Megyl Kelly on elephant poaching 

June 6, 2017 Leave a comment

The first episode of “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly,” Sunday June 4 on NBC, included a segment on women fighting elephant poachers. And the Tuesday June 6 New York Times includes a feature article on the illegal trade in wildlife in Asia, which is decimating populations. 

The story on the fight against Kenya’s elephant poachers, reported by Harry Smith on “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly,” had a notably feminist feel. Earlier in the show viewers were informed, “Coming up: The race to save the elephants: women are leading the way.” The opening of the story focused on Faye Cuevas, a lawyer and a lieutenant colonel in the US air-force reserve, who works with IFAW to catch poachers and save elephants. But the story also looked at local women who had been leading efforts and included a brief interview with Kenya’s Secretary for the environment, Judy Wakhungu, who showed off the ashes at a site where $100,000,000 worth of elephant tusks had been torched to show, “Ivory has no value unless it is on a live elephant.” The show did inform us that elephants are in dire straits, but shared, “The hope here is community based conservation, like the efforts we witnessed, will be the strategy that ultimately slows and stops the slaughter, efforts that seem part
icularly effective when women are involved.”

You can watch the whole show, which I enjoyed, and which includes an interview with President Putin, and with a drug company whistle-blower, on line at http://tinyurl.com/y77fo8p9 . Or you can go straight to the elephant segment on NBC’s YouTube channel at 

Please let this new show know how much we viewers appreciate animal issues being included in the first episode. You can do that by sharing the YouTube video of the episode on social media and tagging @MegynKelly and/or by going to the NBC contact page at http://www.nbc.com/contact-us and choosing “I have feedback” and “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly.” I did both. 

Tomorrow’s, Tuesday June 5, New York Times story is titled, “Animal Farms.” It opens with a description of three caged tigers on a farm in Laos, none of whom likely “had long to live.” It covers the farming of wild animals in various Asian countries for their body parts, and notes that the animals are mostly wild caught though sold as captive bred. Government efforts to curtail the businesses are questionable:

“Officials in Vietnam recently granted permission for the wife of Pham Van Tuan, a twice-convicted tiger trafficker, to import 24 tigers from the Czech Republic ‘for conservation purposes.’”

The article covers bear bile farming:

“An estimated 10,000 bears are legally kept on Chinese farms for their bile, an ingredient in traditional medicine that is collected through a tube permanently implanted in the animals’ gall bladders, or through a hole in their abdomens…..

“In 2002, Vietnam faced a similar dilemma when it made bear farming and bile sales illegal. Fifteen years later, around 1,200 bears still live with their original owners.

“Many are kept in horrific conditions — in cages scarcely larger than their bodies, suffering from rampant disease and lacking adequate food and water — and their bile continues to be collected illegally.

“Animals Asia runs a rehabilitation center near Hanoi that houses 160 bears rescued from the trade, but the center has permission to keep only 200 animals. Even if that cap were eliminated, however, the group lacks the funds and space to care for all of Vietnam’s remaining captive bears.”

The responsibility of the US is not ignored in the piece:

“The pet trade is also a problem. Indonesia annually exports over four million reptiles and small mammals labeled captive-bred — including thousands shipped weekly to the United States. But virtually all are caught in the wild, according to Dr. Shepherd.”

And we read:

“Conservationists believe that international pressure may be crucial to persuading Asian governments to close tiger, bear and other wildlife farms, but that strategy’s effectiveness is compromised by an awkward fact: An estimated 5,000 tigers are held in backyards, petting zoos and even truck stops across the United States.

“While those animals are predominantly kept as pets, they compromise negotiations with other countries on this issue, said Leigh Henry, a senior policy adviser at the World Wildlife Fund.”  

She is quoted:

“When fingers are pointed at China about their tiger farms, they tend to point the finger back at the U.S. and say, ‘They have as many tigers as we have, why are you not criticizing them?’

“The priority is closing the tiger farms in Asia…but the U.S. needs to set a strong standard, and that starts with cleaning up the situation in our own backyard.”

You’ll find the whole article on line at http://tinyurl.com/y958jrrw and can send a letter to the New York Times at letters@nytimes.com

NC law protecting factory farms from lawsuits covered in depth on Democracy Now 

May 14, 2017 Leave a comment

A shocking development for animals, people and the environment in North Carolina, has garnered shockingly little coverage, except on Democracy Now. On May 3 the Democracy Now TV show aired a story titled, “North Carolina Hog Farms Spray Manure Around Black Communities; Residents Fight Back,” with the related May 4 Podcast and blog being titled, “In North Carolina, Pigs Don’t Fly but Their Feces Do.” 
We learned:

“Last week, North Carolina lawmakers passed House Bill 467, which limits the damages that residents could collect against hog farms. The billion-dollar industry is primarily clustered in the eastern part of the state, where hog farms collect billions of gallons of untreated pig feces and urine in what are essentially cesspools, then dispose of the waste by spraying it into the air. Residents living in the area of the spray complain of adverse health effects and odor so bad that it limits their ability to be outdoors.”

