AWI Quarterly

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.

CITES 2002: Scales Tip Toward Wildlife Conservation

CITES : Scales Tip Toward
Wildlife Conservation

By Adam M. Roberts and Ben White

As the city's stray dogs lazed in the sun near a busy street outside the Convention Center, delegates from more than 150 nations debated the fate of dozens of threatened and endangered species during the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) this past November in Santiago, Chile.

The basking shark, the world's second largest fish (pictured here feeding), is now protected under CITES. IFAW

After two grueling weeks meeting with government representatives, talking to the media, and distributing information, countless animals and plants now face a more secure future. CITES Parties once again rejected Japan's attempt to resume a legal international trade in minke and Bryde's whales. They also approved protection for two shark species, (whale shark and basking shark), seahorses, the Black Sea bottlenose dolphin, a number of freshwater turtles and tortoises and various reptiles in Madagascar, the yellow-naped and yellow-headed parrots, the blue-headed macaw, mahogany, and the monkey puzzle tree. A number of victories were particularly hard-won.

Surely the participants in the CITES process have tired of Japan's repeated attempts to circumvent the International Whaling Commission, which is the competent international body for making decisions related to the trade in whale parts and products. The proposals to resume trade in minke and Bryde's whales, for instance, painfully brought back year after year, garner less support with each submission, despite obdurate pressure by the Japanese delegation and the pro-whaling lobby.

Meanwhile, accusations continue to fly about Japan using foreign aid to "buy" the votes of small island nations in the Caribbean. The outspoken, often comical interventions in support of Japan by the representative of Antigua and Barbuda did little to dispel these rumors. Japan, having been beaten down and defeated again, should abandon its cruel pursuit of a return to the miserable days of commercial whaling once and for all.

CITES Parties also wisely voted against the United Kingdom's proposal to allow the trade in products of the highly endangered green sea turtle from a farm in the Cayman Islands. Questions swirled around the meeting as to the legality of some of the turtles in the farm-it is highly probable that some of the founder stock, the animals used in the initial breeding program, were acquired illegally. There are also serious welfare implications for the cruelly-housed animals at the facility. Dr. Rob Atkinson, Head of the Wildlife Department of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said, "In my opinion, the Cayman Turtle Farm fails to match the welfare standards that would be required in the UK. 42.6% of turtle hatchlings from the farm are dead within the first 18 months, a further 17.1% die within 42 months."

The ivory trade threatens forest elephants such as this subadult bull in Dzanga National Park, Central African Republic. Melissa Groo


For some species, victory was actually snatched from the jaws of defeat. Although the four good proposals to offer international protection to the Black Sea bottlenose dolphin, both sharks, and mahogany were narrowly defeated in Committee, vigorous campaigning led to a reopening of the discussion on these issues in the full Plenary session during the second week of the Conference. Whale sharks and basking sharks need international protection from the trade in their fins, meat, and oils; the dolphins in question are the first marine mammals protected by CITES from live capture for the public display industry; mahogany is the first commercially traded tropical timber species to be protected. We pursued those countries that either abstained from voting or were absent from these important votes, and, as a result, each of these proposals was ultimately approved in turn in Plenary. UK Minister Elliot Morley deserves special commendation for his leadership on the basking shark proposal, and the delegation from the former Soviet state of Georgia worked diligently to secure this new protection for the bottlenose dolphin.

The Georgians also helped shepherd through a modest but important victory for the world's bears, cruelly slaughtered for their gallbladders and bile. It was suggested by the CITES Secretariat that an important resolution on Conservation of and Trade in Bears, which was passed unanimously in 1997, should be gutted. Not only did we succeed in maintaining the resolution language but we also got additional decisions approved at this meeting calling on certain countries to take demonstrable actions to eliminate the illegal international trade in bear parts.

Of course, not every decision benefited species in need. The Parties failed to act in a measurable way to protect the dwindling global stock of Patagonian toothfish, sold in restaurants in the U.S. and elsewhere as Chilean Sea Bass. Vicuna, found in South America, were downlisted from Appendix I to Appendix II to allow for increased and easier international trade in vicuna cloth and vicuna wool products from Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina, despite the fact that these animals are still poached in the wild for their wool and meat. 

Clearly, the biggest disappointment was on the elephant ivory trade and the United States' role in the elephant debate, which was dominated by contentious, often vitriolic verbal sparring. In the end, Zimbabwe and Zambia were defeated in their attempts to trade ivory legally. Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa lost their effort to trade in ivory annually but were given tentative approval to sell off their ivory stockpiles if CITES, after May 2004, is satisfied that certain conditions have been met.

