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Why Chimps Don’t Belong in Circuses

Some of the best fun you can have is reading blog posts from the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, where the chimpanzees and humans together create heartwarming, inspirational — and often educational — photos and stories. Thank you to sanctuary co-director Diana Goodrich, who recently wrote this post about chimpanzees and circuses, and generously gave her permission for us to republish it here:

An eight-year-old chimpanzee named Chance has been in the news lately. Chance is owned by the Rosaire family and has been used in entertainment for his entire life. He has appeared in commercials, television shows and movies, including The Wolf of Wall Street.

The reason Chance and the Rosaires have been in the news recently is due to this footage that PETA obtained of Chance performing with a leash around his neck.

Jody and Burrito

Jody and Burrito

Thirty years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for chimpanzees to appear in circuses and roadside zoo performances. In fact, Jamie, Burrito, and possibly Jody were all used as performers before their years as biomedical research subjects. They lived with trainers and were made to perform in order to entertain people.

Thankfully, we have learned a lot about the nature of chimpanzees over the years and, as a society, we’ve begun to question the appropriateness of using intelligent, social animals in this way. More and more people agree that whales belong in the ocean, not in small aquariums, that elephants shouldn’t be used as props for people to sit on, and that chimpanzees should not be raised by humans and taught to perform tricks just to amuse us.

The Rosaire family has been in the circus business for multiple generations, so it’s understandable that they are stubbornly holding on to their way of life and their views of exotic animals that many, if not most, people have reconsidered.

They argue that they are providing sanctuary for the animals in their care, and they even have legal nonprofit status and the word “sanctuary” in their name Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary.

Certainly, anyone who is familiar with true sanctuaries would immediately realize that putting a chimpanzee on a leash and having people pay to view him perform an act is a circus, not a charitable sanctuary, and that those entities have very different missions. But for those not as familiar, I’m not surprised that the Rosaires have their defenders.

Jamie and Burrito

Jamie and Burrito

It may be true that the Rosaires feel love for the animals in their care, but that doesn’t mean the animals are being afforded the life that they should or could have in an accredited sanctuary.

For more information on the Rosaires, see this page, and for how to distinguish between roadside zoos and sanctuaries, read this from CSNW and this from the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance and share with others.

When you see chimpanzees on television, in movies, or pictured on greeting cards, stop to consider what kind of a life that chimpanzee has. Exotic animal circuses survive only because people continue to pay to see animal performances. There are fewer and fewer chimpanzees being used in entertainment because fewer and fewer people think that they should be used in this way.

We hope the chimpanzees who remain in the entertainment business in the U.S. will be able to experience a different way of life someday, like Jamie, Burrito, and Jody, where the focus is on providing them with hundreds of choices that allow them to be who they are as chimpanzees and where their best interests are the top priority.

Jody, Jamie, Annie and Foxie

Jody, Jamie, Annie and Foxie

Q&A With the Founder of Seattle Farmed Animal Save. Join Us in Enumclaw!

Kris stands with the "Animals Are Not Property" sign alongside Ryan and Shannon Hill of Sky's The Limit Sanctuary, Paul and Maggie Bowen, and Dave Roers outside the Enunclaw Live Animal Auction in June.

Kris stands with the “Animals Are Not Property” sign alongside Ryan and Shannon Hill of Sky’s The Limit Sanctuary, Paul and Maggie Bowen, and Dave Roers outside the Enunclaw Live Animal Auction in June.

Kristina Giovanetti is the founder of Seattle Farmed Animal Save, a nonprofit that’s part of The Save Movement, a global effort that started in December 2010 with Toronto Pig Save. The idea is to bear witness to animals sent to slaughter in our own communities. Kris has been holding personal vigils at the Enumclaw Sales Pavilion’s live animal auction for about a year and invites everyone to join her.

The next vigil is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 15. As the Facebook invitation says, “We are a grassroots, love-based, and peaceful organization. We believe in non-violence and the transformational power of compassion. We follow a Tolstoyian perspective in that we do not believe in turning away from suffering, but instead moving closer to it.” It’s a heart-wrenching experience to watch roosters, geese, rabbits and others struggle and cry out as they are auctioned. There are almost always day-old dairy calves, piglets, lambs and baby goats — and once a month, they auction horses that are sold for slaughter.

