A list of the various acts of cruelty and abuse humans routinely (and usually quite legally) inflict on their fellow animals.  I believe we must answer for our crimes and our disgraceful stewardship of our planet, and a list of the charges is a beginning to that end. 
(Note: I took the above photo in 2008 of one of the elephants at 6 Flags Discovery Kingdom in her pitifully inadequate dirt pen; behind her fence there is a grassy field that she can see but never enter).
This is a compilation (in alphabetical order) of the worst offenses people commit in an organized fashion against other species of the Earth. There is no mention of the individual acts of cruelty to other species that occur every day around the world; I only list large-scale group actions here, “institutionalized” cruelty where the guilt is shared by many, who defend them as just or even necessary. Most of them, such as rodeos, bullfights, etc., are  perfectly legal, and sponsored by large corporations that you buy products from. They have all been made aware of the cruelties involved in these events by animal welfare organizations, but choose to ignore that and enjoy the money such sponsorship brings them. It is easier to continue animal abuse when you are a part of a crowd, or even get paid to do it; but it doesn’t make it right.
These crimes are all currently happening in the world today, right now in 2012– crimes which future generations will judge us by. What will we say in our defense?

If any of these were committed against other humans, it would make headlines around the world and people would scream for justice. However since they are done to nonhumans, they continue today, and although some are (hopefully) waning, others are gaining ground.

While reading them, see if you can guess which crime I have selected as the worst, most unforgiveable of them all (answer at the bottom). As this is a listing of shameful human activities, it is not easy reading. Some may even become angry or defensive if they see something they themselves are guilty of. I make no apologies; I only state the facts and show the photos. It is up to future generations to decide what is to be said for humankind’s actions up until now.

*Note: This is a work in progress, and items may be continuously added and updated as new events occur and information is discovered. Any suggestions, comments or corrections are greatly appreciated. I think I’ve pretty much covered the main ways that devious humans have come up with to abuse animals in a big way, but if you know of anything I’ve missed that you think should be added, please email me at hodave40@hotmail.com.
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1. Backyard Exotic Animal Breeding: (global)– large cats, bears and other wild animals kept in crude, cramped, totally inadequate conditions in back yards, at truckstops and roadside “zoos”; virtually no regulatory protection. U.S. interstate trade is illegal, but 31 states still allow the backyard keeping of exotic cats. Worse, some people offer them for hunting (see canned hunts below). This problem varies in countries other than the U.S. from moderate to rampant, and little or no regulation means statistics and other information about it is very hard to find, if it even exists.

Who’s fighting it: ASPCA, Big Cat Rescue, Big Cat Caucus, Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue, WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), HSUS (Humane Society of the United States), Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), HSI (Human Society International), Animal Rights Africa, Born Free USA, WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals), BC SPCA (Canada), ADDA (Spain) Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition, AnimalDiscovery.com (Animal Planet), Animals Australia, and many sanctuaries worldwide.


Thanks to the efforts of WCS members and friends, President Bush signed the Captive Wildlife Safety Act into law in December 2003. The law bans the interstate trade and importation of big cats, such as lions and tigers, as pets and is an important step in ending the big cat pet trade in the United States. However, there are still 31 states, including New York, where residents can buy and maintain big cats as pets within state borders.

The practice of keeping big cats by individuals is on the rise in the United States. It is estimated that 15,000 big cats are currently held outside of accredited zoos in the U.S., representing a 500 percent increase since 1997. Each year there are reports of serious injuries and fatalities to owners, family members or neighbors and of malnourished and unhealthy animals. They are often abandoned when they become older and more difficult to keep. Unfortunately, the animals, because of their uncertain genealogy, cannot be included in science-based conservation breeding programs. Many owners insist that the animals are “pets” or even “part of the family” (a quote used by an owner of the Tiger Truckstop in Louisiana). This notion that a large carnivore is a family “pet” is so outragous as to hardly need argument. Coincidentally, those “family pets” are used to make money, and are kept in appalling conditions, hardly something one would normally do with a family member.

Recent progress: in 2010,  Illinois lawmakers banned the keeping of primates as pets. In 2011 a deranged keeper of dangerous exotics in rural Ohio released them before killing himself; the resulting disastrous slaughter of all the freed animals finally prompted Ohio’s governor to push for stronger laws in the state, which he signed into law in 2012.
How you can help: Push for laws strengthening the regulation of backyard menageries.   Talk about it with friends and family, and spread the word online.  Report any neighbors you suspect might be keeping large animals.  And support the organizations that try to keep it under control, like the HSUS and Big Cat Rescue.
FURTHER INFO: “Animal Underworld: Inside America’s Black Market for Rare and Exotic Species” by Alan Green and the Center for Public Integrity, and see the documentary The Tiger Next Door by director/producer Camilla Calamandrei.
2. Bear bile harvesting: (Mainly China, Vietnam & Korea, with bears killed globally for gall bladders) – the worst of the worst: confining Asian moon bears up to 20 years in tiny cold steel cages smaller than phone booths, too small to stand up or turn around in, and painful daily ‘milking’ of their bile ducts. Bears barely manage to survive under these nightmarish conditions that are worse than any horror movie.  Almost too disgusting to contemplate, this is probably the most disgraceful, unacceptable and cruel form of animal abuse I know of.

Unfortunately it is not decreasing, and bear bile products are still sold throughout the world, including illegally in the United States, where it can be found in Asian herbal shops.

Who’s fighting it: AAF (Animals Asia Foundation), Free the Bears Fund, Moonbears.org, WSPA, WildAid, WLPA (World League for Protection of Animals)., Ursa Freedom Project, HSUS & HSI, the Animal Rescue Site, GlobalAnimal.org, OneGreenPlanet.org, ScienceBasedMedicine.org, Ebm-first.com,


Bear farming is the ugliest form of animal abuse there is. There is nothing natural or humane about it. To harvest the bile from the gallbladder a connection must be made from the gallbladder, which is deep inside the body, to the surface. This connection (medically called fistula) is made in one of three ways: a metal tube is inserted, a plastic tube is inserted, or a tissue bridge (a leak, in essence) is created between the gallbladder and the skin. The operation to make these connection is usually performed by the farm owners who have no veterinary skill. The bile farmers themselves admit that half the bears die from complications.

After the bile fistula is established, the animal must be confined in a cage, often hardly bigger than their body, in an effort to keep the fistula open and control the animal. This lasts the entire miserable life of the animal. To obtain bile from the fistula some animals wear a “metal jacket” around their bodies with a collection container attached. Others bears are forced to lay on the floor of their small “crush cage” so the bile will drip downward. A bear is a powerful healer; its body will try to exclude a metal or plastic tube (just like our bodies try to force out a splinter) or close the tissue bridge. This leads to scarring and damage to both the outside and inside of the bear. In some, hot pieces of metal are inserted to keep the hole open. This is done without any form of anesthesia or sedation. In essence, the life of a farmed bear is hell. It is pain, agony, confinement. Physical and mental torture. A life of fear and suffering.

These bears often go insane (just as humans would) from their confinement and suffer from a variety of disfiguring injuries related to lack of movement and the operations they undergo. Some other things about these bears: Many die during or soon after the fistula operation. Most are malnourished and small. Many are missing a limb, the result of the wire snare used to trap them from the wild. They do not have continuous access to water. Many are hairless. They often have their teeth and claws removed to make them easier to handle. These bears have a high rate of liver cancers, the result of chronic infection and inflammation of the gall bladder and liver.
Recent developments show that approximately 9,000 bears are kept for bear bile farming. The Chinese government has steadfastly refused to bow to public and international pressure to stop this horrendous cruelty and close these farms. In fact, as reported, bears now number 9,000 from 7,002 last year in Bile Farms across China. This is half the bear population of the entire country of China. These endangered bears are going to soon be extinct because of this shameful practice.  If this is not evil, then evil has no name.  This inexcusable, unforgivably cruel practice is a national shame upon China, and the entire world shares the collective guilt of allowing it to continue.
  Recent progress: As of September 2010, the South Korean parliament is considering a nationwide phasing out of the farming of bears.  More and more Koreans themselves are speaking out against the practice.  And a movement has begun in China as well, with the basketball superstar Yaou Ming speaking out against it.  I take these as hopeful signs that I WILL see the end of this human shame in my lifetime.  And in 2012 Animals Asia produced an undercover documentary, Moon Bear, exposing the horrors of bear bile farms, prompting a wave of support for their closure.
How you can help: WSPA and Animals Asia are two organizations active in fighting this obscene crime, on several fronts: they work with Asian governments to strengthen law enforecement against illegal bile farms, they work to spread the word in Asia on how cruel it is, and they have sanctuaries for rescued bears.   Please support their efforts.
More info: See and share AnimalsAsia’s documentary Moon Bear.  and of course see AnimalsAsia.org for much more info about other ways to help.   Another award-winning documentaryabout the rescuing bears from a bile farm is Cages of Shame. Also, a wonderful person named Jeanette McDermott has set up a blog about it at http://endbearbilefarming.blogspot.com/.
3. Bullfighting/other bull abuse: (Global, especially brutal in Spain, Portugal, Mexico and South America)– bulls are already hungry, thirsty, stressed, exhausted, usually beaten and often drugged before they even enter the ring, where they endure abuse, humiliation, torture and death. Many variations and forms of torture on this theme, including setting horns afire or attaching firecrackers to them, throwing darts at the bulls, ‘running of the bulls’, etc. *Note: Spain is also notorious for killing other animals in brutal ways, such as throwing goats off towers, beating donkeys to death, beheading geese and ducks, etc. ad nauseum.

Who’s fighting it: Humane Society International, IMAB (International Movement Against Bullfighting), WSPA, IDA,  SHARK, Igualdad Animal (Animal Equality)(Spain), League Against Cruel Sports (UK), Animal Associacao, Fondation Franz Weber, ADDA (Associacion Defensa Derechos Animal) (Spain), the Animal Rescue Site.


Each year, more than 40,000 bulls are barbarically slaughtered in Spain’s bullrings. Most foreign visitors who witness a bullfight never wish to see one again. They are repulsed, disgusted and saddened by the cruelty of the spectacle.

At best, the term “bullfighting” is a misnomer, as there is usually little competition between a nimble sword-wielding matador (Spanish for “killer”) and a confused, maimed, psychologically tormented and physically debilitated bull.

One of the biggest supporters of bullfighting is the tourist industry. Travel agents and bullfight promoters portray the fight as a festive and fair competition. What they do not reveal is that the bull never has a chance to defend himself, much less to survive.

Bulls are intentionally debilitated by various means, such as having sandbags dropped on their backs. Drugging is also very common. A study conducted by scientists at Spain’’s Salamanca University found that 20 per cent of the bulls used for fighting are drugged before they step into the ring. In a sampling of 200 bulls, one in five had been given anti-inflammatory drugs, which mask injuries that could sap animals’ strength.

Another common practice is to “shave” bulls’’ horns by sawing off a few inches. Bulls’ horns, like cats’ whiskers, help the animals navigate, so a sudden change impairs their coordination. Shaving is illegal, so the horns are sometimes inspected by a veterinarian after a fight. In 1997, the Confederation of Bullfighting Professionals –– which includes Spain’s 230 matadors –– went on strike in opposition to these veterinary inspections.

In a typical bullfight, the bull enters the arena and is approached by picadors –– cowards on blindfolded horses who drive lances into the bull’s back and neck muscles. This impairs the bull’s ability to lift his head. They twist and gouge the lances to ensure a significant amount of blood loss. Then banderilleros swagger in and proceed to distract the bull and dart around him while plunging banderillas –– bright sticks with harpoon points on their ends –– into his back. When the bull has become weakened from blood loss, the banderilleros run the bull in more circles until he is dizzy and stops chasing. Finally, the matador appears and, after provoking a few exhausted charges from the dying animal, tries to kill the bull with his sword, and ridiculously struts about as if he had actually done something brave. If he misses, succeeding only in further mutilating the animal, an executioner is called in to stab the exhausted and submissive animal to death. The dagger is supposed to cut the animal’s spinal cord, but even this can be blundered, leaving the bull conscious but paralyzed as he is chained by his horns and dragged out of the arena.

  Note: Many people may not know this, but most Spanish people have sickened of the bloody “sport” , and fewer and fewer of them attend them.    Unfortunately, ignorant tourists continue to pay to see this “tradition” (often quickly leaving when they realize how gruesome it really is), so the government subsidizes the cruel pastime, hoping to lure more visitors.  And to Rick Steves the travel guru’s shame, he still hasn’t condemned it, and continues to list bullfight arenas in his travel books.
How you can help: Please spread the word to anyone you know who might travel to these countries: attending bullfights is NOT ethical, and they will NOT be seeing a “part of the culture”, as most Spaniards don’t believe it’s moral any longer.  Let tourist companies and travel agents know that you do not condone nor seek to attend bullfights.  Write to travel book authors (Rick Steves, Fodors, Frommers, etc.) and ask them to stop including any information about bullfights that might encourage tourists to go.
 FURTHER INFO: Website: BullfightBloodbath.com, StopBullfighting.org.uk, BullfightingFreeEurope.org., IDAUSA.org/facts/fighting.
4. Canned “hunting” or captive shooting: (Worldwide, including the U.S. and U.K.) – trophy aerial hunting, canned animal “hunts” on game ranches, live captive turkey shoots, gamebird (pheasant and partridge) shoots (Cheney specials), live pigeon shoots (not even the shooters themselves can dignify them by calling them “hunts”), even captive lion shoots in South Africa. This shameful practice is killing for the sheer pleasure of it; these are cowardly slobs that are too lazy to actually hunt, they just want to shoot fish in a barrel. Even regular hunters despise them.

Who’s fighting it: HSUS, SHARK, Animal Aid, Big Cat Rescue, North Dakota Hunters for Fair Chase, Project Censored, Defenders Action Fund, PETA2.com, Animal Rights Africa,  League Against Cruel Sports, CACH (Campaign Against Canned Hunting, South Africa), ADDA (Spain), Helpinganimals.com, Pet-abuse.com, Wildlife-Rescue.org, 911AnimalAbuse.com.


Hunters say the thrill of hunting comes from the chase, not from the kill. The booming canned hunt business tells a different story.

Every year in Britain, around 40 million pheasants and partridges are mass-produced like commercial poultry so that they can be shot down by wealthy ‘guns’. This bloody and brutal end to their lives is the final insult. From birth, they are kept in cages, sheds and pens, in which disease and death are a daily feature.  Not to mention the foxhunting, which wealthy Britons still manage to engage in by using loopholes in the law meant to stop this barbaric practice.

Canned hunts are held at private trophy “hunting” facilities where shooters pay to kill exotic and native animals——even endangered species——trapped within fenced enclosures, or, with birds, propelled from boxes. Animals on canned “hunts” often come from private breeders, animal dealers, and even zoos and circuses. Frequently, the animals have been hand-raised and bottle-fed, so they have lost their fear of people.

Even in large enclosures on these so-called game farms, animals are lured with bait to a location where a shooter waits, thus removing any element of sportsmanship. The International Union for the Conservations of Nature and Natural Resources lists the scimitar-horned oryx as extinct in the wild; the addax, California bighorn sheep, European bison and pere david deer as critically endangered; the dama gazelle, nubian ibex, Arabian oryx and markhor as endangered; the blackbuck and bongo as near threatened; and the aoudad, eld’s deer, barasingha, African lion, mouflon, yak and tahr as vulnerable, yet these animals are all shot regularly on canned hunting ranches.

As many as half a million so-called “hunters” pay hundreds and often thousands of dollars to some 4,000 canned hunt promoters in the U.S. alone, to be sure of a kill — even if the chase is just a matter of finding the best hole in a cage to poke a weapon through. Shooting fish in a barrel may soon be not a metaphor but an option for those who can’t afford to kill a captive African lion ($5,995, “with good mane,” according to a recent price list).

In the canned hunt scenario, animals are fenced in or kept in cages until a “hunter” calls for the beast’s release, at which time the “sport” commences. Often the released animal can only run in circles around an enclosed compound (some smaller than an acre), without an escape route. Some even make desperate runs for safety under parked cars, but to no avail. The animals, including some exotic species, are fired upon at nearly point blank range, ensuring the “sportsman” of a kill. After witnessing a hunt, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent Bill Talkin said “None of the animals got more than 100 feet from the cage when they were shot.”

The typical canned “hunter” is an older, wealthy man who wants guaranteed success of bringing home a trophy to mount, without the added hassle of trekking into the woods. The ill-fated animals include endangered species such as African leopards, exotic cats, Bengal tigers, grizzly bears, etc. And while most canned hunt promoters know better than to openly advertise opportunities to shoot endangered species, most trophy hunters know how to wangle the deals they want — shooting a couple of animals legally on initial visits while getting to know the staff, flashing money, dropping hints.

The most popular form of canned hunting in North America is captive bird-shooting. It is estimated that about 55 million tame birds are killed in canned hunts each year in the U.S.  President George Bush celebrated his election in 1988 with a bird-killing spree at the Lazy F Ranch near Beeville, Texas. When questioned about it, he protested “These aren’t animals, these are wild quail.” And this is the type of “hunt” Dick Cheney was participating in when he shot his friend in the face– thus highlighting how utterly stupid this activity is.

And the worst: every year in Pennsylvania, cowardly “hunters” slaughter harmless pigions  propelled from boxes and  turkeys bred in cages and chained to tires. What more needs to be said about these clowns?

 Recent progress: There is currently (as of late 2012) lots of activity going on in Pennsylvania by SHARK activists to stop the sickening pigeon slaughters.  Fueled by a recent donation of $1 million by Bob Barker, they have bought two boats and flying cameras, hired a new staff member, and are protesting the shoots both at the entrance to one property situated next to a river, where many of the wounded birds fall and drown.  Being in the river places them in the direction of the shooting, a dangerous activity but also one that — at least temporarily– halts the killing.  Their publicity and activity will hopefully soon halt this shame of Pennsylvania once and for all.

How you can help: Support organizations like HSUS  and SHARK that actively fight the cruel and cowardly canned shooting industry.  Help them spread the word by keeping informed of the latest news and telling others.

FURTHER INFO: Books– For the Love of Wildlife and Canned Hunting- A National Disgrace, and Kalahari Dream are available from CACH at cannedlion.org or on Amazon.

Documentary: “No Escape: Abusing Wildlife for Trophies and Pleasure” (HSUS); website: www.humanesociety.org’hunt.  See also Sharkonline.org, CorporatThugs.com, Pigeonshoots.com, PaShame.com, IllinoisCorruption.com.

5. Circuses: (global, including U.S.) – caged animal psychosis, abuse, neglect, humiliation, exposure to elements while traveling and over winter, insufficient housing/activity/socialization, lack of meaningful lives.
Circus-goers rarely get a glimpse of the harsh treatment endured by animals held captive in the circus. “Trainers” routinely beat, shock, and whip captive animals to make them perform ridiculous tricks that they cannot comprehend. Violence and intimidation are part of everyday life for animals in the circus. These are all real photos taken of animals in real circuses, during a typical day. Anyone who looks at them can see that there is something inherently wrong with treating intelligent and sensitive beings like this for a few minutes of “entertainment”.
In a sworn affidavit to the USDA, Glen D. Ewell, a former employee of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, stated “Randy took a bullhook and began beating Nicole in the head, on the trunk and behind the front foot…until the handle of the bullhook shattered. Adam began beating her on the lumbar and hindquarter area on the right-side.”

Furthermore, another former employee of Ringling Bros. stated during his congressional testimony on June 13, 1999: “After my three years of working with elephants in the circus, I can tell you that they live in confinement and they are beaten all the time when they don’t perform properly.”

In addition to the use of violence and intimidation, the circus also harms animals by depriving them of their basic needs to exercise, roam, socialize, forage, and play. Stereotypical behaviors such as swaying back and forth, head-bobbing, pacing, bar-biting, and self-mutilation are common signs of mental distress displayed by animals in the circus.
Unfortunately, laws protecting animals in traveling shows are inadequate and poorly enforced. The Animal Welfare Act establishes only minimum guidelines, and even these meager standards are often ignored. Furthermore, the use of dangerous animals in performances jeopardizes public safety and often puts children at great risk. Since 1990, 57 people have been killed and more than 120 seriously injured by captive elephants.
** On a personal note, I would like to add that I find the sight of magnificent wild animals forced to perform degrading, unnatural tricks (like bears on motorcycles or elephants balancing on large balls) highly disturbing, revolting and even grotesque. The fact that millions of humans pay to see such sad spectacles is deeply telling of human lack of understanding and respect for our fellow mammals, and is unfortunately perpetuated by large companies that make money from animal sufering and misery.
Who’s fighting it: ASPCA, HSUS, PETA, Circuses.com, ALDF (Animal Legal Defense Fund), ADL (Animal Defense League), Mercy for Animals, IDA (In Defense of Animals), AnimalActivism.org, PAWS (Progressive Animal Welfare Society), Animal Welfare Institute, Fund for Animals, CRY (Circus Reform: Yes!), API (Animal Protection Institute), Wildlife Advocacy Project (WildlifeAdvocacy.org), ADI (Animal Defenders International), Equanimal (Spain),  ADDA (Spain), FAADA (Spain), SAFE (N.Z.), ALV (Animal Liberation Victoria, Australia), Animal Rights Africa, Born Free USA, CAPS (Captive Animals’ Protection Society.

