vegansaurus!

06/06/2012

Educational toys for zoo elephants! Because life in a zoo shouldn’t be a complete nightmare!  »

This is Emily (l) and Ruth, the two Asian elephants living at the Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford, Mass. They’re playing with their new toys, specifically designed by students in the Toys for Elephants class at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

The class has existed for two years, and was created in conjunction with Buttonwood Zoo Park’s director, Dr. William Langbauer, videographer Christen Goguen, and Vicki Croke. The history of the class, a video of the elephants, and a slideshow of these lovely ladies and their new toys are all at 90.9 WBUR’s site, and it’s all great!

As always, we don’t care for zoos as “places to display animals outside of their natural habits,” but they’re not as bad as they used to be (right?). Dr. Langbauer says, “One of our challenges is to give elephants the same sort of environment that they have in the wild…. They don’t need thousands of acres, they need enough room to be able to be together when they want to be together, and apart when they want to be apart.” That sounds reasonable.

We do love the idea of an artistic-scientific collaboration to keep Emily and Ruth sharp. Humans in retirement communities have activities for similar reasons! Not that we’re comparing elephants and the elderly, exactly (though Emily is 49 and Ruth is 54). The point is, if you’re a student at MassArt, you could make toys for elephants, and then see the elephants enjoy those toys, and that sounds pretty great. Plus the ellies look so happy! As long as they’re in a zoo, they might as well be happy.

[photo by Susan Hagner for WBUR]

05/14/2012

According to Grist, when “elephant whisperer” Lawrence Anthony died in March, two herds of his elephant friends came to his house to stand vigil:

Anthony had spent time living with the elephants, in order to care for traumatized animals who were considered violent and unruly. But at the time of his death, of a heart attack, Anthony was living in a house on the Thula Thula game reserve in South Africa. The park’s elephants hadn’t visited the house in a year and a half, but Anthony’s son Dylan says that the herds traveled 12 hours to arrive shortly after his father’s death.

Read more on Grist. Or just cry and wish you knew some eles. That’s my plan.

According to Grist, when “elephant whisperer” Lawrence Anthony died in March, two herds of his elephant friends came to his house to stand vigil:

Anthony had spent time living with the elephants, in order to care for traumatized animals who were considered violent and unruly. But at the time of his death, of a heart attack, Anthony was living in a house on the Thula Thula game reserve in South Africa. The park’s elephants hadn’t visited the house in a year and a half, but Anthony’s son Dylan says that the herds traveled 12 hours to arrive shortly after his father’s death.

Read more on Grist. Or just cry and wish you knew some eles. That’s my plan.

04/23/2012

That actress from CSI speaks out against circuses! I like this video, I like that they show a real bullhook up close. You can’t pretend it’s some delicate handling tool. It looks like what it is: cruel and scary.

Free the eles

02/07/2012

Zoo elephants get pals or get going!   »


Starting in 2016, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums will require room for three elephants (or two if they are both male) if a zoo wants to keep their revered AZA accreditation:

Each zoo holding elephants must hold a minimum of three females (or the space to hold three females), two males or three elephants of mixed gender. If a zoo cannot meet this standard, they must apply for a variance. Before the variance can be issued by the Accreditation Commission the zoo (a) must describe their plan to obtain additional elephants or describe their plan for deacquisitioning their elephants and (b) must describe what will occur if they experience the loss of one elephant. In most cases where an institution has one remaining elephant, the remaining elephant will receive a recommendation for relocation at another AZA institution from the Elephant TAG/SSP. Adult males (6 years and older) may be housed alone, but not in complete isolation. Opportunities for tactile, olfactory, visual, and/or auditory interaction with other elephants must be provided (Rasmussen et al. 1982).
By 1 September 2016, no further variances will be issue

This is because they know elephants are social animals and need friends! The new standard requires three elephants so that if one elephant dies, the other is not left alone. Jeez, a sole elephant in a zoo is so depressing.

This is nice news for the poor elephants stuck in zoos, but do you know why else this is cool? This means a lot of zoos just won’t be able to have any elephants! I’m sure most will be traded to other zoos with enough room for three, but maybe some will be sent to sanctuaries! We can hope. At the very least, the elephants in captivity will have a higher quality of life as socialization is very important to them

I don’t know much about the AZA; they seem like a confused organization. Of course I don’t support zoos, but if there are going to be zoos, I do support animal care and welfare standards. The AZA proudly claims to have (and seems to have) much higher care standards than the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services, and they oppose things like the use of apes in commercials and bullhooks for elephant training. Meanwhile, they accredited Have Trunk Will Travel, a company that trains animal “actors” and also uses bullhooks on its elephants. That doesn’t make much sense. Then again, they are very involved in wildlife conservation and promote the idea that all zoos should be donating to efforts to conserve animals in the wild. Yet they are also super pro-zoo and act like zoos are sanctuaries and education centers instead of animal-exploiting businesses. 

I don’t know what to make of the AZA, but I do like this new rule. Let the ellies have pals!

01/05/2012

Orphan elephants being socialized in Kenya, by Michael Nichols. According to National Geographic, “What a scared orphan elephant needs more than anything is other elephants. The process of becoming socialized begins as soon as the worst injuries heal.” My heart!
So sad! So sweet! Read the whole article (from the September 2011 issue of National Geographic) and find yourself tearfully resolving to give money to an elephant-related charity in 2012.

Orphan elephants being socialized in Kenya, by Michael Nichols. According to National Geographic, “What a scared orphan elephant needs more than anything is other elephants. The process of becoming socialized begins as soon as the worst injuries heal.” My heart!

