When Carolita McGee was seven, her father moved their family to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.
“Right away, I was drawn in by the forested backyards we had. Even though I enjoyed having friends, nothing compared to the calming & blissful feeling I would get when I was immersed by nature & her Crtrs (critters ;-)),” Carolita wrote in an email discussing her recent petition against the Olympic Game Farm on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. “It was around 10 years old that I promised nature I would take care of her & that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing ever since.”
Formerly a pet sitter, veterinarian assistant and a worker in the pet shop industry — which she no longer supports, she now helps animals of all kinds, wild and domestic, as a volunteer. She works with local animal control officers and sometimes asks PETA for help when other avenues are exhausted.
As a pet sitter in Los Angeles, Carolita specialized in reptile care and provided basic grooming, including baths & mani/pedis for animals with feathers, scales and fur.
She adopted pets that were no longer wanted or near death, which resulted in having 31 Crtrs at one time in a large apartment with no furniture except a TV on the floor. “I slept on the floor for many years so that my pets could have the best set-up I could give them,” she wrote. They included iguanas, snakes, rodents, a rabbit, fish and a parrot she still has.
“People don’t want to be preached to, so I’m using a different twist to get the message across,” she wrote. “My morning ritual includes signing petitions, writing letters to our government, using social media to share and raise awareness on animal advocacy.”
She continues to work with animal control on local matters and recently started a petition against Olympic Game Farm.
How did you become aware of the Olympic Game Farm?
My husband, Scott, and I visited the farm per a referral from one of the bed and breakfast places we were staying at nearby. We told her about our love for animals and nature, so we were very excited about this “sanctuary” she was raving about!
What kinds of animals live there, and how do do visitors see or interact with them?
We saw farm animals, camel, llama, ponies, bears, wolves, elk, zebra, bison, etc. You pay extra to pet the farm animals, and there are usually kids who enjoy that section. You can pay a dollar or two to buy a loaf of wheat bread to feed the safari animals.
You drive your car on this road that takes you to an open field of wild animals that stick their heads in your window for bread. I didn’t notice a single employee around to make sure no human or animal gets hurt.
We would often get so nervous thinking we were going to run over an animal because they have absolutely no fear of cars. Why would they? Each car is filled with junk food!
We noticed a reptile house and an above-ground pool labeled “aquarium” that cost extra. We regret not checking these out, but we were already so overwhelmed with sadness and disgust about how these poor animals are exploited, we couldn’t stomach it anymore.
What are the animals’ living quarters like?
The animals in the open field have little shelter — just a few wooden beams and a roof scattered here and there. We saw two Kodiak bears in their own open area with just a metal half dome for shelter. There were no pools, nothing to climb around on, but plenty of bread being tossed at them.
A solo black bear and three wolves were housed together in a small, wire enclosure with very little to provide enrichment. These animals were pacing back and forth, showing obvious signs of boredom and frustration. This is the last section we saw before rushing out of there. Unfortunately, I became too overwhelmed.
What are they eating?
The owner said in one article that they are fed fruits, veggies, meat, grains etc. and that the bread is merely a treat, but if you’re open to the public 8+ hours, 7 days a week, offering loaves of bread to every visitor, this bread becomes their staple diet. Even as a treat, it provides no nourishment and can be harmful to these animals. Even the USDA doesn’t approve of this, but they haven’t pushed the owner to stop, which boggles my mind. (I will be posting copies of the USDA reports soon.)
What else are the animals experiencing?
Scott and I mostly witnessed much sadness with many of the animals there. In addition to the pacing, there were animals just still, staring into space. Words are not enough to describe just how absolutely sad they were. It’s gut wrenching. One bear wouldn’t take the bread being tossed at him/her, yet people wouldn’t stop tossing them as they hit his/her body.
Does the game farm charge to visit?
Yes. $14 per person.
Who owns the farm, and how have they responded to your efforts?
Robert Beebe owns the farm. I’ve written a letter to him which he never responded to.
What can I do to help?
Thanks much for asking.
A word of encouragement for all of us
I’m sure you know this already, but with the animal welfare laws being so weak, being an animal advocate can often times feel like we’re running in place to never reach the finish line. This can be quite frustrating and exhausting, but laws change due to persistence and continued courage. Every day I’m learning to be strong for these wonderful non-human beings. Each and every one of them are worth the pain that comes with the fight. I strive to live to see the day animals & their habitats are no longer slaves & exploited for human benefit. That they live to be, at the very least, respected, living wild and free.
