World First – China’s Bird Airport

Birds. Airports. Those two words rarely if ever sit happily together. The Airbus forced in 2009 to make a dramatic emergency landing on the Hudson River after Canada geese were sucked into both engines, triggered an unstoppable wave of bird slaughter at airports round the world. The unfortunate animals just happening to be in the ‘wrong’ place were gassed, shot and poisoned in an attempt to prevent bird ‘strikes’ on aircraft. Still are. Airports in China included. At China’s east coast Lishe Airport, for instance, the grassland where migrating egrets stop to feed is being sprayed with rat poison.

“Where biodiversity is most in trouble, it’s in trouble because of direct conflict with human activity.” 

Gretchen Daily

So, the world’s first ever custom-built airport for birds? Mudflats, reed beds, lakes and shallow rapids – something for every feathered frequent flyer. Not a plane in sight – and in China?
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Lingang Bird Sanctuary is an ‘airport’ designed with the safety and well-being of migratory waterbirds in mind. (Rendering: McGregor Coxall)

China’s conservation record has not been so hot in the past, to put it politely, so it’s a big surprise, but an incredibly welcome one. In actual fact, the super-power is now ahead of the game in the management of flourishing ecosystems and has declared its vision of becoming the ecological civilization of the 21st century¹

“It’s just such a historic moment in China, with the highest level of government pushing for a level of investment in nature that’s completely unprecedented.” Yale University ecologist Gretchen Daily, 

The Chinese government partnered with Yale and with Gretchen, co-director of the Natural Capital Project, for research on the state of their network of national parks and nature reserves. And now the ecologist is helping the Chinese ‘reimagine’ these spaces to reverse the decline in biodiversity, and at the same time provide ecosystem services such as sandstorm protection and flood control.

“We’re recommending a great expansion of nature reserves to encompass all of the major groups of biodiversity that we studied, which includes plants and the four vertebra groups — mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles. That involves many new reserves being established”

And the Lingang Bird Sanctuary in Tianjin is such a one. It has been “specifically designed to accommodate thousands of daily takeoffs and landings by the 50 million birds traveling along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.” This flyway, one of 9 major bird migration flyways across the globe, stretches over 22 countries – the list includes China, Japan, New Zealand, Russia and the United States, taking in Indonesia and Thailand on the way.

The new ‘airport’ at Lingang is all good news:

  • It’s where it’s most needed, sitting in the most threatened of all 9 global flyways, and in a country where 70% of intertidal habitat has been lost in the last 10 years
  • It’s expected to provide the perfect refuelling stop for those millions of migrating waterbirds – more than 50 species
  • The design² includes an education and research centre – another plus for bird conservation
  • It will provide green lungs for the city of Tianjin, frequently blanketed with smog so thick it  shuts down its real airports
  • It will also act as a ‘sponge city’³ (more below)
  • It transforms a former ugly, dirty, smelly landfill site into a fabulous green eco park
  • It will provide a much-needed green space where humans too can enjoy the outdoors, breath fresh clean air, wander along miles of walking and cycling trails, watch the wonder of migrating birds and hopefully learn the value of making space in our overcrowded world for other living creatures
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A birder’s paradise, Tianjin’s new wetland sanctuary will also help to scrub the city’s notoriously polluted air and prevent major urban flooding events. (Rendering: McGregor Coxall)
Let’s hope Lingang, due to be completed in 2018 ready for its visitors, human, avian and hopefully a bounty of other wildlife, will provide a template for such projects in the future.

¹The [Chinese] Congress clearly stated that China must incorporate the idea of ecological civilization into all aspects of economic, political, cultural, and social progress. Actions and activities relating to China’s geographical space, industrial structures, modes of production and people’s living should all be conducive to conserving resources and protecting the environment so as to create a sound working and living environment for the Chinese people and make contributions to global ecological safety.” UN Environment Our Planet

Wow – way to go China! Other countries take note. Ms Daily though sounds a note of caution:

“Aligning the activities of over a billion people around conservation might prove to be a challenge, even with the best of leadership we can hope for.”


²Australian landscape architecture firm McGregor Coxall (“We Value Cities Ecologies & Communities”)  partnered with Avifauna Research in this ambitious project.


³Sponge Cities
Lingang bird airport is one of 16 pilot projects in the new Sponge City initiative. In the most populated country in the world, where half of its 527 rapidly-growing cities suffer water shortages classed by the UN as ‘severe’, and another half have woefully inadequate flood protection, there’s a pressing need for storm water to be ‘reimagined’. Last year for instance, the floods in north and central China killed at least 150 people with many more missing, destroyed 53,000 houses and saw hundreds of thousands forced from their homes.
But all that water can be turned from a disaster into an opportunity. ‘Reimagine’ the city as a giant, super-absorbant sponge. Catch the water with rooftop gardens, and at road-level plant-filled ditches (called bioswales) instead of concrete, and lo, you have water for gardens and urban farms, for flushing toilets, and even replenishing drinking water supplies. And zero flooding.