It’s also powerful to stand on the road outside the pavilion with signs reminding people that animals don’t belong to us, encouraging them to go vegan, and to honk for the pigs. A surprising number of people honk! A lot yell for us to “get a job,” too, which is puzzling and good for a laugh.

Here’s a Q&A with Kris about The Save Movement in Seattle:

What moved you to start a branch of The Save Movement here?
In June 2016, I attended an all-day vigil in Toronto with Anita, the founder of The Save Movement. We spent 16 hours bearing witness outside pig, cow, and chicken slaughterhouses. The pigs deeply affected me – looking into their eyes, you can really see the fear, you can sense their suffering in a profound way.

Pigs are very much like dogs and to lock eyes with them, to reach out and stroke them in an attempt to provide a moment of comfort and then watch the truck turn into the slaughterhouse where you know they will be brutally killed just moments later is a life changing event.

That day in Toronto I became an activist.

When did you start going to the Enumclaw Live Animal Auction? What have you seen there?
When I returned home, I immediately started looking for places near me to connect with the animals and share their stories. My first trip to the auction barn in Enumclaw was in July 2016.

I’ve seen so many horrible things there – the chickens are transported in cardboard boxes with a few air holes punched in the sides. There is a stone-faced woman who always works the birds. She reaches in, pins their wings behind their back and yanks them out of the box. The birds are screaming, literally screaming as she holds them high and waves them around in the air for a few seconds as the auctioneer works the crowd and finally sells them for 3 to maybe 9 dollars. Then the woman shoves the screaming and terrified bird back into the box, head first.

The day-old male dairy calves always stay with me, in my mind, for days after I see them. They still have umbilical cords dangling from their bellies and look absolutely bewildered. They have no idea they are being sold to become veal calves and will spend the next few weeks chained to a crate and will then be killed.

This place sells lambs and baby goats, too. The babies are always very hard to see.  But I think the spent dairy cows are the most heartbreaking of all. They are absolutely skin and bones – it looks like they haven’t been fed for weeks. Their bodies are emaciated and they have large, swollen udders. But it’s the look in their eyes and the way they hang their head that just rips my heart out. These sweet, gentle beings have been impregnated over and over again, and have had their calves stolen from them every single time. Their bodies have been exploited and pushed absolutely to the breaking point. And when their milk production begins to wane, the farmers stop feeding them, then sell them to slaughter to become cheap hamburger meat. It’s absolutely gut-wrenching to see them.

What does it mean to you to bear witness as these animals are sold? What is the power of bearing witness? 

Bearing witness is being present in the face of injustice and trying to help.  When we bear witness we become the situation – we connect with our entire body and mind.  And from that, action arises.  The purpose of bearing witness is to provide love and compassion to these animals, to share their stories, to show the reality of animal agriculture, raising awareness to the public, and helping people make the connection.  People need to understand what goes on so they will make the decision to stop supporting it.
How do people react to the protest? What do you think of the calls to “get a job”?  

We get about an equal number of supportive people and angry people, and a lot of people just pass by with no visible or audible reaction.  The supportive people will honk in a friendly manner and give a thumbs up.  The angry people show us their middle finger and yell at us.  The comment to “get a job” is so curious to me because we hear it all the time, and I’ve heard it at vigils all over the world.  I think what they are really saying is that we should do something constructive with our time.

Are there also slaughterhouses near Seattle? Where are they, and what do you know about them? 

Yes, there are two slaughterhouses within an hour of Seattle that we have investigated and will be holding vigils at.  Both of them are north of the city, around Stanwood and Mt Vernon.  The Draper Valley chicken slaughterhouse kills more than 800,000 chickens each week.

Do you plan to have vigils at the slaughterhouses, too?  

Absolutely!  We are learning the truck schedules and will be starting vigils up there very soon.

Seattle Farmed Animal Save

 

Please follow Seattle Farmed Animal Save on Facebook and on Instagram, and join Kris in Enumclaw next weekend.

If you happen to be in Europe this fall, she’ll also be speaking in Luxembourg in September at the International Animal Rights Conference.

