It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use!  »

It’s Animal News You Can Use from Paul Shapiro! Yay, Paul! Yay, Animals! Yay, Everyone! AND HAPPY LABOR DAY WEEKEND TO ALL!! (Except for the terrible, terrible meat industry, who can go to hell.) 

Reuters had a good national story yesterday about HSUS’s new stock purchases of financial firms that invest heavily in the pork industry (as a means of making further progress on the gestation crate issue).

Speaking of gestation crate progress, since last week’s email, SubwayCampbell’s Soup and Harris Teeter all announced that they plan to eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains. (And Sodexo made a similar claim on laying hens.)

And speaking of progress, BBC had an interesting story about the increase in the number of folks reducing their meat consumption.

And finally, speaking of meat consumption, the head of the Meat Industry Hall of Fame (yes, it exists) had a surprising column placing the blame for the cruelty seen in Compassion Over Killing’s latest investigative videosquarely on the dairy industry.  And while on the topic of investigative videos, this week we saw guilty pleas in Mercy For Animals’ cruelty case regarding abuse of Butterball turkeys.

Video of the week: When the lion lays down with the lamb. (Or the cat with the rat…)


Hello, friends! It’s WTF Wednesday! (on Thursday!)  »

Now that I’m back to work I am much calmer. What Allen and his family would put up with because they still have some warm feelings left towards me will not fly with people at the office. I’m still knitting like I’m about to drop a litter of little Marks but at least I’ve stopped waiting for Allen in the dark, only to dramatically switch on the light and shake the ice in my glass as he enters, effectively giving him heart palpitations. I didn’t want to, but Allen said that it was either him or my imitation of Glenn Close on Damages (not especially close: I don’t own any crisp ladies’ suits, so I sit around in an African-print muumuu), and I want to keep this relationship going because Allen knows how to cook.

If I started questioning anyone again, however, I would start with a dog that likes guitar so much that he stops smiling when the guitar is not being played. Clearly the dog is on something, I would say intimidatingly, as I leaned over a desk to show off my middle-aged lady cleavage, and I am going to find out what it is is. And then, I would say slowly but impeccably enunciated, I am going to destroy you. I will take everything away from you. Everything.

My next case involves an assault. “Where’s the victim?” you might ask me, “it just looks like a confused bird.” That is my case. Why was my client being videotaped? Why was he being harrassed? More importantly, what kind of sick and twisted individual would get a bird drunk and then stick a decoy in front of him? Who would leak this to the press? (Amazing twist: I did it. The guitar-loving dog’s supplier had this video of one of my clients and was going to release it if I didn’t drop my suit, so I beat her to the punch and released it myself, making my client appear sympathetic).

Here’s one I don’t even have to make up dramatic plot twists for: A Chinese man was poisoned to death while eating cat stew. I can’t even say anything, you guys. Apparently people are eating cat stew now? And apparently other people are poisoning the stew for some kind of weird government thing? But also, rich people are eating cat stew? The guy who did the poisoning has been caught and I wonder what jail is like for poisoners. Are there levels? Do you get treated better or worse depending on the medium you used for your poison? Where does cat stew fall? I kind of hope that there is an animal-rights activist in jail with him. And that they meet. And that there is a reality show filmed about their encounters and also that the poisoner learns that it is wrong to both poison soup in order to kill a rival but also just as wrong to turn a cat into soup.

That’s it for this week. Please send me links for next week and have a court-free week. However, if you have to appear in court this week, please do so; my sentiment should not be taken as an instruction. Pay your debt to society and leave my name out of it.

Final note: for some reason your emails were going through a time hole and appearing in my AOL inbox, which I checked regularly in high school but no longer use. I have no idea how this happened but I am not ignoring you (I swear) and will use links everyone sent me this year (the ones AOL hasn’t deleted) next week. Promise.


This video documents the transportation of super-duper-endangered black rhinoceroses from the Eastern Cape of South Africa to a location 1,500 miles away in Limpopo province. Yes, it looks pretty scary, but it is supposedly the all-around best way to transport big animals like rhinos, and the 19 of them that were moved, via the World Wildlife Federation's Black Rhino Expansion Project, all made it safely. 

Reading the details of this project on the Vimeo page is highly recommended! It was quite complicated, involving four organizations and many, many individuals, all to protect the seventh black rhino population established by WWF.

The overall populations of white and black rhinos are finally increasing, but this week the western black rhino was declared extinct, and the northern white rhino “on the brink of extinction.” It seems like these kinds of actions, which seem scary and extreme, are necessary to preserve the rhinoceroses in the wild.