The blog and podcast note that in the cesspools the feces and urine are “mixed with blood and rotting pig body parts” and it points to “an array of illnesses” suffered by neighbors. 

We hear that “people of color, low-income people bear the brunt of these practices.” 

In a Democracy Now May 8 headline we learned that the North Carolina governor had vetoed the bill, but then on May 11 we were told that the House had overridden the governor’s veto, with the bill headed back to the senate.

Sadly, though it seems that Democracy Now has not yet noted it, the Senate also overrode the veto, so the bill is law, protecting the factory farming industry in North Carolina. 

The Democracy Now coverage is human-centric — it barely mentions animals. Yet we see images, over and over, of pigs crammed together or isolated in small individual crates, on factory farms. And I suspect the prominent captions on those images, noting that the video is provided by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States, is likely to remind viewers that it is not only people who suffer as the factory farms are protected. 

You can watch Democracy’s now original, May 3 coverage at http://tinyurl.com/n43j3fs , and the following link, pointing to a site search, will bring up all four pieces of coverage — the TV story, the blog, and the headline updates: http://tinyurl.com/lp6n7dx

Please thank Democracy Now for the in depth coverage, and especially for including the video that shows the pigs on those farms. And please encourage the show to follow up. Viewer interest will drive further coverage. Democracy now takes comments at https://www.democracynow.org/contact

Statement on Scottish Government animal welfare announcements

May 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Scotland for Animals welcomes the Scottish Government announcement yesterday that some areas of welfare provision are to be reviewed.

We also welcome the inclusion of a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, however we are disappointed that this will have a very limited protective impact due to it’s scope.
We are further concerned that there is no mention of improvements regarding legislation concerning the farming and slaughter of animals, which by it’s nature and the sheer number of animals involved, presents arguably the largest welfare issue.

We are particularly surprised that given the huge amount of public support for mandatory, independently monitored CCTV in abattoirs and an end to unstunned slaughter these measures have been ignored.

Not least due to SfA’s campaign for proper enforcement and tougher sentencing with regards to animal cruelty we are heartened that the Scottish Government has at long last pledged to review sentencing. 

In light of previous betrayals we hope that this is not yet another round of soft measures and empty promises. There is history of government championing relatively easy wins to gain public approval without the risk of taking on the meat industry or investing hard work in creating a proper legal framework for ending everyday cruelty. 

We will be holding Ministers to account on all of these claims and pressing for the inclusion of meaningful, far reaching changes which are at present not on the table.

Scotland publish Bill to ban wild animal circuses!

May 12, 2017 Leave a comment

I am so happy to share this fantastic news with you! This morning, the Scottish Government published a Bill to ban the use of wild animals in circuses! Thank you so much for working so hard over the years speaking out against this cruel industry. Change is happening! 
Read more here: https://www.captiveanimals.org/news/2017/05/breaking-scottish-government-publishes-bill-to-ban-wild-animals-in-circuses
Once passed, the legislation will be the first outright ban on wild animal circuses anywhere in the UK, joining 18 European countries, and 35 around the world, with restrictions in place – and more in the pipeline.

Publishing the Bill is just the first stage before it becomes law and needs the support of MSPs in the Scottish parliament. 

Contact your local MSP and ask them to support the Bill, using the points below – https://www.writetothem.com/

98% of respondents to a Scottish consultation said they thought wild animals in circuses should be banned

18 European countries and 35 around the world have bans or restrictions on animals in circuses

Scotland can lead the way on banning animal circuses in the UK

Ahead of the General Election, contact your local MPs for all political parties and ask them to include a ban in their manifesto! https://www.writetothem.com/

We were also very happy that the Scottish Government have indicated they will also be looking into other forms of animal use in travelling entertainment, such as mobile zoos, reindeer displays and bird of prey displays. The Government have already used our research from 2016 which investigated the growth of this unregulated industry and we will be submitting more evidence when needed. 

For now, let us celebrate this progress and keep up the action until it is made into law. 

No more excuses on live exports

May 12, 2017 Leave a comment

Despite increasing opposition and protest amongst the general public, and even MPs, live exports are still occurring from the UK. For decades, successive British governments have blamed EU free trade law for their failure to ban this abhorrent trade. Now, at last, they are out of excuses.The clock is now ticking for Brexit, offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ban the live export of UK farm animals. Can you help us take the final step?

If you think a long distance journey is uncomfortable – imagine spending up to 100 hours, squashed up against others, sometimes with little or no food or water, no ability to rest and no idea where you are going or why.