Recent progress: Many cities and counties in countries worldwide are banning circuses with animals; particularly in the U.K., although Britain unfortunately stopped short of a complete ban, allowing the so-called “Great British Circus” to continue to abuse animals, as recently exposed and documented yet again by an undercover investigation by Animal Defenders International.  Breaking news:  Slovenia recently banned the use of wild animals in circuses, making it the fourth European Union nation to impose such a ban.  Also, in December, the City Commission of Hallandale Beach, Florida voted to ban bullhooks, bucking straps and other cruel devices used to train and dominate animals to perform tricks for entertainment. And the Los Angeles City Council will soon vote on an ordinance that would ban the use of elephants in traveling circuses, and also prohibit use of the bullhook.

Since ADI launched their major investigation of the South American circus industry in 2007, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Paraguay have all introduced prohibitions on the use of animals in circuses. It is hoped that Colombia will soon be the fifth country in the region to ban the use of animals in travelling circuses, following a global trend that has now seen over 20 countries introduce bans.                    

 How you can help: Never attend a circus, and tell everyone you know why you don’t.  Support organizations like IDA, ADI and HSUS that actively work to free the animals kept captive by circuses.  Keep informed and join demonstrations protesting circuses when they come to your town.
 FURTHER INFO: Documentary “Elephants in Circuses: Training and Tragedy” (Peta).
6. Cockfighting: (global, illegally in U.S.) – this “sport” has a large global appeal, and is still legal in many third-world countries. Roosters are forced to fight each other, sustaining horrible injuries and death. Killed when retired.

In the fighting ring, the roosters often wear artificial spurs——long, sharp, dagger-like attachments——that transform their natural spurs into knives for maximum injury. These steel blades are sharp enough to puncture a lung, pierce an eye or break bones. A referee is on hand to supervise the fight, which can last anywhere from a few seconds to 15 minutes. While the rules usually do not require one or both birds to die in order for a winner to be declared, death is often the outcome, due to the severity of the injuries.

I was present at a bust of some people in California who were illegally raising fighting birds, and it was very sad.  They had filled their entire property with the pathetic, ugly little cages like you see in the photo here.  Imagine these poor animals, normally very social and gregarious, having to live their lives in these crappy little cages, only let out to face pain and death in the “arena”.  And all so some scumbags can gamble on the outcomes.  It’s shameful, and there is no place orfor it in civilized  society.

Who’s fighting it: HSUS, ASPCA, IDA, ADDA (Spain), helpinganimals.com, pet-abuse.com, Last Chance for Animals, ALF, local law enforcement.

Recent progress: The last 2 U.S. states, Louisiana and New Mexico, made cockfighting illegal in 2008; shamefully late, but at least it is now illegal in the entire U.S.  And in 2010 Louisiana made it a crime to be a spectator at a cockfight, which may become a federal law now being readied in Congress.  In 2012 Idaho became the 48th state to make it a feloney; North Dakota may soon follow as the 49th.  Unfortunately it is still very much prevalent in the country, even in such supposedly forward-thinking areas such as San Francisco’s bay area, where cockfighting organizations both large and small are being constantly busted.   This is yet another example of human’s lack of connectivity with other living creatures, and is and always will be a part of our shameful legacy that we can never erase.    

How you can help: Report any cockfighting activity you may hear about to the HSUS and local authorities.  Support stronger laws against it, and the organizations like HSUS working to end it.


7. Dancing bears: (mainly India & Pakistan) – after having teeth painfully broken, young sloth and black bears have torturous ropes put through a hole burned into the nose and sinus cavity which is used to painfully force them to “dance”; otherwise these normally quiet and shy bears are kept in captivity under harsh, inhumane conditions. This cruel “entertainment” is supported mainly by tourists who pay to watch. This is a classic case of why you should NOT give ANY money whatsoever to anyone who uses animals for any kind of entertainment, attention or any other tourist attraction*. This important rule is in effect even if you “feel sorry for the animal” or think you are “helping a hungry animal” or whatever the reason. Street entertainers may deliberately starve the animal– whether it be a bear, elephant, monkey or whatever– just to keep it thin and garner more donations. Many street people may also wrap a snake around you and ask money for photographs. (I even fell for this in Miami once). The animals are not cared for properly except as moneymakers; no animal should be exposed to that many strangers for many reasons– disease transmission being one.
If you see animals being used cruelly for entertainment, especially like the dancing bears, don’t simply shrug it off as “that’s the way they do things here”…. cruelty is cruelty everywhere.  Complain– loudly!  Tell other tourists about the cruelty, and how they shouldn’t support it; once they are educated virtually all visitors will do the right thing.  Also, complain  to the local tourist board and the mayor’s office; tell them how disgusted you are with the practice and that when you go home, you’ll tell everyone you know not to come back until something is done about it.  Loss of revenue is a prime motivator for these people.

[*Note: This also includes the many street beggars I saw in my round-the-world trip last year. It seems to be a disturbing new trend– these people get a young animal (usually a puppy or kitten) and carry it around to help beg for money, which is usually spent on alcohol and cigarettes, while the animals are fed trash. When the animals get older they are simply dumped on the streets (or worse) for a younger, “cuter” one.  I saw this take place in even the finest cities in the world, especially in France.  They hang out in all the touristy places, so if you go you’re almost sure to see them around.]

Who’s fighting it: WSPA, ALF, Wildlife SOS India (Kartick Satyanarayan).

 How you can help: If you ever see bears forced to perform during your travels, do NOT give anyone money, and report them to local authorities.  Chances are it’s illegal, and even if it’s not, it will let them know that you don’t approve.  Then do the same at the local town hall and/or tourism office.

8. Dog fighting: (global, illegal but rampant in U.S.) – dogs raised in brutal, abusive conditions, trained and forced to fight, not seen by vets for fear of exposure, killed in various cruel ways when no longer ‘champions’. Now a crime in all 50 U.S. states, activists are pushing to make it a felony in all of them. The injuries inflicted and sustained by dogs participating in dogfights are frequently severe, even fatal. The American pit bull terriers used in the majority of these fights have been specifically bred and trained for fighting and are unrelenting in their attempts to dogfightovercome their opponents. With their extremely powerful jaws, they are able to inflict severe bruising, deep puncture wounds and broken bones.

Dogs used in these events often die of blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion, or infection hours or even days after the fight. Other animals are often sacrificed as well. Some owners train their dogs for fights using smaller animals such as cats, rabbits or small dogs. These “bait” animals are often stolen pets or animals obtained through “free to good home” advertisements.

* Note: The rampant breeding of pit bull terriers for aggressive tendencies also gives them a bad reputation and makes it much more difficult for rescue organizations to find them homes. Thus many are unfairly killed just because of their breed– thanks to the dogfighters.

Who’s fighting it: HSUS, ASPCA, The Anticruelty Society, PETA, ALDF, ALF, Best Friends, League Against Cruel Sports, local law enforcement and animal control officers wherever it is illegal.

**Note: Idaho, Wyoming, Georgia, Nevada and Hawaii have the weakest dogfighting laws on the books, allowing some aspects of the cruel practice to go completely unpunished, and punishing others with little more than a slap on the wrist, according to The Humane Society of the United States, which recently analyzed state dogfighting laws.

What you can do to help: If you live in one of these states, please write to your state representatives and ask for tougher dogfighting laws.  Report any dogfighting activity to the local authorities and the HSUS (which offers a $5,000 reward for info leading to a conviction).  And support the HSUS which is leading the fight against dogfighting.

 MORE INFO:  Documentary: “Off The Chain”
9. Dog racing: (Global) – dogs kept in small, inadequate kennels for years, suffer many injuries when racing; when no longer fast they are disposed of.

Who’s fighting it: HSUS, ASPCA, Protectdogs.org, All-creatures.org, Grey2K USA, PETA, IDA, Animals Australia, DownBound, Animal Law Coalition, Noah’s Arc (Spain), League Against Cruel Sports (UK), nightatthedogs.org.


Every year, the industry breeds tens of thousands of greyhounds, more than it can place at racetracks. This overbreeding is motivated by the desire to produce “winning” dogs. Thousands of greyhounds at each track are disposed of yearly to bring in a “fresh” group of dogs. A dog’s racing career is usually over at 3½ to 4 years of age.

If able to live out his or her full life as a companion animal, a greyhound may live 13 or more years. Unfortunately, the industry kills greyhounds at various stages in the dogs’ lives because they appear to lack racing potential or are injured. Many dogs, when they are no longer profitable, are adopted into good homes through rescue groups, but thousands are not. As with any business, profit is the bottom line; as a result, greyhounds are often destroyed using the least expensive methods, including gunshot. Budgeoning, abandonment, and starvation also occurs.

Racing greyhounds spend the majority of their adult lives in crates or pens or in fenced enclosures. Human companionship is limited. Many enclosures are not climate-controlled, causing the dogs distress during inclement weather.

Greyhound training activities have been known to maim and kill thousands of domestic rabbits and wild jackrabbits every year. (This estimate is based on HSUS investigations into the illegal importation of rabbits as well as the use of animals in training events.) One particular event known as “coursing” involves greyhounds chasing, terrorizing and eventually killing rabbits within fenced enclosures.

**Also relating to greyhounds, in Spain even more brutal practices exist. There the dogs are used for hunting, so the lazy hunters don’t have to chase their quarry. These normally gentle dogs are brutally trained and kept in apalling conditions there. Worse, if they don’t hunt well, they are — believe it or not– hanged. They are either strung up from a tree, or even worse, cruelly left with their back legs on the ground so their death is slower and much more agonizing. There is a large population of British expatriates in Spain, some of whom, appalled at seeing such cruelty, have started up welfare organizations to rescue these dogs. I had the good fortune to be hosted by Gail and Andrew of Noah’s Arc, who work tirelessly to find homes for abandoned and injured greyhounds in southern Spain. Their website is http://www.noahsarcmurcia.com/links.htm, and Andrew has many wonderful videos of “los galgos” (the greyhounds) on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/andrewhurrell
Recent progress: passage of ban on dog racetracks in Massachusetts in 2008, New Hampshire and Rhode Island followed in 2010.  Arizona passed a law in 2012 allowing the last remaining dog racetrack to close.  This vile industry has shrunk dramatically in the past decade, good news for the many thousands of greyhounds wasting their lives away in tiny crates.
What you can do to help: oviously, never attend a dog race and spread the word about the cruelty behind them.  Also support legislation that bans them, and support organizations that are working against them.
10. Street Dog Slaughter (culling): (Many Middle East, Eastern Europe & Asian countries)– countries with poor animal control periodically sweep cities of dogs and dispose of them in horrible ways, like in garbage trucks or beating to death. Many of these governments have been advised that there are better ways of dealing with street dog populations, but choose to ignore the facts. It has been amply demonstrated in hundreds of cities around the world that a good spay/neuter/release program is not only humane but the only effective method of controlling the dog numbers. Many local SPCA’s and welfare organizations are trying to convince their local city and country councils of this, but some officials are corrupt and they award the contracts to friends and relatives. As usual, money is involved in this form of cruelty like all others. Other officials are simply too closed-minded to accept new and humane methods of animal control.
I just recently learned that thousands of dogs and cats are poisoned in Greece, on the otherwise beautiful touristed Aegean islands. This program is carefully timed to occur in winter, when the tourists are gone, and even includes putting broken glass in food to kill the stray animals, resulting in horribly painful deaths. And of course many owned pets are killed as well by these methods (not that it makes any difference, of course.)

Who’s fighting it: WSPA, Romania Animal Rescue, AAPN (Asian Animal Protection Network), PETA International, EnviroWatch, Elly Maynard, Best Friends, Care2.com, ALF, Political Animal Lobby, PAWS (Phillipines Animal Welfare Society), IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), Animals Asia, ADDA (Spain), Noah’s Ark (Malaysia), Vier Pfoten (Four Paws- Austria), St. Francis Foundation (Sibiu, Romania), Animal Life Romania, AnimalEarth.org, and countless other sanctuaries, shelters, humane societies and kind people.

Recent progress: The St. Francis foundation in Romania has persuaded the town of Sibiu to outlaw the culls there, and instead has initiated a spay/neuter/release program that is currently highly successful. They hope to serve as a model for other Romanian towns and cities.  More recently in Romania,  in 2013 a

What you can do to help: Governments know that western tourists don’t like to see culls, and try to hide them.  But when you travel abroad, if you see it happening, complain loudly to the local tourist board, the town hall, and anyone else who will listen.  Also, you can support organizations fighting it.

11. Elephant “breaking”/phajaan & other exploitation: (Southeast Asia, other countries engage in similar atrocities) – the phajaan is the Thai name for the traditional Asian torture of young elephants to break their spirit. They are caged, starved, beaten, poked and cut and kept awake for days until they become submissive under the torture. Many, especially the ones with stronger wills, die from shock and lack of water/stress/injuries, as the people will not stop until the elephants are judged to be “broken” or completely submissive.

This is another treatment of fellow animals I find particularly loathsome. It has been documented by National Geographic and other reputable elephant experts, such as Thailand’s own “Lek” Chaillert who runs the Elephant Nature Park sanctuary, where I saw raw footage filmed by some of her volunteers, yet many people have either never heard of the phajaan or deny it. Westerners are not allowed to see them any more. Unfortunately, every captive working elephant that is used in Asia endures this sadistic ritual, including the ones used for elephant ‘treks’– and clueless tourists by the thousands pay to ride them. Please do some research before going to Asia and supporting this grotesque tradition.

Asian elephants are also worked to death in logging camps in Burma (Myanmar) under extremely cruel conditions–even pregnant– and are often given amphetamines to get more work out of them, making them sick and more likely to get injured. Some are also forced to walk city streets with beggars, risking injury and death by automobiles. Many of these are the very same babies who were torn from their mothers and underwent the phajaan torture, only to work on hot, dirty, polluted, noisy streets– a horrible existence for any young animal. These begging elephants are usually not owned by the beggars you see them with, but rich Asians, including corrupt city officials, who get a percentage of the tourists money. Think about that next time you’re tempted to give someone money who exploits animals to beg.

Who’s fighting it: AnimalsAsia, WSPA, IDA, HSI, Elephant Nature Park, Dawnwatch.com, Lobsa.org, National Geographic, PETA International, eleaid.com, elephantvoices.com, Born Free, The Elephant Sanctuary, ACRES.

It must be mentioned that any place elephants are used for “entertainment”– notably in the United States by ciruses such as Ringling Brothers– such companies engage in similar practices.  In 2009 PETA revealed shocking photos and video evidence of Ringling staff brutally tying down baby elephants and roughly manhandling the squealing babies to get them used to taking orders.  This form of brutal domination is common among circus companies that are too lazy to bother using more gentle techniques to train these intelligent and peaceful mammals.    While not quite as cruel as the Thai/Burmese phajaan ritual, these practices go against every belief of respect and compassion for our fellow animals that most humans hold, and are unwittingly supporting every time they pay to see a circus with animals.
What you can do to help: when traveling abroad, never pay anyone who uses animals for entertainment, rides, or any other exploitation.  Support charities and sanctuaries who rescue them from such abuse.  Be an ethical traveler, and volunteer at places like the Elephant Nature Park for the experience of a lifetime, instead of going on a run-of-the-mill elephant trek like most clueless tourists do.
FURTHER INFO: Watch the documentary “How I Became an Elephant“, info at http://www.howibecameanelephant.com/, and a related documentary, The Eyes of Thailand, about elephants there being rehabilitated from landmine injuries.
12. Factory farming: (global, mainly developed countries, but growing worldwide)– the hidden shame of America and Europe (the developers of factory farming) which is responsible for about 95% of all animal misery and death worldwide, it includes such atrocities as shipping the animals under inhumane conditions, the shocking treatment of ‘downed’ animals, the eviscerating and skinning of animals still conscious, fomenting the perfect conditions for disease mutations, and rampant foul pollution from millions of tons of excrement. The average American’s idea of a farm is the childhood fantasy of the big red barn and the animals happily sunning themselves in green meadows. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Developed after World War II as “modern” farming, the goal of factory farming is to mechanize as much as possible the care of farm animals, and to squeeze as many of them as possible under one roof, thereby saving money. Almost taking humans out of the system, they have also taken any humanity out. Farmers no longer know their animals as individuals; now they are just units to be processed.
Over 95% of the animals abused by man are on factory farms–billions of them endure conditions that would be criminal if it were done to dogs or cats. These deserve subheadins of their own, including:

A. Pig confinement: something resembling a torture chamber. In the push for squeezing more pigs into less space, they are kept in unbearably tiny stalls too small for them to turn around in. Many people think of Charlotte’’s Web and Babe when they imagine how pigs are raised for meat. Unfortunately, these fantasy tales do not depict reality. Almost all of the 100 million pigs killed for food in the United States every year endure horrific conditions in controlled animal feeding operations (CAFOs), the meat industry’’s euphemism for factory farms. Smarter than dogs, these social, sensitive animals spend their lives on bare concrete in overcrowded, dank and filthy warehouses, often seeing direct sunlight for the first time as they are crammed onto a truck bound for the slaughterhouse.

A mother pig, or sow, spends her adult life confined to a tiny metal crate. She will never feel the warmth of a nest or the affectionate nuzzle of her mate——she will spend her life surrounded by thick, cold metal bars, living on wet, feces-caked concrete floors. When she is old enough to give birth, she will be artificially impregnated and then imprisoned again for the entire length of her pregnancy in a “gestation crate,” a cage only 2 feet wide——too small for her even to turn around or lie down in comfortably. After giving birth, a mother pig is moved to a “farrowing crate,” a contraption even worse and smaller than a gestation crate, with only a tiny additional concrete area on which the piglets can nurse. Workers will sometimes tie the mother’s legs apart so she cannot get a break from the suckling piglets. She may develop open “bed sores” on her body from the lack of movement. One worker describes teh process: “They beat the shit out of them to get them inside the crates because they don’t want to go. This is their only chance to walk around, get a little exercise, and they don’t want to go [back into a crate]”. This practice is so barbaric that gestation crates have been banned in several U.S. states (Rhode Island being the most recent one in 2012) and the entire European Union.
Also, the stressed, crowded and immune-weakened pigs, living in dark, damp, feces-ridden conditions are perfect victims for evolving new strains of viruses like the swine flu which has broken out again in 2009 in a new form, as it does every decade or so. And when the pigs are transported, often long distances, they can easily be carriers of disease that could cause a pandemic at any time. The medical community charged with public health has been warning the U.S. government for years that factory farms are breeding grounds for new diseases, but the farm lobby is so powerful nothing has been done about it. Think about that: the United States government, which is responsible for the safety of its citizens, not only ignores the public health officials who are warning them of a dangerous situation that could cause a national crisis, but they won’t even warn the public about the dangers. All so people can buy cheaper pork.

B. Chicken and turkey abuse: probably the worst of the worst, chickens confined to “battery” cages are crammed in so tight they often walk on each other and the weak cannot reach their food or water. Each is give the space of a single sheet of paper to live their whole life on. Stress is so high these normally peaceful animals fight each other in their misery, so the babies routinely have their beaks seared off. The air in their huge sheds is a toxic poison, reeking with dust, debris and the methane from their wastes. Disease is rampant and death is common, so antibiotics are added to their feed just to keep them alive long enough to grow up. They are kept in the dark their whole lives until the shocking transport to the slaughterhouse, where they are hung upside-down and their necks are cut, although many are still alive when they are dunked into the scalding de-feathering oil.

The egg-laying chickens endure similar conditions. None know a kind voice or have any real contact with humans, panicking whenever one approaches.  These intelligent birds simply do not deserve this barbaric treatment. California was the first U.S. state to vote to ban battery cages in 2008 (along with pig gestation and veal crates), but that only just begins to address the horrible abuse of chickens by factory farmers.

