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Cheetahs in Chains: From Africa to Arabia

October 14, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

Cheetahs can run a staggering 75 mph, but that’s not fast enough to escape their captors. Each year, animal traffickers in Africa kidnap an estimated 100 cheetahs to supply the exotic pet trade in the Middle East, where big cats are status symbols.

Kuwait City

Kuwait City (photo:

Doha, Qatar

Doha, Qatar

Most captive cheetahs were stolen from their mothers as cubs, who are easier to handle. This cheetah, being kept as a pet in Tanzania, was rescued by government authorities.

Captured cheetah by African border control

Captive cheetah in Tanzania rescued by authorities (photo: Rosa Mosha)

Cheetahs are an endangered species; fewer than 10,000 remain in Africa — down from 100,000 in 1900. Kidnapping isn’t the only culprit. Their numbers are also declining due to habitat destruction, the construction of fences that block hunting routes and a diminishing number of prey.

Historic & current cheetah range

Historic & current cheetah range

Capturing wild cheetahs isn’t just bad for conservation; it’s also bad for the cheetahs, who suffer in captivity. No palace in the Middle East can replicate their natural habitat, where they live amongst members of their own species, hunt, raise their young and run faster than the speed limit:

As part of its “Global Campaign to Keep Cheetahs off Chains,” Born Free USA, which estimates that 70% of smuggled cheetahs die in transit, is calling on members of the CITES treaty to increase enforcement at borders and strengthen the laws. CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Your Turn

To learn more about the plight of exotic animals held captive as pets and to find out how you can help, please visit Born Free USA.

Filed under: Companion Animals, WIldlife
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After Much Debate, Denmark to Ban Bestiality

October 13, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

In response to an onslaught of negative press, Denmark is outlawing bestiality on the grounds that animals cannot consent to sex. Denmark is the last European country where sex with animals is legal, which explains why busloads of tourists from other countries travel there to engage in legal bestiality.

Animal rights activists have been lobbying for a ban for years, but authorities resisted due to fears that it could drive the worst offenders underground. Lawmakers also rejected the idea in the past because Denmark’s ethics advisory body said that a crime is not committed if the animal isn’t injured. That argument, however, was diminished by evidence of atrocities against animals used in the sex trade.


The 2014 documentary Animal F*ckers, which chronicles the efforts of animal rights activists to ban sex with animals, presented a nuanced view of the practice, informing viewers that zoophilia (attraction to animals) is, for some, a sexual orientation, not a fetish, and that “zoophiles” love and care for their animal companions.

In the film, Oliver Burdinski, a German man who speaks openly about his sexual relationship with his dog, says, “When I was 14 or 15, I wasn’t sure if it was right, so I tried to get human partners. But I was not happy with them. I tried to be normal. In 1994, I got internet and realized that I’m not alone.”

Oliver Burdinski says his huskie decides when they have sex.

Oliver Burdinski says his Siberian Husky decides when they have sex. (photo:


If Denmark outlaws bestiality on the grounds that the animals cannot consent, then will lawmakers take a closer look at other circumstances in which animals are exploited without their consent? Gestation crates on factory farms have been banned in other European countries, yet they’re still legal in Denmark. What pig would willingly reside in an indoor crate that is so small that she can’t turn around or lie down?

Filed under: Companion Animals, Victories
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A Nuanced Look at “Zoophilia”

August 29, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

A new documentary film about efforts by animal rights activists to ban beastiality (zoophilia) in Denmark shines a spotlight on the one “zoophile,” Oliver Burdinski, who was willing to speak on camera. In an in depth interview, Mr. Burdinski argues that animals can consent through physical cues and that he, not his dog, is the passive partner. The opposite, he says, would be cruel.

Mr. Burdinski speaks very candidly about his experience: “When I was 14 or 15, I wasn’t sure if it was right, so I tried to get human partners. But I was not happy with them. I tried to be normal. In 1994, I got internet and realized that I’m not alone.”

The video below is the in-depth interview. To see the new documentary, which is very interesting, click the link at the top of the story.


Mr. Burdinski says he did not choose to be a zoophile; he insists that it’s his sexual orientation. He reminds me of a childhood neighbor who is now in prison for pedophilia. His parents told me his addiction to “touching boys” was kept in check by high doses of an antidepressant, but, when he reduced his dose due to side effects, the urges came back. I don’t know if he has OCD or if his sexual orientation is pedophilia. Either way, he is a very nice guy born with a very big problem. Sad for him. Sad for his victims.

