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01/21/2013

What happens to “retired” research chimps?  »

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NPR had a nice report on Friday about the lives of chimps after they have been “retired” from scientific study, specifically those at the National Institutes of Health. Yes, “retired” is a bullshit term and life for lab animals is horrific, but obfuscatory vocabulary shouldn’t detract from the actual greatness of taking chimpanzees out of those labs; we made their lives hell, but now we are taking them out of that hell.

NPR focuses on two facilities that take in research chimps, Save the Chimps in Florida, and Chimp Haven in Louisiana. Both sanctuaries tell science correspondent Nell Greenfieldboyce that they are willing and able to take in more of the NIH’s retired chimps (which number in the hundreds), but because “Congress put a [$30 million] cap on how much the agency can spend on chimp sanctuaries when it passed the CHIMP Act in 2000,” and the NIH has already spent almost $29 million so far. Save the Chimps and Chimp Haven are raising more money to meet demand, but for 100 recently retired chimps, the NIH instead chose to make them “ineligible for experiments,” and “moved [them] to a different lab that had space to house them” instead of sending them to sanctuaries.

The cost of keeping a chimp in a lab for a year, $15,000, is close to the annual cost of housing a chimp in a sanctuary. As Greenfieldboyce reports, the sanctuaries are working on raising $5 million right now to take on the retired chimps, as well as make room for chimps expected to be retired by the NIH soon. The story is an interesting read (and better listen), if you can get past the “retired” euphemism. Because come on, NIH, none of these chimpanzees ever applied for the “jobs” you gave them.

[Photo of Chimp Haven resident by Steve Snodgrass via Flickr]

04/26/2011

Free Tony the truck stop tiger! Poor Tony is stuck at a stupid truck stop in Grosse Tete, La. GROSSE TETE? More like GROSS TOWN NAME! Tony is probably going crazy—I know I would. I mean, I love a good Flying J but I wouldn’t want to live there.

Make sure you sign the petition to free Tony here and donate cash money here. In other news: True Blood rules!

11/24/2010

Hello, friends! It’s WTF Wednesday!  »

Today I’m starting off with a confession: I don’t really know how to celebrate Thanksgiving. My parents never made a big deal about it, choosing instead to let us watch cartoons and eat turkey patties all day. Turkey patties are objectively disgusting, by the way. Even thinking about them makes me convulse in pain. This is unfortunate because I’ve been thinking about them for the past few minutes and kicked the coffee table really hard in mid-convulsion. When I moved out on my own, Thanksgiving meant watching cartoons and eating pizza out of a bowl (please do not ask me how I did this. I do not know). Now, it means going to Modesto to spend Thanksgiving with Allen’s family, which is actually the closest to a traditional Thanksgiving as I have ever home. It mainly involves eating and drinking myself into a stupor and then playing cards with Allen’s sister-in-law’s grandmother, who threatens me with bodily harm because I play very, very badly. Here comes my second confession: each year Allen fixes me a Tofurky all for myself. And then I eat it. And every year I discover I like Tofurky less and less, mainly because I have to eat it myself. I finally told Allen not to get a Tofurky this year, and while there were tears and recriminations, Allen and I are okay. And we’re making Gardein “turkey” instead. However, Thanksgiving always makes me think how ridiculous it is that we center an entire holiday around slaughtering a Turkey and then saying “thanks for all the blessings!” over its dead body. It doesn’t make any sense and it’s not at all fair.

Here’s another thing that isn’t fair: Remember those dogs I wrote about the otherĀ  week? The ones that were sent to Afghanistan on all-out suicide missions? That was sad. Then I read this article about Target, a homeless Afghan dog that stopped a suicide bomber from entering a U.S. military base. Target was deemed a hero and was sent to Arizona to be adopted by a loving family. Happy ending, right? WRONG! Not used to being confined to a yard, Target escaped and was captured by Pinal County’s Animal Control. Then, because she had not yet been tagged or micro-chipped, she was placed on PCAC’s website, and even though her guardian paid the fee to recover her, Target was mistakenly euthanized. This is a dog that was on Oprah, you guys. She saved countless people’s lives; and she was murdered because some lady at Animal Control made a mistake. Rest in peace, Target.

This is probably a good time to remind you to get identification tags, a microchip, and license for your companion animal. It can be the difference between life and death.