 The myth of “free range”. The turkeys in the photo to the right are on a typical “free range farm”. The only thing “free” about them is that they are not crammed in to tiny cages; instead, they are crammed together with thousands of other birds in huge warehouses. Kept in darkness, never seeing the light of day, they are so stressed the normally amiable birds attack each other in frustration. Because of that they, like chickens, have their beaks burned off as babies, a painful procedure to the sensitive mouth parts that the birds use for taste, smell, manipulation, and eating.
C. Dairy cows: The 9 million cows living on dairy farms in the United States spend most of their lives in large sheds or on feces-caked mud lots, where disease is rampant– hardly the pretty green pastures depicted on milk cartons and in advertisements. Cows raised for their milk are repeatedly impregnated, and their babies are taken away so that humans can drink the milk intended for the calves. When their exhausted bodies can no longer provide enough milk, they are sent to slaughter and ground up for hamburgers.

Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do: to nourish their babies. In order to force the animals to continue giving milk, factory farmers impregnate them using artificial insemination every year. Calves are generally taken from their mothers within a day of being born——males are destined for veal crates, and females are sentenced to the same fate as their mothers.

Mother cows on dairy farms can often be seen searching and calling for their calves long after they have been separated. Author Oliver Sacks, M.D., wrote of a visit that he and cattle expert Dr. Temple Grandin made to a dairy farm and of the great tumult of bellowing that they heard when they arrived: ‘They must have separated the calves from the cows this morning,’ Temple said, and, indeed, this was what had happened. “We saw one cow outside the stockade, roaming, looking for her calf, and bellowing. ‘That’s not a happy cow,’’ Temple said. ‘That’s one sad, unhappy, upset cow. She wants her baby. Bellowing for it, hunting for it. She’ll forget for a while, then start again. It’s like grieving, mourning——not much written about it. People don’t like to allow them thoughts or feelings.’ [This is a common behavior of dairy cows].

After their calves are taken from them, mother cows are hooked up, several times a day, to machines that take the milk intended for their babies. Using genetic manipulation, powerful hormones, and intensive milking, factory farmers force cows to produce about 10 times as much milk as they naturally would. Animals are pumped full of bovine growth hormone (BGH), which contributes to painful inflammation of the udder known as mastitis. (BGH is used throughout the U.S., but has been banned in Europe and Canada because of concerns over human health and animal welfare.) According to the industry’’s own figures, between 30 and 50 percent of dairy cows suffer from mastitis, an extremely painful condition.

A cow’s natural lifespan is 25 years, but cows used by the dairy industry are killed after only four or five years. An industry study reports that by the time they are killed, nearly 40 percent of dairy cows are lame because of the filth, intensive confinement, and the strain of constantly being pregnant and giving milk. Dairy cows are turned into soup, companion animal food, or low-grade hamburger meat because their bodies are too “spent” to be used for anything else

D. Veal calves: Male calves——”byproducts” of the dairy industry——are generally taken from their mothers when they are less than 1 day old. The calves are then put into dark, tiny crates, where they are kept almost completely immobilized in dark stalls so that their flesh stays tender. The calves are fed a liquid diet that is low in iron and has little nutritive value in order to make their flesh white. This heinous treatment makes the calves ill, and they frequently suffer from anemia, diarrhea, and pneumonia. They cannot even lay down, because then they might chew on the wood or metal slats to get the iron their bodies desperately need. Frightened, sick, miserably uncomfortable and alone, these calves are killed after only a few months of life. “Veal” is the flesh of a tortured, sick baby cow, and a byproduct of the milk industry. If you eat veal, please think about this suffering before you order it next time.

E. Sheep treatment & transport to middle east (from Australia, New Zealand & other developed countries)– sheep are shipped under inhumane conditions (often for weeks with little to no food & water) and arrive sick and dying, only to be treated even worse there.

During the last 30 years, Australia has sent more than 150 million sheep and cattle to be slaughtered in other parts of the world, such as the Middle East and South East Asia. Livestock ships can carry up to 100,000 animals for voyages lasting up to 3 weeks.

More than 2 million animals have died on these ships en route, deaths deemed an ‘acceptable’ loss by an industry that puts profit above all else.

Investigations conducted by Animals Australia in Middle Eastern countries have exposed the terrible cruelties inflicted upon Australian animals in these countries. Most importing countries have not one single law to protect animals’’ welfare. Once in the Middle East, Australian sheep are routinely purchased, bound, and shoved into car boots in a region where temperatures reach 50E°C in summer. Both sheep and cattle have their throats cut whilst fully conscious, suffering prolonged, distressing and painful deaths.

Australian sheep farmers also engage in the horrific practice of “mulesing“, in which large chunks of skin and flesh are cut from their backsides without any pain relief, supposedly to prevent “flystrike”, or flies laying eggs on the sheep.

Who’s fighting it: The impressive list of organizations includes (but is certainly not limited to) HSUS/HSI, Peta, Farm Sanctuary, Vegan Outreach, ALDF, United Poultry Concerns, Vegan Voice, Animal Aid (U.K.), Earthsave Canada, Animals Australia, IDA, Compassion Over Killing, Friends of Animals, The Humane Farming Association, Animal Place Sanctuary and Education Center, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), RSPCA Australia, PeacefulPrarie,  ALV (Au.), SAFE (NZ), Meat-Free Media (N.Z.), Aukland Animal Action, ARLAN (Animal Rights Legal Advocacy Network N.Z.), Farmed Animal Watch, PALE (People Against Live Exports- Australia), PAWS (People & Animal Welfare Society), PACAT (People Against Cruelty in Animal Transport- Australia), WSPA, Animal Rights Africa, Compassion in World Farming, Mercy for Animals, WLPA (World League for the Protection of Animals), Vier Pfoten (Four Paws- Austria), Equanimal (Spain), ADDA (Association Defending Animal Rights – Spain), savethesheep.com, VegNews.com, VegSF.com, Viva! (U.K), The Humane Leagues, ActiVeg, The Vegan Society, FARM (Farm Animal Rights Movement), Compassionate Cooks, Vegan Campaigns (U.K.), Herbivore Magazine, No Voice Unheard, AnimalRightStuff, Veganica, Vegan Radio, Animal Voices radio, The Food Revolution Network, VeggieVision & Animals Matter TV,  and many, many more, such as the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.

Recent progress: 2008 passage of Proposition 2 in California will outlaw gestation and veal crates, and battery cages. In 2009 Maine voted to ban veal and gestation crates as well.  And in 2010 California banned the sale of ALL eggs from laying hens confined in battery cages, as a follow up to the passage of Prop 2.  The 2010 law means that all shell eggs sold in the state must conform to Prop 2’s standards. Both take effect in January 2015.   More states have legislation pending, with Rhode Island being the latest to pass a law banning extreme confinement of pigs and calves, and amputation (docking) of cow’s tails.  In New Zealand mulesing is being phased out, but Australian farmers reneged on a promise to do so and the fight continues, with activists ramping up the protests to a new level there. Meanwhile in the U.S.,  the HSUS, Mercy for Animals and Compassion Over Killing have documented egregious abuse in many large chicken, turkey and pig facilities, including Smithfield Farms pig industries, revealing embarassing and damaging flaws in their claims to “humane treatment of their pigs”.

What you can do to help: The number one way of helping end factory farming is to stop supporting them, and support organizations fighting them.  Buying animal products means you are voting, with your dollars, to continue the inhumane practices they engage in.  Vegetarian and vegan movements like Meatless Mondays are growing, and are an easy way to  introduce yourself to the many benefits of veganism.   There are loads of books and videos on the subject.  Educate yourself, and help spread the word.

 FURTHER INFO: Books: “Animal Factory: The Looming Threat ofIndustrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment” by David Kirby
Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer, “Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food” by Gene Baur, “The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals” by Jenny Brown, “Ninety-Five: Meeting America’s Farmed Animals in Stories and Photographs” edited by No Voice Unheard, “Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal” by Eric Schlosser.
Documentaries: “Earthlings“, “Eating“, “Food, Inc.”,Meet Your Meat“, “Chew on This: Reasons to Go Vegetarian” (Peta), “The Animals Film“, “Supersize Me”, “King Corn”, “Fast Food Nation”, “Peaceable Kingdom”,  “A Cow at My Table”, “45 Days: The Life and Death of a Broiler Chicken” by Compassion Over Killing, “Maximum Nutrition” by Michael Gregor, MD, “Make it Meatless” DVD series.
 Websites: vegnews.com, vegancoach.com, vegweb.com, veganhealth.org, VRG.org, VegSource.com, Peta.org, EthicalPlanet.com.
13. Foie gras production: (France, Hungary, Bulgaria, and one remaining facility in the U.S.)– Also technically a part of factory farming, foie gras (literally “fatty liver”) production is so sickening it deserves its own category. It is made by force-feeding geese and ducks massive amounts of grain through pipes pushed down their throats, resulting in esophageal trauma and their diseased livers painfully swelling up to 10 times their normal size. The birds often vomit after the force-feeding, and they are kept in tiny stalls similar to veal crates. The cruelty involved in foie gras production is almost unknown by the very people who eat liver pate.
The ducks and geese are kept in tiny individual cages barely bigger than their bodies, where they are isolated from each other, and their heads stick out of the cages for easy force-feeding, from which they try but cannot escape. Other than that these intelligent and beautiful water birds have absolutley nothing to see or do, and get painful sores on their backsides from being unable to walk, much as the chickens in battery cages get. The cruelty is incredible and the lives of the birds are constant misery, all for a fleeting taste of their livers by humans.

Who’s fighting it: Peta, HSUS, Farm Sanctuary, Global Action Network, nofoiegras.org, gourmetcruelty.com, goveg.com, The Humane League,


Two to three times a day, a worker grabs each bird, shoves a long, thick metal tube all the way down his throat, and an air pump shoots up to two pounds of corn mush into his esophagus. The industry always refers to the dry weight of the feed, which is about one pound per feeding. Adding oil and water doubles this weight, making it 20-30% of the bird’s healthy body weight. Picture 30 one pound boxes of dry pasta and then add water. This is proportionally how much a 150 pound human would be force fed using this formula.A duck’s liver naturally weighs around 50 grams. However, to qualify as foie gras, the industry’s own regulations require ducks’ livers to weigh an absolute minimum of 300 grams.

The vast amounts of feed pumped down the ducks’ throats causes enormous internal pressure, and the pipe sometimes punctures the esophagus, causing many to die from choking on the blood that fills their lungs. Some birds literally burst, choke to death on their own vomit, or become so weak that they are unable to fend off rats from eating them alive click to see footage from Sonoma Foie gras–requires Windows Media Player). Other ducks die a slow, painful, and premature death by suffocation from inhalation of regurgitated feed. In fact, because of the massive toll taken on the birds during the force-feeding process, the average pre-slaughter mortality rate is up to twenty times higher than on other duck factory farms, according to the European Union’s Scientific Report on the subject.According to the ASPCA, “The birds’ livers become so enlarged……that according to documentation by veterinarians, the animals must experience unspeakable pain and suffering. Birds have literally exploded from these forced feedings. The results of necropsies on dead birds that have been force-fed reveal ruptured livers, throat damage, esophageal trauma, and food spilling from the dead animals’ throats and out of their nostrils.” The ASPCA has police power to enforce the animal cruelty law in New York State and has filed charges against Commonwealth Enterprises, now Hudson Valley Foie Gras, in the past for force feeding ducks. Because it is a multi-million dollar enterprise with a lot of political clout in rural Sullivan County, the elected District Attorney dropped the charges. The ASPCA wrote a letter to New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer in late 2001 calling for him to take action, but thus far he has not.In addition to enduring force-feeding, the birds also suffer the same neglectful and abusive treatment of other factory-farmed animals: overcrowding, mutilations (their beaks are cut off), all their natural instincts and desires-such as interacting in social groups, mating freely, keeping themselves clean, nurturing their young, exploring their surroundings-thwarted, and eventually being sent to a violent death by slaughter. Throughout the weeks of force-feeding, the birds are kept in either a group pen or an individual cage with only wire or plastic-mesh floors to stand and sleep on. Unable to feel the sun on their backs or ground beneath their feet, the ducks are held in cages so small that they cannot fully stand or stretch their wings, and often get red, raw sores from having to sit in one place. To make matters worse, the ducks and geese are housed without access to swimming water even though ducks need to be able to immerse themselves in water to remain healthy. Access to water on these farms is so limited that the ducks cannot adequately clean their nostrils and eyes, which can lead to blindness. And finally, I challenge anyone to look at these photos–especially the last one of the duck who died choking on his own vomit– and then still say they can truly enjoy foie gras.

Recent progress: A California state-wide ban on the production and sale of foie gras went into effect in July 2012, and other state bills are pending. Unfortunately a similar ban in Illinois was overturned. Many European countries, and Israel, previously the fourth-larges producer of foie gras, have also banned the cruel practice.

What you can do to help: Never buy foie gras, and speak out at restuarants that sell it that you will not be a patron until they take it off the menu.  Support legislation banning such cruel practices.  Join a demonstration protesting foie gras at restaurants.

 FURTHER INFO: Book- “The Foie Gras Wars: How a 5,000 Year-Old Delicacy Inspited the World’s Fiercest Food Fightby Mark Caro
14. Fur farms: (global)- another great American shame. Even in the U.S. the wild animals are raised under appalling, unregulated, unhealthy conditions, only to be anally electrocuted or have their heads bashed in for skinning, some even skinned while still alive (esp. in Asia).

These beautiful wild animals are kept in tiny, cold cages with wire mesh bottoms for drainage. They are not allowed any of their natural behavior, which may include nesting, socializing, playing, etc. They often go psychotic and spin endlessly in circles. Many get their little paws caught in the wire mesh and may break a limb off. Many cages are outdoors, and the animals are kept winter and summer, left to survive in freezing cold weather with nowhere to nest. Veterinary care is nonexistant as it would cut into profits.

These fur farms are uninspected and operate entirely as the owners see fit. It’s an “anything goes” environment, rife with the most apalling abuses imaginable.  The fact that the U.S. government doesn’t even bother to inspect or regulate them in the slightest way is testament to the power of rich people and their companies who successfully lobby against such legislation, as it would “cut into the profits”.

Who’s fighting it: ALF (in the U.S.), Peta, HSUS, IDA, WSPA, the McCartneys, Born Free USA, Life Force Foundation, Animal Alliance, Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade (U.K.), ALV, Fur-Bearer Defenders (Canada), ADDA (Association for Defense of Rights for Animals – Spain),  GAIA (Global Action in the Interest of Animals – Belgium), animalconcerns.org, furfreenyc.org, wiserearth.org, antifurcoalition.org, all-creatures.org, ecodefense.com, antifursociety.org, furisdead.com


“Life on the “Ranch” To cut costs, fur farmers pack animals into small cages, preventing them from taking more than a few steps back and forth. This crowding and confinement is especially distressing to minks——solitary animals who may occupy up to 2,500 acres of wetland habitat in the wild. The anguish and frustration of life in a cage leads minks to self-mutilate——biting at their skin, tails, and feet——and frantically pace and circle endlessly. Zoologists at Oxford University who studied captive minks found that despite generations of being bred for fur, minks have not been domesticated and suffer greatly in captivity, especially if they are not given the opportunity to swim. Foxes, raccoons, and other animals suffer just as much and have been found to cannibalize their cagemates in response to their crowded confinement

Animals in fur factory farms are fed meat byproducts considered unfit for human consumption. Water is provided by a nipple system, which often freezes in the winter or might fail because of human error.

Poison and Pain No federal humane slaughter law protects animals in fur factory farms, and killing methods are gruesome. Because fur farmers care only about preserving the quality of the fur, they use slaughter methods that keep the pelts intact but that can result in extreme suffering for the animals. Animals may have clamps attached to or rods forced into their mouths and rods are forced into their anuses, and they are painfully electrocuted. Other are poisoned with strychnine, which suffocates them by paralyzing their muscles with painful, rigid cramps. Gassing and neck-breaking are other common slaughter methods in fur factory farms.

The fur industry refuses to condemn even blatantly cruel killing methods. Genital electrocution——deemed “unacceptable” by the American Veterinary Medical Association in its “2000 Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia”——causes animals to suffer from cardiac arrest while they are still conscious. In 1994, Indiana became the first state to file criminal charges against a fur factory farm after PETA investigators documented genital electrocution at V-R Chinchillas. The chinchilla fur industry considers electrocution and neck-breaking “acceptable.”

Dog and cat fur When PETA conducted an undercover investigation into the dog and cat fur trade in 2005, investigators went to an animal market in Southern China and found that dogs and cats were languishing in tiny cages, visibly exhausted. Some had been on the road for days, transported in flimsy wire-mesh cages with no food or water. Animals were packed so tightly into cages that they could not move. Because of the cross-country transport in such deplorable conditions, our investigators saw dead cats on top of the cages, dying cats and dogs inside the cages, and cats and dogs with open wounds. Some animals were lethargic, and others were fighting with each other, driven insane from confinement and exposure. All of them were terrified.

Investigators reported that up to 8,000 animals were loaded onto each truck, with cages stacked on top of each other. Cages containing live animals were tossed from the tops of the trucks onto the ground 10 feet below, shattering the legs of the animals inside them. Many of the animals still had collars on, a sign that they were once someone’’s beloved companions, stolen to be bludgeoned, hanged, bled to death, and strangled with wire nooses so that their fur can be turned into coats, trim, and trinkets.

Undercover investigators from Swiss Animal Protection/EAST International toured fur farms in China’s Hebei Province and found that foxes, minks, rabbits, and other animals were pacing and shivering in outdoor wire cages, exposed to everything from scorching sun to freezing temperatures to driving rain. Disease and injuries are widespread on these farms, and animals suffering from anxiety

-induced psychosis chew on their own limbs and repeatedly throw themselves against the cage bars.

*Note: The globalization of the fur trade has made it impossible to know where fur products come from. Skins move through international auction houses and are purchased and distributed to manufacturers around the world, and finished goods are often exported. Even if a fur garment’’s label says that it was made in a European country, the animals were likely raised and slaughtered elsewhere——possibly on an unregulated Chinese fur farm.

Recent progress: On December 18, 2010 President Obama signed the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, which The HSUS advocated for after a series of our investigations revealed that major retailers and manufacturers were selling fur-trimmed garments that were unlabeled, incorrectly described as faux fur, or labeled as the wrong animal.

What you can do to help: Don’t buy fur, or fur-trimmed products.  Support legislation banning it, and support the organizations who fight it.  And please spread the word: wearing FUR makes you look OLD, FAT and CLUELESS!

 FURTHER INFO: DVD documentary “Cruelty by Design, the Fur Trade” by the HSUS.
15. Fur trapping: (global)– a whole separate atrocity from fur farming and skinning– animals left in traps, sometimes for days. Often stomped on by trappers if found still alive. About two-thirds of the animals caught in the indiscriminate traps are “junk” catch– animals not used for fur, including domestic dogs and cats.

Who’s fighting it: HSUS, IDA, Mercy for Animals, Animal Alliance, Peta, ALF, DownBound.com, Born Free USA, Life Force Foundation, ALV, Fur-Bearer Defenders, GAIA, ADDA, animalconcerns.org, furfreenyc.org, wiserearth.org, antifurcoalition.org,all-creatures.org, ecodefense.com, antifursociety.org, bancrueltraps.com


Although the majority of animals slaughtered for their fur come from notoriously cruel fur factory farms, every year, trappers kill 10 million raccoons, coyotes, wolves, bobcats, opossums, nutria, beavers, otters, and other fur-bearing animals.

Varieties of Trapping

There are various types of traps, including snares, underwater traps, and Conibear traps, but the leghold trap is the most widely used. The American Veterinary Medical Association calls these traps “inhumane.” This simple but barbaric device has been banned in 88 countries and in a growing number of states across the U.S. since 1973, including California, Florida, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Washington state. In 1994, Arizona banned the use of leghold traps on public lands. California voters prohibited all commercial leghold traps in 1998, and Washington voters followed suit, adding a ban on body-gripping traps, in November 2000.

When an animal steps on the leghold trap spring, the trap’s jaws slam on the animal’s limb. The animal will frantically struggle in excruciating pain as the trap cuts into his or her flesh, often down to the bone, mutilating the foot or leg. Some animals, especially mothers desperate to get back to their young, fight so vigorously that they attempt to chew or twist off their trapped limb. This struggle may last hours. Eventually, the animal succumbs to exhaustion and often exposure, frostbite, shock, and death.

If trapped animals do not die from blood loss, infection, or gangrene, they will probably be killed by predators or hunters. Victims of water-set traps, including beavers and muskrats, can take up to 20 agonizing minutes to drown.

