Written by PETA
Less than a month after Tilly, an orca at SeaWorld in Orlando, attacked and killed his trainer, yet another story has emerged about captive animals who lash out against their imprisonment. In an upcoming episode of Fatal Attractions, a new Animal Planet miniseries about fatal attacks by exotic "pets," a woman named Julie Burros talks about how the black leopard she bought for $1,800 through a classified ad in a magazine nearly ripped her scalp off. While Burros escaped with her life, the leopard wasn't so lucky—he was shot and killed by police officers. Perhaps most shocking of all is that Burros says that she would "love to do it again" (by which we assume she means buying another leopard as opposed to nearly being decapitated).
Couple this with the story of the zoo patron who lost two fingers to a black bear, and this apparently needs to be repeated: There's a reason why they call wild animals "wild." That's where they belong, not locked up in a cage in a zoo, in a concrete swimming pool in a theme park, or in someone's backyard.
Written by Alisa Mullins
An apparently agitated elephant reportedly charged into the arena during Ringling's afternoon pre-show in Columbia, South Carolina, on Saturday, endangering about 100 spectators. Most attendees hurried away from the scene, and luckily, no one was injured, but the potential exists for injury or death when elephants rampage. Since 1990, dangerous incidents involving captive elephants in the U.S. have resulted in 13 human deaths and more than 135 human injuries.
The frightened elephant may have been trying to escape from the bullhook abuse that commonly takes place backstage at Ringling's shows. As documented in a PETA video—which was taken over a period of several months and released last July—of the same Ringling unit that is performing in Columbia, elephants are struck repeatedly with bullhooks (a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker that trainers wield to strike, stab, hook, prod, and intimidate elephants in order to make them obey). We are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to check this elephant for signs of bullhook abuse as well as to ensure that she is treated for any injuries sustained when she ran amok and that she is permanently removed from travel.
This is the second complaint with the USDA that we have filed against Ringling regarding its treatment of elephants—in less than a week. A few hours of "entertainment" at the expense of animals intimidated into performing dangerous and unnatural tricks is never worth the trauma inflicted on those animals or the danger to spectators and their children.
Written by Logan Scherer
Well, sort of. I'll explain.
About 170 audience members at Pagel's Dinner Circus—OK, wait, I must point out how ridiculous that is. I'm all for Dinner and a Movie, but "Dinner and a Circus"? But I digress. During one of the circus's performances this week, 170 horrified audience members witnessed tiger "trainer" Christian Walliser get mauled by three Bengal tigers.
Circus owner Stefan Pagels stated that, because "the show must go on" and because "the tigers did nothing wrong," the animals will not be killed as so many others are when they fight back or run amok. While his claim that the tigers were "playing" with the fallen trainer is ridiculous (hello?), we do agree that the tigers, who are and will always be wild animals, did no wrong. They're huge, strong, powerful animals, and whether in a jungle where they belong or abused in a circus, tigers retain their instincts to hunt, flee, or defend themselves if threatened.
Whether they're being held captive in a barren pit, forced to labor for lazy humans, put on display, or used in photo ops with the public, the only certainty with wild animals who are exploited by humans is that one day, they will fight back.
Written by Karin Bennett
A 75-year-old woman who is a "caretaker" at Chief Saunooke Bear Park (one of the concrete bear pits in Cherokee, North Carolina) was bitten by a bear earlier this week. The bear grabbed her coat through the cage as she and her son, who owns the facility, were giving the animals water. She suffered a serious injury to her arm and lacerations near her mouth and hairline.
Neurotic and hungry, the bears who are imprisoned in the Cherokee pits exhibit unnatural behavior such as pacing and begging as a means of coping with life inside a concrete pit. In this dismal environment, they are unable to forage for food, explore their surroundings, create dens, or receive any of the necessary stimulation and enrichment that bears in captivity require.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investigating the recent attack, and we've asked the agency to revoke the facility's license, but we won't rest until we see these bears retired to sanctuaries. Luckily, we've got some compassionate star power behind us. Bob Barker, friend to animals and proud descendent of Native Americans, has worked tirelessly to shut down the hideous bear pits—from meeting with the Tribal Council for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to advocating for the bears' freedom in the blogosphere. Help Bob Barker end the suffering by urging the USDA to close Chief Saunooke's cruel bear prison immediately.