Tens of thousands of farm animals are exported from the UK each year. This is a massive reduction since the 1990s, when millions of animals endured this appalling trade. But we want to reduce it to zero. Together we’ve come so far – let’s end this now!

“What a Fish Knows” on KPCC’s Take Two 5/11/17

May 12, 2017 Leave a comment

The KPCC (Los Angeles NPR) station show “Take Two” aired a terrific interview this morning with Jonathan Balcombe, author of “What a Fish Knows,” which has just come out in paperback. Balcombe smashes myths about fish such as that they are primitive, dimwitted, emotionless or unfeeling. The six minute interview is a delight to listen to or read. You’ll find it on line at http://tinyurl.com/m8tla4y 
Please let KPCC know you appreciate it by leaving a comment beneath it, or even liking other comments that are already there, and by sharing the interview on social media. Or go to http://www.scpr.org/contact/ and choose “content issues” from the pull-down menu. 

Sea world slump and meat free news

May 11, 2017 Leave a comment

There’s lots of good news: A USA Today headline, Wednesday May 10, tells us, “Crowds fall as SeaWorld changes format; Attendance plunges 15% amid phase-out of killer whale shows.” And last weekend’s papers were bursting with plant-based milk and “clean meat” from meat breweries.

The USA Today article, by Charisse Jones, opens with:
“As it starts to downplay killer whale shows, SeaWorld said Tuesday that it hasn’t been drawing the same massive crowds to its aquatic parks as it has in the past.”

While a good chunk of the article leans towards suggesting that attendance is falling because orca shows are being phased out, the piece ends with a strong quote from PETA’s Tracy Reiman, making clear that the performances are hardly the only issue, and that the public wants to see less rather than more of the orcas in captivity. Reiman says:

“As Ringling Bros. circus prepares to shut down this month because of its failure to evolve, SeaWorld could save itself by not fighting a losing battle against the sea change of public opinion and set a plan immediately to move these long-suffering animals to seaside sanctuaries.” 

You’ll find the full article on line at http://tinyurl.com/mszxps6

USA Today takes letters at letters@usatoday.com or via this form: http://tinyurl.com/zs4ftbu and advises, “Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length. Submissions of 200 words or fewer have the best chance of being published. Letters that include a name, address, day and evening phone numbers, and that are verified by USA TODAY, are considered for publication.”

It is up to us to make sure the public knows that things are not okay now at SeaWorld, just because breeding and orca performances have stopped. Please write. 

Now let me share great news from Parade Magazine, the insert slipped into hundreds of Sunday newspapers in the US and thereby distributed to tens of millions of households. An article and page of recipes titled “Dairy-Free and Delicious: Nondairy Milks Are All the Rage” opens with:

“Dairy alternatives are all the rage. In fact, 49 percent of Americans now prefer nondairy milk. That’s why we’ve created a light springy soup and creamy popsicles perfect for experimenting with new plant-based ‘milks.’ For the soup, we used milk made with pea protein, which is increasingly showing up in products like snack bars or veggie burgers as a meat-free source of protein. For these recipes, any nondairy milk will taste great (as will reduced-fat cow’s milk).”

As Stewart David, who kindly sent me the link, pointed out, 49% must be a taste-test figure. I checked actual sales figures and found out, from statista.com, that nondairy accounted for about ten percent of the US milk market in 2016. Given that when I began working in this movement it was more like 1%, that is still wonderful news! And an article like this will only help those numbers. 

You’ll find it on line at http://tinyurl.com/kesuklq

I was unable to sign in or register to comment, and as there are no comments I suspect others had a similar problem. But clicking the Facebook or Twitter link under the headline is a comment in and of itself, and it helps spread the wonderful word! And, if you like, you can add your own comment on Facebook or Twitter as to why “reduced fat cow’s milk” is not a good substitute for pea-protein milk. Please, at least, hit the button and share the article on social media. 

Meanwhile, Shelley Frost let us know that in last Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle, “the entire Food + Home section is titled ‘Special Report- What is Meat?’.” She described it as “a 14 page section filled with alternative meat articles that closes with vegan recipes.” Here’s the introduction:
“What is meat?

Does its provenance — a living animal — define meat? Or is it simply the sum of its parts? If something is chemically identical to meat — or for that matter, wine — does that make it so?

“These questions are worth asking, because thanks to a confluence of wealth, innovation and culinary knowledge, the Bay Area is uniquely positioned to be a major player in the global alternative meat industry. The cause is well known: Animal consumption, especially on the factory farm levels, is an unsustainable proposition.

Welcome to the real future of fake meat.”  

Here’s the link to it: http://www.sfchronicle.com/meat

You’ll find articles with titles such as, “Cellular agriculture: Growing meat in a lab setting” and “Faux shrimp leads new round of plant-based proteins” and “‘Meat breweries’ that make protein instead of beer,” which I hope you will love and share widely.