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.
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.
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.
By Anika Lehde
Hey, NARN Friends. Something has been on my mind lately. Like many people who are working to make the world a better place (for human animals and non-human animals), I’m sometimes disheartened by infighting, rifts, and snide name calling in activist spaces and movements—particularly the animal liberation and vegan movement. I’ve also noticed that there seems to be some major confusion between what I’ll call “Strategic Disagreements” and what is actually “Internal Accountability” to be non-oppressive ourselves.
I’d like to take a moment to differentiate these two categories of tension within social movements. This is important because the first type, disagreements, doesn’t require any specific sort of response; indifference, cooperation, avoidance, collaboration—while not all ideal—are at least acceptable. But the second type, accountability, requires immediate, constant, and transparent action.
Most of us have experienced the arguments—sometimes mild, sometimes nasty—about specific tactics, results analysis, personalities, internal politics, public perceptions, etc. within activist communities and movements. We may have been in the mix or on the sidelines, but either way we felt how destructive infighting can be, because it rarely takes place when people are in a learning or listening mode and sometime devolves into personal attacks.
Often the disagreement is around what is truly “effective” activism. Groups claim to have the answer, based on their specific method of research or experience. They see resources or energy going to another tactic and are frustrated by what they perceive to be a waste of time or energy—precious resources in animal activist communities. They may be critical of other groups and express publicly that others are incompetent and jeopardizing the animals themselves.
Sometimes the fights are around how radical or controversial we should be in our activism. The more conservative argue that the negative impressions left by more extreme actions negate their benefit. The more radical argue that anything less that direct action slows progress and creates space for moral ambiguity. There are many more types of strategic disagreements, even, but these are two common examples.
We have been told by our wiser comrades to not fall into this trap, that our infighting is exactly what “the other side” is betting on. You may have even been told that those we fight against have infiltrated the activist ranks and purposely start these fights to keep us inwardly focused and too beleaguered to make any progress.
This may all be true, and most importantly, the often negative and nasty way in which these debates take place pushes new activists away, attracts personalities who thrive in conflict, and may distract from the work at hand. We should not let disagreements on strategy devolve into name calling, mockery, or become the actual focus of our activism. These types of strategic disagreements are very important to discuss, and we should also do everything in our power to have them in constructive ways that increase our knowledge and understanding. But if we can’t come to agreement, we can at least agree to disagree and let our multi-tactic movement move forward without delay.
Internal accountability is very different in nature, but can look similar on the surface. It can sometimes even include the same people or be conflated with strategy debates. Trying to create internal accountability, though, means setting standards and norms for social justice spaces that are inclusive, as safe as possible for as many as possible, and don’t allow other forms of oppression to thrive (such as racism, sexism, sexual abuse, classism, or any other oppressive behavior or policies). This sounds easy until we take into account how deeply oppressive behaviors can run, even unexamined within ourselves, and how the very leaders of movements are sometimes the worst perpetrators of oppressive—and even abusive—behavior. Developing spaces that fight oppression on every front is challenging, but must be done to create a strong foundation for animal activism.
When oppressive animal activist policies or leaders are called out or oppressive tactics are identified, those who are unaffected by the abuse often label this process as “infighting” or “whining” and call for its end the same way one might call for those with different tactics to curtail their public arguments. The problem is that these aren’t the same; in fact, calling for accountability within the animal liberation movement is one of the most important things we can do to strengthen our movement, increase our ranks, and improve our strategies. We must hold each other to standards of non-oppression while doing animal activism. This is a never-ending process.
First, it is the right thing to do. This isn’t obvious to everyone. Those who watch as groups try to remove abusers from their ranks, or implement anti-racist practices, find the discord so uncomfortable (and it is) that they would rather sweep the issues under the rug rather than face them head on. They would rather look the other way and minimize the importance of these issues. This should be unacceptable. Even if if there was no benefit to animal activism as a whole (there is), creating safer spaces for activists should be a priority, because it is the right thing to do for people. Just because we fight for animal liberation doesn’t mean we are for human oppression. Besides, activism is difficult enough—we shouldn’t make it harder for those involved.
Second, it is the strategic thing to do for the animal liberation movement. Activist spaces that allow unchecked misogyny, racism, ableism, transphobia, or any other oppressive behavior to thrive will not attract the strongest and most skilled activists. The best activists will not tolerate an unsafe environment and certainly won’t trust us as peers. Oppressive activist spaces drive away the people with experience in other social justice movements who could bring important new ideas, strategies, and learning to the table. What’s more, our inability to be consistent with an anti-oppression approach will delegitimize the animal liberation movement and reduce the diversity of thought and experiences necessary for creating real change for animals. What it will do instead is attract privileged narcissists who reinforce oppressive hierarchies and who would rather dismiss and mock their activist peers than work to create strong communities of resistance.
For these two reasons, we need to embrace and welcome processes of internal accountability within the animal liberation movement. How this looks on the ground may be different for every group, depending on the current issues they are facing. This could be ensuring that leadership within the organization is non-hierarchical and doesn’t replicate white-supremacy and male-supremacy. It could be making sure there is a documented process for dealing with accusations of abuse or oppressive behavior within the community (and following it). It could mean not accepting when peer groups participate in or use racist, sexist, ableist, and classist tactics, and calling them to accountability when they do (this is what people often confuse as infighting, but is actually movement accountability). It could be creating a culture of learning and sharing about all types of oppression with a book club or a weekly article reading group. It could be creating true and deep connections with other activist communities by showing up in solidarity with those movements (without expectation of reciprocation) so we can learn even more how to infuse our animal activism with anti-oppression strategies. I highly recommend this last step as it is incredibly informative to experience other spaces that are welcoming.
No matter the exact step, it is imperative that we don’t confuse this critically important approach to anti-oppression and internal accountability with the common “infighting” about general tactics and strategies. We also should never dismiss the process of strengthening our movement and building better activist spaces as a distraction. It is not a distraction, but rather a truly foundational part of the work that we do for animals. The oppression of humans and animals has a common enemy, and we can’t fight for one cause (animals) while participating in and propping up other oppressions.
Remember, let’s have constructive debates about tactics, but let’s not ever tolerate oppression. We can fight oppression in all its forms together! Let’s go! If you want to chat with me more on this topic, you can find me on twitter at @veganscore.
About the author:
Anika Lehde is a former NARN board member (2013-2015) and current Advisory Board member. She also volunteers for Food Empowerment Project, where she helps organize volunteers for outreach, fundraising, education, and other vegan food justice programs in Washington State. When not volunteering, Anika is the President of a marketing consulting firm and lead writer for Seattle Vegan Score, a local blog profiling vegan people, events, companies, and animal advocacy.
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.
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.
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:
Eastern Region Director Steve Pozzanghera:
2315 North Discovery Place, Spokane Valley, WA 99216-1566
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 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.
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.
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.
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/
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: email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Here’s Tofu’s story:
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.
If you happen to be in Europe this fall, she’ll also be speaking in Luxembourg in September at the International Animal Rights Conference.