AWI Quarterly

Saying Goodbye and a Profound Thank You to Astrid Lindgren

Astrid Lindgren, an author of original genius whose appeal was worldwide, has died at 94. She will be mourned by all who seek to protect the billions of animals in animal factories. When she was awarded the Animal Welfare Institute's Albert Schweitzer Medal in 1988 Ambassador Wachtmeister said, "In Sweden, she is not only the most famous lady, she is the most beloved. I am sure that if the animals could vote, the majority would be still greater in her favor."

Astrid Lindgren looking at
her Schweitzer Medal.


Her books were translated into 60 languages, and more than 130 million copies were sold. Most famous were her stories of tales about Pippi Longstocking, which she made for her young daughter while nursing her through pneumonia. Then while Astrid herself was confined to her bed by a badly sprained ankle, she wrote them down.

Astrid led the way in forthright correspondence with the Prime Minister. Her letters were always printed in Stockholm's biggest newspaper, Expressen-later they were published by AWI in English. Astrid tells of her family's herd of cows who grazed happily on their lush green pasture. When Astrid was a small child, Bessie, one of the cows, lifted Astrid upon her horns and tossed her across the grass toward the farm house. Far from being frightened, this early experience led Astrid to fiercely defend cows and attack industrial dairy farming, in which cows are confined to stalls year round rather than being allowed outside to eat the grass in summer.

In accepting the Schweitzer Medal Astrid said, "almost 80 years later [after being tossed by Bessie], I wrote an article about cows. About how dreary the life of a cow could be nowadays. A cow didn't get to graze anymore, her calf was taken from her as soon as it was born, and, worst of all, she could no longer be courted by an interested bull. The inseminator came instead, and that was not the same.

"After that article I got a letter from a female veterinarian, Kristina Forslund. She was-and still is-a docent at the Swedish University of Agriculture. She described her experiences as a veterinarian, with full insight in our animal husbandry, and it was a harrowing account about indecent treatment of animals. She succeeded in making me so upset that even now, three years later, I still haven't gotten over it. Kristina asked me to help her in her struggle to bring about better animal husbandry. She thought-optimist that she is-that everyone would listen to me. At any rate we managed to rouse a massive public reaction, which finally resulted in a new animal protection law in Sweden.  The Prime Minister himself came to my home to deliver the good news. The new law was supposed to be a kind of birthday present for me! Goodness gracious, what a wonderful present! But it turned out not to be that wonderful-not on every point-not for all animals. There is a great deal more that must be changed, before one can lean back and relax!

Swedish children dressed for the Feast of St. Lucia join Astrid in singing some of the many songs she wrote.


"And that is one of the reasons I am so happy to receive this medal. It gives me the guts to continue the struggle! The struggle, yes indeed. There are reactionaries back home, you know, they don't want any changes. It is impossible, they say. It is too expensive they say. But let us hope that we one day can get an animal protection law as kind and decent as people in other countries believe that we already have.

"For your help and encouragement, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

"I am sure that all Swedish cows and bulls and calves and pigs and sheep and chickens and hens are joining me when I say it once more!

"Thank you!"


Songbirds for food!

Songbirds for food! Compared with this, making kindlings of pianos and violins would be pious economy.-Our National Parks by John Muir

Trying to sneak legislation through Michigan's State Legislature repealing its 92 year-old ban on dove hunting has become more of an annual tradition for the US Sportsmen's Alliance (formerly the Wildlife Legislative Fund of America), National Rifle Association (NRA), and guns and ammunition lobby than their claim about dove hunting itself.

As the Michigan legislature recessed for its 2001 year-end break, the most recent bill (HB 5478) introduced by Representative Cameron Brown (R-Sturgis) was put on hold. This bill would allow the unelected, politically appointed Natural Resources Commission to decide which animals and birds can be hunted, taking the authority away from the legislature whose members answer to voters.

