Written by PETA
The term "football hero" has become a standard part of the American lexicon, but many players prove to be anything but heroic. (I'm glaring at you, Michael Vick.) So we're delighted to see some football players in Hawaii doing right by animals.
The lights at Vidinha Stadium on Kauai can cause fledgling Newell's shearwaters to become disoriented, and in the past, they have caused the deaths of around 30 of the threatened seabirds—who breed only in Hawaii—each year. Now, to protect the birds, football games during fledgling season will be played on Saturday afternoons instead of Friday nights.
Many thanks to the Kauai Interscholastic Federation for stepping up for seabirds. No matter who prevails on the field, anyone who gives wildlife a helping hand is a champ in our book!
Written by Jeff Mackey
A cap on the massive gusher in the Gulf of Mexico has stanched the flow of oil (although seepage has been detected), but millions of gallons of crude in the water continue to wreak havoc. According to an Associated Press article, oil has now coated up to 400 pelicans and hundreds of terns who live on Raccoon Island, Louisiana's largest seabird-nesting area. Ten thousand birds nest there, and biologists now think that the government's original estimate of the number of birds who have been affected by the oil may have been far too low.
So what can we do? Reduce our dependence on oil by biking, walking, or carpooling and switch to an Earth- and animal-friendly vegan diet. And if this news makes you want to get rude about the crude, we've got just the thing to help you tell BP what you think about its failure to save wildlife and prepare for catastrophes such as the recent oil spill.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
BP has more than the loss of human life, livelihoods and tourism to answer for. And so do the government inspectors who allowed this corporation—as seemingly greedy as the bankers, mining companies and marine park owners whose careless conduct has resulted in similar destruction—to put profit over safety.
If the criminal investigation of BP and those who signed off on the drill-site inspection sheets and safety assurances shows willful fraud and deception, dereliction of duty, bribes or who knows what else, there is one additional set of criminal charges that should be added to the list: cruelty to animals. For this is the largest case of cruelty to animals in U.S. history.
We are being spared, for political reasons, some think, but mercifully perhaps, most of the photographs of the animals who have died and are still dying, slowly, painfully, not just coated but drenched in oil. It is hard for anyone with a heart to see the gulls and pelicans, blinking up through a thick coat of muck that prevents them from flying, eating, taking a drink of water and escaping the burning heat of June. It is even too much to come across a snippet of video that shows a huge rubber-gloved hand gently plucking a tiny crab out of a puddle of black glop. Only the outline of his body tells you what he is, although his struggles tell you that he is still alive. For the moment.
For most of the animals, any help is too late. Studies show that even if wildlife rescuers capture an oiled bird in time, before much damage has been done, the terror of being handled by a predator, of being force-fed, doused and scrubbed, is too much for their pounding hearts to endure. Even if they survive the trauma of being cleaned and re-cleaned, it is suspected that most die after their release.
And in this case, one must ask, "Where can they be released?" Many birds mate for life; others are lost without their flocks. Their nesting grounds now lie under the oil slick; their friends and family are dead or dying. What is there for them to return to?
And what of the turtles, dolphins and—dare I write it—the whales? Cetacean experts do not expect whales to escape this slick completely. Once killed for their own oil, will they now be killed by ours?
And don't laugh, but what of the fish? As inconvenient as it may be to think about it, given the seafood buffets of summer, studies show that fish feel pain and fear just as acutely as mammals do.
Whether or not BP is charged with cruelty, there are many things that we can and should do other than just pointing a finger. Some suggestions are to provide less support to oil companies by consuming less oil, by buying fewer oil-based plastic goods (the beaches of Hawaiian atolls are inches deep in discarded plastic) and by following the recommendations issued by the United Nations this month and going vegan in order to save the waterways, forests and ozone layer. Paul McCartney's "Meat-Free Monday" project is getting institutions and individuals to look at the environmental devastation caused by energy-intensive factory farming and to do something about it by reducing meat consumption. In taking responsibility, President Obama would do well to announce that he, too, is embracing at least that one baby step.
Those responsible in the corporate world and in government can never truly make amends. How do you "make it up" to those who are suffering and dying in agony out there at this very moment or to those who have already lost their lives or loved ones? However, before looking away from the umpteenth heart-wrenching photo of an oil-coated pelican, the rest of us can do something positive and make some personal choices ourselves so that none of the oil companies will be able to claim consumer demand as a reason for misbehaving. It's just a thought.
Written by Ingrid E. Newkirk
Kudos to Kevin Costner. Haunted by images of the animals who were covered in oil after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, Kevin has been funding a team of scientists for the past 15 years to develop a device that can help clean up oil spills by separating oil from ocean water. BP tested six of these machines last month in the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently the company was impressed by the machines' nearly 100 percent success rate at separating oil from water, because it has just ordered 32 more. Our hats are off to Kevin for his compassion and generosity. We hope that his machines will save many animals by preventing more oil from reaching the shore.
Remember the Exxon Valdez disaster? It may soon be seen as small potatoes compared to the ever-spreading, ever-gushing oil spill off the Gulf Coast. But when it comes to how oil affects wildlife, even "minor" spills can cause major damage. As the International Bird Rescue Research Center points out, millions of birds die every year because of oil from jet skis and motorboats as well as oil washed off streets and into storm drains after it rains. That makes it pretty important to watch out for improper trash disposal.
But here's a surprise: Much of the oil used in America is used to produce meat. It takes approximately 10 times more fossil fuels to produce meat than to produce vegan foods.