Orcas: Vanishing Icons of the Pacific Northwest

Photo: Christopher Michel, Creative Commons

Photo: Christopher Michel, Creative Commons

By Molly Jordan

When you think about Orcas in the context of Animal Rights, there are a few individuals who immediately come to mind. Regardless of when you joined the movement, undoubtedly you have heard of the captive Orca at Miami Seaquarium, Lolita—or Tokitae, as she was originally named, which is a native Coast Salish greeting meaning “nice day, pretty colors.” She has spent nearly half a century living in abysmal conditions in captivity despite decades of activism, outreach, demands, and sea sanctuary plans to bring her home. If you’re like me, “Free Lolita” has been part of your activism toolkit for as long as you’ve been involved with speaking on behalf of captive cetaceans worldwide. Tilikum became a household name when in 2010 he killed a trainer at SeaWorld in Florida and then again in 2013 upon the release of the documentary film Blackfish, which exposed to the world many of the evils of captivity for these incredibly intelligent, social creatures. If you haven’t seen this powerful film, please find a friend with Netflix and watch it. It will give you a great overview of why captivity is so cruel.

Something the film touches on is the story of how Tilikum came to be in captivity and the dark history of the captive era in Washington State. n conversations about Orcas and other marine mammals, I’m often struck by people’s assumption that if they are living free in the wild and are protected from being hunted, they are safe. Tragically, this is far from the actual truth. While the Nnorthern and Ssouthern Rresident killer whale populations are now somewhat protected from human greed within U.S. and Canadian waters, we are still at significant risk of losing these iconic pods within our lifetime.

The Pacific Northwest observes June as Orca Awareness Month and offers educational opportunities to learn more about our Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW) and the three challenges they are facing today: toxic waters, lack of food supply, and ocean noise.

The SRKW are often cited as some of the most contaminated marine mammals in the world, because of human activities that pollute the Salish Sea. Contaminants in Puget Sound come from agricultural runoff, litter, pesticides, marine debris, and other sources. Fish absorb contaminants, which are then passed on to Orcas and other marine life who eat these fish (and to humans who consume fish). Scientists have speculated contaminates have been a factor in the decline of live calf births among female killer whales of reproductive age, most notably with the recent death of Lulu, one of the only remaining whales left in the United Kingdom resident pod. Without healthy reproductive females bearing healthy calves, the chance that these pods will survive long term is dismal. The toxic environment also could be a contributing factor to the fact that  almost all calves born during the Orca baby boom are males. There hasn’t been a surviving calf birthed in K-Pod since 2011.

One of the most critical dangers facing our SRKW right now is an extreme lack of their preferred species of salmon:chinook. Both the Northern and Southern Resident killer whale populations are unique fish-eating mammals. While our neighborhood whales eat a small variety of other salmon species, they depend on healthy chinook salmon runs for more than  80 percent of their diet, and thus for their survival. These residents should not be confused with their thriving mammal-eating relatives who regularly inhabit our waters and who are often referred to as Bigg’s killer whales or “transients.”

Overfishing is a global problem that tremendously affects our local SRKW. Lack of healthy and abundant fish stocks in the ocean leads to the whales slowly starving, more in some years than others. Another literal barrier preventing healthy chinook salmon runs in the PNW are the intact Lower Snake River Dams. One organization, Dam Sense, is working solely on bringing down these dams. It has an abundance of information about why this is crucial to the survival of the Chinook salmon and the SRKW. I saw a screening of the film Dam Nation, and it really opened my eyes to how severe an issue this is for ecosystems around the country. Bringing down the dams is just one way to help, along with not consuming salmon, and educating the people in your life about these issues.

