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What Not to Tell Your Kids About Zoos: National Geographic Leads the (Wrong) Way

National Geographic has published a “Family Field Guide” to lying to your children about zoos.

Personally, I take this as a sign that the zoo system is crumbling, when children are asking hard — but obvious — questions and a major organization dedicated to the environment and wildlife wants you to lie to them.

“No matter how innovative the spaces are, seeing wild animals in enclosures can be hard for children,” the post acknowledges. Rather than paint a pretty picture about releasing animals back into the wild (hmmm) and breeding programs (not a pretty picture at all!), how about some honesty regarding the fact that these animals are caged for our pleasure and, for some people, to alleviate human guilt about the extinction of so many animals in the wild.

Children have a lot to teach us about what’s right and wrong when it comes to animals. Maybe parents should be following their lead when it comes to zoos.

Ruby Roth writes children’s books that address these sorts of issues. One called “V Is for Vegan” is particularly wide-ranging and goes beyond animals used for food to talk about zoos and circuses and other forms of entertainment that persecute animals.

WA Is Killing Wolves For Ranchers Using Public Lands — Again

After targeting the Smackout Wolf Pack earlier this summer, Washington wildlife officials now are killing the Sherman Pack. The wolves’ crime? Killing livestock that ranchers graze on federal land.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

It’s the third time the state has killed wolves for Diamond M Ranch, whose owner told The Seattle Times, “We don’t raise the cattle to feed wolves. We raise them to feed the heart of America.”

Officials use traps and shoot wolves both on the ground and from helicopters. After becoming extinct here in the 1930s, wolves began to migrate to the area following a resurgence in Yellowstone National Park.

Only six cattle were killed by wolves last year, the Times reported.

Fourteen conservation groups told Fish & Wildlife they didn’t like its secrecy in the Smackout Pack killings. Others oppose the killings but are afraid to speak out. It’s no wonder, after the disgraceful way Washington State University went after one of its own researchers for doing so.

Please let your voice be heard! Call or write to the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife know that ranchers need to live with that small amount of loss if they’re going to graze on public land:

Director Jim Unsworth:

director@dfw.wa.gov

306-902-2200

Eastern Region Director Steve Pozzanghera:

2315 North Discovery Place, Spokane Valley, WA 99216-1566

509-892-1001

teamspokane@dfw.wa.gov

Congress Needs to Pass This Animal Abuse Bill — Please Call Your Lawmakers

As the Humane Society of the United States recently pointed out, the FBI wants to prosecute animal abusers as felons — and has the authority to do so in all 50 states, but not for crimes that occur on interstates, in stores that sell animals across state lines or in federal facilities and parks.

Congress is considering a bill — the bipartisan Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act — that would make it a federal crime to commit malicious cruelty to an animal on federal property or during interstate commerce.

Please call your lawmakers — in Seattle, that’s Rep. Pramila Jayapal at (202) 225-3106, Sen. Maria Cantwell at (202) 224-3441 and Sen. Patty Murray at (202) 224-2621 — to ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 1494/S. 654, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act. Encourage them to get it passed quickly, as well.

In Solidarity with #Charlottesville

Anti-Racist Animal Rights Organization

In the wake of the white supremacist violence at Charlottesville and across the country, NARN stands by its mission statement, which calls for for an end to the suffering of all sentient beings–both non-human and human. Because we believe the liberation of all creatures is interconnected, we also call on the animal rights community as a whole to find the empathy and compassion in our hearts and use it to show up, speak out, and get active in opposition to oppression.

We stand in solidarity with folks like Dr. Breeze Harper and Food Empowerment Project  in committing to “fight against white supremacy and in a way that is more than cosmetic and “integrates [that commitment] into [our] organizational goals and values.” We urge folks to think about the US-based animal rights organizations they know of and work with and hold them accountable. As Dr. Harper says:

Let them know that they cannot be neutral about the white [supremacist] elephant in the room (and that ‘room’ is a white settler nation called the USA in which the logics of white supremacy were its foundational CORE values and still operate today– from the logic of neo nazis to the logic of white savior complex to the logic of racial profiling to the logic of gentrification to the logic of tracking in K-12 education to the logic of engaging in missionary language when campaigning about animal rights and veganism).

In that spirit, we offer the following personal reaction to what happened in Charlottesville from one of our long-time volunteers (see below). We hope you will not only take it to heart but take action (see this link for suggestions on how to do that in an animal rights context and beyond). Like we say at NARN, show up, speak out, and get involved. It cannot wait another moment.

In solidarity,

Board of Directors
The Northwest Animal Rights Project

 

I had this idea in my head when I became veg as a kid–that people became vegetarian or vegan because they widened their circle of compassion and empathy beyond people that were like them to include people that were less like them and then to include individuals that were non-human. Once I found an activist community, it didn’t take me very long to realize that racism, sexism, and other “-isms” exist in the animal rights movement as well. In fact, it can be quite rampant.

