AWI Quarterly

China's Torture Chambers

 

China's Torture Chambers

The results of an extensive undercover investigation into China's cruel bear bile farms by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) were revealed in a new report discussed at the recent meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Nairobi, Kenya.

WSPA's report, Inside China's Torture Chambers, documents how thousands of bears are kept in horrific conditions in hundreds of farms across China, producing approximately 7000 kg of bear bile every year for the traditional Chinese medicine market.

WSPA fears that China will apply to register some of its bear farms with CITES (none currently registered), thereby circumventing the existing international ban on trade in endangered bear parts. Bears from facilities approved by the CITES Secretariat can have their parts sold in global commercial trade while wild bears of the same species ostensibly are protected from such profitable exploitation. Such a move would hasten the demise of bears in the wild, with many taken from the wild each year to restock the farms, and encourage the continued development of this barbaric form of "farming."

The bears kept on these farms endure the most appalling levels of cruelty and neglect, with many wounded and scarred due to the friction caused by being kept in tiny metal cages suspended above the ground. They have no choice but to lie squashed in their cages on a bed of bars, some with a constant stream of bile seeping from their stomachs, where an open wound allows workers to insert a tube or piece of metal to "tap" the bile twice a day. Bears may stop producing bile after just a few years, after which they outlive their usefulness and are left to die or killed for their paws and gall bladders. A single bear paw may sell for several hundred dollars - almost a year's salary for the average worker in China.


Photo, Bile seeps from a bear's abdomen at a Chinese bear farm in Heilongchiang Province. (Fisherman/WSPA)

Animal Welfare Institute QUARTERLY Summer 2000 Volume 49 Number 3

 

About the Cover
Katy Payne, who initiated the study of infrasound elephant communication, photographed this mother and infant elephant. Katy is profoundly committed to the protection of elephants as individuals, and she suffers with them when they are culled or poached for their ivory. She is conducting her studies now in the Central African Republic. Her book," Silent Thunder — In the Presence of Elephants," which was reviewed in the Spring 2000 AWI Quarterly , concludes sorrowfully. After Katy and five colleagues returned to the U.S., a cull by the Zimbabwe Parks Department killed many of the elephants whose voices she had recorded and grown to know.
Directors
Marjorie Cooke
Roger Fouts, Ph.D.
David O. Hill
Fredrick Hutchison
Cathy Liss
Christine Stevens
Cynthia Wilson

Officers
Christine Stevens, President
Cynthia Wilson, Vice President
Fredrick Hutchison, Treasurer

Scientific Committee
Marjorie Anchel, Ph.D.
Gerard Bertrand, Ph.D.
F. Barbara Orlans, Ph.D.
Roger Payne, Ph.D.
Samuel Peacock, M.D.
John Walsh, M.D.

International Committee
Aline de Aluja, D.M.V., Mexico
T.G. Antikas, D.M.V., Greece
Ambassador Tabarak Husain, Bangladesh
Angela King, United Kingdom
Simon Muchiru, Kenya
Godofredo Stutzin, Chile
Agnes Van Volkenburgh, Poland
Alexey Yablokov, Ph.D., Russia

Staff and Consultants
Ava Armendariz, Publications Coordinator
Amy Conklin, Administrative Assistant
John Gleiber, Assistant to the Officers
Diane Halverson, Farm Animal Advisor
Chris Heyde, Research Associate
Lynne Hutchison, Executive Secretary
Cathy Liss, Executive Director
Nell Naughton, Mail Order Secretary
Greta Nilsson, Wildlife Consultant
Viktor Reinhardt, D.M.V., Ph.D.,  Laboratory
       Animal Advisor
Jennifer Rinick, Research Assistant
Adam M. Roberts, Senior Research Associate
Wendy Swann, Research Associate
Ben White, International Coordinator

