Same-sex penguin pair are targeted by heteronormative zoo »
The Toronto Zoo is planning to separate same-sex penguin couple Pedro and Buddy in order to pair them with females for breeding. Needless to say, some people are not happy about this. As tipster Sarah L. said, “as if it doesn’t suck enough already to be imprisoned in a zoo.” Now they are forcing loving couples to separate. Eff that noise! Keep them together!
I had read previously that it’s not uncommon for male penguins to pair off. Animal Planet even states that “the Central Park zoo has turned out to be the Castro of the penguin world,” but I’m not sure if it’s just a zoo thing. According to Wikipedia, there was a similar situation in Germany where they separated three male-on-male penguin couples to try to get them to breed with females, and it just didn’t work.
Sarah has actually taken measures to stop the forced separation and says we can help too:
African penguins are endangered because of commercial fisheries, oil spills, and humans eating their eggs, not because Pedro and Buddy are two males in love. I called the Toronto Zoo this morning at (416) 392.5929. The customer service rep didn’t seem to know anything about it, so I suspect no one else had called—but she seemed sympathetic, and I think if enough people call maybe they will keep Pedro and Buddy together rather than risk a PR scandal.
Let’s call today! Let love rule!
Guest post: Good news from Canada: The Toronto Zoo’s elephants are headed to the PAWS sanctuary! »
Today was an awfully good day for animals in Toronto. On top of the news of the city council vote to ban shark-fin products, councillors also voted to send the Toronto Zoo’s three elephants to the PAWS animal sanctuary in California next summer.
Back in May, I posted at Vegansaurus about the three elephants: Toka, Thika, and Iringa. The Toronto Zoo recommended that month that their elephant program be phased out and the elephants moved to a better location, in part because research has shown that elephants in smaller herds suffer ill effects.
Zoocheck Canada and animal activist/Vegansaurus favorite Bob Barker both recommended that the elephants be transferred to the Performing Animals Welfare Society sanctuary (the beneficiary of Saturday’s SF Vegan Bakesale!) in California, and that is where Toka, Thika, and Iringa will go in a few months.
I’m sure something will piss me off again pretty soon, but for now I’ll enjoy the satisfaction of politicians deciding to do the right thing.
[photo by jacob earl via Flickr]
Toronto passes its shark-fin soup ban! »
In June I wrote a Vegansaurus post about a motion tabled before Toronto’s city council to ban the sale, possession, and consumption of shark fin soup in the city. I’m stoked to report that after a 38-4 city council vote yesterday, shark fin soup is now banned in Toronto. Woo!
The bylaw will take effect in September 2012; fines for the possession and use of shark-fin products will range from $5,000 to $100,000.
For a while it looked like the ban might not happen, when Mayor Rob Ford and a few other councillors argued that it was outside the city’s jurisdiction and instead a matter that lay with provincial authority. I suspect that similar bans in other cities helped make this happen.
It’s important to note, though, that another key factor in getting the ban through was the work of local activists. The Toronto Vegetarian Association did a lot to get the word out, as did groups like WildAid, United Conservationists, and Toronto Loves Sharks. Sharkwater director Rob Stewart also threw his support behind the ban and was on hand for today’s vote.
"Toronto’s action is a huge victory in the global fight against and illegal shark fin trade valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars," said Rob Sinclair, WildAid’s executive director.
Goes to show that groups of local people really can create change! I’m happy to live in Toronto today.
[photo by hunxue-er via Flickr]
My pal sent me this infograph from Wild Aid—is it old? New? Scary?! It is scary! That’s for sure.
With such a scary infograph, it’s nice that Cali has banned importing and selling shark fins! And a tipster informed me that Mississauga, which is totally somewhere in Canada, banned the possession and sale of shark fins as well. Holler! And wait, is Taiwan banning shark finning now? That would be dope. Save the sharks!
