Woman sentenced to jail for freeing crying bear cub from trap in New Jersey

A judge sentenced a woman to 15 days in jail for freeing a crying cub from a bear trap.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/bear-trap-cub-jail-new-jersey-a8802206.html

Municipal Court Judge James Devine sentenced Catherine McCartney, 50, on Thursday, NJ.com reported. McCartney, who has a record of arrests related to bear hunt protests, pleaded guilty to obstructing “the administration of law and the prevention of the lawful taking of wildlife”.

McCartney, a dedicated animal rights activist, plans to appeal the sentence, relating to the incident in in Vernon, New Jersey.

In a statement she read in court, McCartney said she did not regret her decision in rescuing the bear cub from the painful trap.

“These animals are innocent and so I made the moral decision to let the bear go so he could run back to his mother, and it was the right thing to do,” she said.

The incident in question took place in October in a condominium complex. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said it installed two culvert traps inside the complex campus to capture a bear—known as “Momma Bear” by activists—following two incidents with residents. None of these incidents resulted in injury.

Mark Nagelhout, who helped McCartney free the cub, also plead guilty to the same charges. However, he did not receive a jail sentence since this was his first offence.

Both defendants were also fined $1,316.
Source

MAYBE IT’S TIME TO TAKE ANIMAL FEELINGS SERIOUSLY

Dog with eyes closed in car
This expression is commonly known as ‘having the sh*ts’. Source: Flickr

Many recent studies have confirmed what you always knew: your dog has feelings.

Dogs can read human emotionsSo, it appears, can horses. Whales have regional accents. Ravens have demonstrated that they might be able to guess at the thoughts of other ravens — something scientists call “theory of mind,” which has long been considered a uniquely human ability. All of these findings have been published within the past several weeks, and taken together they suggest that many of the traits and abilities we believe are “uniquely human” are, in fact, not so unique to us.

That statement probably sounds as if it is veering perilously close to anthropomorphism, and if you know anything about research concerning animal behavior, you likely know this: Anthropomorphism is bad. Animals are animals, and people are people; to assume that an elephant, for example, experiences joy in the same way a human does is laughably unscientific. This has been the prevailing mode of thought in this line of scientific inquiry for most of the last century — to staunchly avoid, and even ridicule, any research project that dared to suggest that animals might be thinking or feeling in the same way that humans do.

But new studies like these, along with a slew of recent books by respected biologists and science writers, are seriously considering the inner lives of animals. Now some prominent scientists are arguing that, though the impulse was well-intentioned, decades of knee-jerk avoidance of all things anthropomorphic may have mostly served to hold this field back. “It ruined the field,” biologist and author Carl Safina told Science of Us. “Not just held it back — it’s ruined the field. It prevented people from even asking those questions for about 40 years.”

New studies … are seriously considering the inner lives of animals. Though the impulse was well-intentioned, decades of knee-jerk avoidance of all things anthropomorphic may have mostly served to hold this field back.

The theme of Safina’s book Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel pairs nicely with a forthcoming title from famed primatologist Frans de Waal called Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? Both scientists make the case for something the biologist Gordon Burghardt called “critical anthropomorphism” — using your own human intuition and understanding as a starting point for understanding animal cognition. “Thus, saying that animals ‘plan’ for the future or ‘reconcile’ after fights is more than anthropomorphic language: These terms propose testable ideas,” de Waal writes.

Animal behavioral science began in the 1910s and 1920s by focusing on description in order to combat superstition (cats are not witches’ familiars, tortoises are not especially tenacious, and grasshoppers are not lazy, etc). The problem is that, eventually, “[d]escription — and onlydescription — became ‘the’ science of animal behavior,” Safina writes in his book, which was published last summer. “Wondering what feelings or thoughts might motivate behavioral acts became totally taboo.” Here’s an example Safina uses: A “good” scientist’s notes might say something like, “The elephant positioned herself between her calf and the hyena.” A bad, anthropomorphic-leaning scientist, on the other hand, would observe the same scene and write, “The mother positioned herself to protect her baby from the hyena.” How can the scientist prove what the mother elephant was intending to do? You can’t see a thought; you can’t observe a feeling. Therefore, to presume that animals possessed either of these things was considered unscientific.

