Wildlife watchdog told to take action after report finds Zimbabwe’s baby elephants sale violated rules Young captured elephants held in pen in Zimbabwe prior to being exported to China


Tracy Keeling
4th August 2020
Zimbabwe loaded 32 baby elephants onto a China-bound plane in October 2019. It had sold off the young animals, who it had separated from their wild families a year earlier, to an unnatural and torturous life in zoos. Zimbabwe authorities went ahead with the baby elephants’ export in the face of legal action. It also did so just before the global wildlife watchdog, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), implemented a landmark rule change that would have made the export impossible.
Zimbabwe, however, isn’t guaranteed to get off scot-free with its much criticised move. A recent CITES report accuses the country of not only contravening the “will” of CITES members, but the “good faith” and “spirit” of the Convention overall. It also asserts that, regardless of the landmark rule change that was about to come into force, Zimbabwe contravened prior provisions of CITES.
The report’s authors call on CITES’ Animals Committee to take “appropriate steps” after considering its findings. Such a step would be removing the elephants from the distressing situation they now find themselves in, and giving them the chance to live out the rest of their lives in relative comfort.
Rule change
Zimbabwe and a number of other nations that African elephants call home have been easily able to sell them on to non-African countries for display in zoos until very recently. But parties to CITES – which are nation states – voted to change the rules at the 2019 conference. The definition of what constitutes an ‘appropriate and acceptable destination’ for export of elephants was limited to “in situ”
conservation programmes. Simply put, the change means that African elephants should stay in Africa.
The rule change came into force on 26 November 2019, 90 days after the vote. This grace period between parties approving resolutions and them coming into force is to allow countries time to adjust their national laws and policies to fit the incoming CITES’ requirements.
But Zimbabwe used the time to export the young elephants it had captured in 2018 to China. At the time, elephant biologist and wildlife director at Humane Society International/Africa, Audrey Delsink, said:
We are left feeling outraged and heartbroken at this news today that the Zimbabwe authorities have shipped these poor baby elephants out of the country. Zimbabwe is showing total disregard for the spirit of the CITES ruling as well as ignoring local and global criticism. Condemning these elephants to a life of captivity in Chinese zoos is a tragedy.
Now two parties to CITES, Burkina Faso and Niger, have submitted a report to the authority’s Animals Committee. The report looks at exports of live elephants from African nations since 2010 in the context of CITES’ various rules, such as countries having to find ‘appropriate and acceptable destinations’ for them.
Zimbabwe has outstrippped all others in sheer numbers of exports. The report found it has exported 144 young elephants, mostly to China, since 2010. Namibia came second, with 24 elephants. The report spotlights Zimbabwe’s 2019 export in great detail. The report states that, at the time of writing in May, the elephants were in Longemont Animal Park close to Hangzhou. It continues:
Undercover video footage shows the elephants separated from each other in barren, indoor cells. Many appear to be very young (2-3 years).
Recent photographic evidence from China indicates that the elephants have undergone inhumane training by mahouts, presumably to prepare them for entertainment use. There are unconfirmed reports that some of the elephants are going to Yongyuan Biotech Company. The reason remains unknown.
Against the rules, by any measure
The report further assesses whether the export complied with CITES provisions. It notes that Zimbabwe can only export an elephant to ‘appropriate and acceptable destinations’ that are “suitably equipped to house and care for it”, due to a resolution that came into force in 2000. Parties have added further provisions over time. As a result, the scientific authorities for both the importing and exporting country also have to be “satisfied” that the export ‘promotes in situ conservation’, i.e. conservation in the place the elephant comes from. Furthermore, the
2019 landmark rule change, as already mentioned, limits what constitutes an ‘appropriate and acceptable destination’ to those that are ‘in situ’.
Burkina Faso and Niger argue, however, that, by any measure, Zimbabwe’s hurried export of the young elephants didn’t abide by CITES’ provisions.
The report says:
there is no publicly available evidence suggesting that the safari park in Shanghai which received the 32 young elephants from Zimbabwe in October 2019 –or any of the likely further destinations –can be considered as “suitably equipped to house and care for” live elephants, and thus meet the recommendations in the non-binding guidance, or that this particular import would promote in situ conservation. …
By any reasonable metric, the conditions of the transfer and housing are demonstrably inhumane.
Highlighting the 2019 rule change and the fact that, as part of that change, parties explicitly recognised elephants are “highly social animals” and removing them from their social groups has “detrimental effects” on their “physical and social well-being”, the report said the
not only contravened the will of the CITES Parties, it undermined the good faith and the spirit of the Convention.
Mighty and toothless
In short, the CITES report by two of its member countries is scathing about Zimbabwe’s actions. It asserts that, no matter how you look at it, or what resolution you test it by, the country’s choice to fly out the young elephants was flawed.
The parties recommend that the Animals Committee considers the report’s findings on the Zimbabwe 2019 export, in relation to the ‘appropriate and acceptable destinations’ condition, and takes “appropriate steps”.
The report doesn’t clarify what those steps should be.
CITES essentially plays god as an authority. It’s immensely powerful, deciding the fate of countless earthly beings, by controlling the trade in them – alive and dead. But it’s fairly ineffective when it comes to cracking down on wildlife trade offenders. The illegal trade in wildlife, for example, is booming (as is the legal trade). And what action CITES is empowered to take against Zimbabwe, and indeed China, for their apparent transgressions is unclear. South African journalist Adam Cruise told The Canary:
The appropriate steps would be haul Zimbabwe over the coals but just how CITES does that is the question. They are pretty toothless in that regard as they cannot really ‘do’ anything after the fact but simply an acknowledgement that Zimbabwe and by extension CITES were wrong and this sort of export will never happen again may be enough. Sadly, the elephants cant go back in the wild, that’s for sure.
Amid a global pandemic likely to have been caused by the wildlife trade, and a biodiversity crisis, the global wildlife watchdog increasingly appears unfit for purpose. A functional authority would reverse this trade and force the return of these young elephants to Africa, for rehabilitation and care in a wildlife sanctuary. If CITES is unable, or unwilling, to do that then really, what is the point of it?

