ANIMAL MEDIA ALERTS
OUTSTANDING COMMENTARY ON FOIE GRAS FROM RON REAGAN ON MSNBC 3/30/05
On Wednesday, March 30, on the MSNBC show "Connected: Coast to Coast," Ron Reagan gave a wonderful commentary on foie gras, saying that animal rights groups are correct to call its production "a cruel and unnecessary practice." He also mentioned other cruel practices, calling our food industries "equal opportunity abusers." The piece is transcribed on the MSNBC website at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6969478/ and I will paste it below. Please send and an appreciative comment to Ron Reagan at: RReagan@MSNBC.com .
March 30, 2005 | 1:04 p.m. ET
Objection to foie gras (Ron Reagan)
At Hurley's restaurant in Portland, Oregon, there's one thing you won't find on the menu: Pate de Foie Gras. In case you're wondering, that's a sort of liver puree, usually from ducks or geese. Oh, they've got it. But you'll have to have a private word with the waiter and you might want to whisper. Hurley's, like a number of restaurants around the country, has gone into stealth mode when it comes to this gourmet treat.
The reason: pressure from animal rights groups who say the techniques used to produce foie gras are a “cruel and unnecessary practice.” They're correct.
Foie gras is created by force-feeding grain to waterfowl in order to unnaturally enlarge their livers. Afficionados say they're simply taking advantage of a duck's natural ability to store fat. Last time I checked, there was no natural tendency on the part of ducks to shove stainless steel tubes down their throats and pump in huge amounts of half-cooked corn. That's how foie gras is made.
Now, I'm not a vegetarian, mind you. It's just that I have this funny objection to torturing small animals no matter how scrumptious their body parts might be.
And it's not just ducks and geese, is it? Our food industries are equal opportunity abusers: cows, chickens, pigs, and a special mention to those little calves who for their short, miserable lives are locked into crates too small to allow movement just so we can eat veal.
Our mistreatment of these creatures is no reflection on their intrinsic worth, but it does reflect the state of our humanity. The picture is, to say the least, unattractive.
I know we're carnivores. Things die so that we can live. But simple decency requires that, whenever possible, we minimize the suffering of the beings under our control.
I've tasted foie gras. Yes, it's quite good. But not good enough to justify abusing animals.
I won't harangue you anymore— I know this subject makes folks uncomfortable. But here's a suggestion: next time you tuck into your foie gras and marvel at how rich and delicious it is, take a look in the mirror and remind yourself how it got that way.
There is a terrific article about foie gras on the front page of the Tuesday, March 29 Chicago Tribune headed, "Liver and Let Live."
It talks about "Famed Chicago chef Charlie Trotter" who "had a change of heart about foie gras and has quit serving it at his eponymous North Side restaurant."
We read "At the debate's center is the welfare of the duck.... Foie gras...is created by force-feeding the birds with grain, thus causing their livers--and the rest of them--to grow dramatically."
"Trotter said he became uncomfortable with serving the delicacy after visiting three foie gras farms (he refused to identify them) and concluding that the ducks were suffering as they were kept in small cages and fed grains through tubes inserted down their esophagi."
There is a great quote from Trotter:
"I just said, `Enough is enough here. I can't really justify this.' What I have seen, it's just inappropriate. There are too many great things to eat out there that I don't believe that any animal would have to go through that for our benefit."
The article discusses the potential impact of his stance:
"Such a strong public stance by an influential chef like Trotter, nationally known for his PBS series 'The Kitchen Sessions With Charlie Trotter,' could cause further headaches for the relatively small foie gras industry..."
It also mentions the Californian ban on the production and sale of foie gras, and notes: "A similar bill has been proposed in New York, and last month in Illinois, state Sen. Kay Wojcik (R-Schaumburg) introduced the Force Fed Birds Act. Still in the reading stage, this bill initially prohibited the force-feeding of birds and the sale of any resultant product, though, to appease restaurateurs, it has been amended to allow foie gras' sale." That amendment, watering the bill down to one that bans production in a state where foie gras is currently not produced, might help some who were opposed to accepting the amended California bill (amended to take effect in 2012 but still including a ban on the sale of foie gras) realize what the California activists were up against and how extraordinarily much they achieved.
The article broaches wider issues of animal cruelty in food production. There is an interesting quote from Vogue magazine food writer Jeffrey Steingarten:
"I think the way factory-raised pigs are raised is far, far worse. The question is, Do we take care of foie gras even if we believe it's only borderline inhumane as compared to the treatment of pigs?"
Rick Tramonto, a chef against the foie gras ban, says: "Look how much veal this country goes through with all the Italian restaurants and the scallopinis. Yes, there are certain farms that are going to treat those veal better than others, but still at the end of the day it's killing those babies, right?"
And the article closes on this heartening note, discussing all 'food animals' are raised:
"Sarah Stegner, the former Ritz-Carlton Dining Room chef currently running the Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook, that slippery slope is a reason to appreciate Trotter's stance.
"'It's a bigger issue than the foie gras,' she said, referring to the way food animals are raised. 'It's an issue the whole country needs to address and not just a little niche. People need to do what they can. Charlie Trotter is in a position where he's a leader in the food community, and he wants to be responsible, and those are things he sees as priorities, and good for him.'"
You can read the whole article on line at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0503290227mar29,1,6901705.story
There is a poll on that page, "Would you eat foie gras?" Please visit the page and vote No.
And please take the opportunity given to us by this front page story to speak out in the letters section about the treatment of ducks for foie gras and of all animals raised for food on factory farms. Great resources are Farm Sanctuary's websites: http://www.nofoiegras.com and http://www.FactoryFarming.com
The Chicago Tribune takes letters at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/letters/chi-lettertotheeditor.customform
INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE ON DUTCH DAIRY FACTORY FARMS IN THE US -- 3/28/05
The Monday, March 28 International Herald Tribune has an article, on page 2, headed, "Dutch 'factory farms' stir resentment in U.S."
It discusses a protest against a Dutch farmer who "hopes to build two barns the length of football fields for 2,100 Holsteins by next year" in central Ohio, and tells us, "Pierce's protests are emblematic of a broader battle being waged in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan over a new generation of large animal farms, many owned by Dutch immigrants, that are pumping money into rural economies but also drawing sharp protests from environmental groups and homeowners concerned about water pollution, odors and land values."
We learn that land is more expensive in Holland and that the country has more effective environmental restrictions than the US:
"Over the past seven years, more than 40 Dutch dairy farmers have relocated to the region, driven out of the Netherlands by costly milk quotas, intense competition, tough environmental regulations and high land prices that made expanding their farms prohibitively expensive."
"...critics say the farms, which typically have several hundred and sometimes thousands of cows, are an insult to another tradition: the small farm where herds of 60 to 150 cows graze on open grassland. The large farms, known as confined animal feeding operations, have too little acreage to allow grazing, produce more manure than they can handle and threaten to pollute aquifers, critics contend.
"Last year the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued citations against 16 of the Dutch farms in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan, asserting that they had violated clean-water regulations intended to prevent liquid manure and other wastes from leaching into waterways....Michigan group says it has documented dozens of manure and silage discharges into local streams, which led to state action against Dutch farmers.
"What perhaps riles opponents of the large farms most is their smell. Each farm is required to build ponds capable of storing millions of gallons of liquid manure until it can be spread on nearby crop fields. On warm summer days, those lagoons can advertise their existence for miles around, critics complain."
Local small farmers are quoted: "We know what manure smells like. But our air is so bad we can't breathe."
We learn that "The driving force behind the Dutch farms has been Vreba-Hoff Dairy Development of Wauseon, Ohio, which was founded by a family of Dutch farmers in 1997. For fees of $3 million or more, the firm helps Dutch farmers obtain visas, buy land and apply for dairy permits. Since its creation, Vreba-Hoff has settled 42 Dutch families in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana 24 of them in Ohio and has nine more projects in development, said Cecilia Conway, a partner in the firm. The Assen family owns one of those farms in central Ohio."
On that farm:
"Outside is the 15-foot-deep, or five-meter-deep, manure lagoon, which will be expanded from its current capacity of seven million gallons, or 26.5 million liters, to hold up to 24 million gallons."
You can read the whole article on line at: http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/03/27/news/dutch.html
It says little about the animal cruelty involved in factory farming, but opens the door for letters on that issue. A great resource is http://www.FactoryFarming.com
The International Herald Tribune takes letters at: email@example.com
Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.
TINKERBELLE DIES AT PAWS SANCTUARY -- SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE FRONT PAGE 3/26/05
We had sad news from San Francisco this weekend. One of the elephants recently released from the San Francisco Zoo to the PAWS sanctuary has died. The heading on the front page of the Saturday March 26 San Francisco Chronicle read, "Ailing Tinkerbelle is put to death;
Foot woes too much for popular elephant."
Tinkerbelle was euthanized after collapsing on Thursday. Pat Derby of PAWS is quoted: "We've all known that her condition was what I guess you'd call terminal. I had hoped that she'd have a year or two."
"Derby called in veterinarians from around the country. They all said the same thing: Tinkerbelle's feet were not fixable. Too many years of concrete had taken their toll."
On Thursday, after Tinkerbelle collapsed then managed to stand, "Derby called the sanctuary's vet. Tinkerbelle headed toward an open gate before falling again. The vet saw that the pads cushioning her feet had slipped off, exposing the bone.
"The elephant didn't seem stressed and didn't fight to get up, said Derby, who added that she no longer could have stood on her feet."
We read that the before Tinkerbelle died had been "one of her best":
"'She was trumpeting in the bath, playing with her toys and eating like a little pig,' Derby said."
On the larger issue, the battle to have elephants removed from zoos, we read that Tinkerbelle's "relocation climaxed almost nine months of bile-filled debate over whether she and Lulu, an African elephant, should remain at the San Francisco Zoo, move to another zoo or go to a sanctuary. The uproar resulted from the deaths of two other elephants -- Calle and Maybelle -- last spring. In time, the controversy attracted national attention and eventually involved animal rights activists, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA), which threatened to remove the zoo's accreditation for defying its recommendation to ship the two pachyderms to another zoo instead of the sanctuary."
You can read the whole article on line at: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/03/26/ELEPHANT.TMP
It provides an opportunity for letters to the editor against keeping wild animals captive for human entertainment. A great resource on the issue is http://www.SaveWildElephants.com
The Chronicle takes letters: firstname.lastname@example.org and advises: "Please limit your letters to 200 or fewer words ... shorter letters have a better chance of being selected for publication."
INDEPENDENT ON DOLPHIN DEATHS IN NETS 3/26/05
As HSUS and other groups organize a boycott of Canadian seafood to protest the seal hunt, (see below) we see an article from the UK that makes it clear that those who care about other marine mammals, dolphins, should avoid sea bass.
The Saturday, March 26, Independent carried an article headed, "War at Sea: Greenpeace Fights to Save Dolphins From the Nets."
"Skimming the peaks of mountainous waves, plunging into space then hitting the bottom of watery canyons with a great slap that leaves your stomach some way behind, the inflatable boats tear across the English Channel towards the target.
"The Greenpeace boats are heading for two French trawlers, which appear intermittently between rolling blue hills of water. Trailing between them is a massive net, its presence under the waves signalled by two buoys on the surface a couple of hundred metres behind the ships.