AWI was terribly disappointed in the United States delegation's impotent stand on the ivory issue. The U.S. delegation, headed by Judge Craig Manson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, tried to broker a deal to allow the sale of stockpiled ivory under certain conditions while removing the request to sell additional ivory on an annual basis. They didn't even share their amendment language with the African proponent countries before offering it on the floor! Why the U.S. would offer a compromise allowing the trade in ivory instead of standing firm in support of America's historic opposition to such a deadly trade is mystifying and unjustifiable. Our own government, despite receiving more than 10,000 emails in the few days leading up to the vote, actually voted in favor of the proposals by Namibia and South Africa to resume ivory trade. This is also despite strong letters from the United States House of Representatives and Senate urging opposition to the international commercial ivory trade. Back in October, one-fifth of the U.S. Senate wrote to Mr. Manson urging such opposition, noting, "The United States must not stand idly by and watch as elephant carcasses once again unceremoniously litter the African savannah-their tusks carved off with chain-saws to satisfy global greed."

AWI had asked the U.S. delegation for its position on the ivory trade proposals for weeks, but the U.S. was more tight-lipped and secretive than ever-totally taking itself out of the equation and marginalizing itself throughout the discussion during the meeting over the previous week. The United States portrays itself as a global conservation leader, yet the delegation clearly acted irresponsibly during this CITES meeting.

There is a very real fear that the decision on elephants will spur increased elephant poaching in Asia and Africa and provide an easy opportunity to launder illegal ivory. Elephant poachers and ivory profiteers will only see the headline that reads: "CITES approves ivory sales from Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa," while missing the fine print that the sale is not unconditional.

AWI will continue to work to stop the overexploitation of threatened and endangered species for international commercial trade, especially in its role as a vital part of the Species Survival Network, a global coalition working to ensure strict enforcement of CITES. The next CITES meeting takes place in Thailand, tentatively scheduled for late 2004.

For background on the issues discussed at the meeting, please see the previous two issues of the Quarterly, both of which are available on our website, please click here . You can also read daily reports from Santiago here and get a full overview of CITES at www.speciessurvivalnetwork.org

 

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."

Dear Friend

Dear Friend:

It is with mixed emotions that we bring you this issue of the AWI Quarterly, which has a special center section devoted to the Animal Welfare Institute's founder and president, Christine Stevens, who died this past fall. I say "mixed emotions" because while her death brought great sadness to me and all the other people whose lives she touched, I know she would never approve of us dwelling on the loss when there is still so much work to do on the animals' behalf. We choose to celebrate Christine's remarkable life and all of her accomplishments.

Thank goodness for Christine! I say with utter confidence that no single individual has done more for animals than she, and animals everywhere were so very fortunate to have had her as their tireless advocate. Christine devoted her life to helping any and all animals in need of protection from the myriad cruelties inflicted on them by humans. No animal was too small to receive Christine's aid and no opponent was too large to take on.

The Animal Welfare Institute and Christine, institutions both, have been integral to my life for the past 22 years. Christine's position as my boss was overshadowed by her roles as mentor, friend, and co-conspirator. I share her belief in the vital niche that the Animal Welfare Institute fills and I am, therefore, humbled and honored to have accepted the AWI Board of Directors' invitation to assume the position of president.

During my tenure at the Institute I have held nearly every job at one time or another and have been involved in most of AWI's campaigns: I have inspected animal laboratories across the country, investigated animal dealers, scrutinized traplines and factory farms, and spoke on behalf of the Institute at a variety of local, national, and international forums. 

I won't say that I will follow in Christine's footsteps, for her shoes simply cannot be filled. But I am firmly committed to continuing AWI's work and building on the phenomenal groundwork laid by Christine, inspired by her love and respect for animals, her devotion to the cause and her incredible fortitude.

Sincerely,
Cathy Liss

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.

Tuna-Dolphin Battle Continues

Tuna-Dolphin Battle Continues

Within hours of the decision by the Department of Commerce to allow dolphin-caught tuna to be sold as "dolphin-safe" in American markets, Animal Welfare Institute, Society for Animal Protective Legislation, Earth Island Institute, and other groups were back in court suing the federal government. In dramatically relaxing the standards of the dolphin-safe label, the Department of Commerce asserted that the setting of nets on dolphins causes "no significant adverse impact" even though a brand new study by their own scientists says the opposite.

The National Marine Fisheries Service study found that populations of eastern spinner and offshore spotted dolphins have failed to recover from a seventy percent decline suffered from decades of pursuit and entrapment from tuna boats. It also showed an entirely new category of heretofore unreported deaths-unweaned babies separated from their moms during the chase, and "cryptic kill" where animals are injured and go off to die. Even without counting these mortalities, over seven million dolphins have died through this method of fishing.

