Written by PETA
Elephant inmates, that is.
Two recent studies comparing the health of wild elephants to that of captive ones just concluded that—golly jeepers—free-roaming animals don't fare very well if they're kidnapped from their mothers and kept for life in cages—excuse me—"zoo exhibits." You see, 8,000-pound elephants physically require exercise, including being active for up to 18 hours per day (sometimes covering as much as 30 miles of open wilderness in a herd of closely-knit family members). It turns out that they frequently experience fatal side effects when they are reduced to pacing around enclosures that are typically just a fraction of an acre of unnatural habitat (or a couple of acres if they're really lucky). Imagine life in the circus, where elephants are kept in shackles almost every hour of their life, standing in feces and urine, swaying from one foot to the other.
Here are a few of the not-so-happy findings:
Strangely, Steve Feldman, spokesperson for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) said something about these findings not applying to US zoos, as the studies were conducted in European zoos. Really? Try telling that to the 63 elephants who have died at AZA-accredited facilities since 2000—more than half never reached the age of 40. And with AZA's pathetic space recommendations for elephants, which are about the size of a 3-car garage, elephants in the U.S. commonly develop deadly foot problems and arthritis.
The point, to state the obvious, is that stealing animals and using them for exploitative entertainment is outdated, unnecessary, and—hello?—wrong, and these studies give scientific evidence of it. No matter how eloquently zoos attempt to justify keeping animals in captivity to make a profit, caging elephants (or any wild animals, for that matter) is just flat-out indefensible and should be abandoned.
Written by Missy Lane
In honor of Thanksgiving, we want to share with you one of the things that we're really, really thankful for: Awesome activists doing awesome demos!
Take this recent demo in Albuquerque, where a pair of PETA "turkeys" handed out succulent soy-based Tofurky roasts to lucky passersby. The demo was part of the traveling twosome's multicity "Turkey Drive": To avoid ending up as someone's Thanksgiving dinner, the two feathered fugitives were breaking for the border "Thelma and Louise"–style in a red convertible with a sign reading, "Mexico or Bust!" Their goal? To persuade as many people as possible to give up the giblets today in favor of a vegetarian Thanksgiving feast. And by the enthusiastic response they got from the press and passing peeps in New Mexico (every single person interviewed by the Fox News reporter said that they were already vegetarian or didn't eat turkey!), it's a safe bet that there's a lot of Tofurky being gobbled down in Albuquerque today. Which makes this plucky pair very, very happy.
While we're on the subject of "Turkey Drives," check out this banner that activists hung in Orlando to convince travelers to give birds a break.
Turkeys aren't the only animals who need a helping hand this holiday season. Recently, a herd of "ele-friends" got together to protest the death of Mac, a 2-year-old elephant born at the Houston Zoo.
Animals in circuses have nothing to be thankful for either.
In the words of one cyclist who happened upon our Albuquerque Turkey Drive, "Tofurky? Hell Yeah!" Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!
Written by Amy Elizabeth
Gas, trucks, and tigers?! Oh, no they don't!
The Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana, has been on PETA's most hideous radar for years. This roadside hellhole, which at one time housed four tigers, now has one, a Bengal tiger named Tony.
Complaints about the welfare of these tigers have flooded PETA's inboxes, mailboxes, and phone lines. We have filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and written to the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop offering to help pay the costs to get the animals transferred to real sanctuaries.
Now, state wildlife officials have joined the growing throng of animal rights organizations (such as the Coalition of Louisiana Animal Advocates, which has battled the truck stop for years) and compassionate people who are fed up with the owner's repeated violations of animal care standards. Violations include having an insufficient number of trained employees, keeping the tigers in unsound facilities, having no veterinary care program for the tigers, and providing improper nutrition for the animals. In a letter to the truck stop owner, officials warn that Tony must be "legally removed from the premises to a Department-approved facility or out-of-state within 30 days …." Thanks, guys. Nice!
Roadside exhibits and novelty displays are worlds away from suitable habitats for exotic animals. Not only are these frustrated animals dangerous, but they quickly become stir-crazy and display stereotypical behaviors within their cramped pens. Hopefully, now, with the state stepping in, the Tiger Truck Stop has exploited its last animal and Tony is off to a great life.