"At that moment, many feet below, this net is scooping up the loose shoals of the gleaming prize, fish which gather to spawn at this time of year; sea bass in Britain, loup de mer to the French. And among the sea bass may be dolphins, gorging on a smorgasbord of smaller fry, unsuspecting of the nets that will haul them in.
"Campaigners say dolphins, who have to come up for air every six minutes or so, are dying in their hundreds, possibly thousands, each year, drowning entangled in the nets of these 'pair' trawlers.
"Their bodies are usually dumped back by the fishermen, their bellies slit to make them sink quickly. And by a combination of persuasion and harassment, the Greenpeace boats are trying to stop the fishing and save the dolphins."
The article describes the morning's efforts, then explains:
"The bigger victory sought by Greenpeace and other groups such as the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, who have observers on board gathering data on all cetacean populations, is a total ban on trawling in the area to preserve dolphins.
"Based on official British figures of dolphin by-catch by the few Scottish pair trawlers, campaigners estimate up to 2,000 dolphins are killed by fishing here each year, an unacceptable proportion, they say, of a total population of at least 9,700.
"The dolphins, which gather to feed in early spring, started to suffer only when the sea bass fishery began nearly 20 years ago, in response to rising demand. The rest of the world woke up to the slaughter only two years ago when scores of dead dolphins were washed up on Cornish and Devon shores."
You can read the whole article on line at:
It presents a great opportunity for pro-veggie letters. An excellent resource is www.FishingHurts.com . The Independent takes letters at: email@example.com and advises, "If you wish to submit a letter for publication in the newspaper, it must include the sender's name, postal address and daytime telephone number."
The March 23 edition of The Economist had a excellent article on the issue headed, "Shooting one kind of animal so that hunters can shoot another."
It opens with a discussion of aerial wolf hunting:
"Wolves dine on moose and caribou, creatures favoured by Alaska's human hunters. Since the number of moose and caribou is falling, hunters are allowed to shoot the competing wolves from the air. The practice, which was common in the 1950s and 1960s, is controversial: often the wolves are chased to exhaustion, then shot when hunters land near the wolves. In 1996 and 2000, Alaska's voters turned down proposals to resume aerial 'predator control'. But these votes were reversed in 2003, a move supported by the Board of Game, a citizens' panel with authority over many wildlife decisions."
It moves on to the upcoming bear hunt:
"However, shooting one kind of animal so that hunters can shoot another worries a lot of biologists and greens. They are also angry because the state plans to kill about 80 brown bears later this spring. As with wolves, these bears are targeted because they eat moose and caribou in an area where numbers of those animals have declined. But predator control of bears is a first in Alaska, where bears are hunted for sport but have not been killed to improve hunting of moose or caribou.
"Vic Van Ballenberghe, a biologist who has studied Alaskan moose for more than two decades, is particularly concerned because bear numbers already seem to be dropping. Bears reproduce slowly, he says, so killing even a few could have large repercussions on the state's population of black, brown and grizzly bears."
The article is on line at. The Economist takes letters at: firstname.lastname@example.org and advises "Don't forget to include your postal address and a daytime telephone number."
I am sorry I did not get the Economist article out earlier. I just learned of it second-hand through a Grist Magazine commentary on it (posted on Animals Voices News) which says, "Shot for eating things humans want to shoot! There's a joke in there somewhere. Amid the tears."
LOS ANGELES TIMES: "WHEN THE SHOW IS OVER FOR HOLLYWOOD CHIMPS 3/22/05
The Tuesday, March 22 Los Angeles Times has a story on the front page of the Metro Section headed, "When the Show's Over for Hollywood Chimps." It is also on the New York Newsday, and South Florida Sun-Sentinel websites.
"Ollie and Buddy, the chimpanzees shot dead earlier this month after they viciously attacked a couple at a Kern County animal sanctuary, had been retired from show business after having spent their early years working for one of Hollywood's top animal trainers.
"Their background underscores how tough a business Hollywood can be for chimps these days and how hard it is to find a place for them to live once their performing days are over.
"The 11-year-old male chimps had been sent to Animal Haven Ranch in Havilah seven years ago after they grew too strong and unpredictable to work with humans. Chimps are used in the entertainment industry only for the first few years of their lives because they become too difficult to handle, animal experts said.
"Many end up spending the rest of their lives — which can be another 50 years — in sanctuaries similar to the one in Kern County. Others, animal rights activists fear, end up being used for medical research."
There is good news:
"But in recent years, the demand for live chimps and other simians has declined as digital animation allows filmmakers and TV producers to create their likenesses on computers. The chimps and other animals in Eddie Murphy's remake of 'Dr. Dolittle,' for example, were computer-generated."
You can read the whole story on line at: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-chimps22mar22,0,7405519.story?coll=la-home-local
The story gives us an opportunity to write letters against the use of any wild animals for human entertainment. A good resource on the Chimp Issue is http://www.chimpcollaboratory.org/projects/pubed.asp
The Los Angeles Times take letters at: email@example.com (Include your name, address, and phone number.)
Newsday takes letters at: http://cf.newsday.com/newsdayemail/email.cfm
And the Sun Sentinel takes letters at: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/sfl-letterseditor.customform
NEWSWEEK ON COSMETIC SURGERY FOR DOGS AND ON PETFINDER ADOPTION -- 3/21/05
The March 21 edition of Newsweek, on news stands now, has two articles about companion animals. I see them as complimentary though the magazine does not link them. The Periscope section (Pg 12) has a piece headed "Make Your Dog a Swan." It is about cosmetic surgery for dogs. It focuses on surgeries designed to make animals more comfortable, often correcting faults related to breeds. For example, it tells us:
"The excessive skin folds in chow chows and Shar-Peis, for instance, trap excess saliva that can lead to bacterial buildup. And after a beagle has multiple puppies, her lower half may drag against the ground, forming painful open wounds. The solution? A canine tummy tuck."
"In response to the boom in cosmetic surgery, John Duran, mayor of West Hollywood, Calif., has a bone to pick. He has introduced legislation to ban 'noncurative' forms of cosmetic pet surgery he deems cruel and unnecessary. The bill targets ear cropping, performed to make the ears of Doberman pinschers and Great Danes stand erect, and tail docking, done on terriers and spaniels. After all, a dog has to be only man's best friend—not the best looking."
You can read the article on line at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7160259/site/newsweek/
In many other countries, including Australia, Great Britain and Finland, ear-cropping is already banned, and there is now a groundbreaking bill calling for a ban in California, introduced by Assembly member Paul Koretz, a Democrat from West Hollywood. You can read more about that on the Sacramento Bee website at:
http://www.sacbee.com/content/politics/story/12565877p-13420885c.html or the website of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights at: http://www.avar.org/earcrop.html
The same edition of Newsweek has a lovely article, headed "Stray Dog Seeks Love," about www.Petfinder.com (Pg 53.)
You'll can read it at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7168828/site/newsweek/
I referred to the articles as complimentary since the bizarre concept of cosmetic surgery for dogs is linked to the desire for breeds with certain characteristics. Though Petfinder.com includes purebreds, one doesn't expect people going to that website to be viewing the dogs they adopt as fashion accessories.
Newsweek deserves a big thank you for the Petfinder piece. And the coverage opens the door for letters on various companion animal issues, including the joy of loving mutts who don't need plastic surgery.
Newsweek takes letters at: firstname.lastname@example.org . They must include name, address, and daytime phone number.
AUSSIE RADIO HOST JACKIE O EDUCATES J.LO ABOUT FUR -- DAILY NEWS ARTICLE 3/21/05
Jennifer Lopez and her new clothing line have been getting a lot of negative attention, thanks to PETA's campaign and website against J.Lo's use of fur. It has been referred to on countless entertainment shows. Check out PETA's J.Lo website: http://www.jlodown.com/
The following delightful piece appeared in the Rush and Molloy gossip section of the Monday, March 21, New York Daily News (Pg 16):
J.Lo fur flies on Oz radio
Speaking of J.Lo, the diva was silenced by Australian radio host Jackie O. last week when she brought up the issue of fur in Lopez's Sweetface clothing line.
"If someone would like to educate me and bring something to light that I don't know, that'd be great," J.Lo calmly replied.
"Would you like to be educated right now?" the host shot back, going into brutal detail of how foxes are skinned alive and chinchillas are electrocuted.
Lopez's dead air was deafening. If she wasn't ready for the tutorial then, she'll get a second chance. PETA is planning a massive demonstration outside the L.A. premiere of Jenny from the Block's latest flick, "Monster in Law," on April 28.
It gives us a nice opportunity for anti fur letters to the Daily News. The paper takes letters at: email@example.com
Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.
And Jackie O deserves some thanks! Her show takes comments at: http://www.2dayfm.com.au/kj/contact.php
PENNSYLVANIA LEAD STORIES ON PUPPY MILLS 3/19/05 -3/21/05
A strong activist campaign has put puppy mills on the front pages of Pennsylvania papers. The front page of the Friday, March 18, Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster PA) included a story headed, "Change state dog laws, activists say; Creighton hosts puppy mill forum." The Monday March 21 Philadelphia Inquirer included a piece headed, "Sending a big message on county's puppy mills" on the front page of the B section.
The Intelligencer Journal piece raises awareness about the cruelty of puppy mills but includes an unfortunate quote from Sue West, president of Humane League of Lancaster County's board of directors, who said part of the problem is that puppy-mill farmers view dogs as livestock.
"'You can't compare hogs to dogs,' West said."
You can. Dogs in puppy mills and pigs (just as sentient and generally acknowledged as more intelligent than dogs) on factory farms live in unconscionable conditions -- small cages from which they are never released for exercise, to eat, or to defecate.
The article talks about a billboard campaign that is helping to raise awareness:
"Public outrage about local puppy mills was rekindled a couple of weeks ago when Main Line Animal Rescue, a nonprofit organization that specializes in the rescue and placement of abused and unwanted animals, erected a billboard that caught the attention of animal lovers across the county.
"The sign, which can be seen by vehicles headed east on the Pennsylvania Turnpike between the Lebanon and Ephrata exits, depicts a car filled with bright-eyed, flamboyantly dressed tourists with the message 'Welcome to scenic Lancaster County.'
"The left side of the billboard reads: 'Home to hundreds of puppy mills.' It directs drivers who want to learn more about the state's 'notorious puppy mills' to visit the Web sites www.mainlinerescue.com and www.stoppuppymills.org ."
You can read the whole article on line at:
The Monday, March 21 Philadelphia Inquirer front page story focuses on that campaign. It opens, "The billboard welcomes visitors to Lancaster County, but it isn't meant to increase tourism. Main Line Rescue, which paid for the folksy sign, wants to warn visitors about an activity that doesn't get the same attention as shopping outlets and Amish farms."
The article tells us, "Paid for by a board member who wants to remain anonymous, the $500-a-month sign went up last month for a yearlong stay, Smith said. But already it has gotten action. After getting flooded with e-mails about the sign, Lancaster County formed a committee to look into the issue, James Cowhey, director for Community Planning, said this month. The panel wants to determine what is going on and, if there's a problem, 'see what they can do to help find a solution,' he said."
A nice lesson in effective activism!
