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Activists Protest NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett Over Illegal Animal Massacre

February 13, 2018 by 4 comments

The News

Over 50 animal rights activists staged a protest at the Manhattan home of Dr. Mary Bassett, the Commissioner of the NYC Department of Health, over her ongoing refusal to enforce the seven health codes violated during a religious ritual sacrifice called Kaporos. During the ritual, ultra-Orthodox Jews swing 60,000 chickens around their heads and then slice their throats in pop-up slaughterhouses on public streets. Practitioners perform the ritual to transfer their sins to the animal before Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement.

The activists decided to protest in front of Dr. Bassett’s home after she sent organizers a letter dismissing the evidence they provided demonstrating that the ritual violates public health codes: “Her tone-deaf response sent us a strong message that we are not going to win the battle to shut down this illegal and unsafe practice based on the merits of the issue,” said Nathan Semmel, one of the protest organizers. “Dr. Bassett has therefore left us with no choice but to disrupt business as usual until she enforces the law.”

In a letter to advocates, NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett dismisses the evidence proving that killing 60,000 animals on public sidewalks poses a public health risk to New Yorkers.

The protest at Bassett’s home, which attracted the attention of hundreds of area residents, was staged three months after a smaller group of activists disrupted a presentation she was making at Columbia University over her refusal to meet with them about the issue. In order to end the disruption and resume her talk, Dr. Bassett agreed to meet in person with the activists.

During the meeting with advocates and in a subsequent letter, Dr. Bassett rejected the independent toxicology report outlining the catastrophic public health risks associated with the ritual massacre: “There remains no evidence that the use of chickens for Kaporos poses a significant risk to human health.”

In her follow up letter, Dr. Bassett also refused to address the seven public health codes that are violated during Kaporos. “Her decision to ignore the laws that her department is charged with enforcing speaks volumes about the political power wielded by the communities that engage in the illegal animal sacrifice,” said Jessica Hollander, a NYC-based activist. “Ultra-orthodox Jews deliver tens of thousands of votes in a bloc, so elected officials, including Bassett’s boss Mayor Bill de Blasio, turn a blind eye to the crimes.”

Body parts and blood contaminate NYC sidewalks and streets for several days during and after Kaporos

While many of the activists working to end the ritual sacrifice are motivated by the public health risks, others are focused on the cruelty. The chickens are intensively confined in crates, stacked one one top of the other, for up to several days with no food, water or protection from weather extremes. In 2017, thousands of chickens died from hunger, thirst and heat exhaustion before the ritual even took place. Activists documented the illegal neglect by taking video footage of garbage bags filled with dead chickens whose throats had not been sliced because they weren’t used in the ritual.

NYC residents for the clean up of an illegal religious ritual sacrifice called Kaporos, which is performed each year before Yom Kippur

“While we know that Dr. Bassett isn’t charged with enforcing animal cruelty laws, we have been disappointed by her lack of compassion for the victims, especially in light of her background as a social justice advocate,” said Donny Moss, a grass roots animal rights campaigner in NYC. “Several of our contacts at the Department of Health warned us that she doesn’t care about animals, but we thought that she, like other government officials with whom we have met, would have at the very least been disturbed by the egregious abuses shown in the videos.”

Dr. Mary Bassett refuses to enforce the seven health codes that are violated when ultra-Orthodox Jews kill 60,000 chickens in pop-up slaughterhouses on NYC streets.

In 2015, The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos and 19 NYC residents sued the NYC Department of Health and the NYPD for failing to enforce the 15 public health, sanitation and anti-cruelty laws and regulations that are violated during Kaporos. 

NY State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, is expected to hear the case in the Spring of 2018.

The case centers on whether or not courts can mandate that the police enforce the laws that are violated during Kaporos. According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, the police are not only ignoring the violations, but they are also “aiding and abetting” in the crimes by providing the ritual practitioners with flood lights, barricades, security and the orange cones in which the chickens are bled out. 