Guest post: Toronto to ban shark fin soup? »
Shark fin soup bans aren’t just gaining traction on the West coast—this week, Toronto’s city council tabled a motion to ban the sale, possession and consumption of shark fin soup in the city. They’re following the lead of nearby Brantford, which became the first city in North America to ban the soup. This is all pretty great news for sharks.
So why is shark fin soup so bad? Well, it kills 73 million sharks every year, to start, according to Oceana— but what’s really awful is that it kills those sharks in a terribly wasteful way. In “harvesting,” the shark’s fin is cut off while the fish is still alive. The shark then gets thrown back into the ocean to drown, bleed to death or be eaten by another creature. No other part of the shark even gets used. And shark species are increasingly threatened; when a top animal on the food chain starts to disappear, it’s bad news for an ecosystem.
Traditionally in Chinese culture, shark fin soup is seen as a sign of prosperity—serving it to your guests during important occasions like weddings is expected by many people, especially older generations. That’s made it harder to get bans in place, but things are changing: aside from in Brantford, the soup’s been banned in Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, and California may be next. Some argue that the ban targets Chinese people unfairly, since many other favorite animal foods are raised or killed in nasty ways; they have a good point there, so maybe we should do something about that too!
Toronto councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker compared the killing of sharks for their fins to use in soup to hunting elephants just for their ivory tusks. “Playing the piano in the city of Toronto actually led to elephants being slaughtered in Africa. We’re learning now that simply going to a restaurant and eating shark fin soup is leading to a slaughter in the oceans and we want to have that stopped,” De Baeremaeker said.
Toronto has a large Chinese population, so the move is sure to receive some opposition. In its current form, the ban would come in gradually so restaurants can go through their existing stock for the soup—that way they can’t claim that they’ll be losing too much money on shark fins they’ve already purchased.
Moreover, the motion has the vote of another councillor, Kristen Wong-Tam, a former president of the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto—her support for this ban will hopefully go a long way within the Chinese community. Wong-Tam grew up eating shark fin soup for special occasions, but stopped once she learned what’s really behind it. “We are not going to bring up a fish—a shark that’s 150 pounds—from the ocean, cut off the fins and throw the rest of it back” to sink and die,” she said. “Because we found this out, mom and dad and my sisters and I just decided, the soup no longer had taste. It was no longer something we desired. Oftentimes at banquets we’ve actually refused it.”
See? When you educate people, they can change their minds, even older generations who have been eating the soup for years. The director of Sharkwater, Toronto native Rob Stewart, also favors the ban. If a coming report on shark fin soup is approved, the city will vote on the ban in the fall. Write to Toronto’s city councillors to tell them how awesome they’ll look to the world if they make this move.
Terri lives in Toronto, Ontario, where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues
Tomorrow: Toronto Veggie Pride Parade 2011! »
Make way for the vegetable-loving Canucks, y’all!
Saturday, June 4 is Toronto’s second annual Veggie Pride Parade! Following in New York and Los Angeles' kale-fueled footsteps, this year's event promises to be a much bigger spectacle than 2010’s inaugural parade, featuring inspiring speakers and presentations, super-delicious vegan goodies, and a huge boogie-down dance party with booty-shaking animal mascots! With aspirations to become the world’s biggest and most diverse Veggie Pride Parade, organizers have extended their invitations to “veg-curious” guys and gals.
It’s sure to be an entertaining, eclectic crowd, including Capoeira players, roller derby chicks, veterinarians and vegan athletes. Canadian television personality Kimberly Carroll is serving as host and spokesperson for the big day. So if you’re visiting Toronto this weekend, or are lucky enough to live there full time, don’t miss out! Join the party at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow, June 4. The crowd will gather at Asquith Avenue (Yonge & Bloor, next to the Toronto Reference Library) and end at the Eaton Centre, right in the heart of the city. Click here for more details and to check out last year’s event.
[parade image via Al x hybridus on Flickr]
Eagle accidentally saves poodle’s life! »
You guys, this is NUTS!