Because many trapped animals are mutilated by predators before trappers return, pole traps are often used. A pole trap is a form of leghold trap that is set in a tree or on a pole. Animals caught in these traps are hoisted into the air and left to hang by the caught appendage until they die or the trapper arrives to kill them. Conibear traps crush animals’ necks, applying 90 pounds of pressure per square inch. It takes animals three to eight minutes to suffocate in these traps.

Traps Do Not Always Kill

For animals who stay alive in the traps, further torture awaits them when the trappers return. State regulations on how often trappers must check their traps vary from 24 hours to one week. Some states have no regulations at all. To avoid damaging the pelt, trappers usually beat or stomp their victims to death. A common stomping method is to pin the head with one foot and stand on the chest area near the heart with the other foot for several minutes, which suffocates the animal.

“Accidental” Victims

Every year, dogs, cats, birds, and other animals, including endangered species, are crippled or killed by traps. Trappers call these animals “trash kills” because they have no economic value. In Middleboro, Mass., the body of a skinned dog was found with his front paw missing. Evidence led the investigating officer to believe a trapper caught the dog in a leghold trap, then shot and skinned him. In Oregon, a woman watched helplessly as her companion dog let out screams of pain after stepping into a steel-jaw leghold trap hidden in a meadow frequented by people and their companion dogs. It took three firefighters 24 grueling minutes to release the terrified dog from the trap. In Montana, a woman walking her dogs on public land struggled frantically as her canine companion screamed and writhed in agony when he suddenly became trapped by a baited Conibear trap. She unsuccessfully tried to release the clamp as her beloved companion slowly suffocated. “I’ve never seen anything as traumatic as this girl trying to raise the dog from the trap,” said a witness who heard the woman’s screams for help. Later, she discovered that another dog had been caught in a Conibear trap on the same trapline only six days earlier and that the trapper responsible for the traps had been informed at that time by a game warden.

Ecological Concerns

Contrary to fur-industry propaganda, there is no ecologically sound reason to trap animals for fur; In fact, trapping disrupts wildlife populations by killing healthy animals needed to keep their species strong, and populations are further damaged when the parents of young animals are killed. Left alone, animal populations can and do regulate their own numbers. Even if human intervention or an unusual natural occurrence caused an animal population to rise temporarily, the group would soon stabilize through natural processes no more cruel, even at their worst, than the pain and trauma of being trapped and slaughtered by humans. Killing animals because they might starve or might get sick is simply an excuse for slaughter motivated by greed and ignorance

Recent progress: Israel has introduced the world’s first nationwide bill to prohibit the fur industry in its entirety, including all importation, production and all sales in Israel. Also the 2009 EU ban on seal fur will make a huge difference on the annual Canadian seal slaughter.

What you can do to help: Don’t buy fur products, and support legislation banning it.  Support the Canidian sea food boycott, and write the Canadian government telling them why.


16. Horse racing: (global) – causes many joint & bone injuries, speed-enhancing drugs given, 1,000 horses die each year on American race tracks. Horses no longer able to race are sold for slaughter. A few may be kept for breeding, a dubious honor as they may be lame and kept indoors in barns until unable to breed; then they, too are slaughtered.

Who’s fighting it: IDA, AAPN (Asian Animal Protection Network), Fund4horses, CHAI (Concern for Helping Animals in Israel), PETA, LCA (Last Chance for Animals), Animal Aid (UK), Animals Australia, DawnWatch, DownBound, AnimalsAustralia, SHARK, All-Creatures.org, Live Export Shame, horseracingkills.com, WAF (World Animal Foundation), FAACE (Fight Against Animal Cruelty in Europe), Animals Australia, The New York Times, NY Daily News.

An Inappropriate “Sport”
Horses begin training or are already racing when their skeletal system is still growing and unprepared to handle the pressures of running on a hard track at high speeds. Improved medical treatment and technological advancements have done little to remedy the plight of the racehorse. One study on injuries at racetracks concluded that one horse in every 22 races suffered an injury that prevented him or her from finishing a race, while another estimates that 800 thoroughbreds die a year in North America because of injuries. Strained tendons or hairline fractures can be tough for veterinarians to diagnose and the damage may go from minor to irrevocable at the next race or workout. Horses do not handle surgery well, as they tend to be disoriented when coming out of anesthesia and may fight casts or slings, possibly causing further injury. Many are euthanized in order to save the owners further veterinary fees and other expenses on a horse who can’’t race again. Given the huge investment in a horse, reported one Kentucky paper, “simply sending one to pasture, injured or not, is not an option all owners are willing to consider.” Care for a single racehorse can cost as much as $50,000 per year. Magic Man stepped into an uneven section of a track and broke both front legs during a race at Saratoga Race Course; his owner had bought him for $900,000 dollars, yet the horse hadn’t earned any money yet and, unproven on the track, wasn’t worth much as a stud, so he was euthanized.
Trainers may take calculated risks by running a horse they know is injured. War Emblem, the racehorse who won the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 2001, suffered from bone chips in one ankle and both knees. In spite of veterinary recommendations for surgery, which would have taken away from training and racing time, trainer Bob Baffert said, “Let the chips fall where they may,” and continued to race the horse. War Emblem lost the Belmont Stakes, changed hands twice, and was sent to Japan for breeding. Alone, painful and halfway arount the world from everything he ever knew and loved, he was diagnosed with “unwillingness to cover mares” at a breeding barn. He was slaughtered there for food, unthanked and unmarked, by people who view animals only as meat.
Bone chips, which occur in up to 50 percent of racehorses by some veterinary estimates, are “like taking two pieces of rock, rubbing them together and seeing pieces of sand rubbing off,” explains one veterinary orthopedic surgeon. The same trainer continued to race a 3-year-old thoroughbred after knee surgery; the horse had to be euthanized after breaking his shoulder during a workout.

Drugs and Deception

“Finding an American racehorse trained on the traditional hay, oats, and water probably would be impossible,” commented one racing reporter. Many racehorses are turned into junkies by their trainers and sometimes by veterinarians, who provide drugs to keep horses on the track when they shouldn’t be racing.

Which drugs are legal and which are not varies from state to state, with Kentucky holding the reputation as most lenient. According to The Washington Post, every horse at the 2003 Kentucky Derby was given a shot of Lasix (which controls bleeding in the lungs), and most were probably given phenylbutazone (an anti-inflammatory). Those drugs, although legal, can also mask pain or make a horse run faster. Labs cannot detect all of the illegal drugs out there, of which there “could be thousands,” says the executive director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium. Morphine, which can keep a horse from feeling any pain from an injury, was suspected in the case of Be My Royal, who won a race limping. Baffert has also been suspended for using morphine on a horse. One trainer was suspended for using an Ecstasy-type drug on five horses, and another has been kicked off of racetracks for using clenbuterol and, in one case, for having the leg of a euthanized horse cut off “for research.”

Sally Jenkins wrote in the Washington Post: “There is no turning away from this fact: Eight Belles killed herself finishing second. She ran with the heart of a locomotive, on champagne-glass ankles for the pleasure of the crowd, the sheiks, oilmen, entrepreneurs, old money from the thousand-acre farms, the handicappers, men in bad sport coats with crumpled sheets full of betting hieroglyphics, the julep-swillers and the ladies in hats the size of boats, and the rest of the people who make up thoroughbred racing.
“But thoroughbred racing is in a moral crisis, and everyone now knows it. Twice since 2006, magnificent animals have suffered catastrophic injuries on live television in Triple Crown races, and there is no explaining that away. Horses are being over-bred and over-raced, until their bodies cannot support their own ambitions, or those of the humans who race them. Barbaro and Eight Belles merely are the most famous horses who have fatally injured themselves.

“According to several estimates, there are 1.5 career-ending breakdowns for every 1,000 racing starts in the United States. That’s an average of two per day.”   Animal Planet, a television station ostensibly promoting the welfare of nonhumans, has a show called “Jockeys”, glamorizing the horse-racing industry, which goes to show that they care more about viewer numbers and ratings than the animals they tell about.

Recent progress: the widespread use of steroids in race horses is finally becoming banned in some U.S. states, but this is just the tip of the iceberg, and doubtless steroid and other drug use will continue illegally behind the scenes. Also the Australian RSPCA is trying to ban the use of whips.
Breaking news: March 2013: in the past month horse flesh has shown up illegally in what was labeled as beef all across Europe.  Much of it originated from U.S. horses.  It has led to large-scale investigations and many Europeans reducing their meat consumption.  The HSI is very active on this issue, trying to convince European governments to establish stricter meat regulations, which should help reduce and regulate animal consumption in general.
What you can do to help: Never go to horse races, and tell everyone you know why they shouldn’t.  Suppport legislation banning racetracks, and support the organizations who fight this kind of cruelty.
17. Kangaroo slaughter: (Australia)– most westerners aren’t even aware of the government-sponsored mass slaughter of these peaceful marsupials, native wildlife and icons of Australia.

Who’s fighting it: Wildlife Protection Association of Australia, PETA International, AWPC (Australian Wildlife Protection Council), Animals Australia, Viva!


Many years ago, in New South Wales, wildlife carers were able to take their more placid wild animals to school to educate the children. They were able to show their joeys in public to rise awareness.But, a few years back the rules and regulations regarding wildlife caring changed dramatically for the worst.

The Australian TV Series Skippy was banned, so that the audience would not fall in love with their favorite innocent Icon Skippy and develop the so called “Skippy Syndrome”. Thanks to the Government and its anti kangaroo laws and regulations, our Icon Skippy turned overnight into a fugitive and became the most harassed, despised, hated and hunted animal in the history of mankind. The New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service changed their Wildlife laws and regulations and carers are no longer allowed to visit schools or show their joeys in public. Nor are we allowed to take them on long shopping trips. This is especially hard if we have to drive long distances to do our shopping and our joey needs 3 hourly feeding.

Australia has experienced the worst ever drought in human settlement and our remaining surviving kangaroos are still hunted down and mercilessly killed by kangaroo shooters, especially the big males and females because they bring the highest economic returns of profits to the industry for the leather sold to ADIDAS, the world largest predator of kangaroos; hence the Predator Football Boot worn by David Beckham. With help from the Multinational giant manufacturer Adidas, things have never been worse for the remaining healthy kangaroos, those animals that are vital for the survival of the future generation.

What you can do to help: Support Animals Australia and the other organizations fighting the slaughter.  Never buy products from kangaroos if you travel there.  When I went in 2008, every tourist shop I saw had kangaroo pelts for sale.  Refuse to buy anything from those shops and tell them why.

18. Laboratory vivisection/experimentation/ testing: (global)– conditions almost too nightmarish to list: abuse, neglect, under-confinement, painful, often pointless tests (such as nicotine studies, variations on existing drugs, pain tests, etc.), no socialization, no freedom, almost always killed when finished tests.

Who’s fighting it: HSUS, Project R&R, IDA, ALF, HSUS, Peta, the Great Ape Project, the Jane Goodall Institute, ALV, ADI (Animal Defenders International), AFMA (Americans For Medical Advancement), releasechimps.org, Defenders of Wildlife, PSYETA, AWI, Ape Alliance, ALDF, Animal Aid, Primarily Primates sanctuary, Friends of Animals, Born Free USA, American Anti-Vivisection Society, New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS), Anti-Vivisection Western Australia, Animal Alliance of Canada, Animal Rights Africa, British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, Compassion Over Killing, BUAV, European Coalition to End Animal Experiments, Uncaged (U.K.), ADDA (Spain,  http://www.compassionateconsumer.com/

MORE INFO: The two worst laboratories are probably Covance and Huntingdon. They are so bad there are websites dedicated solely to exposing the horrors of the two companies. Many of the household products you buy are tested in these labs, in ridiculous ways such as dripped on the eyes of rabbits (which have no tear ducts to flush away the chemicals) or injected directly into small mammals until 50% of them die horrible deaths. Here are some excerpts from these websites:

HUNTINGDON and COVANCE: The worst of the worst

In the past few years HLS have been infiltrated and exposed time and time again by journalists, animal rights campaigners and members of the public. Also a number of companies that breed lab animals for HLS have been exposed as well as their clients.Every single time vicious animal cruelty, fraud, incompetence and rule breaking has been exposed on a large scale. HLS workers have been caught on camera punching animals in the face and falsifying test data, they have been caught dealing illegal substances on company premises and workers have been drunk at work and killing animals due to neglect.

At Covance, animal technicians called the head veterinarian “Mr. Let’s Wait and See.” The primate staff——even those who were, themselves, often cruel to the monkeys——complained repeatedly about a young monkey with a broken arm being left untreated in his cage for four days. Apparently, “Mr. Let’s Wait and See,” the head vet at Covance, didn’t know what to do about the bone break, and so he waited for a junior veterinarian to return from her time off. The junior vet immediately ordered the animal euthanized as the break was too severe to repair. She discovered and disclosed that the head veterinarian had given the baby monkey a drug that had little more effect than that of an aspirin for his unimaginable pain.

Other Documented Horrors for Animals at Covance

· Striking and choking “uncooperative” monkeys

· Screaming curses at frightened, sick monkeys

· Slamming monkeys into their cages after they’ve had dosing tubes rammed down their throats

· Hosing down cages with monkeys still inside, soaking the animals

· A loose monkey terrorized by a technician who slams cages into walls to scare the animal out of hiding

· Monkeys with chronic rectal prolapses-painful protrusions of the intestines through the rectum-resulting from constant stress and diarrhea

· Monkeys who died horribly in tests for a drug company-the veterinarian was forbidden to examine them or provide any treatment, including euthanasia

· Small monkeys dosed with large tubes forced up their nostrils and down into their stomachs, causing choking, gagging, and daily bloody noses

· Monkey self-mutilation resulting from Covance’s failure to provide psychological enrichment and socialization

· Injuries left untreated until they became necrotic

Recent progress: Spain banned the use of great apes in experimentation 2008, and the rest of the European Union passed a ban on the same in 2010, which went into effect in 2012. Peta is continuously getting more and more companies to stop animals testing, especially cosmetics and household products, and the EU has current legislation to phase out all cosmetic testing on animals..

Also, on Dec. 8, 2010, PETA announced that following more than a year of vigorous campaigning, NASA has quietly shelved plans for cruel radiation experiments on dozens of squirrel monkeys.   The tests would have cost $1.75 million, and contributed almost no new knowledge to science.  The effects of radiation on animals has already been studied extensively, since the crude atomic tests following World War II, when the U.S. government cruelly left tethered animals near their bomb targets (such as old navy ships on on land). to study how the survivors of the blasts slowly died of radiation poisoning.  This is an important victory of reason over cruelty in the name of research.

Breaking news: As of March 2013, the European Union (EU) now bans the sale of cosmetics that were tested on animals, even if the testing happened outside the EU.  This should have a dramatic ripple effect all the way to “the American side of the pond,” as now U.S. companies will only be able to sell cosmetics in Europe if they were not tested on animals.

 What you can do to help:  You can make a big difference: please go online for lists of companies that DO and DON’T test on animals. There are a growing number of apps you can download onto your iPhone for easy reference, including Peta’s BNB (Be Nice to Bunnies) app and one called simply  “Cruelty Free”. Every purchase you make can help, or stop, animals from being tortured in labs.  And support Peta and the HSUS, the two primary organizations that fight this horriblebuav cruelty.

 FURTHER INFO: Books: “Sacred Cows and Golden Geese: The Human Cost of Experiments on Animals” by C. Ray Greek, MD and Jean Swingle Greek, DVM, “Animal Experimentation: A Harvest of Shame” by Moneim A. Fadali M.D., “Monkeycruelty free Business: The Disturbing Case That Launched the Animal Rights Movement” by Kathy Snow Guillermo, “Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human” by Elizabeth Hess, “The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A True Story of Resilience and Recovery” by Andrew Westoll.

DVD documentary “Save the Chimps: Speaking Out For Them: The Incredible Story of the World’s Largest Chimpanzee Sanctuary”.

Websites: www.savethechimps.org, www.curedisease.com, www.releasechimps.org,


19. Marine Mammal Parks: (global)–Like in rodeos, I used to think there wasn’t much harm done to these wild animals, and it was fun and interesting to visit them. But, just as in rodeos, circuses, or any other forum where animals are used for entertainment, there was a far uglier side to these chlorinated prisons for some of the world’s most intelligent mammals.

 Families torn apart:
Just like in elephant herds, capturing even one wild orca or dolphin disrupts the entire pod. To obtain a female dolphin of breeding age, for example, boats are used to chase the pod to shallow waters where the animals are surrounded with nets that are gradually closed and lifted onto the boats. Unwanted dolphins are thrown back. Some die from shock or stress, and others slowly succumb to pneumonia when water enters their lungs through their blowholes. Pregnant females may spontaneously abort babies. In one instance, more than 200 panicked dolphins who had been corralled into a Japanese fishing port crashed into boat hulls and each other, becoming hopelessly entangled in nets during their attempt to find an escape route; many became exhausted and drowned.

Orcas and dolphins who escape the ordeal of capture become frantic upon seeing their captured companions and may even try to save them. When Namu, a wild orca captured off the coast of Canada, was towed to the Seattle Public Aquarium, he was insured by Lloyd’s of London, according to the BBC, for “various contingencies including rescue attempts by other whales.”

Adapting to an Alien world In the wild, orcas and dolphins swim up to 100 miles a day. But captured dolphins are confined to tanks that may be only 24 feet long, 24 feet wide, and 6 feet deep. They navigate by echolocation—bouncing sonar waves off other objects to determine their shape, density, distance, and location—but in tanks, the reverberations from their own sonar bounce off the walls, driving some dolphins insane. Jacques Cousteau said that life for a captive dolphin “leads to a confusion of the entire sensory apparatus, which in turn causes in such a sensitive creature a derangement of mental balance and behaviour.”
Captivity’s Tragic ConsequencesIf life for captive orcas and dolphins is as tranquil as marine parks would have us believe, the animals should live longer than their wild counterparts. However, while captive marine mammals are not subject to predators or ocean pollution, their captivity is nevertheless a death sentence.
It has been documented that, in the wild, dolphins can live into their 40s and 50s. But more than 80 percent of captive dolphins whose ages could be determined died before the age of 20. Wild orcas can also live for decades—some have been documented to be more than 90 years old—but those at Sea World and other marine parks rarely survive for more than 10 years. Florida’s Sun-Sentinel examined 30 years of federal documents pertaining to marine animals and found that nearly 4,000 sea lions, seals, dolphins, and whales have died in captivity, and of the 2,400 cases in which a cause of death was listed, one in five animals died “of uniquely human hazards or seemingly avoidable causes.” Captive marine mammals have died from swallowing coins, succumbing to heatstroke, and swimming in contaminated water.

A former trainer at Hersheypark quit because she saw “a lot of frustrated animals that would die from ulcers.” A marine mammal behavioral biologist in Seattle says that “dolphins in captivity can exhibit self-inflicted trauma” and that some drift at the surface of the water and chew on concrete until they’ve destroyed their teeth. The stress is so great that some commit suicide. Jacques Cousteau and his son, Jean-Michel, vowed never to capture marine mammals again after witnessing one captured dolphin kill himself by deliberately crashing into the side of his tank again and again.

Who’s fighting it: IDA, LCA (Last Chance for Animals), Sea Watch Foundation, CETFREE (Cetacean Freedom Alliance), HSUS/Humane Society International, Cetacean Society International, International Dolphin Watch, ACRES, WSPA, PAWS, Earth Island Institute, EarthRace, The International Marine Animal Defenders Association, downbound.com, animalsvoice.com, savejapandolphins.org.
Recent Progress: Ric O’Barry and the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition’s landmark 2009 documentary film The Cove not only won an Academy Award, but is finally being screened all over Japan, after a lengthy fight by nationalists who claimed that the film was “anti-Japanese”.   The Taiji roundup and slaughter still continues, but in a diminished capacity.  And the New Zealand government is considering a complete ban on all trafficing and keeping in captivity all marine mammals.  This will be a big step forward in decreasing the number of dolphins captured, and will hopefully lead to other countries following suit.  In 2012 David Kirby published Death at SeaWorld,  a scathing look at the cruelty and greed behind the scenes at this infamous park.  And on October 7, 2012, hundreds of activists stormed Toronto’s MarineLand and forced it to close on the last day of the season.  This historical move may be a sign of things to come.
What you can do to help: Never go to marine parks, and tell everyone you know why.  Spread the word on Facebook and however else you can that these places are very bad for all marine animals.  Support Ric O’Barry’s Save Japan Dolphins Coalition and others like it.   Support and volunteer at sanctuaries that rescue marine mammals, like the Marine Mammal Center in Marin county, CA.
FURTHER INFO: Books: “Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity” by David Kirby; “Behind the Dolphin Smile” by Richard O’Barry.
DVD documentaries: “The Cove” with Ric O’Barry, “Keiko: the Untold Story“, and “A Fall From Freedom: The Untold Story Behind the Captive Whale and Dolphin Industry”.

