vegansaurus!

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]

08/25/2011

Baby elephants playing soccer?! Hold the mother-loving phone. I can’t believe people kill elephants! Save the elephants!

(Sorry if this plays a commercial before the video but this was too cute not to share. If it didn’t play a commercial, I’m not sorry. JK, I wasn’t really sorry before. OK OK I was, you know I love you.)

08/02/2011

Philly dude smuggles a gagillion pounds of elephant ivory  »


You know I always cover the Philly beat but today I am not happy about it! This art dealer jerk smuggled a ton of ivory from Africa by staining it and carving it to appear antique. The 1975 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) made the trade of ivory illegal in the U.S. but apparently, you can still import and sell ivory that is over 100 years old. This is one of the largest seizures of ivory in U.S. history: “All told, agents of the federal Fish and Wildlife Service seized 491 carved tusks from Mr. Gordon.” Jesus Christmas, that’s SO MANY! And remember, elephants are endangered. Stone cold bummer.

Just goes to show you, you can’t trust anybody! So maybe we should tell everyone they shouldn’t buy any ivory because it might be new. Plus, tacky!

[Picture from the Department of Justice. Mad official, yo]

07/15/2011

Top 10 links of the week: A bike ride through the forest of veganism!  »

Hummus taste test at Kitchen Daily! Of course Philadelphia’s own Bobbi’s hummus rates high. It’s the best! Have you tried their white bean dip? Holy. Cannoli.

Cows have BFFs! This is important because if you keep them with their pals, they produce more milk. It also may be good for their welfare, but who cares about that!

Grist wants to know if you’d eat mutant meat! We of course wouldn’t, but crazy omnis prob already do.

PCRM wants you to help stop the terrible ferret lab at the University of Washington! Who would hurt a ferret?!

Treehugger discusses what happens when we remove the large animals from our ecosystem. Spoiler: It’s bad! Hey guys, what’s your favorite large animal?! Mine is of course elephants but everyone knows that!

Have you been keeping up with the war on wolves (I just coined that!)? Stay up to date! Defenders of Wildlife will help!

Vegan musicians are more than a trend! Agree/disagree? Who’s your favorite vegan musician?

Animal Planet has 10 animals channeling Harry Potter characters! So. Funny.

National Geographic has the story on wildlife in Afghanistan war zones—they are doing kind of OK!

If you’ve got the cash, look what you can buy from the Sea Shepherd art show:
I’m into it. This jawn is hot.

07/14/2011

Ivory poaching, elephant murder on the increase in Africa  »


Vanity Fair has a great big article about the increase in illegal ivory trade in Africa. It’s horrible. You should read it; I’m not going to recap the whole thing here. You can have some low-lights* first, though.

Across Africa, “roughly 100 elephants are being killed each day.” Profits from ivory sales fund terrifying rebel groups, just like jewel- and ore-mining. The biggest markets for ivory right now is in East Asia, in particular China, and the Middle East. When smuggled ivory is seized, its DNA is sequenced so authorities can tell where its elephant came from. From this, we’ve learned that the ivory trade has increased everywhere in Africa that Chinese workers are.

The best paragraph:

Obviously, no ivory should be sold, legally or illegally. It has to be taken off the table completely. You can’t keep feeding the demand and providing incentives to poor Africans to continue killing their elephants. That—and educating the Chinese—is the only hope for the remaining ones in the wild. All of Africa needs to follow the lead of Kenya, which burned its ivory stock in 1989. As he ignited the 12 tons of tusks, thus depriving the government of millions of dollars of revenue, in a huge conflagration that remains the single most important event in the history of the battle for the elephants, then president Daniel arap Moi declared, “To stop the poacher, the trader must also be stopped, and to stop the trader, the final buyer must be convinced not to buy ivory. I appeal to people all over the world to stop buying ivory.”

Zimbabwe wants to feed prisoners elephant. People go on safari to shoot elephants. Most elephants, though, are killed because drought and poverty combined with the big ivory market have made killing them one of the only ways to earn money. Elephants are goddamn mystical, and murdering them is a terrible act of inhumanity. Read this entire article, cry your eyes out, be glad you’re not so poor that you resort to ruining the world to feed yourself. Jesus.

*Like highlights, but depressing.

[photo by brittanyhock via flickr]

07/05/2011

Kevin James and “Zookeeper” can kiss my ass   »

[Can see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com]

Tai the elephant “actor” is in this new movie Zookeeper. I call WTF: what are these movie people thinking? After the above footage came out depicting Tai getting abused in “training” for Water for Elephants, how can people just release a movie with that same elephant without at least a billion-dollar donation to an elephant welfare group? Not that a donation makes it OK, but I’m assuming they filmed before the Animal Defenders International footage was released, so maybe they didn’t get what elephant “training” actually looks like. Now that the reality of Tai’s abuse is out for everyone to see, people who have worked with Tai should be defending her! Right? If they really liked working with her and she’s such a great animal and all that? These Hollywood people get on my nerves. They actually could do something to help Tai and they don’t!
There are some people who aren’t celebrating the mistreatment of Tai; she was supposed to appear in a July Fourth parade in Sierra Madre, CA, but people flipped! Go people! The city got a ton of letters from people asking that Tai not be in the parade and blammo! She’s not. Besides taking a stand against the abuse we know Tai suffered, PETA also points out that elephants and fireworks maybe don’t go together that great. Fireworks are scary! A scared elephant is no joke! People get stomped! It’s dangerous.