 

Sources

China to debut world’s first bird ‘airport‘ – MNN

Airports’ global bird slaughter – 100,000s gassed, shot and poisoned – The Ecologist

China Floods – BBC News

Helping China Rethink its Approach to Conservation – Yale Environment

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Passion, Knickers and a Pig Called Blue

Juliet Gellatley’s personal story of undercover animal- rights investigation, by Viva!’s Tony Wardle for Barefoot Vegan Magazine. Thank you Tony! Had to share this.

Tony says: I’ve known Juliet Gellatley a long time – a very long time – 26 years to be precise. When I first met her she was a young youth education officer at the Vegetarian Society but within three years was its director. She then left to found the vegan campaigning group, Viva!, which she still directs from its Bristol offices.

That’s a long time to be constantly fighting for animals but in truth, it started way before that, as a 15- year-old on the streets of Stockport, handing out leaflets against seal pup slaughter, snaring and other barbarities. It was also then that Juliet blagged her way into a ‘model’ pig farm and the suffering she witnessed – particularly a limping, lame old boar who implored her with his eyes – determined the rest of her life. She was compelled to try and turn Britain – the world – vegan.

There have been many farm visits since then but if you are so ripped apart by animals suffering, why oh why would you continue to expose yourself to it? There’s no equivocation in Juliet’s answer:

“I do it because I care about animals and someone has to tear away the veil that disguises their pain with constant hype that encourages people to believe that they have to eat animals. It is a massive deceit built on terrible cruelty and self-interest yet it is the source of so many human diseases and is destroying our world.

“Our children should know this – it should be on the school curriculum but the opposite is happening. Their environmental awareness consists of recycling and biking, which suits the establishment perfectly as no one talks about the huge damage done by livestock on so many fronts.

“We know that children hate cruelty to animals and their parents hide them from it, taking them to lovely, cuddly petting zoos. And so they are woven into the thread that runs through society – that animals are well- cared for. It is almost a conspiracy and we’re all part of it. The industry would fall apart if the truth was known and that’s why I do what I do.”

Juliet is mother of 14-year-old twin boys, Jazz and Finn, directs the Viva! team in Bristol and is responsible for an equally big team at Viva! Poland in Warsaw. And she’s still taking part in exposés, deciding how best to connect with you and me.

“I try to personalise it, which is why I talk to the animals and say things such as, ‘this little girl will never see a vet.’ I named one pig Blue because of her penetrating blue eyes, to remind people that pigs are every bit as complex as us and in the wild run free, often for miles, have a complex social structure and here she is, locked into a rape rack so small she can barely move, desperate to escape – transformed into a commodity, a tiny cog in a huge machine.

“We know from our Face Off street viewings that the cruelty affects people deeply and challenges their perceptions, which is why we have to keep doing it.”

“We have to stop seeing animals as things. They are not here for our use, for us to abuse, ours to kill. Someone has to show what happens or no one will believe it.”

Most people would not want to do what Juliet does and I asked if there was anything she found particularly difficult.

“Normally, I carry a camera but on the recent Face Off pig investigation I didn’t have that barrier between me and the animals, I was talking straight to camera about my emotions and had nowhere to hide. I found it very difficult.

“It was the same breeding sow, Blue, who ripped a hole in me. I bent down to her level, talked to her and made a connection with her. She had probably never before heard a kind word from any human in her life and I could see her trying to work it out. I so wanted to take her out of that dreadful place but couldn’t. I left feeling absolutely dreadful and on the train back I started crying for Blue and the millions of others who are subjected to relentless suffering.”

If you look at Juliet on camera at www.viva.org.uk/faceoff you will be in no doubt about how deeply affected she was. But there is also a powerful positivity about this seasoned campaigner for the animals.

“What helps me is being surrounded by people who feel the same as I do. I let my feelings pour out on social media and the messages come rushing back so I know we’re not alone. Society is changing and we are part of that change. Blue now has a place in my heart and the pain of her comes back to me at the most unexpected times – and so it does with the hens I recently filmed. I want to rescue them all but it isn’t an answer as they will simply be replaced with others.”

I guessed there must have been some hair-raising moments over the years and I was right.

“One of the first undercover exposés I did was into duck farming. My colleague and I were so naive – two women chatting up a worker so we could see inside a duck shed. The noise and stench and overcrowding were overwhelming but I dropped to my knees in the crap and filmed.

“The managers weren’t as gullible and I was suddenly surrounded by angry men so I surreptitiously ejected the tape and hid it in my knickers. They wouldn’t dare search there! It was all worth it as it got enormous media coverage – the first-ever view inside an intensive duck farm.

“You have to be robust to do this work and know your limits. I filmed in one slaughter house and struggled to suppress the urge to shout out, ‘stop it, stop it you bastards, you can’t do this!’ I won’t film slaughter again – others do that.

“We know from our Face Off street viewings that the cruelty affects people deeply and challenges their perceptions, which is why we have to keep doing it. Our Face Off chicken film has also been viewed by 260,000 people on one Facebook page alone. I feel no sense of elation as I know the scale of what’s happening. But we have to change people – we are changing people and the pace of that change is now quite extraordinary!”

