Written by PETA
And the Best Civil Engineer award goes to … the beaver! Scientists recently stumbled upon the world's biggest beaver dam. Twice as long as the Hoover Dam, this whopping woodland creation can be seen from space.
Using their mad landscaping skills, several beaver families have been working on this 2,790-foot Canadian compound since 1975 (I wonder if their lodges have shag carpet). The hardest-working mammals in the construction business, beavers are a keystone species, whose dams create and maintain wetlands. Beavers are also gentle, curious, family-oriented animals who mate for life and share in child-raising duties. Did I mention that they're also fond of flute music?
Important, intriguing, and dam fine builders, beavers' biggest predators are humans who trap them for fur (fur trapping is the number one cause of death for beavers) or pick on them because they're perceived as "pests." Resolving conflicts with beavers and other wildlife is easy if you think like a beaver. Ingenuity, industriousness, good planning skills, and architectural know-how go a long way in peacefully coexisting with all our wild neighbors. So seriously, let's leave beavers alone and let them enjoy their music.
Written by Amy Skylark Elizabeth
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
We are thrilled to report that thanks to a new ordinance passed by the city of Somerville, Massachusetts, circuses setting up shop in the city will never again be allowed to use exotic animals! The legislation, signed by Mayor Joe Curtatone, states that "nondomesticated animals" may not be displayed in events held on public or private properties.
Nearby Braintree, Provincetown, Quincy, and Revere have similar laws, so the entire area is a model in fighting the abuse of animals who are trained to perform physically challenging and dangerous tricks in circuses that are concerned only with profit, not with animal welfare. Spread the compassion to your own community by pushing for local legislation to ban the use of animals in circuses. Contact us for a list of places that have prohibited circuses and to request all the information you need to get started.
Written by Logan Scherer
Yesterday morning, walking to the D.C. Metro along the tenuous paths carved through the high banks of snow, the usual birdsong was missing. Then I heard a sparrow chirp and found a group of them sitting under a restaurant awning. I had cereal in a bag with me, so I scattered it under the awning, and out hobbled a pigeon who had been under a table, her legs clearly frozen. At each step, she stumbled and had to right herself. Because she ate, I didn't want to scare her by attempting to catch her and feared she would flutter off into the snow, so I watched her eat and then moved on. Last night, making my way home, I found her back under that table, frozen, snow all over her back. In D.C. and many other cities across the nation, there is no water for the birds and no grass for them to reach under the many feet of snow. At PETA's Washington office and around town, including in Lafayette Park and Union Station, we are doing our best to help them. This morning I had an idea: I picked up whole-grain bread and stuck slices of it in the saplings on the streets.
Birds and countless other animals around the city are struggling to survive. It is crucial that in these dire weather conditions, you take action in behalf of animals who would otherwise be left to succumb to the elements by providing them with something to eat and making sure that they have access to fresh water.
Written by Ingrid E. Newkirk
Ms. Goat is quite popular in the open-air copper mine where she has lived for the past three years. Beloved by the miners who work in this region, she takes refuge in a small nearby cave when it becomes too cold outside. But one recent chilly day, she wandered off and became stuck on a ledge, 100 feet in the air, without access to food, water, or shelter from the elements.
The goat's loyal mining friends spotted her on the ledge but were stumped as to how to rescue her. For five days, she remained stranded, and she couldn't last much longer. So the miners contacted PETA. Our caseworkers immediately coordinated a rescue effort with local authorities and the mine supervisors who, together, coaxed Ms. Goat off the ledge to safety.
When the news of this beloved goat's homecoming was announced over the mining speaker, the cheers from her faithful buddies were deafening. If you ever encounter an animal in distress, call local authorities for immediate assistance. If that doesn't work, get local media outlets involved! There is always someone who can help, so do not rest until your concerns for the animal in question are resolved. Your voice can often make all the difference for an animal in need!
Written by Logan Scherer
It was a long, traumatic tumble down into darkness for four ducklings who recently fell into a 12-foot storm drain at a Florida apartment complex. Hungry and helpless, the ducklings were stranded at the bottom of the drain for at least six hours and faced certain death by drowning.
