Written by PETA
After aggressive campaigning by PETA India—including a lawsuit filed in the Supreme Court of India—the Ministry of Environment and Forests has added bulls to a directive that lists animals (bears, monkeys, tigers, lions and panthers) who are prohibited from being used in "performances." This means that bulls will no longer be tormented in a cruel spectacle called Jallikattu.
Jallikattu takes place in India's Tamil Nadu province, where residents chase and taunt bulls in an attempt to grab money tied to their horns. Bulls have chili peppers rubbed into their eyes and are force-fed alcohol, and their testicles are pinched—all in an effort to get them crazed and frantic. Villagers throw themselves on top of the terrified animals in an effort to "tame" them and claim the prize.
PETA India's Supreme Court case challenged the Tamil Nadu government's assertion that state law (which allows these cruel contests) supersedes a central (federal) law. PETA India believes that the new directive also outlaws other cruel events, including bullock cart races and bullfights, and the group will be taking action to make sure that they are stopped. Please thank the minister responsible for protecting bulls, Mr. Jairam Ramesh.
In another chapter in PETA India's fight for bullocks, a "public interest litigation" has been filed in Bombay High Court asking for a directive to enforce an existing ban against the use of bullocks to haul oversized kerosene carts for oil companies.
Please urge the ministry to continue treating animal issues with the seriousness that they deserve.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
You've probably never heard of elephant polo, and now that Guinness World Records has agreed to stop documenting records for wins in elephant polo matches, perhaps you never will again. The publishing giant made the move after learning from PETA U.K. that captive elephants forced to perform in such matches in India and Thailand are torn away from their families, beaten, and gouged with rods that have sharp metal tips.
In a letter to PETA U.K., Guinness Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday wrote, "This decision is in line with our policy not to accept or recognise any records based on the killing or harming of animals."
Among the other records the book will not recognize are those involving fox hunting and bullfighting. Anyone who still thinks that elephant polo or other cruel "sports" are acceptable should have the divots stomped out of them.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
Lately, it seems like PETA's BFF and honorary director Pamela Anderson is on the road more than Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in their heyday—she's trekked from London to Tel Aviv and is now in Mumbai, where she's a celebrity guest on the reality show Bigg Boss.
But as a superhero for animals, Pam can be counted on to speak out against cruelty wherever she goes, so she has sent a letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to help the cows who are abused and slaughtered in the cruel and gruesome Indian leather trade.
"India's laws prohibit animals from being crammed onto vehicles in such high numbers that their bones break, ban handlers from smearing chilli seeds into cows' eyes and breaking their tails, and prevent animals from standing in their own blood and being hacked to pieces in front of each other while still conscious, yet all this continues to go on, involving countless animals every day," Pam writes. "I am calling on every kind person in India and throughout the world to join me in rejecting all leather products in order to help put an end to the suffering."
Ram Prasad spends his days chained by all four legs on a concrete platform at a temple near Sangli, India. Like other temple elephants in India, he is essentially a moneymaker, used to encourage devotees to donate money and gifts. Years of being kept virtually immobilized have caused Ram's back legs to atrophy, and he has developed a painful foot infection as a result of being forced to stand day in and day out on a hard surface (such foot problems are common in captive elephants—and are the number one cause of elephant deaths in American zoos and circuses).
When veterinary staff with Animal Rahat, a PETA-supported relief program for working animals in India, discovered Ram, he was also suffering from a huge, gaping abscess on his side. Animal Rahat is working with Ram's caretakers to allow the veterinarians to treat him and has also persuaded them to make other improvements in his care.
Ram is just one of thousands of animals whose lives have been made better by Animal Rahat. Find out more about this lifesaving work here.
Written by Alisa Mullins
This is a handsome bullock named Houshya. He is—or, rather, was—a working bullock in India. "Working" for him meant spending 18 long years pulling a heavy cart loaded with bricks, oil drums, or whatever other goods his impoverished family was paid to move. But now, Houshya (which means "Hush!") is old and tired, and he no longer has the strength to pull the heavy loads along the pitted dirt roads as quickly as he once did. His owner considered selling him but knew that it wouldn't be long before Houshya slowed down so much that his new owner would send him to the slaughterhouse to be killed for his meat and skin.
So even though the deeply poor family could have used the money from selling Houshya, they agreed that it wouldn't be right and sacrificed their income in order to save him. He has now been donated to Animal Rahat, where he will spend the rest of his life in retirement, under a shade tree, grazing and drinking water at will. He will also be given vitamins to help ease him into old age. The look on his face shows that he can't quite believe his new life!