Even raising the mere question of animal awareness was once enough to potentially ruin a career. In the 1970s, the biologist Donald Griffin published a book that did almost exactly that: Question of Animal Awareness. Griffin at this point was a well-respected scientist who had recently made the discovery that bats use echolocation, or sonar, to navigate their surroundings. But after the publication of his book, his professional reputation was largely ruined. Even Jane Goodall caught some flak for going so far as to “humanize” her chimp research subjects by giving them names, and as recently as the 1990s, a writer in the prestigious journal Science advised that research concerning animal cognition “isn’t a project I’d recommend to anyone without tenure.”

Even raising the mere question of animal awareness was once enough to potentially ruin a career.

Better data, including advances in neuroimaging technology and videos from scientists doing fieldwork, is now forcing many to reconsider some very basic questions of animal cognition. Today it sometimes seems like barely a week goes by without the publication of some new study that shows evidence of one species or another demonstrating what might’ve once been considered a strictly “human” ability or emotion.

Evidence of empathy, and even comforting behavior, has been observed in a variety of species

A recent study proposed that the humble prairie vole, a rodent found across the United States and Canada, appears to console its fellow vole after mean scientists stress it out by giving it a (small) electric shock.

Behaviors that look a lot like consolation have also been observed in animals known for their sociability, like elephants. When one Asian elephant sees that another elephant is agitated, scientists have observed that the calmer one will respond by touching the distressed animal with its trunk. “I’ve never heard that vocalization when elephants are alone,” Joshua Plotnik, who led the study, told Discovery. “It may be a signal like, ‘Shshh, it’s okay,’ the sort of sounds a human adult might make to reassure a baby.”

Contagious yawning, some scientists argue, is another signal of empathy and has recently been observed and recorded in chimpanzees.

Some research suggests that a few animals have demonstrated signals of self-awareness

The best way scientists currently have of measuring this admittedly abstract concept is the mirror recognition test (though some recent work has called the accuracy of this method into question). This usually involves marking the subject with some kind of conspicuous, but odorless, dye and placing it in front of a mirror. Passing the test involves examining the mark in the mirror, and then examining it on their own body; this suggests that the animal grasps that the reflection is a representation of them. Apes and monkeys seem to be able to figure the game out.

In the early 2000s, a pair of scientists found that bottlenose dolphins could also pass the mirror test with flying colors. In her new book Voices in the Ocean, science writer Susan Casey nods to that study, and notes that, in subsequent years, elephants and magpies have also taken the mirror test and passed. (For context, humans don’t pass this test until they are about two.)

Some animals appear to be capable of understanding the perspective of others 

Beyond the raven’s newly discovered behaviors, there is evidence that scrub jays are able to see the world from another scrub jay’s viewpoint, which helps them hide their food. Male Eurasian jays seem to be able to make a good guess at what sort of food female Eurasian jays might like to eat. “It was long thought that only humans could do this,” University of Cambridge psychologist Nicola Clayton told Wired of the jay research. “What we’ve shown in a series of experiments is that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

To be sure, in an era of viral videos, it’s easy to take this idea —Anthropomorphism is okay now! — and get carried away with it. A perfect recent example is a back-and-forth over a picture of a trio of kangaroos. According to the Facebook caption accompanying the photo, the female had recently died, and the male and baby were “mourning” it. Media outlets took this at face value and ran with it, with headlines like “Dying Kangaroo Mom Spends Last Moment Holding Her Baby.”