Preventing dove hunting has broad public support. The Detroit Free Press reports that Representative Susan Tabor (R-Lansing), sponsor of last year's failed attempt to repeal the ban on dove hunting, has her "fingerprints on Brown's bill." Chris Christoff, a reporter for the newspaper, said in his latest column that "no other single issue-not abortion, taxes, pay raises for politicians, nothing-elicits the outpouring of public outrage that shooting doves does. Lawmakers will tell you that. I'll attest, too."

In Wisconsin, the state's symbol of peace lost a very important legal battle this January when Circuit Judge Daniel Moeser upheld the Department of Natural Resources establishment of a hunting season. Groups that filed the suit have not decided if they will appeal. The first 60-day dove-hunting season was cancelled pending this decision.

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.

UN Speaks Out Again on Illegal Exploitation in the DRC

In a follow-up report on the state of illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) the United Nations Panel of Experts has recommended a moratorium on the purchasing and importing of various products from the region including coltan, diamonds, gold, and timber (see Summer 2001 AWI Quarterly, "Militants and Profiteers Wipe Out Wildlife in the DRC"). The Panel notes that the DRC's history "has been one of systematic abuse of its natural and human resources... backed by the brutal use of force and directed to the benefit of a powerful few."

Under the watchful eyes of the male silverback mountain gorilla, his group takes a siesta.  All gorillas are threatened by the violent conflict in the DRC. (Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International)

The DRC, home to numerous threatened and endangered species such as gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, elephants, and lions, has become a veritable cookie jar of natural resource pilfering-with several countries and unsavory characters sticking in their hands. The Ugandan army carries out gold mining in DRC. Zimbabwe, a fierce opponent of the international ban on commercial trade in elephant ivory, is particularly involved in DRC deforestation. A British nongovernmental organization, Global Witness, reported of a deal struck by Zimbabwe's embattled president, Robert Mugabe, to log 33 million hectares in the DRC, 15 percent of the territory. Zimbabwe also is heavily involved in mining for copper and cobalt.

DRC government officials are involved in embezzling diamonds that are allegedly smuggled through South Africa, another proponent of the global ivory trade. Coltan, a metal ore used in hi-tech and communications devices and which is a vital component in cell phones, is removed from DRC by a number of groups, notably the Rwandan army, and exported worldwide.

After publication of the UN Panel's initial report, the price for coltan (columbo-tantalite), dubbed "blood tantalum," dropped from $300 a pound in 2000 to an average of $25 a pound in 2001. Legislation has been introduced in the US Congress by Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) to prohibit the importation of coltan into the US from countries supporting the violent conflict in the DRC (specifically, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and the DRC itself). Said the Congresswoman, "This legislation, supported by the Ambassador of the DRC, would begin to institute the tough measures necessary to end this horrible and deadly conflict." Meanwhile, the Security Council will consider the Panel's recommendation of a trade moratorium with the DRC. If that doesn't work, the Panel has already introduced the idea of imposing sanctions. A new Panel has been convened to follow-up the ongoing work by the United Nations on this matter.


Nyiragongo Erupts!

Wildlife in the DRC and surrounding regions is imperiled by the January 17 eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano, about six miles outside the city of Goma near the Rwandan border. The lava flow has displaced hundreds of thousands of people in the area.

According to NASA, "biomass burned from Nyriagongo, and nearby Mount Nyamuragira, eruptions tends to create clouds of smoke that adversely affect the Mountain Gorillas living in the adjacent mountain chain."

Gorillas are already under pressure in the area from habitat destruction and poaching. Chimpanzees and other wild animals are similarly at risk.

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."

The Water Keeper Alliance Institutes Legal Attack on Pig Factories

On December 6, 2000, at press conferences in Washington, D.C. and Raleigh, North Carolina, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of the Water Keeper Alliance announced the launch of a broad legal assault against America's large pig factories. The Water Keeper Alliance and a coalition of supporters have turned to private attorneys and law firms to pursue enforcement of environmental protection regulations. This is necessary, said Kennedy, since "Federal environmental prosecution against the meat industry has effectively ceased because Congress has eviscerated the Environmental Protection Agency's enforcement budget while the political clout of powerful pork producers has trumped state enforcement efforts. This collapse of environmental enforcement has allowed corporate hog factories to proliferate with huge pollution-based profits."