Marineland changes gears, won’t reopen this weekend

Jul 13 10:45PM -0400


By <https://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/authors.law_john.html> John LawReview

Mon., July 13, 2020timer1 min. read

Marineland is putting the brakes on plans to reopen this weekend.

After announcing last week it would open for its 59th season July 17, the
park issued a statement late Monday that it “decided to push back” its
opening date to July 24.

“The decision comes after the park’s efforts to make sure some, if not all,
of the most popular attractions can open with the park,” the statement

Marineland says the delay is meant to offer guests a “better experience in
the coming days,” and is in accordance with “recent updates” from the
Ontario government.

On Monday, Premier Doug Ford announced much of the province will move to
Phase 3 of its reopening Friday, but Niagara will remain in Phase 2.

According to the Reopening Ontario
<https://www.ontario.ca/page/reopening-ontario> website, waterparks and
amusement parks are to be closed in Phase 2, and they will remain closed
during Phase 3.

In its statement, Marineland says it is “working closely with health and
government officials to ensure that all health and safety protocols are in
place before the park opens to make sure the public can have a safe and
enjoyable experience.”

In its reopening press release, the park said its Polar Splash water park
would be open, with staff monitoring the number of guests allowed in.

It also said staff would be provided with face masks.

When asked about opening in light of the provincial guidelines, a parks
spokesperson said Marineland is allowed to operate under Stage 2 as a

In Monday’s statement, Marineland owner Marie Holer – wife of late owner
John Holer – said “we are lucky we are an outdoor facility with lots of room
for people to social distance while still enjoying the attractions.”



-changes-gears-wont-reopen-this-weekend.html> Marineland changes gears,
won’t reopen this weekend | NiagaraFallsReview.ca

Marineland is putting the brakes on plans to reopen this weekend. After
announcing last week it would open for its 59th season July 17, the park
issued a statement late Monday that it “decided to push back” its opening
date to July 24. “The decision comes after the park’s efforts to make …

http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca <http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca


Posted on 2020/05/7

By John Vibes / Truth Theory

Footage captured at a zoo in Beijing, China shows a captive tiger walking in endless circles in his enclosure. A staff member told reporters that this type of behavior is actually common for animals who have been staying at the zoo for a long time.

Representatives with the zoo say that the Bengal tiger was later given “psychological counseling” after zookeepers noticed the strange behavior. However, the so-called “psychological counseling” that the animal was given did not seem very professional.

“We have taken the animal to receive behavior training. We also brought more food and toys for the tiger. It’s like “psychological counseling”,’ a zookeeper told reporters.

When tigers are in the wild, they usually cover a lot of ground and do a lot of exploring in their day to day activities, and that is what their instincts tell them to do.

The enclosure that the animal was kept in was just a giant cage or fence, with no semblance of a tiger’s natural habitat. This is why many zoos at least make an attempt to recreate an animal’s natural habitat in their enclosures. Unfortunately, the zoo where this tiger was held did not implement these types of natural landscapes in the animal’s enclosure, leading to severe psychological stress.https://googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/ads?client=ca-pub-3352039084549762&output=html&h=280&slotname=3150226346&adk=2975939105&adf=4151858944&w=560&fwrn=4&fwrnh=100&lmt=1594312452&rafmt=1&psa=1&guci=—&format=560×280&url=https%3A%2F%2Ftruththeory.com%2F2020%2F05%2F07%2Fpsychologically-distressed-tiger-in-beijing-zoo-walks-in-endless-circles-in-small-enclosure%2F%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR2wbrakKEwYO4494G1kQWeANRdixFa310X7fn8iY3KjYz7ApT7BkJsuENY&flash=0&fwr=0&fwrattr=true&rpe=1&resp_fmts=3&wgl=1&adsid=ChEI8ICb-AUQ3euZmYfC3ObdARJMALqdR0Ithprx9XP4a0v6wwQ9bdIVQMLERQERFS6Yd0lqLOg9AaPHyFPZ2pXOgJJbnKpMVYYt-Mrco_V6_8zYJsdudNNBgrtilcGqRA&dt=1594312450112&bpp=55&bdt=3819&idt=2029&shv=r20200706&cbv=r20190131&ptt=9&saldr=aa&abxe=1&cookie=ID%3D979f73b8979b71d2%3AT%3D1594309830%3AS%3DALNI_MbHGUIj4OFoXku-exRl_Rokjhdr6A&prev_fmts=0x0&nras=1&correlator=7951419361940&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=358418846.1594309840&ga_sid=1594312451&ga_hid=1852987212&ga_fc=1&iag=0&icsg=3000292152959520&dssz=89&mdo=0&mso=0&u_tz=-420&u_his=1&u_java=0&u_h=768&u_w=1366&u_ah=728&u_aw=1366&u_cd=24&u_nplug=3&u_nmime=4&adx=213&ady=1733&biw=1349&bih=657&scr_x=0&scr_y=0&eid=21060548&oid=3&pvsid=3207325954121030&pem=600&rx=0&eae=0&fc=1920&brdim=0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C1366%2C0%2C1366%2C728%2C1366%2C657&vis=1&rsz=%7C%7CeEbr%7C&abl=CS&pfx=0&fu=8336&bc=31&jar=2020-7-8-19&ifi=1&uci=a!1&btvi=1&fsb=1&xpc=pEd1boSLxz&p=https%3A//truththeory.com&dtd=2284

Sun Quanhui, a senior scientific adviser at a non-profit organization called World Animal Protection China told the South China Morning Post that this is a common problem in Chinese zoos.