Already, his nose rope, which has left its mark, has been replaced with a fine white halter. Piercing animals' nostrils is painful, and over time the rope cuts into the bull's sensitive skin.
Animal Rahat—a PETA-supported organization that provides veterinary care to working animals in India—is one of PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk's favorite projects. She recently traveled to India and paid a visit to Sangli, where Animal Rahat works hard to provide relief for bullocks like Houshya who toil long days hauling goods ranging from sugar cane to gasoline. You can read more about her trip on her blog, and you can help these gentle animals by making a donation to Animal Rahat.
If you had asked me last week to name my favorite Richard Gere moment, I would have taken a long pause before finally deciding on that scene in the 1980s movie American Gigolo when he shimmied in his boxers as he paired his ties to shirts. What can I say? I've always appreciated a man who cares about his appearance.
Much more so, I appreciate a man who speaks out in favor of compassionate actions for animals—so it makes perfect sense that my new favorite Richard Gere moments happened very recently and in real life. According to the New Zealand Herald, the actor, who is a Buddhist, marched with hundreds of monks and activists to support efforts by Tibetans for a Vegetarian Society to transform Bodhgaya, in the Indian state of Bihar, into a vegetarian zone. "Bodhgaya is a pious place and I want to come here again," Mr. Gere said, adding, "I am with the people who have launched this campaign."
It makes perfect sense that Bodhgaya, believed by Buddhists to be where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment around 500 B.C., be "vegetized" in keeping with Buddhism's message of peace. After all, opposition to the taking of life is a core principle of Buddhism.
The founder of Tibetans for a Vegetarian Society, Tenzin Kunga Luding, notes that Gere's participation in and support of the march "has helped the cause a lot," and he adds, "This most sacred land will act as a model for other places to emulate and will impart more positive influence for the well-being of all humans, animals, and the environment."
Written by Karin Bennett
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.
Two years ago in Bangalore, a man named Vijay took a shine to one of India's numerous needy, homeless dogs. Vijay named the dog Johny and started feeding and caring for him. Johny quickly became a popular member of the neighborhood.
Little did Vijay know that his good deed was destined to lead to another.
When a thief snatched jewelry from a woman who was walking down Johny's street, it was Johny to the rescue! Johny chased the man down, caught him by the pants, and refused to the let the man go until police arrived and arrested the bandit.
With the perp in custody and the jewelry returned to its rightful owner, Johny has been promoted from favorite neighborhood dog to local hero, which just goes to show how a simple act of kindness keeps on giving.
Written by Jeff Mackey
Lambert? Nope. Gokey? Sorry! We're all about Noop Dog here at PETA!
Devastated as I was when Anoop Desai got voted off American Idol this week, my day perked up when I discovered that our friends over at PETA India have approached Anoop to ask him to work with them. They sent a letter asking the R&B singer to join the Indian Animal Birth Control (ABC) campaign to "implement humane methods of controlling companion animal populations in slums" in India.
If Anoop agrees, he'll be joining Idol judge Simon Cowell in the effort to end the animal overpopulation crisis. Plus, America might see Anoop's compassion and finally forgive him for attempting that Usher song …
Written by Christine Doré
The always incredible PETA India wrapped up 2008 spreading the message of compassion for animals across the country. Check out some photos of their attention-grabbing demos below:
In Mumbai, two activists posed as horses injured by vehicle accidents to show how dangerous the streets can be for these sensitive animals. This demo encouraged Mumbaikars (Mumbai citizens) to say "neigh" to horse-drawn carriages.
Horses aren't the only animals suffering on the streets of Mumbai. Bullocks are forced to pull heavy oil carts and are denied basic necessities. Activists rode through the streets calling for a ban on these cruel carts.
On the other side of the country, in one of Ranchi's biggest schools, five children died and more than 60 became severely ill after being given tainted milk. PETA India immediately rushed to the school and distributed soy milk to more than 200 students.
PETA India also just released this gorgeous new ad asking kite flyers to stop coating their kite string (manja) in glass. While glass-coated manja may be effective in cutting an opponent's kite string, it's deadly for thousands of birds.
Way to go PETA India! Oh, and if you want to congratulate them for all their hard work in 2008, keep in mind their birthday is coming up (PETA India turns 9 on January 14!), and they really love cupcakes.
Written by Liz Graffeo
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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.