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Backlash Against Politician’s Plan to Import Pandas and Put Them on Display in NYC

September 20, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

Carolyn Maloney, a U.S. Congresswoman from New York, is working to import a pair of giant pandas from China and display them in New York City.  

In a YouTube video, “The Pandas are Coming to NYC,” Maloney cites several ways in which this endeavor will benefit humans, including education, entertainment, increased tourism, and improved relations with China. She makes no mention, however, of the welfare of the pandas, who, like other wild animals, suffer in captivity.

U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney hosted a “Panda Ball” in NYC to raise money to import pandas from China to NYC.

Pandas are wild animals, not objects for display. In the forests of China, they have rich lives, gathering food, roaming freely and raising their young.  In captivity, they languish in their exhibit spaces while people take selfies through sheets of glass.

In 2012, the Director of Conservation Education at China’s largest panda breeding facility described captive-bred pandas as a “caricature” of the real thing. People who are genuinely interested in learning about pandas can watch nature shows that document their behavior in the wild. Observing pandas in an artificial enclosure will only teach people that wild animals can be imprisoned for our amusement. Furthermore, it will do nothing to help conserve pandas in the wild.

Animal rights activists say pandas are wild animals with instinctual needs that can not be met in captivity.

If Congresswoman Maloney moves forward with her plan to rent pandas from China, she will not only fuel the market for captive pandas but also help to perpetuate the abuse that exists in China’s panda breeding facilities. Undercover video released in July, 2017 showed workers using excessive force on two babies. This disturbing footage reinforces what we already know — that panda breeding facilities are panda mills in disguise. Indeed, the pandas born in captivity are rented out, like commodities, for $1 million/year to zoos.

Wild animal captivity is already losing favor in the mainstream, as evidenced by the closure of Ringling Bros., plummeting attendance at SeaWorld and the newly passed NYC law banning wild animals in circuses. Indeed, public attitudes are already shifting in favor of freedom.

Your Turn

Please sign the Care2 petition asking Carolyn Maloney to call off her plan to import pandas into NYC for display.

Follow No Panda Prison NYC on Facebook.


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Animal Rights Activists Worldwide Protest Start of Dolphin Hunting Season in Japan

September 11, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

Animal rights activists in over 30 cities around the world marked the first day of Japan’s notorious dolphin hunting season with “International Day of Action” protests, an annual event organized by The Dolphin Project. In NYC, about two dozen activists demonstrated in front of the Japanese consulate in midtown Manhattan, educating locals and tourists about the atrocity and demanding that the Japanese government put a stop to it:

During the hunt, which lasts about six months, fleets of Japanese fishing boats surround pods of dolphins off the coast and drive them into an isolated cove in Taiji, Japan, where the dolphins are snatched from the water to be sold to aquariums or killed for their meat. “It’s a bloodbath during which families are torn apart and massacred. It’s nothing short of an act of terror,”  said Phyllis Ottomanelli “Captivity is the driving force behind the hunts. If you pay to swim with dolphins or see them in an aquarium, then you have blood on your hands.”

The hunt was largely unknown to the mainstream public until The Cove, a documentary thriller about the hunt and the heroic activists working to expose it, was released and won the 2010 Academy Award for best documentary film.

The Cove is an Oscar-winning documentary film about the annual dolphin hunt in Taiji, Japan

As the 2017 hunt began, advocates around the world took to social media to raise awareness.  Paul Watson, the founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society which has engaged in direct action in an attempt to stop the massacre, wrote “Since the early Sixties, an insidious trade of intelligent, self-aware, sentient beings has been growing like a malignant cancer within human society. It is a slave trade that has been the cause of unimaginable misery and has claimed the lives of thousands of dolphins. This cruel industry has spread across Europe and Asia with hundreds of marine aquariums operating, many of them with grossly inadequate facilities.”

On September 1st, animal rights activists in over 30 cities around the world protested the Japan’s annual dolphin hunt.

The dolphins are slaughtered by “pithing” – stabbing them behind their blowholes with a metal rod. This method severs the spinal cord, paralyzing the dolphins and supposedly causing a rapid death. Often, however, the death is prolonged. In 2011 AtlanticBlue, a German conservation group, documented a dolphin moving for over four minutes after pithing. Activists with The Dolphin Project and Sea Shepherd have witnessed dolphins drown while being dragged by their tails to the butcher house.

The cove turns red with blood during the annual dolphin hunt in Taiji, Japan.

Kim Danoff, a Virginia-based veterinarian and animal rights activist told TheirTurn that babies often watch their parents being killed before themselves dying from stress or starvation: “We must continue to fight until Japan outlaws the trade and massacre of wild dolphins.”

