AWI Quarterly

Current Book Reviews

Turtles, Tortoises & Terrapins: Survivors in Armor

By Ronald Orenstein
Firefly Books 2001; ISBN: 1-55209-605X; 308 pages

While turtles may have evolved fairly little over the past 200 million years, our knowledge about them has increased dramatically. Dr. Ronald Orenstein's new book presents a remarkable amount of wisdom in an eminently readable volume. He takes us on a global journey detailing the unique features of hundreds of different turtles: Australia's rare western swamp turtle, the South American matamata turtle, which resembles "a pile of dead leaves," Africa's carnivorous helmeted terrapin, and all species of sea turtles.

Many questions about turtles are explored. How do they breathe in their restrictive shells? What do they eat? How do they handle temperature extremes? What are their courtship rituals? How do they fend off predators?

The book is replete with more than 300 beautiful color photographs that illustrate variations in shell shape, neck length, and colorations. There are close-ups of turtle hatchlings emerging from their shells and even a shot of an Australian broad-shelled turtle breathing underwater, air bubbles rising toward the surface.

Turtles are at grave risk. They succumb to habitat loss, pollution, predators, and the international trade in turtles for food and their shells. "The international trade in wild-caught pet turtles condemns many animals to slow and miserable deaths," Dr. Orenstein writes.

While he asserts that turtles are "victims of almost the entire catalogue of abuses we heap on our environment," there is hope that with action by international conventions, passage of specific protective laws, and education of the public, turtles can be saved. Dr. Orenstein correctly contends that "wild species in their natural environments are resources to be husbanded and protected, not mines to be pillaged."

When asked for whom the book is intended, the author simply responded, "turtle lovers." Anyone who is not yet in that category surely will be after reading this magnificent book.

Reptiles as Pets: An Examination of the Trade in Live Reptiles in the United States

By Joseph Franke, M.S. and Teresa M. Telecky, Ph.D.
The Humane Society of the United States 2001; ISBN 0-9658942; 146 pages

Are you considering adding your home to the roughly four million in the US containing a reptile or amphibian as a companion? Read Reptiles as Pets first. The international commercial trade in these delicate creatures involves high mortality, individual animal cruelty, and human health risks.

The trade in live reptiles, amphibians, and related products is estimated to be a two billion dollar business annually in the US. Impulsive pet store customers especially are vulnerable to reptile purchases. Reptiles as Pets contends that some major retailers "place their reptile cages near the front of their stores in high-traffic locations in order to entice the impulse buyer. Additionally, many of the cages are placed low to the ground, making them more visible to children."

Reptiles and amphibians often are cheap to purchase but housing and related equipment are expensive. Thus, when animals die, people buy replacement pets, having already invested in the housing apparatus.

Injury and death to reptiles in trade begins at capture and continues through transport. Animals may be shipped cruelly in containers stacked on top of one another, sometimes with little or no water, with thin wooden dividers that can collapse, crushing animals on the lower rows. Well over 80% of those who survive to a buyer's home may die within the first year.

Our health is also jeopardized. Reptiles are reservoirs for salmonella bacteria, which can be transmitted to humans; snakes have been known to attack humans in their own homes, often with fatal results.

Reptiles as Pets is full of useful data, informative charts and graphs, and real-life stories which highlight the myriad dangers of reptile pet ownership.

Buyer beware!

AWI Quarterly: Pablo the Puppy

More than Puppy Love
AWI's new children's book on dog care teaches kids a lesson in love in a diverse world.
There are many books available today on how to find the perfect dog, but there is only one that tells us how a dog can find the perfect person.

The Animal Welfare Institute's latest book for young children ages 4 to 8, Pablo Puppy's Search for the Perfect Person is the heartwarming story of a lost little puppy who is taken to a shelter where he meets an older dog named Natasha. They become fast friends, and soon Natasha, with her many years of experience, enlightens Pablo about how to find "the perfect person" to adopt him.

Children's book author and illustrator Sheila Hamanaka says she wrote the book to model how children need to care for a puppy or dog they want to adopt, but adds that it isn't meant to be a complete or thorough guide to dog care. Instead, she aims to convey "the 24-7-365 nature of living with a dog," says Hamanaka.

Natasha describes to Pablo how the perfect person feeds you, walks you, never yells and gives you a bed to sleep in. Why do people go to all this trouble? "They do it out of love," says Natasha.

Of course, nobody's perfect. People, like dogs, also come in all different types. So all the characters are different sizes, shapes, ages, ethnicities and abilities. As a family is about to leave with the newly adopted Pablo, the little girl notices that Natasha looks awfully sad and realizes that this old dog will surely miss her little friend.