You can read the whole article on line at: http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/states/pennsylvania/11188713.htm
Both articles present great opportunities for letters on the joy of adopting companion animals.
The Intelligencer Journal takes letters at:
http://lancasteronline.com/pages/paper/intell/letter.php and the Philadelphia Inquirer takes letters at: Inquirer.Letters@phillynews.com
Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.
LEAD STORY ON FOIE GRAS IN CHICAGO TRIBUNE 3/21/05
Foie gras in on the front page of the Metro Section of the Monday, March 21 Chicago Tribune. The article, headed "Quirky bills try to halt fowl moves" looks at a few bill before the Illinois legislature. This is what is says about the foie gras bill:
"Republicans also have introduced bills from off-the-beaten path.
"Sen. Kay Wojcik of Schaumburg enjoys haute cuisine as much as the next connoisseur. But she says anyone would be sickened by the force-feeding of geese and ducks that goes into the making of foie gras, the fatty livers of those birds. Although the only known U.S. foie gras factories are in California and New York, she is sponsoring a bill that would never allow them to operate in Illinois.
California recently enacted a similar ban, and one animal rights activist reports that foie gras makers might be looking to move into the flyover states.
'We've heard some rumblings that foie gras farms are thinking of moving to other states, so we just want to close the door to that,' said Gene Bauston, president of Farm Sanctuary, a New York-based farm animal rescue and protection agency.
Wojcik said she considers the measure to be a 'special interest' bill--maybe not as significant as school funding reform, but important just the same.
'It's apples and oranges,' she said. 'You can't compare it.'
"Wojcik said she has never tried foie gras, which is often served as a pate.
"I do make my own pate, but I don't force-feed the duck,' she said. 'I don't do foie gras.'"
The whole article is on line at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/chi-0503210151mar21,1,5347425.story
The suggestion that California recently enacted a similar bill is misleading since if one goes to the full text of the Illinois bill (available at http://tinyurl.com/4mwlo ) one sees an amendment that "Deletes the prohibition on selling products in Illinois that are the result of force feeding a bird to enlarge the liver." One cannot compare the impact of a law that bans both production and sale of foie gras with one that bans only its production, in a state where it is not produced.
The article, however, gives us an opportunity to educate readers of this huge newspaper about the egregious cruelty behind a delicacy that has been banned in other countries, and in California, but will unfortunately not be banned by this bill in Illinois. You can learn more about the issue at: http://www.nofoiegras.org/ and send a letter to the Chicago Tribune at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/letters/chi-lettertotheeditor.customform
BOSTON GLOBE OP-ED ON PIGS AND FACTORY FARMING 3/19/05
There was an extraordinary op-ed printed in the Boston Globe on Saturday March 19, headed: "Lessons from my pig Winnie."
You can find it on line at http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/03/19/lessons_from_my_pig_winnie?mode=PF but I will print it in full below.
I hope it will inspire you to send appreciative letters to the Boston Globe and perhaps to write something similar for your paper. The Boston Globe takes letters at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.
SONDRA S. CROSBY
Lessons from my pig Winnie
By Sondra S. Crosby | March 19, 2005
WHERE DO respect and dignity for life begin and end? This question was raised during a family vacation at the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, N.Y. For the last four years, we have been sponsoring a pig that narrowly escaped someone's outdoor barbecue. She jumped the fence and ran the streets of New York until she was captured. She was frightened, injured, and starving and taken to the safe haven at the Farm Sanctuary. She was given the name ''Winnie."
I am a physician, and have made a commitment to reducing suffering. How then can I stand by and watch the unnecessary suffering of many farm animals destined for human consumption? Where does one draw the line at what practices are acceptable? How does one define a sentient being? Our visit to the Farm Sanctuary and spending time with Winnie helped my family and me put these questions in perspective.
The human impact of factory farming should alarm us all. Human Rights Watch recently reported that meatpacking is the most dangerous factory job in America. Workers are injured at extraordinary high rates and often denied compensation. Immigrant workers are frequently exploited to work under such horrific conditions, and employers take advantage of their undocumented status and fear of deportation to keep them quiet. At a minimum, federal and state laws need to enforce protection of all workers in this industry, without regard to immigration status.
Factory farming hurts our environment. Natural resources are depleted when wetlands, forests, and wildlife habitats are decimated to grow the grain necessary for factory farms. Agricultural runoff and the vast amount of manure produced by large numbers of animals confined in small areas are not only detrimental to our water supply but toxic to fish and other aquatic life. Shouldn't we be utilizing our natural resources more efficiently to produce food?
There is evidence that a plant-based diet is more healthful than an animal-based diet, which has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. The factory farming industry also uses drugs, hormones, and other chemicals to enhance animal ''production," a practice that potentially causes detrimental health effects in humans. But I want to tell the stories of the animals.
I learned about ''downed animals" at the Farm Sanctuary. ''Downed animals" is the term given to those animals in stockyards that become too sick and weak to walk. Once they fall down, they are often denied food and water. Although they may still be alive, they are often treated as though they were dead. They are moved with forklifts or tractors that can break bones. Sometimes they are thrown away. Downed animals experience unimaginable suffering because there are no adequate laws protecting them.
I also learned about the painful procedures pigs are subjected to by the industry -- for example, having their tails cut off without anesthesia, and being overcrowded in small pens with concrete floors. Pigs remain in these conditions until slaughter at about 6 months of age. The air is noxious and even workers suffer respiratory diseases. Diseases such as salmonellosis are rampant. Breeding sows are confined in small pens and live a constant cycle of impregnation and birth, and they are often denied straw bedding. They suffer their whole life, then are sent to slaughter when they are not productive breeders. Hogs are hung upside down, their throats are cut, and they bleed to death. They are supposed to be ''stunned" first; however this practice is imprecise. If stabbing is unsuccessful, the pig will be dropped in scalding water to be boiled alive.
Billions of chickens are crammed into cages so small they can't move. We saw examples of these cages at the farm. Food birds (chickens and turkeys) have been genetically altered to grow beyond their biological limits. The heart and lungs are not well developed enough to support the remainder of the body, so some die of congestive heart failure, in addition to the many that suffer crippling leg disorders during life because their legs won't support their genetically altered weight.
In the slaughterhouse, fully conscious birds are hung upside down by metal shackles on a moving rail. The birds' heads are submerged in an electrified bath of water. This is supposed to render them unconscious. However, often the electricity is lower than required because of concerns that too much electricity will damage the carcass. Many birds are immobilized, but still capable of feeling pain. Their throats are then slashed on the assembly line. The next stop is the scalding tank. Commonly, birds are dunked alive. This results in the birds flopping, kicking, and screaming, their eyeballs popping out of their heads. They emerge with broken bones and are disfigured.
It is easier not to consider how the flesh has arrived at your plate, and, surely this is what the farming industry prefers.
What are the alternatives? Meat would be more expensive and less accessible if factory farming were abolished. Land used inefficiently to grow grain for the agriculture business could be used to grow human food. I can't think of any good reason to eat meat, but those who do should insist on strict enforcement of humane conditions for the animals and workers in the industry.
I applaud the small gains made in the legislative arena regarding gestation crates, veal crates, downed animals, and foie gras, and hope this reflects an increasing concern for farm animal welfare.
Dr. Albert Schweitzer wrote, ''Until he extends the circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace." Humankind has a long journey toward this goal.
Sondra S. Crosby is an internist with the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights at Boston Medical Center.
© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company (Reprinted here for non-profit educational purposes.)
TERRIFIC ANIMAL LAW COVERAGE ON CBS EVENING NEWS -- 3/18/05
CBS Evening News gave the broad issue of animal rights, and specifically animal rights law, beautiful coverage on Friday, March 18.
I will paste the website summary below, and you can watch the segment on your computer if you go to the following web page and click on the link that says "Free video: New frontiers in animal law."
Bob Barker's grants to law schools form the basis of the story. But though Barker's activism is known to the American public mostly through his recommendations to viewers that they help control animal overpopulation by spaying and neutering their animals, CBS's coverage makes it clear that regarding the grants "The concern is less about pound animals and the nation's hundreds of millions of domestic pets than it is about the 10 billion animals raised for food and research, animals largely unprotected by welfare and cruelty laws."
On the segment Professor Taimie Bryant of UCLA tells us: "Chickens, for example, are not animals for purposes of the Humane Slaughter Act."
Reporter, Jerry Bowen, comments: "Which means, says Professor Bryant, that factory farmworkers can handle chickens in ways that might get owners of pet chickens prosecuted for animal cruelty."
The web page print version of the story follows the voiceover on the video segment closely (though not exactly) but if you are able to watch the segment, I recommend doing so since it will give you a good feel for the animal friendly presentation. For example, as "animal rights skeptic" Richard Epstein (who has two lines included -- fair enough since a news show is expected to give balanced coverage) says that if animal rights had prevailed in primitive times we would not have civilization as we know it, we see a touching shot of a bear leading her cub across a highway.
Please read the story below, check out the video on line if you can, and, most importantly, thank CBS News for its serious attention to the subject. This is a huge step forward for CBS and positive feedback for it will encourage continued movement in the right direction. News shows take their feedback seriously.
Go to http://www.cbsnews.com/feedback/fb_news_form.shtml and choose CBS Evening News from the pulldown menu.
Yours and the animals',
Law Schools Make Room For Animals
LOS ANGELES, March 18, 2005
Why did the chicken cross the road? To see an attorney, of course.
As CBS News Correspondent Jerry Bowen reports, it's no joke. It's called animal law and Taimie Bryant, an animal law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, says it goes far beyond custody battles over Bowser.
"Animal law properly also deals with alleviating animal suffering," says Bryant.
And six of the nation's premier law schools, including Columbia, Duke, Stanford, UCLA, Yale and Northwestern, have each been given $1 million endowments to train future animal law attorneys.
It was a gift from Bob Barker, host of CBS' "Price Is Right" game show. Barker, a longtime advocate for animal welfare, hopes to influence a new generation of lawyers
"I hope they'll become aware of the exploitation and mistreatment of animals," says Barker.
The concern is less about pound animals or the nations 280 million domestic pets than the 10 billion animals that are raised for food and research; creatures largely unprotected by cruelty and welfare laws.
The Federal Animal Welfare Act does not cover 95 percent of research animals, including birds and mice, because they are not defined as animals.
"Chickens, for example, are not animals for purposes of the Humane Slaughter Act," says Bryant.
That means factory farm workers can handle chickens in ways that might get owners of pet chickens prosecuted for animal cruelty, says Bryant.
But that's not all. There is talk of animal property rights as new research reveals that animals, like prairie dogs, not only have feelings but language skills.
"If the human is wearing a yellow shirt, they are able to describe the color of the yellow shirt," says Dr. Con Slobodchikoff of Northern Arizona University.
And if the man in the yellow shirt wants to build a house on a prairie dog mound?
"There's a difficult question as to whether or not animals should be allowed to own land, which they've been able to occupy prior to human beings," says Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago Law School.
It's a very difficult question says Epstein, an animal law skeptic.
"If the animal rights movement had prevailed, in primitive times you would never have civilization as you know it," says Epstein.
It's a civilization that's now considering the scope of legal protection for every animal under the sun, including that chicken crossing the road.
