vegansaurus!

11/08/2011

Same-sex penguin pair are targeted by heteronormative zoo  »


The Toronto Zoo is planning to separate same-sex penguin couple Pedro and Buddy in order to pair them with females for breeding. Needless to say, some people are not happy about this. As tipster Sarah L. said, “as if it doesn’t suck enough already to be imprisoned in a zoo.” Now they are forcing loving couples to separate. Eff that noise! Keep them together!

I had read previously that it’s not uncommon for male penguins to pair off. Animal Planet even states that “the Central Park zoo has turned out to be the Castro of the penguin world,” but I’m not sure if it’s just a zoo thing. According to Wikipedia, there was a similar situation in Germany where they separated three male-on-male penguin couples to try to get them to breed with females, and it just didn’t work. 

Sarah has actually taken measures to stop the forced separation and says we can help too:

African penguins are endangered because of commercial fisheries, oil spills, and humans eating their eggs, not because Pedro and Buddy are two males in love. I called the Toronto Zoo this morning at (416) 392.5929. The customer service rep didn’t seem to know anything about it, so I suspect no one else had called—but she seemed sympathetic, and I think if enough people call maybe they will keep Pedro and Buddy together rather than risk a PR scandal.

Let’s call today! Let love rule!

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]

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.

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