Happily, the girl and her grandmother decide to adopt Natasha too. "The little girl and her grandmother are sensitive to the feelings of the older dog and are aware that dogs experience feelings of attachment and loss just as much as people do," explains Hamanaka, who wanted to inform young readers (and their parents) about the large numbers of older dogs available in shelters who also make "perfect" companions and deserve just as much love and respect as puppies do.

One complimentary copy of this full color paperback is available to all librarians, pre-K through third grade teachers and active AWI members. For additional copies, or if you do not fall under these categories, the book can be purchased for $4, including shipping and handling.  To order your copy please call 202-337-2332.


AWI Quarterly-Choose Your Format

The AWI Quarterly now comes in two different formats:


PDF iconPDF Document - This format is best for printing and increasing the size of the pages. It is arranged in spreads like the physical magazine. This format has accessibility features for users with low vision.
illustration of a plain text documentPlain Text - This format is best for screen reader users.

Beijing Olympics 2008

For $235, the cow was dumped from a truck to meet her fate. The tigers attacked within seconds, ineptly tearing her flesh as she struggled to survive. While a wild tiger would have dispatched the cow quickly, these captive tigers had become accustomed to being fed by humans and had lost their predatory skills. Beyond the din of shutterbugs snapping pictures of the bloodbath, reactions to this spectacle of cruelty ranged from clapping by those thrilled by the gore to shock from those sickened by the torture inflicted on the defenseless cow. Eventually, the cow was relieved of her suffering. For the next group of tourists, the carnage would begin anew, perhaps with a less expensive chicken, duck or sheep.

Such scenes of suffering may have been common in the days of the Roman Empire, but this particular David vs. Goliath battle was set in modern-day China. In fact, it was just one of many alarming episodes described in recently published newspaper articles about China's tiger farms. Some 5,000 tigers now live on these farms, and business is booming. While a few tigers entertain farm visitors by attacking helpless animals, their fate is ultimately the same as their brethren, who are crammed three or more to a cage with nothing to do but eat, drink, sleep and pace endlessly. These tigers eventually die or are killed to satisfy China's black market for tiger skins, meat, bones and other body parts, many of which are used in traditional medicines. Portions of some carcasses are placed in large vats of rice wine for up to nine years, producing a "tiger wine" that is believed to cure arthritis, strengthen bones and have other medicinal values. Other parts are stored by farm owners who hope for a resumption of the lucrative legal trade in tiger parts.

While tiger populations on these farms are increasing, the number of tigers in the wild continues to decline. Today, there are likely fewer than 3,500 wild tigers left, including only 20 estimated to remain in China and 450 in Russia's Far East. The remainder is scattered sparsely across India, Nepal and Southeast Asia. As burgeoning human populations continue to encroach upon tiger habitats, the animals are being driven out of their homes and increasingly coming into conflict with humans—with fatal consequences for both. When combined with illegal hunting and trade to satisfy the demand for tiger parts, it is no wonder that all of the remaining tiger species sit on the precipice of extinction.

The tiger's future may be under even more threat if China's tiger farmers succeed in their efforts to convince the Chinese government to allow the legal trade in tiger parts to resume. The farmers claim that supplying the demand for tiger parts from farmed tigers will reduce the pressure on wild tigers. While simple in its logic, this concept is grossly flawed. If implemented, it will lead to unspeakable cruelty against captive tigers and the extinction of those remaining in the wild. Legalizing the trade will escalate the demand as the market expands and will significantly complicate law enforcement efforts by allowing wild tiger parts to be laundered as coming from farmed animals.

To its credit, China did ban the domestic trade in tiger parts in 1993. This decision, when paired with the species' Appendix I listing under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), shut down the legal trade in tiger parts and reduced the market for traditional medicines containing tiger parts. The illegal trade in tiger parts, however, has continued to impact wild tigers and is a product of the apathy of range states to the plight of the tiger, their failure to protect tiger habitat, and underfunded and lackluster law enforcement efforts to stop illegal poaching and trade. The smuggling of tiger parts into China is ongoing; boxes of parts are mislabeled as legal products such as toilets to avoid detection at the border.

Captive tigers are not the panacea to this predicament, since their questionable genetic lineage and lack of survival skills make them unacceptable for release. A commitment from the countries of the world to fund and support expanded law enforcement efforts and educational campaigns throughout Asia is needed to stop the demand for tiger products and to capture and imprison tiger poachers. At this summer's CITES Conference of the Parties, the international community will debate the issue. If wild tigers are to persist, member countries must forcefully oppose any resumption in the trade of the animals' parts.

