Tag Archives: animal rights

British government to ban wild animals in circuses

December 1, 2015 will be a great day for wild animals. That’s the day British circuses will no longer be allowed to use wild animals in their shows.

This is a great example of how politicians and animal rights activists can be allies and partners. Both groups have worked tirelessly on this issue for some time and it’s a definite victory for animals.

tiger in circus by Shizhao

Animals that are normally domesticated are excluded from the ban, mainly because supporters of the ban were worried about legal action from circus owners if all animals were excluded.

Strict guidelines for how animals are used in the circus have already gone into effect. The December 2015 timeline might seem a long way off but it’s meant to give operators a chance to make arrangements for their wild animals.

Ideally, they’ll be rehomed in sanctuaries where they will be free from the abuses and stress of the circus.

Here in Washington, Ringling Brothers still bring animals to Everett and Tacoma. We’ll be demonstrating at their events until that changes. Animals do not belong in the circus.

“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.

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.

News of Note

 

‘Meatless Monday’ too hot a potato for USDA
The rationale behind an idea like “Meatless Monday” is crystal clear. It’s exactly the kind of step USDA should be endorsing. The reality is that it takes massive amounts of land, water, fertilizer, oil and other resources to produce meat, significantly more than it requires to grow other nutritious and delicious kinds of food. Because meat production is so resource intensive, livestock farming actually accounts for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Cattle farming alone consumes nearly 8% of global human water use.My own organization, Oxfam, an international relief and development organization, recently endorsed the idea of eating less meat and dairy as part of our GROW campaign to fight global hunger. We did a study and found that if a family of four decided to swap burgers or other beef for lentils just one meal a week, they could save about 12½ Olympic-size swimming pools of fresh water over the course of a year.

 

Was Jesus a pioneer of animal-rights, vegetarian activism?
The late U.S. Senator Richard Neuberger, an animal advocate, explained, “I have always believed cruelty to animals is a black mark in Heaven — I realized animals do not vote. They do not make campaign contributions to enrich the coffers of politicians. But I will be their friend. I imagine he who spoke the Sermon on the Mount would want it that way, too.”…Jesus frequently condemned “partaking of benefits gotten by wronging one of God’s creatures,” including human consumption of animals.

 

Ore. court rules animals aren’t just property
Animals can be considered victims of crime, the Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled on a neglect case from Umatilla County.  “In short,” the court found, “based on the text and context of ORS 167.325 (second-degree animal neglect), it appears that the Legislature’s primary concern was to protect individual animals as sentient beings, rather than to vindicate a more generalized public interest in their welfare.” Thus, the court concluded, each animal identified in each count for which Nix was found guilty qualified as a separate victim for purposes of sentencing, and Wallace shouldn’t have merged the counts.


Republican Congressman Gloats About Bill To Enable Animal Torture
Representative Steve King (R-IA), who is the sponsor of an amendment to the House Farm Bill that is both astonishingly hypocritical and devastating to food safety laws that protect millions of Americans from illness, recently gave an interview to the Daily Caller to brag about what he had accomplished. The King Amendment would essentially prevent states from developing strong independent health, safety, and cruelty standards, even if local voters want them.

 

FAO Yields to Meat Industry Pressure on Climate Change
Livestock are not only harmed by human-caused global-warming greenhouse gas, but also cause about 18 percent of it, according to “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” a 2006 UN Food and Agriculture Organization report by FAO livestock specialists (who normally promote livestock)…One might expect the FAO to work objectively to determine whether the true figure is closer to 18 percent or 51 percent. Instead, Frank Mitloehner, known for his claim that 18 percent is much too high a figure to use in the U.S., was announced last week as the chair of a new partnership between the meat industry and FAO.

 

Knesset cries foul on battery eggs
In addition to prohibiting hen starvation, the cabinet now requires that all battery cage sizes be a minimum of 750 sq.cm., meeting the European standards for minimum cage size, a measure to be instituted within seven years at the request of the Agriculture Ministry.  Meanwhile, the cabinet also authorized a requirement for adding essential furniture for egg-laying to cages, to be implemented within four years – a compromise between the Environment Ministry’s request that it be carried out within two years, and the Agriculture Ministry’s seven.