10 million pigs killed in the UK each year equates to:

833,333 per month

192,308 per week

27,397 per day

1,142 per hour

19 per minute

1 PIG KILLED EVERY 3 SECONDS



A Happy Pigs’ Tale

Mother & babies find a forever home thanks to Viva! and Dean Farm Animal Sanctuary

Viva! and Dean Farm Animal Sanctuary have rescued a sow and her six piglets from a pig farm going out of business. The mother and her babies will now enjoy a life together in the beautiful Welsh countryside! Not only that, it’s their hope that these pig ambassadors will help to educate people about the horrors of factory farming by juxtaposing their new lives with Viva!’s shocking footage from Britain’s factory farms.

On helping to secure sanctuary for these lucky pigs, founder and director of Viva!, Juliet Gellatley said:

“When I was doing the filming for the Face Off campaign, I saw so much cruelty and neglect. One of the overriding feelings I came away with was that I felt terrible that I couldn’t rescue them all. But I was determined to find a way of rescuing at least some pigs.

I hope this mother and her babies can represent the millions of their brothers and sisters that are still on factory farms. Hopefully through seeing them, and how wonderful they are, people will give up meat. Because, of course, the only way to truly rescue animals is to stop eating them.”


Whilst this Mum and her piglets are safe, most pigs in Britain are still factory farmed and sent to slaughter. Will you Face Off the British pig industry with Viva!?

The best thing you can do to end the suffering of animals is to simply stop eating them. Has this story touched you? If you’re not already vegan, make the change and try vegan with Viva!’s FREE 30 Day Vegan!

Please help Viva! save more animals and end factory farming. They can’t do more without your support! Click here to donate today.

Click here to find out more about Dean Farm Animal Sanctuary


 

picture-16-1462268306Tony Wardle is a journalist, author, associate director of Viva! & editor of Viva! life magazine. He has been with Viva! since its launch, and his time is consumed mostly with words, writing for and editing the supporters’ magazine, in addition to editing a large output of written material as well as conceiving and writing much of it. You can read Tony’s blog by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

 

Plant-Powered Woman to Race Vegan-Themed Car at Daytona

Vegan outreach with a vengeance. Way to go Leilani!

Feature by Kat Smith for One Green Planet

If you were to imagine a race car driver on the spot, then Leilani Münter probably isn’t the first person you would picture. First of all, she’s a woman who competes alongside men in a male-dominated sport. That’s never stopped her from being successful — Sports Illustrated actually named her as one of the top 10 female race car drivers in the world. What else is surprising? She’s a biology graduate, a vegan, and an environmental activist.

In a sport where cars are decked out with advertisements from fast food, gas companies, and more, Münter “does not work with companies that produce fossil fuels, meat or dairy products, fur or leather, or any companies that test on animals.” Back in 2014, she teamed up with the Oceanic Preservation Society to deliver a message of conservation to millions of viewers by driving a Blackfish-themed car. Münter also adopts one acre of rainforest for every race she completes, a tradition she started back in 2007 – and she has shared the story of how she got into racing and why she fights for the planet with audiences across the United States. But this is hardly where the extent of her dedication to raising awareness for animals and the planet ends!

Next month, Münter will be debuting a new car at Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway – one that will deliver a vegan message while also providing hunger relief to families and provide care to rescued farm animals, thanks to A Well-Fed World

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How will she do it? By driving this snazzy-looking, leather-free car, which is decked out with the words “VEGAN POWERED.” You can’t miss it and millions of viewers certainly won’t, either.

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A car with a cause — according to the Vegan Powered website, they intend to debut the car with “a large display tent with free food, vegan starter guides with recipes, coupons, and more.” 

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Check out the video below to see the car being assembled:

When asked what inspired her to sport a vegan-themed car at the upcoming Daytona races, Münter told One Green Planet, “I have been dreaming of driving a vegan-themed race car and giving away vegan food at the racetrack since I went from vegetarian to vegan 5 1/2 years ago.”

She also revealed where she got the idea to set up a tent that will distribute vegan food to attendees at Daytona next month. “I brought vegan chicken wings for my race team to the track and they were really shocked to find that they loved it!” said Münter, “… about two weeks later I got a text from my tire carrier asking me what company made the vegan chicken wings because he was going camping with his friends and wanted to bring vegan wings instead of chicken wings and that was when I knew getting people to taste the food was key to growing this movement. I want to do that same experiment but on the scale of 100,000 race fans at Daytona Speedweeks.”

In addition to sharing awesome vegan food for all the racing fans, Münter is also looking for sponsorships from vegan meat, cheese, milk, and ice cream brands in an effort to “feed the race fans all the standard types of foods they would normally find at the racetrack — just vegan versions of it.” She continues, “We want them to understand that going vegan doesn’t mean you are eating salad (although I love salads) for the rest of your life.”

The car will be debuting during the ARCA Racing Series season opener for Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway on February 18th (live broadcast on Fox Sports 1), but A Well-Fed World, the charity that has sponsored Münter’s car, is still accepting donations in order to make the vegan food tent possible– and continue Vegan Powered as an ongoing initiative.