The plaintiffs are seeking enforcement of state and federal laws, including the federal Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Clean Air Act. Kennedy added: "What we are dealing with here is a crime….  And they should have to stop today so we can get back to the family farmers and the tried and true way of preserving America's landscape and waterways." Describing the confinement of sows in crates so small they cannot walk or turn around, Kennedy called pig factories "extraordinarily cruel." Jan Schlictmann, a renowned environmental attorney, referred to modern hog factories as "animal concentration camps."

Attorneys who are committed to "civilizing" industrial hog operations stood with Mr. Kennedy and coalition members at the press conference. Coalition members and press conference speakers included family farmers Terry Spence and Rolf Christen of Citizens Legal Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), Sierra Club representative Scott Dye, Leland Swenson, President of National Farmers' Union, Brother David Andrews of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC) and Diane Halverson, Farm Animal Advisor of the Animal Welfare Institute.

Following are excerpts from the statement made by Diane Halverson. "Industrial hog producers have driven independent farm families out of business, and in doing so, have decimated the culture of humane husbandry that once characterized American farming. Traditionally, farm families took joy in good stockmanship and pride in the robust health of their herds. Industrial agriculture, on the other hand, calls animals into existence, and before it kills them, makes them suffer.

"For the corporate investor the animal is not a sentient creature, but a 'production unit.' The corporation is intent on three things: maximizing the number of 'production units' in each building; eliminating the need for husbandry skills among workers; and minimizing the number of workers. To do this, sows on the industrial farm are permanently confined in coffin-like crates, unable to walk or even turn around. All pigs are denied bedding in order that their manure can be liquefied for easy handling; this liquefaction makes it possible to concentrate huge numbers of animals on one site. Liquefied manure, running into streams, seeping into groundwater and emitting toxic gases, causes the environmental and public health problems discussed today. It is inevitable that a system which grossly violates the biology of the animals inside the factory will wreak havoc on everyone and everything outside of the factory.

"Sow deaths are common inside factory sow operations. The death rate of some herds is as high as 20%. The factory system is characterized by widespread routine application of antibiotics to promote growth of piglets, promote sow productivity and to prevent outbreaks of disease in the hostile conditions of the factory. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified the routine, subtherapeutic use of antibiotics in agriculture as a major contributor to antibiotic resistance in humans. WHO recommends switching from industrial management of animals to more extensive, enriched housing methods to reduce the distress caused to the animals and thereby reduce the need for antibiotics.

"AWI is proud to support the effort announced today, to expose and rein in an industry characterized by callous disregard for society, our environment and animals."


Top Photo: Attendees included attorneys fighting the hog producers and representatives of organizations supporting the legal battle. Among others pictured here: Sue Jarrett, Global Resource Action Center for the Environment; Scott Dye, Sierra Club; Terry Spence, CLEAN; Leland Swenson, National Farmers' Union; and Brother David Andrews, NCRLC. 

Bottom Photo: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of the Water Keeper Alliance, and Diane Halverson holding a pig.


Don't Order the Sea Bass

 

Chilean Sea Bass with Almonds and Pistachios in Garlic Sauce? Baked Ginger Snap Crusted Chilean Sea Bass with Kiwi Lime Sauce? Coast to coast, Chilean Sea Bass can be found on restaurant menus. But when eateries offer such fish, they actually serve Patagonian toothfish, a species being rapidly depleted in the Southern Ocean. 

The long-lived fish can survive to be 80 years old but has a difficult time recovering from over-exploitation with its slow reproductive rate; this is compounded by the fact that unregulated, unethical pirate fishers take toothfish at unsustainable levels. The Honorable Warren Truss, Australian Fisheries Minister, in September stated that a vessel suspected of poaching Patagonian toothfish had been sighted in Australian waters: "The suspect vessel's crew attempted to conceal its identity by obscuring its name and registration number and when approached fled the scene."

