Category Archives: Issues

Ringling Elephant Shot in Drive-By

One of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus Asian elephants was shot in the shoulder on Tuesday morning outside BancorpSouth Arena in Tulepo, northern Mississippi. The elephant was allegedly fine and “walking around eating carrots” after 20 minutes and being treated by zoo staff and a local veterinarian. I can’t help but feel there is information lacking there — and a lot more care. The local police captain said the crime will be pursued as a federal offense since the elephant is endangered.

Just beating them is OK, though.

“Do what’s best for the elephants”

Yesterday, The Seattle Times published an editorial opinion piece by David Hancocks, former director of Woodland Park Zoo. His message: Elephants at the zoo are suffering. These complex social creatures cannot have even their basic needs met in a zoo environment.

Thanks to The Seattle Times and letters from the people of Seattle, the plight of Watoto, Chai, and Bamboo is getting attention from decision-makers.

Watoto the elephant pacing in a cage

Unlike their wild counterparts, elephants in captivity do not thrive. Their lifespans are shorter, their natural social bonds are severed, and they are deprived of the enriched environments they need to keep physically and psychologically well.

Elephants are active animals and travel miles and miles every day. In Woodland Park zoo, they have a measly acre to pace in—when they’re let outside.

The elephants at Woodland Park Zoo deserve to be released to a sanctuary. The wheels are in motion. Public opinion is changing and people are siding with the elephants. It’s time, in the words of Mr. Hancocks, to “do what’s best for the elephants.”

Please write to the zoo at:

Woodland Park Zoo, 601 N. 59th Street, Seattle, WA  98103
Email: woodlandparkzoopr@zoo.org and zooinfo@zoo.org

Address letters to:

  • Dr. Deborah B. Jensen, President and CEO
  • Bruce Bohmke, Chief Operations Officer
  • Jamie Creola, VIce President of Education
  • Dr. Darin Collins, Director of Animal Health
  • Dr. Nancy Hawkes, General Curator
  • Valerie Krueger, Director of Finance
  • David Schaefer, Director of Communications & Public Affairs
  • Gigi Allianic, Media and Public Relations

Also please write the mayor, your city council member, and especially Sally Bagshaw the Parks Committee Chair.

Mike McGinn, Mayor
mike.mcginn@seattle.gov, 206-684-4000

Sally Bagshaw, Seattle City Council, Parks Committee Chair
sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov, 206-684-8801

Richard Conlin, Seattle City Council, Council President
richard.conlin@seattle.gov, 206-684-8805

Sally J. Clark, Seattle City Council
sally.clark@seattle.gov, 206-684-8802

Nick Licata, Seattle City Council
nick.licata@seattle.gov, 206-684-8803

Bruce Harrell, Seattle City Council
bruce.harrell@seattle.gov, 206-684-8804

Tim Burgess, Seattle City Council
tim.burgess@seattle.gov, 206-684-8806

Jean Godden, Seattle City Council
jean.godden@seattle.gov, 206-684-8807

Tom Rasmussen, Seattle City Council
tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov, 206-684-8808

Mike O’Brien, Seattle City Council
mike.obrien@seattle.gov, 206-684-8800

Deborah Jensen, Woodland Park Zoo President
deborah.jensen@zoo.org, 206-548-2416

Or send a letter to each of the above council members at the following address:
[Name of Councilmember]
Seattle City Hall
P.O. Box 34025
Seattle, WA 98124-4025

Or fax them at 206-684-8587.

You can learn more about the elephants at the zoo and the efforts to release them to a sanctuary, at Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants.

New bird flu hits China

Here’s another reason to go vegan:

A strain of avian flu recently broke out in China and authorities in three cities there have shut down live bird markets. Sadly for the birds, whose death awaited them at the markets anyway, 20,000 birds have already been killed as a precaution.

caged chickens at a market in China

H7N9 has been found in pigeons so they’re being slaughtered, along with chickens, geese, ducks and other birds at the markets.

Twenty-one people have contracted the flu, and six deaths have been reported. So far, there haven’t been signs of human-to human transmission.

Keeping birds in close quarters, where they can spread the avian flu, isn’t a good practice. The best way to help birds and people is to ditch meat and eat a vegan diet.

 

Protesting the fur industry

Have you ever seen anti-fur demonstrations downtown Seattle?