A 5-year-old girl in Thomasville, Georgia, has died of her injuries after she was reportedly attacked by her family's pit bulls while she was playing on a trampoline.
Carol Jones, the executive director of the Thomas County Humane Society, missed the point when she responded to this attack by telling people to "be cautious of their family pets. They can turn on you at any time, and it doesn't matter what kind of dog." It's ridiculous to suggest that people be constantly suspicious of Fido when the real reason for this tragedy can be found elsewhere in the article—the part where it says the dogs attacked the child when they "broke free of their chains."
Leaving dogs chained outside creates a risk of injury for children or anyone else who might wander into the yard. Chained dogs kill more children than do fireworks accidents and falls from trees and playground equipment combined, according to a 2002 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dogs who spend a lot of time alone or chained are more prone to become aggressive and bite, while dogs who are socialized and enjoy life with their human "pack" are generally protective of their guardians without being a danger to the community.
January is "Unchain a Dog" month. Chained dogs everywhere experience stress and confinement that put them in danger of going mad and attacking someone, and many dogs suffer and die every year during winter's bitter cold and summer's blistering heat. Please make a promise to all dogs who are trapped at the end of a chain in your neighborhood that you will do something—anything—to help them.
Written by Jeff Mackey
One of the animals' greatest friends (and one of my heroes), Chrissie Hynde wants you to be in a new Pretenders video.
Ever the activist, Chrissie has found a way to promote animal rights issues—specifically, what happens to animals who are killed for leather—and promote her new song at the same time. The Pretenders are looking for one lucky fan who also happens to also be an animal lover to appear in the official fan video for their new single, "Boots of Chinese Plastic."
To enter, all you have to do is make a YouTube video for the song and show them your "boots of plastic" while you sing your little heart out. Pretty easy, huh? Click here to get all of the details from the woman, the myth, the legend herself.
How cool is that? Being flown to L.A. to appear in a video, just for spreading the word about animals who are killed for fashion—which is something most of you are doing anyway, right? Not a bad deal. And it's not every day that you get the chance to be in a video with an icon. My only problem with this is that I can't enter. But I'm not bitter … honest. Good luck!
In early February, after we were alerted to the fact that Will Ferrell's latest movie, Semi-Pro, was to feature scenes in which Will (or, more likely, a stunt double) wrestled a live bear, PETA sent a letter to his agents letting them know about the very real cruelty that goes on behind the scenes any time an "animal actor" is trawled out for a stunt in a movie. The disturbing news that the very same bear who was used in the movie attacked and killed his trainer yesterday has put the whole thing in a new light.
It's pretty rare that people catch a glimpse of the way the animals they see in TV shows or movies are really treated (as you might imagine, they're not natural actors — they're often beaten to perform). But we're hoping that this incident, sad as it is, will encourage Hollywood actors to take a stand against performing with animals, who want to be movie stars about as much as they want to be stuck in a cage for the rest of their lives (which is pretty much the standard accommodation for a great many of the animals who are used by Hollywood). The only really surprising thing about yesterday's tragic bear attack is that it didn't happen sooner.
We're asking Will Ferrell to pledge never to act with wild animals again. I'll let you know if he gets back to us. In the meantime, you can read our letter here.
We were recently informed by a whistleblower that Ringling trainer Joe Frisco Jr. was attacked by one of the elephants used by the circus, sustaining injuries severe enough to send him to the hospital. The source claimed that Frisco "has been pounding" on the elephant, which, given the Frisco family’s penchant for violently abusing animals, sounds about right to me. Joe’s brother Tim Frisco was caught on tape viciously beating elephants with steel-tipped bullhooks for the Carson & Barnes Circus, and you can watch video footage showing some of Tim Frisco’s “work” for the circus below. We’ve asked the USDA to look into this incident, so I’ll let you know how that investigation turns out.
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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.