“Let’s just give the example of how beasts of prey are kept. In almost every Chinese zoo, we see them in cement cages or behind steel bars, which to some extent is considered maltreatment. Some are species that naturally live in groups, but they’re often isolated, which also causes them huge psychological distress.” Quanhui said.

Tigers are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 1986. As of 2015, the global wild tiger population was estimated to number between 3,062 and 3,948, but the number in captivity is far higher.

Image Credit: Asia Newswire

Albanian restaurant serves bear meat in illegal wildlife trade that’s ‘out of control’

Stop the Wildlife Trade exclusive: Bears, monkeys, wolves and birds of prey sold for hundreds of euros on popular Albanian websites, investigation finds

A cub kept by a hotel owner to attract tourists - a common practice in Albania

A cub kept by a hotel owner to attract tourists – a common practice in Albania ( Four Paws )

A restaurant in Albania is offering diners meat from illegally hunted bears – part of an illicit trade in wildlife that is “out of control” in the country, investigators claim.

Researchers said it was the first time they had seen bear meat cooked in Europe, and experts warned that the crude butchering of animals may lead to outbreaks of zoonotic diseases such as coronavirus.

Bears, monkeys and birds of prey are among live animals being sold on popular Albanian online marketplaces, the investigation found, raising fears for the survival of some species in the country.

Animal-protection charity Four Paws discovered that two of Albania’s leading online sites were carrying dozens of adverts selling brown bears and other species that are legally protected.

Many photographs of the animals – along with foxes, barn owls and wolves – showed them with their mouths taped up or their claws chained.

It’s a profitable business: a tiny capuchin monkey was offered for €750 (£675), and a barn owl, a bear cub and a wolf for €500 each.

The buyers are mostly restaurant and hotel owners who keep the animals to attract tourists, or individuals who want the animals as pets and status symbols, charity workers said.

Eagles, the national symbol of Albania, are especially popular with buyers and are often found stuffed as trophies in public places.

The menu featuring mish ariu – bear meat (PPNEA)

But hunting protected species, keeping them captive and selling them is banned in Albania, following a huge decline of native wildlife in the country.

Offenders may be jailed under the law, which was tightened in October, but enforcement of it is lax.

Four Paws said that after its team reported some of the illegal adverts, they were deleted but new ones reappeared.

“A large majority of the photographs displayed severe animal cruelty, such as foxes with sealed muzzles in plastic boxes, bear cubs in chains and birds with their feet tied,” said Barbara van Genne, of the chaity.

A tiny capuchin monkey on sale for €750 (Four Paws)

Monkeys and birds of prey are often kept in bars and restaurants in Albania as a tourist attraction, while foxes are sold for their fur, according to the investigators.

Wolves are bought to be cross-bred with dogs for the puppies to be sold as guard dogs, commonly used in the mountains against wolves. But other animals are killed, stuffed and put on display.

Animals’ mouths are often taped to prevent them biting and their feet chained to stop them running away.

A restaurant in the town of Drilon has also been found advertising bear meat on its menu on Facebook. The listing, for “mish ariu” – Albanian for bear meat – added “ne sezone”, meaning “according to season”.

A live fox with its mouth taped up advertised for sale (Four Paws)

An online restaurant portal, updated earlier this month, confirms the restaurant offering.

A spokesperson for Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA) said: “What is especially alarming about this is not only the fact that bear meat is being sold, it is also the addition in brackets of “ne sezone”, which gives the impression that there’s a hunting season for bears.

“In fact there’s no hunting season for any wild animals in Albania, there’s a hunting moratorium and hunting ban for years throughout the whole country – passed in 2014 and extended in 2016 until March 2021.

“The massive decline of wildlife in Albania triggered this.”

Bear meat dishes have previously been seen in Asian countries. The meat can trigger disease caused by parasites, with symptoms including diarrhoea, cramps, fever and hallucinations.

Prof James Wood, head of department of veterinary medicine and an infection expert at the University of Cambridge, said Covid-19 and other zoonotic viruses can be carried by contaminated meat from any species.

“However, the risks are far greater from butchering and hunting than they are from simple consumption,” he said.

“Bears are no more likely to act as a source of a zoonotic virus than any other species group.” He added that cooking was a highly effective means of destroying the Covid-19 virus and other infections, but that “eating bears is, of course, highly undesirable for many reasons, including conservation and animal welfare, if they have been kept in captivity before being killed”.

A bear kept in a cage at a restaurant (Four Paws)

Ms van Genne said: “Four Paws has been active in Albania since 2015 but we have never seen such atrocities before. Until now we have mainly focused on restaurants that keep bears in small cages for entertainment of guests.

“This bizarre new discovery is a further indication that the commercial wildlife trade in Albania is out of control.”

She warned that if the government did not intervene soon, “the few native wild animals left will be history”.

“The platforms need to introduce preventive measures such as seller identification to stop these ads. However, the main problem for the illegal trade remains – the lack of control and enforcement by the authorities,” she claimed.

In the 1990s, there were still about 200 pairs of eagles in Albania, but today the number has halved.

A wildlife sanctuary that can carry out criminal prosecutions, take in rescues and educate people in species protection was urgently needed in Albania, Ms van Genne said.

Dutch fur farms have killed 575,000 mink, mostly pups, following coronavirus outbreak

June 11, 2020 1 Comment

The Netherlands is expected to kill more than 350,000 mink by gassing, in a massive cull following an outbreak of coronavirus on fur farms in the country. It is estimated that most of these—about 300,000—are pups just days or weeks old.

The killing of animals on fur farms is heartbreaking under any circumstances, because of how utterly needless and preventable it is. But this tragic cull, and the scale of it, is a stark reminder of the many problems that surround fur factory farming, impacting both animal welfare and human health, and why all production of this unnecessary commodity needs to end immediately.