Brought to you by the Society for Animal Protective Legislation

Growing public concern about the way animals are treated in agriculture, laboratories, the pet trade, the entertainment industry and the wild has led to a rise in proposed animal welfare legislation. As a result, the Society for Animal Protective Legislation created a valuable internet called the Compassion Index (CI). This new website, found online at, provides information on how Members of the US Congress promote or hamper animal welfare through their actions on animal protection measures.

The CI is an electronic tally system that scores every Member of Congress based on his or her involvement on certain animal welfare-related federal legislative measures. One unique aspect is that the scorecard is updated weekly to ensure Members of Congress are always held accountable for their legislative actions in support of, or in opposition to, issues involving animal welfare.

Another function of the CI is to spotlight legislators who have demonstrated leadership through their actions on behalf of animals. We hope that the CI, in addition to serving as an educational tool for learning more about legislators' views on federal legislative animal protection measures, will encourage Congress to do more for all animals.

Click the "Take Action Now" box on to write your own e-letter to legislators who are currently involved (or should be involved) in animal welfare legislation.

The Animal Welfare Act: Government Report Finds that both the USDA and Research Labs Fall Short

Oversight of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is conducted by the Animal Care Program of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) within the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Following are highlights from an audit conducted by USDA's Office of Inspector General (OIG), titled "APHIS Animal Care Program Inspection and Enforcement Activities" and released to the public on Oct. 20, 2005.


A rabbit used for experimentation is inspected. APHIS

Educating into compliance appears to be the USDA's mantra in regards to the Animal Welfare Act. The agency believes "fines and stipulations can at times promote hostility," and it can get the thousands of zoos, circuses, animal dealers, research facilities and airlines to comply with the minimum requirements of the federal law by treating them as "customers." Education is fine, but the USDA must not use it in lieu of decisive enforcement action.

While the audit found most APHIS employees are highly committed to enforcing the AWA, it cited a precipitous drop in enforcement action against AWA violators by the Eastern Regional Office. The Eastern office sent over 200 cases of suspected violations to the USDA's Investigative and Enforcement Services (IES) in Fiscal Years 2002 and 2003, but this number plummeted to 82 in 2004. Similarly, it declined to take action against 126 of 475 violators referred to and investigated by IES (in contrast to 18 of 439 declined by the Western office). The Eastern office issued only 38 stipulated fines to violators during those same years (143 were issued in the West).

Treating repeat violators with impunity is endangering animals and people. For example, a zoo in the East with a history of AWA violations committed yet another when a 4-year- old boy was bitten by a non-human primate and required over 100 stitches. No enforcement action was taken. In the audit, it was noted that the percentage of repeat violators is already twice as high in the East as in the West.


The USDA gives a 75 percent discount to nearly every AWA violator "as a means of amicably reaching an agreement on the amount of the fines and avoiding court." For example, five gorillas and a rhinoceros died because of apparent failures by a zoo. The Texas exhibitor, initially fined $22,500, was offered a discounted fine of only $5,600 to avoid a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Other concessions may be offered, including the use of part of the fine to improve the facility so that the amounts actually paid are a fraction of the original assessment.

During the Fiscal Years of 2002 to 2004, APHIS issued 181 stipulated fines—totaling a mere $275,061, or an average of only about $1,500 per fine. The OIG report suggests these reduced fines are generally not effective (76 percent continued to commit AWA violations) and should be eliminated for all repeat violators and serious offenses. The USDA was also encouraged to increase fines by basing them on the number of animals affected per violation, not merely the number of violations.

majority of Research facilities Fail to Comply From Fiscal Years 2002 to 2004, the number of research facilities cited for violations of the AWA steadily increased from 463 to 600. In addition, the audit noted that when fines are ultimately assessed, they are often so low they are inconsequential for multi- billion dollar research facilities. A university cited for 12 serious veterinary care violations and the death of two animals was originally fined $37,675, but settled the case by paying $9,400—a pittance in light of assets totaling $6.2 billion. Subsequently, the USDA has had to repeatedly investigate the university for additional violations.

Unlike the other entities covered under the AWA, the USDA does not have the authority to stop a research facility that is violating the law from conducting its business of experimenting on animals. Therefore, the OIG report recommends legislative change to increase the fines that could be assessed for registered research facilities—from $2,750 to $10,000.

Additionally, the report says mandatory oversight bodies are not effectively monitoring animal care activities or reviewing protocols. One laboratory's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approved a protocol for antibody production in approximately 80 rabbits, but over one thousand were actually used. Training for IACUC members is suggested.