So that’s the good news—kudos, Sierra Madre! I just wish Kevin James would say something about this Zookeeper bullshit. Like, at least a “my bad! Here’s a zillion dollars for the elephants!”

05/17/2011

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.

05/12/2011

More footage from Have Trunk Will Travel, the “trainers” of Tai, elephant star of Water for Elephants. This time the footage is of daily life. What you can see in the video, from Animal Defenders International:

  • Have Trunk Will Travel boss Kari Johnson viciously striking an elephant
  • A baby elephant being hit over the head and dragged by the trunk
  • Elephants being hit and jabbed with bull hooks
  • Elephants chained by the legs barely able to move (the elephants were being chained from 6.30 p.m. to 6.30 a.m., 12 hours a day)

The stuff with the baby elephants is really too much. Poor little babies. ADI released this footage because after the last footage they released, the owners of Have Trunk Will Travel, the Johnsons, were like, “say whaaa? We treat our elephants super!” So that’s why it’s pretty incredible that you can see owner Kari Johnson straight up beating elephants with a bullhook. Can’t claim ignorance now, d-bag!

If you remember, the first time I wrote about Water for Elephants, I mentioned Kari Johnson’s testimony at a Ringling trial. She says, “the guide”—aka the bullhook—“is used to reinforce the verbal cue.” Um, yeah, used like a baseball bat with a hook on the end. That will no doubt reinforce a verbal cue. In related news: SHE’S A MONSTER!

05/10/2011

The ele-star of Water for Elephants did not have the magical gentle training her owners claim. Shocking! Did I call it? Did I mother-loving call it?! People kept telling me, “Oh they had people on set to monitor the elephant’s treatment, no animals were harmed,” and I’m like BULLSHIT. And regardless of training methods, elephants should not be in movies! Simply having a wild animal in a movie is bad, even if you pay her in hugs and kisses. Elephants should be living out their lives in peace with other elephants taking baths and playing around, not doing “tricks” or “acting.”

Second, EXACTLY! This is how elephants are trained! I don’t care what happened on set, this is the reality of training elephants. Can you imagine that these ginormous animals actually want to do headstands? I really doubt gymnastics is a popular elective at the various elephant after-school programs. And just like with people, you don’t have to keep beating an animal to get it to submit, you just have to threaten the beatings again. You think Tai doesn’t remember the stuff on this tape when she’s “acting” on set? Yeah right. Electric shocks and bullhooks are not easy to forget.

Last time I posted a scary video, someone said maybe I should just write out what goes on in case they don’t want to see the actual footage. From Animal Defenders International:

  • Elephants including Tai are repeatedly given electric shocks with hand held stun guns
  • Tai cries out when being shocked into performing a headstand
  • Elephants including Tai are beaten about the body and legs with bull hooks
  • A baby elephant is hooked in the lip and cries out
  • An elephant is pinned with bull hooks whilst her tusks are sawn down, close to the bone

Also from ADI, what you can do:

  • Please contact ADI today and find out how you can speak up for Tai and all animals being abused in the entertainment industry. If you live in the UK, please contact info@ad-international.org, if you live in the U.S. please contact usa@ad-international.org and ask for a Water for Elephants Letter Writing Pack.
  • Boycott this film and tell your family and friends to take a stand against animal cruelty by only supporting films without animal actors.
  • Leaflet moviegoers at a theater near you to educate them about the abuse of Tai and other performing animals. Contact ADI to order leaflets.
  • Contact your local theater with a copy of the DVD we can provide you, and politely ask them to make the right choice and stop showing the film.
  • Contact ADI for a letter writing pack with sample letters to Water for Elephants actors and movie makers, and sample letters to the editor to help you raise your voice for Tai and the other animals abused for entertainment.
  • Write a letter to your local paper about Tai’s abuse and educate the public that animal suffering is never romantic and it is never entertainment. (Sample letters available in our letter writing pack.)
  • Contact the Director and Producer and politely ask that they make Water for Elephants the last film they will use live animal actors. (Contacts and sample letters available in our letter writing pack.)
  • Share the link to the video on your Facebook and other social networking sites, to spread the word to family and friends.

ADI has sent a copy of the footage to stars Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. We’ll see what they say. They better be PISSED! My dream is that they will totally buy Tai and the entire Have Trunk Will Travel herd and build them an awesome sanctuary in Hollywood where all the performing animals can retire! Right? What else?! They would feed them vegan cupcakes for dinner and Robert Pattinson would read them Good Night Moon every night! Right?! What else!? They would sleep on 900-count Egyptian cotton sheets on mattresses filled with dandelions! What else?!

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