Photos used with permission of Carolita McGee.
Bonnie Anderson and Diane Weinstein will never forget the day they found a little American coot being strangled by fishing line off a dock on a small lake in their community. One end of the line was caught under the dock and the other end was around the bird’s neck so that it could not swim away.
There have been other incidents — a grebe tangled in fishing line found along a major road, a female mallard dangling by a wing that was caught in fishing line from a tree. “We were finally able to cut the line, but she went underwater and never came up. We think she became further entangled under the water,” Bonnie said.
They’re heartbreaking stories from one community — and they are, unfortunately, not alone.
With spring comes fishing season, and that means more wildlife and pets can be entangled in fishing line.
Dr. John Huckabee, a veterinarian at PAWS in Lynnwood, treats animals hurt by the fishing line around Green Lake and elsewhere — even from people’s yards, where they sometimes hang ornaments with the line. Songbirds and owls get them wrapped around their necks.
“All too frequently, it causes a tourniquet effect around a leg, a toe, a foot, sometimes around wings,” Dr. Huckabee said. “The line is very strong and when, say, a gull gets it wrapped around a wing, it can cut through skin of the wing and render them flightless. They can experience tourniquet necrosis and amputation of the limb.”
He testified last year in Olympia on behalf of legislation that Bonnie and Diane spearheaded — an effort to establish a statewide monofilament fishing line recovery and recycling program.
A story that came up during testimony was of a harbor seal pup whom PAWS had rehabilitated and released with a flipper tag and a satellite transmitter to track her location. The transmitter signal disappeared following several weeks of movement throughout Puget Sound, and the pup’s whereabouts were a mystery — until a diver found the seal entangled in fishing line and drowned under the Edmonds fishing pier.
The line is transparent in water and ensnares birds, mammals, fish and reptiles. Even pets are affected, with vets having to retrieve fishing line and hooks from their stomachs.
“Carelessly discarded monofilament fishing line takes a terrible toll on wildlife,” Bonnie said. “They suffer prolonged and painful deaths when their bodies or extremities become entangled. This often results in slow strangulation, starvation, loss of limbs or infections.
She and Diane began their project four years ago in a presentation to their homeowners association’s board of directors. They agreed to place a fishing line collection bin on the dock where the little American coot had struggled. A sign explains the need to protect wildlife and properly dispose of fishing line.
Their next step was reaching out to state officials. State Sen. Mark Mullett was interested, and they worked with him to draft the bill for which Dr. Huckabee testified. The bill didn’t make it to a vote, but Sen. Mullett got funding for the program. At the same time Bonnie and Diane found success at city and county levels. The Department of Natural Resources also has been very helpful, they said.
By the end of 2017, fishing line collection bins were installed at 93 Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) water access locations, 18 piers and ports, 25 state parks, 42 city and county parks, including 19 King County locations. Approximately 42,000 feet of monofilament fishing line has been removed from bins at the WDFW locations.
Bonnie said the state of Florida pioneered this type of program, which also is in effect in 38 states.
The city of Edmonds in Washington recently installed five boxes on its deep-water fishing pier.
“We wanted to find a way to highlight the problem, and when Bonnie approached us and then provided all the plans for how to make the bins, it made it really easy for us to call attention to the fact that these plastic products people use for fishing really need to be kept out of the marine ecosystem,” said Jennifer Leach, who runs the Edmonds Beach Ranger Program.
People are putting their fishing line in the bins — along with coffee cups and Coke bottles and cigarette butts, she said.
As vegans, we don’t fish and so are not leaving fishing line in the water. But we can help by contacting our communities’ parks, piers and recreation centers to ask them to install recycling bins for fishing line. In the interim, those organizations can ask people to pick up line and put it in covered receptacles. It’s important that they be covered, so that birds will not try to use the line for nesting material.
“It has to be recycled,” Bonnie said. “If it’s put in the trash, before it is covered at landfills wildlife can become entangled and birds can carry it off.
Bonnie designed decals explaining that putting the line in the trash isn’t the best solution.
