Scientists and officials in China are trying to isolate a deadly pig virus potentially threatening the nation’s pork industry.
According to Reuters, an outbreak of African swine fever was discovered on a farm in inner Mongolia. Eight pigs died and 14 more were infected.
Since August 1, the virus has spread to seven provinces in China, reports Bloomberg. About 40,000 pigs have died, disrupting a pork industry valued at $128 billion.
China has introduced several new rules to attempt to curb the spread of the virus. Reuters reports Chinese officials have banned transporting live hogs or pig products from areas bordering a province with an outbreak.
A Paradise Valley company is seeking a permit to house two black bears in a roadside menagerie near Emigrant, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
The agency is seeking public comment through June 30 on an environmental assessment for the Mayfield Roadside Menagerie, north of Emigrant, owned by Jason Mayfield.
Any person wishing to keep, in captivity, one or more wild animals for the evident purpose of exhibition or attracting trade must first secure a Roadside Menagerie Permit from the state of Montana. A USDA Class C Exhibitor’s permit is a prerequisite for permitting.
The facility has been built and is ready to receive the two bears and will be operated in conjunction with Camel Discovery along Highway 89.
The facility has an interior and exterior portion. The interior is constructed of poured concrete for the floor; partitioned cages constructed of welded wire and pipe; insulated walls; and water, electrical and gas services. The interior has ample room for food preparation and veterinary care if needed.
The exterior fencing is constructed of chain link fencing with four strands of charged electrical wire along the top. A secondary fence within the primary fencing is made of four strands of charged electrical wire attached to t-posts.
The proposed menagerie is in near proximity to the owner’s residence and doors and gates are to remain locked at all times to prevent escape of the bears or entry by unauthorized individuals.
The environmental assessment is available on FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov. Click on the News tab and choose Recent Public Notices.
Comments can be submitted online or mailed to Attn: Mayfield Roadside Menagerie; Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Enforcement; P.O. Box 200701; Helena, MT 59620.
Animal rights activists staged a protest both inside and outside of U.S.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s campaign fundraiser over her ongoing
refusal to call off her $50 million plan to lease pandas from China and put
them on display in New York City.
Each year, parents and others buy ducklings, baby chicks and rabbits on
for Easter. Most of these animals are discarded once the charm of “oh, how
wears off. Most people have no idea how to care for them, and few if any
spend money on veterinary care. Millions of Easter ducklings, chicks and
are dumped in the woods or near water, where they cannot survive. Many are
already sick, lame, malnourished and dehydrated.
Please read and share the following information. Please print out and
“*Are All Your Ducks In a Row?*” to libraries and elsewhere, including
centers and retailers like Tractor Supply, where baby animals are sold at
Easter. Those not sold are trashed. There is nothing cute, cuddly or kind
the business of “Easter” ducklings, chicks and rabbits.
*Thank you for helping to educate people. *
*– United Poultry Concerns*
by SHEFALI SHARMA“Carbon majors,” like big oil and gas companies, have long been the focus of efforts to curb climate change and stem rising temperatures. And yet, while energy giants like Exxon and Shell have drawn fire for their roles in warming the planet, the corporate meat and dairy industries have largely avoided scrutiny.
BERLIN – Last year, three of the world’s largest meat companies – JBS, Cargill, and Tyson Foods – emitted more greenhouse gases than France, and nearly as much as some big oil companies. And yet, while energy giants like Exxon and Shell have drawn fire for their role in fueling climate change, the corporate meat and dairy industries have largely avoided scrutiny. If we are to avert environmental disaster, this double standard must change.
Obviously, mitigating climate change will require tackling emissions from the meat and dairy industries. The question is how.
Around the world, meat and dairy companies have become politically powerful entities. The recent corruption-related arrests of two JBS executives, the brothers Joesley and Wesley Batista, pulled back the curtain on corruption in the industry. JBS is the largest meat processor in the world, earning nearly $20 billion more in 2016 than its closest rival, Tyson Foods. But JBS achieved its position with assistance from the Brazilian Development Bank, and apparently, by bribing more than 1,800 politicians. It is no wonder, then, that greenhouse-gas emissions are low on the company’s list of priorities. In 2016, JBS, Tyson and Cargill emitted 484 million tons of climate-changing gases, 46 million tons more than BP, the British energy giant.