 

Rome: Drivers of horse-drawn carriages clash with animal rights activists
Tourists and shoppers in central Rome looked on in astonishment at the weekend as horse-drawn carriage drivers traded blows with animal rights activists in the busy Piazza di Spagna.  Three people were arrested – reportedly including the president of a European animal rights group – and five were taken to hospital. The other two arrested were drivers of botticelle, the horse-drawn carriages that have become an increasingly anachronistic sight on the streets of the Italian capital.

 

Fake Meat So Good It Will Freak You Out
Beyond Meat is going down a different path than its predecessors. The company is pushing for stores to stock its meat at the meat counter, alongside real chicken, instead of next to the tofu. “Our goal is to see that category redefined—instead of having it be called ‘meat,’ it would just be called ‘protein,’ whether it’s protein coming from a cow or chicken or from soy, pea, quinoa, or other plant-based sources,” says Ethan Brown, Beyond Meat’s founder. As the firm ramps up production, Brown expects to sell Beyond Meat for less than the price of real meat, too.


House cats kill more critters than thought
While only 30% of roaming house cats kill prey — two animals a week on average — they are still slaying more wildlife than previously believed, according to research from the University of Georgia.  Cats aren’t just a danger to others, they’re also a danger to themselves. The cats in the study were seen engaging in such risky behavior as crossing roadways (45%), eating and drinking things they found (25%), exploring storm drains (20%) and entering crawl spaces where they could become trapped (20%).

 
A Horse That Enjoys the Spoils of Defeat
Once their racing or breeding days are over, some horses are retrained for riding programs, and others end up at retirement farms like Old Friends. Adoption programs seek good retirement homes. Some racetracks help to match retired racehorses with people wanting thoroughbreds. The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation sponsors several farms where retired horses are cared for by prisoners.  But the need outpaces available space for the retirees. And some still end up in slaughterhouses outside the United States.

 

Trends in Meat Consumption in the United States
This study examined historical meat consumption trends in the US and other developed countries. Although there has been a slight shift from red meat to poultry consumption, red meat remains the most consumed meat. Overall meat consumption is still on the rise in the developed world, and is highest in the US. The authors suggest there is an urgent need to better understand the determinants of meat consumption in the US.

Declaration of Solidarity

We, as the Board of Directors of the Northwest Animal Rights Network,
recognize the culpability of corporations in the systematic exploitation and oppression of animals, in the promotion of their use, and in the violation of their interests by reducing them to commodities.

Whereas,
having examined the resolution and declaration voted upon and passed by the New York City General Assembly of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which takes a united stand against abusive corporate power and expresses solidarity “in a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments;”

And whereas,
noting with approval within their declaration the following statement among 23 listed grievances of corporate malfeasance, “(t)hey have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices;”

And whereas,
we recognize that corporate oppression is negatively impacting all beings, both human and nonhuman, and see the need to stand in solidarity acting as agents for all human and nonhuman animals who are exploited and oppressed to express a feeling of mass injustice;

Thereby,
we stand unified as one with the New York City General Assembly, the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Occupy Seattle movement, and the other attendant populist movements across the nation. We will act in concert with their stated call to assert our power to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems all beings face; and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

On October 6, 2011, this resolution and declaration was presented at NARN’s monthly board meeting, voted upon, and passed unanimously .

Activism and the Emotional Response

Recently I had a conversation with another animal rights activist, and this essay is a culmination of that exchange. It was in large part about the kind of emotional response animal rights activists have to the horrors of animal abuse. This really is my first foray into writing about animal rights in general, so bear with me.

She talked to me about her own personal emotional reactions as a vegan to those in her life who weren’t. She suppresses a feeling of horror at having to sit across from someone who has a meat dinner, she averts herself away from the line of dead animal parts in the meat department of the grocery store, and has trouble forming close relationships with those who sees as normal the violence against animals.