Even knowing this, it somehow still hurts worse when people in the animal rights community perpetuate hate speech, violence, or are silent about others who do. There’s still a part of me that expects that vegans and animal rights activists will understand that those of us who are different than they are still have a right to live as freely as they do. That same part of me still expect vegans to be people who, when they see injustice, they do something about it instead of turning the other cheek. They speak up–not just for non-human animals, but for the human animals, too. To give a more specific example: Part of me expects them to speak up when family or friends say things that perpetuate violence against people of color.

Yes, I am frustrated by people who would stand next to me while I fight for animals, yet disappear when attacks are directed at me or other people of color. It was incredibly frustrating to have another animal rights activist tell me that if I want to feel “safe,” I should leave animal activism and do human rights activism instead. I am able to continue to do this work, because I know people like this are not the whole of our movement.

There are two vegan animal rights activists in the hospital right now who stood up against hate and were struck by that vehicle in Charlottesville. There are many of us, like them, that understand that fighting for human justice doesn’t have to take anything away from animals. Those people remind me that I am not alone–that I don’t have to choose. They remind me that it’s not some awful multiple-choice test of “who deserves the right to live?” a) myself & other people of color, or b) non-human animals.

I really ask those who care about animals but who remain silent against white violence in this country; the terrorism falling upon people of color in this country, to please reflect on the compassion and empathy that brought them to veganism in the first place. Then when you find that compassion and empathy, be willing to actually DO something with it. Use your voice, your vote, your privilege wherever you can to fight oppression and support ALL those who are impacted by it.

 

Please Share.

Learn/Do More:

Best Ways to Help the Victims of the Charlottesville Attack

The Charlottesville Syllabus

Teaching Resources in These Times

10 Ways to Fight Hate

Charlottesville organizers ask you to take these 8 actions

Help Decide the Fate of Mountain Goats on the Olympic Peninsula

Photo by Wingchi Poon (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Oreamnos_americanus#/media/File:Wherever_you_go_I_will_go.JPG) Creative Commons license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Olympic National Park officials will host four open houses regarding the fate of the peninsula’s hundreds of mountain goats. There’s one at the Everett Public Library’s auditorium at 5 p.m. on Aug. 16 and at Seattle Public Library’s Douglass-Truth Branch at 5 p.m. on Aug. 17.

If you can’t attend, please read recent coverage about the plan, which is available in full here, and send your comments to park officials.

It’s called the “Draft Mountain Goat Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement.” (Someday I’d love to see an EIS regarding humans!). Concerns about the goats are ecological — the Olympic Mountains are not their traditional territory — and involve safety, following the 2010 killing of a hiker by a mountain goat. Moving and killing the goats appear to be the main options, with no mention of contraception, just as officials ignored that option when they planned to kill hundreds of goats in the Olympics in the ’90s.

The comment period is open until Sept. 29, but please don’t wait to comment. Thank you!

 

Photo by Wingchi Poon (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Wingchi) Creative Commons license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

WA Killing Wolves Again. Please Write to Fish & Wildlife Director.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Washington state is again killing wolves to protect cows that ranchers graze on public parkland.

It comes in the wake of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission proposing to let hunters bait wolves, even though the state has 800 or fewer wolves and could drop below 150 if the proposal becomes reality, Project Coyote estimates. Hunters and trappers in Idaho already may kill up to 10 wolves per person each year, and IDFG regularly kills wolves accused of killing “livestock.”

The campaigns against wolves are relentless and monied.

Please write to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Jim Unsworth to ask for more humane ways of dealing with the issue ranchers are having. Maybe they shouldn’t be grazing their animals on public lands?

Here’s Director Unsworth’s email address: director@dfw.wa.gov.

 

 

Action Alert: Ask USPO to Ban Shipment of Live Animals

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Millions of newborn chicks and ducklings are being sent through the mail as if they were inanimate objects. Barely a day old, they are packed in dark boxes without food or water and sent across the country on harrowing trips that can last up to 72 hours.

Farm Sanctuary has rescued a number of animals, including a beautiful chicken called Tofu, who were shipped this way. It recently rescued three ducklings at a post office, because the man who ordered them was too sick to pick them up. The ducklings had traveled from Iowa to California — across a desert by truck — sanctuary co-founder Gene Baur wrote in an email to supporters. They would have stayed in the box without food, water or care if Farm Sanctuary had not stepped in to help. The sanctuary, which named those sweethearts Dominga, Carrera, and Pavarotti, is now asking people to sign its petition for the U.S. Postal Service to ban shipments of live animals.

You can also contact Postmaster General Megan Brennan via her media contact, Toni Delancey, at toni.g.delancey@usps.gov and 202-268-3118. Here’s a sample message:

Dear Postmaster General Brennan,

Day-old chicks and ducklings are shipped around the country without food or water for up to 72 hours. As you know, many arrive dead.

You have the power to ban the shipment of live animals by mail. Please do everything you can to stop this abuse.

Thank you,

Your name

Here’s Tofu’s story:

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.