Meat and dairy industry insiders push hard for pro-production policies, often at the expense of environmental and public health. From seeking to block reductions in nitrous oxide and methane emissions, to circumventing obligations to reduce air, water, and soil pollution, they have managed to increase profits while dumping pollution costs on the public.
One consequence, among many, is that livestock production now accounts for nearly 15% of global greenhouse-gas emissions. That is a bigger share than the world’s entire transportation sector. Moreover, much of the growth in meat and dairy production in the coming decades is expected to come from the industrial model. If this growth conforms to the pace projected by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, our ability to keep temperatures from rising to apocalyptic levels will be severely undermined.
At the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, last month, several UN agencies were directed, for the first time ever, to cooperate on issues related to agriculture, including livestock management. This move is welcome for many reasons, but especially because it will begin to expose the conflicts of interest that are endemic in the global agribusiness trade.
To skirt climate responsibility, the meat and dairy industries have long argued that expanding production is necessary for food security. Corporate firms, they insist, can produce meat or milk more efficiently than a pastoralist in the Horn of Africa or a small-scale producer in India.
Unfortunately, current climate policies do not refute this narrative, and some even encourage increased production and intensification. Rather than setting targets for the reduction of total industry-related emissions, many current policies create incentives for firms to squeeze more milk from each dairy cow and bring beef cattle to slaughter faster. This necessitates equating animals to machinery that can be tweaked to produce more with less through technological fixes, and ignoring all of this model other negative effects.
Solutions do exist. For starters, governments could redirect public money from factory farming and large-scale agribusiness to smaller, ecologically focused family farms. Governments could also use procurement policies to help build markets for local products and encourage cleaner, more vibrant farm economies.
Many cities around the world are already basing their energy choices on a desire to tackle climate change. Similar criteria could shape municipalities’ food policies, too. For example, higher investment in farm-to-hospital and farm-to-school programs would ensure healthier diets for residents, strengthen local economies, and reduce the climate impact of the meat and dairy industries.
Dairy and meat giants have operated with climate impunity for far too long. If we are to halt global temperature spikes and avert an ecological crisis, consumers and governments must do more to create, support, and strengthen environmentally conscious producers. That would be good for our health – and for the health of our planet.
UVALDE, Tex. — On a ranch at the southwestern edge of the Texas Hill Country, a hunting guide spotted her cooling off in the shade: an African reticulated giraffe. Such is the curious state of modern Texas ranching, that a giraffe among the oak and the mesquite is an everyday sort of thing.
“That’s Buttercup,” said the guide, Buck Watson, 54.
In a place of rare creatures, Buttercup is among the rarest; she is off limits to hunters at the Ox Ranch. Not so the African bongo antelope, one of the world’s heaviest and most striking spiral-horned antelopes, which roams the same countryside as Buttercup. The price to kill a bongo at the Ox Ranch is $35,000.
Himalayan tahrs, wild goats with a bushy lion-style mane, are far cheaper. The trophy fee, or kill fee, to shoot one is $7,500. An Arabian oryx is $9,500; a sitatunga antelope, $12,000; and a black wildebeest, $15,000.
“We don’t hunt giraffes,” Mr. Watson said. “Buttercup will live out her days here, letting people take pictures of her. She can walk around and graze off the trees as if she was in Africa.”
The Ox Ranch near Uvalde, Tex., is not quite a zoo, and not quite an animal shooting range, but something in between.
The ranch’s hunting guides and managers walk a thin, controversial line between caring for thousands of rare, threatened and endangered animals and helping to execute them. Some see the ranch as a place for sport and conservation. Some see it as a place for slaughter and hypocrisy.
The Ox Ranch provides a glimpse into the future of the mythic Texas range — equal parts exotic game-hunting retreat, upscale outdoor adventure, and breeding and killing ground for exotic species.
Ranchers in the nation’s top cattle-raising state have been transforming pasture land into something out of an African safari, largely to lure trophy hunters who pay top-dollar kill fees to hunt exotics. Zebra mares forage here near African impala antelopes, and it is easy to forget that downtown San Antonio is only two hours to the east.