  TABLE OF CONTENTS CITES  Political "Spin" and Wildlife Conservation
by Adam M. Roberts China 's Torture Chambers,
 by Jonathan Owen  Wildlife Conservation Heroes,
by Adam M. Roberts In Remembrance of Nick Carter,
by Rosalind Reeve "Report: Japan is Top Importer of Endangered Species" Marine Mammals Judge Strikes Down Phony "Dolphin-Safe" Label U.S. Navy Kills Whales In The Bahamas,
by Ben White Elephant Seals Hot Iron Branded Wildlife and Environmental destruction The Environment Comes Second A Fur Promotion Frenzy "The Voice of the Turtle is Heard in Our Land,"
By Ben White
World Bank vs. Tigers in India,
by Bittu Sahgal and Daphne Wysham Mexican Ecological Group Blockades Logging Road to Save Forest  Animals in Laboratories A Power Struggle on Capitol Hill Over Chimpanzees' Future,
by Adam M. Roberts Animal Dealers Animal Dealers Arrested and Convicted Canadian Bear Parts Traders Jailed Another Dealer is Exposed for Illegally Acquiring Dogs for Experimentation $10,000 Reward for Stolen Labrador Retriever Farm Animals The Farm Bureau Prediction on China rBGH Reconsidered,
by Chris Bedford Two AWI Missions to Central Europe,
by Tom Garrett
Join the Fight to End Abuse of Laying Hens BioMusic BioMusic: The Music of Nature and the Nature of Music  Music of the Birds, A Celebration of Bird Song.
Comments? Questions? Click Here

Mexican Ecological Group Blockades Logging Road to Save Forest

 

Mexican Ecological Group Blockades Logging Road to Save Forest

Under the headline "Jailed Mexican Wins Environmental Prize" Sam Dillon wrote a report of Rodolfo Montiel's heroic struggle to save the forest near his village north of Acapulco (The New York Times, April 5, 2000). The transnational Idaho logging company, Boise Cascade, and all the government officials to whom Montiel wrote, were unmoved by his reports that laws were being broken, rivers drying up, and thousands of fish dying.

"Our defense of the forest is a struggle for our way of life," he wrote, "The earth without trees becomes a desert, because the soul of the water lives in the cool of the forest."

Montiel's formal education ended after first grade, but his lyrical plea for the trees was wisely followed up in spring 1998 by his peasant group's blockade of logging roads to stop the timber trucks. According to Dillon's article, "Gunmen have since killed several members of Mr. Montiel's rural ecological organization and last May soldiers seized and tortured Mr. Montiel, he said, accusing him of drug and weapons crimes.

"The charges were riddled with contradictions, but were enough to send him to a penitentiary pending a felony trial. One of the human rights lawyers defending him has been kidnapped, twice."

Now the Goldman Foundation has awarded him its prestigious $125,000 environmental prize and Amnesty International declared him to be a prisoner of conscience.


ACTION Write to the President of Mexico protesting the mistreatment and imprisonment of Rodolfo Montiel. Address your letters to President Ernesto Zedillo,
c/o Embassy of Mexico,
1911 Pennsylvania Avenue,
Washington, D.C. 20006

Random Source Dog and Cat Dealers Under the Microscope

ALTHOUGH NO ACTION WAS TAKEN on the Pet Safety and Protection Act in the last Congress, the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations bill and the FARM bill were adopted; both include language regarding random source Class B dealers who sell dogs and cats for experimentation.

They call for an independent review by a panel of experts to determine how frequently animals sold by Class B dealers are used, and make recommendations regarding such use. In addition, the Agriculture Committee leadership in both the House and Senate called for a Government Accountability Office study on the subject.

In response to Congress's call for action, the National Academies Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (ILAR) formed a committee to "address the use of Class B dogs and cats in research funded by the National Institutes of Health." The 10-member committee representing a broad spectrum of individuals, from vocal opponents of Class B dealers to scientists who purchase and use such animals, is expected to issue its report this spring. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been tasked by Congress to review any recommendations proposed and report how they may be implemented to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

Most of the committee's deliberations have been private, but during two half-day public sessions, an array of people spoke, including Cathy Liss of the Animal Welfare Institute. Liss provided a statement, showed footage from dealer premises, presented extensive documentation and answered questions based on her 28 years of random source dealer experience.

Two representatives from a licensed Class A dealer facility (a breeder of purpose-bred animals), gave an impressive presentation describing their ability to provide a wide variety of animals and services to the research industry. The breeding facility is able to meet the research demands for dogs and adapt as these needs change. Unlike random source dogs, the health status and genetic background of Class A animals is known.

Another detailed presentation was given by a genetic expert on cats from the National Cancer Institute's Laboratory of Genomic Diversity. He described how to breed cats to ensure genetic diversity, emphasizing that it can in fact be done.

The USDA's Animal Care staff gave two separate presentations and has submitted data to the committee. One chart notes that from November 2007 to November 2008, 2,863 dogs and 267 cats were sold by Class B dealers to research facilities. Currently, just 11 such dealers remain. Compared to historical figures, these numbers clearly represent a dying industry.

Recently, Animal Care has revised the manner in which it conducts tracebacks intended to assess the accuracy of dealer records identifying from whom they purchase their dogs and cats.