And then, as is the circle of life for a viral news story, came the debunkings: The male kangaroo was just trying to have sex with the female, these articles scolded, and to believe any differently was a sign of “naive anthropomorphism.” Safina’s impression of the photo, incidentally, is that there really isn’t much we can tell one way or the other from a still photo. Really, the photo — or, more specifically, the instantly polarized online reactions to the photo — tell us more about ourselves than they do about kangaroo behavior.

“The one thing that is almost never allowed, or never thought of, is that there can be nuance,” Safina said. “There can be a range of emotions that happen in nonhumans, just as there is in humans.” After a human death, for example, the person’s loved ones show a range of emotions — denial, confusion, even some terribly inappropriate laughter. “But with animals everything has to be either/or,” Safina continued. People either want to believe that animals are pure and kindhearted and all-around better than we are — or they want to believe the very opposite, that humans are the most remarkable creatures on Earth, and animal behavior is driven only by instinct. (As if human behavior isn’t, too.)

Rushing to an unsupported conclusion that animals are just like us is bad, biased science. But willfully ignoring evidence of animal behaviors that look suspiciously like human emotions is unscientific and biased, too. “The key point is that anthropomorphism is not always as problematic as people think,” de Waal writes, adding that this is probably particularly true of animals with brains like ours: apes, sure, but even elephants and some marine mammals like dolphins. After all, we’re animals, too.

This week Insight is looking at the emotions of dogs and their human companions. Do they actually love us? | Tuesday 26 April, 8:30pm SBS 

SOURCE SCIENCE OF US

Paul McCartney, 77, transforms into a cartoon for new PETA campaign video as he calls for an end on animal testing

  • The Beatles star has donated his 1993 protest song, Looking for Changes, to the clip 
  • Paul has joined the likes of The Black Keys, Sia and Morrissey in donating their songs to PETA
  • He has been a vegetarian since 1975 after seeing lambs in a field as he and his late wife Linda ate a meal where they consumed lamb

Sir Paul McCartney has been transformed into a cartoon for a new music video for PETA.

The Beatles star, 77, has called for a ban on unethical animal testing with the new clip for the animal rights group which is set to the tune of his 1993 protest song, Looking for Changes.

Speaking of the video, Paul, who has long been fronting campaigns for PETA, said: ‘I’m looking for changes that will continue the momentum of getting animals out of laboratories’.

Paul McCartney writes a song for Peta to oppose animal testing
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For a good cause: Sir Paul McCartney, 77, has been transformed into a cartoon for a new music video for PETA

For a good cause: Sir Paul McCartney, 77, has been transformed into a cartoon for a new music video for PETA

Seeing double: The musician's likeness has been used for the new campaign

Seeing double: The musician’s likeness has been used for the new campaign

Paul, who happily donated his song to the video, continued: ‘Experiments on animals are unethical – they’re a colossal failure and a waste of time and money. We can and must do better.’

The animated video sees the likes of a cat, rabbit and monkey being forced to undergo rigorous, and heartbreaking, testing in a government funded lab.

Suddenly the animals are set free in their natural element, before cartoon Paul comes along with his guitar to continue singing the tune.

'We must do better': The Beatles star has called for a ban on unethical animal testing with the new clip for the animal rights group

‘We must do better’: The Beatles star has called for a ban on unethical animal testing with the new clip for the animal rights group

'Fellow creatures': The clip is set to the tune of his 1993 protest song, Looking for Changes

‘Fellow creatures’: The clip is set to the tune of his 1993 protest song, Looking for Changes

'Unethical': Paul, who has long been fronting campaigns for PETA, passionately spoke of the video

‘Unethical’: Paul, who has long been fronting campaigns for PETA, passionately spoke of the video

Horrifying: The animated video sees the likes of a cat, rabbit and monkey being forced to undergo rigorous, and heartbreaking, testing in a government funded lab

Horrifying: The animated video sees the likes of a cat, rabbit and monkey being forced to undergo rigorous, and heartbreaking, testing in a government funded lab

Proving that slow and steady wins the raise, the evil scientist dons an ‘I’ve changed’ shirt as he follows Paul.