The problem came to light in April, when two fur farm workers in the Netherlands were found to have contracted the coronavirus from mink, which is the only known animal-to-human transmission following the initial outbreak. In following weeks, 13 of the Netherlands’ roughly 130 fur farms reported mink infected with the virus. And the number of infected farms keeps on growing. The farms said more mink were dying than usual, and some had nasal discharge or difficulty breathing.

This month, the government ordered all mink on infected Dutch fur farms be killed to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus to humans. The cull, which began last week, has farm workers in protective clothing using gas to kill mink mothers and their pups. The animals’ bodies are then transported to a disposal center in a sealed shipping container and the farms disinfected.

It is now clear that these fur farms, where animals are crowded in close contact with each other, are reservoirs for the spread of pandemics. Organizations like ours have been sounding the alarm bell over fur farms—and the high risk for disease they pose—for years, and as tragic as this development is, it is not surprising to us.

Fur farms also pose an extraordinary animal welfare problem. Much like factory farms and wildlife markets, the animals in these operations live short, miserable lives in small, barren and filthy cages, usually without any veterinary care. A Humane Society International investigation of Finland’s fur farms last year showed many animals had eye infections and gaping wounds, including a mink with a large, bloody hole in the head. Some animals lay dead in the cages and others ate them or walked over them.

Such fur farms exist around the globe, including in the United States, where the top 10 states for mink pelt production (in order of most to least) are Wisconsin, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Washington. As part of our 11-point policy plan to reduce animal suffering and help prevent future national and global pandemics, the Humane Society family of organizations is calling for an end to all fur farming everywhere it exists around the world.

We have already made tremendous progress in fighting fur, with dozens of fashion designers and retailers turning away from this cruel product in recent years. In the United States, California has banned the production of fur and all sales of new fur products. Globally, Britain became the first country in the world to ban fur production, and it has been followed by a dozen European countries, including Austria, the Czech Republic and Norway.

The Netherlands, once the third largest fur farming country in the world, banned fur production in 2013 with an 11-year phaseout. But the tragedy now playing out in the country is an opportunity for the government there, and for governments in all fur-producing nations, to take note of the serious public health and animal welfare problems associated with fur farms and close them down without delay. With the pandemic still ravaging the globe, it simply doesn’t make sense for anyone to reinvest in an enterprise that’s fallen out of fashion and favor the world over.

Dutch govt orders culling of 10,000 mink to prevent spread of coronavirus

Dutch govt orders culling of 10,000 mink to prevent spread of coronavirus

In May, WHO had identified possible animal-to-human transmission of Covid-19 from the Dutch mink to their farmers. This was the first instance of such a transmission.

 7 June, 2020 7:56 pm IST
A mink | Photo: Jens Schlueter| DDP/AFP/Getty Images via Bloomberg
Text Size: A- A+

New Delhi: Mink farms in the Netherlands have commenced a government-ordered culling of around 10,000 mink across the country over concerns that the animals infected with coronavirus could transmit the infection to humans, reports The Guardian.

According to the Netherlands Food & Wares Authority, mink infected with Covid-19 have been found on 10 Dutch farms. The authority’s spokesperson Frederique Hermie said, “All mink breeding farms where there is an infection will be cleared, and farms, where there are no infections, won’t be.”

The initial infection was reported in two farms near the city of Eindhoven, where the disease was discovered in April among mink that are bred for their valuable fur.

Dutch Agriculture Minister Carola Schouten said two workers likely contracted Covid-19 on a mink farm while stressing that the risk of further spread of the coronavirus from the mink to humans remains low.

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The culling of mink involves farmworkers in protective gear using gas on mink. The bodies of the mink will be sent to the disposal plant after which the farms will be disinfected.

Rights groups call for end to mink fur trade

Animal rights groups opposed to mink fur trade said the outbreak is another reason to close all farms.

“We are calling for the 24 countries around the world that still allow mink farming to very rapidly evaluate the situation and evidence coming out of the Netherlands,” said Claire Bass, executive director of the Humane Society International.

China, Denmark and Poland are the largest mink fur producers across the world. According to the Dutch Federation of Pelt Farmers, there are 140 mink farms in the Netherlands, exporting $146 million worth of fur every year.

In 2013, the Dutch Parliament had ordered the closure of all mink farms by 2024. Slovenia and Serbia have also passed legislation to ban all fur farming in the country. Countries like Norway and the UK have already banned mink farming for fur. The state of California in the US has banned the sale and manufacture of all fur products.

Also read: How coronavirus, bird flu and rumours to stay off non-veg hit poultry industry hard in India

Other animals culled due to Covid fears

The Dutch mink are not the only animals to have been eliminated due to the coronavirus pandemic. Meat processing plants and hatcheries, across the world, have been forced to kill birds due to shut down and lack of business.

ThePrint had earlier reported that Covid-related rumours had led to a huge loss to poultry businesses, which forced farmers to kill their birds or abandon them.

Due to the dip in business, poultry farmers have been finding it difficult to sustain their existing stock with the rising fodder and other maintenance-related costs.

Several other animals have also been reportedly infected by Covid-19. On 4 June, a dog was reportedly infected with coronavirus in the US. The disease has also been spotted in tigers, lions and cats. Also, early reports of animal-to-human transmission in China in February had led to cats and dogs being abandoned in Wuhan.

Viewpoint: It’s time for state to close live animal markets

As world leaders continue to debate the closure of wild animal wet markets across the globe, New York can act right now to stem the spread of zoonotic diseases caused by the exploitation of animals by closing such markets in the state.

Live animal markets have for too long cruelly consumed millions of wild animals and endangered the planet’s health. Experts have said the COVID-19 pandemic likely arose from a wet market in China.