Tracebacks are an extensive and costly process, yet they cannot provide assurance that the dealers' transactions involving animals were legal. A significant loophole in the AWA is that any person who claims to have bred and raised a dog or cat can sell the animal for profit. Dealers can exploit this loophole knowing it is virtually impossible to disprove their claim.

The suggested machinations to tighten controls and provide oversight of Class B dealers are mind boggling. Based on the evidence provided, it seems inconceivable that the committee can justify a research need on scientific grounds to use any dogs and cats obtained from these dealers. While the vast majority of researchers get their animals from other sources, it is time for the foot-draggers to follow suit.

Dogs at a Class B dealer facility.

Polar Bears Suffer In The Suarez Brothers Circus

By Adam M. Roberts

Amidst the cold Arctic snow and ice of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia massive polar bears travel hundreds of kilometers in search of food and mates every year. They swim in frigid waters, eat and sleep in the open, and hunt for their food of meat and blubber, notably from seals. Fewer than 30,000 polar bears exist in the wild today.

Bears, panting in temperatures over 110oF, are repeatedly whipped and hit in the ear and face with a rod to force them to climb stairs and go down a slide on the other end. (PETA)


In the Suarez Brothers Circus of Mexico, miserable polar bears suffer in confinement and only travel where the circus takes them-even to the warm-weather Caribbean. They live in oppressive heat, exhibit the stereotypic behavior of rocking back and forth insanely in their cages, have little access to water or air conditioning, and eat whatever food is given to them, including dog chow and lettuce. Seven polar bears languish in these horrid conditions.

The circus is currently in Puerto Rico and faces cruelty charges brought by the Puerto Rican Department of Natural Resources-charges the circus has twice tried, and failed, to have dismissed. A separate suit brought by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Humane Society of Puerto Rico, and private individuals has been filed in a federal court in Washington, DC to keep the bears in the US. Marianne Merritt, co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the federal case, stated: "Allowing these arctic animals to be maintained in a tropical climate in such inhumane and deplorable conditions is an abdication of the government agencies' legal duties.  Maintaining polar bears in Puerto Rico is akin to placing an African elephant on the North Pole."

Diana Weinhardt, Chair of the American Zoological Association Bear Technical Advisory Group, visited the facility and observed that some bears flinched when the bears' trainer approached them with a camera and a four and a half foot "fiberglass stick with a blunted point on the end." She added, "The actions I thought were an indication that they have been hit with this stick possibly on a regular basis as a guide to get a desired behavior."

A Puerto Rican veterinarian and zoologist, Dr. Pedro E. Nunez, observed bears "caged individually in spaces too small for their size as the lengths of their bodies were practically reaching from one end to the other." He graphically continued, "They didn't have access to a pool and you could see that some bottles of drinking water were dirty with tomato, lettuce and carrot. A large quantity of bloody diarrhea, with a lot of mucus, was draining from one of the cages, accumulating on the floor, and several flies, attracted by the apparent bad odor of the blood, were clearly visible."

Bears, panting in temperatures over 110°F, are repeatedly whipped and hit in the ear and face with a rod to force them to climb stairs and go down a slide on the other end. (PETA)

According to a Marine Mammal Commission (MMC) review of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection reports for the circus and a video of the facility, Suarez Brothers is repeatedly out of compliance with the Animal Welfare Act. The polar bears have only occasional access to pools of water and fully air-conditioned holding areas and are receiving poor veterinary treatment. In a letter to the acting administrator of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the MMC offers this synopsis of the polar bears' conditions: "The animals are constantly swaying and panting, suggesting that they are distressed. It appears that neither the air conditioning system nor the fans were operating. The time and temperature are recorded as being 10 a.m. and 112.8 degrees, respectively. The tape also shows that the bears are being maintained in filthy conditions and that waste products, when they are being removed from the transport enclosures, are being deposited directly on the ground adjacent to the enclosures."

At least one animal already has died at Suarez Brothers. According to the MMC, "'Yiopa' died of heart failure due to dirofilariasis. With proper treatment, this should not have been a life-threatening condition. However, that animal was not provided veterinary care until he was in an advanced stage of deterioration and was not treated in a timely fashion after the diagnosis was made."

There is also a looming question about whether these polar bears were captive born or taken (illegally) from the wild. Dr. Terry Maple, President and CEO of Zoo Atlanta, notes that the circus's claim that one of the polar bears was born in Atlanta is false. "These documents are not accurate, since the Atlanta-born bear ("Snowball") died in a German zoo in 1994," Dr. Maple wrote. He noted that the bear must have had another origin and that the circus's records must have been doctored.