Bonobos tell their pals when they score good grub  »

Bonobos are total foodies
! Likes: kiwis. Dislikes: apples. Well, no, they don’t dislike apples, they just prefer kiwis. The coolest part is, from these preferences, scientists have found bonobos communicate about their food and totally understand each other. They have five different sounds regarding food. When they first find food, they make a grunt noise. Then they do higher-pitched, long barks and little peeps to tell their pals when they find kiwis, or lower-pitched peeps and yelps to signal when they find apples. From the BBC Earth News, “The primates made these calls in sequences which the researchers recorded and played back to others. Scientists observed that the successive foragers were then able to direct their search to specific locations after listening to the calls.” So cool! They also found that the bonobos were more committed to the food search if there were kiwis involved. That’s like me with Jewish boys.

I myself prefer apples but bonobos can do no wrong! They are so awesome, having sex all the time and whatnot. They are the flower-children of the monkey world. Hey guys, don’t hate the player! Etc.


This had me cracking up! Maybe I’m a sucker for talking birds but that first bit kills it! “Nighttime…daytime!” I also like the woodchuck version of our own Mark.

Voiceover provided For animals on a BBC nature show

[via laughingsquid]


One-person trend stories: Depression 2.0 Americans love them some squirrel!  »

A reporter in the BBC Washington, D.C. office ran into a dude from Georgia who hunts squirrel, and the next thing you know, squirrel is “the perfect austerity dish.” Ms. Katie Connolly, one presumes, must’ve been really hard up for a story to have posted this piece of crap journalism.

You can hear "Dueling Banjos" in the background as soon as the article starts. Connolly uses standard BBC diction except when directly describing her subject “outdoor enthusiast” William Hovey Smith. His family has lived and hunted the “critters” in Georgia since the 18th century—less frequently, one presumes, during the years it was a cotton plantation, but today it’s “an ideal hunting ground.” Delightful! Smith takes Connolly on a hunt, where she learns he even has a “‘faithful hound’” to bring his kills back to him.

Maybe, Connolly acknowledges, some people might find eating squirrel a little icky, but Smith says it’s been an American tradition since “the early settlers…cleared the virgin forests for agriculture in the 1700s.” No, really. And because there are so many squirrels shooting and stewing them “raises fewer of the ethical and environmental questions that industrially farmed meats do.” You guys, guilt-free meat! Why aren’t we making squirrel-fur hats and whatever, like the nutria?

What am I saying—we probably are, or at least, one person in the country is; it’s just that no one’s told us about it yet.*

*Unless both these trends were totally invented by foreign journalists making fun of poor Southern Americans and their plantation-owning, rodent-eating ways. Considering how nonsensical these ideas are—“Feed your family on a dozen squirrels a day!” “Nutria: the bayou’s foe is your dinnerplate’s friend!”—don’t you think it’s likely someone’s playing a gross practical joke on the poor and backwoodsy?

[headline theme; photo by Vicki’s Nature]


Harry Potter causes Indian owl craze, of course  »

That damn Harry Potter! His movies have given rise to a pet owl fad. At least that’s what Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh says: "Following Harry Potter, there seems to be a strange fascination even among the urban middle classes for presenting their children with owls." He made these statements at the launch of Traffic India’s report, “Imperilled Custodians of the Night.” That’s quite a title!

A request for a white owl for a Harry Potter-themed b-day party is what initially inspired the research but from what I’m reading on Traffic’s site and the BBC piece, it seems that Harry Potter may be less of a culprit than beliefs surrounding the power of owls in Indian culture. The sacrifice of owls and their body parts are recommended for all sorts of magic and rituals. Even though hunting and trading of all Indian owls has been banned since 1972, Traffic thinks thousands are being trapped and traded every year. This time of year in particular has Ramesh and Traffic concerned as they believe the sacrifice of owls increases during Diwali, a five-day religious festival that began on Nov. 5. “Diwali should be a time for celebration across our nation, not one when our wildlife is plundered to feed ignorant superstition. India’s wildlife already faces many pressures; the additional burden of being killed out of ignorance and fear is not one that has any place in our modern society,” said Ramesh.