So instead of blaming big business for oil spills, let's encourage people to do something positive! Ask everyone you know to curb America's appetite for oil and reduce the chances of devastating spills—of both oil and manure—by going vegan. You might also consider making a donation to an organization that works day in and day out saving wildlife, including birds who are unlucky enough to suffer as a result of human carelessness.
Written by Heather Moore
Bravo to the good folks at CBS 5 in San Francisco for running with a chilling Swedish investigative report on the down industry.
In case you think that the down filling in coats and pillows is gathered by a kindly farmer who just follows molting birds around all day and fills a sack with their lost feathers, here's an eye-opener: An investigative team from the Swedish TV show Cold Facts went undercover on goose farms in Poland, Hungary, and China and videotaped workers yanking fistfuls of feathers out of live birds, a process that a veterinarian contacted by CBS 5 described as "torture." At one farm, a worker is shown using a needle and thread to sew a goose's skin back together after the skin had been ripped apart during plucking.
Makes that down comforter seem less comforting, doesn't it? Luckily for geese and the people who don't wish to hurt them, down-alternative comforters are just as cozy and cuddly as those made from down. I speak from personal experience—I happen to have one on my bed … along with three toasty kitties and a dog.
Written by Alisa Mullins
Have you tuned in to Life yet? Not to be confused with the delicious cereal of the same name or the painfully long bored game, Life is actually a 10-part documentary series that premiered on the Discovery Channel on March 21 and chronicles the complex lives of different species—from komodo dragons to cuttlefish, damselflies to pebble toads. Every episode is narrated by Oprah (could she get any cooler?), and each one has opened my eyes to so many fascinating facts about animals. Last Sunday's installment featured some aerially and aquatically nimble flying fish and resourceful anchovies. The highlight, though, was this unforgettable sequence of mud-wrestling mudskippers:
The two segments airing this Sunday are "Birds" and "Creatures of the Deep." I'm willing to bet that after you watch this preview about bowerbirds, you too will be tuning in to see which male's interior decorating skills are going to win him a mate. I know I will.
Written by Logan Scherer
Folks, I have to tell you that I am freaking out about a recent government bill.
No, no—I don't mean that one. I'm talking about this one, which would allow barbershops in Tennessee to display live animals in bird cages and fish tanks for "decorative purposes."
Before Gov. Phil Bredesen puts his John Hancock on the legislation, PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman is weighing in and asking him to veto the bill. Why? Because stealing fish and birds from their native homes is cruel: Animals who are kept in tanks and cages are sentenced to a life of boredom, depression, and frustration, and many are subjected to neglect and mistreatment by owners who fail to understand their prisoners' complex needs.
There's no doubt that barbershop customers and spa patrons will breathe a sigh of relief if the current law banning such displays remains in effect—after all, as Jasmine the cockatoo will tell you, not only are caged birds quick to complain about their confines (loudly and repeatedly), some can also pass along diseases such as psittacosis to humans.
PETA is even ready to offer decorating tips. I think that this animal-friendly alternative is a cut above the tanks and cages. Don't you?
Written by Karin Bennett
In an effort to rebuild his image, Mike Tyson has a new Animal Planet series in the works, tentatively titled Taking on Tyson and slated to premiere in 2011. The former heavyweight fighter will use the program to showcase his passion for pigeons via his exploits in the pigeon-racing industry.
While we would never knock someone's love for these intelligent birds, Tyson's claim to care about pigeons is rather incredulous given that he chooses to tout using them in a "sport" that—like horseracing—exposes them to danger and death. In a typical race, the birds are taken great distances—sometimes as many as 500 miles—away from their homes and then released to see if they can find their way back. It can only be a traumatic experience, as evidenced by the fallen pigeons who succumb to storms, shotgun pellets, and collisions with high-tension wires and who are often found starving, exhausted, and a long way from home. Pigeons mate for life, and the likelihood that both partners will find each other again or that the bird who is released will be reunited with the one left in the coop is a crapshoot. For those banded birds who are found by concerned citizens or turned in to humane societies and have their bands traced, the voice on the other end of the phone is likely to say what we have been told directly, i.e., "Wring their necks, that's what we do with losers."
Mike Tyson likes to tell the story of the first time that he beat someone up, saying it was over someone wanting to hurt one of "his" pigeons. Well, in pigeon racing, he'll meet a lot of people he can beat up if that's the criteria, but if he really wants to rehabilitate his image, then the seedy underbelly of the pigeon-racing world isn't the ideal stage for him. If you'd like to contact Animal Planet to state your opinion on whether this show should air or if the network should stick to Whale Wars and Animal Cops, please send a polite message to Discovery Communications' viewer relations department.
Nine-spined stickleback, genius of the sea, allow me to introduce the rocket scientist of the air: the pigeon.
Scientists have discovered that pigeons are better than humans at solving statistical problems such as the Monty Hall Problem (named after the original host of the game show Let's Make a Deal). In the problem, a person, or in this case a bird, is given three doors to choose from. One of the doors has a prize behind it, and the other two do not. After the player makes a guess, one of the remaining doors that does not contain the prize is opened and the player is given the option of staying with the initial guess or switching to the other unopened door. Studies show that humans typically fail to collect any supporting data and stick with their original guess ("classical probability"), while pigeons double their chances of winning by switching choices. It turns out that these smart birds learn to make predictions by tracking outcomes and narrowing the possibilities ("empirical probability").
I consider this to be yet another example of why I'd be honored, not insulted, if anyone ever called me a "birdbrain."
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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.