The ranch has about 30 bongo, the African antelopes with a trophy fee of $35,000. Last fall, a hunter shot one. “Taking one paid their feed bill for the entire year, for the rest of them,” said Jason Molitor, the chief executive of the Ox Ranch.
To many animal-protection groups, such management of rare and endangered species — breeding some, preventing some from being hunted, while allowing the killing of others — is not only repulsive, but puts hunting ranches in a legal and ethical gray area.
“Depending on what facility it is, there’s concern when animals are raised solely for profit purposes,” said Anna Frostic, a senior attorney with the Humane Society of the United States.
Hunting advocates disagree and say the breeding and hunting of exotic animals helps ensure species’ survival. Exotic-game ranches see themselves not as an enemy of wildlife conservation but as an ally, arguing that they contribute a percentage of their profits to conservation efforts.
“We love the animals, and that’s why we hunt them,” Mr. Molitor said. “Most hunters in general are more in line with conservation than the public believes that they are.”
Beyond the financial contributions, hunting ranches and their supporters say the blending of commerce and conservation helps save species from extinction.
Wildlife experts said there are more blackbuck antelope in Texas than there are in their native India because of the hunting ranches. In addition, Texas ranchers have in the past sent exotic animals, including scimitar-horned oryx, back to their home countries to build up wild populations there.
“Ranchers can sell these hunts and enjoy the income, while doing good for the species,” said John M. Tomecek, a wildlife specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Animal-rights activists are outraged by these ranches. They call what goes on there “canned hunting” or “captive hunting.’’
“Hunting has absolutely nothing to do with conservation,” said Ashley Byrne, the associate director of campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “What they’re doing is trying to put a better spin on a business that they know the average person finds despicable.”
At the Ox Ranch, it shows. The ranch has luxury log cabins, a runway for private planes and a 6,000-square-foot lodge with stone fireplaces and vaulted ceilings. More animals roam its 18,000 acres than roam the Houston Zoo, on a tract of land bigger than the island of Manhattan. The ranch is named for its owner, Brent C. Oxley, 34, the founder of HostGator.com, a web hosting provider that was sold in 2012 for more than $200 million.
“The owner hopes in a few years that we can break even,” Mr. Molitor said.
Because the industry is largely unregulated, there is no official census of exotic animals in Texas. But ranchers and wildlife experts said that Texas has more exotics than any other state. A survey by the state Parks and Wildlife Department in 1994 put the exotic population at more than 195,000 animals from 87 species, but the industry has grown explosively since then; one estimate by John T. Baccus, a retired Texas State University biologist, puts the current total at roughly 1.3 million.
The Ox Ranch needs no local, state or federal permit for most of their exotic animals.
State hunting regulations do not apply to exotics, which can be hunted year-round. The Fish and Wildlife Service allows ranches to hunt and kill certain animals that are federally designated as threatened or endangered species, if the ranches take certain steps, including donating 10 percent of their hunting proceeds to conservation programs. The ranches are issued permits to conduct activities that would otherwise be prohibited under the Endangered Species Act if those activities enhance the survival of the species in the wild. Those federal permits make it legal to hunt Eld’s deer and other threatened or endangered species at the Ox Ranch.
Mr. Molitor said more government oversight was unnecessary and would drive ranchers out of the business. “I ask people, who do you think is going to manage it better, private organizations or the government?” Mr. Molitor said.
Lawyers for conservation and animal-protection groups say that allowing endangered animals to be hunted undermines the Endangered Species Act, and that the ranches’ financial contributions fail to benefit wildlife conservation.
“We ended up with this sort of pay-to-play idea,” said Tanya Sanerib, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is absolutely absurd that you can go to a canned-hunt facility and kill an endangered or threatened species.”
The creatures are not the only things at the ranch that are exotic. The tanks are, too.
The ranch offers its guests the opportunity to drive and shoot World War II-era tanks. People fire at bullet-ridden cars from atop an American M4 Sherman tank at a shooting range built to resemble a Nazi-occupied French town.