To learn more about the car, visit Vegan Powered, here.

Follow the racing here

Source

Leilani Münter to Race First-Ever Vegan-Themed Car at Daytona – One Green Planet

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Eight Women Changing the World for Animals 3

3rd in series about eight remarkable women spearheading the battle for Animal Rights in their varied fields of science, art, law and politics, to celebrate the forthcoming International Animal Rights Day on Dec 10th

Today The Artist
“The profound disconnect between our dominant urban world and the natural world, including nonhuman animals, is a chasm that must be rectified…”
Elizabeth Marshall, Canadian social justice, environment and animal activist – filmmaker.

For Liz Marshall it was clear from the word go how driven her life would be. She always wanted to change the world. A letter she wrote age 8:

Dear Prime Minister,

I am 8 years old and in Grade A. My name is Elizabeth Marshall, and I am writing to tell you that I think that are government should get more for the poor pople. Than buying guns and starting wars. because guns kill people. and you should help poor people because I think it is not right because look at all these nice people and we don’t want to kill them. and Please tell the other governments to stop the wars so it can be Peace in the world. Please do it. From Elizabeth.

Spellings and punctuation all her own -not bad for an 8 year old – and all finished off with a cute smiley face drawing and a speech bubble saying “hi there”.

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau replied: Dear Elizabeth, It’s nice to hear from you again [bold mine]. There was clearly no stopping this young lady.

Liz on life during and after film school:

“I began my career in the 1990s, focusing my lens and my passion on human stories which led to an array of life changing projects shot around the globe in war torn, developing and developed countries. In the mid 2000s, I became very interested in environmental issues, but also in long form storytelling, which led me to make my two feature length documentaries: ‘Water On The Table’

and ‘The Ghosts in Our Machine’

“My partner in life is a long time animal rights activist, and she inspired me to pay closer attention to animal issues. I have been an animal advocate for as long as I can remember, but I really credit Lorena as one who tapped me on the shoulder, and urged me to look closely, as a filmmaker, at the animal question.”

Ghosts in Our Machine follows activist and photojournalist JoAnne McArthur as she goes behind the scenes to document what is hidden from public view, the enslavement of “animals en mass for food, fashion, research, and entertainment,” and the reality of their suffering. They are the invisible ghosts in the machine of human society.

But telling the story is only half the battle. A film can only change the world for animals if it gets massive exposure.

And massive exposure “Ghosts” has had. Even by the start of 2015, as well as being aired on Canadian television, the film had been screened in 1,816 cities, 92 countries, and 6 continents. It’s won 14 international awards and nominations, and notched up 140 reviews and interviews in countries around the world.

A key ingredient of its success is Liz’s gentle approach. Yes, it does include scenes that are hard to watch, but they are balanced with beautiful individual stories: abused sow Julia and her 8 piglets; worn out Fanny the cow and her new calf; and Abbey the lab beagle, all rescued and now in sanctuaries, enjoying the safe, contented lives to which they have a right.

To change the way people see the world, you want them to keep looking, not turn away. So Liz engages the viewer by revealing different animals – animals normally only thought of as commodities – as real and individual persons.

How very effective the film is as a tool for animal advocacy can be gauged by the support it’s received from Farm Sanctuary, Mercy For Animals, PETA, NEAVS, Compassion Over Killing, and yes, Lori Marino’s Kimmela Center. All these advocacy organisations immediately saw its potential as a force for change.

Liz and JoAnne know they’re making a difference with their incredible work. Both say they regularly hear from people who’ve been deeply moved by “Ghosts” and have changed their way of life as a result.

But Liz isn’t resting on her laurels. She recently released the official trailer for her next documentary MEAT THE FUTURE. In it Liz follows the work of Dr Uma Valeti and his company Memphis Meats, developing cultured meat – healthier than the flesh of farmed animals, a more viable option for feeding the rapidly increasing global population, and environmentally-friendly. Above all, it has the potential to save billions of animals from a life of suffering, pain, fear, and death in the slaughterhouse.

Liz Marshall, the remarkable woman passionately changing the world one film at a time.

Add your name to the Declaration of Animal Rights here

Go vegan for the animals here

 

Sources

Liz Marshall About.me

Meet the Incredible Filmmaker Helping to Change Our Perception of Animals & the Environment – One Green Planet

The Ghost in Our Machine – Faunalytics

Meat the Future – The Good Food Institute

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These Pigs are in Clover – Thanks to One Quiet Hero

In this cruel world, thank heavens for men like quiet hero for the animals, Richard Hoyle. This beautiful soul inspires us with hope – and immense gratitude for his selfless labour of love. I promise, it really is worth reading this brief article to the end.

“There is nothing more fun than crawling up under a tractor in the middle of the pasture trying to fix a broken hydraulic line while six or eight large farm pigs untie your boot laces, stick their heads under the tractor to offer technical advice and help rearrange the tools on the ground. It’s why many of my one-hour chores wind up taking three or four hours.”