Anti-fur demonstrators at Nordstrom

If you’re walking past Nordstrom and you’re offered an anti-fur leaflet, here’s why:

Nordstrom continues to sell fur despite the cruel nature of the industry. As long as fur is sold at Nordstrom, Action for Animals will continue to organize demonstrations outside the department store. NARN members frequently join AFA at the demos to shed light on the horrors that millions of animals endure in the name of fashion. Farmed fur animals gassed, poisoned, or genitally electrocuted. Wild-caught animals suffer for days in traps and break bones and teeth trying to free themselves.

We want Nordstrom to know that it’s unacceptable to sell fur, and we want to let consumers know about the barbaric practices they’d support if they buy fur.

The good news is, fur is completely avoidable. If you think suffering and death is too high a price to pay for fashion, you’ve got choices. There are a lot of retailers who don’t sell fur. There’s even a list to help you shop with your conscience.

So if you see AFA and NARN outside Nordstrom, say hi or join in! We appreciate your support. While you’re at it, tell Nordstrom you won’t shop there until they stop selling fur. Here’s a petition you can sign and a sample letter.

Bill Gates promotes veganism

You know veganism is going mainstream when people like former President Bill Clinton cut out meat, eggs, and dairy. Now, Bill Gates is on board, with a feature on his website called The Future of Food.

Bill Gates

Gates is primarily concerned with the environmental impact of meat eating as the developing world readies itself for economic growth. Meat production is a cruel, unsustainable industry that damages water supplies and land–and that’s what Bill Gates is trying to change.

He supports new innovations in plant-based foods and wants to reinvent the way people eat. Instead of fixing a broken system, he’s working with companies who want to turn the industry on it’s head and start a whole new model. A plant-based model.

Less land, less water, and no animal cruelty is a model that benefits everyone.

Leaked Internal Email Uncovers Monkey Death at Woodland Park Zoo Due to Improper Handling

A male patas monkey. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

We at the Northwest Animal Rights Network are shocked to learn of a recent incident at the Woodland Park Zoo that involved the death of a monkey due to apparent improper handling by zoo staff. An internal email was leaked by a zoo employee to In Defense of Animals — an international organization we have worked with in previous campaigns — who then reported the information. According to the zoo employee, a male patas monkey suffered grave injuries several weeks ago when zoo staff, reportedly operating against the advice of keepers, captured the monkey with a net. An internal email dated March 2, 2013, obtained by IDA, confirms the monkey suffered a severe compound leg fracture, a traumatic brain injury, and extensive bruising. Zoo staff reportedly placed the injured monkey in a kennel following capture, yet despite his serious injuries, the monkey languished in the kennel alone for an estimated two hours without medical attention or medication to alleviate his pain. A veterinarian eventually euthanized the monkey.

Obviously any case of animal abuse is disturbing, but this has far more serious implications as the zoo employee stated that the monkey would be alive today if proper procedures had been followed. Due to apparent negligence and the failure to adhere to policies concerning the welfare of animals, he suffered painful and life-threatening injuries and was left alone to languish without medical attention for a substantial amount of time.

The IDA has subsequently submitted a complaint to the USDA, stating that this reported incident may violate multiple provisions of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including improper handling of an animal and failure to provide adequate veterinary care.

“The last hours of this monkey’s life were full of terror and pain, as evidenced by information received from the zoo employee and the internal email detailing the monkey’s injuries. This reported case demonstrates a disturbing lack of respect, empathy, and compassion for a vulnerable animal and raises the question of whether other similar cases at the Woodland Park Zoo never see the light of day,” said IDA spokesperson Nicole Meyer. “IDA is asking the USDA to conduct a thorough investigation and to hold zoo staff accountable for this alleged incident.”

We at NARN also urge the USDA to investigate this report and to hold the zoo accountable as well, and we will provide updates about the complaint from the USDA as to what actions, if any, occur as a result. We will also work with IDA for any further actions concerning this incident.

Spay/Neuter Assistance Bills Hearings: How You Can Help

The spay/neuter assistance bills were recently introduced as SB 5202 and HB 1229 in the Washington legislature and have hearings scheduled on February 5 and 6.

Here we’ll guide you in attending the hearings, submitting a letter or email of support, and offer talking points. If something’s not clear, email us at info@savewashingtonpets.org for guidance.  Thanks for speaking up on behalf of the animals!

Attending the Hearings

Your attendance at either or both hearings will be very helpful. You can testify or just sign in indicating your support for the bills, and you can bring copies of written testimony to provide the committee members (bring about 20 copies for committee members and staff).

Special notice for residents of District 19 (Pacific, Wahkiakum, and parts of Grays Harbor and Cowlitz counties): Please contact us atinfo@savewashingtonpets.org. Your attendance at the hearings is very important, since the committee chairmen represent your district.