“We knew the gun people would come out,” said Todd DeGidio, the chief executive of DriveTanks.com, which runs the tank operation. “What surprised us was the demographic of people who’ve never shot guns before.”
Late one evening, two hunters, Joan Schaan and her 15-year-old son, Daniel, rushed to get ready for a nighttime hunt, adjusting the SWAT-style night-vision goggles on their heads.
Ms. Schaan is the executive director of a private foundation in Houston. Daniel is a sophomore at St. John’s School, a prestigious private school. They were there not for the exotics, but basically for the pests: feral hogs, which cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage annually in Texas.
“We are here because we both like to hunt, and we like hunting hogs,” Ms. Schaan said. “And we love the meat and the sausage from the hogs we harvest.”
Pursuing the hogs, Ms. Schaan and her son go off-roading through the brush in near-total darkness, with a hunting guide behind the wheel. Aided by their night-vision goggles, they passed by the giraffes before rattling up and down the hilly terrain.
Daniel fired at hogs from the passenger seat with a SIG Sauer 516 rifle, his spent shell casings flying into the back seat. Their guide, Larry Hromadka, told Daniel when he could and could not take a shot.
No one is allowed to hunt at the ranch without a guide. The guides make sure no one shoots an exotic animal accidentally with a stray bullet, and that no one takes aim at an off-limits creature.
One of the hogs Daniel shot twitched and appeared to still be alive, until Mr. Hromadka approached with his light and his gun.
Hundreds of animals shot at the ranch have ended up in the cluttered workrooms and showrooms at Graves Taxidermy in Uvalde.
Part of the allure of exotic game-hunting is the so-called trophy at the end — the mounted and lifelike head of the animal that the hunter put down. The Ox Ranch is Graves Taxidermy’s biggest customer.
“My main business, of course, is white-tailed deer, but the exotics have kind of taken over,” said Browder Graves, the owner.
He said the animal mounts he makes for people were not so much a trophy on a wall as a symbol of the hunter’s memories of the entire experience. He has a mount of a Himalayan tahr he shot in New Zealand that he said he cannot look at without thinking of the time he spent with his son hunting up in the mountains.
“It’s God’s creature,” he said. “I’m trying to make it look as good as it can.”
As Hurricane Irma’s powerful winds began hitting the Florida Keys on Saturday, many animals — including howler monkeys, dingoes and turtles — were safely tucked away in their shelters or elsewhere.
Zoos and conservation centers in South Florida moved their animals to safety earlier in the week as forecasts for the Sunshine State grew increasingly dire.
At the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society in West Palm Beach, workers began moving smaller animals into facilities that doubled as hurricane shelters on Wednesday morning, said its communications director, Naki Carter.
“We are prepared for the worst and hopeful for the best,” Carter said. “We are preparing for a Category 5 to make direct impact with our zoo.”
ut what about the flamingos? 3:05
The zoo’s tiger, jaguar, bear and Komodo dragon populations would be staying put, she said, because their habitats already double as hurricane shelters.
“They will be locked inside of those shelters before the storm comes,” she said, adding that the zoo’s six-person storm team would monitor Irma from the Animal Care Center, the facility’s largest hurricane shelter.
“That is our command center,” she said, adding, “also our surgery and triage center.”
The zoo has more than 150 animals, 30 percent of which had been relocated by Thursday evening, Carter said. Among them were birds and smaller mammals.
Carter said the zoo had about 10 days of food for most animals, with about a month’s worth for larger animals. The zoo had also made arrangements to get additional food after the storm passes, she said.
Workers boarded up windows and put hurricane-proof shutters and glass in place throughout the 23-acre facility as well.
In a statement Wednesday, the Miami Zoo said it would not evacuate animals “since hurricanes can change direction at the last minute, and you run the risk of evacuating to a more dangerous location.”
“The stress of moving the animals can be more dangerous than riding out the storm,” the zoo said on its Facebook page.
Animals considered more dangerous will be kept in secure houses made of concrete, the statement said, adding that such animals survived the devastating Hurricane Andrew 25 years ago unharmed.