A compassionate passerby discovered these trapped ducklings and immediately called PETA. We contacted two heroic members of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF), and they, along with the local fire department, acted quickly to rescue the ducklings and reunite them with their worried mother, who hovered nearby.
PETA is currently trying to work with the property manager to retrofit these storm drains so that no more animals face this terrible fate.
If you spot an injured, orphaned, or trapped wild animal, please call your local wildlife rehabilitation center and animal control immediately. If that doesn't work, call the fire department. And if necessary, get local media outlets involved! Remember, never to attempt to take care of rescued wildlife yourself—always seek help from a trained professional. And if you ever become aware of a situation that poses obvious danger to wildlife—like an open storm drain in a pond where ducks reside—speak up and ensure that safeguards are implemented. The best way to protect wildlife from life-threatening emergencies is to prevent them from happening in the first place.
The BBC has just unveiled its "Wildlife Finder," a Web site it bills as "the world's biggest online zoo." To create the "zoo," which so far includes 370 different species of animals (with more to come), the BBC has compiled video footage from hundreds of wildlife documentaries, including the blockbuster hit Planet Earth.
Unlike a "real" zoo, with its bored animals gazing out blankly from concrete cells and cramped cages, BBC's Wildlife Finder captures animals in their own habitats—from the rain forests of Chile to the volcanoes of Papua New Guinea. No more peering through cage bars trying in vain to catch a glimpse of a sleeping lemur or waiting for the hippos to come up for air. BBC's Wildlife Finder includes footage shot with underwater and infrared cameras to capture nocturnal and deep-sea animals doing the things that they do naturally—things they never get to do in a zoo.
So far, the most popular animals are proving to be the meerkats (who doesn't love meerkats?), Darwin's frog (a Chilean frog whose males give birth through their mouths—all of which is caught on tape, of course), and the New Guinea jumping spider, who is shown jumping onto a cameraman.
Gather the kids around the PC and check out the online zoo today. They'll learn a heck of a lot more than they would at the local wildlife penitentiary.
Written by Alisa Mullins
Those rootin' Teutons at PETA Deutschland (that's Germany, for those who don't sprechen the language) are always up to something interesting. Here's one recent example of their work for animals.
Working with the Düsseldorf duck hotline (best duck hotline name ever, don't you think?), PETA Germany campaigner Stefan Bröckling has rescued four swans at the port of Neuss. The birds were sitting at the water's edge, totally exhausted, their feathers covered in what appeared to be cooking oil.
PETA Germany became involved after a Frau Münchs noticed an oily surface on the water and then saw eight swans with very wet-looking feathers—not at all typical for water birds—trying vigorously to groom themselves. And this wasn't the first time: Last year, at least six swans were affected in a similar incident there.
Ms. Münchs contacted local officials who gave her the ol' runaround before someone at the harbormaster's office finally admitted that a broken filter at an oil production company had leaked oil into the water. The office claimed, however, that the oil had since been removed and that they considered the situation to be under control, adding that the oil is supposed to degrade by itself in the bird's feathers.
Nice try, but we'd have to call Stier Scheiße (you will have to look that up) on that old line …
Or, as PETA Germany's Stefan put it: "That's simply wrong; the oil decomposes the protecting layer of fat within water birds' feathers and soaks in deeper and deeper as time passes. The feathers soak up water like a sponge; the swans lose body temperature and die in the end."
Stefan rescued four swans, but one had already died and the three other oiled birds are still missing. PETA Germany is now looking into filing a complaint for cruelty to animals against the oil producers as well as pushing officials to take the dumping of cooking oils more seriously.
It's a good thing that Ms. Münchs was vigilant and blew the whistle. If you want to know more about how to help wildlife, check this out.
Written by Jeff Mackey
Today, PETA sent a letter to the National Football League asking that convicted dogfighter Michael Vick be subjected to a psychological test as well as an MRI brain scan like the one now in use at the Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in order to look for evidence of clinical psychopathy or anti-social personality disorder. Based on the fact that Vick funded and participated in a massive dogfighting operation (playing a direct role in hanging, drowning, or shooting countless dogs—and even slamming dogs to the ground to break their backs), it might seem obvious that there's something wrong with the guy. But whether or not Vick is indeed a clinical psychopath is an important piece of a bigger puzzle.
