Written by PETA
How could we not plug the new, adorable polar bears at the Saint Louis Zoo? After all, we are all about the zoo of the future, and this zoo exhibit is unlike anything we've ever seen before. Instead of flesh-and-blood bears, the zoo is currently displaying electric proxies, and we couldn't be more thrilled.
A study out of the University of Oxford determined that polar bears fare especially poorly in captive situations. These large, roving predators develop neurotic behaviors because of stress when kept in captivity because they are unable to satisfy their instinct to roam. The report noted that "a polar bear's typical enclosure size, for example, is about one-millionth of its minimum home-range size," and the authors concluded that "the keeping of naturally wide-ranging carnivores should be either fundamentally improved or phased out."
The Saint Louis Zoo has a miserable record of polar bear "care." Four years ago, a polar bear named Churchill ate a toxic meal of cloth and plastic and died during his subsequent stomach surgery. Just one month later, the polar bear Penny died from infection. She had two dead fetuses inside her uterus, though zoo officials didn't know she was pregnant. Hope, the zoo's last surviving polar bear, was euthanized earlier this year after veterinarians discovered she had cancer.
We're hoping that the zoo maintains its merry instillation year-round, making every day a cause for polar bears to celebrate. And if they decide that the still-lives don't quite cut it, we'd love to see the zoo invest in animatronic bears that look and act like the real things.
Written by Logan Scherer
Classrooms are for students, not animals. This is the conclusion that Margaret Barthel, the head of the science department at Tampa, Florida's Freedom High School, has finally come to after an appearance in court this week resulted in Barthel's being punished for cruelty to the animals she kept in her classroom.
In Barthel's classroom at Freedom High, several class "pets" were abused and neglected: Nine gerbils died after they were deprived of food and water for more than two weeks, finches died of exposure, and a ball python froze to death. As a result of the cruelty citations, Barthel has relinquished her (still-living) ball python to Hillsborough County Animal Services, paid a $1,000 fine, donated $500 to animal services, and committed to keeping animals out of her classroom permanently.
We're hoping that in light of this incident, Freedom High School Principal Chris Farkas will heed our calls and prohibit the use of animals in all the school's classrooms. Please use this form to let him know that students can and do learn about responsibility, animal behavior, and hands-on science without keeping animals on display in classrooms.
Written by Liz Graffeo
When I was 16 years old, I was invited to a picnic. When I arrived, I was shocked to realize that I'd actually been invited to a pig roast—big difference. The sight of a whole charred pig turning on a spit with an apple stuck in his mouth was all I needed to convince myself that I'd never eat pork, i.e. pig, again.
The pig was already dead, and I knew nothing about his journey from his mother's womb to the fire pit. I didn't need to—after all, I called myself an "animal lover," so it was a simple, logical decision. If I wouldn't eat my dog, I wasn't going to eat a pig.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that pigs and other animals on factory farms routinely endure horrific abuses, millions of people continue to happily chow down on hot dogs and ham. Today, Fox News offers food for thought—the Web site is featuring exclusive undercover video footage taken by Mercy for Animals at Country View Family Farms, one of Pennsylvania's largest pork producers and a Hatfield Quality Meat supplier.
The video shows a slew of horrors, including workers as they hurl baby pigs and slam them into transport carts, pick piglets up by their ears and tails, cut off the animals' tails with pliers, and rip off their testicles with their bare hands without any painkillers. (The sound of screaming piglets in the video made my skin crawl.) Their squealing mothers are shown scrambling to escape workers who slam spiked mallets into the animals' sides. Many pigs bear sores from their constant confinement—one mother pig suffered an excruciating prolapsed rectum for at least 13 days before she was killed.
Folks, this video is tough to view (I had to pause it three times), but as caring people, we owe it to ourselves and the animals it shows to watch it and then pass it on to others—along with a link to GoVeg.com. You can share the video and the link via e-mail, via a link on your Facebook page, and via "tweets." Anyone you know who still needs convincing that animals suffer on factory farms won't question it after they've watched this footage.