News of the hurricane conjured images of wildlife riding our previous storms from public facilities instead of their enclosures, like the iconic image of more than 50 flamingos taking shelter from Hurricane Georges in a men’s bathroom in 1998.
At the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation, a nonprofit in Loxahatchee, founder and president Dr. Paul Reillo said Thursday night that he and other staff members would ride out the storm with hundreds of rare and endangered animals.
Hurricane Irma: How will Florida’s zoo animals survive the storm? 3:10
“We’re with them every step of the way,” he said. “You can’t crate them and walk away — our prime directive is to save lives here.”
The foundation was prepared to bring smaller animals indoors before Irma hits, while larger animals may have to ride out the storm outdoors, Reillo said.
“We have large African antelope here, and unfortunately they cannot be caught up and put in small spaces,” he said. “They’re out in their environment, and hopefully they’ll hunker down and be fine.”
Reillo said many zoos and centers don’t have the space or expertise to evacuate animals that need special care, especially endangered species.
“Facilities are not provisioned to do that on normal day, much less in an emergency,” he said. “We’re kind of stuck with riding these things out.”
Reillo also said many wildlife facilities were forced into a waiting game of seeing where and how severe the hurricane would be.
“A mile or two can make a huge difference for a wildlife facility,” he said of a storm’s landfall. “It’s not just the stress on the animals of catching them up, but then realizing you have to have enclosures to release them into after the storm passes.”
Facilities in the area will also work together to help one another after the storm, he said.
“It’s our life’s work. It’s not about the people — this is bigger than us,” he said. “It’s about believing that wildlife deserves a chance for the future. We should do all we can to prevent extinction.”
CORRECTION (Sept. 8, 2017, 10:15): An earlier version of this article misstated the year 50 flamingos were pictured taking shelter in a men’s bathroom during Hurricane Georges. It was 1998, not 1988.
Jo-Anne McArthur, a Canadian photographer and animal rights activist, does not deny that her new book could be called “one-sided.” That is sort of the point.
The images in “Captive” were taken at zoos across five continents, but they don’t include depictions of handlers bottle-feeding baby hippos, giving pandas ultrasounds or even cleaning cages. They’re taken from the perspective of the public, and, McArthur said, aim to show the animals as “individuals,” as opposed to representatives of their species. The photos are unusual and at times arresting, featuring solitary animals juxtaposed against gawking crowds, suburbia and the barriers that keep them enclosed.
The book comes off as quite anti-zoo, but McArthur says she hopes it will count as a contribution to an escalating public conversation about animals in captivity — one that has been highlighted by uproar over Sea World orcas and the killing of Harambe the gorilla, but that is also churning quietly among zoo managers.
What follows is a selection of photos from McArthur’s book, paired with her captions, and a Q and A about the book. All images were taken in 2016, when McArthur was on assignment in Europe for the Born Free Foundation, a wildlife advocacy organization.
A barbary macaque at a zoo in Germany. “This image is paired with the conclusion of the book. I like that we can’t quite tell who is handing the vegetation to whom.” (Jo-Anne McArthur/Born Free Foundation)
A baltic grey seal at a Lithuanian zoo. “This is perhaps my favorite image from the book because it says a lot about how I see our experiences with captive wildlife. They are the centerpiece, the raison d’etre for zoos and aquaria, and yet we make a mockery of them and of ourselves in the way that we interact, and fail to interact, with them. This seal appeared to live alone in this small pool.” (Jo-Anne McArthur/Born Free Foundation)
A Rothschild’s giraffe at a German zoo. “The image points out just how far we remove animals from their natural habitats. Sometimes this is disguised by the murals of jungles or savannah we paint as backdrops at zoos, but other times, the distance we put between them and their homes is accentuated by situations like this one: The zoo is next to an IKEA.” (Jo-Anne McArthur/Born Free Foundation)
White tigers at a French zoo. “Two tigers look past their enclosure at the tourists going by, and at the zoo keepers who distribute food to the animals at different times throughout the day.” (Jo-Anne McArthur/Born Free Foundation)
A polar bear at a Latvian zoo. “This bear lives alone in this small, barren exhibit. I was struck by the design of the enclosure and its attempt to replicate a cold climate, with its whitewashed walls. The green plants growing in to the back of the enclosure added something real, and a bit pathetic, to the space.” (Jo-Anne McArthur/Born Free Foundation)