She has requested the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to post the fishing line recycling program and bin locations on their website. This will help to promote the program and responsible disposal of fishing line.
Three bills in Congress would force states and localities to allow the sale of dangerous and inhumanely produced products, Compassion Over Killing pointed out.
The most effective action would be quick, polite calls to your U.S. Representative and your two U.S. Senators at (202) 224-3121. A sample message: “I live and vote in your district/state and ask that you vocally oppose Rep. Steve King’s HR 4879 and HR 3599 and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s HR 2887. They are dangerous attacks on state and local laws that protect animals and consumers.”
There’s a hearing in Olympia today!
We’re reminded of the importance of Washington Senate Bill 6196 by Pasado’s Safe Haven: “New and exciting legislation has been introduced that would help both low income Washington residents and their pets. Currently, there are restrictions in place for the veterinary procedures that agencies are able to provide in Washington but SB 6196 would remove these limitations. Passing SB 6196 would allow local animal care agencies, animal control, and humane societies to provide valuable veterinary services to our state’s low income pet owners.”
Please take a couple minutes to help today!
The nonprofit grocery chain PCC Community Markets, which often does a thorough job reporting on the food industry, recently published an article about food and climate change and failed to mention the role of animal agriculture.
Animals raised for food account for 39 percent of total agricultural emissions — a major contributor to greenhouse gases. Animal agriculture is also a major source of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
PCC has an online customer comment form: https://www.pccmarkets.com/contact-us/
You also can send a message to PCC’s entire board using this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Zoological Wildlife Conservation Center & Sloth Center is holding a “Santa Sloth” fundraiser in Olympia on Thursday, Dec. 14, at which sloths and lemurs will be used as photo props.
The Center itself has negative USDA reports and had a lemur die in August when it was left outside overnight and coyotes came onto the property. Indeed, they “they breed animals, sell animals into private ownership, and allow the public to handle animals on the premises. They are not accredited by GFAS,” according to ICARUS Inc.
In light of that background, perhaps it’s not surprising that the Center has not gotten the word about using wildlife as props.
Let’s each take a moment to remind them and those planning to attend the event above. Thank you!
Thanksgiving is a time of mixed emotions for many vegans. It’s nice to share traditions and favorite vegan recipes with family and friends — but it’s a holiday that also reminds many of us of the destruction wrought by the arrival of white people on this continent and the deaths of 46 million gorgeous beings every year, birds who were born only to suffer, die and be complained about as “dry, stringy” meat on the tables of Americans.
Next Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Seattle Farmed Animal Save will bear witness to turkeys being sold for local Thanksgiving tables. The group will gather and hold signs on the highway outside the live animal auction at the Enumclaw Sales Pavilion (22712 SE 436th St, Enumclaw). It’s a bit of a drive, but you can drop by the Redwing Cafe on your way there or back for a yummy treat.
I’ve never been there before Thanksgiving, but founder Kristina Giovanetti (who beautifully described the power of bearing witness in an earlier NARN post) says it’s what you would expect: Box after box after box of turkeys being sold. No price is decent for a living being, but these animals go for shockingly little.
As you probably know based on Instagram posts from all over the world, the Save Movement is powerful and heartening and heartbreaking, all at the same time. Please join us on Saturday!
Here are photos from a recent live auction — beautiful animals with numbers on them:
What could be better? A cooking class with the brilliant chef Renee Press of Fire and Earth Kitchen, who knows her way around a holiday — or any kind of — meal, plus a tour of Pasado’s Safe Haven, where a whole barn is named for NARN. Now you can have both on the same day, and bonus: It’s a fundraiser for the animals!!
This Saturday (Nov. 4) is your chance! From noon to 3 p.m., for $65, you can have all those good vibes and all this good food: creamy potatoes au gratin with herbed cashew crumbs, cranberry pecan rice salad and roasted delicata squash rings with savory mushroom gravy. Yes!
Get your tickets here! And look forward to a fun class and to meeting all the wonderful animals, including the billy goats, pigs and llamas who call the NARN Barn home!
How did the NARN Barn get its name? Not many people from NARN or Pasado’s remember anymore, but NARN’s Rachel Bjork checked with Joe Haptas, who was NARN’s executive director from 1998 to 2002. He recalled a large donation — perhaps $30,000, the largest ever for NARN and the Margaret Kyros Foundation given “to build the barn and to encourage Pasado’s to have a strong focus on farm animal issues and to promote a plant-based diet to the public through their work.”