Your Turn

To learn more about Japan’s annual dolphin hunt and to find out how you can help, please visit The Dolphin Project.


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Rescued Chimps Get a Second Chance

July 15, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

By the time orphaned chimps arrive at Liberia Chimp Rescue & Protection’s (LCRP) new sanctuary, they have experienced more tragedy than most humans will experience in a lifetime. That’s because they watched poachers kill their mothers for bushmeat before kidnapping them and hauling them out of their forest home in an attempt to sell them as exotic pets. 

“Most of the orphans are inconsolable when they arrive,” Jenny Desmond, who, along with her husband Jim, created LCRP. “You can see the heartbreak in their eyes.”

When orphaned chimps arrive at Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection, caregivers work to help them recover from the trauma of losing their families; being kidnapped from the forest and being held captive by poachers. (photo: Jenny Desmond)

When government authorities deliver baby chimps to LCRP after confiscating them from poachers, Jenny and Jim swing into action right away, assigning a human caregiver to be the baby’s surrogate mother. With the support and guidance from the Desmonds, who have spent their careers working at sanctuaries, the caregivers spend the next days, weeks and months helping the chimps recover by bottle feeding them, playing with them, introducing them to other orphans, sleeping next to them and ultimately integrating them into a chimp group. In time, most of the chimps recover from their trauma and find happiness at the sanctuary.

“These babies should be in the forest, but, because poachers killed their mothers and families, they have to be raised by humans,” said Jenny Desmond. “We are their surrogate mothers – day and night. At about age five, wild chimpanzees start sleeping separately from their mothers, so we use this, along with their needs and personalities, to determine when they’re ready to fully integrate into our older nursery group and spend their days and nights with other chimps.”

Jenny Desmond, co-founder of Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection, plays with an orphaned chimp

The Desmonds hope that they can one day return some of these chimps to their natural habitat in the Liberian forests, which have an estimated 7,000 wild chimps remaining. Re-introduction, however, is a complicated, long-term process. In the meantime, they are creating as natural a life as possible for the chimps in a sanctuary setting. 

Jim Desmond, co-founder of LCRP and caregiver Annie, act as surrogate parents for the orphaned chimps.

The Desmonds arrived in Liberia in 2015 to take care of another population of chimps — the 66 who were abandoned on deserted islands by the New York Blood Center. Within weeks of their arrival, however, the FDA (Forestry Development Authority) knocked on their front door and dropped off two infants. In just over a year, that number has grown to 16.  The Desmonds have outgrown their space and plan to move to a more remote location in the forest where the babies can, along with their human caregivers and other chimps, can live in a semi-wild environment with minimal human contact.

As babies become adolescents, they are integrated into chimp groups and spend less time interacting with humans.

“Chimps are wild animals, not pets,” said Desmond. “Ideally, the only people who should be interacting with them are their surrogate mothers who provide them with the parenting and TLC that they need to survive during their first several years of life.” 

The Desmonds are working with government authorities and other NGOs to protect chimpanzees, a critically endangered species, in their forest home. Combatting Liberia’s illegal bushmeat and exotic pet trades means far fewer baby chimps will be orphaned and need sanctuary. They hope that ecotourism – trekking to see habituated chimps in the forest – can eventually be a source of income for those who are now poaching chimps and selling their meat. “Chimps are a valuable renewable resource for Liberians, as mountain gorillas are for Rwandans, but that means protecting them instead of killing them,” said Desmond. 

Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCRP)

Between protecting wild chimps in the forest and raising orphaned chimps at the sanctuary, the Desmonds have a lot of work to do – in a difficult setting. Thankfully, they have a team of dedicated caregivers at LCRP who genuinely love the chimps and their jobs.

Your Turn

Please follow Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection on Facebook by giving their page a “like.”

Please make a contribution to support the life saving work of LCRP.

Dedicated caregivers at LCRP help orphaned chimps recover from the emotional trauma of losing their families.


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Fur Sales On The Rise

July 5, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

There is a perception in the animal rights community that fur consumption is declining when, in fact, it is on the rise.

  • From 1990 – 2015, fur sales in the U.S. grew by approximately 50%
  • From 2013 to 2014, U.S. fur sales grew by 7.3%
  • In 2014, fur sales in the U.K. increased by 20%
  • From 2011 – 2013, global fur sales jumped by more than 50% – from $16 billion to $36 billion

According to the Fur Information Council of America (FICA), the largest U.S. fur industry association, the number of designers who use fur has dramatically increased, climbing from 42 in 1985 to approximately 500 today. FICA also asserts that 55% of the people who buy fur today are under 44, dispelling the myth that fur is primarily consumed by older people.