So says Richard Hoyle of The Pig Preserve, his sanctuary in rural Tennessee.


This Pig Preserve In Tennessee Shows How Pigs Should Live

by  Anna Pippus Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy, Animal Justice for The Huffington Post 10/16/2016

If you passed Richard Hoyle on the street, you’d never guess that he’s a long-time vegan and animal rights activist. Nearing his 70th birthday, Richard is a self-described “crusty old conservative.” He’s also eloquent, wise, humble, and funny.

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But you probably won’t pass Richard Hoyle on the street, and that’s because he works dawn until dusk 365 days per year at his sanctuary for rescued pigs, The Pig Preserve, in rural Tennessee.

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The Pig Preserve is an innovative farm sanctuary. Situated on 100 acres of natural land, the pigs move about in social groupings, foraging for some of their own food and exploring woods, pastures, and ponds. The result is that the busy and largely self-sufficient pigs enjoy as natural a life as possible, and the Pig Preserve is less labor-intensive and more cost-effective than a traditional farm animal sanctuary model.

But maintaining this idyllic setting for the pigs is actually a massive undertaking. Most of the pigs are fed once a day, but the younger pigs—who are less capable of foraging—are fed twice daily. The pastures have to be maintained against the constant rooting of the pigs. Elderly and sick pigs receive daily medical care, and on hot days, they all get extra attention to make sure nobody is overheating. The barns are kept clean and comfortable with bedding.

Each day is a new challenge. Richard says he will wear many hats over the course of a day—as a farmer, carpenter, electrician, plumber, fence repair man, tree cutter, tractor mechanic, small engine repairman, veterinarian, and more.

Pigs are notoriously curious and mischievous, which adds both to the challenge and the joy. Richard says dryly,

“The day’s chores are made more challenging by the pigs who are always available to “help” with whatever I am doing. There is nothing more fun than crawling up under a tractor in the middle of the pasture trying to fix a broken hydraulic line while six or eight large farm pigs untie your boot laces, stick their heads under the tractor to offer technical advice and help rearrange the tools on the ground. It’s why many of my one-hour chores wind up taking three or four hours.”

Richard says farm sanctuaries are essential to the animal rights movement. Many smaller sanctuaries all over the world rescue and care for animals quietly, efficiently, and professionally. In the process, they educate people, telling the animals’ stories and raising awareness in an informal and personal way.

They are activists, he says:

“We do not get out and protest but we do bear witness every morning when we get up, put on our dirty clothes and walk out the door to care for those precious few who have been spared the horrors of the factory farms and the slaughterhouses. We live our activism 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—often to the serious detriment to our health and certainly to our pocketbooks.

“Rescuing an animal is only the beginning of the story. Once the trailer bringing a rescued pig arrives through my gates, I will be responsible for the safety and care of that pig for the rest of his or her life. In many cases that will be for another 15 to 20 years.

“I will spend time with that pig. I will heal his or her physical injuries and I will invest countless hours healing the emotional damage that has been done to this poor creature. I will show this pig each and every day that he or she is safe, loved and respected as a fellow sentient being.

“And, at our sanctuary, I will also teach this pig how to be a pig. I will encourage the pig to wander the fields and woods, to graze in the fields, to root and forage in the forest, to swim in the pond and, most importantly, to live his or her life in the company of other pigs where pigs are the happiest.

“I will try to show each pig that not all humans are like the ones he or she experienced before they arrived here. I will show each pig that it is okay to trust humans. I will be there for that pig every day of his or her life.

“And, when it is time, I will be there to ease that pig’s suffering and help him or her make the trip across Rainbow Bridge. And I will bury each pig with my own two hands—kneeling to say a prayer over the pig’s grave. And I will thank God for the privilege of knowing, loving and caring for that pig.

“I will also say a prayer for the millions upon millions I could not help.

“But I will be satisfied that I did what little I could to make a difference.”

The Pig Preserve is always in need of donors and volunteers. Learn more about them on their website, follow them on Facebook, and consider making a donation.

Photos by Anita Krajnc of Toronto Pig Save, on trial for giving water to thirsty pigs headed for the slaughterhouse.

What Happens to Animals when People Disappear

atom atomic bomb mask radiation pollutionWhat do you do when a nuclear power plant explodes and deadly radiation spreads for hundreds of miles in smoke and dust, air and water?  Obvious, isn’t it – you rush to evacuate everyone living in the area. We’d like to hope people would manage to take their companion animals along with them too. Once this is done, you set up an exclusion zone over the contaminated area, so no-one can put themselves in danger by going  back in there.

It goes without saying that wild animals can’t be evacuated. And no matter how many signs you put up and checkpoints you install, they just don’t get exclusion zones. So what if you were to go back into that still heavily-contaminated area 30 years after the event, what would you expect to see? A barren wasteland? Animal corpses and skeletons? Or maybe worse still, horrible mutations?