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR OP-ED: "MAKE THIS YEAR'S SEAL HUNT THE LAST" 3/18/05
The Friday, March 18, Christian Science Monitor has an op-ed by HSUS's Rebecca Aldworth, describing the horror of the upcoming seal hunt and calling for a boycott of Canadian products. It is headed "Make this year's seal hunt the last." (Pg 9.)
Aldworth tells us that right now, in an idyllic scene on Canada's East Coast, "serene mother seals lie contentedly and peacefully with their nursing pups. But just days later, the peace of the ice is shattered as seal hunters descend on the defenseless pups, and the nursery is turned into an open-air slaughterhouse.
"Beginning in the last week of March, hundreds of thousands of seal pups will be clubbed and shot to death in Canada's annual commercial seal hunt. It is an industrial-scale slaughter that targets the animals for their fur, and leaves their carcasses to rot on the ice. With more than 300,000 pups allowed to be killed this year, it has become the largest slaughter of marine mammals on earth."
We read of brutal treatment:
" In 2001, an independent team of veterinarians was escorted to the ice floes by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. They studied Canada's commercial seal hunt at close range. Their report concluded that up to 42 percent of the seals they studied had probably been skinned alive while conscious - a clear violation of Canada's criminal code and marine mammal regulations that govern the hunt."
And we learn of the call for a boycott on Canadian seafood:
"When the first pup is clubbed or shot to death on the ice at the end of March, the Humane Society of the United States, with a network of powerful organizations that includes the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Born Free Foundation, will launch a global boycott of Canadian seafood.
"We are asking Americans not to buy Canadian seafood products, such as snow crabs, until the commercial seal hunt is ended for good. American consumers can easily identify Canadian seafood products, which are labeled clearly in all major grocery stores."
You can read the whole piece on line at: http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0318/p09s01-coop.html?s=hns
Aldworth will be at the hunt, as she has been in the past, documenting the massacre. HSUS has a page with suggestions on what we can do to help at: http://www.hsus.org/marine_mammals/protect_seals/protect_seals_what_you_can_do
Sea Shepherd, another of the groups calling for the boycott, will also be in Canada documenting and protesting the hunt. You can read about and support that group's efforts at: http://www.seashepherd.org/seals/seals.html.
And you can sign a petition against the hunt at:
And please help keep this topic alive in the paper with supportive letters to the editor. The Christian Science Monitor takes letters at: http://csmonitor.com/cgi-bin/encryptmail.pl?ID=CFF0C5E4
Also, why not write a letter to your local paper letting people know about the hunt and the boycott? Don't hesitate to ask me for help if you have any difficulty finding the correct address for a letter to the editor or would like me to edit a letter.
UK GUARDIAN ON ANIMAL INTELLIGENCE -- "MORE THAN MEATS THE EYE" 3/17/05
This week the UK had another great article on animal intelligence and emotion, this time in The Guardian. It is headed "More than meats the eye." (March 17, Science, Page 4.)
Laura Spinney writes that "ideas about animals" where they are "judged as lacking awareness of their own internal states and relationships to others" arguably "are what until recently gave people licence to carry out cruel animal experiments and to farm animals in conditions that, applied to humans, would be called torture. But new research suggests that animals have far more complex cognitive and social skills than we gave them credit for. "
She discusses studies showing that sheep and cows recognize familiar faces and pigs learn to avoid pens where they have previously been locked in. We read that "the evidence that they are capable of learning associations suggests brains that are, at the very least, aware of what has happened in the past and of acting on it in future."
"Since 1997, European law has recognised that animals are sentient. That is, that they can be aware of their surroundings, of their own bodily sensations including pain, cold, hunger, and of their relationships with other animals, including humans. A sentient animal is not necessarily intelligent, or capable of learning or understanding, but it can suffer in ways that are not purely physical - for example, by being prevented from following its natural instincts. So that change in the law marked a significant shift from earlier attitudes towards animals, which defined cruelty in strictly physical terms. And it is unique. Sentience is not enshrined in US law - yet."
The article draws parallels between "he status of children and animals" with "both having been regarded at one time as the property of their parents and owners respectively." It also discusses the work of lawyer and author Steven Wise (whose new book, on slavery, is "Though the Heavens May Fall"). And it covers some strange historical trials in which non human animals were tried and executed for various crimes.
You can read the whole article on line at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/feature/story/0,,1438864,00.html
It presents a great opportunity for pro-veggie or anti-vivisection letters to the editor. The Guardian takes letters at: email@example.com and advises "We do not publish letters where only an email address is supplied; please include a full postal address and a reference to the relevant article. If you do not want your email address published, please say so. We may edit letters."
ARCTIC DRILLING ON FRONT PAGES AND IN EDITORIALS 3/15 -3/17/05
A few years ago, when drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was being discussed, I attended a lecture by Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. I was struck by her comment. She said that people refer to the area as pristine and uninhabited, but it is inhabited by millions of families -- they just aren't human families.
Today I share sad news for the millions of nonhumans living in that refuge, news that appears on the front page of many papers across the US and in many papers around the world: In order to escape the threat of a filibuster, Republicans inserted a drilling provision into next year's budget; a budget cannot be filibustered and passes with a simple majority of 51 votes. Senator Maria Cantwell, from Washington State, sponsored a measure that would have eliminated the drilling language from the budget, but the vote on that was lost yesterday, with 49 senators voting to eliminate the provision and 51 voting against.
The New York Times Thursday, May 17, front page headline reads, "Senate Supports Arctic Drilling."
The article opens:
"President Bush's long-stalled plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling cleared a major hurdle on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, when the Senate voted to include the proposal in its budget, a maneuver that smoothes the way for Congress to approve drilling later this year.
"By a vote of 51 to 49, Republicans defeated an effort by Democrats to eliminate the drilling language from the budget. The vote does not ensure that drilling will be approved. But if the budget is adopted, Senate rules would allow the passage of a measure opening the refuge with a simple majority of 51 votes, escaping the threat of a filibuster, which has killed it in the past."
We read, "Wednesday's vote did not put an end to the drilling debate. The Senate must pass a budget, its budget must be reconciled with the one passed by the House, and then Congress must pass a second budget-related measure that includes the drilling in a larger package of provisions...But none of these bills can be blocked by filibuster."
You'll find that article on line at: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/17/politics/17arctic.html
On Tuesday, March 15, the New York Times ran an editorial (the paper's view) on the issue headed, "More Energy Follies." It appeared in the International Herald Tribune on Wednesday, March 16. That piece tells us that the current tactic is not new:
"The Republicans came close in 1995, passing a budget with a drilling provision in it that President Bill Clinton vetoed, precipitating a government shutdown. They think they have the votes again this year, and this time they have a president only too eager to sign it."
The piece comments on Bush's stance:
"What this country needs is an energy strategy worthy of the enormous energy-related problems it faces: global warming, soaring energy costs and dependency on Middle East oil among them. Opening up the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drill for oil and gas is not such a strategy....What troubles us most about President Bush's fixation on drilling is what it says about the shallowness of his energy policy.... the refuge would supply less than 4 percent of the country's projected daily needs.
"Any number of modest efficiencies could achieve the same result without threatening the refuge. Simply closing the so-called S.U.V. loophole -- making light trucks as efficient over all as ordinary cars -- would save a million barrels a day. Increasing fuel-economy standards for cars by about 50 percent, to 40 miles per gallon, a perfectly reasonable expectation, would save 2.5 million barrels a day. And bipartisan commissions have offered even bigger ideas: tax credits to help automakers produce a whole new generation of fuel-efficient cars, for instance, or an aggressive biofuels program that would seek to replace one-quarter of the gasoline we use for cars with substitutes from agricultural products.
"These programs would yield benefits -- less dependency on foreign sources, a decrease in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere -- long after the last drop of oil had been extracted from the refuge."
You can read the whole editorial on line at: http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/03/15/opinion/edenergy.html
But since the story is surely in your local paper, I encourage you to also send a letter there. The New York Times gets bombarded with letters whereas many other papers publish a high percentage of letters they receive. Don't hesitate to ask me for help if you have trouble finding the correct address for a letter to the editor of if you would like help with an edit -- shorter letters are more likely to be published and all writers benefit from editing. Always include your full name, address, and telephone number when sending a letter to the editor.
There is a petition you can sign, against drilling in the ANWR, at:
I am slightly uncomfortable sending links to John Kerry's website, as DawnWatch is non partisan. The hideous hunting displays of both the Republican and Democratic candidate teams during the last presidential election campaign made it clear that neither are close friends of the animals. But Kerry is taking a lead role on this issue, and the animals in the Arctic need our support.
I am saddened to note that this vote on the destruction of the environment (and the animals in it) came down almost entirely along party lines. However, there were crossovers. Since there is a danger of falsely assuming that Democrats will always be better on environmental and animals issues, I will share, below, the Democrats who voted against removing the drilling issue from the budget, and the Republicans who voted for doing so.
Akaka, Hawaii; Inouye, Hawaii; Landrieu, La.
Chafee, R.I.; Coleman, Minn.; Collins, Me.; DeWine, Ohio; McCain, Ariz.; Smith, Ore.; Snowe, Me.
The New York Times made an interesting point about Coleman's vote: "Among them was Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota, who was elected in 2002; his predecessor, the late Senator Paul Wellstone, had strongly opposed Arctic drilling."
GUARDIAN PIECE BY JEREMY RIFKIN ON CHIMERIC RESEARCH -- 3/15/05
There is a chilling piece, by Jeremy Rifkin, in the Tuesday, March 15, Guardian (UK) headed "Are you a man or a mouse? Chimeric experimentation is producing animal-human hybrids. This time, science really has gone too far.
"What happens when you cross a human and a mouse? Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke but, in fact, it's a serious experiment recently carried out by a team headed by a distinguished molecular biologist, Irving Weissman, at Stanford University.
Scientists injected human brain cells into mouse foetuses, creating a strain of mice that were approximately 1% human. Weissman is considering a follow-up that would produce mice whose brains are 100% human.
"What if the mice escaped the lab and began to proliferate? What might be the ecological consequences of mice who think like human beings, let loose in nature? Weissman says that he would keep a tight rein on the mice, and if they showed any signs of humanness he would kill them. Hardly reassuring.
"Experiments like the one that produced a partially humanised mouse stretch the limits of human tinkering with nature to the realm of the pathological."
He mentions various chimeric experiments and writes:
"The experiments are designed to advance medical research. Indeed, a growing number of genetic engineers argue that human-animal hybrids will usher in a golden era of medicine. Researchers say that the more humanised they can make research animals, the better able they will be to model the progression of human diseases, test new drugs, and harvest tissues and organs for transplantation. What they fail to mention is that there are equally promising and less invasive alternatives to these bizarre experiments, including computer modeling, in vitro tissue culture, nanotechnology, and prostheses to substitute for human tissue and organs.
"Some researchers are speculating about human-chimpanzee chimeras - creating a humanzee. This would be the ideal laboratory research animal because chimpanzees are so closely related to us...."
We learn that "The National Academy of Sciences, America's most august scientific body, is expected to issue guidelines for chimeric research some time next month, anticipating a flurry of new experiments in the burgeoning field of human-animal chimeric experimentation."
You can read the whole article on line at:
And you can send letters to the editor on the ethics of this and other forms of animal experimentation at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Guardian advises: "We do not publish letters where only an email address is supplied; please include a full postal address and a reference to the relevant article. If you do not want your email address published, please say so. We may edit letters."