A 2015 article by the Guardian documented the rise of the fur industry.

A 2015 article published in the Guardian documented the rise of the fur industry.

“The fur industry’s statistics reflect what we’re seeing in the streets — that fur consumption is on the rise,” said Edita Birnkrant, Campaigns Director for Friends of Animals, an international animal advocacy group. “For the sake of the animals, we have to organize and take a more aggressive approach on their behalf.”

Friends of Animals holds in store protests and puts up anti-fur billboards.

Friends of Animals holds in store protests and puts up anti-fur billboards.

The increase in fur sales can be attributed to many variables, including high demand from China; the use of technology to make fur suitable for warm climates; the growing use of fur trim; the increased use of fur in men’s clothing; the growing practice of dying fur; and the consumption of fur among celebrities with a large social media following. According to Mark Oaten, CEO of the International Fur Federation, “…with this increase in demand, farmers are deciding to invest more in fur farms and increase production.”

Dying fur and the growing use of fur trim has led to an increase in fur sales and by extension in the number of fur farms.

Dying fur and the growing use of fur trim have led to an increase in fur sales and, by extension, the number of fur farms.

While the animal rights community appears to be losing the war against the fur trade (despite occasional victories), some activists have responded to the increased prevalence of fur by engaging in more provocative anti-fur tactics. During the past several winters, activists Robert Banks and Angela Dee from NYC, the nation’s fur capital (according to FICA), have posted videos on social media in which they publicly shame fur wearers. The videos, which also include graphic footage of animal cruelty in the fur industry, have garnered millions of views. “If people know that by wearing fur they are risking public humiliation, perhaps they will think twice before draping themselves in the skins of tortured and murdered animals,” said Robert Banks.

Many self-proclaimed animal rights activists have denounced their tactics, claiming that they are misogynistic. In response to this allegation, Angela Dee said “It is not our fault that most fur wearers are women. By this logic, shouldn’t protesting rape also be sexist since most rapists are men?”

anti-fur activists shaming two fur wearers

Anti-fur activists shaming fur wearers

One of their videos has made an especially large impact. It shows a trapped coyote being shot dead juxtaposed with the logo of Canada Goose, a Canadian manufacturer of luxury apparel that uses real coyote fur. After being promoted by PETA, the video, which was viewed over 16 million times on Facebook, triggered a Twitter campaign. Canada Goose took notice and responded with a Facebook post stating, “In response to the recent campaign from PETA, we know and deeply respect that whether or not people want to wear fur is a personal choice…We read and hear all of your feedback.” Canada Goose also claimed that its fur is “responsibly sourced.”

Canada Goose responded to the video and PETA's campaign with a Facebook post

Canada Goose responded to the video and PETA’s campaign with a Facebook post

According to Born Free USA, a national animal advocacy organization, over 50 million animals are killed every year by the fur industry across the globe. Fur farmed animals spend their lives in small cages where they go insane from the stress of confinement and rarely receive veterinary care. The animals are killed in ways that are inexpensive and that do the least damage to their pelts — gassing, anal/vaginal electrocution, neck breaking, poisoning, or by bludgeoning them to death. Wild caught animals can suffer for days in painful traps and snares from exposure to the elements, hunger, and thirst before being shot or bludgeoned to death by a trapper. According to Born Free USA, the number of trappers in the U.S. has increased by 20% since 2004.

fur farmed animals spend their lives in filthy overcrowded cages and rarely receive veterinary care.

Fur farmed animals spend their lives in filthy, overcrowded cages and rarely receive veterinary care.

Most fur comes from China where animal protection laws are virtually non-existent. PETA undercover investigations on Chinese fur farms have revealed animals being skinned alive. They have also shown that dogs and cats are kidnapped and sold into the fur trade.

investigations on Chinese fur farms have revealed horrific cruelty and that dogs and cats are killed for their fur.

Investigations on Chinese fur farms have revealed horrific cruelty and that dogs and cats are killed for their fur.

Your Turn

  • Keep apprised of legislation that affects the fur industry and take action at Born Free.
  • To participate in anti-fur protests in your area please sign up to PETA’s action center.
  • Contact your House representative and ask him/her to co-sponsor the “Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act” which would “ban the import, export, and interstate commerce of both steel-jaw leghold traps and Conifer traps,” two of the cruelest devices used to capture fur-bearing animals.
  • If you see someone wearing fur, film your encounter and post it on social media.