The chickens who are not immediately killed when their throats are sliced jump out of the orange cones where they are tossed to be bled out. (photo: Unparalleled Suffering Photography)

With respect to Commissioner Bassett’s claim that “We have no disease signals associated with this practice,” Nora Constance Marino, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, noted the evidence to the contrary.  “We submitted an affidavit from a respected toxicologist to the court.  The Dept. of Heath should have read it.  It cites the ‘likelihood that the influx of thousands of chickens into the subject locations for Kaporos activities likely carries with it the influx of an exceedingly high level of bacteria (e.g., Salmonella, Campylobacter, etc.) as well as other pathogens, toxins and bio-hazards.’  Clearly, there are health risks.”

The case is pending in New York’s Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

Activists Rescue Chicken From Slaughterhouse in Memory of Jill Phipps

February 12, 2018 by 2 comments

The News

Jill Phipps, the British animal rights activist who was killed while blocking a trailer transporting veal calves, was remembered by animal rights activists around the world who held protests at slaughterhouses in her memory.

In New York City, activists marched through Astoria, Queens, to a slaughterhouse and staged a silent vigil at the entrance. Inside, hundreds of chickens stacked in crates were being killed, butchered and sold. With the help of a few determined activists, one chicken made it out alive and is living in peace at a sanctuary for rescued farm animals. The activists named her Jill.

Animal rights activists rescued a chicken from a slaughterhouse during a protest staged in memory of British animal rights campaigner, Jill Phipps

The life and advocacy of Jill Phipps, who died fighting for animal liberation when she was just 31 years old, is documented in the 40 minute film, Death of an Animal Activist:

Activists Target Eric Trump During Worldwide Rally Against Trophy Hunting

February 7, 2018 by 3 comments

The News

During the Worldwide Rally Against Trophy Hunting (WRATH), dozens of animal rights activists in New York City protested at the home and office of one of the planet’s most notorious trophy hunters — Eric Trump.  Several broadcast and print media outlets reported on the event.

During the rally, Edita Birnkrant, the Executive Director of the animal rights group NYCLASS, entered Eric Trump’s apartment building to deliver a letter to his wife, animal advocate Lara Trump, encouraging her to dissuade her husband from trophy hunting. Two reporters followed her into the building with their cameras rolling.

Flanked by reporters, Edita Birnkrant, the Executive Director of NYCLASS, delivers a letter to Lara Trump, encouraging her to discourage her husband Eric from trophy hunting.

WRATH was created in 2016 by the animal rights organization CompassionWorks International in response to the killing of Cecil, a beloved lion in Zimbabwe who was shot and beheaded by Walter Palmer, a trophy hunter from Minnesota. The death of Cecil sparked global outrage and triggered several weeks of public discourse around trophy hunting.

Walter Palmer, a trophy hunter from Minnesota, killed and beheaded Cecil in Zimbabwe.

IN 2018, WRATH events took place in 32 cities in several countries around the world, including Australia, Ireland, Canada and Brazil.  

Activists in NYC participate in Worldwide Rally Against Trophy Hunting with protest at home of trophy hunter Eric Trump.

WRATH is held to coincide with the annual convention of Safari Club International, a 50,000 member Texas-based pro-hunting organization that spends millions of dollars each year lobbying elected officials to support their mission. During the convention, organizers auction off hunts with endangered & threatened species. In 2018, a polar bear hunt was featured in the in promotional materials for the convention. 

Trophies on display at Safari Club International’s annual convention in Las Vegas

Trophy hunters justify the killing on the grounds that the money they spend helps to conserve the species and supports local community. Activists dispute that claim, arguing that most of the money spent by trophy hunters goes to the trophy hunting companies and to local government officials.

Vendors at the annual convention of Safari Club International display the bodies of exotic animals

During the WRATH event in NYC, Nicole Rivard, a campaigner with Friends of Animals, told rally participants about pending trophy hunting legislation in the state of New York:  “We cannot rely on fluid federal law to ensure that Africa’s big five do not go extinct. When it comes to trophy hunting, federal law is not protective at all.  We have legislation – Save Africa’s Big Five bill – to stop trophies from entering New York. The state bill would ban the importation, possession, sale or transportation of the trophies of elephants, lions, leopards and black and white rhinos. New York is the busiest port of entry for African wildlife in the US. Let’s shut it down.”