If you Cannot Attend the Hearings

1.  Identify your district and your senator/representatives, then call and/or email them to let them know you support these bills (mention both bills by number as SB 5202/HB 1229). Helpful Hint: to avoid forms, use the legislator email directory.

2.  If your senator or representatives are on the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee or the Senate Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development Committee it is especially important that you submit a letter/email or come to the hearing (where that legislator is a member) to testify.

The Hearings

SB 5202: The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, February 5, 10 am, before the Senate Agriculture Committee. The hearing will be held in Senate Hearing Room 3 in the John A. Cherberg Building at the Capitol.

HB 1229: The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, February 6, 8 am, before the House Agriculture Committee. The hearing will be held in House Hearing Room B in the John L. O’Brien Building at the Capitol.

Please note that hearing schedules are subject to change. Please confirm the senate hearing schedule here and the house hearing schedule here before you travel to Olympia. Need directions to Olympia? Please see this page on the Legislature’s website.

Talking Points for Your Email or Testimony

The bills would provide financial assistance to support the costs of companion animal spay/neuter surgery. Expected impacts include significant cost reductions for animal care and control of homeless animals and a significant reduction in the numbers of dogs and cats euthanized in Washington shelters. For possible talking points, please see our flyer that explains the bill, and our flyer that summarizes the financial benefits of passing this bill.  Remember to be brief and polite in any communications with legislators.

Questions? Contact us at info@savewashingtonpets.org!

Washington Alliance for Humane Legislation has taken a lead role in preparing and advocating for passage of the Spay/Neuter Assistance Bill (SB 5202/HB 1229) and the two bills addressing animal cruelty (SB 5204/HB 1202 and SB 5203/HB 1201). Please join us in supporting the passage of these bills, and all bills that advance and preserve the humane treatment of animals.

Time for the Elephants at Woodland Park Zoo

After years of diligent work, the Friends of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephants have still not gotten the zoo to even consider releasing Bamboo, Chai and Watoto to a sanctuary – making it clear that the zoo leadership cares more about revenue than the lives of the elephants themselves.

Elephants are genetically wired to spend up to 20 hours a day roaming across hundreds of miles. At Woodland Park Zoo (WPZ) the elephants must share less than a single acre of outdoor space. Depriving Bamboo, Chai and Watoto of adequate space causes them serious mental and physical harm.

In the wild elephants live in tropical and subtropical regions. Seattle’s cold climate forces the elephants indoors for an unacceptable amount of their lives. Bamboo, Chai and Watoto are locked in small barn stalls, barely able to move, for 16 to 17 hours a day for nearly 7 months of the year.

The elephants suffer from painful arthritis and bouts of colic. Chai and Bamboo endure chronic foot infections—the leading cause of death in zoo elephants—caused by lack of space. A complex social life, critical to elephants’ well being, is denied them and Watoto, the lone African elephant, is frequently kept in solitary confinement. All three elephants display neurotic repetitive behavior caused by high levels of stress and boredom—including pacing, swaying, and head bobbing.

Watoto indoors

Finally someone else has taken notice: The Seattle Times has published a story about the lives that these beautiful creatures face behind our bars: http://seattletimes.com/elephants. The article focuses on the horrific attempts for zoos to create more baby elephants, because they create such huge draws of patrons. More than 100 artificial insemination for the two girls. It also shares how zoos “train” these wild creatures.   Please read the piece and share this story with your friend and family who still support zoos so they can understand the cruelty behind their summer visits. Make sure that you and your family all write letters to the zoo asking them to release the elephants and put the elephants lives ahead of profit.

Now is this time. With this very public article,  the tragedy of captive elephants is revealed, but the zoo must hear from us too. They must become stewards of compassion for animals. Please:

Write to:  Woodland Park Zoo, 601 N. 59th Street, Seattle, WA  98103

Email: woodlandparkzoopr@zoo.org and zooinfo@zoo.org

Address letters to:
Dr. Deborah B. Jensen, President and CEO
Bruce Bohmke, Chief Operations Officer
Jamie Creola, VIce President of Education
Dr. Darin Collins, Director of Animal Health
Dr. Nancy Hawkes, General Curator
Valerie Krueger, Director of Finance
David Schaefer, Director of Communications & Public Affairs
Gigi Allianic, Media and Public Relations

Thank you for taking time out of your weekend to make a difference!