Allowing the sale of dolphin-deadly tuna in the U.S., fraudulently labeled as "dolphin-safe," is expected to cause between 20,000 and 40,000 dolphin deaths a year.

The dolphin-safe label is one of the biggest successes in using consumer awareness to protect a threatened and beloved creature. Senator Barbara Boxer has introduced new legislation forbidding the change in label that would "blatantly mislead the American public."

As we go to press, an agreement to stay the implementation of the new label has been signed by the Judge. For the moment at least, the dolphin-safe label still means what it says.

 

The Animals' Angel

The Animals' Angel
Celebrating Christine Stevens' Passionate Animal Activism

AWI's founder, president, and motivator, Christine Stevens, died on October 10, 2002, after founding the organization in 1951 and actively leading it for more than fifty years. Though she loathed accolades and self-promotion, respected colleagues-and even opponents-have called her an "immortal icon," an "inspiration," and an "institution."

She has long been called the "Mother of the Animal Protection Movement" with good reason. Without her five decades of leadership, animals globally would have suffered much greater atrocities and long, drawn out pain, fear and suffering. AWI's new president Cathy Liss acknowledged, "She was phenomenal-a woman of boundless compassion and drive."

Mrs. Stevens founded the Animal Welfare Institute to end the cruel treatment of animals in experimental laboratories. Inevitably, her work expanded to the fight against cruel animal factories, the barbaric steel jaw leghold trap, commercial whaling, the extinction of endangered species, and the burgeoning killing of great apes for bushmeat.

Dr. Jane Goodall said, "Christine Stevens was a giant voice for animal welfare. Passionate, yet always reasoned, she took up one cause after another and she never gave up. Millions of animals are better off because of Christine's quiet and very effective advocacy. She will sorely be missed by all of us."

"Mrs. Stevens' achievements in the field of animal protection are incalculable," added Ms. Liss. For example, it was she who spearheaded the campaign to ban the commercial trade of fur from animals caught in steel jaw leghold traps to and within the European Union. She was also instrumental in achieving the 1989 international ban on the commercial trade in elephant ivory at the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Her passionate defense of the creatures of the sea led to the beginning of the Save the Whales campaign in the 1970s. For years she was an active combatant against commercial whaling at the meetings of the International Whaling Commission. Sue Fisher of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society said of her phenomenally powerful advocacy, "I only met her once and she had more spark at 80 than the combined energy of the rest of the NGO community in the room. A very inspiring lady."

Mrs. Stevens didn't mince words. In 1988 she served on a National Research Council committee examining the Use of Laboratory Animals in Biomedical and Behavioral Research. She issued a Minority Statement to the Committee report in which she chided the authors for refusing "to face the widespread, ingrained problem of unnecessary suffering among the millions of laboratory animals used yearly in our country." She continued: "I was shocked by the attitude of Committee members who asserted that we have no moral obligation to animals and expressed hatred of the idea of having a report that puts emphasis on alternatives.... A balanced report should recognize the severity and extent of the problem."

In 1955, sensing a need to make an impact in the legislative process, she founded the Society for Animal Protective Legislation (SAPL). At a time when only a handful of laws to protect animals were on the books, Mrs. Stevens' resolute efforts helped lead to the passage of dozens of vital bills including the Animal Welfare Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Wild Bird Conservation Act, and the Humane Slaughter Act. On the wall here at AWI's office is a simple, yet illustrative letter from May 15, 1958 written by Gerald W. Siegal of then-Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson's staff to future Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas about the Humane Slaughter Act. Siegal wrote: "Dear Abe: I surrender. Mrs. Stevens and I visited at some length yesterday on the humane slaughter bill. She is as persuasive as she is charming."

Running AWI was a family affair. Mrs. Stevens' daughter, Christabel Gough, was her mother's colleague and trusted advisor and served on the board for a decade. Mrs. Stevens' husband of 60 years, Roger L. Stevens, founded Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and served as Treasurer for AWI and SAPL. Mr. and Mrs. Stevens used their important political connections to host foreign dignitaries and leaders in the American government. Mrs. Stevens possessed what AWI's Ben White called a "graceful and lovely" presence, which served as the "ultimate disguise." She never passed an opportunity to push her agenda of animal protection. For instance, Mrs. Stevens donned a raccoon mask at one party to expose the plight of animals cruelly trapped for their fur. In one terrific photo of Mrs. Stevens at the White House, she's practically glaring at President Clinton as they shook hands in a receiving line.