I’ve actually never seen any of the Harry Potter movies. I wanted to but now there are so many, it seems like such an endeavor. But jeez louise, these movies do NOT seem very vegan-friendly! I guess there are a lot of animals in the movie; you can read all about Gizmo, the owl that played Hedwig, and some of the other animals in this interview Scholastic did with animal trainer Gary Gero. He swears it’s all positive reinforcement but then again, so does Ringling Brothers. But it doesn’t matter how this bro treats his animals; portraying animals in popular culture in totally unrealistic ways gives people totally unreasonable ideas about them. People blame all these movies that act like chihuahuas are hot accessories rather than actual, living animals for the chihuahua invasion of California’s animal shelters. Guess what! Dogs have needs and don’t just pop up for comedic relief. I mean they do pop up for comedic relief, but they also pee all over your house and eat your shoes. And it’s not just movies, that’s a big criticism of zoos too; they aren’t educating children about animals, they are completely miseducating them. Nothing about a zoo is natural and it just gives people crazy ideas like those freaks that buy “exotic” pets. Like, yeah! I’m getting a tiger! And then BAM! the neighbor boy gets eaten. IT HAPPENS.

If the lives of wild animals and wild animals in captivity were portrayed realistically in popular culture, people wouldn’t be buying obviously poached owls for an eight-year-old’s birthday party. And people DEFINITELY wouldn’t be lining up for the circus if they saw what goes on behind the scenes. However, I don’t think realistic movies will ever be as popular as movies with adorable owls delivering mail. I’m saying, I seriously doubt we’ll be seeing The Cove party packs any time soon.

Click here to download Traffic’s report [pdf].


Who loves bunnies and dormice and cephalopods and German vegetarians? This week’s link-o-rama loves them all, of course!  »

Events! Things to do!
Have you adopted a rabbit yet? If not, don’t worry, you have another chance on Saturday, Sept. 4, when East Bay Rabbit Rescue teams with Harvest Home Sanctuary and the House Rabbit Society for a massive art show and adoption event! From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the East Bay SPCA at 4651 Gleason Dr. in Dublin, you can browse and buy bunny artwork, and meet your new best friends like little baby Elmo here, who is only three months old! The art show will continue through the end of the month.

SF Zine Fest returns this weekend! It’s awesome, it’s free, and our own Jonas is a longtime organizer so attendance is like telling Jonas he’s great, which shouldn’t be hard because duh, he is. Our Laura will be there with the very first issue of Fat Zine (read about its creation in The Bold Italic!) Plus you can check out other Friends of Vegansaurus, including Susie Cagle, Family Style, Jen Oaks, François Vigneault, and Zine Fest special guest Jesse Reklaw!  Zine Fest is located in the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park, at 9th Avenue and Lincoln Way; it’s open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 4 and 5. Visit the site for information on workshops, panels, special events, a complete list of exhibitors, interviews, and more!

Update! Davey Surcamp of future vegan bakery A Fire Inside is holding a fundraising vegan bakesale on Monday, Sept. 6 (Labor Day!) from noon to 4:30 p.m. at Haight and Ashbury Streets. Buy a snack, support the bakery, which we REALLY WANT, YOU GUYS. Afterward he’ll host a vegan potluck in Buena Vista Park at 5 p.m., noting please that while everyone is welcome, all attendees will need to bring both a vegan dish to share (duh) and their own dinnerware. So there’s your three-day weekend covered, you’re welcome!

Most of us San Franciscans have friends and relations in other states worrying us about THE BIG ONE and whether we’re READY FOR IT, but hyperbole aside, we ought to be minimally earthquake-ready—at least for your pet’s sake. To that end, a panel of Disaster Preparedness Coalition for Animals reps will hold a discussion on “Preparing Yourself and Your Animal Companion for a Disaster” on Wednesday, Sept. 8 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room in the Main Branch of the SFPL. The Main Branch is located at 100 Larkin St, and the Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room is on the lower level of the Library.

Hello, Tidbit! At one whole year old, Tidbit is fully grown and a whopping two pounds. We understand that he loves to meet new people, and cannot be kept away from his toys. Tidbit is a rescue bun with Harvest Home Sanctuary, meaning our friend Anne has vouched for his character, and if she says he’s confident and happy, he most certainly is. Do you have room in your heart and home for little Tidbit? (hint: YES)

Articles! Things to read!
Remember when we asked you last week if you’d rather eat a GM “salmon” or “willingly donated human meat?” Guess what, we’re geniuses: that was, essentially, the question the VEBU wanted everyone to ask, and being vegans, we got it. Wir sind gleich! We’re also gleich with scientists who are proving that cephalopods are conscious beings. They might even dream, you guys. What do you suppose squids dream of? What would an octopus’ dream look like? Your Vegansaurus will admit to welling up a bit, considering animal minds.