And that is a perfectly understandable reaction. Most people don’t support animal cruelty in a general sense, and are shocked when they are presented with information about the cruelty and torturing of animals in industries that are hidden from public view, with full financial and cultural support. Once the veil has been lifted, it’s quite alarming to see the breadth and scope of the kind of carnage and torture that is committed in the name of fashion, food, entertainment, and research. Those that have been moved enough to make the compassionate choice to not support systematic suffering feel a disconnect with those that continue to do so. It is a natural reaction to want to have nothing to do with people that support cruelty, to separate from them and to be only with others who have made the commitment to be more compassionate. Just as it would be uncomfortable to form a friendship with someone who sees no problem with violence against women, for instance, once one adopts the ethical position of seeing no distinction between animal and human suffering, it would be disagreeable to form a relationship with someone who is willing to lay out money for a product of animal torture.

At first glance, that kind of reaction would seem an antithetical position for an animal rights activist. An AR activist not only recognizes the need for a compassionate stance in their own personal life, but of a need to counter the decades of social and corporate conditioning to convince others of their role of encouraging animal abuse; to do so requires constant interaction in situations and with people that have evidence and products of once-living things. To make the most impact to reduce animal cruelty requires one to interact in the culture that supports it, to inform people of the connection between their money and the cruelty that it supports, to constantly engage, inform, and educate in “mainstream” society.

The fear the activist I talked to had, was in order for someone not to express horror at the constant evidence of agony, one has to avoid thinking about the experience of the victim, to become desensitized. She made the comparison of experiences by emergency medical responders she had talked to. They were passionate about what they did and cared very much, but in order to perform their jobs, they said they felt like it was necessary to shut off the part of the mind that elicit emotional responses to the situations they encounter. They said in order to survive mentally, they had to numb themselves to the experiences of those in anguish. While this person admires the kind of outreach AR groups conducts, she was not sure she could do that, and felt that the outward expression of abhorrence was a natural response to the violence surrounding her; she didn’t enjoy being expected to behave as if she wasn’t horrified.

While I’m certainly no psychologist, and don’t even pretend to know the inner workings of the human mind, I think that the kind of education and outreach that we do doesn’t necessarily involve a level of desensitization to the horrors, but rather a channeling of that visceral human emotion. From my own personal experience, even though I had already been an animal rights activist, after I had watched the movie “Earthlings,” and felt my insides knot up in suppressed rage at the unspeakable torture being shown, that made me more determined to reach out to the rest of the meat-eating, leather-wearing world with renewed vigor and passion in order to convince them of what they are directly supporting. There is no way that the normalized violence will end unless we can convince more and more people of their role in it and have them reject it. I think what we are doing at NARN, and by extension every other AR group, is more a redirection of that horror into a method by which we can convince others of their role in it. By bearing witness to those atrocities, and seeing exactly the hidden costs of the products that I’m constantly surrounded by, it increases my focus and reminds me that no matter what kind of discomfort I feel at any point in my life, it is nothing compared to what animals are constantly subjected to, day-in, day-out. The horror then becomes a call to action.

It is certainly not “bad” vegan behavior to act horrified at the situations and evidence we come in contact with; the point is not about condemning our very human reaction to standardized torture, but more about being aware of the perception by the non-vegan world. Most vegetarians/vegans started off as meat-eaters–still rare is the vegan that was born into the lifestyle. And in most cases it was that initial contact with a pamphlet, a video-viewing, or a polite conversation with an activist that planted the seeds of change. It’s important that non-vegans see vegans as approachable, non-stubborn, and non-judgmental; to treat others with distain and militancy will solidify in their minds that our approach isn’t worth investigating, with the net result being the cause of more suffering, not less.

And while it is still germane to feel disgust,  we can still feel hope as well. The animal rights movement is still very young; the modern inception of it has only been around since the 1970’s, and since that time, we’ve made many advances. And we’ve saved countless lives of animals–just imagine how much worse animals would have it now if there weren’t a movement underway to eliminate animal suffering. And while it is important to maintain a compassionate lifestyle, the impact of our entire life spent not eating meat will literally double if we convince even just one person in our lifetime to also choose a more compassionate path. And the more people we reach out to, the more suffering we mitigate and eliminate, and the less viable the current structure of society and industry that allows cruelty will be. And that’s something we can truly feel good about.

~Peter Keller