COVID-19 is not the only deadly disease to emerge from such markets across the globe. SARS, MERS, Ebola, Nipah virus and many others have jumped from animals to humans because of the wildlife trade.

In fact, three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals and more than 34 million people worldwide have died from zoonotic diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization.

New York state is home to more than 80 live animal markets, including in Schenectady, Buffalo and New York City, the latter of which hosts the majority of them and where more than 21,600 people so far have died from COVID-19. Smuggled illegal bush meat from imported exotics such as monkeys, pythons and civets can make their way into such markets to be sold to consumers.

Many of these markets operate next door to schools and homes despite health laws prohibiting slaughterhouses near residential buildings, according to Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal and state Sen. Luis Sepulveda, who have introduced a bill (A.10399) to shut them. The markets are not regulated by the USDA, but by state agencies, which have weaker oversight rules and a small staff of inspectors who struggle to keep up with the quarterly inspections mandated by state law.

It would be shameful if state lawmakers failed to act on a bill at the center of the crisis, one that will save lives, end exploitation and suffering of humans and animals and help prevent future pandemics.

Priscilla Feral is president of Friends of Animals.

Joe Exotic says Carole Baskin getting his zoo is a ‘treachery’ that ‘must not go unchecked’

(CNN)In response to the lawsuit that awarded Carole Baskin the zoo once owned by Joe Exotic, the “Tiger King’s” management team released a statement that said Baskin’s “treachery” has to be challenged.

This month, a judge ruled in favor of Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue in her suit against the Greater Wynnewood Development Group, LLC, the company Joe Exotic once owned, giving her control of the G.W. Zoo in Oklahoma.
Exotic, whose legal name is Joe Maldonado-Passage, is still in prison serving a 22-year sentence for a murder for hire plot against Baskin and animal abuse, among other charges. The allegations against him were documented in the smash Netflix docuseries “Tiger King,” released after he was sent to prison.
So his team spoke for him from Twitter.
“While we again acknowledge it is truly time to pray for justice for George Floyd’s family as well as an end to systemic racism in America, we must address Carol [sic] Baskin’s treachery before it goes unchecked,” a tweet from an account run by Maldonado-Passage’s management team read.
His team released a longer statement on the website “Help Free Joe,” in which the “Joe Exotic Team” said it “prays for justice for George Floyd’s family as well as an end to systemic racism in America.”
A few lines later, the statement said Maldonado-Passage’s legal team is filing appeals while his media team drums up public support.
CNN has reached out to Maldonado-Passage’s attorney for comment and is waiting to hear back.
The court order that awarded Baskin control of the G.W. Zoo gives her 16 acres of land in Garvin County, Oklahoma, as well as several cabins and vehicles, court records show.
The zoo’s current owner, “Tiger King” supporting player Jeff Lowe, must vacate the premises within 120 days of the order and remove all the animals, too.
Lowe’s attorney told CNN that the judgment wasn’t unexpected, and Lowe’s currently focused on opening a new “Tiger King” park within the next 120 days.

(CNN)In response to the lawsuit that awarded Carole Baskin the zoo once owned by Joe Exotic, the “Tiger King’s” management team released a statement that said Baskin’s “treachery” has to be challenged.

This month, a judge ruled in favor of Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue in her suit against the Greater Wynnewood Development Group, LLC, the company Joe Exotic once owned, giving her control of the G.W. Zoo in Oklahoma.
Exotic, whose legal name is Joe Maldonado-Passage, is still in prison serving a 22-year sentence for a murder for hire plot against Baskin and animal abuse, among other charges. The allegations against him were documented in the smash Netflix docuseries “Tiger King,” released after he was sent to prison.
So his team spoke for him from Twitter.
“While we again acknowledge it is truly time to pray for justice for George Floyd’s family as well as an end to systemic racism in America, we must address Carol [sic] Baskin’s treachery before it goes unchecked,” a tweet from an account run by Maldonado-Passage’s management team read.
His team released a longer statement on the website “Help Free Joe,” in which the “Joe Exotic Team” said it “prays for justice for George Floyd’s family as well as an end to systemic racism in America.”
A few lines later, the statement said Maldonado-Passage’s legal team is filing appeals while his media team drums up public support.
CNN has reached out to Maldonado-Passage’s attorney for comment and is waiting to hear back.
The court order that awarded Baskin control of the G.W. Zoo gives her 16 acres of land in Garvin County, Oklahoma, as well as several cabins and vehicles, court records show.
The zoo’s current owner, “Tiger King” supporting player Jeff Lowe, must vacate the premises within 120 days of the order and remove all the animals, too.
Lowe’s attorney told CNN that the judgment wasn’t unexpected, and Lowe’s currently focused on opening a new “Tiger King” park within the next 120 days.

Wildlife markets are the tip of the iceberg and not just in China

For our free coronavirus pandemic coverage, learn more here.

In the heart of central Jakarta, about 20 minutes from Joko Widodo’s Presidential Palace, the Pramuka Bird Market is open for business.

The aisles throng with people, few wearing masks, and hum with the din of humans, birds, reptiles and mammals all mixed together. It stinks too.

A live lizard is displayed for sale in a cage at the Satria market in Bali, Indonesia.
A live lizard is displayed for sale in a cage at the Satria market in Bali, Indonesia.CREDIT:AMILIA ROSA

Today, Vonis, a local trader who uses just the one name, is holding forth about the origins of the coronavirus that has infected nearly 6 million people, killed more than 360,000, up-ended the global economy and more. It is thought to have passed from bats, via an unidentified animal, to humans at a wet market in Wuhan, China.

“It’s hoax. It is not true that bats caused COVID-19. I’ve been selling this [bats] for many years, nobody gets sick here. No one. Also, many Indonesians eat bat meat and nobody is sick. I myself healed my asthma after consuming bat. It happened when I was around 25 years old. I’m a bit over 40, I am healthy now,” he says.