For the past 18 months, PETA has been meeting with Vick's management and legal teams behind the scenes about having Vick deliver a strong anti-dogfighting TV spot. If Vick is truly remorseful for what he's done, as he's said publically and privately, then a message from him telling people to stop these crimes could get through to dogfighters who relate to him. However, that's a big "if."
The only way to know for sure if Vick can change his ways is for him to submit himself for a brain scan and psychological test. Based on a number of factors—such as the fact that the right side of the hippocampus is larger than the left in 94 percent of captured psychopaths—these tests can help determine if Vick can ever truly understand that dog fighting is a sick, cruel business. Or, they could suggest that he's doomed to repeat mean, violent behavior in the future—whether with dogs or other human beings. And given that Vick plans to be around a lot of kids, to give talks to them, and to be a star in their eyes again, the world deserves to know who he is inside.
Vick's lawyers have run screaming, but unless and until he passes such a test, PETA will not participate in the production of a Michael Vick anti-dogfighting PSA. We hope that the NFL will require such a test as a precondition to even discussing the possibility of Vick's reinstatement. You can click here to add your name to a petition calling on the NFL to stick to its guns and maintain Vick's suspension until he's taken and passed a brain scan and psychological evaluation.
Written by Dan Shannon
The following is an op-ed from PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk
Like many who watched President Barack Obama’s inauguration, I wasn’t made in America, but I’m a typical American: I’m from somewhere else.
In my case, I was conceived in Denmark, grew up on the wild, rugged Cornish coast of England and was sent to school in the Orkney Islands, crossing the sea in a light plane. Next stop, France, where we children wore clogs to school, then eight years among the bears in the everlasting snows near Shimla, India, followed by a marriage in Spain during the frightening days of martial law under General Franco. My home is now a medium-sized riverside town in the United States. I’ve been an American for the last 30 years.
America is a melting pot—I can describe the people of this country by talking about the people of Uganda, Uruguay or Utah. Some Americans may move people to tears of joy while others provoke them to react with disgust, but Americans are no better or worse than anyone else. We are all of us preoccupied with our own worries about relationships and children, health and mortality. Some are bursting with love, while others are scarred and filled with hate. Most are a bundle of mixed emotions.
But there are some universal values that transcend all differences and create a bond between people—and animals—such as understanding, helping and sacrifice. Once when I was in India, I saw a homeless woman on a bridge remove a handful of boiled rice from the hem of her skirt, place it on a flat leaf and push it a few inches away from her. A mother street dog appeared, wagging her tail very softly, humbly, her head down in a submissive pose. The woman let the mother dog eat, squatting beside her and guarding her so that she could feel safe while she took her meal.
These values were also present when a plane crashed into the 14th Street Bridge in Washington, D.C., one winter, its wing flaps too frozen to move. People of all nationalities, for it was Washington after all, were caught in their cars on that bridge. News footage showed many people fleeing on foot as best they could. Others leaned over the bridge rail, frantically trying to determine whether there was anything that they could do, anything at all, even shouting encouragement over the wind and the snow to the passengers trying to stay alive in the frigid water below.
When tales were told afterward, it was no surprise that, finding themselves in a cabin filling up with ice water, some people had trampled and shoved aside other passengers in their panic to stay alive. But one man, an American, remained in the river, his body half in, half out of the plane, using his strength to hoist other, less able passengers out of the wreckage. He helped for as long as he could before his fingers and feet froze and he died. I am sure that he did not ask or care where anyone was from.
America is called the “melting pot” because it is home to people of all races, creeds, colors and religions. Yet America is not perfect, and among our citizens, we have the best and the worst and the middling. Within a few generations, the young often forget or even disavow their grandparents’ or earlier ancestors’ migrations, but no one can alter the fact that all of us, even those of us called Native Americans, are from somewhere else. And all of us are, in the ways that truly count, simply residents of this planet with the potential to be compassionate citizens.
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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.