The Antarctica Project reports, "If pirate fishing continues at its current rate, scientists estimate that the Patagonian toothfish could be commercially extinct in less than three years." The Project asserts that pirate fishers are responsible for over eighty % of the total catch - valued at five hundred million dollars. Toothfish fishing also causes the slaughter of numerous non-target species. Over 300,000 sea birds have reportedly been killed after being hooked on the fishers' gear and drowned. This includes the majestic albatross—twenty species of albatross are listed on the 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

According to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), "The high level of illegal and unregulated fishing for toothfish…threatens stocks of toothfish through over-fishing, and populations of seabirds through incidental capture and mortality during longlining." Despite this recognition, however, the 23 participating CCAMLR governments still set toothfish fishing quotas at its October 2000 meeting. Mark Stevens of The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition lamented that the participants "all but ignored scientists warnings [about] the massive pirate fishing of toothfish in Antarctica's oceans." Stevens continued: "CCAMLR is simply making wild guesses when it comes to estimating how much toothfish pirate fishers are pulling out of the Southern Ocean ecosystem."

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.

 

The Kingdom of the Pigs

By Vangelis Stoyannis

The traveller heading from the city of Trikala towards the Pindos mountain range (Southern Alps) sees the imposing passage of the "Gate" opening in front of him. Through this passage—which looks like a wound opened by the sword of a Giant during the mythical times—Lethe, the river of Oblivion, flows towards the plain which emerged from the bottom of the inner sea. Through this Gate, 13 centuries before Christ, the servants of Aesculapius passed, bringing the miraculous mountain herbs to the father of Medicine. Through this Gate nations and civilizations, merchants and invaders passed towards the plain. In the 11th century B.C. the Doric Nation, and in the 2nd century B.C. the Roman Legions passed, heading towards Pidna for the battle which determined the fate of the Macedonian King Perseus.

The mountains, the Gate and the plain. The cradle of the 32 greek nations, their passage towards history and the place where the discovery of agriculture and stockbreeding gave birth to civilization. The Gate, of legends and history, is a place of rare beauty, imposing and ancient which, when you get closer, makes you feel the unbearable burden of history on your shoulders. The Gate leads also to the ancient kingdoms of the farmers, who cultivated wheat for the first time, and the stockbreeders who utilized the acorns, chestnuts and the rich mountain grasslands in order to feed their herds of goats, sheep, pigs and small cows. People still cultivate wheat in the plain and still pasture their animals on the mountains.

November 2000. A few kilometers on the right of the Gate, on the mountain roots, on the line where the short mountain range of Hasia connects Pindos with Olympus and marks the plain towards the north, there lie the stockbreeders' villages: Pialia, Megarhi, Oihalia, Diasselo, Eleftherohori.

Since the ancient times, Pialia has been a village of pig breeders and shepherds. Each family owns about 30 female pigs and 200 sheep or goats. The village of Pialia is a place where the 21st century meets the 13th century B.C. Today the village, built on the foot of the mountain, lives simultaneously in two ages. The families living at the side of the plain breed their pigs in small, industrial-type farms. The families living at the side of the mountain, breed free ranging pigs in the forest. Their farms are simply small, wooden constructions, under ancient walls (possibly the walls of the ancient kingdom). There, they enclose the female pigs when they give birth in order to keep the newborns safe from wolves and bears until they are a month old. Then, the young pigs and their mothers are freed into the forest. Apart from some corn that they give to the animals in order to get them used to returning to the farm at night, the animals feed on what they find in the ancient forest: roots, acorns, chestnuts, and mushrooms.

Those are strange pigs, not like those bred in the industrial farms. Their owners crossbreed pigs of ancient races with wild boars they catch on the mountain, the result being that almost every farm breeds its own race of animals. Their productivity and output are extremely close to the output of improved hogs which are bred at the industrial farms of the plain. The health level of those animals could produce a nervous breakdown of the veterinarians and antibiotic salesmen of the 21st century.

These are stockbreeders who live in two ages. Their houses have the comforts of a 21st century house, they themselves use mobile phones and go to their farms in modern pick-up trucks. They still bake their bread, however, on woods according to the ancient way and throw coins in the coffins of the dead, in order for them to be able to pay the ferryman who will take them to the other world.