Marine life worldwide and right here at home also face oceanic noise pollution. I was in a workshop last year where I saw the film Sonic Sea. The main takeaway, outside of the startling statistics about shipping traffic, is the simple fact that while oceanic noise pollution is a dreadful modern experience for marine life, it is also human caused and can be reversed simply by stopping the action that makes the noise. Unlike pollutants which can live in an environment well beyond our lifetimes, noise can be reduced and eliminated in marine environments by taking the cause of the noise out of the ocean! This is easier said than done, but it is possible to make even small contributions if you engage in marine vessel travel. Lime Kiln State Park has been noted as the best place to see Orcas in the wild from the shore – and believe me, it is! I have been mega fortunate to have seen them twice in just three short years of calling Washington State home, and it has truly been a magical experience. These sightings have involved several days of picnics and patience as you wait and see if that day will be the day they choose to swim by. Sadly, the ocean noise in the Salish Sea becomes all too apparent when your relaxing day on the bluffs is interrupted by the constant and annoying vessel noise from passing boats and container ships. If they are that loud and annoying to our human ears on land, just imagine what it is like for those whales who call these  waterways home.

When advocating for animals, I try to learn about the specific motivations and history behind how a mainstream practice came to be (you can apply this to learning about human-based oppressions, too). When you sit down to comb through any of the materials I have presented here, I encourage you to follow the money trail to understand how, even decades after the last Orca was captured in Washington State, human greed and global commerce continue to contribute to the demise of these stunning creatures. A few of the books I recommend as a starting point are Puget Sound Whales for Sale, The Lost Whale, and Into Great Silence. They will all break your heart in various ways, but I have been endlessly inspired to learn more and do more on behalf of those who still need our voice. None of us can individually save the world, but we can all do small things every day to make this planet better. Now, more than ever, it’s important to help our fellow humans and nonhuman animals in whatever big or small way we can to ease the burden or struggle of those with whom we share this world.

When I moved to Washington State, I was happy to have so many tremendous resources available that are working toward the ultimate survival of these beloved whales. I have been able to hear some pretty amazing speakers and to meet others working on behalf of these whales and other marine life. Attending lectures also offers the opportunity to ask these organizations how they are crossing the intersections with other human- and animal-based oppressions. We know, as animal advocates, that much of our work crosses the boundaries of single issues. Having dialogue with caring individuals can help us bridge the gap between caring about iconic species like Orcas and caring about animals deemed unworthy of any protections, like chickens.

Some of my favorite organizations are: Orca Network, The Center for Whale Research, Cascadia Research Collective, The Whale Trail, The American Cetacean Society Puget Sound Chapter, and even Washington State Ferries! The M/V Tokitae is a ferry named in honour of our beloved whale who was stolen from her mother, Ocean Sun, in Puget Sound over 46 years ago. On the ferry walls is educational information regarding her capture and subsequent life of captivity as the lone Orca more commonly known as Lolita, so every single passenger riding that ferry can learn about her tragic plight.

I encourage you to do your own research and find organizations that align with your individual interests and ethics and learn more about the great work being done on behalf of humans and nonhuman animals in Washington State, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond. Thank you to Northwest Animal Rights Network for providing a platform to share this information.

Other organizations that may be of interest are: Wild Whales, OrcaLab, the Orca Project, Orca Conservancy, Seal Sitters, the SeaDoc Society, Southern Resident Killer Whale Chinook Salmon Initiative (SRKWCSI), Orca Salmon Alliance, The Whale , and the Langley Whale Center.

For more information regarding Northern and Southern Resident killer whale protections in Washington State and British Columbia as they pertain to our respective governments, please visit:

 

Circus Cats Need Our Help

Tomorrow is National Animal Rights Day — see you at Westlake! — but today is a day for helping the tigers. After going to Seattle Farmed Animal Save’s Vigil at the Enumclaw Live Animal Auction at 11 a.m., I’m headed to nearby Orting to protest the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus, which uses tigers in its show. Dammit.

Which brings me to today’s online action: The Animal Legal Defense Fund reported that Ringing Brothers applied for a permit through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to export its big cats (eight endangered tigers, six lions and a leopard) to a circus in Germany.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife is taking public comments — here’s the form.

And here’s a sample message:

The life of an animal held captive for entertainment is undeniably cruel. I was relieved to learn that Ringling Brothers would end its animals’ grueling cycle of confinement, chaining and forced performance.

Sadly, it appears that Ringling would rather make money on the transfer of its long-suffering cats — eight endangered tigers, six lions, and a leopard — back to more of the same in Germany.

After years of service in the circus, these cats should be allowed to live out their lives at a reputable sanctuary where they can experience the space, habitats, and peace they need and deserve.

