Super great artist Christo may make sheep sad!  »

I love Christo,* like love love love. Like want to wrap him up in a fake silk tarp and keep him on my mantle.** He’s the mother-loving man. BUT I do NOT like art projects that bother animals! There is a big debate over Christo’s latest project, "Over the River," as it may displace/disrupt/harm the bighorn sheep in Colorado. In typical Christo style, they want to “suspend 5.9 miles of silvery, luminous fabric panels high above the Arkansas River along a 42-mile stretch of the river between Salida and Cañon City in south-central Colorado.”*** But apparently, bighorn sheep have delicate constitutions and people fear the disruption to the environment will totally freak them out; According to a former president of the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society,**** “sheep are a stress-sensitive species and are susceptible to large die-offs when conditions are not favorable.” Bad!

But Christo thinks the bighorns will be fine! And he’s “offered to provide ‘substantial funds’ for bighorn sheep habitat enhancement projects.” When Christo says substantial funds, he means SUBSTANTIAL funds. Homeboy is paid. That’s actually one thing I really like about him—he gets no government subsidizing for his projects, even though they are a huge boom to tourism (not to mention totally awesome). Funds for Over the River, which is expected to cost $50 million,***** will be raised in the same way he gets all his money: “through the sale of the preparatory studies, early works from the ’50s and ’60s and original lithographs on other subjects.” Damn, son. That’s a lot of [daiya] cheddar for some sketches and random shit wrapped in burlap.

As for supporters of the project, some people are like, um, the hanging fabric will be nice for them! It will provide shade! And other people are like, um, we put a damn highway and railroad there and the sheep are still chilling. And still more are like, um, we totally hunt bighorn sheep every year, why are you suddenly worried about them when you routinely sanction their murder? Of course while I see the validity of that last point, my solution is to outlaw hunting! Yay! Dishes are done. Got any other problems for me to solve? Oh right, there’s this art thing. I don’t know, I’m kind of like, maybe he shouldn’t do it because I think animals trump art. Or maybe they can test a little area and see how the sheep react? Because that’s the thing, no one actually knows how the sheep will react. Maybe bighorn sheep are super into conceptual art. Who can say. Thoughts?

BONUS! Christo’s Wrapped Islands:

*Did you know Jeanne-Claude, Christo’s partner, died in ‘09? I didn’t and I feel like a big jerk. So sad.
**Yeah I have a mantle, I fucking rule.
***I’m no cartographer but those numbers seem a little off, no?
****How can I get down with THAT party?
*****Holy. Cannoli.


Bolivia’s ban on circus animals leads to rescue and rehoming of 25 lions!  »

In November of last year, Animals Lebanon rescued a chimpanzee from his life as a literal roadside attraction in Lebanon, and rehomed him at a sanctuary in Brazil. This month, Animal Defenders International celebrates a similar victory, as 24 former circus lions were rescued from Bolivia and rehomed at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in “the open plains of Colorado, just 30 miles northeast of Denver.” And soon, they’ll have a 25th rescued lions! Hooray!

These lions came from different circuses all over the country, and all their stories are so sad. One had been kept in the same metal box she was came in when she was purchased as a cub. One is completely freaked out by brooms and other cleaning implements, as though he had had experienced some cleaning-equipment-related trauma before. You don’t mean to imply that people might have beaten him with brooms, do you? YES, YES WE DO. Some of them have trouble eating, behaving as though they are “convinced that the food is going to be taken away again.”

Obviously, circus animal abuse is not endemic to Bolivia—in fact, since 2009 Bolivia is the first and only country in the world “to put in place a national ban on the use of any and all animals in circuses.” FIRST and ONLY. Don’t you love comparing other countries to the U.S. and seeing how terrible we make it for animals here?

ADI reports that all of the rescued lions are adapting relatively well to their great big new living areas. Congratulations to the efforts of everyone involved in Operation Lion Ark: this is beautiful, heartening news.

UPDATE: A couple of you noted that China passed a similar law, which Laura posted about last week! Bolivia remains the only country to have outright banned using animals—domestic and wild!—in circuses; China no longer allows animal-exclusive circuses, and its protections for performing animals look quite strong. U.S. circuses, however, remain the devil’s work.

[photos via thanks to for the tip!}


Colorado Bureau of Animal Protection’s chief investigator is “anti-animal rights”  »

Nope, not even kidding a little bit. Check out Scot Dutcher’s Twitter, which as of this post is still up and functioning, despite the state’s Dept. of Agriculture Deputy Director Jim Miller’s admission that Dutcher’s Twitter was “unauthorized,” and moreover, that “[I]t was something that we spoke with [Dutcher] about. He understood that he wasn’t supposed to be doing that.”

But I guess the guy in charge of animal protection for the entire state of Colorado is too, shall we say Mavericky to be silenced by mere policy. He is anti-animal rights and proud! Never mind the 860,000 pigs, 115,000 dairy cows, 400,000 sheep and lambs, “more than” 2.70 million beef cattle and calves, and approximately 6.25 million layer hens counted among Colorado’s top agricultural commodities*—Scot Dutcher thinks their living conditions are just fine, thank you, and doesn’t need any pesky USDA or FDA inspectors or anyone else telling him how to take care of them; they’re commodities, not precious little puppies. Would you tell a wheat farmer to be kinder to the wheat? A strawberry farmer to harvest the berries more humanely? No—and to Dutcher, animal rights appears to sound just as crazy.

This definitely seems like the right guy to call when you suspect farm animals are being abused. How much would you bet one of his first questions is whether they can still produce milk/eggs/wool/meat.

*Latest figures available were from 2007


Viva el Spork!  »

If you’ve been following the story of Spork, a 10-year-old dachshund who was on trial in Lafayette, Colo. for biting a vet technician, the verdict is finally in: Spork’s life will be spared; he’s been put on six months’ probation.

If you don’t know the story, basically what happened is Spork went to the vet to get his teeth looked at—because they were going to remove like six of them—and he freaked out and bit the vet tech in the face. He kind of tore her face up. It was pretty bad. What makes the situation confusing is that there is a Colorado state law that exempts veterinary workers from filing claims against dogs if they are bitten at work, but in Lafayette, that is not the case. So even though the bite happened during a vet exam, because it was in Lafayette, the technician could file charges against Spork—and she did.

One possible outcome of Spork’s charge as a vicious dog was that he could have been sent to a kennel for life; he could have even been put to sleep. Luckily for him, the community and local press rallied behind him. He even has a "Save Spork" Facebook fanpage with over 24,000 members! So in the end, Spork is safe after all. AS LONG AS he doesn’t go biting anyone else for the next six months.

I think this story got everyone interested because when you read the details, the poor dog sounded really scared. He totally crapped on his owner just before he bit the vet technician. And just about anyone’s dog could bite someone if s/he’s freaked out enough. Then you just think about what if it was your dog and he was sentenced to death! And there was nothing you could do about it! I would totally high-tail it to Canada, no joke. To be fair though, like I said, he tore the vet tech’s face up pretty bad. But he’s fucking 10 years old and probably has almost no teeth by now, so he’s not exactly a menace to society.

I, for one, am glad little Spork is safe. But I like dogs better than people so maybe you shouldn’t listen to me. I will keep you updated, should he bite anyone else. For now, viva el Spork!

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