USA TODAY FRONT PAGE: "WHEN PETS DIE...GRIEVING OWNERS CALL LAWYERS - 3/1505
USA Today, the nations most widely distributed newspaper, has a Tuesday, March 15, front page story, by Laura Parker, headed, "When pets die at the vet, grieving owners call lawyers." Both the discussion of the awards, and the placement of the story, tell us something about society's changing attitude towards animals -- at least companion animals.
The story opens:
"The patient had dental surgery, there were complications, and he died. Now his family members are accusing the doctor of negligence and claiming that the episode caused them emotional distress.
"It's a typical medical malpractice case -- except in this 3-year-old dispute, the patient was a sheepdog named Lucky.
"Barry Silver, the attorney for Lucky's owners, says that when the case goes to trial this year in Broward County, Fla., he intends to ask jurors to award hundreds of thousands of dollars to the dog's owners, Adam Riff and his mother, Ellen.
"If Silver is successful, Lucky's case would join a series of recent court decisions that essentially have treated animals as human under the law. In a reflection of the special place that pets have come to hold in Americans' hearts, U.S. courts are bucking centuries of legal decisions that have defined animals as property.
"In recent years, courts in New York, Maryland and Texas have resolved custody disputes involving pets by deciding what's best for the pet. Judges in 25 states have administered financial trusts set up in pets' names.
"And as Lucky's case indicates, there has been another turn in animal law: Courts have begun to take claims of veterinary malpractice seriously.
"Since 1997, courts in Kentucky and California have awarded damages to pet owners for loss of companionship, emotional distress and other factors that go beyond the way courts have long assessed animals' worth: by their market value."
We learn that "The largest judgment in favor of a pet owner has been $39,000" and that "Critics of such judgments sound much like those who warn that multimillion-dollar medical malpractice verdicts for human patients are driving up the cost of health care."
The article discusses the hypocrisy of a system where vets routinely perform procedures for which they charge far more than the market value of an animal, knowing the animal is worth far more to his or her human family, but then wish only to pay market value if the animal dies.
And we read that Richard Cupp, a Pepperdine University law professor "fears the movement to treat pets more like humans under the law could lead to an avalanche of far-fetched animal rights lawsuits, such as claims on behalf of beef cattle headed for slaughter or monkeys used in medical research."
You can read the whole article on line at:
The front page story presents a great opportunity for letters about any aspect of human society's treatment of members of other species.
USA Today takes letters at:
NEW YORK TIMES LEAD STORY ON HALAL SLAUGHTER 3/9/05
The Wednesday, March 9, edition of the New York Times included a lengthy article on the cover of the Metro section (Pg B1) headed, "A Halal Slaughterhouse Provides Nourishment for a Far-Flung Culture." It focused mostly on the tradition and culture surrounding the slaughterhouse, and the people involved in the business. But, without specifically mentioning animal suffering, it provided information which reminds us of the cruelty involved.
For example, we read:
"The pungent smell of blood and bleach hangs over the largest room - known as the kill floor, where the slaughtering begins at 7 a.m. One by one, the largest animals are led into an enclosed metal pen where a chain is looped around one leg and the animal winds up hanging upside down. According to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, the person doing the killing must be Muslim, and should kill the animal by slashing its throat with a sharp knife. It happens quickly, and a torrent of blood hits the concrete floor, often covering the walls, hands, aprons, hats and bright yellow raincoats of the workers.
"When a butcher is confronted with a 1,500-pound bull, the task can be intimidating...."
I wonder if most New York Times readers would think of the agony a fully conscious 1,500-pound animal would experience being hoisted up by one thin leg. One leg cannot support the weight of a bull against the pull of gravity. Anybody who has ever felt the searing pain of a dislocated shoulder or torn muscle and connective tissue might have a clue as to what the bulls feel before they are killed.
We read of a worker who "considers himself a Brazilian cowboy, and proved it when a bull ran loose amid the traffic on Raymond Boulevard in December. Mr. DaSilva chased the animal down, grabbing it by the tail as his brother lassoed it in." One cannot help but think of Queenie, the cow who escaped from a Halal slaughterhouse a few years ago, got media coverage, became a public darling, and now lives at Farm Sanctuary in upstate New York. The bull who ran for his life in December was not so lucky.
The article ends on interesting note: One of the slaughterhouse owners is worried that his thirteen year old son is becoming too Americanized. The final lines of the article are:
"In December, Mr. Hamed made a special trip with Hisham to the slaughterhouse. He wanted to show his son the business.
When they returned home, the boy declared himself a vegetarian for life."
You will find the whole article on line at:
You might like to write in support of the boy's choice. The New York Times takes letters at: email@example.com
USA TODAY -- 'ORGANIC' MILK NEEDS A PASTURE 3/9/05
An article in the Wednesday, March 9, edition of USA Today is headed, "'Organic' milk needs a pasture. USDA ruling on grazing is latest round in debate." (Pg 8D.) We read that there "are those who say the only way to satisfy the nation's growing hunger for organic fruit, vegetables and dairy products is by applying industrial farming practices to organic production." But last week "the National Organic Standards Board recommended to the USDA that organic rules be revised to make it clear that organic milk can come only from cows that graze in pastures during the growing season." The debate was brought before the livestock committee thanks to "a formal complaint accusing Aurora Organic Dairy of providing its cows insufficient pasture access ..."
You can read the whole article on line at: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2005-03-08-cows_x.htm
Though there are organic dairy farms that allow their cows to graze, the USDA has not ruled that they must. And those wishing to pursue a cruelty-free diet should keep in mind that the calves of cows on organic farms are sold to the beef or veal industry and the cows are eventually slaughtered when they are no longer productive. (I will be thrilled if this alert generates a message from a milk farm that gives sanctuary to all of its elderly cows and sells none of its calves for meat.)
The article's suggestion that the growing demand for organic animal products makes the factory farming of them almost inevitable gives us a nice opportunity for letters to the editor recommending a plant-based diet. USA Today takes letters at:
Select "Letter to the editor" from the pulldown menu.
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR EDITORIAL -- BEACHED WHALES AND NAVY SONAR 3/8/05
The lead editorial (the newspaper's view) in the Tuesday, March 8, edition of the well-respected Christian Science Monitor is headed
"Beached Whales and Navy Sonar."
"Navy subs routinely use sonar - the underwater version of radar - to navigate and to detect potential threats. But the powerful sounds harm whales and dolphins. In fact, some sonar systems can generate 235 decibels. In air, that's as loud as a Shuttle launch. Enough examples of that harm abound to suggest a better balance must be found between the military's need to use sonar and the need to protect marine life.
"Last week, more than 60 dolphins beached themselves in the Florida Keys, perhaps because of a nearby Navy sub training exercise. More than 20 have died. Last month, 37 whales of three different species died after beaching themselves in North Carolina. Though Navy officials maintain not enough conclusive evidence links sonar to that unusual mass stranding, they say ships were using sonar in nearby waters at that time. And they have acknowledged that sonar was responsible for a beaching of whales in the Bahamas in 2000."
It tells us:
"Last week, the Bush administration issued a statement opposing international efforts to curb sonar use. That, however, shouldn't rule out unilateral steps in which the Navy could restrict sonar use in training exercises. It should also work voluntarily with other nations along those lines.
"As the world's largest funder of ocean research, the Navy has an opportunity to be a better environmental steward."
You can read the whole editorial on line at:
and send an appreciative letter to the editor at:
http://csmonitor.com/cgi-bin/contactus.pl Select "letter to the editor."
DETROIT FREE PRESS WRITE-UP ON INTERNET HUNTING -- 3/7/05
Late last year we read about a plan to launch Internet hunting. The perverse dream has materialized. Mike Petik has sent me an article from the Detroit Free Press, March 7, headed "High-tech hunting: Site lets you shoot game from home."
"Howard Giles was beginning to think he would never get a decent shot at the wild hog. But about an hour into the hunt, the beast finally moved into the rifle's sights, and Giles fired -- with the click of a mouse.
"That's right, Giles was in his home office in San Antonio, aiming at the animal using a program on his computer. The hog was eating soured corn in the Texas Hill Country 45 miles away, oblivious to the remote-controlled 30.06 rifle pointing at his neck."
There is a strong quote from Texas state Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, who has introduced legislation to ban remote-controlled hunting and says: "I don't believe we should be able to kill God's creatures with the click of a mouse. The creatures of this Earth have a hard enough time sustaining themselves while we're after them when we're physically present. They don't need this."
It is fascinating to read about another of the Internet hunters:
"Hundreds of miles away, in Ligonier, Ind., Dale Hagberg, who is paralyzed from the chin down, had his eyes trained on a computer screen, which displayed the wilted balloons he had just fired upon through the Web site.
He operated the on-screen controls -- four arrows in a circle and a 'fire' button in the middle -- by manipulating a joystick he can insert into his mouth. In early April, Hagberg, 38, hopes to become the second Live-Shot aficionado to shoot a hog by remote control.
He had been an avid hunter before breaking his neck in a diving accident 18 years ago. Now confined to a bed, Hagberg has never managed to shake off the desire to hunt wild animals."
You can read the whole article on line at:
The Detroit Free Press takes letters at: firstname.lastname@example.org and advises:
"Please put the letter in text of the E-mail, not as an attachment. All writers must provide full name, full home address and day and evening telephone numbers. Letters should be 200 words or less and are subject to editing. Anonymous letters, letters to third parties and letters to other publications will not be considered."
NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED ON TAIL DOCKING AND OTHER CRUEL FARMING PRACTICES 3/7/05
The Monday, March 7, New York Times includes an op-ed, by Nicolette Hahn Niman, headed "The Unkindest Cut" (pg 17). It discusses the cruel practice of cutting off the tails of dairy cows and pigs and other aspects of their treatment.
The author writes about a visit to a dairy farm where she notice the cows' tails have been cut off. She tells that cows need their tales to flick away flies and that "confinement dairies, which often have dense fly populations, are places where cows are especially in need of their tails."
We read: "The Wisconsin dairy farm I visited is in fact becoming the norm. Although the Department of Agriculture does not keep official records on the practice, animal protection advocates say that cutting off most or all of animals' tails -- known as 'tail docking' -- is now commonplace in the livestock and dairy industries."
"The reasons given in the dairy business are convenience in milking and disease prevention. But there is little proof that tail docking, which is generally done without anesthetic, reduces disease -- and there's plenty of evidence that it makes a cow's life unpleasant....
"Tail docking is also commonplace in the hog industry....The tails are generally clipped off with wire cutters -- and without anesthetic... a pig uses its tail not only to shoo away insects but also to communicate."
She notes that the rationale given for tail docking is that pigs bite each other's tails, and writes:
"Now, part of this is true: tail biting is common in pig herds in confinement buildings. But isn't the tail biting a direct result of how they're being reared -- in metal buildings with concrete floors, giving pigs nothing to occupy their active minds? In nature, pigs spend most of their days rooting around in the dirt, exploring and grazing. Stuck inside, bored pigs often bite one anothers' tails -- one of the many 'vices' or abnormal behaviors that occur when pigs are raised in confinement."