Written by Karin Bennett
Two years ago, PETA UK began urging Selfridges to drop foie gras from its shelves so that it would stop contributing to the fatal force-feeding of ducks and geese. PETA UK and its supporters dauntlessly demonstrated, sent more than 5,000 e-mails to Selfridges, and placed thousands of phone calls to the retailer. We are thrilled to announce that all this hard work has paid off: Selfridges has pledged to stop selling foie gras forever.
The splendid news comes from Sir Roger Moore, PETA UK's committed celebrity spokesperson, who received the call directly from Selfridges. Moore's unwavering dedication, along with the inspiring passion of PETA UK's campaigners, attracted endless attention on television, in newspapers, and around the Internet—wherever you turned, PETA UK was there, spreading the message to give up foie gras.
This towering triumph is proof that every e-mail, phone call, and letter matters. Please help spread the success by writing to managers of local restaurants that still sell the vile food. Alert them to the gross cruelty behind foie gras, and ask them to remove it from their menus.
Written by Logan Scherer
A Christmas gift just isn't a Christmas gift if it's not sealed with a kiss, which is why our snuggly seal jumped aboard a float at Toronto's Santa Claus Parade:
Follow the lead of Santa's surprise helper and urge Prime Minister Harper to end the seal slaughter.
Update: PETA India has just announced that it will give its 2009 Proggy Award for International Leadership in the Field of Animal Rights to India's Central Zoo Authority (CZA) in recognition of the government organization's decision to ban the use of elephants in zoos and circuses.
That's right. India, which is home to an estimated 23,900 to 32,900 wild elephants, will no longer allow its most prominent national symbol—the elephant—to be imprisoned in zoos or forced to perform in circuses. The move by India's Central Zoo Authority (CZA) comes after years of campaigning by PETA India to improve conditions for captive elephants (it has already succeeded in getting performing elephants banned from Mumbai and other cities). PETA India repeatedly expressed concerns to the CZA about the mental and physical suffering endured by elephants when they are forced to spend all their time standing on hard concrete surfaces while confined to cramped enclosures that severely restrict their movement. Now the government has announced that all the elephants currently living in Indian zoos will be transferred to elephant camps run by the Forest Department. The camps will be located near protected areas, national parks, and wildlife sanctuaries in India.
Back in 2005, PETA India embarked on an investigation of 14 major zoos throughout the country and found appalling neglect at every single facility. The group discovered hungry animals who were forced to forage among rotten food and garbage, animals who were confined to barren cages and enclosures without so much as a blade of grass, and animals who were deprived of shelter from monsoons and the blazing Indian sun.
At the Aurangabad Municipal Zoo in Maharashtra, a PETA India investigator found that the elephants were confined to a bleak concrete enclosure. All the elephants were chained, and one was tethered by both front legs with a spiked chain, effectively (and painfully) preventing him from moving more than a few shuffling steps in any direction.
After Rajkumar, an elephant at the Mumbai zoo, attacked his keeper, his intensive confinement prompted PETA India to file a lawsuit against the zoo. The court ruled in PETA India's favor, and Rajkumar was moved to another zoo in 2007.
Over the years, PETA India's campaign against the abysmal conditions for animals in captivity has garnered support from numerous celebrities, including UK Big Brother veteran Shilpa Shetty, Beatles guru Ravi Shankar, and Shankar's daughter Anoushka.
Congratulations to PETA India on this groundbreaking victory. Now, if only North American zoos and circuses would follow suit.
Written by Alisa Mullins
Yesterday, at Al Gore's book signing in Beverly Hills, it wasn't the former vice president who drew the most attention from the throngs of onlookers—it was our sexy Mother Earth who turned heads. The crowd showed Mother Earth all the love she's not getting from Gore, whose hypocritical addiction to meat is getting in the way of his call to go green.