When Charitable Giving Isn’t Charitable

During the holiday season, it is popular to give charitable gifts in someone else’s name, particularly if the recipient has made it clear they don’t want material presents. This is also the time when charities solicit year-end tax-deductible donations. Heifer International, MercyCorps, Oxfam, World Vision and similar charities are popular because they pitch that you can combat hunger in desperate areas, such as Afghanistan or Sudan, by donating money which they will use to ship live animals such as cows, goats, donkeys, or chickens to families living in those regions for them to raise for milk and meat.

But such programs aren’t charitable for the animals, and in many cases, for the families either; if a family is struggling to provide for themselves, how can they ensure adequate nutrition, conditions, and care for their animals? It is a near-sighted attempt to solve the vastly complex problem of global hunger that poses substantial risk for the animals, the environment, and the people for which these programs advertise that they help; the World Land Trust calls animal-donation programs “environmentally unsound and economically disastrous.”

First, the animals have to survive the initial transport. Animals are bred and raised in large-scale farms throughout the world operated by the charities, and then shipped out. Baby chicks and other young animals are shipped overseas as airmail or cargo. In addition to the long hours or days of flight, these animals may be in planes at various terminals for hours without food or water. Countless animals arrive sick and dead. Northwest Airlines reports that up to 30% of chicks arrive dead in just in domestic flights; one can only surmise the number is much higher after international flights. Chicks are characterized as “easy to transport,” because they are small, inhumanely packed in boxes, airmailed at the cheapest rate, and shipped in huge numbers.


Baby chicks being shipped by mail

Non-native animals introduced to fragile habitats, where the animals have larger or different appetites from indigenous species, will overtax the vegetation or simply starve. Grazing animals cause topsoil runoff and land degradation, which can contribute to drought conditions. Arid conditions cannot support animals like cows, descended from forest-dwelling species, who require large amounts of water. Increasing the reliance on animals raised as livestock for sustenance can have disastrous results, as the recent famine in the Horn of Africa has shown.

People living in impoverished communities hardly have enough food, water, and land for themselves, let alone for animals. Having another mouth to feed adds to a family’s burden, and the animals often suffer from horrible neglect, malnutrition, dehydration, and lack of shelter from the burning midday sun or night-time freezing temperatures. Animals already in impoverished areas are sick and dying for lack of veterinary care and treatment. There is a desperate need for more veterinary services, not for more animals to tend, feed and care for. Some recipients of animals never asked for one and complain about the economic and environmental havoc such an animal creates. Much of the grain intended for families end up having to support the animals. After a couple years on such a program, some families report back having been even poorer than when they started.


Goats, a popular animal for donation, tend to overgraze and destroy fragile native vegetation (Heifer International promo photo)

Animal-based agriculture taxes and misuses land and resources already stretched thin, promotes high-fat Western diets over indigenous diets heavy in grains and vegetables, and jeopardizes human and animal health by inviting diseases like Avian flu. Delivering animals used for dairy enterprises into rural areas that have no refrigeration, electricity, or passable roads to get milk to markets, to serve populations that are lactose-intolerant are misguided at best. Taking animals from their mothers, shipping them thousands of miles into inhospitable regions with no animal-welfare standards, restricting and exploiting them for dairy products, forcing extended suffering due to illness and injury, and ultimately slaughtering them (often times with rusty or dull knives) does not fit in the spirit of compassion and charity of the holiday season.


Dairy cow in a region where up to 90% of the population are lactose intolerant (Heifer International promo photo)

Global hunger is a problem that cannot be solved by well-intentioned donations of animals which often end up doing more harm than good. This holiday season, if you truly want to help the people in countries suffering from drought, natural disasters, poverty, and war, please instead consider supporting sustainable, animal-friendly relief organizations that work to end hunger, help communities set up local sustainable food projects, re-establish arable land, and provide direct aid. Food For Life Global provides food distribution of plant-based meals all across the world, The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation strategically plants orchards where the harvest will best serve communities for generations, VEGFAM funds self-supporting, sustainable food projects and the provision of safe drinking water as well as emergency relief, Sustainable Harvest International addresses the tropical deforestation crisis in Central America by providing farmers with sustainable alternatives to slash-and-burn agriculture, and Feed My Starving Children ships out hand-packed meals developed specifically for malnourished children. Also Kiva creates entrepreneurial opportunities through micro-lending to help people world-wide work their way out of poverty.

This year, make the gift of giving charitable for people, the environment, and the animals.

This post was originally published in I ♥ AR on December 21, 2011 and is reproduced with permission.