We learn that "Britain, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland all prohibit tail docking of dairy cows, and the European Union adopted a directive in 1991 barring routine docking of pigs' tails....our consciences and common sense -- as well as science -- should tell us that we need an outright ban....Until that day, the only way to see real pigs' tails will be to find a farmer using traditional farming methods."
You can read the whole piece on line at: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/07/opinion/07niman.html and send an appreciative letter to the editor for this piece pointing out the cruelty we support if we eat pigs, or drink cows milk. The New York Times takes letters at: email@example.com.
OBSERVER ARTICLE ON ANIMAL INTELLIGENCE -- March 6, 2005
As the Compassion in World Farming conference approaches, we see another terrific article from the UK on animal intelligence. The Sunday, March 6, Observer carried an article, by Mark Townsend, headed "If it's woolly thinking you're after, forget it: With an ability to recognise humans, and a keen sense of self, sheep are brainier than we thought." (Page 10.) The article looks at intelligence in various species.
Townsend tells us that sheep "can react to facial expressions and, like humans, prefer a smile to a grimace... possess a sharp sense of individuality... can recognise the faces of at least 10 people and 50 other sheep for at least two years....and mourn absent individuals."
"Scientists claim such findings are increasingly challenging the belief that farmyard animals have no 'sense of self', a notion that could have profound implications for the way Britain's creatures are farmed."
We read that chickens "can master complex tricks that would make most dog owners proud...and...can feel emotions usually associated with humans, such as jealousy, love and loss...are willing to delay gratification if they think a larger portion will be offered in due course....boast a greater sense of spatial awareness than young children..." and "learn tricks such as opening doors and navigating mazes with a speed usually the preserve of dogs and horses."
"Pigs were similarly found to have a cerebral capacity beyond the popular preconception of a farm animal...deliberately misleading other pigs if it would result in more food for themselves."
For those who doubted it, we are told that chickens feel pain:
"The results that may most perturb animal welfare groups are those that suggest chickens can feel pain. Tests found that those known to be experiencing some form of discomfort or lameness chose food laced with morphine when given the choice. By contrast, chickens who were fully fit chose feed that was not spiked with an analgesic."
And we read that the cow has been "shown to be an astute animal capable of solving riddles with an intellect more traditionally associated with an ape. Studies at Oxford University found that Betty, a Caledonian heifer, instinctively bent a piece of wire, using a gap in her food tray to create a hook that allowed her to scrape food from the bottom of a jar."
Rodents were not excluded: "They will also hear how wood mice build their own signposts, using sticks and stones to mark sites where food is abundant or marking short-cuts back to their burrow."
"The conference comes as the food industry is being forced to address mounting consumer concern over the structure of Britain's food industry and factory farming."
It is terrific article, well worth reading, which appears on the website under the heading "Sheep might be dumb ... but they're not stupid
Studies show that farmyard animals have a range of emotions and a sharp intelligence" at http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1431443,00.html
With letters to the editor, we can keep the discussion of these issues alive in the Observer. The observer takes letters at:
THE WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL
Tonight I saw The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. I agree with the San Francisco Weekly reviewer, who called it a "Great, important and unforgettable movie."
The Jose Mercury News called it: "That rare documentary that has romance, comedy and a surprise ending that makes you feel like you could fly out of the theater..."
Here is the brief description on the film's website:
"This remarkable movie is the true story of a Bohemian St. Francis and his remarkable relationship with a flock of wild red-and-green parrots. Mark Bittner, a dharma bum, former street musician in San Francisco, falls in with the flock as he searches for meaning in his life, unaware that the wild parrots will bring him everything he needs.
"Directed by Judy Irving. Starring Mark Bittner and avian stars Mingus, Connor, Picasso, Sophie, Olive, Pushkin and Tupelo. 83 Minutes.
It is playing in Los Angeles just for this week, till March 10, and is currently in many theatres across the country and opening soon in others for limited runs. If you go to the website http://WildParrotsFilm.com and click on "See the Film," and then click on the theatre in your city, you will find out when you can see it.
I was lucky enough to be there the night the filmmakers were available for a Q&A. The theatre was packed and Judy Irving told us that if the whole run does well, the film will return to the city and play in another theatre. So the best thing we can do to support this beautiful piece of work, and to make sure it can get seen by others, is to go see it.
ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT ON WILD HORSE SLAUGHTER 3/4/05
ABC's World News Tonight, did an excellent story, on Friday March 4, about the slaughter of Wild Horses. The Associated Press story on the ABC web page (pasted below) is balanced, presenting both sides of the issue, but the TV coverage made it clear that the ranchers want the horses slaughtered so that they don't interfere with the cow and sheep grazing, and that the pictures say it all -- the program aired footage of a horse in a slaughterhouse hung up by her hind foot, being slaughtered.
Please send ABC World News Tonight a big thank you for the coverage, particularly for airing that footage.
Go to http://abcnews.go.com/Reference/story?id=54216 and click on World News Tonight.
ABC World News Tonight airs at 6:30 pm in most markets, but check your listings.
Sale of Wild Horses to Slaughter Legalized
New Law Legalizes Sale of Wild Horses, Burros for Slaughter; Meat May Be Used in Foreign Markets
The Associated Press
Dec. 9, 2004 - Wild horses and burros could be bought or sold for slaughter under a provision in the $388 billion spending bill that President Bush signed into law on Wednesday.
The new law lets the animals be sold, potentially for use as meat in foreign markets, if they are more than 10 years old or, if younger, after they have been offered unsuccessfully for adoption three times. It also requires any money from sales to go to the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management adoption program for wild horses and burros.
Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., who sponsored the amendment to the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, said he believed most horses would wind up being adopted, not slaughtered, but his intent was to spur the BLM to get serious about its adoption program.
"These animals live in poor conditions that often lead to their deaths, and without proper management this will continue to happen," Burns said Wednesday.
"And while their sale is a last resort, it is our hope that bringing this problem to light will motivate the federal agencies and horse advocates alike, and offer new opportunities to find these animals proper, caring homes," he said.
BLM spokeswoman Celia Boddington said the new law had not yet been analyzed by officials there to see how they will comply with it. "Since 1973, we have placed 203,000 animals in good homes, and we're looking forward to continuing our adoptions with the public," she said.
Advocates of wild horses described Burns' provision as inhumane, misguided and likely to reduce the genetic pool.
"There's going to be less individuals and more chances of inbreeding," said Karen A. Sussman, president of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros in Lantry, S.D. "Right now there really is little to no inbreeding in herds."
Sussman, who manages three wild horse herds, said cattle, not wild horses, are the main culprit in overgrazing of public lands. She called the 10-year-old cutoff for adoptions arbitrary and unnecessary.
Thousands of the wild animals, mostly horses, have been sent to slaughterhouses, sold for a profit and processed as meat mainly for Europeans. But since 1997, that illegal trade has been reduced by making adopters sign an affidavit they don't plan to sell an adopted animal for slaughter.
Government corrals and sanctuaries around the country hold more than 20,000 wild horses and burros. Another 32,290 wild horses and 4,845 wild burros roam among herd management areas on public lands in 10 Western states: Nevada, Wyoming, California, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and New Mexico.
To save money, the BLM hopes to trim the animals in management areas to 26,000 by 2006.
TERRIFIC UK FINANCIAL TIMES ARTICLE "OF MICE, MEN AND MEDICAL CONCERN" 3/4/05
There is a wonderful article in the Friday, March 4, Financial Times (London) headed "Of mice, men and medical concern: Recent health alerts suggest you don't have to be an anti-vivisectionist to doubt the validity of animal testing." (Pg 11)
The article discusses drugs and products that made it onto the market only because animal tests failed to predict their danger to humans. Conversely, it tells us, "the evidence suggests animal tests may be unduly sensitive, wrongly predicting toxicity in compounds that are in fact harmless to humans. If so, it would be an ironic twist to the widely held belief that tests of animal are crucial to the advancement of medicine, as they may in fact be blocking the development of many safe and effective new treatments."
It ends with: "What is clear is that, given the paucity of systematic evidence, it is not necessary to be a placard-waving protestor to harbour doubts about the validity of animal testing."
You'll find a link to the article at http://news.ft.com/cms/s/9d740c90-8c53-11d9-a895-00000e2511c8.html , but the full article is only available to Financial Times subscribers. I will paste it below for non-profit educational purposes.
Since our human animal nature seems to encourage the greatest interest in the welfare of our own kind, it is great to see this issue tackled from the standpoint of efficacy. However, the article opens the door to letters that point to the immense animal suffering endured in the questionable testing. The Financial Times takes letters at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's the article:
Financial Times (London, England)
March 4, 2005 Friday
BUSINESS LIFE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY; Pg. 11
Of mice, men and medical concern: Recent health alerts suggest you don't have to be an anti-vivisectionist to doubt the validity of animal testing, writes Robert Matthews
By ROBERT MATTHEWS
Two huge industries affecting the lives of millions of people are currently subject to big health alerts. Concern over serious side-effects has cast a long shadow over promising new painkillers, known as cox-2 inhibitors, developed by the pharmaceutical industry. Evidence linking the drugs to an increased risk of heart attacks led the US giant Merck to withdraw its version, known as Vioxx, from the market last September, and an investigation by the -US Food and Drug Administration is currently under way.
More recently, it was the turn of the UK food industry, with the discovery of traces of a banned dye known as Sudan I in a sauce made by Premier Foods, a leading UK supplier. In the ensuing health scare, the UK Food Standards Agency found that hundreds of products had been inadvertently contaminated by the dye, which has been linked to cancer.
As the initial furore starts to fade, both these health alerts are being seen primarily as wake-up calls to business and regulators alike about the monitoring of product safety.
In the case of cox-2 inhibitors, the FDA looks set to allow their continued use - albeit with much sterner safety warnings to protect those most at risk from side-effects. Meanwhile, as shops and supermarkets in the UK hunt down produce contaminated with Sudan I, the FSA has continued to stress that the risks involved are "very small".
As well it might, for it is now clear that the scientific case against Sudan I is far from compelling. Laboratory safety tests involved feeding rodents with levels of Sudan I equivalent to human consumption of the sauce that triggered the scare at a rate of three tonnes a day for two years.
Even after such gargantuan exposure, the animals failed to produce consistent evidence of a cancer risk. Other tests hinted at links with bladder and liver tumours - but only after the dye was injected directly into the organs of laboratory animals.
While the scientific basis for both the Sudan I and cox-2 inhibitor health scares may be contentious, they have highlighted the need for close surveillance and prompt action if problems emerge. At the same time, however, an even more fundamental question has gone begging: just how reliable are animal tests of product safety?
In the case of food safety, the relevance to humans of animal tests involving colossal intakes or direct injection into organs is clearly questionable. The use of animals in drug safety testing raises altogether more complex issues, however - as the cox-2 painkillers controversy shows.
In line with standard practice, Vioxx and the other drugs were tested in at least two different types of animal before entering clinical trials with humans. One of the main aims of such "pre-clinical" testing is to detect signs of serious side-effects. In the case of the cox-2 drugs, the animal testing failed to warn of the cardiovascular effects that have prompted the current furore. Indeed, several animal studies suggested the drugs would actually reduce the risk of such side-effects.
So what went wrong? Anti-vivisectionists have been quick to voice their standard objection: animals are not humans.