Even Gore has admitted that going vegan helps save the environment. And the official handbook for Live Earth—the concert series that Gore himself helped organize—states that not eating meat is the "single most effective thing you can do" to curb climate change. So why hasn't he taken our effortless Pledge to Be Veg yet? Apparently, the simple, delicious truth is just too inconvenient.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but when it comes to the picture of these horses, I'm still at a loss—this photo is worth a thousand chills:
When I was a child, I had a recurring nightmare that I was covered head-to-toe with needles that paralyzed me. I had no way of taking them out; I was helpless. But of course, I'd wake up, and it would all be over—it was only a twisted creation of my subconscious.
For the horses in the photo, however, my haunting nightmare was their reality. Covered in thick clusters of hard, prickly burrs, the horses endured constant discomfort, yet their neglectful owner continued to let the burrs accumulate in the horses' manes and tails for months.
After noticing the matted mess these horses had become, a concerned neighbor contacted PETA. We immediately got in touch with animal control, which had initially failed to respond to these concerns when our complainant first called for help. However, the agency was inspired by PETA caseworkers to force the owner to groom the horses immediately, and better yet, the horses were moved from the burr-infested property into a safer environment.
It is crucial that guardians have a comprehensive understanding of the care required to provide horses with a happy, healthy existence. Burrs, pebbles, and debris often cause debilitating bruises or thrush, a painful bacterial infection, which is why horses must be routinely cleaned and checked for markings. If you see or know of any animal who is not receiving proper care, please report it to your local law enforcement—the animal's life may depend on your speaking up.
When it comes to weekday talk-show fare, it's no surprise that I'm partial to Ellen and Oprah. Today, however, some props go out to Tyra Banks for following up on a feature that set off alarm bells here at PETA.
A few days ago, The Tyra Banks Show aired a segment about a woman who gushed about her "pet" capuchin monkey. Sure, capuchins are cute and smart, but the "Joe Blows" who buy baby monkeys soon realize that they cannot control the strong animals after they outgrow their diapers. Case in point: Oprah's recent interview with Charla Nash, who barely survived an attack by her friend's 15-year-old chimpanzee, Travis. And while capuchins are much smaller than chimpanzees, they are still very strong and very fast, and they have extremely sharp canines that can quickly do a great deal of damage to an unwitting person.
Consequently, many monkeys are discarded at pseudo-sanctuaries and shoddy roadside zoos because there simply aren't enough reputable sanctuaries to care for them all. Some species can live to be well into their 50s, and many primates who are abandoned by their "owners" face decades of misery in appalling conditions.
We wrote to Tyra Banks to express our concern that some viewers might be tempted to purchase a monkey of their own after seeing the segment on her show. We're heartened to learn that she's added a warning on her Web site stating, "Please note, PETA has contacted the show and does not recommend keeping monkeys as pets."
Folks, please let other people know that when it comes to capuchins and other exotic animals, the most humane action is always: "Monkey see, monkey do … not buy one!"
Earlier this year, Travis, a 15-year-old "pet" chimpanzee, was stabbed repeatedly, pounded with a shovel, and finally shot to death after he attacked a Connecticut woman named Charla Nash. Yesterday, Ms. Nash, who has been in a hospital since the attack, appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and spoke for the first time about her recovery. During the show, Nash declared her readiness to move on and said that she had an optimistic outlook on the future.
The images of Nash are shocking, her buoyant hopefulness is inspiring, and both of those points should prompt another look at Travis' trajectory from his days as a baby chimpanzee to his years as a confined adult "pet." Travis, who appeared in several commercials when he was an infant, was just one of many exotic animals who have been torn away from their mothers at a young age in order to be raised by people who don't fully understand their needs.
Once chimpanzees reach adolescence, they become too strong and aggressive for their guardians to handle. They are then often abandoned at roadside zoos or—as was the case with Travis—stay in the home of a person who remains unaware of their tremendous strength until it's too late.
Chimpanzees and other exotic animals were never meant to be confined to people's homes, and keeping them as "pets" can often be lethal to both the animals and those who live near them.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.