We will keep watch to ensure the USDA implements OIG's recommendations. Please contact the Animal Welfare Institute or visit for the full report.


News from Capitol Hill by SAPL

Minutes before being chased down the final chute, these horses await a cruel death at the Dallas Crown slaughter plant in Kaufman, Texas. The bloodied white horse shown above is a typical sight at these disturbing and shameful facilities. Habitat for Horses, Inc.

Following impressive votes in Congress, an amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations Bill was signed into law to prohibit the federal funding of slaughterhouse inspections —which is required for the meat sold for human consumption. If the US Department of Agriculture does not intervene, horse slaughter at the three remaining slaughterhouses in the United States will come to a halt in March for the remainder of the government’s fiscal year.

This gives us time to fight for a permanent end to the cruel practice by seeking adoption of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. The Act was reintroduced as H.R. 503 in the House of Representatives by Congressional Horse Caucus co-chair John Sweeney (R-NY), Representative John Spratt Jr. (D-SC) and Representative Ed Whitfield (R-KY). In the Senate, the bill was reintroduced as S. 1915 by Senator and veterinarian John Ensign (R-NV) and Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

Meanwhile, public distain for horse slaughter is growing. After a recent federal ruling against the Texas law prohibiting horse slaughter, the Tarrant County district attorney filed an appeal in their effort to close the two Texas slaughterhouses. Additionally, the Texas Zoning Board of Adjustment in Kaufman, Texas has ruled unanimously that the town’s horse slaughter plant is a nuisance, citing smell and discharge into the city’s sewer system as major factors. Barring an appeal by the slaughterhouse, this may force the plant to close its doors.

The red-necked pharalope is one of many unique species living on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; this habitat must be preserved. USFWS

Arctic Refuge Saved from Destruction

In a late 2005 move to push through a provision for controversial oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) attached a provision to a must-pass defense spending bill that provided money for troops in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina relief efforts and avian flu research. Thankfully, Stevens and his fellow supporters lost out after the measure fell four votes short of the required 60 votes needed to end the filibuster and force action. Following the defeat, Senate leaders reworked the legislation without the ANWR drilling provision.

Stevens has fought for drilling in the refuge for many years, and he is unlikely to give up now. However, Congress is clearly taking notice of America’s cries to protect the last great arctic wilderness from drilling, and the refuge seems safe for now.

Federal Agencies Out of Step

In 2005, both Houses of Congress voted to stop horse slaughter by prohibiting taxpayer dollars from being used to fund the federally mandated inspection of horses slaughtered for human consumption (see story, page 12). Despite Congressional intent, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now considering a petition to establish a "fee-for-service" inspection system—surreptitiously submitted by the three foreign-owned horse slaughterhouses in the United States—that would enable the industry to fund its own inspections. The Society for Animal Protective Legislation, along with several other humane organizations, has retained the law firm of Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal to explore legal options against the agency. On our behalf, the firm wrote a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, encouraging him to halt this plan. (see update below)

"It is beyond our imagination in the US Congress that the USDA would flout its mandate and spend tax dollars...working on ways to circumvent this law," said Representative John Sweeney (R-NY). "It's disturbing that an agency like the USDA feels it is appropriate to obstruct a law passed by an overwhelming, bipartisan majority in Congress when [its] sole mission is to implement the law."

Meanwhile, we are making headway in our battle against the US Forest Service (USFS)—a lawsuit on behalf of wild horses living in Arizona's Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. The Animal Welfare Institute and our co-plaintiffs (In Defense of Animals and the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros) were granted a temporary restraining order in early September to prevent the USFS from removing these horses from their habitat, including the officially designated Heber Wild Horse Territory. We have challenged the unsubstantiated USFS claim that the animals are "trespass horses" and not protected under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Our attorneys argued that the agency abdicated its responsibility to census and monitor horses in the area over the years as required by the Act, thereby invalidating its assertion that the animals are trespass.

Had the restraining order not been granted, these horses would have likely been purchased at auction by "killer-buyers" and sold for slaughter. Fortunately, the restraining order remained in place until a hearing for a preliminary injunction was held on Dec. 9. Several days later, US District Judge Frederick J. Martone issued an order granting our application for a preliminary injunction and enjoining the USFS from rounding up and removing these horses or awarding a bid for such removal until a final judgment is rendered.

