Written by PETA
Last month, Amali, a 5-year-old giraffe, got an unnatural knot in her neck from an injury sustained in-transit to the Tulsa Zoo, where she was expected to breed with a male giraffe. After weeks of treatment with ineffective drugs, Amali's neck remained crooked. A few days ago, zoo veterinarians prepared her for an X-ray procedure, but soon after sedation, Amali died.
Amali's disability may have looked unusual, but her tragic passing is an all-too-ordinary occurrence for giraffes at zoos. Captive giraffes frequently die as a result of inadequate care and space. Veterinary neglect is often lethal—as it was in 2005 for a giraffe named Kenya at the Columbus Zoo after the zoo's chief veterinarian administered the wrong drug during surgery. In 2006, Makena, a 1-year-old giraffe, fatally broke her neck while she struggled to free herself after her head became wedged in a small space at the Lee Richardson Zoo in Kansas. Earlier last year, Dusti died from strangulation when he became entangled in a pulley system at Brookfield Zoo in Illinois. The year before, Makonnen, a 2-year-old giraffe, died in a barn fire at Six Flags in Vallejo, Cali.
Giraffes belong in the wild, not in enclosures that offer many opportunities for these curious animals to become injured. If you notice abuse or mistreatment of animals in your local zoo, file a report. Your observations and documentation can save lives that would otherwise be lost to neglect and carelessness.
Written by Logan Scherer
PETA and ZooCheck have been campaigning to convince officials at the Edmonton Zoo, deemed Canada's worst zoo for elephants by African elephant biologist Winnie Kiiru, to release its sole pachyderm prisoner, Lucy, to a sanctuary. We've reasoned with zoo officials. We've enlisted support from experts and celebrities. And we've called on caring supporters to write letters pushing for Lucy's retirement.
Unfortunately, it took proposed litigation against the city of Edmonton for zoo officials to make a pathetic attempt to improve Lucy's sad state and announce their "plan" to improve her life by putting her on a diet, giving her some sand to stand on—and possibly providing her with a treadmill.* We responded to this craziness with a full-page ad, which ran yesterday in the Edmonton Journal.
The zoo's policy of locking Lucy inside during the long, bitterly cold winters means that Lucy spends most of her time in a small barn. When she is allowed outside, she's primarily restricted to an enclosure that is less than an acre in size. It's no surprise that Lucy exhibits signs of mental distress, and her medical records reveal that she has been suffering from arthritis as well as chronic foot and respiratory problems.
It's time that Edmonton Zoo officials made the decent decision to help Lucy by retiring her to a sanctuary where she can enjoy warmer temperatures, acres of space to roam, and the company of other elephants. Please help by sending your polite comments to Edmonton's mayor and city councilmembers.
Stay tuned for updates.
Written by Karin Bennett
*I think if Edmonton zoo officials were serious about enriching Lucy's life and improving her health, they'd sign her up for some Jazzercize classes. I'm obviously joking, but building a jumbo-sized treadmill for the overweight elephant is just as ludicrous. (Am I right—or am I right?)
Right on the coattails of Ireland's fur-farm ban, here's a sizzling fur-free first: Supermodel and longtime vegetarian Suzanne McCabe has become Ireland's first celebrity to bare it all in an anti-fur ad. McCabe's sexy new ad for PETA U.K. and Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN) is sure to turn heads:
A finalist for Miss Universe Ireland in 2008, McCabe has beauty and brains—she has degree in psychology from University College Dublin and a master's in business, and she recently joined ARAN's campaign against Canada's annual slaughter of baby seals for their fur. She's educating herself about how animals who are raised on fur farms are electrocuted, poisoned, and gassed for their skin, and she's making caring choices.
Who wouldn't want to look like this compassionate stunner? Follow McCabe's luscious lead and take our pledge to go fur-free.
Written by Logan Scherer
Bugs are fascinating, and if anyone tries to tell you different, have them check out this article, which offers proof that many insects are tiny geniuses who are capable of counting, categorizing objects, and recognizing human faces. Recent studies show that even though their brains are oh-so-teeny-tiny, ants, bees, and other braniac bugs are brilliant creatures. There is overwhelming evidence that brain size has no effect on intelligence and that in many cases a bigger brain is not a smarter brain.
One study shows that honeybees, whose behavioral abilities rival that of some vertebrates, can determine whether or not shapes are symmetrical, can classify objects according to sameness and difference, and will stop flying after passing a predetermined number of landmarks.
I bet if you tried you could think of a few humans who struggle with those three tasks. I've been known to have a little trouble with that last one, myself.
So the next time you see one of these clever critters, keep in mind their ingenious minds, and let them live their complex, profound lives. We've got just the thing to help you.
On July 4, we celebrated Independence Day for greyhounds in New Hampshire when the state's two racetracks closed. Well, get ready to toast "New Life's Eve" for many racing greyhounds: Wisconsin's only dog-killing racing track, Dairyland Greyhound Park, will hold its last race on December 31.
Life in the fast lane is hard and cruel for racing greyhounds, who spend long hours in cramped kennels and sometimes suffer broken legs, heatstroke, and heart attacks. Once their racing days are over, many dogs are abandoned, starved, shot, or sold to laboratories. After such hard living, it's no wonder that dogs who are rescued from racetracks have a tendency to turn into couch potatoes.
One more down, eight more to go …
How could we not plug the new, adorable polar bears at the Saint Louis Zoo? After all, we are all about the zoo of the future, and this zoo exhibit is unlike anything we've ever seen before. Instead of flesh-and-blood bears, the zoo is currently displaying electric proxies, and we couldn't be more thrilled.
A study out of the University of Oxford determined that polar bears fare especially poorly in captive situations. These large, roving predators develop neurotic behaviors because of stress when kept in captivity because they are unable to satisfy their instinct to roam. The report noted that "a polar bear's typical enclosure size, for example, is about one-millionth of its minimum home-range size," and the authors concluded that "the keeping of naturally wide-ranging carnivores should be either fundamentally improved or phased out."
The Saint Louis Zoo has a miserable record of polar bear "care." Four years ago, a polar bear named Churchill ate a toxic meal of cloth and plastic and died during his subsequent stomach surgery. Just one month later, the polar bear Penny died from infection. She had two dead fetuses inside her uterus, though zoo officials didn't know she was pregnant. Hope, the zoo's last surviving polar bear, was euthanized earlier this year after veterinarians discovered she had cancer.
We're hoping that the zoo maintains its merry instillation year-round, making every day a cause for polar bears to celebrate. And if they decide that the still-lives don't quite cut it, we'd love to see the zoo invest in animatronic bears that look and act like the real things.
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
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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.