A mountain lion made the mistake of venturing too near “popular restaurants and shops in the north side” of Berkeley on Tuesday morning, so city police, to quote Brock SFist, murdered it. Definitely the right choice, straight-up bullets. Even though the ortolan is an endangered species, it’s such a fancypants delicacy in France the government still ignores hunters—how can you stop people from eating something so delicious? Even if 50,000 tiny birds are slaughtered annually, each of which sells for up to £120 on the black market—it’s about TRADITION, and CUISINE, something animal-loving barbarians would NEVER understand. Across the Channel, the entire U.K. is up in a bunch over having to build bridges to allow tree-dwelling endangered species like dormice to safely cross giant motorways, once the giant motorways have been built right through the dormice’s habitats. Considering how super-extra-endangered Britain’s remaining endangered species are, the public may want to consider more serious measures. You jerks had better not kill off all the Mrs. Tiggywinkles. In Israel, a bill that would have banned “the production, processing, import, export and sale of fur from all animal species not already part of the meat industry” will now most likely be withdrawn, as member of the Knesset Menachem Eliezer announced his party no longer supports it, despite a clause added by the bill’s sponsor, MK Ronit Tirosh, to allow fur imports for religious purposes (such as the shtreimel worn by ultra-Orthodox men). Dang it, religion: no matter what country or what deity, you’re always making things difficult.

Do you read Paula Deenisms? Maya Goodwin, unfortunately, is an ex-vegan who believes that “[v]eganism is a dietary preference that is, in realistic terms, reserved for those who are fortunate enough to afford such an expensive diet.” Boo, Maya Goodwin. As an interested party (one of your editors also works for The Morning News!), I am disappointed the interviewer (who is my pal) didn’t press her on this point, but of course, we have separate agendas. On the other hand, did you read the good news from old crazyface John Mackey? “[Whole Foods will] introduce a private-label line in 2011 based on the healthy eating book The Engine 2 Diet. We’ve licensed that brand. It’s vegan (no animal fats) with no canola or safflower oils, and low in sugar and salt.” YOU GUYS MORE VEGAN FOOD AVAILABLE IN MORE AREAS HOORAY HOORAY. Mackey remains a creep who probably hates fat people and is clearly obsessed with oils—which make your hair look pretty, dude, look into ingesting some—but you bet your ass your Vegansaurus supports his move to bring more vegan food to the people. Like (organic, vegan) Brooklyn Salsa: NYC vegans, check this stuff out! The company uses Glen Industries to make the salsas, which employs people with disabilities, helping them “to realize their goals of where and how they learn, live, play, and work, Glen Industries creates an environment of independence, productivity and integration.” Jesus christ, my heart. [BK Salsa info from Shut Up, Foodies!]

Plumpy’nut: when we last looked at Plumpy’nut, Congress was not happy about its creator’s proposal to let her Tanzanian factory produce it—what about the precious U.S. farm bill? In a new article, we get a broader view of the complicated business of Plumpy’nut. Internationally, there are complaints that the company that owns its patent is too strict with how it licenses the product, and that the $60-per-child-per-two-month-treatment cost is too high. Then there are complaints from the U.S. peanut lobby, who aren’t getting in on any of the action, and from other parties who don’t believe in for-profit “therapeutic foods.” Yes, it contains milk, but it is a very effective vegetarian supplement; kids love it, and they can eat it at home instead of at a clinic. What do you vegans think: better Plumpy’nut for kids, or something like Heifer International for families?

Right, and McDonald’s food does not visibly age. Like at all. That’s your restaurant!



Saving seahorses: barehoofed and pregnant   »

It seems that seahorses, my favorite sea creature with the head of a mammal, are in danger! According to the BBC, they are being traded on the underground market, used for icky medicines and threatened by pollution. This will not stand! The Anglesey Sea Zoo (zoos blow, but this is a good cause so I don’t know) in north Wales is dedicated to preserving these guys (btw, Megan is one of the most popular names for girls in Wales. It’s usually the first- or second-most common baby girl name each year. BOO-YA). The owner of the zoo has been breeding seahorses for a while but had trouble breeding the local species, but things are looking up! “He said that despite initially breeding hundreds of the creatures, none of them survived, until this year when 150 seahorses thrived.” THAT RHYMES. Oh BBC, you and your lyrical prose.

[Image by Nick Hobgood, wikimedia commons]

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