UN Court calls bullshit on Japan’s whaling program!  »


Image from Greenpeace.

Yay! The International Court of Justice has ordered a temporary halt on Japan’s annual whale slaughter! The UN Court does not think the program is truly in the name of science (screw science anyway, save all the whales!). And according to BBC, Japan said it will honor the ruling. 

From NYT:

Reading a summary of the judgment, presiding Judge Peter Tomka of Slovakia said that the present “research program,” dating to 2005, has involved the killing of 3,600 minke whales and a number of fin whales, but that its “scientific output to date appears limited.” The ruling suggested instead that Japan’s whaling hunt served political and economic reasons.

Lawyers attending the proceedings said there was a gasp in the audience when Judge Tomka ordered Japan to immediately “revoke all whaling permits” and not issue any new ones under the existing program.

AWESOME! Let’s hope it sticks!!!

A final note from Captain Alex Cornelissen of the deservedly proud Sea Shepherd Global

Though Japan’s unrelenting harpoons have continued to drive many species of whales toward extinction, Sea Shepherd is hopeful that in the wake of the ICJ’s ruling, it is whaling that will be driven into the pages of the history books.



LA bans bullhooks! Huzzah!  »


Yay! Good news for eles! Los Angeles has officially banned the use of bullhooks—i.e. that awful fire poker-looking thing above that Ringling Brothers and other circuses use to “guide” elephants. They also happen to use it to beat elephants. Because they love them so much. 

As the LA Times says, this kind of just makes it so circuses can’t go to LA. As the LA Times also says, 

Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros., said the ordinance would have the effect of “kicking us out of Los Angeles.”

Ringling allows trainers and elephants to be in close proximity — or “free contact” — and therefore the tool must be used for safety purposes, Payne said. He contends that the company’s handlers use it professionally and humanely.

The Assn. of Zoos and Aquariums, which accredits North American zoos, has instructed all its members, by 2014, to allow only restricted contact between keepers and elephants — meaning there will be a barrier at all times between person and pachyderm. Although the association does not expressly prohibit bullhooks, restricted contact lessens the need to use them.

If the circus can’t come to town without bullhooks, then it shouldn’t come.


Sadly, apparently it might take up to three years to take effect but it’s still a super great advance in the terrible treatment of imprisoned eles. 

A classic Megan Rascal cartoon. 


Open discussion: Veganism is a creed, and a creed is a human right! Right?  »

Oh, Canada. Camille Labchuck, a Toronto law student, says that “a person’s right to live a vegan lifestyle … is a right that all people should have,” and therefore should be protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code, which is meant to “prevent discrimination and harassment” because of many reasons, including “creed (religion).”

Camille says “creed” is inexactly defined by the legislation, and so including vegan and vegetarian beliefs as protected under the OHRC is possible. I think that’s cool. San Francisco prisoners are supposed to get vegan meals, when requested, but where else are your dietary practices legally protected?

Considering veganism a “religion” makes me feel culty and uncomfortable. But if the legal definition of “creed” matched the dictionary defintion—“a set of beliefs or aims that guide someone’s actions”—I would be all right with that. Because yes, being vegan affects basically everything I do, and I would like my fellow vegans’ right to follow their beliefs protected under law. Even if it is only in one Canadian province (and Britain!). Today Canada, tomorrow the U.N. Human Rights Council!

What do you think? Should the rights of vegans to observe a vegan lifestyle be considered analogous to religious and political groups’ rights to exist? Of course, right?

Unrelatedly, did you know that Canada has a Vegan Danish Bakery?! Ô je t’adore, Canada!

[photo by cacaye via Flickr]


Tell Your Senator: Hunting in National Parks is THE WORST IDEA!  »

Don’t let this finger be a gun!! Photo by Furryscaly on

Hunting: Not as terrible as factory farms on the spectrum of evil, but still not the favorite thing of we, the vegans. Hunting in National Parks where it’s been heretofore prohibited? SO NOT A GOOD IDEA.

But there’s a bill in the Senate right now that could open a bunch of national park lands (especially the weird ones, like “national historic parks”), to hunting. The National Parks Conservation Association is asking us citizens to contact our senators and tell them to fix it!

Here’s the thing: the NCPA is only worried about the national parks. They want the senators to just change a few words to make sure the parks are clearly excluded from this new hunting law. I’m on board with that, and it seems a battle they might actually win if they get enough people to call. 

But they’re not opposing the Sportsman Heritage Act as a whole. Which is something you might want to consider. It makes it OK to import dead polar bears from Canada, and helps support hunting on other federal land. Either way, give a call/write your leaders so they know not to let people kill squirrels at the Frederick Douglass Memorial, so f-ed up!