However, I’m not all about bad news! Did you know that it is now acceptable to wear fur as long as the animal that was killed for your earmuffs was a pest and a nuisance? That’s right! Nutria fur is GUILT-FREE and fashion-forward TO THE MAX! (Do we say “to the max” anymore?) Why? Because Nutria are hella annoying and eat plants. I get it, okay? Nutria are damaging a fragile ecosystem and apparently they’re not very cute (wrong!). Does this really give anyone license to wear their fur? I mean, come on. You know who I find annoying? Julia Stiles! She is a horrible actress, didn’t do her own dancing in Save the Last Dance, and didn’t even return my hello when she rented movies at the video store at which I worked—this last one is probably the most damning. No matter how annoying and useless I find her, I can still not justify murdering her and wearing her skin. Actually, this brings me to another point: Why do you want to wear the fur of an “ugly” and “loathsome” animal? Why not relocate it? Why put it on parade in Williamsburg, N.Y.? Why cap its teeth in silver and turn them into necklaces? There are a lot of questions here and not enough correct answers. CONFIDENTIAL TO THE PEOPLE MAKING THESE “FASHIONS”: Why not protest the murder of animals instead of turning them into a “beautiful” profit? I’m going to have to be honest and let you know that the argument that “They’re being killed anyway, so why not turn them into fashions?” doesn’t hold much water. I would draw some comparisons here, but my mother reads this and the last thing I need is another angry phone call that begins with, “What you mean by ‘Hogocaust,’ Mark? You think you so funny and smart but really not!!!!” and ends with her not speaking to me for three to five weeks.

In other news, apparently the animal rights group known as the Justice Department sent a package of HIV-tainted razor blades to two scientists at UCLA, one who participates in primate vivisection and one who does primate drug experiments. Listen, I find vivisection as deplorable as the next militant animal-rights activist, but sending someone razors tainted with an incurable disease is probably not the way to go. First of all, it’s not going to get your point across, and second of all, it is bad biology. HIV cannot live outside the body for more than a few minutes so it’s not going to do anything to anyone. And it’s certainly not going to stop these people from torturing primates. You know what, I was all set to offer some solutions, but there aren’t really good ones I can think of. I just don’t like people sending each other threats and weapons through the mail.

That’s all for this week! Please send me links for next week. Have an awesome Wednesday and a fun and safe Thanksgiving!

[tofurky photo by Aine D; nutria photo by jimstewart3]

07/15/2010

How to help the other animals affected by the BP oil spill  »

Get ready for a downer. A CNN corespondent visited the Louisiana SPCA to see the other side of the BP oil spill’s effect on animals. There’s been a huge surge of pets surrendered to Louisiana animal shelters because families who’ve been hit hard financially by the oil spill can no longer afford to care for them. One rescue, the St. Bernard Parish animal shelter, saw 17 dogs surrendered by their owners in June, 2009; this year they had 127 dogs surrendered in June. Fucking A. The SPCA is calling for BP to start chipping in to help families keep their pets. They are also offering free veterinary care for people in the fishing industry in certain coastal regions. If you want to help out, you can donate money to this effort on the Louisiana SPCA website. The St. Bernard Parish animal shelter is also calling for volunteers. Everybody is looking for more foster homes as shelters are at capacity.

Another organization getting involved is the Animal Rescue of New Orleans, a rescue formed to help animals affected by Katrina. As a no-kill shelter, they have people driving all the way to their shelter near New Orleans to surrender their pets in the hopes they won’t be put down before they can find new homes. This little white dog is Chloe, she was surrendered and required surgery to remove bladder stones. With people barely able to provide for their healthy pets, pets that need expensive medical care are probably screwed. ARNO is also trying to keep pets in their homes with their Pet Retention Program. This program helps low income and unemployed people keep their pets by paying for their care. They are in dire needs of funds right now and you can donate (with paypal!) here.

Another, more fun way to help is to sponsor an animal. On the Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society’s website, you can sponsor an animal and they will even send you a cute picture of “your” animal like this one to the right. I think sponsoring animals is a great way for kids to get involved in rescue efforts. They get a pet by-proxy and they also learn about the realities homeless pets as opposed to pet shops selling animals.

There’s an interesting personal account of a visit to the St. Bernard Parish animal shelter on the blog ohmidog. You have to scroll to the bottom as it was a stop on a road trip. The writer discusses the conditions of the shelter as well as disaster economics.

That’s all for today. I don’t have any good jokes because I am sad. It’s sad that the pets don’t have homes, it’s also sad that people don’t have their pets anymore. Pets are good for you!

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