20. Overfishing (especially trawling, longline and drift net fishing): (global)– Besides heedlessly stripping our oceans of marine life, modern commercial factory fishing slaughters huge numbers of marine mammals (dolphins, porpoises, seals, etc.), seabirds, turtles, sharks and other “bycatch”. They may die slowly from ingested hooks, or from getting entangled in nylon mesh nets. Whales also suffer and die from these practices. The fish themselves are being drastically overfished in unsustainable numbers, and experts fear that even if we stopped now, it will be decades, if ever, before their numbers would even begin to return to normal levels.

Who’s fighting it: HSUS, IDA, Sea Shepherd, all-creatures.org, AWI (Animal Welfare Institute), WWF, Animals Australia, ALV, Pristine Seas, Oceana, Pew Environement Group, National Geographic, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).


The ocean is dying ; of seventeen global fishing “hot spots” like the Grand Banks, sixteen have collapsed beyond repair. There are now only 10% of the fish stocks that there were in 1950.

In the last four decades, the capacity of the world’s fishing fleet has increased fivefold. Over half of it is considered superfluous–that is, threatening to environmental sustainability–according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. This assessment seems conservative, considering fishingthe fact that today’s fishermen have increased their fish-finding abilities greatly with the help of sweeping technological advances, such as radar, sonar, satellite positioning systems, longlines and 40-mile-long driftnets. Today, 335-foot freezer trawlers can catch 500,000 pounds of fish in one tow of the net and are able to stay out at sea for months at a time.
Trawling is when massive nets scrape the bottom of the ocean, sucking up everythin in their path and damaging fragile ecosystemes and coral reefs. It has been compared to “bulldozing a forest to catch tukeys”.  An area the size of the United States is scraped clean every year in ourseal oceans.
And aquaculture? Far from being an answer to wild fish stock depletion, this growing and subsidized industry uses two to four as many smaller fish to grow larger ones, wasting valuable fish protein that could be used to feed the world’s people.  They also pollute many of the world’s poorest countries, spread diseases that sicken and kill the fish populations in local rivers and lakes, and environmentally valuable mangrove forests  are destroyed to make room for them.
And while all of this rape of the world’s fish is taking place, prices stay reasonable at the local Red Lobster. U.S. restaurants rely more and more on imported fish because it remains cheap and abundant–for the moment, anyway. Fisheries in foreign countries, however, are less likely to be managed sustainably. The United States imports four times as much seafood as it exports.whale
Even such entities as Animal Planet and National Geographic channel, who should know better, broadcast shows about “sport” fishing, and say nothing about the drastic declines of fish populations overall.
Isn’t it time we re-thought our killing of the oceans?
Recent progress: The European Union is already pushing to put bluefin tuna on the CITES endangered list, a move being fiercly opposed by fishing industries. Eventually more and more fish species will have to be added to the list if the fishing continues unabated. What will we do then? Humans will finally have to stop eating fish because there simply won’t be any left to eat. I would like to think we are intelligent enough to stop before it’s too late for that… but somehow I doubt it. 
What you can do to help: The best thing would be to stop eating fish.  If that is impossible for you, at least educate yourself on which fish are endangered, and don’t buy them.  A very good book called  Bottomfeeder: How the Fish on our Plates is Killing our Planet by Taras Grescoe, and Eating Animals by Jonathan Foer are both very enlightening, and Bottomfeeder has the most amount of info on this subject.  Lots of sushi places and other restaurants heedlessly sell critically endangered fish like bluefin tuna and orange roughy.  Refuse them and notify the manager that you won’t return if they continue to sell such vulnerable species.  This will lett them know that you are an informed customer, and that the demand is not as mindless as they would like.
MORE INFO: Book: “Bottomfeeder: How the Fish on our Plates is Killing our Planet” by Taras Grescoe.
21. Polar and Grizzly bear (and other) trophy hunting: (America and Canada, brown bear hunting in Europe, trophy hunting global)– I was shocked to learn that killing polar bears for “fun” is legal even today. Wealthy Americans can (and do) blast away at Canada’s priceless great white and grizzly bears– not for food, just for trophies and skins, after chasing and tiring them down with dogs and/or helicoptors. There are even websites advertising it, as well as for hunting Romania’s few remaining bears.

Hunters will look for the largest, healthiest specimens to kill. This is the opposite of natural selection, where the oldest and weakest are culled by natural processes. This creates an imbalanced, unhealthy population which further endangers the species and harms the already strained fragile ecosytems.

Sarah Palin’s administration pushed to get polar bears off the endangered list here in the U.S., thus making it legal to hunt them in Alaska, and opening up their refuges to oil drilling. Please spread the word that Sarah Palin would NOT make a compassionate political candidate. She does not care about you, only about money and satisfying her own lust for power and blood. If she were in office all the nonhuman animals of the United States would all face setbacks in their protection. She would be worse than Cheney; she has shown a real love of killing, and I fear for what would become of our nation’s precious remaining wildlife with her in office.

Who’s fighting it: HSUS, Defenders of Wildlife, International Fund for Animal Welfare, all-creatures.org, Humane Society International Canada, Big Wildlife, ATAAC (Australian Teens Against Animal Cruelty), League Against Cruel Sports (UK). 

Recent progress: The U.S. has banned the import of polar bear parts being brought into the country by wealthy Americans who like killing for fun; however the Safari Club has sued the government for the right to do so. We shall see what happens on this front.

How you can help: a coalition of U.S. trophy hunters is trying to pass a law called the “Heritage Act” or some such nonsense.  This obscene piece of legislation would open up America’s parklands to hunting, allow polar bear trophies to be returned to the U.S., and other vile actions.  Also, at the CITES convention in March 2013, a joint US/Russian proposal to halt polar bear hunting failed.  Please let your congressman and senators know that you are  opposed to such backwards steps.
Breaking news: Costa Rica just announced that they will ban all hunting for sport in their country.  Their wildlife has been decimated by trophy hunters from all over the world seeking big cats and other animals.  This is the first South American country to enact this kind of ban; let’s hope many more will follow their forward-thinking decision for a more humane economy.   Wildlife observing
is not only more ethical but almost always more profitable than wildlife killing.
 FURTHER INFO: DVD documentary: “No Escape: Abusing Wildlife for Trophies and Pleasure”
22. Puppy mills: (global)– where puppies are raised, often by the hundreds, in appalling, cramped conditions (see photos), get no socialization and little medical care, then sold on the internet and shipped (often when underage) like merchandise to anywhere, often arrive sick from stress, etc.

Who’s fighting it: HSUS, Best Friends, Peta, IDA, ASPCA, Stoppuppymills.org, ALV, WSPA, Noah’s Ark

MORE INFO: A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Unlike responsible breeders, who place the utmost importance on producing the healthiest puppies possible, breeding at puppy mills is performed without consideration of genetic quality. This results in generations of dogs with unchecked hereditary defects.

Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization. Puppy mill dogs do not get to experience treats, toys, exercise or basic grooming. To minimize waste cleanup, dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs——and it is not unusual for cages to be stacked up in columns. Breeder dogs at mills might spend their entire lives outdoors, exposed to the elements——or crammed inside filthy structures where they never get the chance to feel the sun or a gust of fresh air on their faces.

In order to maximize profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters. When, after a few years, they are physically depleted to the point that they no longer can reproduce, breeding females are often killed. The mom and dad of the puppy in the pet store window are unlikely to make it out of the mill alive——and neither will the many puppies born with overt physical problems that make them unsalable to pet stores; while the ones that are sold are often sickly and soon may die in spite of costly medical treatments. Some pet stores, like the Petland chain, have a fixed policy of lying to customers about the origins of their puppies, and often refuse to take responsibility for ones that get sick, even immediately after being sold.

The solution is obvious: never buy a pet when you can adopt one from a shelter or rescue group; there are groups for every breed and many species of animals. And remember: every one you buy means another one that could have been adopted will die in a shelter.

 Recent Progress: An ever-growing number of cities are passing laws banning the sale of pets in pet shops, effectively reducing the demand for puppy mill dogs.   Bans have been passed in West Hollywood, Albuquerque and South Lake Tahoe, and more are following.   Also, in 2010 Missouri voters approved Prop B, cracking down on puppy mills. Given that Missouri is the number one puppy mill state in the nation—with perhaps 3,000 mills, and 30 percent of the entire industry—this was the most important puppy mill measure ever. Some lawmakers in Missouri want to repeal the measure, so we’ll need to be vigilant in protecting Prop B. The second and third biggest puppy mill states—Oklahoma and Iowa—also passed legislation to improve care of dogs.  Also, on Nov. 1, 2012, The Los Angeles City Council passed a ban on selling dogs, cats, and rabbits from breeders and puppy mills in pet stores. Those stores will now be required to adopt out homeless animals from shelters instead. This is a heaven-sent victory for homeless animals in the City of Angels—let’s hope it inspires more compassionate decisions across the country.

How you can help: never buy a pet from a pet store, breeder or online.  Adopt instead from a shelter or rescue organization.  Be part of the solution.  And purchase your pet’s products only from stores like Petfood Express that don’t sell live animals.  PetSmart and Petco don’t sell dogs or cats, but they continue to sell birds and many other species of mammals.  And support your local humane society and dog shelter.


23. Rodeos: (U.S., Australia, smaller ones elsewhere such as Mexico)– I always thought rodeos might be a bit rough on animals, but all in all it was mostly some “good ol’ boys” having fun. Was I wrong. Rife with abuse, broken legs, necks, high-voltage shocking and other forms of pain to make the animals buck.– rodeos are much more abusive to animals than they appear– or that organizers would want you to know. Just watch a video or two from SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness) will show you the dark, dirty underbelly of electric prods, painful buckstraps, beating and kicking of animals who refuse to “cooperate”, and other ugly facts about rodeos.

Calf-roping, or “busting” as was so aptly named until they tried to make it sound better, is particularly cruel (more below), and so violent that it is usually held in the early mornings when most of the crowds are not there yet. Even some rodeo people don’t like it. The rodeo is not a charming piece of Americana but a spectacle of terrible animal cruelty. Even former participants will attest to the truth of this statement. Veterinarian Peggy Larson was once a bronco rider who has said, “without torture, there can be no rodeo.”

Horses and bulls buck because of tight “bucking straps” that pinch into their genitals where caustic ointments have first been applied. By the time they are released into the arena they are frantic to rid themselves of the strap. In rodeos, animals are tormented with electric prods and tail-twisting. Those that are lassoed at full speed, wrestled to the ground and dragged with ropes, can be injured and even killed. When a calf runs at speeds of up to 27 miles and hour, a lasso that pulls him up short and jerks him off his feet can break bones, cause paralysis by injuring the spinal cord, sever the trachea and kill the animal. Calf-roping is outlawed in some jurisdictions because of its inherent cruelty.

Who’s fighting it: SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness). IDA (In Defense of Animals, RodeoAbuse.com, MFA (Mercy For Animals), Animal Law Coalition, Peta, Animals Australia, NoRodeo.org (Australia) ARAN (Animal Rights Action Network- Ireland), PETA, HSUS, ALV, European Anti-Rodeo Coalition.


Rodeo proponents claim this “sport” should be preserved as an American tradition that harkens back to the frontier days of the Old West, when cowboys tamed wild beasts with brute strength and cunning. What they fail to acknowledge is that rodeos harm animals who are forced to participate in a competition that is essentially a display of human domination over other species. The modern “sport” of rodeo has strayed far from its origins in another exploitive part of American heritage, the cattle drive, when cows were rounded up and led long distances as a herd to their eventual slaughter. At least cowboys living and working on the range developed practical skills like roping and wrestling cattle in order to manage the herd, which would provide food for settlers who, in those days, would not even know what a vegetarian was.

Today’s “cowboys” are far removed from any purpose but deliberately hurting animals for prize money and to prove that they are “tough” enough to “break” supposedly wild animals. However, the majority of the animals used in rodeos——broncos, bulls, steers and calves——are completely domesticated and not naturally aggressive. Their wild behavior in rodeo events is artificially induced by painful or irritating provocation like tail twisting or shocks from electric prods. For example, rodeo proponents claim that broncos naturally buck, but this is patently false. The reality is that horses won’t buck unless handlers tighten a leather “flank strap” just below the rib cage. If you’ve ever been pinched in the sensitive nerve area around your abdomen, you may understand why a horse would instinctively buck in a hopeless attempt to escape the pressure. The strap is pulled so tightly that horses used in rodeos frequently exhibit open sores on their flanks caused by agitation from the strap. While the flank strap itself causes pain, the wild bucking that it induces can cause severe injuries and even fatalities. Several American cities, including Pittsburgh, Pa., have in effect banned rodeos by outlawing the use of the flank strap because it is so cruel.
In the notorious calf-roping event, phony cowboys demonstrate their ability to rope and tie up four- to five-month-old baby calves in the shortest amount of time. The calves burst from the gate at speeds approaching thirty miles per hour to escape handlers who twist and yank their tails. Cowboys then lasso the calves around the neck, often snapping their heads back as they come to an abrupt halt. Sometimes they are jerked over backwards in what rodeo participants call a “jerkdown.” Competitors then slam the calves to the ground to stun them so they can tie their legs together. During these broadcasts on channels like ESPN, the camera always cuts away from the calf before he is thrown to the ground in order to spare the home audience the sight of such brutality. Even many cowboys agree that calf roping is inhumane. Keith Martin, the executive director of San Antonio Livestock Exposition, told the San Antonio Express-News, “Do I think it hurts the calf? Sure I do. I’m not stupid.”
Other rodeo events are just as cruel. In steer-wrestling, a “hazer” keeps the steer running in a straight line while a second mounted cowboy chases the steer, then grabs him by the horns and forcibly twists the steer’s neck and slams him to the ground.
In steer roping, the cowboy wannabe chases a speeding steer in horseback, then ropes him in such a way that the 500-600 pound animal flips over in the air and crashes to the ground on his back. Steer roping is so inherently cruel that it is usually held in only the most remote areas and at times of the day when the majority of rodeo attendees are unlikely to be present. Because of the aggressive nature of rodeo events, animals commonly suffer serious injuries, such as torn ligaments, broken bones, fractured horns, internal bleeding, and even severed spinal cords or tracheas. Veterinarian and USDA meat inspector C. G. Haber has witnessed the devastating impact of rodeos on animals. According to Dr. Haber, “The rodeo folks send their animals to the packing houses where……I have seen cattle so extensively bruised that the only areas in which skin was attached [to the body] was the head, neck, legs and belly. I have seen animals with six to eight ribs broken from the spine and at times puncturing the lungs.”
No medical attention All rodeos have ambulances and paramedics on-site to care for injured cowboys, yet despite the common injuries that befall animals in rodeos, Rhode Island is the only state in the country that mandates an on-site veterinarian at all rodeos. As a result, many animals suffering severe injuries die from lack of immediate medical attention. Because the vast majority of the animals in rodeos will eventually be slaughtered for human consumption, severely injured animals are typically not given pain-killing medication since their meat cannot be sold for human consumption if they’ve been given such drugs. This includes horses, whose flesh is exported to Europe and Japan for meat. Cows who have grown too large to be used for calf roping are sent to a feedlot to be fattened up for beef. Many animals who are severely injured during rodeo competitions are shipped directly to slaughterhouses.
Animals also suffer needlessly before and after rodeo events. They endure the stress of being forced to constantly travel in cramped trucks and trailers that are often improperly ventilated, and feeding and watering does not always occur regularly. According to PRCA rules, animals cannot “be confined or transported in vehicles for a period beyond 24 hours without being properly fed, watered and unloaded.” Even if this rule is strictly followed and enforced, animals can be kept wallowing in their own filth without food and water for as long as 24 hours and still be used in PCRA-endorsed rodeos.

*Final Note: See SHARK’s excellent collection of YouTube videos exposing the cruelties of rodeos at http://www.youtube.com/user/SHARKonlineorg.

How you can help: Of course, never go to rodeos, and support legislation banning them.  Keep informed by subscribing to SHARK at www.sharkonline.org.  See also Horsekillers.com, ShameOnCheyenne.com.
24. Seal clubbing: (Canada and for “sport” in Norway)– hundreds of thousands of them are inhumanely killed each year for their skins. They are shot from the ships and may disappear wounded under the ice to die a slow death. Seals are routinely clubbed or shot and left to suffer on the ice, before being clubbed again some time thereafter. Some seals are still skinned before being rendered fully unconscious and few sealers are observed checking for a blinking reflex to confirm brain death prior to skinning an animal. As one of the veterinary reports concluded: “Canada’s commercial seal hunt results in considerable and unacceptable suffering.”

Some seals are killed with a blow to the head using a wooden club or hakapik. The sealers stun as many baby seals as they can before going back to kill them. Some seals try to get away, but they are clumsy on the ice, heaving their fat little bodies with an uncoordinated flipper shuffle. Some injured seals do manage to slip back into the water, only to probably die a slow, agonizing death.  Other seals are shot from a distance and then dragged from the ice onto boats using steel hooks, often while still concious.  The hooks, I might add, pierce any handy orifice, inlcuding the mouth and eye sockets.  The hard-heartedness it must take to do this to baby mammals staggers the imagination.

And, astoundingly, Norway is now offering tourists a chance to shoot the baby seals as they lie on the ice. Those canned-hunt slobs should really love this one.

Who’s fighting it: Animal Alliance of Canada, HSUS/HSI (The Humane Society International), International Fund for Animal Welfare, Sea Shepherd Society, American SPCA, Peta, the Franz Weber Foundation, , Respect for Animals.

MORE INFO: Many people, even in the U.S., are still unaware that this continues today. There is little to no news coverage of the slaughter. The HSUS and other activist groups continue to monitor and document the slaughter every year, and every year are harassed and threatened by not only the seal-killers themselves, but even the Canadian government.  And what really makes the whole thing even more wasteful and stupid is that it is heavily subsidized by the Canadian government; the sale of seal skins brings in so little money that it would be unprofitable if the government didn’t help out these losers.  Isn’t it time they found something better to harvest?

Recent progress: In May 2009 the European Union voted to ban the import of all seal products into Europe, effectively reducing the seal market by almost 90%. Russia followed in 2010.   Unfortunately the Canadians are looking to increase their Asian markets, so the fight continues.  But a bit of (possible) good news, I just heard a rumor from a Canadian activist that the annual seal hunt may be finally ending soon; nothing official, but I have hopes nonetheless that the slaughter may soon be history.  It would be wonderful to remove this ugly chapter from my list.

How you can help: Support the boycott of Canadian seafood.  Ask your grocer if they buy fish from Canda, and tell them you don’t want any of it and why.  Grocers are very good listeners and try hard to give the customers what they want.  Let them know about the boycott and they might even decide, if they don’t already, to stop buying all their seafood from Canada!

25. Shark finning: (Mainly China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, with accomplices in other countries such as Costa Rica)– sharks are caught, fins cut off, and released alive to die an agonizing death, This is the equivalent of cutting the wings off of birds or the legs off of land animals to eat, and leaving them to die a slow, agonizing death.

Who’s fighting it: All-creatures.org, HSUS, WildAid, Sea Shepherd, Greenpeace, Sharkfriends.com, Oceana.org, Stopsharkfinning.net, Shark Savers, Sharkstewards.com, National Geographic, BlueVoice.org, IUCN Shark Specialist Group, The Ocean Conservancy.


Every year tens of millions of sharks die a slow death because of finning. Finning is the inhumane practice of hacking off sharks’ fins and throwing their still living bodies back into the sea. The sharks either starve to death, are eaten alive by other fish, or drown (if they are not in constant movement their gills cannot extract oxygen from the water). Shark fins are being “harvested” in ever greater numbers to feed the growing demand for shark fin soup, an Asian “delicacy”. Not only is the finning of sharks barbaric, but their indiscriminate slaughter at an unsustainable rate is pushing many species to the brink of extinction. Since the 1970s the populations of several species have been decimated by over 95%. Due to the clandestine nature of finning, records are rarely kept of the numbers of sharks and species caught. Estimates are based on declared imports to shark fin markets such as Hong Kong and China.

