News of Note

Zoo artificially inseminates elephant again
Woodland Park Zoo and a visiting expert in elephant reproduction performed an artificial insemination procedure last night on Chai, the zoo’s 32-year-old Asian elephant. This is the third artificial insemination attempt on Chai this year and 59th time total, according to animal-activists organization, Friends of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephants.
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SAEN accuses University of rat abuse
According to the account by an anonymous former laboratory employee, the rats were not given food or water in what was perhaps a miscommunication between animal staff and research staff. Two of the rats starved to death after a period of days and those remaining needed to be euthanized.     Rats and mice are specifically excluded from the Animal Welfare Act even though they are the most commonly used creatures in research. Also excluded are birds, horses and other farm animals. The AWA is the only U.S. legislation of its kind that protects research animals.

Rats Show Empathy And Altruistic Behavior, New Study Claims
According to a new study in the December 9 issue of Science, rats are surprisingly selfless, consistently breaking friends out of cages — even if freeing their buddies means having to share coveted chocolate. It seems that empathy and self-sacrifice have a greater evolutionary legacy than anyone expected.

In Israel, Declawing Your Cat Could Get You Jail Time
Late last month, Israel’s legislature passed a bill that outlaws the practice of declawing cats, a move that is a win for animal activists, but devastating to fancy couches and rugs across the country. And the letter of law comes with a hefty pricetag — a $20,000 fine and up to one year in jail.

Smithfield to stop using gestation crates for pigs
Smithfield Foods Inc., the world’s largest pork producer, said Thursday it plans to end the practice of keeping pregnant hogs at the company’s farms in small metal crates.  The Smithfield, Va.-based company, which has been criticized for continuing to breed sows in gestation crates that severely restrict the animals’ movement, said it will phase out the use of gestation crates at its facilities by 2017. By the end of this year, the company said that 30 percent of the sows at its farms will be in group housing rather than the crates.

After Duty, Dogs Suffer Like Soldiers
If anyone needed evidence of the frontline role played by dogs in war these days, here is the latest: the four-legged, wet-nosed troops used to sniff out mines, track down enemy fighters and clear buildings are struggling with the mental strains of combat nearly as much as their human counterparts.

Company pleads no contest to 153 counts of animal cruelty
The company that operated Hawaii’s largest alleged puppy mill pleaded no contest this morning to all 153 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty in Kaneohe District Court, averting a criminal trial.

Possible animal abuse fuels 2012 ballot initiative
Its cases like these ones that keep Virginia Hemingway who is the President of Idaho 1 of 3 Inc. moving forward on an initiative that would make animal abuse a felony in Idaho. She said Idaho is one of 3 states that don’t issue felonies for animal abusers.

The new war on wolves
Congress removed wolves in Montana and Idaho from the protection of the Endangered Species Act in April. And this fall, the killing began.  As of Wednesday, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game reported that 154 of its estimated 750 wolves had been “harvested” this year. Legal hunting and trapping — with both snares to strangle and leg traps to capture — will continue through the spring. And if hunting fails to reduce the wolf population sufficiently — to less than 150 wolves — the state says it will use airborne shooters to eliminate more.

How Many Adults Are Vegan in the U.S.?
With numerous groups pushing Meatless Mondays, Tofurky Tuesdays, or other campaigns to cut back on meat one meal or day per week, The Vegetarian Resource Group wondered how often Americans are eating vegetarian meals. In order to find an estimate, VRG commissioned Harris Interactive® to conduct a national telephone poll.

Bully breed proposal dropped; Cumberland board urges better vetting of dog owners
Faced with a 100-strong crowd who condemned the demonizing of certain dog breeds, the Cumberland County Animal Control Board backed away Monday night from a move to limit adoptions of some breeds from the county shelter.