Unlike my childhood neighbor, who has not spoken publicly about his struggles, Mr. Burdinski is very brave to be the public face of zoophilia and to educate the public about the issue. Even though a ban on zoophilia cannot be enforced in peoples’ homes, I do think it should be outlawed in order to end animal sex tourism in Denmark. I can’t believe that even exists! Then again, Denmark is home to one of the cruelest events on earth – “The Grind” – during which 800 pilot whales are rounded up and brutally slaughtered each year in the Faroe Islands.

Filed under: Companion Animals
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Rabbit Meat Protests at Whole Foods: What is Our Rationale?

August 18, 2014 by Leave a Comment


Whole Foods is selling rabbit meat and whole frozen rabbits in some part of the country, and activists are protesting. One handout reads, “Rabbits are the 3rd most popular furry companion in the U.S. and have unique personalities just like dogs and cats. They enjoy running, jumping, snuggling with other rabbits and form deep bonds with their humans.”

Whole Foods is defending the sale of rabbits, claiming they are treated humanely: “The rabbits will be raised in pens on solid floors with dry bedding to allow them to socialize, hide, climb, forage and play. The rabbits also have to have continuous access to drinking water, feed, gnawing blocks, tunnels and places for seclusion.”

rabbit meat

The commercial farming of ANY animal for human consumption is inhumane, and it all has to stop – for the sake of the animals and the environment. In the meantime, why are we be protesting the sale of rabbits at Whole Foods if they do, in fact, have better lives than the broiler chickens being sold at the grocery store down the street? Do we think that companion animals deserve to be spared any more than chickens or cows, or are we simply using the “companion animal” rationale because it might be an effective approach to helping at least a few animals?

In our efforts to ban the slaughter of American horses, activists often use the same “companion animal” rationale. While I don’t think that horses or rabbits deserve to live or die any more than other animals, I will nonetheless be thrilled when the slaughter of horses and sale of rabbit meat are banned. (Please sign petition to Whole Foods). I am grateful to activists who campaign against any form of animal abuse. At the end of the day, we’re probably most effective when we pick the battles that resonate most with ourselves.



Filed under: Companion Animals, Food, Opinion
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“Large Dogs” As Status Symbols?

August 15, 2014 by Leave a Comment


When I visited Hong Kong in November 2013, I remember seeing exotic birds and fish being sold in (awful) markets, but I don’t remember seeing dogs anywhere. I didn’t give it any thought at the time because I was so distracted by the 7 million people crammed onto a tiny island – like one big Times Square. But now it makes sense: With its large population and a scarcity of green space (in the developed areas), Hong Kong doesn’t seem dog-friendly at all. So I am surprised and disappointed to read that Hong Kong’s newest status symbol is not just dogs – but large dogs.

Hong Kong has about 10 very upscale shopping malls with the same luxury brands – Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and the like. Some of these malls are situated within a few blocks of each other. Given how prevalent these fancy stores are, people who like to display their wealth but can no longer distinguish themselves in the crowd by wearing a Rolex have resorted to purchasing large dogs, according to China Topix: “Having a large dog is meant to signal that the owner can afford equally spacious homes in a city where luxury apartments cost twice as much as in New York.”

As would be expected from people who buy companion animals for the wrong reason, “Some give up their dogs after these are fully grown, and much larger than the cute puppies they signed up for.” This reminds me of the chihuaha craze triggered by Hollywood socialite Paris Hilton and the movies Legally Blond and Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Animal shelters were overrun with chihuahas when people were bored with their dog accessory or were unequipped to care for them. In the U.S., puppy mills flooded the market with chihuahuas to the demand, and the same thing is happening in Hong Kong with large dogs (who, of course, are being raised in poor conditions.)

Sheila McClelland, the founder of the Lifelong Animal Protection Charity, says it best: “Having dogs must be for life, and not just for status.”  To that I would add, please adopt. Buying an animal from a pet store or breeder kills a shelter dog’s chance of finding a home.

Photo: CNN Money

Photo: CNN Money

Filed under: Companion Animals, Opinion
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