But writer for the National Geographic John Wendle, who did just that, was in for a surprise:-

It may seem strange that Chernobyl, an area known for the deadliest nuclear accident in history, could become a refuge for all kinds of animals — from moose, deer, beaver, and owls to more exotic species like brown bear, lynx, and wolves — but that is exactly what [some] scientists think has happened.

Walking along sandy firebreaks used as forest highways with wolf expert Marina Shkvyria and her colleague, vole specialist Olena Burdo, we found the tracks of wolf, moose, deer, badger, and horses. I counted scores of birds: ravens, songbirds, three kinds of birds of prey, and dozens of swans paddling in the radioactive cooling pond.

Rare breed Przewalski horse wild
Very rare Przewalski horses

Research scientist Sergey Gaschak says, “We have all large mammals: red deer, roe deer, wild boar, moose, horse, bison, brown bear, lynx, wolves, two species of hare, beaver, otter, badger, some martins, some mink, and polecats,” he says, without taking a breath, adding that there are may be 20 other mammals including bats and also ten or more species of big birds, including hawks, eagles, owls, storks, and swans.

John saw evidence of recent beaver activity everywhere. Which is good news, because the beaver has a beneficial influence on the ecology: “In Ukraine it is exactly like the elephant in Africa: it completely changes the look of the landscape.” Eventually, as they fell more trees, the beavers will return the land to bogs, as it was 100 years ago.

As for wolves, biologist Jim Beasley tells John that, “The preliminary density estimates that we are seeing suggest that in Chernobyl the density of wolves is much, much higher than even Yellowstone.”

At more than 1600 square miles, the Chernobyl exclusion zone has become one of the largest truly wild sanctuaries in Europe.

All this is not to say that the Chernobyl animals are immune to the effects of radiation. To what degree each animal is affected is determined by the concentrations in its habitat, and on its diet and behaviours. Voles for instance have been found to have a higher than normal incidence of cataracts. Voles love mushrooms, and mushrooms concentrate radiation. For other animals voles are part of the diet, so no doubt they are affected too, though which animals, and to what extent they are affected, is a matter of much contention amongst scientists.

The surprise though, is the abundance of just about every species that called Chernobyl home before the disaster. And that is down to the absence of the most dangerous species of all – Man.

Jim Beasley published his new study just last month, and he concluded that: ‘Without people hunting them or ruining their habitat, wildlife is thriving despite high radiation levels.”  

 In the exclusion zone, humans have been removed from the system and this greatly overshadows any of those potential radiation effects. 

Isn’t this Chernobyl story a powerful statement of the utter tenacity of life in the face of the worst the human race can throw at it?

And too, a powerful indictment of us and the blight we have become on Planet Earth. If animals could choose which they prefer, a territory shared with humans or one contaminated with high levels of radiation, it seems they would not choose to be around us.

Maybe one day they won’t have to put up with either.

Source: The National Geographic  Conclusions my own.

More info from the Daily Mail here

18th May 2016  News of study that shows some bird populations affected by cataracts caused by radiation.

30th November 2016  China is building a huge solar plant at Chernobyl – ZME Science

 

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A Whale’s Tale – SeaWorld & The Humane Economy

Did you hear that tremendous wave of sound reverberating around the planet on Thursday March 17th? You can’t have missed it because I swear it could be heard on the moon! It was the shout of joy from the global band of animal advocates when SeaWorld finally bowed to public pressure and made the momentous announcement that they would no longer breed orcas in captivity.

On that memorable day emails were pinging into my Inbox in rapid succession from different organisations all proclaiming “Victory!” Facebook and Twitter were ablaze. This was an historic moment in animal protection, worthy of celebration. On that same day writing in his blog, Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the US, called it “a game changer for our movement”. The orcas still at SeaWorld will be the last generation to suffer in confinement at their facilities.

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HSUS played a prominent role in bringing SeaWorld to this decision, and won other concessions from the company, including one pledge to phase out “shows” featuring the orcas, in favour of exhibits highlighting the animal’s natural behaviours; and another to redouble efforts to rescue and rehabilitate marine creatures, to the tune of $50 million over the next five years.

By engaging in constructive dialogue with SeaWorld, Wayne was able to convince SeaWorld’s CEO Joel Manby, that these steps would be in the commercial interests of the company. Considering all the negative publicity SW had been getting since Death at SeaWorld was published, followed by the global phenomenon that was Blackfish, plus all the pressure from animal advocates, plus the dismal plummet in both ticket sales and the company’s shares, Mr Manby probably didn’t need too much persuading! The stock market proved it was the right move, as SW shares rose almost instantly by 17%, and continue to rise.

Well played, Wayne and HSUS!  The dialogue with SeaWorld illustrates the ‘right-on-the-button-ness’ of HSUS’s strategy, and also demonstrates their vision of the Humane Economy in action.