Tourists pose in front of lechwe, a kind of antelope, at a German zoo. “‘Captive’ is about animals, but it’s also about ‘we animals,’ and how we fail to see other species even as we stand before them. Our experiences at zoos and aquaria are, for the most part, about our entertainment. This comes at the expense of those who are kept captive, sometimes for decades.” (Jo-Anne McArthur/Born Free Foundation)
A jaguar at a French zoo. “This is another image about us, more so than about the animal at the center of the photograph — a commentary about how we fail to really see the individuals who are presumably central to our zoo experience, which is about us, not them.” (Jo-Anne McArthur/Born Free Foundation)
A brown bear at a German zoo. “The bear traced the same circles across the exhibit over and over, making the exact same turns and bodily movements, pausing in the exact same way at this corner to look beyond the bars, before circling again. For me, the image asks whether the price that animals like this bear have to pay is worth our being momentarily and mindlessly entertained.” (Jo-Anne McArthur/Born Free Foundation)
A trio of arctic wolves at a zoo in Germany. “This image asks the question of whether the boredom, lack of choice, and lack of autonomy that animals in zoos experience day in day out for their entire lives can justify our fleeting entertainment.” (Jo-Anne McArthur/Born Free Foundation)
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What was your experience with zoos before this project?
I have an early childhood memory of a zoo in Hawaii. An orangutan was defecating in its hand, smearing it on a tree and eating it. All the tourists were laughing and screaming about it and taking photos. Our family also took photographs. I’d only visited one or two other zoos as a child. People often refer to the “love” I have for animals. That’s correct, but only partly so. I’ve also always had a concern for animals. I’ve often felt sad for them. Seeing them on display seemed so awkward to me. Staring, being stared at. I know I’m not alone in this sentiment.
It’s clear you’re not a fan of zoos now. Was there a turning point?
I don’t remember a turning point. I just remember always being on the side of the animals when it came to seeing them, living with them, and the rest. I remember always feeling that it wasn’t fair to the individuals that they were kept in zoos, that there were dogs locked up in back yards, birds kept in cages.
Did you go behind the scenes at the zoos you photographed or stay on the visitors’ side?
I’ve been behind the scenes, and I have a lot of zoo friends, and over the years I have heard their private complaints and worries. In the early 2000s, when I was still doing work as a photographer’s assistant, a fashion photographer knew I loved animals, and so invited me to do a three-day shoot with him. The zoo was making money renting out the animals. The animal that afternoon was a bald eagle. Behind the scenes were rows and rows of large, caged birds. The eagle was tethered by the ankle and made to sit under the hot lights of the shoot on a white backdrop, perched on a cow skull, next to a leather boot, which was the item being advertised. The bird was panting and kept trying to fly away. The bird would fly the length of the tether and then get yanked back and upside down, hanging by the tether, then righted by the handler, then put back on the cow skull to be photographed. My zoo friends quietly express their woes to me about things the visitors don’t know or see, like new animal introductions that go wrong and end in death; animals caught in wiring and fencing, found dead in the morning; families separated again and again for breeding programs.
How do you think that affected the portrayal of zoos in your book?
The book will get some criticism for being one-sided. But it’s important to remember that zoos are one-sided, and we need to see more of the darker corners so that we can continue to discuss the problems with captivity. The images in “Captive” will help to further enliven the discussion about the individuals caught in these systems. The zoo conversation often loops back to conservation efforts and species preservation, at the expense of the individuals. From the outside, we see zoo marketing. From the inside, as visitors, the zoo also shapes how we see, and fail to see, the animals — from the groomed pathways, the music, to all the supplementary entertainment. I want us to remember that we might pass through a zoo in two or three hours and return home to our families, friends, and a life of relative autonomy. Zoo animals, however, remain there long after we’ve gone. I try to show what that might be like for them.
Animals, people and the world they share.
You’re pretty dismissive of zoos’ wildlife conservation efforts. Why? Isn’t there a range of commitment to these programs?