After all, how could she pass up an opportunity to tell the President directly that free trade agreements such as the WTO were potentially disastrous for animals?


(click on individual picture for larger image and description)

Senator Edward Kennedy, a friend of Mr. and Mrs. Stevens said, "Washington is a more civilized place because of Christine and she will be greatly missed." He continued, "For so many of us, Christine Stevens will always be the First Lady of the Kennedy Center. She was as knowledgeable as she was gracious and a tremendous partner to her devoted husband, Roger. My brother asked him to lead the effort to establish a national performing arts center here in Washington. Together they did an impressive job and, in the process, transformed our capitol city."

The work undertaken by Mrs. Stevens was always without compensation and she modestly listed her profession as "volunteer work in the area of animal protection." She was a talented artist who attended the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science and the Arts. Her creative skill, too, was applied to the work of AWI. Mrs. Stevens designed hand-drawn holiday cards each year, a magnificent, detailed elephant t-shirt, and a huge eight foot high mural of endangered species that adorned AWI's booth at the 1994 CITES meeting. Her artistic eye also assisted in the design and publication of the Animal Welfare Institute Quarterly magazine, for which she served as chief editor and writer.

Perhaps our colleague Susie Watts, formerly of the Environmental Investigation Agency, put it best: "When I look around me and I see all the huffing and puffing egos among the world's animal protectors, people who cannot claim-and never will be able to claim-to have achieved anything close to what Christine achieved in her lifetime, I'm just all the more grateful that she was there. Not many people can truly be called great or unique. Christine can. Not many of us could make a list of achievements that's more than a paragraph long. Christine could, and then some. Not many of us will be remembered after we're gone. Christine will."

"So long as I can, I feel it's a duty.
Why would I stop?"
-Christine Stevens, 1918-2002  
Christine in action photomontage. Top Row: Humane Society of Washtenaw County shelter, Michigan; Trapping protest; President Lyndon B. Johnson and Former AWI Assistant Treasurer Adele Schoepperle;Mr. Stevens, May and Follow. Middle Row: President Reagan's Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger; Daughter Christabel Gough at laboratory animal meeting; DC whale demonstration; Countess Wachtmeister, Schweitzer Medallist Astrid Lindgren, Ambassador Wachtmeister; Former AWI Secretary Estella Draper. Bottom Row: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Argentinean Ambassador Orfila, Mr. Stevens, Vice-President and Mrs. Nelson Rockefeller, and Mr. and Mrs. Henry Kissinger at the Kennedy Center; Congressional Trapping Hearing; John Kullberg, then ASPCA President; DC WTO demonstration; in Australia.

Helping Hands for Hedgehogs

Helping Hands for Hedgehogs

Victim of one of the latest exotic pet crazes appears to be the African Pygmy hedgehog. Sadly, many of these animals are being mass-produced in "mill-type" situations where they are viewed as easily replenishable commodities. Novel pets, hedgehogs are oftentimes purchased by individuals who have done little research into how to properly care for them.

Deirdre, a victim of neglect, was rescued from a family in Pennsylvania, a state that prohibits keeping hedgehogs as pets. Hedgehog Welfare Society

Although hedgehogs are protected under the Animal Welfare Act, the law's regulations are overly broad to cover a wide range of species and do not provide specific requirements for cage size, exercise opportunities, appropriate weaning age, and proper environmental temperatures to avoid hibernation attempts and possible death-by-freezing.

The Hedgehog Welfare Society (HWS) is an organization that exists to protect the well being of hedgehogs through rescue, research, and education of the people who care for hedgehogs. The HWS expends most of its resources on rescue of unwanted and abandoned hedgehogs, who are frequently purchased on impulse from pet stores. Members of the American and Canadian HWS have rescued hundreds of hedgehogs in the past year from situations where they were  neglected, unwanted, and/or in desperate need of veterinary care.

Another objective of the HWS is advocacy, targeted at breeders and pet stores. The HWS has filed numerous complaints to the USDA regarding unlicensed pet stores and breeding facilities that practice inadequate animal care. These include reports of hedgehogs who have been left injured and bleeding in cages, animals in over-crowded conditions without sufficient room for movement or exercise, unattended cages piled with two inches of feces, hedgehogs soaked in urine, cannibalism, and hedgehogs shipped in bulk to pet stores across the country prior to healthy weaning age. Many unlicensed facilities have been inspected and, once informed of licensing and care requirements, agreed to cease sales of hedgehogs. However, there have been far more occasions where no action is taken in response to the complaint.

For more information about hedgehog rescue or to report abuse, please contact the HWS at http://www.hedgehogwelfare.org

 

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.


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