For all its familiarity, it is an argument that does have relevance to the cox-2 inhibitors. In 2000, barely a year after the launch of Vioxx, a study of more than 8,000 patients suggested that those taking the drug faced a significantly increased risk of heart attack. Yet subsequent animal-based research continued to suggest such drugs could reduce the risk - prompting even Merck's experts to concede in The American Heart Journal that: "The relevance of these animal models in predicting effects in humans is uncertain."
It is becoming clear that such uncertainty extends far beyond one class of blockbuster drug.
Leading journal Nature Reviews Drug Discovery last year published a review of the evidence that animals are reliable predictors of toxic effects in humans. The authors found that the evidence was "fragmentary", with the few published studies pointing to "significant over- and under-prediction of adverse effects from animal studies that varies with the particular organ or system".
The review also highlighted the lack of basic data needed for a scientific assessment of animal testing, such as measures of predictive power and their statistical significance.
As it stands, the evidence suggests animal tests may be unduly sensitive, wrongly predicting toxicity in compounds that are in fact harmless to humans. If so, it would be an ironic twist to the widely held belief that tests of animal are crucial to the advancement of medicine, as they may in fact be blocking the development of many safe and effective new treatments.
Yet in the absence of large-scale studies comparing drug responses in animals and humans, it is impossible to know. Supporters and critics of animal testing continue to trade anecdotes of individual successes and failures, most published studies being so small they lack statistical credibility.
In another irony, the drive to minimise the use of animals has compelled researchers to draw conclusions from meagre evidence. For example, the studies designed to investigate the effect of cox-2 inhibitors on cardiovascular risk typically involved fewer than 20 mice.
The authors of last year's review called on regulatory bodies and drugs companies to publish data currently languishing in their files. Whether the outcome will confirm or confound the view that animals usefully predict human reactions remains to be seen.
What is clear is that, given the paucity of systematic evidence, it is not necessary to be a placard-waving protestor to harbour doubts about the validity of animal testing.
The writer is visiting reader in science at Aston University, Birmingham
CHIMP ATTACK - SUPERB COVERAGE FROM ANDERSON COOPER AND JEFF CORWIN 3/3/05
Since it has been widely reported on television, many have heard the about the chimp attack in California. It was a tragic incident for the humans and chimpanzees involved, and pointed to a wider tragedy -- chimpanzees in captivity.
CNN has the story on its website at: http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/03/04/chimp.attack.ap/index.html
We learn that: "St. James and LaDonna Davis were at the Animal Haven Ranch in Caliente to celebrate the birthday of Moe, a 39-year-old chimpanzee who was taken from their suburban Los Angeles home in 1999 after biting off part of a woman's finger....The couple had brought Moe a cake and were standing outside his cage when Buddy and Ollie, two of four chimpanzees in the adjoining cage, attacked St. James Davis.... Officials have not determined how the chimps got out of their enclosure....St. James Davis had severe facial injuries and would require extensive surgery in an attempt to reattach his nose.... His testicles and a foot also were severed...."
(Another article on the issue has mentioned that surgeons are also attempting to attach one of his eyes -- apparently most of his face was bitten off.)
"Buddy, a 16-year-old male chimp, initiated the attack and after he was shot, Ollie, a 13-year-old male, grabbed the gravely injured man and dragged him down the road, authorities said."
All who saw the attack report that Davis would have been killed if the attacking chimps had not been shot.
We learn this of The Davises:
"The Davises had waged an unsuccessful legal fight to bring Moe back to their West Covina home and visited him regularly at the sanctuary where he had been living since October. They brought the chimp from Africa decades ago after a poacher killed his mother."
I know nothing of Moe's specific case but will point out that the mothers of almost all baby chimps or gorillas brought home from Africa were shot by poachers, and those who buy them are almost always directly supporting that horrifying industry. A live gorilla or chimp will not willingly give up her baby so that it can be sold to tourists or exported to the United States for use in the human entertainment industry. She is shot dead, as her baby clings to her. Her body may be sold for bushmeat, her hands might make souvenirs, and her live baby brings big money, not for his paltry meat, but for his appeal to humans.
The story has been widely covered. I specifically checked out Anderson Cooper's coverage on CNN, remembering his unusual attention to the post Tsunami animal suffering, and thinking he might pay more than the usual attention to this issue. He did not disappoint us. On Thursday, March 3, Anderson Cooper interviewed Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin, who has won a Genesis Award for his beautiful coverage of the bushmeat crisis in Africa and is the author of "Living on the Edge: Amazing Relationships in the Natural World."
Here is a transcript of the interview:
COOPER: So, are chimps aggressive?
CORWIN: You know, it's a simple question, and the answer is far more complex. Like human beings, chimps exhibit all sorts of diverse behavior, everything from compassion, to gentleness, to sexuality, to violence. You find violence in human society and you can find violence in chimps.
COOPER: And there -- I mean, they're very strong, though.
CORWIN: Powerful, powerful primates. It's often said that an adult chimpanzee weighing in at 150 pounds is three to seven times stronger than a human being.
COOPER: Three to seven times stronger?
CORWIN: Yes. Absolutely powerful.
COOPER: What causes them to attack? I mean, why -- I hadn't heard of this kind of thing. Obviously, we don't know the details of this animal sanctuary.
CORWIN: Well, you know, the thing about chimpanzees is, we sort of look at them through our rose colored cultural glasses -- the cute little chimp in the "Tarzan" movie. Those are very young chimps. Chimps grow up, they become very powerful. They are very complex in their behavior. They have a whole range of emotions, including violence and anger. And they -- chimps, in chimp society -- while you may see a display of compassion, at the same time, you can see chimp murder. We just got back from Uganda, and we actually looked at footage of chimps that had murdered another chimp.
COOPER: When you say murder, why would they do that?
CORWIN: Because the chimp that was murdered had violated the rules by leaving his area of sanctuary, and entered his competitors domain. And the other chimps ganged up on him and they strangled him, broke all his bones and emasculated him. But what you have to remember, Anderson, is that it's so easy to vilify the chimps in this situation. The truth is, it goes far beyond this. We need to ask ourselves, why are the chimps in captivity? Is there a legitimate reason to be having chimps? Is it for the entertainment industry with the cute chimp? Then it becomes an adult. Why do we do this? A smart, sentient, complex life form -- a primate, genetically very close to ourselves. What's the future for this animal that may live 30, 40 years?
COOPER: According to one report, one of the chimps, we don't know if it was one of the chimps that was involved in this, but at this sanctuary, had been in someone's home for 30 years. They had picked it up in Africa, allegedly from poachers that killed the parents. They raised it, and then at 30 years into it, the chimp bit off somebody's finger, and they gave it away. And so, it's sort of stuck in this animal sanctuary.
CORWIN: And that's not surprising at all. These chimps, as primates, use intelligence for survival, right? And they use their physical strength for survival, but it's a byproduct of all this. They have no stimulation. They become bored. They become frustrated. And they physically exercise their frustration in violence, as with human beings in some situations. So, again, it goes back to this whole thing -- and it's not just chimps. You can apply it to many wild animals in captivity. Last year, in Texas, eight human beings were critically injured by tigers and lions.
And we're quick to vilify tigers and lions. Yet, they're not native to that part of the world. Chimpanzees are used in the entertainment industry, and then they become throw-away casualties of their sexuality, and their adulthood. And then they become prisoners in their captivity, and they have no alternative to diffuse their anger. And unfortunately, human beings, in this case at a sanctuary, who may be doing very good things, people trying to help, got in the way and were injured.
COOPER: It's fascinating. Jeff Corwin, thanks very much.
CORWIN: Thank you.
Comments complimenting Corwin, sent to Animal Planet, would not be appropriate since Corwin's comments were made on CNN. But I urge people to please send comments in support of Corwin's message to CNN's Anderson Cooper and, most importantly, to send Cooper a huge thank you for making sure the issue was so beautifully covered -- his was far beyond the standard of other news shows on this issue.
CNN has a page specifically for submitting comments on Anderson Cooper. Go to http://www.cnn.com/feedback/cnntv/ , and under "COMMENTS ABOUT CNN TV ANCHORS AND REPORTERS" click on Anderson Cooper.
BUBBA UPDATE AND UK INDEPENDENT ARTICLE ON FISH SENTIENCE 3/3/05
Before moving on to the Independent's superb article on fish, I share a sad update about Bubba, not a fish, but another sea animal -- the 23lb lobster estimated somewhere between 30-100 years old, who PETA was pushing to have released back into the ocean but who was instead transferred to Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. He died shortly after reaching the aquarium. It seems the stress of being caught, having his claws bound, and being moved repeatedly, proved too much for him. Of course Bubba's tale is no sadder than that of millions of other lobsters caught every year (and at least he wasn't boiled alive) but it was personalized for us, and touched people. It presents a great opportunity for pro-veggie letters to the editor.
I am a little late on this, but did not want to miss the opportunity to share a superb article in the Wednesday March 3, 2005, Telegraph (UK) headed
"Does she have feelings, too? A fierce debate is raging about whether fish are sentient beings that feel pain."
"The goldfish might have a reputation for having a three-second memory, but scientists are realising that fish are much smarter than most of us give them credit for." It then links to an article, from March 10 last year, which tells us that "Tests on fish in aquaria at Oxford University have shown that despite their tiny brains, they possess cognitive abilities outstripping those of some small mammals," and that "they can store memories for many months, confounding the belief that they forget everything after a few seconds." For example, "Australian crimson spotted rainbowfish, which learnt to escape from a net in their tank, remembered how they did it 11 months later. This is equivalent to a human recalling a lesson learnt 40 years ago." You can read that whole article at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/main.jhtml;sessionid=NGYKZCGBMEDHHQFIQMFCM5WAVCBQYJVC?xml=/connected/2004/10/06/ecnfish03.xml&secureRefresh=true&_requestid=88166
The recent 2005 article continues, "Now, at a forthcoming conference on sentience in domesticated animals, an expert is to argue that what really matters is not IQ but emotions, and that fish can suffer as much as birds and many mammals."
"Although scientists have spent years examining cognition in other animals, fish have been neglected. Now, according to Dr Keven Laland of the University of St Andrews, fish are thought to have long-term memories and some can even be compared to non-human primates in terms of their social skills."
As to whether or not fish feel pain, the article reiterates studies done by Dr Lynne Sneddon of the University of Liverpool:
"She injected rainbow trout either with a salt solution, which was unlikely to cause them any discomfort after the initial injection, or with bee venom. The ones injected with the saline solution continued to feed and behave as normal. The others stopped feeding for almost three hours, rocked from side to side and rubbed their lips against the gravel and sides of their tank. The breathing rate of the venom-injected fish also doubled, like a person in pain might hyperventilate....The second part of Dr Sneddon's study consisted of giving the trout morphine. Almost immediately, the trout that first had the venom started to feed."
The second part of the study was added to refute skeptics who had suggested nociceptors triggering reflex actions, rather than pain, accounted for the reaction.
Some scientists are still skeptical because fish don't have brains like ours. There is a nice quote from John Webster, an emeritus professor at the University of Bristol, whose book Animal Welfare: Limping towards Eden has just been published. He says: "A powerful portfolio of physiological and behavioural evidence now exists to support the case that fish feel pain and that this feeling matters. In the face of such evidence, any argument to the contrary based on the claim that fish 'do not have the right sort of brain' can no longer be called scientific. It is just obstinate."