Vonis sells birds, mostly, as pets, but he also has bats (about $25), civets (about $40) and squirrels. It’s for traditional medicine, he hastens to add. He sells about 30 bats a week and is happy to offer cooking tips.

“Just fry it, don’t put too many spices in like the Manado dish. Just a little salt. For chronic asthma you have to consume it twice a week. If it is only for keeping you healthy, eat it once a month.”

A man feeds bats for sale at the Satria market in Bali.
A man feeds bats for sale at the Satria market in Bali.CREDIT:AMILIA ROSA

If you want a pangolin – thought to be the potential “bridge animal” between bats and humans in Wuhan – he can get you one of those, too.

“Nobody has it here [at the market]. But if you want, we can look for it. I have someone who can do it.”

The small, scaly mammal cost between $250 and $300 to source, and you have to pay half in advance.

Civet cats for sale at a market in Bali.
Civet cats for sale at a market in Bali.CREDIT:AMILIA ROSA

Vonis is far from the only person in the Pramuka market selling exotic animals for consumption. Indonesia is home to some large wildlife wet markets, such as the Beriman Tomohon in North Sulawesi, the Satria in Bali, Hewan Pasty in Yogyakarta, Depok in Solo and Jatinegara, also in Jakarta. There also smaller markets – up to 1000, according to the Jakarta Animal Aid Network.

At the Satria, pet shop owner Nengah Wita sells bats, rabbit, chickens, song birds and geckos. He’s at pains to stress he sells very few bats (they retail for about $120 each) and says they are only sold to help with asthma in traditional medicine.

He says people have “exaggerated” the part played by bats in the origin of the coronavirus.

“I would’ve fallen sick weeks ago if it was true. But I am fine, I sleep in the shop, I care for them every day, I even got bitten last week but you can see, I am not sick. Just like the last time, the bird flu, I sell birds too, but I was fine then too.”

These market traders are just the tip of the iceberg. Civets are widely available for sale on Tokopedia, Indonesia’s answer to eBay (some listings describe them as pets, others note they are very tasty). It isn’t hard to find pangolin scales for sale, either.

While experts such as Professor Wiku Adisasmito, who is part of the Indonesian government’s national COVID-19 taskforce, have warned that wild animal markets are an “animal cafeteria for pathogens” that could lead to the next coronavirus, the national government has shown little appetite for tackling the problem. Instead, it has suggested that it the responsibility of provincial governments.

It’s a similar story throughout the region where bats, pangolins, civets, rats, rare birds, dogs, and parts of rhinos, elephants and tigers are regularly traded.

China has, since the emergence SARS-CoV-2, flagged plans to ban the trade of live animals for food – but left exceptions for traditional medicine and fur. That’s more than most countries. A Vietnamese plan to ban the trade and consumption of wild animals seems to have stalled.

The illegal trade in wild animals for food, medicine, fur and as pets is big business worth an estimated $7 billion to $23 billion annually. The legal trade – loosely regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species [CITES] of Wild Fauna and Flora – is worth perhaps 10 times as much and, until the new coronavirus was unleashed, it was booming.

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Scott Roberton, the Bangkok-based director for Counter-Wildlife trafficking for the Wildlife Conservation Society, praises China for its post-COVID-19 plans to curtail the wildlife trade, though he admits it could go further.

“It’s a much bigger problem than a single market in Wuhan. We really need to break this idea that it’s only about markets. They are an important location, but huge volumes of the trade in wild animals in the region takes place outside of markets and poses similar risks of virus emergence,” he says.

“Wildlife is moved over provincial and international boundaries, stored in houses, warehouses, refrigerated storerooms, restaurants, shops and farms.”

Roberton, who was based in Vietnam for more than a decade, describes China as less of a “source” country now and as more of a destination for wildlife consumption, as well as a transit country for animals coming from places such as Cambodia and Laos. Indonesia, too, “is a source, destination and transit country”.

Live turtles for sale at the Xihua Farmers' Market in Guangzhou, China.
Live turtles for sale at the Xihua Farmers’ Market in Guangzhou, China.CREDIT:EPA/AP

Laos and Cambodia, some of the poorest countries in south-east Asia, operate as a source for both farmed and illegally caught wildlife. There is a domestic market, too, for consumption by tourists, as is the case with Thailand.

“This is one of the most valuable illicit trades, up there with drugs, weapons, human trafficking and counterfeit goods; it’s worth billions of dollars annually,” Roberton says.

“One reaction from some governments is that they don’t have the trade of wildlife for meat like in China, yet they do have trade for wildlife as pets and traditional medicine. The fact is that the conditions that lead to the emergence of zoonotic pathogens like COVID-19 and SARS occur in the wild animal trade whether they are being sold for meat, fur or medicine, so policies focused on only wildlife meat won’t significantly reduce the future threat of pathogen emergence.”

Australia has backed an international review of wildlife markets in the wake of the virus, which it has labelled a “big risk” to human health and food production.

Leanne Wicker, a senior vet at Healesville Sanctuary who worked in Vietnam for years and is an expert on species threatened by the wildlife trade, says such infectious organisms are “no risk to people when wild animals are left in the wild”.

The problem is that human behaviour, such as habitat destruction, ecotourism, hunting, the trade and consumption of wild animals and the farming of wild animals brings “people and wildlife into unnaturally proximity enabling the spillover of disease between species”.

Aside from COVID-19, she reels off rabies, Ebola, Hendra virus, henipavirus, the first SARS coronavirus, monkey pox, HIV, leptospirosis and rat lung worm, salmonella and toxoplasmosis as examples.

“The SARS-CoV-2 virus is not the first significant pathogen to arise from the wildlife trade and it most certainly won’t be the last.”

She’s also frustrated by the focus on wildlife or wet markets, arguing that restaurants, for example, can also pose a significant risk in spreading new and exotic viruses.