Additional Information:


Primate Dealer Pleads Guilty to a Felony

by Shirley McGreal - International Primate Protection League

In May 1997 the International Primate Protection League (IPPL) received a message from someone who had just seen dozens of crated monkeys, including tiny babies, at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. The animals had been shipped from Indonesia. U.S. wildlife regulations ban shipment of unweaned infant animals unless they are traveling "for needed medical treatment" and are "accompanied at all times and completely accessible to a veterinary attendant."

Facing an uncertain future—infant monkeys
cling to each other at the LABS, Inc. nursery in
South Carolina.  Anne Haynes courtesy

Upon further investigation IPPL learned that there had been a series of shipments totaling over 1,000 crab-eating macaques. They were shipped in batches of around 200 to LABS, Inc. a laboratory primate dealer. Shipping rosters showed that monkeys as young as 3-5 weeks old had been shipped, as well as pregnant monkeys.

Many older monkeys, aged 13-16, had been shipped too. In 1994 Indonesia banned export of wild-caught monkeys to protect wild populations. Claims that hundreds of older monkeys were captive-born were suspect, since Inquatex, the exporter, had only started breeding monkeys a few years earlier. Case documents show that pay-offs were made to Indonesian Government officials to procure export documents.

Primate friends deluged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with letters calling for an investigation. In April 2002, LABS and its president David Taub were indicted on eight felony and four misdemeanor charges. The government alleged that the shipments contained wild-caught macaques in violation of Indonesian law, and that documents fraudulently represented that the shipments consisted only of captive-born macaques. The indictment alleged that three shipments illegally contained nursing mothers and unweaned young. Two senior LABS officials were charged with a misdemeanor.

The case was assigned to Judge Ruben Castillo. A "plea bargain" has just been announced under which LABS would plead guilty to one felony. Charges against all individual defendants would be dropped. If the judge agrees, LABS will receive two years probation and pay a fine of $500,000, with assets totaling $64,675 forfeited. Sentencing is scheduled for November 16.

You Can Make a Difference
Ask for Justice for the Baby Monkeys. Please ask U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo to levy the toughest penalties possible in Case No. 02-CR-312 (United States versus Labs Va. Inc. et. al.) and to question the dropping of charges against the individual defendants. Respectful letters should be mailed to:

The Honorable Ruben Castillo
U.S. District Judge
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
Federal Building
219 South Dearborn Street
Fifth Floor
Chicago, IL 60604


Dolphins Swim Down the Streets of Cancun

In a reprise of our launch of hundreds of sea turtle impersonators during the aborted 1999 Seattle meeting of the WTO, AWI created foam dolphin costumes for the recent WTO meeting in Cancun, Mexico. Like the turtles, the dolphins have become a symbol of the sovereign right of countries to establish laws that protect wildlife. With few exceptions, the WTO has held that member states cannot embargo a product based on how it is obtained or produced, deeming illegal such laws as the International Dolphin Conservation Act, which forbids the importation of tuna caught by setting nets around dolphins.

Just outside the negotiations, WTO delegates approach dolphin demonstrators to learn about their agenda. The sign reads "Protect Life" in English and Spanish. Jen Rinick/AWI

Working closely with our Mexican colleagues of the Grupo Ecologica del Mayab, AWI dolphins marched several times. The first march was one of the most peculiar demonstrations on behalf of wildlife ever staged, with Mayan priestesses wearing our foam dolphins on their heads while conducting ancient rituals of reverence for the earth and her creatures. The ceremony was translated into Mayan, English, Spanish, and Aztec languages. Then, more than 200 people proceeded to march as dolphins around downtown Cancun. Speakers addressed WTO delegates, demanding that any international trading system incorporate protections of wildlife and their habitat.

Then, there was the Camposino march with ten thousand poor, rural farmers who had come from all parts of Mexico. WTO policies have been disastrous for farmers worldwide, lifting tariff protections and forcing direct competition with heavily subsidized agri-businesses in the U.S., European Union, and Japan. Many have lost farms that have been in their families for generations. The march was tragically overshadowed by the suicide of a Korean farmer and insistence of a few dozen anarchists in storming police barricades.

Even though local police and security measures deterred dolphin impersonators from gaining constant access to the convention center area, on September 12 we made our way there. Like the turtles in Seattle, the dolphins prompted smiles among dozens of sympathetic delegates and passersby, enabling AWI staff to pass out literature and ask for support in the negotiations. One exception was a British delegate who huffed, "Why don't you go back to the sea where you came from?"

Whether sea turtles or dolphins, or whatever the future costume may be, the use of props has enabled AWI to connect with local citizens and peacefully educate countless individuals on the need for animal protection and the need to include animal welfare in international trade agreements.


Syndicate content