Paul has joined the likes of The Black Keys, Sia and Morrissey in donating their songs to PETA.

He has been a vegetarian since 1975 after seeing lambs in a field as he and his late wife Linda ate a meal where they consumed lamb.

Yay: Suddenly the animals are set free in their natural element, before cartoon Paul comes along with his guitar to continue singing the tune

Yay: Suddenly the animals are set free in their natural element, before cartoon Paul comes along with his guitar to continue singing the tune

Changed man: Proving that slow and steady wins the raise, the evil scientist dons an 'I've changed' shirt as he follows Paul

Changed man: Proving that slow and steady wins the raise, the evil scientist dons an ‘I’ve changed’ shirt as he follows Paul

Activist: Paul has joined the likes of The Black Keys, Sia and Morrissey in donating their songs to PETA

Activist: Paul has joined the likes of The Black Keys, Sia and Morrissey in donating their songs to PETA

He is also the creator of ‘Meat Free Mondays and has narrated PETA’s shocking documentary Glass Walls which sheds a light on the cruel treatment of farmed animals.

Meanwhile, Paul recently revealed that his ate Beatles bandmate John Lennon visits him in his dreams in a emotional new interview.

The music legend admitted John – who was murdered in December 1980 aged 40 – regularly appears in his dreams during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

The Hey Jude hitmaker said: ‘I dream about him. When you’ve had a relationship like that for so long, such a deep relationship, I love when people revisit you in your dreams.

Defining moment: He has been a vegetarian since 1975 after seeing lambs in a field as he and his late wife Linda ate a meal where they consumed lamb

Defining moment: He has been a vegetarian since 1975 after seeing lambs in a field as he and his late wife Linda ate a meal where they consumed lamb

Animal rights: He is also the creator of 'Meat Free Mondays and has narrated PETA's shocking documentary Glass Walls which sheds a light on the cruel treatment of farmed animals

Animal rights: He is also the creator of ‘Meat Free Mondays and has narrated PETA’s shocking documentary Glass Walls which sheds a light on the cruel treatment of farmed animals

JOAQUIN PHOENIX-BACKED ANIMAL-RIGHTS FILM PREMIERES IN TEXAS

https://vegnews.com/2019/10/joaquin-phoenix-backed-animal-rights-film-premieres-in-texas

VegNews.TheAnimalPeople

New documentary The Animal People focuses on the journey of six activists branded as terrorists after protesting against animal testing.


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New documentary The Animal People will make its world premiere at the Austin Film Festival on Saturday, October 26. Executively produced by vegan actor and Joker star Joaquin Phoenix, the film is produced by CSI  star Jorja Fox and directed by Cassandra Suchan (Rock The Bells) and Dennis Henry Hennelly (Bold Native)The Animal People follows a group of six activists from the United States arm of British animal-rights group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) who were surveilled by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and ultimately indicted as domestic terrorists for leading protests against Huntingdon Life Sciences, a major animal-testing company. The FBI used its surveillance of the activists as a model for targeting later movements such as Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. Prior to the activists’ indictments, the US Congress rewrote laws to bend to corporate pressure, potentially weakening the free-speech rights of all Americans. “This film is about much more than just this case,” Phoenix said. “It’s about fundamental questions concerning free speech, social change, and corporate power that have never been more urgently relevant in our world.” The Animal People features interviews with the six activists spanning more than a decade and aims to illustrate the result of activism being classified as terrorism when insitutions of power are involved.

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Fish should be part of the animal welfare conversation



Jessica Scott-Reid | Special to The Globe and Mail
Published 6 hours ago
Updated October 20, 2019

From October 19-21, The Globe and Mail is offering complimentary access to
all our election, news and business coverage. Learn more | Open this photo
in gallery

[At Newfoundland’s Northern Harvest Sea Farms, as many as 1.8 million salmon
suffocated to death in early September owing to lack of oxygen in the water.
A ship is seen in Fortune Bay, off the Newfoundland coast, on Oct. 2
disposing the decomposing remains of salmon into the water after the mass
die-off. The layer of rotten fish sludge sitting on the bottom of bay is
said to be more than 15 metres thick in some areas.]