 Recent progress: In 2010, lawmakers in Hawaii banned the horribly cruel and wasteful practice of  shark finning, and the states of Washington, Oregon and California followed in 2011, denying shark finners the entire U.S. west coast for their grisly product. This was a widespread practice in Hawaiian waters, so it has special significance in the effort to ban the activity globally.  In 2012 they were joined by Illinois, a state where shark fins were also sold in great numbers.
Some recent good news: Nov. 22, 2012, the EU, which is the world’s largest exporter of shark fins to China, closed a loophole in its regulations to require that sharks be landed intact.  This loophole basically allowed rampant shark finning, but finally this has ended for all European countries.
 How you can help: Support the organizations like the HSUS, WildAid, Oceana and Sea Shepherd who fight this obscene slaughter.  Keep educated on the subject and join local activists if there is a demo outside a place that sells shark fins.
FURTHER INFO: See the excellent documentary: “Sharkwater” by Rob Stewart.
26. Whale and dolphin slaughter: (Japan, Norway, Iceland)– yes, this still goes on, against world protest; over a thousand whales killed in 2009 alone, in spite of the International Whaling Comission’s (IWC’s) banning it. The Japanese, who kill the most by far, exploit a loophole in the ban which was meant for a small number to be allowed killed for research, and they continue to increase their slaughter numbers each year. At the same time, they continue the Taiji annual dolphin slaugher of 23,000 (2nd photo), capturing some of the babies for export to marine parks and swim-with-dolphin parks. Everyone who pays to do that has swam with a dolphin whose parents were murdered in front of their babies.

Who’s fighting it: Sea Shepherd, Greenpeace, HSI, IDA, AWI, WSPA, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), Save the Japan Dolphins Coalition, Campaign Whale, Elsa Nature Conservancy, Ocean Care, Humane Society International, ALF, Sea Watch Foundation, Animals Australia, Earth Island Institute, Oceanic Preservation Society, Whaleman.org, Whalecall.org, All-Creatures.com, savejapandolphins.org.

MORE INFO: This year the Japanese fleet will try to kill another 1,000 whales off the coast of Antarctica, in what they are calling a “feasibility study” for expanded “research” whaling (no other scientists on the planet agree that killing so many whales is warranted for scientific or any other purpose). The IWC agreed to a moratorium on commercial whaling that came into effect in 1986. In 1987, Japan continued killing whales, calling it “research”, and continues to sell the mercury-laden result of this “research” in shops and restaurants, and even to schools for children’s lunches, in spite of evidence that the meat contains heavy metals and other toxins from human pollution.

Carl Sagan once said, “We are searching for extra-terrestrial intelligence to communicate with; wouldn’t it be a good idea to learn how to communicate with an intelligent terrestrial species– the whales?”  We humans have just barely begun to understand the rich and complex language of whalesong. Whales and dolphins are also sacred to many indigenous peoples like the “whaledreamer” Mirning aborigines of Australia, who have practiced whale-watching rituals for centuries. Every whale killed is one less that will visit their shores.
Captain Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherd Society volunteer crews have been making annual trips to Antarctica to stop them. The killing area lies almost entirely within Australia’s Antarctic Territory, yet they do nothing to stop the Japanese, a powerful trading partner. Their navy will eagerly pursue Patagonian toothfish poachers, but turn a blind eye to the Japanese whalers. In fact no government in the world has taken a stand against them. While Greenpeace harasses them, only Sea Shepherd and their ship, the Farley Mowat, actively tries to stop them.
It’s time to put an end to cetacean murder forever.
Recent progress: While governments are doing nothing to stop the killing, activists are taking matters into their own hands. The Cove documentary film by Rick O’Barry, of Japan’s annual slaugher of dolphins in Taiji cove, released in 2009 and won an Academy Award for Best Documentary.  It is raising awareness of not only the Taiji slaughter but the cozy bond between trafficking in live dolphins for aquariums and swim-with-the-dolphins programs and the that of the dolphin massacres. Also broadcasting is the ongoing “Whale Wars“, Animal Planet’s hugely popular serial documentary show of the Sea Shepherd’s fight against the Japanese whalers in the antarctic. Finally the word is getting out mainstream.  And Captain Paul Watson, to avoid the bogus extradition request by the scumbag Costa Rican government, skipped bail in Germany last summer and is safe to continue the fight.  And some recent good news, South Korea, which was considering whale hunting, decided to forego joining the whale slaughter.
How you can help: Support the many good organizations (listed above) who are trying to stop this madness.  Buy a copy of The Cove and share it with friends and family.  Tell them to watch Whale Wars on Animal Planet.  Spread the word on the internet about this huge shame upon Japan, Norway and Iceland.

FURTHER INFO: Book “The Whale Warriors” by Peter Heller; Documentary “The Cove” starring Ric O’Barry; and another one called Whale Like Me, filmed aboard an actual Japanese whaling vessel.  And of course Whale Wars, the AnimalPlanet series.


 27: Wild horse roundup/deportations (United States) – every year thousands of wild horses and burros, the last free ones in the western U.S.,  are herded by helicopters and trucks by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior) into huge pens and transported to captive ranches in the Midwest.  They are ostensibly first put up for “adoption”.  The federal government wastes millions of dollars doing this every year.

The BLM states that the lands are over-populated and the horses are starving due to lack of forage. Activists retort back that if the lands were not over run by beef cattle at a reported ratio of 200 to 1 then the horses wouldn’t be over-populated. Others claim that there is no over-population and that it is all a scheme to attain more land for the cattle ranchers.  “The BLM is systematically driving America’s wild horses to extinction,” said Matt Bershadker, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Anti-Cruelty. “They have continued to increase their efforts to remove these horses from public land legally designated for their use despite intense public outcry. The ASPCA decided to take legal action against the BLM’s inhumane and fiscally irresponsible policies before a national treasure is completely eradicated.”

The BLM continues to violate the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which was passed to protect wild horses and burros from capture and preserve the land used by them. More than 19 million acres originally designated for their use have slowly been whittled away for cattle grazing, making them both the victim and target for removal. The use of helicopters to run the terrified horses over miles of scorching desert has resulted in serious injuries and several horse deaths throughout the summer, as well as one-half or more of the wild horse population languishing in long-term holding pens

 Who’s fighing it: IDA, HSUS, ASPCA, American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, the Wild Horse Education Group (Laura Leigh), Respect 4 Horses, Animal Law Coalition, Animal Alliance of Canada, 4WildHorses.com, Protectmustangs.org.
What you can do to help: Let your representatives know that this is unacceptable to you.  Support the organizations who are trying to stop it.  Spread the word.
28. Wildlife Services “culling”/slaughter (U.S.) – Another boneheaded policy by the U.S. government.  This time it’s animals other than horses who are the victims.  They are hunted, trapped and poisoned by the countless thousands on public and private lands, often for free, often for rich ranchers and landowners who raise cattle, sheep or other herds, and claim that ‘predators’ such as coyotes kill their animals.
Here’s an excerpt from Wayne Pacelle’s blog:
“Not all forms of predator controlare equal, but there’s an underlying core belief for the  advocates of these killing programs that the predators are infringing upon our  human prerogatives and our ordering of the world. We’re the ones who want to  exploit prey populations, and predators be damned if they interrupt our  best-laid plans.Aerial gunning of wolves in Alaska—done to boost  populations of moose and caribou for hunters to shoot—is surely one of the  most indefensible. Mass killing of coyotes by the U.S. Department of  Agriculture Wildlife Services branch—about 90,000 coyotes a year—is done  in part as a psychological salve for ranchers with a paranoia and hatred of  these opportunistic and adaptable canids. The proposal to kill a limited number of sea lions in the Columbia River near Portland, as a means of saving threatened and endangered populations of salmon, has greater moral complexity than the above-mentioned examples, but is still a bad and unworthy idea.”
Who’s fighting it: HSUS, IDA, Peta, ASPCA, Planet Green, American Wild Horse Preservation, American Wild Horse Sanctuary, Animal Law Coalition, Protect Mustangs, Democracy In Action, Habitat For Horses, Wind Wild Horse Rescue, 4WildHorses.com, Tuesday’s Horse, All-Creatures.org.
What you can do to help: Let your congressmen know that this is unacceptable.  Support the organizations who are fighing it.
29. Wildlife trapping/poaching/smuggling trade (global): This industry, recently documented in National Geographic, CNN, Smithsonian and other leading sources, is finally getting some recognition.  Interpol estimates that wildlife smuggling transactions generate between 10–20 billion US dollars annually.

Wildlife trafficking is thought to be the third most valuable illicit commerce inthe world, after drugs and weapons, worth an estimated $10 billion a year, according to the U.S. State Department. Birds are the most common contraband; the State Department estimates that two million to five million wild birds, from hummingbirds to parrots to harpy eagles, are traded illegally worldwide every year. Millions of turtles, crocodiles, snakes and other reptiles are also trafficked, as well as mammals and insects.

Since 1973, the buying and selling of wildlife across borders has been regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), whose purpose is to prevent such trade from threatening the survival of 5,000 animal and 28,000 plant species. CITES enforcement falls largely to individual countries, many of which impose additional regulations on wildlife trade. In the United States, the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992 outlawed the importation of most wild-caught birds.
Latin America is vulnerable to wildlife trafficking because of its extraordinary biodiversity. Ecuador—about the size of Colorado—has about 1,600 species of birds; the entire continental United States has about 900.  In all of Ecuador, as few as nine police officers have been assigned to illegal trafficking.

Animals ripped from their habitat suffer, of course. They are smuggled in thermoses and nylon stockings, stuffed into toilet paper tubes, hair curlers and hubcaps. At one market in Ecuador, I was offered a parakeet. I asked the seller how I would get it on an airplane. “Give it vodka and put it in your pocket,” he said. “It will be quiet.” Conservationists say most captured wild animals die before reaching a buyer. In northwest Guyana, I saw 25 blue-and-yellow macaws—almost certainly smuggled from Venezuela—being carried from jungle to city in small, crowded cages. When I observed a police bust at a market in Belém, Brazil, one of the 38 birds confiscated was a barn owl crammed in a cardboard box hidden under furniture at the back of a market stall. At one rescue center outside Quito, I saw a turtle with two bullet holes in its carapace. Its owners had used it for target practice.

Animals stolen in Latin America often end up in the United States, Europe or Japan. But many never leave their native countries, being installed in hotels and restaurants or becoming household pets. In Latin America, keeping local animals—parrots, monkeys and turtles—is an old tradition. In parts of Brazil, tamed wild animals are called xerimbabos, which means “something beloved.” In recent surveys, 30 percent of Brazilians and 25 percent of Costa Ricans said they had kept wild animals as pets.

This from the USDA: “The United States bans imports of certain agricultural and wildlife goods that can carry pathogens or diseases or whose harvest can threaten wildlife stocks or endanger species. Despite these bans, contraband is regularly uncovered in inspections of cargo containers and in domestic markets. Fragmentary data show that approximately 1 percent of all commercial wildlife shipments to the United States and 0.40 percent of all U.S. wildlife imports by value are refused entry and suspected of being smuggled.”

There has been an alarming recent rise in rhino and elephant poaching to record levels in Africa, mainly to meet demand for horn and ivory in Asia.  The unprecedented surge in wildlife crime reflects a fundamental shift in the structure and operation of the illegal wildlife trade over the past decade.  Wildlife crime is seen as relatively ‘easy money’, providing high returns for relatively little risk, so it is little surprise organized criminal networks are becoming increasingly involved.  From the trafficking of puppies from Ireland to the UK, to the smuggling of  dogs from Thailand to be eaten in Viet Nam, the greed continues around the world.  Nobody really knows how many wild animals are taken from their nests and homes– smugglers don’t document their crimes– and a large portion of the animals are purchased by westerners, especially in Europe and the U.S.– people who should know better.  One thing everyone can agree on: all this unsustainable theft of wildlife is depleting the world of its species at an alarming rate.  Not nearly enough resources are being used to fight it, which is why the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced last week, “Wildlife trafficking has serious implications for the security and prosperity of people around the world. We need to address wildlife trafficking with partnerships as robust as the criminal networks we seek to dismantle. We need governments, civil society, businesses, scientists and activists to educate people about wildlife trafficking.”

 What we also need is Hillary to order U.S. military support for the rangers risking their lives to protect rhinos, elephants, and many other poached animals.  Now that poaching is ramping up to include even by some corrupt military units, rangers are being hopelessly outgunned, and need not only more firepower, but satellite intelligence, helicopters, night vision equipment, vehicles and better training.  They don’t even have flak jackets or pickup trucks with mounted machine guns.  The U.S. army could send in, say, the green berets to liason with them and begin training, and pave the way for beefing up their patrols.  This idea is enthusiastically supported by the  military people I’ve spoken to about it.  They pointed out that it would have even more advantages than I thought of.  Wrote one captain to me,  “I love the idea personally, I do not have the rank to be an advocate to anyone of importance but I have been advocating direct military involvement in Africa for years. I firmly believe that the role of the United States Military could be better used than it has been in the past few years, by , oh, say, protecting the many millions of people killed every few years in Africa in genocidal civil wars. I hadn’t even thought of assisting park rangers but just off the top of my head what a great idea! First of all, not terribly expensive, even to send a few hundred guys, second, building relationships, third, what a good public relations image for us to the whole world, fourth, it would improve tracking skills, something we’ve lost since Vietnam.”  I imagine even poachers armed with assault weapons would think twice if they knew American and other U.N. forces were guarding the animals.
Who’s fighting it: HSUS, HSI, Animals Asia, WSPA, World Wildlife Fund, WildAid, Defenders of Wildlife, National Geographic, Smithsonian, Common Dreams, Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficing (CAWT), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Save The Elephants, the Zoological Society of London, Africa Wildlife Foundation, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species(CITES) and many police forces including INTERPOL and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Recent progress: A record sentence handed down in November in the magistrate’s court in Johannesburg which saw rhino poaching kingpin, Chumlong Lemtongthai sentenced to 40 years in prison.  And on Thanksgiving Day 2012 I read that the Zoological Society of London has installed and camouflaged 30 camera traps called “Forest Eyes” in remote Russian forests to catch poachers.  This is a great idea and I hope it catches on in other  countries.  I also read recently that a country in Africa was going to use military forces to help protect the remaining wild rhinos.  We’ll have to wait and see if this works out.  Meanwhile the Humane Society International, an affiliate of the HSUS, is supporting a sanctuary in Nicaragua which rehabilitates and releases victims of the large, secretive  smuggling trade which is draining the forests of Nicaragua’s indigenous wildlife.  HSI also runs public education campaigns and trains customes officers, police and soldiers to enforce anti-poaching laws.
How you can help:  Never buy ANY wild animal or animal product from anyone, ever.  Tell everyone you know to not do it either.  Keep informed on wildlife issues and support laws and organizations like the  HSI that work to improve them.
FURTHER INFO: Book “Game Wars: The Undercover Pursuit of Wildlife Poachers” by Marc Reisner, various excellent articles in National Geographic and Smithsonian Magazine, such as: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Wildlife-Trafficking.html#ixzz2Cd0OEfc8.  Also an article in HSUS’s All Animals magazine’s November/December issue details the Nicaragua smuggling scene.
30. Zoos (global) – Elephants in zoos live anonymous lives. Day after day, the zoo-going public stopselephant for a brief look, unaware of the secret suffering elephants endure. They don’t know that what zoos refer to as ‘specimens’ in their ‘collections’ are actually intelligent, self-aware individuals who were once part of tight-knit families that would give their lives to protect one another (and some possibly did). They are equally unaware (and the zoos don’t want them to know) that the elephants may be physically suffering from the ravages of captivity, dosed with drugs to mask their pain, and sometimes forced to endure repeated artificial insemination, a painful procedure that often requires incisions to expand the vulva, making it susceptible to infection… just so zoos can get baby elephants, a big crowd-pleaser. Usually the attempts fail miserably, or the babies die prematurely of diseases they would never get in the wild.
Most zoos act as prisons to the animals housed there. According to studies by wildlife welfare experts, around 80% of the animals exhibit stereotypical behaviors, such as pacing, head-bobbing and other types of repetitive movements that show the animal is in distress as a result of confinement and being stared at day in, day out.

Zoos cannot adequately house and care for large mammals such as elephants, giraffes and rhinos– only preserves and sanctuaries have the room they require. Not to mention, animals that are captured abroad are torn from family members or herds.

Who’s fighting them: ATAAC, CAPS (Captive Animals Protective Society), the International Elephant Foundation, The Elephant Sanctuary, HSUS, Peta, IDA, Equanimal (Spain), ADDA (Spain), FAADA (Foundation for the Adoption and Defense of Animals), ALV (Animal Liberation Victoria, Australia), Animal Aid, In Defense of Elephants.

MORE INFO: Today zoos are a relic of a bygone age – a Victorian concept which, as our knowledge of the animal kingdom grows, becomes even less palatable.

To most people, it is self evident that keeping a rhinoceros in a small concrete enclosure in central London is hardly appropriate. So zoos claim they are on a greater mission: for conservation, education, research, and entertainment. Zoos now favor terms like wildlife park or even ‘sanctuary’.

It is a myth to think that all zoo animals have been captive bred. All of the African elephants in UK zoos and most of the Asian have been imported from their country of origin. Wild animals are still captured and supplied to animal collections. In 1998 some 30 infant wild elephants were taken from their mothers in Botswana to be sold to European zoos by an animal dealer. Animal protection groups stepped in to oppose the sale but were unable to prevent seven elephants going to zoos in Switzerland and Germany.

Although zoos may not take as many animals from the wild as they once did, once there, the animals are there for life. In 1996, of 138 Bornean orang-utans in 35 European collections, 38 were wild born, ranging from 7 to 41 years old.

And some species such as white tigers, which zoos covet because of their “Ooh and ahh” appeal, are so grossly inbred that 80% don’t even live, and most of the rest have painful genetic defects and are sold to whoever will buy them. The breeding of white tigers is unethical, but then so is keeping any animal behind bars for life, but many zoos do both. If you happen to see a white tiger in a zoo, ask the keepers uncomfortable questions like where did it come from, why are they still inbreeding them, and how many of his siblings had to die for him to be there. Let them know that you hold no value in inbred animals just becuase it makes them look “special”.

Recent progress: Public knowledge of proper animal care is improving faster than the zoo habitats themselves. Huge strides have been made recently in many western zoos. 18American zoos (including the San Francisco, Philadelphia and Bronx zoos) have opted to transfer their elephants to sanctuaries, admitting that they can not provide adequate habitats for the large creatures. Others, like the Dallas and L.A. zoos, are spending millions of dollars in improvements, but even with that many still cannot adequately provide for the needs of many of the larger animals.  On another note, a new scientific critique questions claims by zoos and aquariums to be educating the public, finding that a key study conducted by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is fatally flawed in its conclusions.  “There is no compelling evidence to date that zoos and aquariums promote attitude changes, education or interest in conservation in their visitors, despite claims to the contrary,” stated lead author Dr. Lori Marino, a neuroscientist at Emory University and expert in dolphin and whale intelligence.

How you can help: Again, be an ethical traveler.  Only visit true sanctuaries, preserves and parks, not zoos, especially low-class roadside zoos and run-down menageries.  Don’t help perpetuate this practice, and teach your children the same.

