doing all it can to make sure mushers, veterinarians and the general public will get a say in shaping the standards.

A Fresh Approach to a Vegan Diet
Chloe Coscarelli, winner of the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars,” is putting a fresh face on vegan cooking.  She follows a strict vegan diet, which means no animal products – including meat, fish, dairy and eggs.  “A lot of people think that vegan cooking is really restrictive, but I think it’s actually a much more inclusive diet,” she said. “Because all of a sudden, you’re opening your eyes to all these new foods and vegetables; fruits like legumes, beans, different places that you can get protein and taste that you probably wouldn’t know about before if you were just eating meat.”