What I’m trying to do is get the conversation away from the conservation crutch. “But, conservation!” is the go-to response to anyone challenging the many ethical issues confronting zoos today. Zoos have done a great job marketing conservation efforts when in fact most of their money is spent on other projects. Captive animals are bored, lonely, separated from their families and friends? But, conservation. Marius, the giraffe killed and publicly dissected by a Danish zoo, was “culled” because he was genetic surplus? But, conservation. Yes, please tell me about all the successful conservation happening. Show me the successful reintroduction of gorillas into the wild. The giraffes, too. Tell me about elephant conservation. Zoos use the conservation angle to this day to justify the catching of wild animals, including African elephants as recently as 2016, and bringing them to American zoos.
You single out the Detroit Zoo as worthy of praise. What makes it so different? It still holds captive animals.
It does, yes, and they are the first to say that they have a long way to go before they reach their goals. I encourage people to look at the zoo reform happening there. For example, they moved their elephants to a sanctuary in a warmer climate because they felt that keeping them in Detroit was ethically untenable. Most zoos won’t make a move like that because of the perceived lost revenue. Detroit Zoo, however, used it as an opportunity to talk about the ethics of captivity and to show that they wanted to be leaders in zoo reform. Their polar bears are rescued and have enough space to hide from the public. There’s a huge focus on humane education programs. They have a 4-D theater, where visitors can see animals in their natural habitat. This year they hosted a global symposium on zoo and aquarium animal welfare.
Zoos know they are in the spotlight, and not in a good way. Many zoos are interested in meaningful reform, where others are looking at how they can spin things to look like they are. Zoos are neither immutable nor inevitable and, in their current form, most are archaic. Zoos need to evolve to suit the more compassionate ethics of our time.
What do you want people to take away from your book?
“Captive” is my contribution to the ongoing mainstream discussion about the ethics of captivity. We lack critical thinking when it comes to facing other species. We face them without seeing them — interactions depicted frequently throughout the book. I’d like the people who see this book to become part of the growing numbers who are taking zoos to task. I’d like the book’s audience to reconsider visiting zoos, and put their support behind efforts that help animals, such as wildlife centers, sanctuaries and in-situ conservation projects. We can also learn so much more seeing animals filmed in high definition in their natural habitats than by looking at an isolated animal behind a grubby sheet of Plexiglas.
Bears Mistaya and Koda will help shed light on those in the wild
By Alex Soloducha, CBC NewsPosted: Apr 25, 2017 4:12 PM CT
The Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo is beginning a new partnership with the Foothills Research Institute to start a grizzly bear research program in the city.
The five-year agreement between the two organizations will allow Foothills scientists to use Saskatoon zoo facilities to take part in conservation research on a variety of animals of different species currently housed there, starting with two orphaned grizzly bears.
The Saskatoon Zoo acquired two young grizzly bears in 2006. Mistaya and Koda were both orphaned in Alberta, paired at the Calgary Zoo and later transferred to their permanent home in Saskatoon.
Manager of the Saskatoon zoo, Tim Sinclair-Smith, said the organization is working to make research and conservation a priority.
“We shouldn’t have them here at all if we’re just going to display them,” he said.
Foothills researchers have been working on long-term conservation of grizzly bears in Alberta since 1999.
Their primary objective is to understand how the health of individual grizzly bears is influenced by human activities and changing environmental conditions. The second goal is to examine how that health affects the growth, stability and resilience of grizzly bear populations.
This year, during the bears’ hibernation, management at the zoo was working on making a connection with Foothills.
The City of Saskatoon will pool in-kind resources to create a Wildlife Health Centre, consisting of a laboratory for Foothills researchers. No changes will be done to the structure of the facilities, which are being outfitted with necessary lab equipment.
“For them to build a facility … you’re talking millions and millions of dollars,” Sinclair-Smith said. “This was a great opportunity for them to be able to utilize the data they can gather from these guys and use them for a baseline for all the research that they’re doing with the bears in the wild.”
The Foothills scientists will test samples of hair, feathers and scales picked up through non-invasive sample gathering.
Their research findings will often be communicated directly with zoo visitors.