Written by Jennifer Cierlitsky
At our behest she has just sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their irresponsible decision to issue a permit that will allow two tigers to be transferred to the Baghdad Zoo. That's right, according to the permit, Riley and Hope will be sent off to live an uncertain future in a war zone—an area already proved to be dangerous and deadly to the animals at the Baghdad Zoo and where the last two tigers were shot to death by…”friendly fire.” You can read Kim's full letter here:
July 28, 2008H. Dale Hall, DirectorU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service1849 C St. N.W.Mail Stop 3238 MIBWashington, DC 20240Dear Mr. Hall,I have long had an interest in how “exotic” animals are treated in captivity. Now, I am very troubled to learn that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved an export permit to send two tigers, Riley and Hope to the Baghdad Zoo - into a war zone with an uncertain future - and hope you will do all in your power to reverse the Service’s decision.It has already been shown that the animals at the Baghdad Zoo cannot be properly protected from the country’s military conflict. When the war began, hundreds of animals in the zoo were killed, stolen, eaten, or let loose by looters. The last two tigers escaped and were shot dead. The future is uncertain. Most of the people in Iraq still do not have access to basic necessities or a safe environment and Iraq remains a war zone: sending tigers there would place the animals squarely in harm’s way.Also, because Iraq is not a signatory to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), issuance of the permit would violate the basic tenet of CITES and will eliminate a significant incentive for other countries to sign on to the provisions of this very important international treaty that is designed to protect tigers like Riley and Hope.The Endangered Species Act mandates that such a transfer enhance the species in the wild, yet there’s absolutely no evidence that sending these tigers to Iraq would fulfill that requirement. Their presence is for amusement.In their natural environment, tigers quietly roam throughout many miles of territory consisting of forests, swamps, grasslands, savannahs, and rocky terrain, hunt, and raise their young. This is the life that they were meant to have—not dodging bullets in a facility that does not have the expertise or resources to properly care for them. It’s my understanding that the zoo even lacks veterinary diagnostic capabilities and many of the animals are handled with the crude use of ropes.Surely your agency will give thoughtful reconsideration and make the kind and responsible decision to deny the export. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.Sincerely,Kim Basinger
If you're as outraged by this decision as Kim is, please immediately contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service using our action alert. Ask them to rethink their decision to transfer Riley and Hope and to consider the safety of all animals at the Baghdad Zoo.
Posted by Jennifer Cierlitsky
We bet you agree with us that Jenny should be sent ASAP to a fantastic facility where she can choose her own new friends. And the zoo is shipping her out, but where does it want to send her? Their plan is to export her to a drive-through tourist attraction in Mexico called Africam.
Jenny has a lot of psychological and health problems. She needs plenty of space, a nurturing staff to look after her special needs, and her choice of companions. The elephant enclosure at Africam is barely 5 acres—a fraction of the 30 miles per day that elephants might roam in the wild. In fact, this video shows three Asian elephants at Africam as they sway back and forth, an indication of boredom and frustration and a behavior that is never seen in elephants in the wild. These aren't happy elephants—and I wouldn't be happy either if I were standing in a mostly barren enclosure on hard, compressed dirt with nothing to explore.
Of course, there's a far better option for Jenny. The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee has already offered Jenny a peaceful home, where she would have hundreds of acres to explore (and the companionship of three other female African elephants), live in a fabulous facility, and remain protected by the U.S. Animal Welfare Act. Despite this, the Dallas Zoo so far isn't backing down from its decision.
Why? Well, the Dallas Zoo says that it will only send Jenny to a facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Um, shouldn't it be acceptable to send Jenny to a facility whose standards actually exceed those of the AZA? After all, the AZA's guidelines for elephants permit the kind of abuse seen in circuses. Besides that, the AZA only requires elephant enclosures to be 40 by 45 feet, which—if you do the math—is about the size of a three-car garage. That might not be big enough for a 13,000-lb. elephant.
And by the way, if you're still thinking that AZA accreditation means something, consider this: The elephants at Africam swaying in that video are in an AZA-approved habitat.
If you'd like to help Jenny get to The Elephant Sanctuary and a wonderful retirement, please see our action alert to find out how. Also, be sure to watch 20/20 tonight at 10 p.m., as there will be a moving story about elephants and how they really are just like us. "There are things about elephants that seem so similar to us. Their family life, their emotional life, the fact that they grieve. They stand out from other animals," said Gay Bradshaw, the director of a research institute called The Kerulos Center.
Posted by Amanda Schinke
People are still being blown up in Baghdad, and no one knows what the future holds for human beings there. So is it really a safe and responsible place to send these massive, beautiful wild animals?
If you're like me and you're equally angered by this madness, check out what we have to say in our official action alert and let the Fish and Wildlife Service know what YOU think.
Posted by Christine Doré
Let me recap for the irony-impaired: People who came to look at animals stuck in cages ended up stuck cages themselves.
For perhaps the first time since their capture (or births in captivity), the residents of the pens below the tram tracks had reason to feel grateful for their enclosures' sizes—they at least had walking room (albeit it nothing like freedom), while the human animals were confined to 4-by-5-foot boxes. On the other hand, the human animals had liberty and exercise of free will to look forward to, which was not the case for the Bronx Zoo's permanent "residents."
Some stranded patrons saw the connection, according to The New York Times, which ran the story.
One such visitor walked away with a better understanding of how the animals must feel: "You have no say in what happens to you. You lose all control," she told the Times. Another man said, "It's a good lesson to humanity. They're now afraid, they're now vulnerable. Humanity needs to learn humility. They're not masters of the universe. They're part of the natural world."
What bizarre role reversal will come next? Will meat kill people? Oh, wait ....
Posted by Sean Conner
This was sent in by Marc Bekoff for Taylor Courtney Hobbs, anundergraduate at the University of Colorado, Boulder. As you will haveguessed from the title of this post, it's kind of depressing. Before Istarted thinking really seriously about animal rights issues, itliterally never even occurred to me that there might be something wrongwith keeping wild animals confined in completely unnatural surroundingsfor people to gape and shout at all day, but once you start looking atit that way, a trip to the zoo feels more like a horrorshow than a funfamily outing. More on the topic 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.