Atlantic Salmon Federation/Bill Bryden/The Globe and Mail

Jessica Scott-Reid is a Montreal-based freelance writer and animal advocate.

It’s a notion that has made headlines several times over the past few years:
Fish feel pain, and the way we catch and kill them for food may actually be
cruel. This evolution in understanding of the sentience of an animal
long-considered too simple has caused some controversy and discomfort. And
as Newfoundland copes with a massive fish-farm die-off, concerns about the
well-being of the fish in crowded farms are being added to this mounting
conversation.

At Newfoundland’s Northern Harvest Sea Farms, as many as 1.8 million salmon
suffocated to death in early September, due to lack of oxygen in the water.
As The Globe and Mail reported two weeks ago, concerned marine biologists
noted the fish would have been stressed and fighting for oxygen in the
cramped, warm waters. Workers have also been struggling to deal with the
decomposing remains, which are being vacuumed out of the cages, processed on
land and dumped back into the sea. The layer of rotten fish sludge sitting
on the bottom of bay is said to be more than 15 metres thick in some areas,
and marine biologists worry this sludge could create algae blooms that steal
oxygen from the water and choke out other wild marine life.

Fish farming is a rapidly growing sector within Canada’s fishing industry,
with salmon being the most commonly farmed fish, and worth about $1-billion.
There are concerns, however, about a lack of government oversight of these
farms and about the damage they can cause to surrounding environments.
Deterioration of water quality owing to waste production and the spread of
disease to wild fish populations (and of drugs used to treat those
diseases), are included in these concerns. Last year, member of Parliament
Fin Donnelly told CBC News that open-net fish farms are essentially “using
the ocean as a toilet.”

For a food source typically touted as environmentally sustainable, and
perhaps less ethically fraught than their land-bound counterparts, fish may
actually be more complicated than we once thought.

Growing research now points to the fact that fish have the ability to
experience sensations, including pain and suffering. In a 2018 article in
Smithsonian Magazine, It’s Official: Fish Feel Pain, author Ferris Jabr
explains that at the anatomical level, fish have neurons known as
nociceptors, “which detect potential harm, such as high temperatures,
intense pressure, and caustic chemicals.” Fish bodies also produce the same
innate painkillers (that is, opioids) that mammals do.

Mr. Jabr details several studies, which show fish demonstrating atypical
behaviours when inflicted with pain and returning to typical behaviours when
given painkillers.

In more recent research, biologist Lynne Sneddon of the University of
Liverpool told The Independent, “When the fish’s lips are given a painful
stimulus they rub the mouth against the side of the tank much like we rub
our toe when we stub it.” She added: “If we accept fish experience pain,
then this has important implications for how we treat them.”

Although evidence is growing about the sentience of fish, they still lack
legal protection in Canada regarding their welfare or humane handling, and
are legally considered property when caught or farmed. Fishing is exempt
from most provincial animal-care acts as an accepted activity in which an
animal may be permitted to suffer (much like the farming and slaughtering of
other animals for food).

And though there are no statistics on the number of fish killed for food in
Canada each year, we know the industry is worth several billion dollars,
with exports of $6.6-billion worth of fish and seafood in 2015 putting
estimates in the hundreds of millions of fish permitted to suffocate to
death each year. The potential suffering associated with that number of
animals is hard to comprehend.

Ethical and environmental concerns surrounding the way we farm, catch and
kill fish for food are increasing. Allowing sentient animals capable of
suffering to be crammed into cages where they are unable to escape harmful
conditions, or to be pulled out of their environments, allowed to suffocate
to death, no longer aligns with the values of many Canadians who care about
the humane treatment of animals.

Compounding environmental stress upon already vulnerable ecosystems and
biodiversity only exacerbates this very obvious problem.