 FURTHER INFO: Book: “Thought to Exist in the Wild: Awakening from the Nightmare of Zoos” by Derrick Jensen and Karen Tweedy-Holmes.
31. And finally, the NUMBER ONE biggest crime of them all against Nature, the great MASS EXTINCTION currently taking place globally– caused by overfarming, overfishing, overpopulation, slash & burn agriculture, overhunting, habitat destruction, invasive species (brought by humans), greed, ignorance, war, disease, pollution and other human activity– and ONLY human activity. We are the sole species responsible for the of wiping out of many of our fellow beings on this planet at a rate possibly thousands of times higher than normal (although estimates vary). We have no idea of what we are doing to this planet, or its other inhabitants. The normal background rate of extinctions is about one species every 4 years. We are managing, by some estimates, about a thousand species –plants, animals, insects, etc.– a week.
And yet governments still continue to pay bounties for “pest” animals– usually anything other than farm animals. This is why the thylacine, pictured here, was wiped out; the only large carnivorous marsupial to live until modern times.
The Bush administration was a big player in promoting such extinction, by constantly pushing to weaken the Endangered Species Act during their entire tenure, especially in the last few months in office. The government responsible for protecting America’s resources failed miserably and deliberately, all for–what else?– money. Their helping of greedy, rich owners of corporations, factory farms and ranches to make even more money while raping the environment will damage the planet forever and be their shameful legacy.
The main cause, and one that nobody likes to talk about, is simply this: overpopulation. People thoughtlessly multiplying like rabbits with no concern for the consequences– and this is the entire human race, not just the ones in developing countries– is the main cause of mass extinction. Every new human requires more resources from an ever-diminishing ecosphere. Food shortages are already happening, water is growing scarce in many places, and the land, plants and animals are the ones that pay for our thoughtlessness.
Each species is a priceless, one-of-a-kind global treasure, each one having taken millions of years to evolve, and once gone will never come back. The number of species humans have made, and continue to make disappear is staggering. The only time mass extinctions have occurred in history is when immense natural destructive forces occured such as huge asteroids, supervolcanos, and global cooling. It’s sobering to think that we humans are causing the same amount of damage to life on this “island Earth”, if not more, than cataclysms ever did.
As Bill Bryson wrote, “We don’t know what we are doing right now [to the Earth] or how we will affect our future; what we do know is that there is only one planet to do it on, and only one species capable of making a difference.”
I find it recklessly foolish to experiment on our own biosphere with little regard to future consequences, and many nations eager to help indusries strip our planetary habitat of its rich diverstiy of life. It seems to me we would get a failing grade in any science class for such poor judgement.
Who’s fighting it: National Geographic, National Wildlife Federation, CNN (Planet in Peril series), HSUS, PETA, Africa Wildlife Foundation, and all the many other animal welfare organizations in the world that help to protect other species than ourselves. We are just one of millions of species, and the most destructive by far. There is nothing “special” about us.
How you can help: Leave a small footprint on this, your planet.  Make kind choices.  Don’t litter or pollute.  Don’t harm wild habitats, and support organizations that protect them.  Support legislation that does that, and keep educated on the subject.  Teach your children that they are going to be the stewards of Earth, and to cherish and protect it as best they can.
FURTHER INFO: Book: “A Gap in Nature: Discovering the World’s Extinct Animals” by Tim Flannery & Peter Schouten, and “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson, especially the final short chapter, entitled “Goodbye”.
Other forms of organized or industrial cruelty:
Omak Suicide Race: (Omak, Washington state)– The Omak Suicide Race is the most disgusting part of the Omak Stampede, a rodeo held in a small town in eastern Washington since 1935. The race regularly and routinely kills horses. Just since 1984, there have been at least 20 documented horse deaths. Next Scheduled Cruelty: August 6 – 9, 2009.

After a galloping start, horses plunge over an almost vertical drop of about 225 feet. The horses do not realize where the ground is until it is rushing beneath them. They cannot see horses ahead of them. This is documented cruelty.

Glue traps (global): A mouse caught in a glue trap may struggle for days, eventually dying from starvation, dehydration or loss of blood after it has chewed off one or more of its own limbs trying to escape. It can take anywhere from three to five days for the animal to finally die. The traps also kill birds, chipmunks and other native wildlife.
 Glue traps are often used to catch mice, rats, sparrows  and other small birds, and are thought by some to be a more humane method of catching small animals that are seen as pests.  Glue traps, however, are an extremely cruel method of catching animals.  If people understood the degree of cruelty associated with the use of glue traps, they would want no part of them.   
A 1983 test that evaluated the effectiveness of glue traps found that trapped mice struggling to free themselves would pull out their own hair, exposing bare, raw areas of skin. The mice broke or even bit off their own legs, and the glue caused their eyes to become badly irritated and scarred. After three to five hours in the glue traps, the mice defecated and urinated heavily because of their severe stress and fear, and quickly became covered with their own excrement. Animals whose faces become stuck in the glue slowly suffocate, and all trapped animals are subject to starvation and dehydration. It takes anywhere from three to five days for the mouse to finally die. This is nothing less than torture.
If you must get rid of  rodents or other small animals that you don’t want around, there are many other humane options.  The HSUS has a wonderful book called “Living With Wildlife” that describes many alternative methods of removing unwanted “guests”.
Caged birds (global): The age-old practice of keeping birds in cages simply for  amusement or decoration is outdated and wrong. Birds are intelligent, social creatures that deserve to do what they were born to: fly, not waste away their lives in a lonely cage as someone’s living room ornament. Some birds can live over 50 years, and may often outlive their owners, or at least live well past their novelty, and become discarded, dumped, or released into inappropriate habitats where they don’t know how to survive.
And bored birds often self-mutilate themselves, compulsively plucking feathers until they’re almost bare.  Also, the wild bird trade is rife with cruelty, death, suffering and wild habitat destruction. See wildlife smuggling for much more.
Horse-drawn carriages in cities (global): Horses are forced to toil in allhorse weather extremes, dodge traffic, and pound the pavement all day long. Once in Barcelona I saw a carriage going by hauling some tourists on a hot summer day; the riders were clueless that the horse, panting and looking exhausted, his tongue hanging out, looked desperately at me as he continued up the hill before I could think to protest. The driver, however, should have known better. But of course, to give the poor horse a rest might have meant less money for him. (That’s what animal cruelty almost always comes down to: them or money.)horse
These gentle animals suffer from respiratory ailments because they breathe in exhaust fumes, and they develop debilitating leg problems from walking on hard surfaces. In some cases, horses have even dropped dead from heatstroke after working in scorching summer heat and humidity.
Recent progress: CHAI (Concern for Helping Animals in Israel) has just made a big step forward to pursuading Israel’s government to pass a law forbidding horse-drawn vehicles on city streets.  This will be the first national law by any country banning this type of cruelty.  Israel is fast becoming a world leader in may areas of animal welfare.
 Wolf killing (Northern Rockies and Upper Great Lakes):  It was reported this week that hunters in Idaho and Montana have shot and killed at least seven radio-collared wolves from Yellowstone National Park (they were being monitored by wildlife scientists in a study of the predators). The wolves are among more than 500 shot and trapped this fall in the Northern Rockies and the Upper Great Lakes in the greatest assault on the species in the lower 48 states in more than 75 years.  Wisconsin and Minnesota rushed into the hunting and trapping seasons immediately after the federal government removed the gray wolf from the list of federally threatened and endangered species. It’s a prescription for blood-letting and carnage, with wolf families traumatized and packs torn apart. And all for a trophy or a wolf pelt, not for the elimination of individual wolves posing a threat.
The HSUS is battling to prevent a wolf hunting season in Michigan, while some lawmakers there strain to pass a bill in the final weeks of the year. “It has taken nearly 40 years to restore the state’s gray wolf population to an estimated 700 animals,” wrote the Lansing State Journal in an editorial this week opposing the season.  That sentiment is equally true for the hapless wolf victims in Minnesota and Wisconsin and in the Northern Rockies. But pandering politicians in the administration, Congress, and a handful of state legislatures don’t seem to care about wolves. They somehow think the American public sides with the hunting lobby on this issue.
Running of the bulls (Spain): All over Spain, confused, frightened bulls are poked and prodded with electric cattle prods into running on slick cobbled streets, where they will often fall, even breaking legs and horns. The race course literally dead ends into a bullfighting ring, where the animals will come face to face with their own death in a way that most of the human racers will never see. Death is not pretty inside the bullring. A man on horseback will jab the bull with lances and puncture him with barbed sticks called banderillas. The great beast, drained of blood and energy, will then face a matador who will ritualistically tease the bull before sticking one last blade into the animal’s heart.
“Shearing of the Beasts” (Spain): Wild horses are rounded up from theshearin surrounding hillside and guided into an enclosed arena, where men and women wrestle the horses trying to pin them down long enough to brand them and cut off their tails. The participants and local authorities say the horses aren’t mistreated or killed, but I would imagine being slammed to the floor and getting branded with a hot iron isn’t the most pleasant sensation in the world.
“Grindadrap” tradition (Faero Islands): A tradition of The Faeroe Islands, Grindadrap is agrindadrap tradition that goes back to the 10th century and it involves the killing of pilot whales that swim in the area. Modern technology has made this ancient hunt a lot easier, the first ship that spots a pack of pilot whales approaching the coast, radios the other ships and together they form a half-circle, driving the whales into “The Bay of Blood”. This is where the alerted islanders rush into the water armed with special 7-inches-long knives called “grindknivers”, which they use to cut the animals’ carotid artery and jugular. The carcasses are then dragged to shore and butchered.
Horse tripping and steer tailing (Mexico): During horse-tripping events, also known as piales en lienzo, contestants score points for literally tripping horses, bulls, or steers. With the use of electric prods, Mexican cowboys or “charros” force the animals into full gallop and then lasso their hind legs or forelegs, causing the animals to come crashing down to the ground. Witnesses have noted that charros continue to trip animals until they’re lame. Horses break legs, necks and teeth. They fracture their shoulders, and batter their knees and hocks. You can see deep gashes on their faces, shoulders, hips, legs and heels, and the ropes often burn their flesh down to the bone.
Horse soring (USA, other?) The aptly-named “soring” is the intentional infliction of pain through the use of chemicals, action devices and other pain-inducing applications to the foot of the horse, which artificially induce the animal to react with a high stepping gait and achieve a competitive advantage in the show ring. This desicable practice is still rampant today despite USDA’s diligent efforts to regulate it. “Pressure shoeing”– the most egregious form of illegal horse soring – is the cruel and abusive technique of trimming a horse’s hoof almost to the bloodline so the shoe puts painful pressure on the horse’s sole, forcing an exaggerated high gait. In some instances, foreign objects are placed between the sole and the shoe or pad which is nailed to the hoof, to create painful pressure on the sole.  Never pay to see a show with high-stepping horses; chances are you will be supporting this cruel pasttime.
Alligator Baiting (Warm coastal areas, including the U.S.): to catch alligators for their skin and/or meat, people set poles along the water’s edge dangling large baited hooks. Alligators swallow the hooks and are left often for days to hang in agony, awaiting death, if they don’t die first by organ rupture, dehydration or hemorrhage. There may also be other creatures that start eating them while they are still alive. Even fish rarely suffer this much in the fishing industry. It is completely legal in Louisiana and Florida. These ancient and very intelligent reptiles deserve better than this.
Who’s fighting it: unknown. It’s sad how little information is available on this type of cruelty. I only found out about it because of one article in the Washington Post which gleefully reported about a lady who “caught gators” by the dozen this way. If anyone knows more about it and would like to share, please email me at mailto:hodave40@hotmail.coml.com. Thanks.
Rabbit/Hare Coursing (U.K.): Hare coursing is the pursuit of hares with greyhounds and other sighthounds. Just recently banned in 2005 (along with foxhunting) in the U.K. where it began, it still continues illegally today. This use of rabbits as live bait is reviled by some, and stubbornly continued by others as a “tradition”.
In a typical coursing match, a rabbit is released into a large open field that is tightly fenced. When it was legal, at one end of the grounds was a grandstand, and many stories noted that the finely dressed female spectators, rather than being reserved and delicate, were more bloodthirsty than the men. Traditionally, a man called a “slipper” held two competinghare greyhounds — sometimes four — on a leash while the rabbit was given a head start. The dogs were released to chase the rabbit and were trailed by a man on horseback who judged the race by assigning points to the dogs’ agility catching its prey. If the rabbit wasn’t dead when the dogs were through, someone killed it by stepping on its skull.
This bloodsport was not just confined to the rich, as foxhunting was; anyone with a dog and somewhere to hunt rabbits could do it. Some hunted for food, but the wealthy considered it a “sport” and competed for wagers and prizes.
Badger Baiting and Badger Digging (U.K.): Every year, thousands of badgers meet a horrific death in the name of “sport” at the hands of British terriermen.  And the figure is still rising, in spite of  the practice being illegal since 1835.  Although it is believed that around 2,000 people catch, torture and kill badgers, only about three are caught and prosecuted each year, while the rest go on breaking the law.badger
Small terrier dogs are sent down into the badger setts and hold the badgers at bay.  The men then dig their way into the sett and drag the badgers out.  If they’re lucky the badgers will be shot, but usually the men will set their dogs on the badgers, watching them suffer a long and agonizing death as the dogs tear them apart.  The men  may also stab the badgers with shovels for good measure.
Alternately, badgers may even be transported to secret places where they are pitted against dogs until they are killed, either by the dogs or the so-called humans who gamble on the fights.
This is yet another example of cruelty I had no idea even existed until just a few days ago.  What is most suprising is that it takes place in Britain, where the RSPCA was founded almost 200 years ago, the first animal welfare society of its kind anywhere in the world.
It seems cruelty is slow, very slow, to be eradicated.
(This information was obtained with thanks from the Campaign for the Abolition of Terrier Work).
Bear-baiting: (Pakistan)– Arguably the most brutal of all bloodsports: declawing/detoothing of bears and allowing 2-6 dogs to attack them. This is doubly offensive because both creatures can sustain horrific wounds and even die. Almost unbelievably, this medieval pastime still continues TODAY– now in the 21st century.

Who’s fighting it: WSPA, World Wild Fund for Nature, Habitat Integrated Pakistan.  WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals) has several sanctuaries in the countries where bear-baiting takes place.  They offer to buy the bvears from the “owners” and help them with alternative employment.  Unfortunately, some would rather make money from this extreme cruelty.


Bear baiting occurs even today in Pakistan.  The latest fights occurred in Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan. These are rural towns in the North of Pakistan. When did it start? First the Gypsies danced their bears for money. When the British began their rule, they introduced animal baiting as a sport, using Bull Terriers. The sport has escalated since 1940. Bear hunting has also grown as a result of widespread ownership of firearms and was used to develop relationships with the British.

It was banned by the Pakistan Legislature under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1890). Islam forbids inciting animals to fight one another. Who is involved? Grazier -migrating, pastoral people who herd their own sheep, goats and cattle. They capture the bear cubs near NWFP, also from Nooristan in Afghanistan. Traders – purchase the bears, pierce their muzzles with rings, remove the incisors and canines. Beat the legs of the bears and manipulate the sensitive nose ring – to make the bears dance (some known to dance on hot coals). Landowners – powerful land-barons and landlords, prominent businessmen – however some do not get involved, and may be more interested in horse and greyhound racing. The less powerful landlord use their dogs as an affirmation of their status. Audiences – youth and older men. Local landlords and police.

What type of dogs are involved? Pit Bull Terriers, mixed with a local breed “Kohati” – males are used from the same litter for inbreeding.

At what age is a bear forced to fight? Any time from 3 years old upwards. Maybe younger. Most die by age 4 – 7 years. Life expectancy in the wild 20 – 30 years. One owner had 7 bears in 5 years.

What are the rules of the game?  The bear is tied to central pivot by a rope 2 – 5m long. 2 – 6 dogs target head area. If the dog can attack head area and pull bear down, forcing bear to roll then the dog wins.  Bears wins if it can remain on its feet (this is rare– the landlord usually wins).  Bear rises to its hind legs and tries to beat the dogs off. Smaller bears tuck their heads under their bodies. How long is a fight? Depends on how soon the bear surrenders or scores points. Intervals of 2 – 3 minutes between fights. Gypsies douse water onto the wounds but no medical treatment given. Bears usually do not get water during an event.

FACT: The bear is made to dance a little jig after it has been beaten by the dogs! FACT: One bear had his nose almost entirely ripped open. He had to endure another three further attacks after his first fight. One female bear had to endure three attacks until she was exhausted.

Habitat Integrated Pakistan plans to set up a sanctuary for the confiscated bears – Pakistan Government to oversee it. A registration system such as microchip tagging of all bears in captivity. No newborn bears to be captured and traded. Confiscation of any unregistered bears found. Update national laws in these regions. School children must be educated and public awareness campaign has begun, to teach morals and ethnic arguments against bear baiting. Public poster and school talks have been introduced.

Botox Testing: The testing of Botox is one of the most blatant cases of animal cruelty that I have found in a long time. Technically it falls under “Laboratory Testing” above, but it’s growing at such a fast pace and most people don’t know about the cruelty involved, so I had to include it here.  There are about one million Americans presently using Botox and they spent an estimated $360 million on Botox injections in 2005. But what exactly are all of these people injecting into their faces? It is one of the most toxic bacteria ever discovered. It’s botulinum toxin A, derived from bacterium lab rat2botulinum—the same bacteria that causes botulism, a poisonous illness that can lead to paralysis and even death.

When injected into the skin, Botox paralyzes the muscles, which evens out fine lines and wrinkles. It’s no wonder people who use Botox look expressionless. Their faces are literally paralyzed. The treatment is temporary, causing people to continually and addictively get Botox injections. There are no studies that demonstrate the long-term safety of such a vicious cycle. Even if you can overlook the unknown safety issues associated with long-term use, there are direct dangers linked to having even just one injection.

And because Botox is so dangerous, every batch has to be tested on animals to determine the proper dosage. Reports regarding animal testing of Botox are barbaric. Animals are injected with Botox at varying dosages.  The LD50 (Lethal Dose in 50% of subjects) standard is used,  (The designers of the test in 1927 acknowledged serious inadequacies, intending it only for certain narrow medical purposes.  But since it’s cheap and easy to inject animals, laboratories worldwide use it for testing everything from industrial cleaners to cosmetics.)  The animals that receive too much Botox die a horrible death; usually taking three or four days to die of agonizing  suffocation.   And that takes place every time a batch of Botox is made —$360 million dollars worth each year!

Recent progress: happily, the Botox corporation recently announced that they were developing new testing methods that did not involve killing animals.

  Gorilla/chimp/orangutan murder: (Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, etc.)– every day in equatorial Africa gorillas, chimps and other endangered, intelligent animals are slaughtered for the bushmeat trade,, for their parts, or even for no reason at all. Thousands each year. This is a small part of a billion dollar bushmeat business in the Congo Basin which grows with the spreading of roads, timber and mining towns, and militia and refugee camps into once pristine rain forests.Gorillas killed in the forests are skinned and butchered for the bushmeat trade. Gorilla hands are severed and served as a delicacy or set out as a trophy. A gorilla head is soup for some; souvenir for others.

In once instance a baby gorilla was found clinging to her murdered mother. A top park ranger charged with protecting the gorillas has been arrested for the crime.
Who’s fighting it: National Geographic Society, AWI, PlanetArk, Gorilladoctors, Saveagorilla.org, Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund, PETA, Brent Stirton and Karl Ammann (photojournalists), Conservation International, UNESCO, Bushmeat Project, Wildlife Protectors Fund, Great Ape Protection (N.Z.), WSPA.
MORE INFO (from National Geographic):
Who Murdered the Virunga Gorillas? On July 22 of last year unknown assailants crouched in the forest, preparing to execute a family of gorillas. Hidden on a side slope of the Mikeno volcano in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, armed with automatic weapons, the killers had hunted down the twelve-member Rugendo family, well-known among tourists and well loved by the rangers of Virunga National Park. The patriarch of the gorilla family, a 500-pound silverback named Senkwekwe, would have sensed that the assailants were near, perhaps wrinkling his wide, black nose at their unfortunate smell, but he would not have been alarmed. Senkwekwe had seen thousands of people and had come to accept their proximity as irritating but unavoidable. So habituated to humans was the Rugendo family that the gorillas would occasionally wander out of the forest into cornfields for an impromptu picnic, angering local farmers.

Park rangers at the nearby Bukima barracks said they heard shots at eight that night. On foot patrol the next morning they found three female gorillas—Mburanumwe, Neza, and Safari—shot to death, with Safari’s infant cowering nearby. The following day Senkwekwe was found dead: blasted through the chest that same night. Three weeks later the body of another Rugendo female, Macibiri, would be discovered, her infant presumed dead.

Just a month earlier, two females and an infant from another gorilla group had been attacked. The rangers had found one of the females, shot execution style in the back of the head; her infant, still alive, was clinging to her dead mother’s breast. The other female was never found.

All told, seven Virunga mountain gorillas had been killed in less than two months. Brent Stirton’s photographs of the dead creatures being carried like royalty by weeping villagers ran in newspapers and magazines around the world. The murders of these intelligent, unassuming animals the park rangers refer to as “our brothers” ignited international outrage.

{Note: National Geographic tellingly uses the word “murder” instead of “kill” in reference to the gorillas– probably the first time this revered scientific institution has done so, and hopefully is a trend that will continue.]
How you can help:  Check your food labels, and skip anything containing palm oil.  Orangutan, elephants and other animals are being murdered on palm oil plantations.  Educate yourself on the subject, and please spread the word.
Hog-Dog “Rodeos”: (south & midwest U.S.A.)–Just when I thought I had heard of all the ways animals are abused for “entertainment”, someone told me about this. It’s so bad I had to include it here.
So-called “hog-dog rodeos” are events at which frenzied dogs, usually pit bulls, are turned loose, one or two at a time, in pens to attack wild pigs as onlookers cheer and judges rate dogs by how quickly they take down their prey. To prevent injury to the dogs, the hogs’ tusks are often first snapped off with a steel pipe and hammer or with bolt-cutters, rendering these animals completely defenseless. So much for a proud southern tradition.
These events are so cruel they are illegal even in the states where they began, but still take place in the southern and midwest U.S., not exactly helping the cliche that the south is backwards and behind the times.