There was a big, fun dedication event for the barn’s opening, Haptas said, where someone “broke a bottle of champagne against the barn to christen it, if I recall correctly.” It was in the late ’90s, and “Pasado’s really seemed to take off from that point and grew so quickly,” he said.
Anyone who’s so beleaguered by the treatment of animals or the state of politics in this country, or both, that they haven’t taken time to speak up for the mountain goats of the Olympic Peninsula (HERE IS THE LINK TO COMMENT) should take heart: We have been here before. We can make a difference.
Just ask Roger Anunsen and Cathy Sue Ragan-Anunsen. They helped lead the fight against removing the mountain goats in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when it seemed the National Park Service (NPS) had its case all sewn up.
The Anunsens represented The Fund for Animals (now part of The Humane Society of the United States) on the National Park Service Olympic Mountain Goat Management Committee and ended up reading the NPS’s entire case — article after report after brief — on long drives between their home in Oregon and meetings about the goats in Port Angeles.
Before they started reading the full documents, “we believed everything that the park officials said publicly and to the media and thought the only remaining question would be how to solve the (alleged) problem in a non-lethal manner,” Ragan-Anunsen said. Reading every available document changed their minds.
First, the NPS didn’t acknowledge historic evidence — including a 1896 report from National Geographic, which was one of the foremost scientific publications in the country — that goats lived on the Olympic Peninsula before the 1920s, when other reports say people first located them there. The NPS “told the public over and again that there was no evidence whatsoever that mountain goats were ever seen in the Olympics before the 1920s,” the Anunsens said. But, they said, their FOIA records request uncovered the fact that the NPS knew about that same 1896 National Geographic article and intentionally hid it from the public.
Why would the park service hide something like that? It’s hard to say, but possibly because they believed it was in the best interest of the area’s plants that the goats be removed, the Anunsens said. One group pushing hard to remove the goats were concerned about native plants — but the vegetation studies they cited were either flawed (the goats were drawn to salt blocks that the NPS’s own scientists had placed near the plants in order to attract the goats for a goat study — oops) or found the goats had little to no actual impact on the plants.
The Anunsens, The Fund for Animals, professional photographers Keith and Antje Gunnar of Whidbey Island, and others campaigned for years to keep the goats in what may be their native habitat, and they succeeded with the help of many others who reconsidered their position once they became aware of park officials’ unsubstantiated claims and “sloppy science” that served as the foundation for their effort to remove or kill the Olympic mountain goats. U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks helped. So did The Seattle Times’ editorial board.
It’s unclear why a similar widespread campaign is not happening now, the Anunsens said. But some reporters have documented the parallels:
It’s not the full-throttled outcry of the Fund for Animals, a U.S. representative and the editorial board of the state’s largest newspaper. Nor is it a book like 1998’s “White Goats, White Lies: The Abuse of Science in Olympic National Park” by R. Lee Lyman, an anthropology professor from the University of Missouri-Columbia. It’s also not the 25-page booklet, “Olympic Monarchs: Don’t Let Them Get Your Goat!” that the Anunsens compiled to refute the park’s case point-by-point and to save the goats from transfer, hunting, zoos and killings in the ‘90s.
For some reason, there’s not been an outcry this time — at least not yet.
“To make it through this part of the process without major controversy … I’m encouraged,” the park’s acting superintendent, Lee Taylor, told The Seattle Times. “It feels like this is the moment we could get it done.”
“[W]e could get it done” doesn’t sound right, perhaps because it’s not.
Let’s at least step up the number of comments the Park receives on behalf of the goats. Please let the Park know what you think of its plan for them — HERE IS THE LINK FOR COMMENTS, WHICH CLOSE ON 10/10/17. Please take a moment to take a stand with us. Please submit a comment, write a letter to your local paper, call your state or national lawmakers and post on social media on behalf of these mountain goats.
“I think we are now at that same stage we were in initial hearings [decades ago], where everyone believes it’s a done deal,” Ragan-Anunsen said. “If we can let them know it doesn’t have to be that way, if they want to be involved, perhaps we can stop the train in its tracks.”
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.