Please make sure these threatened species are treated better than Ringling wants to.

Best Way to Stop the Dolphin Hunt: Don’t Visit Marine Parks

When dolphin hunters in Taiji, Japan, last week captured a pod of hundreds of bottlenose dolphins and separated about 80 young ones from their mothers, one mother fought frantically to stay with her baby in a video that made news around the world.

While some dolphins are caught for meat — the modern-day version of a whale-hunting tradition in Taiji — that is not where the big money is. The non-traditional driver of the hunt is dolphins sold for “entertainment.”

A dolphin sold for meat brings in hundreds of dollars. Untrained dolphins sold to marine parks garner $10,000 each, according to The Dodo. By that math, Taiji made at least $3 million from about 300 dolphins it sold alive in the late 2010 to early 2011 hunting season, and maybe $1 million on the nearly 2,000 dolphins it sold for meat.

Dolphin_slaughter_in_Taiji_Japan

Photo: VanessaNYC07 at Wikimedia Commons

To its huge credit, the Japanese Assocation of Zoos and Aquariums banned the buying and selling of dolphins from the Taiji hunt in 2015. It was a brave move, made under threat of expulsion from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, National Geographic reported.

However, that does not mean the end of suffering for dolphins, even in Japan. The marine parks could breed dolphins, like their counterparts in the United States have bred orcas and other animals. Taiji’s mayor has also said that, if hunting is banned, the city may rope off its infamous cove (site of the Oscar-winning documentary, “The Cove”) and breed dolphins there.

The only real way to make headway against the dolphin hunt — and captive breeding — is to stop visiting marine parks. If people are forced to look at how their own behavior leads directly to suffering, that will do more to save these beautiful, brilliant, compassionate animals than any amount of shaming of Japan.

Rest in Peace, Tilikum. We Are Sorry. FREE Lolita/Tokitae!

Tilikum, the orca torn from his family near Iceland when he was just two years old, died yesterday at SeaWorld Orlando.

He suffered in captivity for more than 33 years, having food withheld when he did not “perform” correctly. His tank mates scraped his sides with their teeth because they, too, were hungry.

tilikumLike all orcas in captivity, Tilikum had a collapsed dorsal fin — a sign, for decades, that he was in distress. His sperm was used to create more orcas in captivity.

Tilikum was the star of the 2013 documentary, “Blackfish,” which showed the world the horror of his living conditions. SeaWorld’s profits and stock price tanked, and the company subsequently said it would stop its “Shamu” shows and stop breeding orcas in captivity.

Hopefully, the lessons from his tragic life will save orcas from future suffering.

Unfortunately, we are not there yet.

Tokitae, popularly known as Lolita, is an orca captured with four family members near Whidbey Island in 1970. She’s the only one surviving.

A judge ruled earlier this year that she will remain at the Miami Seaquarium, despite expert reports that the dolphins with whom Tokitae shares a small tank have scraped their teeth on her skin more than 50 times in one year. She often needs antibiotics and painkillers.

U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro decided that did not constitute “grave harm.”

And so Tokitae is not coming home, despite a detailed and feasible plan that’s in place whenever the humans with power over her life choose to free her.

healthy-orcas

Here’s Judge Ungaro’s email (I think): ursula_ungaro@flsd.uscourts.gov

And email for the Spain-based CEO of Palace Entertainment, which owns the Miami Seaquarium: feiroa@palaceentertainment.com

Sample email:

Dear Mr. Eiroa,

Tilikum’s death this week was another reminder of the graveness of Tokitae/Lolita’s incarceration in Miami.

Although Judge Ungaro decided that dolphins scraping Tokitae’s sides more than 50 times in one year did not constitute grave harm, you have the power to show compassion and send her home.

As you know, there’s a viable and detailed plan for doing just that. Just say the word, and the money will come — from Seattle and elsewhere — to free her.

Please do the right thing before it’s too late.

Thank you,

 

Photos from Blackfish

Tell the City Council “NO more money for Zoo”

The Seattle City Council’s final Budget Meeting is tomorrow. Please come to speak out against funding the confinement of suffering animals. Ask the City Council to put the money toward parks programs, off-leash parks and under-served communities rather than more money for the zoo.