It’s time to care about fish, and perhaps that means leaving them alone.
 

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-fish-should-be-part-of-the-a
nimal-welfare-conversation/

Whoopi Goldberg Slammed For Having ‘Triggered Fit’ Over Plant-Based Meat

‘It’s so easy to make choices that don’t support suffering and death. We urge you to consider that’
'Go eat a couch if you want' (Photo: Instagram / Whoopi Goldberg)

‘Go eat a couch if you want’ (Photo: Instagram / Whoopi Goldberg)

American actor and TV personality Whoopi Goldberg has been slammed for having a ‘triggered fit’ over plant-based meat.

The celebrity featured on talk show The View earlier this month, where she defended her right to consume bacon.

“What I don’t want is no choice…,” the star said. “I like the bacon, I want the bacon, you don’t have to eat it… No one should tell you that you can’t have something.”

The comment received backlash from animal-rights charity PETA, who said it couldn’t help but ‘call-out’ Goldberg for her ‘rant on The View’.

‘Enormous suffering’

“Really, Whoopi? Eating bacon is your Friday cause? Your ‘choice’ really hurts. Be kind,” PETA said. “Animals should have a choice though. Eating bacon causes enormous suffering and ends a pig’s life.

“It’s so easy to make choices that don’t support suffering and death. We urge you to consider that.”

‘Making a fuss’

“Hey I understand PETA is making a fuss because I like bacon,” Goldberg tweeted to her 1.5 million followers.

“I never said I was a vegan, and just like I want choice over my body, I want the same for what goes into my body. I would NEVER suggest that ANYONE pressure any one of YOU to change your vegan habits. Go eat a couch if you want.”

‘Animals are not property’

The star’s response added to the controversy, with a plethora of vegans highlighting the cruelty of bacon.

“You spoke a truth in you that you didn’t realize you had, Whoopi,” one user tweeted.

“Animals are not property just as human beings are not property. They don’t belong to us. They deserve to have control over what happens to their bodies just as we do.”

URGENT: Help Desperately Needed for Stranded Cat!

URGENT: Help Desperately Needed for Stranded Cat!

PETA has been contacted by the concerned guardian of a cat named Mikey who has reportedly been stranded atop an unclimbable tree for the past week, near the intersection of Manzanar Avenue and Rosemead Boulevard in Pico Rivera, California. Typically, tree climbers can expedite help for cats in these situations, but the tree is too unstable for rescuers to navigate and experts have opined that a 135-foot bucket truck and licensed driver are urgently needed for Mikey’s rescue.

Do you know anyone who can help? If so, please contact CIDinfo@peta.org with details.

Please also forward this alert to all your contacts. Thank you for speaking up for animals!

[I can relate to this cat’s plight; One of our cats climbed up into a fir tree with no low branches and got stuck.I had to stand on the highest rung of our tallest ladder and reach up to him before he dared decend. It was harrowing for all… ]

URGENT: Help Desperately Needed for Stranded Cat!

Justin Bieber’s $35k part-exotic kittens are not a hit with PETA

 

https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/04/entertainment/justin-bieber-kittens-peta-trnd/?

Justin Bieber defends his $35k cats against PETA scrutiny 01:20
(CNN)Justin Bieber and PETA are engaged in a cat fight.