The article goes on to note the "80 per cent mortality rate for fish such as mackerel and sole caught by trawlers and thrown back into the sea" and tells us that between five and twenty percent (depending on the type of hook used) of fish caught then released by anglers bleed to death.
It ends with a quote from Sneddon:
"People should think more clearly about how they handle fish and what they subject them to. It's up to individuals whether they eat fish, but it's an important food so the government should invest money in equipment to make the experience of being caught less invasive for fish. As for fishermen, they should know that what they do causes fish pain and it's up to them to decide whether they want to continue angling."
Finally, it offers a link to information on the upcoming conference:
"The Compassion in World Farming conference on animal sentience is in London from March 17-18; www.animalsentience.com "
You can read the whole article on line at:
You can send appreciative letters to the editor at: email@example.com . Or, please, use this information for letters to your local paper, next time you see a story on fishing.
A great resource on this issue is http://www.FishingHurts.com
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL DISCUSSES "THE KINSHIP OF ALL LIFE" 3/3/05
There is a groundbreaking editorial in the Thursday, March 3, New York Times, which questions the idea that "the rest of creation was shaped exclusively for our use." It is headed "My Little Chickadee." It is short, and I will paste the whole piece below. On sharing this piece, it is my pleasure to remind people that while a column gives the opinion of a single journalist, and an op-ed gives that of a guest writer, an editorial expresses the official opinion of the newspaper, in this case, one of the most widely read and most respected in the world.
My Little Chickadee
Bird feeders across much of America are mobbed with black-capped chickadees at this time of year. Can you tell them apart, one by one? Probably not; it's hard enough to distinguish male from female in this species, let alone recognize individuals in a flock. But scientists are starting to suggest that if we look closely enough, we can distinguish birds of a single species by personality. A team of Dutch scientists, testing a European relative of the chickadee, has found that some birds are shy and others are bold, broad personality differences that have a genetic foundation. This finding doesn't erode the basic differences between Homo sapiens and Poecile atricapillus (the black-capped chickadee). But it substantially enlarges the similarities.
We take the range of personalities among individuals in our species for granted, yet it seems surprising to think of similar diversity in other species. Many people find the implications of that genuinely shocking. If bird personalities have a strong genetic and evolutionary basis, there is good reason to suspect that human personalities do, too.
Humans do not like to think of themselves as animals. Nor do they like to think that their behavior may have genetic or evolutionary roots. But the richer perspective - morally and intellectually - lies in examining and coming to terms with the kinship of all life. There's a certain tragic isolation in believing that humans stand apart in every way from the creatures that surround them, that the rest of creation was shaped exclusively for our use. The real fruit of that perspective is, in fact, tragic isolation on an earth that has been eroded by our moral assumptions. Science has something much wiser to tell us about who we are. So do the birds around us.
The piece is wonderful though vague. Please send an appreciative letter to the editor, perhaps discussing the specific implications of these findings, with regard to how we treat members of other species.
The New York Times takes letters at: firstname.lastname@example.org
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR -- "PITBULLS CAN'T SHAKE BAD RAP" 3/2/05
Those with adopted pitbulls (such as my beautiful girl, Paula) will appreciate the thoughtful article in the Wednesday, March 2, edition of the highly respected Christian Science Monitor, headed, "Pit bulls can't shake bad rap." (Pg 15.)
It makes it clear that different pitbulls have different personalities -- as it is with all dogs.
It quotes Julia Szabo, a pitbull advocate who writes a pet column for the New York Post. She says:
"These dogs are cruelly treated. They are so attached to their owners that they'll do anything for them to please them, and cruel people take advantage of that by forcing them to do things that are not in their nature. They're fought against each other, they're kept in chains from the time they're puppies."
And "There are more and more people who really understand that these are incredibly affectionate, loyal, beautiful dogs. They need and deserve a second chance."
You can read the whole article on line at:
I hope all dog advocates will take a few minutes to send appreciative letters to the Christian Science Monitor at:
BUBBA THE 22LB LOBSTER ON PITTSBURGH POST GAZETTE FRONT PAGE -- 3/2/05
There is an interesting story on the cover of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, that was also featured on CBS's Early Show, other news programs, and in many papers. It is headed, "Big Bubba, The Lobster Saved From the Pot."
"The crusty crustacean -- billed as 100 years old and weighing a whopping 23 pounds -- was caught in the Atlantic Ocean and wound up Thursday in the tank at Robert Wholey & Co., the Strip District seafood purveyor. This residence looked to be temporary, lasting only until somebody invited him to dinner.
"The behemoth caused quite a splash, but not every shopper wanted to eat him. One woman offered to pay $500 -- roughly $150 more than he'd fetch at the going price per pound -- for Bubba's release to an aquarium.
"The publicity, including a TV news report, made some animal lovers boiling mad, and so from across the country they called and e-mailed the Norfolk, Va. headquarters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
"Karin Robertson, who manages the group's Fish Empathy Project, took up Bubba's claws. On Monday, she faxed a letter to CEO Robert Wholey III asking that Bubba "be released back into his ocean home," where he'd lived since before women could vote.
"It would be a tragedy to end his long life by tormenting him in a pot of boiling water,' she wrote, 'or by shoving him into a zoo aquarium to be gawked at in a tiny enclosure until he dies.'
"As of yesterday, Bubba looked to be spared the first fate but not the second.
"Robert Wholey -- as he had initially, and sympathetically, told PETA -- decided to donate the lobster to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium."
We learn that Pittsburg probably doesn't have the facilities to care for him, so he may end up at an aquarium in Canada. And we learn that he is probably really 30-40 years old rather than 100, and that he may not be a he.
There is another quote from PETA's Karin Robertson: "An aquarium is not an approximation of the freedom he's been able to experience. ... It really is just ridiculous to think that Bubba is better off being displayed as a sideshow freak."
You can read the whole story on line at:
You can read or view the video of "The Early Show" version of the story at: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/03/02/earlyshow/main677483.shtml
It is a relief that Bubba will not be boiled alive. But I think most people, feeling that relief, may lose sight of what an ordeal he has been through, and, assuming he is now to live in a tank, what a sad day it was for him when he was caught.
The story presents a great opportunity for letters to the editor recommending we show other animals the same compassion, at least with regard to not cooking them, that we are showing Bubba. But you might write against keeping animals in captivity for human entertainment.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette takes letters at: http://www.post-gazette.com/contact/comments_form.asp?ID=40
But this story is appearing in many papers so I hope people will write to their local papers where they have the best chance of being published (though most papers will also publish letters from out of state from people who saw the story on the web) since many local papers publish a large percentage of letters they receive.
Don’t hesitate to ask me for help if you have trouble finding the correct address for a letter to your editor. And I am always happy to edit letters.
NEW YORK TIMES SCIENCE SECTION COVER STORY ON ANIMAL PERSONALITY 3/1/05
There is an interesting article on the front page of the "Science Times" section of the Tuesday, March 1, New York Times, headed "Looking for Personality in Animals, of All People."
It offers information on animal personality that could have gratifying repercussions, helping to change society's view of what is appropriate treatment for members of other species. However it also offers disturbing reminders about the way we treat them now. It is a lengthy article, which you can read on line at http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/01/science/01anim.html . I will summarize and comment a little below:
"A team of Dutch scientists is trying to solve the mystery of personality. Why are some individuals shy while others are bold, for example? What roles do genes and environment play in shaping personalities? And most mysterious of all, how did they evolve?
"The scientists are carrying out an ambitious series of experiments to answer these questions. They are studying thousands of individuals, observing how they interact with others, comparing their personalities to their descendants' and analyzing their DNA.
"It may come as a surprise that their subjects have feathers. The scientists, based at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology, are investigating personalities of wild birds.
"Until recently, most experts in personality would have considered such a study as nothing but foolish anthropomorphism. 'It's been looked at with suspicion and contempt,' said Dr. Samuel Gosling, a psychologist at the University of Texas.
"But scientists have found that in many species, individual animals behave in consistently different ways. They argue that these differences meet the scientific definition of personality.
"If they are right, then human personality has deep evolutionary roots. 'It's a matter of degree, not of differences,' said Dr. Piet Drent of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology."
The article discusses human personality, telling us that various traits can be bundled together into personality dimensions that are similar across all nations. We read:
"Some studies have suggested that genes are responsible for some of the differences in people's personality ratings. But they have been far from conclusive because scientists cannot do experiments with humans. 'Human mothers will not let you just swap their infants at birth, which would be a great study to do,' Dr. Gosling said."
Which brings us to the dark side of the article -- non human mothers won't either -- they have to be forced. And while those campaigning against animal rights activists speak only of the hope for cures for deadly diseases, millions of animals, the majority, die for trivial purposes, or are used in ways we would never use those who had the power to protest -- in ways and for purposes where we would never use humans.
There is a conundrum here, since the results of these experiments could have such far-reaching positive implications. I am reminded of New Zealand's law outlawing experiments on Great Apes, the only exception being if the experiments are clearly for the good of that species.
The article mentions studies on various animals and includes this heartening line:
"Since then, a number of other studies have documented personalities in animals ranging from chimpanzees to squid."
Many people who won't eat other animals, feel comfortable eating fish and other sea animals such as crustaceans and cephalopods. Norway, a major exporter of lobster (and therefore highly biased), recently publicized results from a study suggesting that lobsters don't feel pain when boiled alive, which contradicts numerous recent studies which have indicated that they do. (See the groundbreaking article in Gourmet Magazine for more on this: http://www.DawnWatch.com/8-04_Animal_Media_Alerts.htm#LOBSTER ) And cephalopods appear to be intelligent: An octopus can be taught, with a single demonstration, how to unscrew a jar. (I am sure Buster Dawn could not.) It was wonderful, therefore, to see the New York Times mention the personality of squids, making it clear that they are, indeed, real animals, and that animals have personalities.
The article discusses non invasive studies of wild birds, who live in a single forest for their lives and "are happy to move into comfortable nest boxes provided by the scientists" in the forests, where they can be studied.
Then, unfortunately, we read: "The scientists can also bring some of the birds into the lab in order to measure their personalities or carry out breeding experiments."
Only by force.
It goes on to discuss experiments on boldness and the impact it has on survival, and tells us:
"He and his colleagues plan to test this hypothesis by altering the ratio of bold and shy birds in the wild."
The article ends with the predictable quotes from scientists who fear anthropomorphism. They seem to cling desperately to the idea that humans are fundamentally different from all other animals. After all, if we let that idea go, how could we justify the way we treat the others?
The article is well worth reading, and provides great opportunities for letters to the editor about human society's treatment of other species.
For example, the discussion of birds opens the door for letters noting that birds, over 95% of the animals slaughtered for food in the United States, are currently exempt from federal humane slaughter laws. (Don't use my exact wording.)
You can sign a petition on line to help change that at: http://hsus.ga4.org/campaign/petition_for_poultry
And there are many ways one can use this article to broach factory farming or vivisection.
The Science Times section of the New York Times takes letters at: email@example.com and instructs "Those submitted for publication must include the writer's name, address and telephone number."
Shorter letters are more likely to be published.