Hogs often sustain serious injuries during these events, including but not limited to ripped ears and haunches, mangled noses, ruptured scrotums, and other gaping wounds. Sometimes their ears are torn right off. Considered by some to be “good, wholesome fun,” children are also often allowed to gang up on the frightened pigs and chase them around the arena. This causes children to become calloused to violence, and more likely to engage in it as they grow up.

Another bad side effect from this (as well as dogfighting) is that when the pit bull dogs are later abandoned, lost or given up, they are unadoptable because of their fighting tendencies. This forces shelter personell to euthanize them, an unpopular but necessary job that the former owners never give a thought about and never have to see.
So how can hog-dog rodeos still take place? Despite their illegality, laws are too often loosely interpreted by local authorities and rarely enforced. In Clarke County, Alabama, for example, it was not until a local news team conducted an undercover investigation and obtained video documentation of a local hog-dog rodeo that authorities were finally compelled to arrest the organizer on cruelty-to-animals charges and shut down the event.
Who’s fighting it: PETA, HSUS, IDA, ASPCA, local humane societies.
 Chinese Bullfighting (China).  Here’s one I just heard about in 2012: in China they fight bulls against bulls, like dogfighting.  Only they sharpen the horns, and bulls can get unjured, gored, or even killed. Though hardly a well known pastime, Chinese bullfighting has grown in tandem with the country’s economy. Where farmers used to stage showdowns in fieldsfor beer money, matches these days can involve purses as high as 50,000 yuan (nearly $8,000), and one town in Yunnan province – where the tradition was born — even has a new bullfighting arena. The bull trainers say they take good care of the bulls, which sometimes get gored during the fights. The ground around the bull fights in Damogu was littered with empty boxes of lidocaine hydrochloride, a localanesthetic, used for wounds. The trainers say they don’t give the animals drugs to make them act more fiercely and they need to keep the bulls healthy to fight again and to work as farm animals between matches.In the past few years, promoters say they have tried to reduce violence. Trainers are forbidden from sharpening a bull’s horns – though the rule didn’t seem to stop some of them from doing just that at Damogu. A match is also called off after six minutes to stop the bulls from exhausting themselves. At that point, bull handlers tie a rope around a back leg of each bull. Then 10 men grab each rope and pull the bulls apart. Both bulls are declared winners and advance to the next round.I think that’s enough said on Chinese bullfights– just another way to make animals hurt each other for the “entertainment” of a bunch of morons.
Using dog and cats as shark bait on Reunion Island (and probably other island or coastal regions, including Hawaii):
I first thought this must be a hoax or a joke. I thought this dog just accidentally got a hook stuck in him. But it’s no joke and not a hoax. It is documented and even the National Geographic Society has investigated it.

On the French island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean, fishermen have been using live dogs and cats as bait for sharks.

This practice is specifically outlawed by French law but the law, as in many places throughout the world, is ignored by fishing communities who apparently believe they are above the law.

The dogs and cats, sometimes strays, sometimes stolen pets, have hooks passed through their snouts or through the tendons in their legs and the hooks are attached to lines and rods. The hapless animals are then tossed into the water where their struggles attract sharks.

Fortunately it is not largely practiced on the island, but it still happens and evidence of it is discovered continuously.
There is nothing I can say about this outrageous practice that would begin to condemn it. I leave that to my good readers.




1. Sensible, zero- or negative-growth human reproduction.
Sorry, folks, but human population growth is the number one cause of other species’s extinctions. A one- or two-child family ensures that you are not helping to increase the population. The instinctive urge to have children is strong; so strong most people have them for the wrong reasons. Nobody needs more than two children. If you need more, then please adopt.  There are already far too many people on the planet; astoundingly, some governments even subsidize women to encourage them to have more babies.   If we can reduce that number by 25%, it would virtually eliminate the growth pressures put on our ecosystems, and allow the remaining forests and wildlife to continue to exist without danger of disappearing. Even then we would have to treat them with care, but it would help reverse today’s trend towards annihilation.

2. Sound environmental policies by governments.

Nations need to stop worrying about killing off wildlife to help ranchers, and concentrate on saving what natural areas they have left. If they would stop subsidizing the raising of meat animals, they could use the money saved to protect natural resources.

Global warming is one of the prime dangers to wildlife everywhere.  It is disrupting to behaviors (such as hibernation, migration, mating seasons, etc) and causing countless deaths and lessened reproduction.  And it will only get worse.  (See more at www.globalanimal.org)

New regulations banning wasteful practices must be enacted. Some pastimes that are popular but are pure wastes of energy are: aerial shows like those featuring demonstrations by the Blue Angels, etc.; auto races (NASCAR, etc.), all waste massive amounts of fuel. Most county fairs in the U.S. have derbys… this means thousands of races going on for a week, every year, all over America, with Americans watching while a big share of the globe’s oil goes up in smoke.

Energy and raw material consumption, especially in the U.S., is incredibly wasteful and must be curtailed. Automobiles need to be more fuel efficient, a goal foolishly and thoughtlessly discouraged by the Bush administration.

And governments, usually as slow and ponderous as dinosaurs, must be more proactive. For instance, all those undercover videos you see of labs, factory farms and such that shock the world when broadcast never come from government investigations; they’re always taken by members of animal welfare groups. Then they usually have to file complaints to their governments to do their jobs and protect the animals according to their own laws! Governments worldwide need to stop dragging their feet and start taking the lead in environment and animal protection.
3. Adopt a cruelty-free lifestyle.
Most of the types of abuse listed above are easily avoided; others are more difficult. One can simply choose not to go to a circus or rodeo; foie gras can be skipped, and fur coats can be passed up for better materials. More tricky are the types of products whose background is not so clearly based on animal abuse. Many products are tested on animals; more contain animal products and derivatives I never knew existed until just recently– “rennet” in cheese comes to mind (google it; it’s pretty gross). Peta, no matter what else you may think of them, produces some very helpful lists on their websites and have entire books on the subject.

Many also cannot make the leap to vegetarian or vegan diets; they were raised eating meat, and for various reasons and rationalizations will not try doing without ingesting animal products. But by purchasing them, they are directly supporting the factory farm abuses listed above. By necessity, the only way to truly consider yourself kind to all animals is to not eat them. Perhaps the best way for those to whom the diet seems too restrictive is to gradually reduce meat consumption. Many choose not to eat red meat, for example. Or you could start with a meat-free dinner once a week– easy enough, considering a nice pasta with marinara sauce, a salad and garlic bread and some good wine is an excellent vegan meal. Some helpful websites include goveg.com and tryveg.com.

4. Teach your children well.

While dozing in my cabana by the beach in Jamaica, I was awoken by the voice of a boy saying, “Find something to throw at it”.  I looked out my window to see three little boys reaching for rocks, about 10 feet away from a large brown wading bird (possibly a crane or ibis) as tall as them, quietly standing and watching them.  It was a beautiful bird, one I had never seen in the wild before.  I asked them not to throw anything at it; they dropped their rocks and left.  I don’t really hold it against them; I bet just about every little boy has that impulse at some time in his childhood; I remember shooting my slingshot at a bird once (luckily I missed!).  If I may venture a guess, it’s probably a residual instinct from our early ancestors, who had reason to be afraid of wild animals.

It’s important that children are taught from an early age to show respect and compassion for animals.  If their parents never talk about animals, never give them books on the subject, or teach by example, how are children to know any better?  Those that are not given this valuable lesson may go on to join the millions of trophy hunters, people who, when they see beautiful wild animals, can think only to kill them.  They may even continue the cruelty, which has been well documented to be a prelude to domestic violence.  It’s very important to nip those impulses in the bud.  It’s pretty likely that rodeo “cowboys”, bullfighters, those that slaughter animals, and others who make a living doing terrible things to animals, were never taught this lesson.

Also, never force them to eat meat if they don’t want to.  They don’t need it, and if they are told they should love animals one minute, then made to eat their bodies the next, these conflicting messages could be very confusing and lead to possible psychological problems later on.  Millions of lifelong vegans do just fine without any animal products whatsoever, despite what the meat and dairy industries, which greatly influence government nutritional recommendations, would have you believe.

5. Respect and compassion for our fellow creatures on this planet is still greatly lacking today, and I have noticed a distressing number of people express attitudes of “They’re only animals”… which is the worst kind of speciesism and translates to “Humans are the only species that matter”.  However, I have also seen a great deal of positive views stated by more enlightened people. The internet is helping to spread the word.  A growing number of humans are acknowledging that their fellow animals are not theirs to eat, wear, experiment on or use for entertainment.  We must stop using nonhuman animals as test tubes to make sure our chemicals, drugs and cosmetics are safe; our vanity and laziness must not be the reason so many millions of other beings are tortured and die.  The greed for ever more consumer goods must be checked.  There are many better tests that can be done on chemicals and drugs that give more accurate results, but many laboratories and companies are still making money off animal testing, and are locked into the old mindset that it’s an acceptable solution.  Surely we are advanced enough now to not rely on crude, outdated tests like injecting chemicals into animlas and recording how long it takes them to die.

6. Protect what we have left.
 “Large areas of forest and grasslands are being destroyed frivolously and carelessly by humans who are heedless of the beauty of our cousins the trees and ignorant of the possible climatic catastrophes which large-scale burning of forests may bring. We ravage the earth at an accelerated pace, as if it belonged to just one generation, as if it were ours to do with as we please.” ~ Carl Sagan, “Cosmos”, 1980.

This indiscriminate destruction is also wiping out many animal species. Some of the Earth’s richest and most diverse remaining ecosystems–Indonesia, Brazil’s ancient rainforests, poor Madagascar– are being mindlessly and irrevocably remade into farmland and grazing pastures to feed our greed for meat. Driving through Malaysia I passed mile after endless mile of monoculture palm tree plantations (for palm oil) with their precise rows of trees lined up in grotesquely artificial formation, barren of all animal life. This is where diverse tropical forests recently stood, providing habitat for a boundless variety of  plants and animals– surely some not even discovered before being wiped out.  Riding a bus down across New Zealand, I also witnessed great barren, ugly plains where trees were being bulldozed at a massive rate to make room for dairy cows.

Our generation must choose: which do we value more, short-term profits and appetites for unsustainable animal and plant products, or the long-term habitability and preservation of our once-beautiful planetary home?


FURTHER READING: (These are some great books I highly recommend for anyone interested in learning more about animals and animal welfare.)

General animal interest (animal intelligence & emotions, etc.)

Altruistic Armadillos, Zenlike Zebras: A Menagerie of 100 Favorite Animals by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

Among Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears in Alaska by Timothy Treadwell

The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow and Empathy – and Why They Matter by Mark Bekoff Ph.D. and Jane Goodall

Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey

The Moral Lives of Animals by Dale Peterson

The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

My Life With the Chimpanzees: The Fascinating Story of One of the World’s Most Celebrated Naturalists by Jane Goodall

Ninety-Five: Meeting America’s Farmed Animals in Stories and Photographs edited by No Voice Unheard

Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good by Jonathan Balcombe

One at a Time: A Week in an American Animal Shelter by Diane Leigh and Marilee Geyerr

Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals by Jonathan Balcombe

When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

Wolves at Our Door: The Extraordinary Story of the Couple Who Lived With Wolves by Jim and Jamie Dutcher

Animal Welfare & Ethics

Animal Liberation by Peter Singer

The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them by Wayne Pacelle

Defending Animal Rights by Tom Regan

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Elephants and Ethics: Toward A Morality of Coexistance edited by Christen Wemmer & Catherine A. Christen

In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave  edited by Peter Singer

Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals by Steven M. Wise

Exposing Animal Cruelty, Misuse and Exploitation

Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment by David Kirby

Animal Underworld: Inside America’s Black Market for Rare and Exotic Species by Alan Green and the Center for Public Integrity

Behind the Dolphin Smile by Richard “Ric” O’Barry

Bottom Feeder: How the Fish on Our Plates is Killing Our Planet by Taras Grescoe

Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity by David Kirby

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser

The Foie Gras Wars: How a 5,000 Year-Old Delicacy Inspired the World’s Fiercest Food Fight by Mark Caro

Monkey Business: The Disturbing Case That Launched the Animal Rights Movement by Kathy Snow Guillermo

Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would be Human by Elizabeth Hess

Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals by Karen Dawn

Thought to Exist in the Wild: Awakening from the Nightmare of Zoos by Derrick Jensen and Karen Tweedy-Holmes

Fighting for Animal Rights and Better Welfare

Commited: A Rabble-Rouser’s Memoir by Dan Mathews (autobiography)

Free the Animals: The Amazing True Story of the Animal Liberation Front by Ingrid Newkirk

Game Wars: The Undercover Pursuit of Wildlife Poachers by Marc Reisner

Making Kind Choices: Everyday Ways to Enhance Your Life Through Earth- and Animal-Friendly Living by Ingrid Newkirk

The Peta Practical Guide to Animal Rights: Simple Acts of Kindness to Help Animals in Trouble by Ingrid Newkirk

Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism by Mark Hawthorne

Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals edited by Steven Best, PhD and Anthony J Nocella II

The Whale Warriors: The Battle at the Bottom of the World to Save the Planet’s Largest Mammals by Peter Heller

Sanctuaries & Saving Animals

Arapawa – Once Upon an Island by Betty Rowe  (The true story of an American housewife’s battle to save the wildlife of a New Zealand island.)

The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A True Story of Risilience and Recovery by Andrew Westoll

Elephant Fun: Living in Sanctuary by Sangduen “Lek” Chailert (A pictorial of the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand, with photographs taken by its founder Lek)

Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food by Gene Baur

The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight For Farm Animals by Jenny Brown (founder of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary)

Ranch of Dreams: A Lifelong Protector of Animals Shares the Story of His Extraordinary Sanctuary by Cleveland Amory

Nature and Protecting the Planet Earth

Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben

The End of Nature by Bill McKibben

The Future of Life by Edward O. Wilson

The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story by Richard Preston

Natural Acts: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature by David Quammen

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

* * *

Let the record show, this list was compiled by Dave Bernazani from 12/22/2007 – present

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“0 God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship, with all living things, our little brothers to whom thou hast given this earth as their home in common with us. May we realise that they live not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee, and that they love the sweetness of life even as we, and serve Thee better in their place than we in ours.” –First uttered by St. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea, 370 AD

¡parada! dejar este burro solo!

Stop! Leave this donkey alone!

“I am guilty of going to a circus as a child, and to other things later like elephant rides and zoos. But now that I know better I will never, ever again pay a penny for a camel ride, snake charmer, circus, dancing bear, elephant trek, rodeo, horse or dog race, roadside zoo, bullfight, barbecue, donkey basketball game, fur-trimmed anything, dolphin show, puppy-mill dog or any other scheme, spiel or strategy which greedily exploits our fellow animals for profit.

In fact I’ll fight them wherever I can.” (YouTube comment I left on a circus video)


The extinct animals pictured above in the final entry, from top: the thylacine, or “Tasmanian tiger” or “wolf”, a carnivourous marsupial of Australia that filled the ecological niche of a canine but was totally unrelated. It was hunted as a “pest”– encouraged by government bounties– until the last one died of neglect in a Hobart zoo in 1936… after both of my parents were born. There were even some in the National Zoo in Washington D.C. at the turn of the 20th century. This fascinating creature was wiped out because of humans’ ignorance, greed and thoughtlessness, and Australia is much poorer because of its absence. [The Tasmanian devil’s numbers are dwindling even now because of disease, automobiles and dogs. They are in danger of extinction as well, and their government is doing little to help them. If they disappear it will be another unforgivable shame on their nation.]
Next comes the quagga, a subspecies of the plains zebra that was once found in great numbers in South Africa.  They were hunted to extinction by white settlers for meat, hides and to preseve grasslands for cattle. The last wild quagga was probably shot in the late 1870s, and the last specimen in captivity died on August 12, 1883 at the Artis Magistra zoo in Amsterdam. Are we starting to see a pattern here?
Below the quagga is the Dodo (Raphus cucullatus), a flightless bird that lived on the island of Mauritius. Related to pigeons and doves, they stood about a meter tall (three feet), lived on fruit and nested on the ground. The mild-mannered dodo has been extinct since the mid-to-late 17th century. It is commonly used as the archetype of an extinct species because its extinction occurred during recorded human history, and was directly attributable to human activity. The adjective phrase “as dead as a dodo” means undoubtedly and unquestionably dead. In the words of Bill Bryson, “All they required to survive was our absence”.  Too bad we couldn’t even give them that.
Following the dodo is the magnificent Caspian or Persian tiger, once found all across the middle east, reaching as far west as Turkey and the Caucasus. In ancient times it may have even clashed with the European lion. Once a major subject of persian lore and stories, this subspecies lasted up until the 1970’s, but because of human indifference is now forever gone. It remains only in our memories and in stories such as those by Rudyard Kipling.
Below the Caspian tiger is the great Moa, the largest bird ever to walk the Earth. At 3.7 meters, or twelve feet tall, and weighing in at a quarter ton, they must have been an awesome sight to the Maori who first saw them when arriving in New Zealand. Alas, within less than a century all 10 species of moa were hunted to extinction. Imagine how wonderful it would be to see clans of moa today on preserves.
Then there was the pretty little passenger pigeon. Incredibly, this was once the most common bird of North America. They lived in enormous flocks beyond anything seen today. During migration, flocks could be 300 miles (500 km) long and a mile wide, taking several hours to pass and containing up to two billion birds. During the 19th century, the species went from being one of the most abundant birds in the world to extinction, due to massive, foolishly frivolous slaughter.  One of the last large nestings of passenger pigeons was at Petoskey, Michigan, in 1878. Here 50,000 birds were killed each day and the hunt continued for nearly five months. When the adult birds that survived the slaughter attempted second nestings at new sites, they were located by the professional hunters and killed before they had a chance to raise any young. In 1896, the final flock of 250,000 were killed by the hunters knowing that it was the last flock of that size.  In 1857, a bill was brought forth to the Ohio State Legislature seeking protection for the passenger pigeon. A Select Committee of the Senate filed a report stating “The passenger pigeon needs no protection. Wonderfully prolific, having the vast forests of the North as its breeding grounds, traveling hundreds of miles in search of food, it is here today and elsewhere tomorrow, and no ordinary destruction can lessen them, or be missed from the myriads that are yearly produced.”

Fifty-seven years later, on September 1, 1914, Martha, the last known passenger pigeon, died in the Cincinnati Zoo. I wonder if that Ohio senator was still around that day, and what he thought of his confident speech then?

Next is the mighty woolly or tundra mammoth, whose demise scientists think was probably brought about by a combination of hunting by early humans and climate change. The amazing thing about this creature is that while it disappeared from most of its range at the end of the Pleistocene, a dwarfed race still lived on Wrangel Island until roughly 1700 BC. So sometime around the Egyptian empire, there were still small mammoths living on a remote island off of what would someday be Russia. There are still frozen mammoths waiting to be discovered in the frozen Siberian tundra. It certainly would be an amazing sight to see a herd alive today.
The final image is also a thylacine, one of my favorite species, and one whose passing I particularly mourn. My sentiment is shared by others, and once in a while there are still reports of sightings (most likely just wishful thinking or fame-seeking), and even (usually blurry) photographs that could possibly be them, but never anything definite. While driving around back roads in Tasmania I fantasized about coming around a corner and seeing one cross the road. I even had my little video camera ready, just in case!
Needless to say, sadly, I never saw one.
The Hawai’I chaff flower, the golden coqui Puerto Rican tree frog, the Martinique Parrot, the Yuman box turtle, the Madagascan Pygmy hippo, and the Japanese sea lion are amongst the list that include the 784 species of plants and animals that have recently vanished from earth because of human activities. All continents are impacted by this ongoing biological catastrophe. The completion of species inventory on earth and saving them from becoming extinct must be a world priority.

Final note:

The world becomes a poorer place for each species it loses, and is growing poorer and more barren all the time. How long will we let it continue? And how will we explain our failures to our grandchildren? It is they who will be robbed of some of the rich diversity of life on Earth, and we have only ourselves to blame.
Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Society wrote, “The pyramids, the Old masters, the symphonies, sculpture, architecture, film, photography… All of these things are worthless to the Earth when compared with any one species of bird, or insect, or plant.”

It’s time to start caring.