Our trip to Precious Life Animal Sanctuary started off rainy, with lots of wet bunnies scampering into their underground burrows. But the rain let up and the fog filled in the mountains surrounding the valley.
Some people hold this myth of vegans as weak, unhealthy, self-denying ascetics. But the vegans I know are some of the toughest, most hard-working, hedonistic food-loving people I’ve ever met.
Contractor Andy put us to work in the barn building a new shed for the animals. Theo and other students from UPS filled the barn with sounds of hammering, while Mike, Andy and Tove power-sawed 2×4’s.
(As Tove said delightedly, “I just love power tools!”)
Mark, Carrie, Wil, Rachel, and Mark’s mom dug up thistles in the relocated Woodland Park rabbits’ enclosure, while Ralph, Bob, Kim, Elisabeth, and David wielded pick axes digging trenches for fences to protect trees from the forthcoming pigs’ irresistible skin-scratching.
Later we all found ourselves sitting around Ralph and Carol’s living room gorging ourselves on a delicious arrangement of vegan food like pasta, baked beans, fruit salad, hummus, guacamole, and homemade pie with apples from their own trees.
And of course we got to spend quality time with all the animals, feeding carrots to bunnies, giving cows the size of cars scratches behind their ears, and admiring the horses and burros.
Remember all the cute bunnies you used to see hopping around Greenlake? They were abandoned there by owners who got them as cute live presents for Easter and then gave up on them. And they were being shot at by people, attacked by dogs, and carried off by hawks. One day Seattleites Mark and his girlfriend Carrie rescued one, then decided they had to save the rest. So they carried out a plan to relocate over 100 rabbits, the tame ones going to animal shelters for adoption and the really wild ones to Precious Life Animal Sanctuary.
The Animal Rights Meetup gathered at Bamboo Garden, where guest speaker Mark told us all about the Woodland Park Rabbit Rescue he and Carrie pulled off. They also talked about the logistical and ethical challenges of animal rescues in general, along with problems like perceptions by media and other animal rightists. As Elizabeth put it, “Learning about different animals and the challenges they face with humans is always interesting. It is very pleasant to hear about events that have been successful in improving their environment.”
Ringling Bros has been cited over 100 times by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for repeatedly violating minimum standards of the Animal Welfare Act.
Their offenses include failure to provide veterinary care, safe and secure enclosures, sufficient space, adequate exercise, and proper feeding and sanitation. These violations pose a risk to both the public and to the animals’ lives.
Ringling Bros is on trial for allegations of abuses to their Asian elephants, in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act.
Former circus employees have testified that the elephants are so tightly chained by one front and one hind leg they cannot even turn around,
and chaining is a practice used on circus elephants virtually 96% of their lives.
In the wild, animals spend most of their lives foraging for food and raising young rather than spinning on giant balls or jumping through flames.
To perform these tricks, circus animals are repeatedly and brutally trained using electric prods, spiked metal hooks and whips.
“The idea that it is funny to see wild animals coerced into acting like clumsy humans, or thrilling to see powerful beasts reduced to cringing cowards by a whipcracking trainer is primitive and medieval. It stems from the old idea that we are superior to other species and have the right to hold dominion over them.”
—Dr. Desmond Morris, anthropologist, animal behaviorist, author
We all came out at lunch time to speak up for the dolphins in front of the Japanese Consulate downtown. In light of Japan’s killing of over 20,000 dolphins and porpoises each year, we called upon Japanese authorities to ban the brutal slaughter of dolphins, porpoises, and other small whales.
Orca Network, Northwest Animal Rights Network, and Seattle Animal Rights Meetup were all there. It’s true, some people—like the woman who looked straight out of “Sex and the City” (or was it “101 Dalmations?”) who waved an impatient hand at us with a “No, I don’t want any!!” as she sped away in her convertible—had more important things to do than worry about dolphins being slaughtered. But most people were downright shocked to learn that people actually kill and eat dolphins.
Every year in Japan, fishermen round up and slaughter hundreds and even thousands of dolphins and other small whales. In the small fishing village of Taiji, entire schools of dolphins are driven into a hidden cove after a prolonged chase. Once trapped inside the cove, the fishermen kill the dolphins, slashing their throats with knives or stabbing them with spears. The water turns red with their blood, and the air fills with their screams.
[Photo above: Dolphins being lanced as they thrash around in the shallows on Iki Island, Nagasaki Prefecture. A similar fate awaits almost all those rounded up in ongoing “drive fisheries.”]