So sad! So sweet! Read the whole article (from the September 2011 issue of National Geographic) and find yourself tearfully resolving to give money to an elephant-related charity in 2012.

11/11/2011

Top 10 links of the week: A slinky catwalk through the sexy hallways of veganism!  »

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

[Now THAT is a bird video. It made my sister cry]

First up: Why Eating Animals is a Social Justice Issue by Malenie Joy.

FOX NEWS ON VEGANISM!

A vending machine that dispenses meat. What. The fuck. 

Um…sex with animals linked to penis cancer. You heard me. 

Britain Some British conservationists want to make an island for orangutans! HOW MUCH DO I WANT TO GO THERE?

The Gothamist has the best news! For me! Cinnamon Snail will soon be making rounds in New York! Huzzah! Exclamation point!

Another from The Gothamist, NYC’s pet shops are filled with puppymill dogs. Adoy!

From Refinery 29, uggo sweaters for the 1%! Lots of wool, lots of fur, lots of fug. 

Turns out, elephants in the Eastern Congo are dying due to human conflict more than anything else. Shit is effed.

Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero are getting love in The New York Times for their book, Vegan Pie in the Sky: 75 Out-of-this-World Recipes for Pies, Tarts, Cobblers and More  Go ‘head, ladies!

11/10/2011

Try not to cry, ladies and gentleman! This is a story of triumph! This prosthetic leg changed Chhouk’s life!: “From being a tired little chap who slept a lot when he went on his walks, he’s now lively and energetic. He never stops.”

I like how he’s so chill when they attach the leg. Such a cute baby! Chhouk was rescued in Cambodia by Wildlife Alliance. And guess what, you can sponsor Chhouk! So fun so fun so fun!

11/07/2011

This week: Protest the disgusting circus in Santa Cruz & Napa!  »

I’m just gonna copy and paste the announcement because it has all the news you need and I can’t write too much about this or I’ll get too mad and burn the house down! Here goes:

Join Humanity Through Education to protest the Piccadilly Circus in Santa Cruz & Napa

Piccadilly Circus uses two elephants “owned” by Gatti Circus. The owner of Gatti forces one of the elephants to walk on her hind legs. This is the cruelest circus trick I have ever seen. Elephants are the heaviest four-legged animals and carry most of their weight on their front legs. Males get up on their hind legs to mount a female and an elephant may briefly stand on their hind legs to reach up into a tree but an elephant
NEVER walks on their hind legs. Forcing an elephant to walk on their hind
legs is physically unnatural, painful, and harmful for the elephant. 

As well, the elephants are forced to live in severe confinement; either chained or kept in small pens. These living conditions are extremely boring and frustrating. As a result the elephants literally go crazy, endlessly swaying or rocking back and forth. This repetitive behavior only occurs in animals in captivity. All animals need to move about freely - when they cannot they suffer. You can watch the cruelty of Gatti Circus here and here.

Your voice is needed to oppose this horrible and inhumane practice. Please join Humanity Through Education to protest the circus and educate patrons, who have been very receptive to our message about the inherent cruelty of using animals for entertainment.

Signs and leaflets are provided at each leafleting time listed below. For
more information call Mark at 415.623.8604 or email Pat.

WHEN: Tue., November 8, 5:30 -7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Santa Cruz Fairgrounds (2601 E. Lake Ave. Watsonville, Calif.) 

WHEN: Wed., November 9, 5:30 -7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Napa Valley Expo (575 Third St. Napa, California)

At each leafleting, we will first leaflet the people exiting the early show and then immediately turn and leaflet the people coming into the later show. It is very important to arrive on time for these leafletings as the people exit quickly and if we are not set-up before the show is done, we will miss our opportunity to educate them.

And now, to combat the sadness of that post, here’s an adorable rescued ellie hanging with a dog at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee:

11/03/2011

Tell Congress to support the new bill banning animals from traveling circuses!  »


Good news for circus animals, but also time for action! Congress introduced a new bill this week, the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act. The bill, if passed, would restrict the use of exotic and domestic animals in traveling circuses, forbidding the animals from performing if they’ve been traveling in mobile shelters during the 15 days prior.

The bill is supported by Jim Moran, a Northern Virginia representative who has pushed other animal-related bills on issues like fur-labeling and outlawing the sale of animal crush videos. Moran’s reasons for the bill include:

  • Traveling and captivity are bad for the health of animals
  • The living conditions inherent to traveling circuses cause animals psychological and behavior problems
  • Traveling circuses use elephant hooks, electric shocks, and other abusive methods and tools on the animals
  • A riled-up elephant could pose a danger to the public, and one could understand why an elephant in a traveling circus might get riled up

Those all sound like good reasons to pass this bill to me.

Based upon publically available research, including video and photographic evidence, it is clear that traveling circuses cannot provide the proper living conditions for exotic animals,” he said. “This legislation is intended to target the most egregious situations involving exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses.

Noted friend-to-elephants Bob Barker was on hand for the bill’s announcement, as well. He told Politico:

The animals that suffer most are the big animals—that would be the elephants—but any animals in traveling circuses suffer terribly. The conditions are completely abnormal. In their training, they are forced to do things that they would never do naturally. They are struck with clubs…they are whipped.… They [trainers] even withhold food and water to make them perform.

What’s important now? Making sure the bill is passed. You can read the bill in its entirety at Mother Jones. Then you can contact Congress—tell Rep. Moran you want to continue to see him support bills like this, and tell your own representative that you expect them to support this bill. Perhaps you can include a link to the MJ article "The Cruelest Show On Earth" as evidence of why this legislation is needed.

[photo by c.a.muller via Flickr]

Terri Coles 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.

10/26/2011

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]

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