Written by PETA
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
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
Warning: Spoiler Alert! If you don't want to have your suspension of disbelief, er, suspended, please do not read any further.
The penguins in Madagascar and Happy Feet are not real!
OK, so you knew that already, but you still love them anyway, right?
Our point exactly. That's why we're asking the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York, to replace the real penguins at the zoo with bionic birds.
Developed by German engineering company Festo, these robotic penguins are able to swim and communicate just like real penguins—and tap dance like the fake ones.
These cutting-edge carbon copies are totally lifelike—but as fake as some zoos' concern about animal welfare—and they'll allow visitors to observe animal behavior without inflicting the stress of captivity on live penguins. Penguins are avid swimmers and divers who belong in open water—not on display in concrete enclosures that fail to come even close to simulating their natural environments.
And forget attracting a partner with a sweet song. Penguins in zoos have their mates chosen for them through breeding programs, and their chicks are often taken away to be raised by zookeepers.
It's no wonder that being pent-up in a zoo causes pimped penguins and other exploited animals to have pent-up frustration.
Here's hoping that the Rosamond Gifford Zoo will take our advice (we're offering to donate two grand toward this grand idea). I'd definitely be down with watching robotic animals.
How about you? What type of animal would you most like to see zoos replace with a robot?
Written by Amy Elizabeth
As promised, here are the photos from PETA India's protest yesterday outside the Calcutta Zoo. You'll probably remember the protest because of a certain police officer's arrest "Fail."
Written by Amanda Schinke
The Zookeeper has recently begun filming at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston. It's a movie about, well, a zookeeper, played by Kevin James, who wins Rosario Dawson's heart with the help of his animal charges. Well, presumably he wins her heart—what a bummer of a movie if not!
Something else that would make the The Zookeeper a bummer? If it used exotic animal "actors" to portray its animal characters, who are voiced by stars such as Cher, Adam Sandler, and Sylvester Stallone.
PETA has written letters to the film's stars asking them not to work with animal "actors" and pointing out that Birds & Animals Unlimited, the company that has been contracted to supply animals for the film, has a long list of USDA violations. Not only that, but exotic animals who are used as involuntary "actors" are routinely subjected to cruel training methods that can include being beaten, shocked with electric prods, drugged, and deprived of food in order to coerce them into performing acts that are stressful, confusing, and even painful to them.
Movies like The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong have exclusively used computer-generated imagery, animatronics, and other technology instead of trained animals—and they ended up being blockbusters. We are suggesting that The Zookeeper use these modern techniques as well—or simply use footage of animals who already live at the Franklin Park Zoo.
As PETA's own Debbie Leahy said, "When it comes to exotic animal characters, the best casting choice is to 'fake it.' Even under the best of circumstances, captivity can be hell for exotic animals."
Written by Amanda Schinke
When PETA pal Chrissie Hynde learned that the organizers of her band's summer tour included a date at the Weesner Amphitheater—which is located at the Minnesota Zoo—the staunch zoo opponent wasn't pleased.
Then she learned that animals from the Minnesota Zoo's petting zoo are routinely sent to livestock auctions.
Chrissie has never shied away from an opportunity to speak up for animals who are being exploited, so she fired off an e-mail to the zoo director, Lee Ehmke, in which she wrote:
I am disappointed to learn that the zoo sells its petting zoo animals to slaughter at the end of the season. How can a zoo invite children to touch and play with and express joy over animals for their uniqueness, only to turn around and sell those very animals to slaughter?
Well, the zoo didn't agree to stop shipping off once-petted goats and sheep to slaughter. Instead, it canceled Chrissie's show!
You better bet she'll have some choice words about it to share with Pretenders fans.
Written by Karin Bennett
On Sunday, a 45-year-old elephant named Annabel was euthanized after falling into a ditch that surrounded her compound at Emmen Zoo in the Netherlands. For more than two and a half hours, zoo workers tried to help the struggling elephant pull herself out of the ditch. Ultimately, firefighters used a truck to lift her out.
Annabel entered a deep state of shock. Once freed, the 3-ton elephant was unable to stand up, so she had to be euthanized. Heartbreaking images of her struggle can be viewed here.
The zoo was aware that elephants regularly fall into this ditch and strain to drag themselves out, but even after this tragic incident, a spokesperson has announced that the zoo has no plans to modify the elephant's outside area because of space concerns. If this horrible situation doesn't cause the zoo to think twice about the environment it provides for the animals, I shudder to think what would.
No animal deserves to live his or her life in a pitiful cage, but zoos have the obligation to provide—at the very least—a safe facility for animals. In the end, Annabel paid the price for the zoos' irresponsibility. It is time for the zoo community to stop capturing and breeding more animals to be put on display and to leave animals in their natural habitat where they belong.
Please, never support the cruel zoo industry.
Written by Liz Graffeo
Michael Jackson is trickier to find these days than Waldo, but lucky for us (and for animals), we've got some mad detective skills. Do you really think any disguise would prevent us from tracking him down when animals are in danger? Heck no!
PETA's Captive Animal Rescue and Enforcement Department—otherwise known as CARE—shot off a letter to the artist insisting that he take responsibility for the giraffes he once owned at his Neverland Ranch property. You might remember that Jackson sold the animals who were living at his private zoo after the millions of dollars of unpaid debt that had piled up at his doorstep made him incapable of caring for them.
Four giraffes from the ranch were relocated to Arizona after being purchased by a couple who apparently intend to open a zoo. But since the beginning of the year, PETA has received numerous complaints from concerned citizens regarding the well-being of these giraffes. A former volunteer caretaker for the animals has reported that the giraffes do not receive adequate foot care. According to this person, the giraffes have been housed in small, 15 ft. by 15 ft. "temporary" enclosures since the day they were purchased over a year ago. And, with the exception of one giraffe—who reportedly was allowed to bleed for days after giving birth before the couple finally requested assistance—none of the animals have been seen by a vet.
We have reason to believe that one of these giraffes was born at the San Antonio Zoo. Unfortunately, our numerous attempts to contact the zoo to request that zoo officials arrange for the giraffes' lifetime care at a suitable facility have gone unanswered.
Now, it's time for Jackson to put his money where his mouth is and pay to have these animals, whom he once supposedly loved so dearly, transferred to an accredited sanctuary. These giraffes have been suffering for far too long. They deserve to live out the remainder of their lives in a clean, safe environment, where they will receive adequate food, shelter, and veterinary care.
Come on, Michael. It's bad, it's bad, and you know it.
Written by Jennifer Cierlitsky
"To see all those poor souls forced to live in confined living quarters, with little to no sunlight, and no hope of freedom, it's just so inhumane," San Diego housewife Carol Wurster said. "Those otters deserve better."
LA Zoo, this time. Last week was Tampa. Could it, just possibly, be because these animals don’t want to be there? At least no one was hurt during this particular attempted escape, but that doesn’t change the fact that in addition to being (quite clearly) unsafe for visitors, the conditions animals are kept in at zoos are inhumane and unacceptable. There’s more information on this issue here.
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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.