While the cruelty case is proceeding, at least 55 Representatives and 16 Senators have weighed in to urge the USDA and the Department of the Interior (DOI) to take appropriate action to ensure the well being of these animals, including confiscating and relocating the polar bears. According to Congressman George Miller (D-CA), "It is disturbing that the two federal agencies responsible for protecting polar bears would allow arctic animals to be held in tropical climates." Several bipartisan measures have been introduced in Congress, including an amendment to the contentious annual "farm bill," to prohibit the exhibition of polar bears by carnivals, circuses, or traveling shows.

There is widespread agreement that it is inhumane and inappropriate for polar bears to be in the Suarez Brothers Circus. Now the Courts, Congress, and the Administration can each take appropriate action to ensure the poor bears' long-term well-being.

Wildlife and Drug Smuggling: A Tangled Tale

Customs officials warned Jeffrey Allen Doth, operator of the Texas-based International Exotic Wildlife, of the proper procedures for importing wildlife when, at age 25, he was caught smuggling wildlife into the US. A year later, in 1995, wearing a baggy shirt, Doth boarded a plane with five juvenile green tree pythons concealed in elastic stockings strapped around his waist. The US Customs Service busted him at Los Angeles International Airport for attempting to smuggle the snakes from Indonesia without receiving necessary permits from the Indonesian government or declaring them to Customs.

At Doth's trial he argued that rather than hiding the pythons under his clothing to conceal them, he was merely trying to keep them warm and avoid paying extra airline costs. Doth was found guilty of two felony counts and faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison. On October 22, 2001, Doth was sentenced to a lenient four months of home detention, a $5,100 fine, and three years probation.

Less than four months after sentencing, while apparently still under house arrest in Texas, Doth was making trips to Miami to receive wildlife shipments from Guyana. He arranged to get wholesale shipments of exotic mammals and reptiles at cut-rate prices and then to sell some of the wildlife to other dealers, including the infamous drug kingpin and convicted felon Mario Tabraue (see Spring 2001 AWI Quarterly). Dealers or their representatives would meet at the airport to divide each shipment.

In late November, Doth, Miami Reptiles' Michael Powell, Tabraue's transporter Val Lorente, and a Guyanese man, Rajendra Persaud, were at Miami's Airport to receive a shipment of mammals and one of reptiles. The reptile shipment also contained over 100 pounds of cocaine hidden in false bottoms of the transport boxes. Regarding the illegal drugs, Customs is currently focused only on Persaud and another Guyanese man, Doyle Debudin, both of whom allegedly were house guests of one-time wildlife importer Cyril Lowe. Florida Fish and Game appears to be seeking prosecution of Doth for not possessing a wildlife dealer's license and for receiving 17 dwarf caiman without a permit. Excluding the caiman, the Fish and Wildlife Service has distributed the entire shipment, including 12 kinkajous, four two-toed sloths, 18 agoutis, five prehensile-tailed porcupines, and a coatamundi to the prospective dealers! No word on any action against Doth for his travels while under house arrest.

A coatamundi in his native habitat.

 

Two Bear Stories

China Still Jails Bears

Just months after being awarded the 2008 Olympics, two illegal bear bile factories in China were uncovered by undercover journalists for China's Central Television. Thousands of bears are still kept in cramped cages in China and elsewhere throughout Asia, regularly milked for their bile, which is used in traditional Chinese medicines and can fetch prices higher than gold or heroin on the black market. Reuters reports, "footage showed bears yelping in pain as keepers extracted the bright green liquid....At the second factory, the bears have their teeth and claws removed so they are not a threat to their handlers."


Dead Grizzlies Not
Welcome in the EU

After a partially successful campaign that saw trophy hunting of grizzly bears stopped or reduced in many areas of British Columbia (BC), Canada, last year, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has announced that the 15 European Union (EU) countries have taken the additional step of banning the importation of grizzly bear trophies into the EU from British Columbia.

According to EIA, "The EU accounts for up to 30% of the 120 BC grizzlies killed on average each year by fee-paying foreign hunters. The total hunt including bears killed by Canadians averaged 300 grizzlies per year during the last decade, from a population which independent biologists [estimate] could be as low as 4-6,000."

The United Kingdom and Germany called for the ban to stop the unsustainable BC hunt. Daniela Freyer, International Campaigner with the German organization, Pro-Wildlife, said, "More BC grizzlies end up decorating houses in Germany than almost any other country, so it is fitting that along with the UK it was Germany leading the call for an import ban."

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