A bill proposes a shark fin ban in New York State! Also: Shark fins may have neurotoxins! Whaa?  » has lots of great info in the fight against shark finning. 

Exciting news:

On Tuesday, legislators in New York State announced a bill that, following the example of Western states, would ban the sale, trading, possession and distribution of shark fins, possibly as of 2013. California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington are enacting similar bans that were passed last year, while Florida, Illinois, Maryland and Virginia have legislation pending.

The bill in New York is sponsored in the Assembly by Alan MaiselLinda B. Rosenthal and Grace Meng, who represents the heavily Asian district of Flushing, Queens, and is the only Asian-American in the Assembly. Identical bills are expected to be introduced in both houses of the Legislature.

Yay! Let’s keep this party going! Everybody ban shark fins! Except on sharks—those are cool. 

There might be even more reason to ban shark fins, a new study says:

Researchers from University of Miami sampled fin clips from seven different species of sharks collected in South Florida coastal waters and analyzed its contents. Upon examination, they detected cyanobacterial neurotoxin BMAA (β-N-methylamino-L-alanine) in the fins of all species with concentrations ranging from 144 to 1836 ng/mg wet weight.

Mind you, the neurotoxin BMAA has been linked to the development of neurodegenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

The report suggests that consumption of shark fins may increase the risk for human exposure to the cyanobacterial neurotoxin BMAA. Until more is known about the possible link of BMAA to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, it may be prudent to limit exposure of BMAA in the human diet, according to the researchers.

Shark-finning is all around grody! Go New York! Read more about the bill introduction and actions you can take on the Humane Society’s website. WildAid invites you to sign their "Say No" pledge to end shark finning. You could also spread around their super infographic—everyone loves and infographic!:


NYC: Bill A 5449 vote is TODAY  »

Sorry I didn’t get this out earlier! I don’t know what time it’s happening, but here’s the info from Best Friends:

The New York State Assembly Agriculture Committee will be voting on Bill A 5449 on Wednesday, Feb 15. Last year,Best Friends expressed our concerns about this bill, and presented recommended changes to Assemblywoman Paulin that would address serious problems in this legislation. These suggestions were not incorporated into the current version of A 5449. We have resubmitted these recommended changes and need your help to insure that they are included. Without the suggested changes, A 5449 would:
  • Allow for the euthanizing of a frightened or panicked animal on the basis of “psychological pain,” which is too vague and subjective to be meaningful criteria for euthanasia.
  • Allow animals to be euthanized for unspecified and undiagnosed “deadly and contagious” diseases.
  • Not clearly define the requirements for a rescue organization to be maintained on a shelter’s registry of approved rescue organizations, which opens the door for arbitrary requirements subject to change without notice.
  • Allow shelters to remove rescues from their registry of approved groups if a group is publicly critical of the shelter or staff, regardless of the merit of such criticism.
  • Remove all protection for an animal that is surrendered to a shelter with an owner request that the animal be euthanized even if the animal is healthy and could be placed in a new adoptive home or with a rescue group.
  • Not require shelters to include rescue organizations located in adjoining counties in New York state on the shelter’s registry of qualified rescue organizations.

The recommended changes offered by Best Friends to Assemblywoman Paulin would close the holes in the safety net that this bill should be providing. Please urge Committee Chair Magee and fellow members of the Assembly Agriculture Committee to vote NO on Bill A 5449 unless these changes are all incorporated. The welfare of shelter animals in New York depends on your action.

That sounds pretty out of control. My timid Figaro would have definitely not made it to me with those rules in place. You can go to this link to enter your ZIP code and find out who to contact.


Guest post: We can have tigers as pets? WTF, right?  »

Rachel wrote about the tragedy in Ohio last week; I’m sure it didn’t escape your notice—the release of 56 wild animals kept as pets before their owner Terry Thompson committed suicide, and the subsequent death of 49 of them, got a lot of media coverage. That meant that many of my friends read about it, and pretty much universally asked “How the hell did he get those animals in the first place?”

Well, the short answer is that Thompson bought them, mostly, and he was not doing anything illegal when he did. Near the end of his term, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland issued an order that outlawed the ownership or sale of certain wild animals—but Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources never enforced the rule, and the order expired in April when it wasn’t extended by now-Governor John Kasich.

As it stands, in Ohio you can own animals like grizzly bears and lions, as long as you house them on your private property, and aren’t breeding, exhibiting, or selling them—even if you have an animal-cruelty conviction, as Thompson had. Further, you can have those animals living on your property and don’t have to let anyone know about it. And in some states, these animals are available for sale, which is how people like Thompson got them in the first place.