An eagle was flying over that country up there* and was all, “Man, I’m STARVING!” and down below he saw this scraggly, neglected little toy poodle and so the eagle was all, “Imma get me a snack!” and snatches up the dog. So, they’re all flying along (the eagle to a suitable luncheon spot, the poodle to her death) and the eagle was all, “Man, you’re hella heavy! Forget this!” and drops the poor poodle! An aside: As the poodle was falling from the sky, I imagine the eagle screamed after her, “Lose some weight and then we’ll talk, heifer!” Bitch.
Luckily, the poodle landed in front of a nursing home** and they immediately rushed her to the SPCA, where she went into emergency surgery and her life was saved! Hooray! Now, she’s healing and needs an awesome home AND donations to help pay for some dental surgery for her fucked teeth. To be fair, the teeth weren’t the eagle’s fault. Or maybe the eagle was all, “DAYAM YOUR TEETH ARE FUCKED, GIRL! I can’t be seen with this!” and then dropped the dog? Who knows, I am no eagle whisperer.
*Extent of my geographical knowledge. What? I’m a product of the American school system! You’re lucky I know up from down!
**Man, what an awesome nursing home! I bet there aren’t any cases of elder abuse at that place! Since I’m probably not gonna have kids to depend on/forsake me, I want you to dump me in their yard when I can no longer care for myself.*** They’ll know what to do.
***10 years, tops.
Toronto Zoo elephants are getting new digs thanks to Bob Barker! »
I was pretty sad when Bob Barker retired from The Price is Right, but it’s hard to argue with how he’s spent his time since. He’s an impressive activist for animals [Ed.: Always spay and neuter your pets!], and now he gets some credit for another victory: the three elephants at the Toronto Zoo will soon be moving to a more pachyderm-appropriate location than, you know, Canada.
I love Toka, Thika and Iringa; that’s why I want to see them in a better home. Toronto’s not as cold as some people think—we do not live in igloos here—but it’s definitely a lot chillier than an elephant’s natural habitat. Their current facility at the Toronto Zoo just isn’t cutting it, and a new one would be prohibitively expensive. Also, the three ladies are no spring pachyderms anymore, and as they get older, January in Canada is only going to get rougher on them. Bob Barker agrees, so much so that he’s offered to foot the bill himself in order to get the three Toronto elephants somewhere more comfortable. He’s suggested sanctuaries in California and Tennessee.
That kind of move is closer than ever before now that the Toronto Zoo Board has agreed that the elephants should be moved to a new home, either a zoo or a sanctuary. The board decided last week that their 36-year elephant program should end, but they haven’t yet figured out where its three residents should go. They’ve opened it up to other interested zoos, and the Granby zoo in Quebec wants them. Their facility, which is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, certainly seems like a better fit than the Toronto Zoo’s outdated digs, but Quebec’s climate isn’t any better for elephants than Toronto’s, frankly.
Another option that’s being considered is a sanctuary in San Andreas, Calif. run by the Performing Animal Welfare Society, which is the option supported by Barker and the watchdog group Zoocheck Canada. The Toronto Zoo board worries that it’s not AZA-accredited like a zoo can be, but Barker and Zoocheck vouch for the sanctuary and point out that the California climate is certainly a better fit for an animal with a natural habitat in places like Africa and India.
It’s going to take a couple years for the process of finding a new home and moving the elephants to be complete, but the good news right now is that one way or another, Toka, Thinga and Iringa will end up somewhere more suitable for them. A lot of people in Toronto will probably be sad to see them go, but this is my suggestion: once the elephants have moved on, how about putting up a display honoring the elephants’ time in Toronto and explaining why they were moved and where they’ve gone? It’s a great way to teach kids that being a good steward of animals, not maintaining a tourist attraction at all costs, is what’s really important.
Terri lives in Toronto, Ont., where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues. Photo from the National Post.