What is this Humane Economy which Mr Pacelle describes in his book The Humane Economy: How Innovators and Enlightened Consumers are Transforming the Lives of Animals? Humans are in charge in this world of ours, and can, and often do do, whatever they want with animals. To change this sad state of affairs, HSUS has a very specific strategy, focused not on animals’ rights, but on human responsibility towards animals, and on facilitating social and economic change and corporate reform. Sometimes idealism is simply not enough, and a healthy dash of pragmatism can make all the difference. So HSUS directly engages with the world of commerce to be a catalyst for change in the way economies operate. Putting it in plain english, the way forward is to make our love of animals, our humaneness, profitable. Because as we all know, big business’s bottom line is profit and generous rewards for shareholders. That is the Humane Economy.

We are in a revolutionary moment in terms of our relationship with animals – Wayne Pacelle

If they so chose, HSUS, the biggest and best funded animal charity in the world, could use their considerable resources in the direct rescue of thousands of individual animals, as do many other of the 25,000 animal charities in the States. (Isn’t that extraordinary number, 25,000, a remarkable sign of current levels of concern for our fellow creatures, by the way?) But they don’t do that. If their Humane Economy vision proves the right approach, and it is already showing results, it will see animal lives saved not in thousands, but in their millions, because it will simply be more profitable for businesses to operate humanely.

Here are three areas that exemplify the Humane Economy in action:-

1.Replacing one harmful use of animals with another humane ‘use’

default_WHALELOGOSince whales are the topic of the moment, lets talk whale as an example. Every country in the world with 3 notorious exceptions has thankfully banned whaling and whale products, but today there is money to be made in whale-watching – ecotourism. IFAW’s campaign for whales, Meet Us Don’t Eat Us, is the perfect motto for whale ecotourism in the Humane Economy. We could do with a campaign ‘Meet Us Don’t Shoot Us’ now for the trophy hunters.

2.Technological innovation which eradicates the need to use animals

As, for example Clara Food’s amazing new animal-free egg white which Making Waves Outreach featured earlier this year. And Hampton Creek, the fastest growing food company in the world, whose mission is to change food by eliminating all animal products. Phew, talk about thinking big. What a vision! Bill Gates singled out Hampton Creek as ‘a company shaping the future of food‘.

3. And following on from that the huge growth of interest in plant-based animal-free eating generally

As illustrated by the successful entirely vegan German supermarket chain Veganz, now with its first store in the States. The first of many we hope. And Veganz, PLEASE start opening stores here in the UK! (I’m lucky enough to have local to me the Unicorn, a fabulous vegan grocery store, and I can guarantee that whenever I go it is thronging with shoppers.)

So back to SeaWorld. Mr Manby and his fellow execs at SW really did take on board the business benefits of the Humane Economy.  Understanding the power of public opinion in the marketplace – that public opinion which is increasingly demanding a more humane approach to animals – they enacted a very significant change of policy. They are canny business people. They are fully aware that the payoff for the concessions Mr Pacelle wrung from them is, in effect, HSUS’s endorsement of SeaWorld’s future, which they know will prove worth millions and millions of dollars. Ok, so now the perception of Humane Society supporters and animal-lovers at large will be that HSUS has given them the ethical green light to return to SeaWorld. Visitor figures will rocket. And having made their concessions (while scoring a valuable PR coup for SeaWorld) Mr Manby and co persist in holding on tight to the 30 orcas they still have. They no doubt calculate that their refusal to release them to ocean sanctuaries will not cause a stir with the public – though it has certainly not been lost on animal advocates.

On the plus side, Wayne Pacelle persuaded Joel Manby to join with him in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to pressure Japan to end its whaling activities. The two CEOs are also joining forces on the campaign to end Canada’s seal hunt. Wayne clearly sees great possibilities for animals of having this powerful corporation as an ally rather than an enemy. Pragmatism gets results.

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For the time being the promises HSUS extracted from SeaWorld for the orcas has yet to be replicated for the orcas’ smaller cousins, the bottlenose dolphins. The fact that SeaWorld will continue as before with their captive breeding program of dolphins seems to have slipped under the publicity radar.

Just about this time last year, SW San Antonio published a document SeaWorld Unveils Plans for New Dolphin Habitat Opening in 2016. That sounds like good news for the dolphins, doesn’t it? “This project, one of the largest single capital investments in the park’s 27-year history, will include a revolutionary new area for dolphins located in the northern part of the park. These changes will nearly double the size of the park’s dolphin pool” – well that can’t be bad, can it – “and allow guests to experience these amazing mammals in new, more powerful ways.”  What are these ‘new, more powerful ways’? “After their classroom presentation and discussion on dolphins’ natural history and physiology,” – or in my own more cynical words, ‘after a token bit of greenwashing’ – “guests will wade into shallow water and become acquainted with one of these fascinating, intelligent dolphins through close contact during this one-on-one dolphin encounter. Then, taking the adventure one step further, guests can interact with their dolphin in deeper water for an exciting dorsal fin tow ride back to shore” – my underlining. Note too the guileful use of the word ‘habitat’ in the heading. SeaWorld San Antonio can surely not be suggesting their ‘Discovery Cove’ replicates anything approaching a real habitat for an animal that can swim up to 128 kms a day?