It all centers around the singer’s part-exotic kittens, Sushi and Tuna.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bieber paid $35,000 for the pair of Savannah breed cats from Illinois-based breeder Select Exotics.
“Baby, baby, baby, nooooooo,” PETA said in a statement to CNN. “Justin Bieber could inspire his fans around the world to save a life by adopting a cat from a local animal shelter — rather than fueling the dangerous demand for hybrid cats, contributing to the animal overpopulation crisis, and proving that when it comes to helping animals, his stance so far is ‘I don’t care.'”
Select Exotics’ website says Savannah cats are “a Serval/domestic feline cross” that is “the largest hybrid cat available today.”
“Bright, inventive, intelligent, even ingenious, playful, charming, and intensely energetic, the personable Savannah cat is very dog-like,” the site said. “Readily trainable, most love to play fetch, ride in cars, and relish outdoor walks on a leash.”
The kittens were purchased in the weeks leading up to Bieber’s second wedding to his wife, the former Hailey Baldwin, and he’s clearly enamored with them.
So much so that he launched a @kittysushiandtuna Instagram account to document their lives in the Bieber household.
The Biebs didn’t take too kindly to PETA’s statement.
He posted a screen shot of a story about PETA protesting his purchase on his Instagram stories, writing “PETA can suck it.”
“PETA go focus on real problems. Like poaching and animal brutality,” he wrote in a note posted on his Instagram stories. “Ur tripping because I want a specific kind of cat? U weren’t tripping when I got my dog Oscar and he wasn’t a rescue.”
Bieber added that he believes “in adopting rescues but also think there are preferences and that’s what breeders are for.”
“PETA go help with all the plastic in the ocean, and leave my beautiful cats alone,” he ended his note.
On Friday, PETA responded to Bieber in another statement provided to CNN.
PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said “Sorry, Justin, but you must think more deeply about this issue: When millions of animals are losing their lives every year because not enough people adopt — choosing instead to shop — the animal overpopulation crisis is a ‘real problem.'”
“That’s what ‘sucks,'” she said. “PETA urges you to spend just one hour in a municipal animal shelter with us — we think you’ll understand how hard it is to look into the animals’ eyes and know that because people pay breeders, many of them will pay with their lives. You have the power to be a great role model on this issue — your behavior guides that of tons of your fans — so please put that to good use.”

CITES agreement to ban sending wild elephants to zoos a victory for legacy of Swaziland

 

The end of the elephant-to-zoo trade marked by today’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species decision in Geneva is a victory for Friends of Animals efforts to make sure that no other pachyderms would suffer the cruelty of being ripped from the wild for a life in captivity and that the 18 elephants destined for U.S. zoos in 2016 would be the last to ever have to endure this.

The story of the Swaziland elephants that were sent to three U.S. zoos despite Friends of Animals efforts to keep them in the wild was spotlighted in a July New York Times Magazine cover story “Zoos Called it a ‘Rescue.’ But are the Elephants Really Safe?” by Charles Siebert.

The three zoos, Dallas Zoo, Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas and the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, had obtained permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to import the elephants in 2016 from a national park in Swaziland overseen by Big Game Parks.

FoA filed a lawsuit claiming that the FWS had a mandatory duty under the National Environmental Policy Act to fully evaluate and disclose whether the elephants, as a result of captivity, would suffer social, psychological, behavioral and physical impacts for the rest of their lives. But ahead of the scheduled March 17, 2016 hearing and without informing the court, a plane was secretly sent from Kansas City on March 5 to transport the elephants to the U.S.

“No other elephants should be drugged and crated, hauled off to a foreign place to spend the next 50 years feeling like captives,” said FoA Wildlife Law Program Director Michael Harris. “The Swaziland elephants will suffer in captivity, there is no doubt of that, but to them we must credit the decision today to end this practice.”

While the U.S. delegation to CITES opposed the agreement, FoA President Priscilla Feral said it is a vital step at a time when elephant populations in Africa are plummeting.

“In the last three years, we kept the story of the Swaziland elephants alive and delivered a PR nightmare for the zoos involved,’’ she said. “It’s gratifying to learn that despite the disappointing performance of the U.S. delegation, CITES passed a trade rule banning the exportation of African elephants to all zoos. Being able to deliver on our goal that they would be the last elephants to be robbed of their freedom and families is rewarding, especially in these difficult political times.”

CITES agreement to ban sending wild elephants to zoos a victory for legacy of Swaziland 18

Veggie burger opens new divide in the US

Impossible Foods meatless Whopper
Impossible Foods meatless Whopper

The veggie burger has emerged as the latest battleground over traditional American values.