The answer to the question of the contemporary traveller, how those people survive together with their animals in the age of industrial stockbreeding, is simple.

They base their survival on memory. Here come the inhabitants of the near villages, those who insist stubbornly to cultivate wheat in 4 hectare fields, in order to buy pigs, sausages and pork meat for their Christmas table. From here the families of the plain buy small pigs which they will breed at their houses for Christmas. Ancient people, keeping still alive the ancient tradition. The pig-fatlings in December, to honour the Goddess of Agriculture Demetra, survived through the Christian age together with the Christmas customs of the Greeks. The stockbreeders of free ranging pigs survived as well. It is not by chance that such stockbreeding farms still survive at the ancient places: in Pialia, at the ancient kingdom of hogbreeders; at the foot of Olympus, the mountain of the Gods; in Arcadia, at the mythical kingdom of Lycaon; in Thrace, at the ancient kingdom of Diomedes; at Vermion, the cradle of the ancient Macedonians. That is, where memory still transforms the places into ways.

Perhaps such places show us the solution to the tragic dead-ends of the contemporary industrial stockbreeding, with the inhuman breeding conditions, the antibiotics and the products of dubious quality. Perhaps the solution for our modern problematic societies also lies here, through the activation of people's memory.

In the 13th century B.C., when Ulysses returned to Ithaca after his 10 years of wandering, he couldn't go to his palace. The King's palace was invaded by suitors who wanted to kill him in order to marry his wife and change things in his kingdom. Homer, the blind poet, says that the King found shelter at the house of Evmeos, his loyal pig shepherd, where he prepared his strategy.

Is this just a coincidence or does the blind poet give a lesson, 33 centuries after his era? Perhaps, after all, the voyages and adventures Ulysses suffered because he defied the Gods is a symbol of contemporary corporate man who, confused, breaks natural laws.

Is returning a solution? Nobody knows. The fact is that in Greece, at the place which once was a way, the descendants of Evmeos, the loyal pig shepherd, still survives.


Photo: A wild boar with four domestic free-range pigs on a mountain-top pasture. (Vangelis Stoyannis)

Music of the Birds

 

Music of the Birds
A Celebration of Bird Song

Includes audio compact disc featuring songbird concerts and solos
by Lang Elliott, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999, 136 pages, $25.00

A book published a few months before the symposium, Music of the Birds, A Celebration of Bird Song, by Lang Elliott, includes a compact disk giving clear reproductions of each of the singers' voices as well as color photographs of each of the bird species captured with open beaks, pouring forth their individual songs. Elliott knows the characteristics of a vast number of bird songs and approaches silently to portray each bird as he sings. Together with the beautiful color photographs, Elliott quotes poets who have written about denizens of North American woods and fields.

Beside a photograph of a Yellow Warbler, William Wordsworth is quoted:

The birds pour forth their souls in notes
Of rapture from a thousand throats.

A photograph of a Scarlet Tanager (photo left) is accompanied by Geoffrey Chaucer's:

Hard is the hert that loveth nought,
In May, when al this mirth is wrought,
When he may on these braunches here
 The smale briddes syngen clere
 Her blesful swete song pitous…

Elliott writes: "Bird song preceded human music. Considered from a scientific perspective, it evolved with the appearance of songbirds during the Pliocene and early Pleistocene periods, several million years ago." His words are illustrated by a photograph of a Wood Thrush.

Elliott chooses Ralph Waldo Emerson's words to illustrate his picture of a Black-capped Chickadee:

There is no sorrow in thy song, no winter in thy year.

The Skylark of Europe inspired Shelley's famous poem, "To a Skylark:"

Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest,
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still doth soar, and soaring ever singest.

Opposite the photograph of another sweet singer, the Gray Catbird (photo right), James Russell Lowell is quoted:

As a twig trembles, which a bird
Lights on to sing, then leaves unbent,
So is my memory thrilled and stirred:—
I only know she came and went.

Robert Louis Stevenson was chosen to comment on photographs of Warblers and a Carolina Chickadee:

My bedroom, when I awoke this morning, was full of birdsongs, which is the greatest pleasure in life.

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