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Endangered Species Under Attack

June 30, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

During the past several years, Congress has been waging a war on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a federal law that has been instrumental in protecting animals (and plants) threatened with extinction. Between 2011 and 2015 alone, over 50 bills have been introduced, largely by Republicans, targeting the ESA.

The Endangered Species Act, which was signed by President Nixon in 1973, protects species threatened with extinction such as the ocelot and the California tiger salamander.

In 1973, President Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act, which protects species threatened with extinction such as the ocelot (top) and the California tiger salamander (bottom). (tiger salamander photo: Gary Nafis)

The most recent bill, the “Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act” (May 18, 2016), would do the following, if passed into law:

  • Delist a species after five years (ESA protection would only be reinstated by a joint resolution in Congress)
  • Remove ESA protection from all Puerto Rican and Hawaiian species
  • Remove ESA protection from species endemic to one state
  • Require approval by both the states and Congress to grant ESA protection to a species
  • Allow government officials to ignore petitions seeking the addition of a species to the endangered species list

Defenders of Wildlife, a U.S.-based conservation group, estimates that 900 species could lose their ESA protection if this bill is passed.

The crested honeycreeper (left) and the akekee (right), both from Hawaii, would lose their protection under the Endangered Species Management Self Determination Act.

The crested honeycreeper (left) and the akekee (right), both from Hawaii, would lose their protection under the Endangered Species Management Self Determination Act. (honeycreeper photo: Jack Jeffrey, akekee photo: Eric Vanderwer)

Other attacks on the ESA include bills that would require the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to publicly share data on where endangered animals reside, including detailed maps (ex. S. 292) — information that would make poaching easier. Members of Congress have also introduced bills to sabotage the process of granting a species protection by requiring the inclusion of inaccurate/outdated data (provided by state governments) in the decision-making process (ex. S. 736). Another commonly used Congressional tactic is to limit funds for upholding the ESA.

The introduced bills S.292 and S.736 both attempt to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

S.292 and S.736 attempt to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

Over 100 bills have been introduced targeting individual species. Three recent bills, when combined, would prevent grey wolves from being listed as endangered or threatened in six states. Management of the grey wolf populations would also be returned to the states, a move which has, in the past, led to mass slaughter.

When Wyoming gained control of its grey wolf population in 2012 over 200 wolves were killed.

When Wyoming gained control of its grey wolf population in 2012 over 200 wolves were killed.

Another bill – the “Mexican Wolf Transparency and Accountability Act” – would remove virtually all protections for the Mexican grey wolf, a species rescued from near extinction by a tedious captive breeding program spanning almost 40 years. Only around 100 wild Mexican grey wolves remain in the United States (primarily  in Arizona and New Mexico).

The Mexican grey wolf was rescued from extinction by a captive breeding program but is now at risk of loosing nearly all its government protection.

The Mexican grey wolf was rescued from extinction by a captive breeding program but is now at risk of losing nearly all its government protection. (Jim brandenburg/ Minden)

On May 24th, representative Ken Calvert introduced legislation to permanently prevent the greater sage grouse from being listed under the ESA.

On May 24th, representative Ken Calvert introduced legislation to permanently prevent the greater sage grouse from being listed under the ESA. (Danita Delimit)

In March 2016, the FWS announced that it is planning to remove ESA protection from Yellowstone grizzly bears, even though the population consists of only about 700 animals.

Grizzly bear nuzzling her cub in Yellowstone National Park.

Grizzly bear and her cub in Yellowstone National Park (Troy Harrison).

Attempts to weaken the ESA are especially troubling in light of how effective it is. For example, a recent study conducted by the Center for Biological Diversity found that 85% of continental U.S. birds protected under the ESA have increased or stabilized their populations since receiving protection. The recovering bird species range from Puerto Rican parrots and Californian Condors to wood storks and Kirtland’s warblers. The wood stork’s population, in particular, jumped from 29 nesting colonies in 1984, when it was listed under the ESA, to over 10,000 in 2015.

Both the California condor and the woodstork have benefited tremendously from the Endangered Species Act.

Both the California condor (right) and the woodstork (left) have benefited tremendously from the Endangered Species Act. (woodstork photo: Stephen L. Tabone)

Your Turn

To learn more about Congress’s attempts to weaken the ESA, please visit Center for Biological Diversity

Please take the following steps to help safeguard the Endangered Species Act and the animals that it protects:

  • To find out more about federal and state bills that could affect wild animals and the ways in which you can help to pass or defeat them, please visit Born Free USA
  • To find out about federal and state bills that could affect all animals, including endangered species, and the ways in which you can help to pass or defeat them, please visit Humane Society of the United States

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