Australia’s Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said markets that exist across Africa and north and south-east Asia and sell animals for traditional medicine and food consumption are a “particular concern”.

“Even before COVID-19, we knew these sorts of markets posed a serious potential risk to human health and, if we obtain the scientific backing, we would like to see these markets phased out to ensure public health,” he says.

As Wicker says, the impact of the global wildlife trade is “devastating”.

“While I am acutely aware that the public health risks are significant, it is very hard to ignore the fact that this is a problem caused entirely by human greed. For me, the real tragedy lies in considering the fear, pain and discomfort felt by every single one of the many millions of individual animals who find themselves unlucky participants in this human atrocity.”

– with Amilia Rosa

COVID-19 kills Roy Horn, 75, of Siegfried & Roy, role model for “Joe Exotic”

COVID-19 kills Roy Horn, 75, of Siegfried & Roy, role model for “Joe Exotic”

Roy Horn & white tiger Mantecore.
(Beth Clifton collage)

Manicured image as “positive reinforcement” trainer & conservationist was,  like the Siegfried & Roy show,  largely illusory

            LAS VEGAS––Entertainer Roy Horn,  75,  whose illusion acts with longtime partner Siegfried Fischbacher famously featured white tigers,  pythons,  and elephants,  died on May 8,  2020 in Las Vegas,  his home for nearly 50 years,  from complications of COVID-19.

Siegfried & Roy show publicist Dave Kirvin told media that Horn died at the Mountain View Hospital in Las Vegas about a week after testing positive for COVID-19 infection.

Performing together since 1959,  Siegfried & Roy were the evident inspirations for a generation of white tiger breeders,  exhibitors,  and would-be media stars,  including “Joe Exotic” and “Doc” Antle,  featured in the six-part March/April 2020 Netflix “reality” series Tiger King:  Murder,  Mayhem,  & Madness,  directed by Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin.

Roy Horn and Siegfried Fischbacher

Tiger act bought $10 million home in Las Vegas

Siegfried & Roy “toured Europe,  Japan and other venues,”  recalled New York Times obituarist Robert D. McFadden,  “ and were featured in a 1999 3D Imax movie, a 1994 television special,  and at Radio City Music Hall in New York.  They broke records for the longest-running act in Las Vegas,  and were among the most popular and highest paid performers on the Strip. They also wrote a book,  Siegfried & Roy: Mastering the Impossible (1992).

“Horn and Fischbacher,”  McFadden wrote,  “who were domestic as well as professional partners,  kept their menageries,  including dozens of exotic cats,  at a glass-enclosed tropically forested habitat at the Mirage [hotel and casino];  at Jungle Paradise,  their 88-acre estate outside of town;  and at Jungle Palace,  their $10 million Spanish-style home in Las Vegas.”

McFadden recalled that Horn and Fischbacher,  “acknowledging that their acts depended on some endangered species,  were prominent in various animal conservation efforts,  particularly for the white tiger,  native to Asia,  and the white lion of Timbavati,  in South Africa.  They raised many of their show animals from birth,  and said they were not exploited and were never tranquilized.”

Exhibit A for banning white tiger & lion breeding

But animal advocates,  while conceding that Horn and Fischbacher may have treated their animals much more kindly than most animal-using entertainers,  tend to have viewed those “conservation efforts” as mostly eyewash,  meant to burnish the Siegfried & Roy show image.

A nine-member coalition,  headed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,  on May 19,  2017 formally petitioned the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service to initiate the federal rulemaking process to make breeding either white tigers or lion/tiger hybrids,  as Siegfried & Roy did to maintain their menagerie,  a violation of the Animal Health Protection Act of 2002 and the Animal Welfare Act of 1966.

Charged the petitioners to the USDA,  which has yet to act in response,  “Despite the known risks and lack of conservation value associated with breeding to create white tigers,  exhibitors like Siegfried & Roy continue to mislead the public into believing that they are a rare subspecies rather than a genetic anomaly.  Siegfried & Roy have had as many as 58 white tigers in their inventory at one time.  The pair continue to breed to create white tigers for exhibition at Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden at the Mirage in Las Vegas.”

(Beth Clifton collage)

Petition spotlighted “Joe Exotic” years before Netflix

The PETA-led petition to the USDA also described the activities of many other white tiger and lion/tiger hybrid breeders.

“In Oklahoma,  exhibitor Joe Schreibvogel,”  also known as Joseph Maldonado and now as Tiger King star ‘Joe Exotic,’  “sells white tigers,  ligers,  liligers,  and tiligers to private owners and exhibitors all over the country,”  the petition to the USDA alleged.

U.S. District Court Judge Scott Palk on January 23,  2020 sentenced “Joe Exotic” to serve 22 years in prison for having solicited the murder of Big Cat Rescue founder Carole Baskin in 2018.

Convicted of the murder plot in April 2019,  “Joe Exotic” was convicted at the same time of nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act,  by shotgunning five tigers in October 2017 and by illegally offering tiger cubs for sale between November 2016 and March 2018.

The PETA-led petition also spotlighted “Bhagavan ‘Doc’ Antle,  also featured in The Tiger King,  whose South Carolina roadside zoo,  like the facilities formerly owned by “Joe Exotic,”  has a long history of Animal Welfare Act violations.

“Antle takes his experiments to a whole new level,”  the petitioners charged,  “by breeding to create hybrid white ligers.”

Roy Horn & his mother, circa 1950.

Siegfried & Roy act originated in post-World War II Germany

Horn and Fischbacher,  by contrast,  have been widely credited with helping to popularize “positive reinforcement” animal training,  but may also have done more to popularize and promote traffic in white tigers,  developing the market served by “Joe Exotic,”  Antle,  and others,  than all previous white tiger breeders combined.