I posted on Pawesome a while ago about a petition to change laws about exotic-animal ownership in Indiana; this isn’t just a problem in one town or one state. It sounds crazy that in Ohio and other states you have to license your dog and can’t own a pit bull, but you can literally have a baboon or wolf in your backyard. But it’s true. 

This is not a good situation for these animals. Born Free USA campaigns against keeping wild animals like the ones at the Ohio property in captivity. Taking care of an animal like a tiger is no small feat: Think of what your cat eats in a day and multiply that by about 100 times. They need a huge quantity of food, as well as specialized veterinary care. And when they don’t have the proper environment or enough space—which is hard to provide for a large animal when it’s living on private property—they suffer physically and mentally.

Keeping these animals as pets is just cruel. Many owners of these animals claim to love them, but as Susan Orlean said in the New Yorker, love isn’t defined by a desire to possess.

It’s dangerous for people, too, when wild animals are kept as pets. Dogs and cats have been domesticated for millennia; tigers and lions and wolves are all wild, unpredictable animals. We can’t know how they’ll react, or what will upset them, and we can’t blame them when that happens. That is how they are: They’re wild. Someone easily could have been killed by one of the animals let loose in Ohio this week, and it’s remarkable that nobody was.

Want to know what the laws are in your state? Check out this Wall Street Journal interactive infograph to find out if your state allows private ownership of large cats, wolves, bears, primates, or dangerous reptiles. If you’re not happy with the answer, write to your state and federal representatives to tell them why, and ask them to change things. A reminder of the toll of this week’s Ohio deaths—and that it could have been a hell of a lot worse—wouldn’t hurt; neither would pointing out that elections are coming up.

Regardless of the laws where you live, head to to sign the petition letting Gov. Kasich know that Ohio’s laws need to change, now, before something like this happens again.

[photos from top by Matthew Burpee, planetc1, and fatedsnowfox 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.


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!

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!


In Switzerland, you can rent a guinea pig! In a good way!  »

Holy cute-balls, Batman, Switzerland rules! Apparently they have a LAW saying that, because guinea pigs are social creatures, you are full-on NOT ALLOWED to keep one alone. NO LONELY GUINEA PIGS.

But what if your penultimate guinea pigs dies, g-d forbid? Suddenly you’re a law-breaking scumbag, and the only solution is to acquire a new guinea pig you may or may not want. Woe!

But wait! Priska Küng to the rescue! This lady has 80 little guinea-critters of her own, and for the low fee of around $55, she’ll let you borrow one for as long as you want! Then you can give it back to her and she’ll give you back half your money! No longer are the poor Swiss citizens locked in an endless cycle of guinea pig adoption!

"It’s important that none of the rental guinea pigs just keep getting passed on," Küng told der Spiegel. “If an animal has been hired out once, it either stays with me for the rest of its life or it moves somewhere else for good.”

[Top photo: Tequila, Jacky, and Campari by photon_de, second photo by WOAW, via Flickr. Story via Kristina Bjoran]

[P.S. Have you bought your super-sexy Vegansaurus shirt yet? They’re going fast!]


Banning sale of downer pigs in California? YES PLEASE.  »

It could happen, folks. This case is going all the way to the Supreme Court and God and Asshole Lobbyists willing, the judges won’t be total dumbasses about it. Light a candle, people, because this is something we know we can’t count on. You see, there was a law passed banning the sale of downer pigs (yay!) and then the American Meat Association was all, “BUT BUT BUT WAHHHHH!!!” and then they did what they did best: threw tons of money at the problem! Brilliant! Why didn’t we think of that! Oh that’s right, there the only ones who aren’t FLAT BROKE. It pays to abuse animals! Anyway, as soon as the AMA raised a fuss, that shit was overturned in Fresno, Calif., and now the battle goes to the Supreme Court. breaks it down:

If the state law of California can hamper the pork production and profit making of the pork industry, other states might then be able to enact similar laws, further cutting into industry profits. The meat packers want to overturn such a ban and the efforts of a very large state such as California to regulate slaughterhouse operations in a way they don’t like. If the the Supreme Court rules against the ban on using lame pigs for meat, then it may become the legal framework preventing any other states from ever enacting a similar ban, and therefore the meat packing industry wins the whole game. Also if the the meat packing plants can legally  simply shove all the lame and sick pigs into the grinder so to speak, there won’t be any evidence of animal disease, neglect or abuse remaining.

The Supreme Court will begin reviewing the case in October: National Meat Association vs. Harris, 10-224.

An aside: I love Herbivore’s BACON HAD A MOM t-shirt, and think they should add a: YOUR BACON WAS A PIG WHO COULDN’T WALK BECAUSE SHE’D BEEN ABUSED SO BADLY ENJOY YOUR BREAKFAST, ASSHOLE. You like?!

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