Also, please write an email with NO more money for the zoo in the subject line to: Council@seattle.gov

The City has a contract with the Woodland Park Zoo which mandates over $7 million dollars in annual payments. (King County pays the zoo $4.2 million annually). The 2017 budget includes an additional $1.8 million dollars to the Zoo through the Seattle Parks District. The City Council makes the Seattle Parks District’s funding decisions. This $1.8 million dollars is DISCRETIONARY and must be stopped.

The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. and all in-person 2 minute (or less) comments will be heard. Sign-up sheets will be provided outside the entrance of the City Council Chambers.  If you wish to speak, please sign up at 4:15.

What: Seattle City Council BUDGET meeting.
When: Tuesday, October 25 at 5:30pm
Public comment:  Sign up at 4:15pm
Where: Seattle City Hall at 600 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104. City Hall chambers on the second floor.

Map: http://tinyurl.com/j2yd2ac
Wear:  ORANGE

Bamboo Attacked, Bitten: Time for a Sanctuary

We join the Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants in calling on the Oklahoma City Zoo to have compassion for Bamboo, our beloved elephant, and retire her to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

This call follows a new report in The Seattle Times saying Bamboo has been attacked in her new home in Oklahoma City and her tail bitten so severely that it was called an “amputation.” (Thank you to the paper and to reporter Sandi Doughton for the continued coverage.)

“Our hearts go out to Bamboo who is experiencing attacks from one or more of the elephants at the Oklahoma Zoo. In a tiny zoo yard, there is no space to flee and escape from an attack. Bamboo is also suffering from serious, captivity-related foot problems and colic. Bamboo has frequently been isolated as a result of these attacks,” the Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants wrote.

Here is contact information for officials at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Please remember that they did not make the decision to keep Bamboo and Chai out of a sanctuary, but they can make the decision now to send Bamboo to one.

Cindy Batt, Chairperson — She works in the private bank division of Bank of Oklahoma. Its phone number is (405) 936-3900.

Don Kaspereit, Vice Chairperson — 12308 Kingsbrook Rd, Oklahoma City, OK 73142

Sample message for phone or mail:

Hello Ms. Batt/Mr. Kaspereit, I’m calling/writing  from Seattle to ask that you send Bamboo to a sanctuary now that it’s clear she is not doing well in Oklahoma City. We know that you’ve done your best to care for her, but the compassionate thing to do at this point is to send her to a sanctuary. Zoo managers have a hard time making that decision themselves, because of the politics within the zoo industry (cite Seattle Times story from a few years ago if necessary), but you as chairperson/vice chairperson of the board can make a difference for this elephant without risking your career. I hope you will consider doing that. Bamboo has suffered enough. Thank you.

 

 

Stop Mutton Busting!

You might be thinking, “What the heck is mutton busting?”

At mutton busting events, popular at state fairs, terrified sheep are “ridden” by children in front of a screaming audience.

Sheep are gentle, highly sensitive “prey” animals who desperately try to run away from the kids, whom they see as predators. The sheep have no escape from this highly stressful event.

From September 2 to 25, the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, Washington, plans to host this cruel event in addition to traditional rodeo activities. These animals need your voice now!

Please contact the Washington State Fair Foundation and ask officials to cancel “mutton busting.”

Please call and send polite comments to:

Washington State Fair Foundation
110 Ninth Ave. S.W.
Puyallup, WA 98371
foundation@thefair.com
253-841-5105

lambs

Help Tigers on International Tiger Day

Today is International Tiger Day.

Please speak up for baby exotic animals, including tigers, who suffer at roadside zoos. Undercover investigations at roadside zoos has revealed horrible abuse. Roadside zoos are atrocious prisons for wild animals who should be free. Zoos that offer the public to have photo sessions with these dangerous animals are bad for the animals and for people.

The Humane Society of the United States is pushing for new regulations because existing regulations are not effective. We need a complete ban on the commercial use of captive wildlife, many of whom are endangered species.

Follow the link to an HSUS page where you can urge the USDA to adopt regulations completely prohibiting public handling of all big cats, bears, primates and other dangerous wild animals.

email-feature-tiger-cub