Wrote McFadden,  “Roy Uwe Ludwig Horn was born on October 3,  1944,  in  Nordenham,  Germany,  near Bremen.  Like Fischbacher,  who was five years older and raised in Rosenheim,  a village in Bavaria,  Horn grew up in the turmoil of wartime and postwar Germany. While Fischbacher was drawn to magic,  Horn was taken with animals,  including his wolf-dog Hexe, and a cheetah,  Chico,  at a zoo in Bremen where the boy took an after-school job feeding animals and cleaning cages.”

Horn,  at age 13,  in 1957 became a cabin boy on a German cruise ship.

Roy Horn (left) with Chico the cheetah and Siegfried Fischbacher, 1966.

Cheetah named Chico

Continued McFadden,  “Fischbacher,  a steward,  was entertaining passengers with magic tricks,  and Horn caught his act.”

Recalled Horn to interviewers many years later,  “I told Siegfried if he could make rabbits come out of a hat,  why couldn’t he make cheetahs appear?”

Horn eventually smuggled the cheetah Chico aboard the ship in a laundry bag.  Siegfried developed an illusion routine featuring Chico,  performed at a variety of venues in Germany and Switzerland before mostly small crowds until in 1966 Princess Grace of Monaco saw them at a charity performance in Monte Carlo “and gave them a rave notice,”  recounted McFadden.

“A rush of publicity ensued.  Adding animals and tricks,  they were soon playing nightclubs in Paris and other European cities.  They made their Las Vegas debut at the Tropicana in 1967,”  McFadden continued,  “and by the early 1970s,  having made Las Vegas their base,  they were under contract at the MGM Grand.”

Money made the tigers go around

Moving to the Frontier Hotel in 1981, Siegfried & Roy during the next seven years performed before three million people there.

“In 1987,”  McFadden summarized,  “they signed a five-year $57.5 million contract with Steve Wynn,  owner of the planned $640 million Mirage casino-hotel,  a deal Variety called the largest in show business history.  It included $40 million more for a new theater for the show,”  plus the $18 million Secret Garden animal habitat.

Headliners at the Mirage from 1990 to 2003,  adding white tigers to the act in 1995 after purchasing a pair from the Cincinnati Zoo,  Siegfried & Roy at peak performed before 400,000 people a year,  generating $44 million in revenue.

Former Siegfried & Roy trainer Chris Lawrence was onstage with Roy Horn during 2003 attack.  (NBC News photo)

Birthday attack stopped the show

That ended abruptly on Horn’s 59th birthday in 2003.  Midway through a solo show with a seven-year-old white tiger named Mantecore,  the tiger refused to lie down on command.  Horn rapped Mantecore on the nose with his microphone.  Mantecore swiped at Horn’s arm.  Horn stumbled.  Mantecore seized Horn by the neck,  crushing his windpipe,  and dragged Horn off stage as Horn tried to beat him away with the microphone.

Forced to suspend the Siegfried & Roy shows,  the Mirage laid off 267 workers,  but continued to house the Siegfried & Roy animals,  including Mantecore,  at the Secret Garden.

Horn and Fischbacher contended that Mantecore “had been unhinged by a woman in the front row with a beehive hairdo,”  McFadden recalled,  and after Horn tripped,  “picked him up by the neck,  as a tigress might a cub,  attempting to carry him to safety.”

The USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service,  however,  “discounted all such theories and called it a simple attack by the tiger,”  McFadden noted.

A white tiger at Big Cat Rescue.  (Beth Clifton photo)

“Treating the cats like props”

Former Siegfried & Roy trainer Chris Lawrence,  46,  in March 2019 gave a different explanation to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Many of the handlers thought that Roy was treating the cats more like props than he was respecting them for who they were,”  Lawrence told The Hollywood Reporter.

Lawrence claimed that he himself “actually talked Roy into using the tiger that would ultimately maul him and end the most successful stage show in the history of Las Vegas.”

Said Lawrence,  “What Roy did was,  instead of walking Mantecore in a circle,  as was usually done,  he just used his arm to steer him right back into his body,  in a pirouette motion.  Mantecore’s face was right in (Horn’s) midsection.  Roy not following the correct procedure fed into confusion and rebellion.”

Lawrence tried unsuccessfully to lure Mantecore away from Roy with raw meat,  but was knocked down,  along with Roy.

Bengali the tiger keeps on coming, with a red rubber ball rising like the morning sun behind him.  (Carole Baskin photo)

Oldest Siegfried & Roy tiger died at Big Cat Rescue

Siegfried & Roy,  with Mantecore,  performed only once more together,  for a cancer charity benefit in 2009.

Wrote Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Mike Weatherford then,  “Siegfried Fischbacher and Horn were trying to figure out when and how to bow out gracefully even before the accident that put an abrupt end to their show.  The Mirage hit had been running for thirteen and a half years and 5,750 performances.  Horn had just celebrated his 59th birthday. Fischbacher had already passed 60.”

Mantecore died on March 19,  2014,  at age 17––old for a tiger,  but not nearly the oldest of the tigers Siegfried & Roy bred.

That tiger,  21 or 22 years of age,  either way one of the half dozen oldest tigers on record,  and one of two tigers within that elite half dozen to share the name Bengali,  died on May 31,  2016 at Big Cat Rescue on the outskirts of Tampa,  Florida.  Siegfried & Roy had sold him to a circus.  The circus retired him to Big Cat Rescue in 2000.  

(Beth Clifton collage)

Another former Siegfried & Roy tiger,  Sarmoti,  acquired at the same time,  died at Big Cat Rescue at age 20 in 2013.

Sarmoti,  Big Cat Rescue founder Carole Baskin told ANIMALS 24-7,  “is an acronym for Siegfried And Roy, Masters Of The Impossible.”

         (See A tale of two of the world’s oldest tigers, both named Bengali.)

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