Animal rights activists protest Eric Trump during Worldwide Rally Against Trophy Hunting

Your Turn

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Mainstream media coverage of CompassionWorks International’s 2018 Worldwide Rally Against Trophy Hunting

Chimp Rescuer Sets Up Sting Operation to Seize Baby from Exotic Pet Trafficker

February 2, 2018 by Leave a Comment

The News

When chimpanzee rescuer Jenny Desmond heard that exotic pet traffickers were attempting to sell a baby in Monrovia (the capital of Liberia), she swung into action, working with local wildlife authorities to both rescue the chimp and capture the perpetrator. Desmond, who runs Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection (LCRP) with her husband Jim, set up a sting operation to lure the trafficker onto her property; document him asking for money; and have him arrested by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), the government agency that enforces Liberia’s wildlife laws. Desmond captured the sting on camera:

The trafficker, who appeared to be in his 20s, told Ms. Desmond and the FDA official that he purchased the chimp from hunters. In Liberia, as in other African countries with a wild chimpanzee population, poachers kill adult chimps for bushmeat and sell their babies as exotic pets.

Jenny Desmond of Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection comforts Ella, a baby chimp who is clinging on to the exotic pet trafficker who was attempting to sell her.

Before the Desmonds created a chimpanzee sanctuary, Liberian officials turned a blind eye to the sale of baby chimps because they didn’t have a place to bring them following a confiscation. The lack of enforcement has, until now, enabled the exotic pet trade to flourish. While the Desmonds continue to receive confiscated chimps, they anticipate that the numbers will dwindle over time as poachers and traffickers come to the realization that authorities are confiscating animals and prosecuting the crimes. 

Two of the approximately 20 chimps rescued by Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection after being held captive

Since arriving in Liberia in 2015, the Desmonds have rescued over 20 chimps, all of whom are being housed in a makeshift sanctuary. In December, 2017, they leased a 100 acre tract of forested land on the local river where they plan to build a proper sanctuary from the ground up. The sanctuary, LCRP, will have enclosed areas in the forest so that the chimps can live in a semi-wild environment by day; night time housing for the younger chimps; a clinic; a commissary for food preparation; isolation areas for new arrivals to prevent the spread of illnesses; housing for caregivers and volunteers; public areas for education and conservation programs; and administrative offices.

After being confiscated by wildlife authorities, Ella, a victim of the exotic pet trade whose mother was killed by poachers, finds peace and happiness at Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCRP)

Your Turn

Please support the life-saving rescue and conservation work being conducted by Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection.

Australia’s Secret Kangaroo Massacre Exposed in New Doc Film

January 22, 2018 by Leave a Comment


According to an explosive new documentary film, Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story,  kangaroo meat industry executives, ranchers, landowners and the government officials who support them have conspired to re-brand Australia’s icon as a “pest” and eradicate them in the dark of night for profit.

Meat companies want to kill kangaroos in order to sell their body parts, and ranchers and landowners want them killed in order to keep them off their land. With the help of government officials, the perpetrators disguise the largely unknown slaughter as a necessary cull to curb population growth.

The daily hunt, which takes place during the dark of night, is so brutal that it will leave even the most cynical viewers wondering how this could possibly be happening in modern day times.

Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story

While the filmmakers, Kate McIntyre Clere and Mick McIntyre, introduce us to many villains who are complicit in the atrocities, they also profile the brave activists who  jeopardize their freedom and safety in order to expose and stop the wholesale massacre of Australia’s most iconic animal.

World Premiere of Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story in NYC. From left to right: Kate McIntyre Clere; Hon. Mark Pearson, Suzy Welch, Dr. Dror Ben Ami, Mick McIntyre

Your Turn

Documentary films succeed with support from the grassroots. Please encourage your friends to see the Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story and share the filmmakers’ posts from  their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages using the hashtag #KangarooTheMovie.