Several states have passed labelling laws banning the use of the word meat – and even meat-related terms such as burger or hot dog – for plant-based products.

The row has pitched high-tech food innovators against the ranchers’ trade body US Cattlemen’s Association and mainly conservative politicians in America’s rural heartland.

Environmentalists extol the planet-friendly virtues of plant-based meat, arguing that it is responsible for far lower methane emissions than cattle.

From the other corner conservatives, like Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz, have been scathing about vegan food.

During his bitter election battle with Beto O’Rourke, he claimed on Twitter that the Democrats would ban barbecues across the state.

Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana and Arkansas have led the way in passing strict labelling laws, imposing fines on companies who  transgress.

Ted Cruz

@tedcruz

.@peta protested our town hall yesterday, handing out barbecued tofu. We were glad to welcome them, but it illustrates the stakes af the election: if Beto wins, BBQ will be illegal! 😂😂😂 https://twitter.com/peta/status/1041373529684434946 

PETA

@peta

Yesterday, PETA supporters gathered outside of Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign event in #Texas and handed out samples of barbecued tofu 😋 Tofu is versatile, healthy, and grown right in the Lone Star State, and if Cruz knew this we’re sure he’d want to see tofu in every Texas pot!

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In America’s cattle-producing states, the legislation has broad support, said Billy Hudson, a Republican state senator who piloted the law through the Mississippi legislature.

“The intent of this legislation was to help consumers better identify their foods. We don’t want fake meat confused with real meat.

“If there is a product on the shelf made from bugs, plants or grown in a lab, and someone wants to buy it, Mississippi wants that to happen. But the packaging material should not be misleading or deceptive.

“The legislation passed the Senate and House without opposition. Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals all voted for it.”

Andy Berry, the executive vice president of the Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association, described the measure as purely a piece of consumer protection legislation.

“The beef industry has never been worried about competition. We produce a high-quality product.

“I like vegetables too,  but just don’t call them meat.

“My family was in the Chevrolet business from 1936 to 2009. We would never put a Corvette sticker on a Malibu.”

Cattle in Louisiana
Cattle in Louisiana where new meat labelling laws have been introduced CREDIT: NICOLE CRAINE/BLOOMBERT

However, the Plant Based Foods Association and one of its members,  Upton’s Naturals, are challenging the law in court, arguing it infringes the US First Amendment which guarantees free speech.

“We have been in business for 13 years and we have never had anyone say they have bought our products unknowingly,” said Nicole Sopko, the company’s vice president

“We are not trying to trick people. We are proud of what we produce.

“This is a protectionist move by the meat industry: it is trying to limit the competition.”

Last month another challenge was filed in Arkansas on behalf of a company producing Tofurky.

That lawsuit is backed by the local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Good Food Institute and the Animal Legal Defence Fund.

Underpinning the battle is ranchers’ alarm at soaring demand for alternatives to meat which, according to the Plant Based Food Association, has seen sales grow five times faster than the food sector as a whole.

Last month it said the plant-based food market was worth $4.5 billion a year, representing an 11 per cent increase over the previous 12 months.

The strength of the flourishing new industry was underlined when Beyond Meat, one of the biggest producers of vegan burgers and sausages, went public in May.

Shares rose 160 per cent on the first day’s trading as investors piled in.

Its main rival, Impossible Foods, which has been selling its laboratory-produced meat alternatives since 2016, has even teamed up with Burger King to offer “Impossible Whoppers”.

The company broke new ground by using heme – a protein which is found in soybean plants – to replicate blood. It means that the patty has the appearance of a meat equivalent, including being red in the middle for those who prefer their burgers underdone.

Ranchers argue that consumers are being misled by the use of the term meat when no animal was slaughtered.

But this was denied by an Impossible Foods spokesman.

“Consumers are not at all confused about the fact that plant-based meat contains no animals. That’s precisely why they’re buying it at record levels,” she said.