Well, those plans were announced a whole year ago. Maybe the project has been shelved in view of the orca story coming to a head? Sorry, no. As yet captive dolphin welfare campaigns seem to have gained insufficient public traction. SeaWorld know full well that swimming with dolphins is still a powerful draw for their paying visitors, genuine animal-lovers who see no reason to query its ethicality.* So as promised, Discovery Cove, San Antonio will be opening its doors in May. “Discovery Cove is a one-of-a kind experience where you can swim with bottlenose dolphins, feed tropical birds, play inches from a family of otters, and even walk on the ocean floor”.  San Antonio is far from the only SW facility – and if ’facility’ sounds like a prison, that’s because it is – where captive dolphins have the dubious privilege of swimming with humans. I do hope Wayne and HSUS have this near the top of their ‘To Do’ list.

‘Mr Dolphin’ himself, Ric O’Barry, is strongly critical of HSUS’s part in this story. His view is that the historic victory we’ve been celebrating is a huge backward step. He sees the payoff SeaWorld obtained as of more value to that corporation, than the win for the orcas is to us animal advocates, and more importantly to captive animals themselves. You may be interested in reading his piece, though I think Wayne has dealt effectively with many of Ric’s criticisms in his most recent blog post – most definitely worth reading for more detail on the new partnership with SeaWorld.

Were the animals victorious in this match, or did HSUS score an own goal? Is the Humane Economy the right strategy, or is it ultimately going to fail the animals?

You decide. For myself I am very hopeful.

One thing is sure, there remains much to be done, so I hope there is still plenty of fire in your belly Mr Pacelle. It would be my dream come true to see a truly humane economy, and the Animal Revolution come about before it’s my turn to push up the daisies.

 

*For more on swimming with dolphins Click here

If you’d like to know more about the Humane Economy and HSUS’s mission Mr Pacelle explains here:-

 

UPDATES

April 19th 2016

This will be an ever-evolving story. There are three SeaWorld parks in the USA and others around the world. Just this week (April 19th) the San Diego Union Tribune published the news that SeaWorld San Diego has withdrawn plans submitted to the California Coastal Commission for an orca tank enlargement. The commission approved the plans but imposed the condition that SeaWorld end all breeding of killer whales at the park. SeaWorld responded with a legal challenge to the condition – now also withdrawn.

“SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby has spoken frankly about how he agonized over the breeding ban decision but said he ultimately realized that changing public attitudes about the welfare of the whales were keeping people from coming to the marine parks.”

April 30th 2016

At a press conference held Wednesday in San Diego, Jean-Michel Cousteau, oceanographic explorer and president of the Ocean Futures Society, urged SeaWorld to free its current population of captive orcas.

“They need to be released and put back into a place where we can keep an eye on them and they can reconnect with nature,” Cousteau, who is the son of legendary underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau, said.

ecowatch logo EW by Lorraine Chow and reposted with permission from EcoWatch

Read more

May 14th 2016 

New sea sanctuary  built by Steve Dunn, CEO of toy company Munchkin, in partnership with The Whale Sanctuary Project. The sanctuary will house whales and dolphins retired from aquariums and theme parks in a sectioned off area of the ocean. The animals would be able to live in as natural an environment as possible without being completely free since many have lived in captivity their whole lives and wouldn’t survive in the wild. An engineered structure that resembles nets will surround the space, giving animals a large area to move around “that dwarfs even the largest tank in existence,” explains The Whale Sanctuary Project’s president Dr. Lori Marino, PhD.

June 21st 2016 Legislators approved the California Orca Protection Act, making it illegal to keep orcas in captivity for “display, performance, or entertainment purposes”, to breed them, or sell or move them except under certain conditions.

June 29th 2016 The SeaWorld Deal to End Captive Breeding is just the Start A profound shift is under way in corporate attitudes toward the treatment of animals. Wayne Nacelle in TakePart

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PETA News

The Animal Conspiracy Blown Apart

If only we’d known when we were  kids how grown ups were messing with our heads!

I’ve been thinking about kids and animals, animals and kids.

Animals are big-but-BIG in young kids’ lives, aren’t they? Kids just seem to have a natural affinity with animals, all or any, spotted or striped, furred or feathered. Have you noticed for instance that ‘doggie’, ‘horsie’, ‘moo cow’ are almost invariably among the first words they speak? That animal books march across their shelves and vie for space with animal videos? That farm and jungle animals spill out of toy cupboards? That plastic ducks and dolphins float side by side at bath time? And lying on the pillow awaiting them in bed are teddies and cuddly #rabbits, #dogs and #sheep? To small children animals are people, only even more engaging.

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Observing this inevitably leads me to wonder –

What happens to those self-same kids as they grow up that allows them to happily eat the very animals they so loved in their early years?

Long, long ago when I myself was a kid in an animal-loving family, we had cats, we had rabbits, a dog called Pete and a goat called Bessie. We  loved our animals. Mum was a great cook and my favourites were sausage-and-chips and her home-made cornish pasties. My brothers and I were sent along to the butcher’s on a Saturday morning to buy the sausages, a joint of meat and a big bone for soup. Not once did it occur to me that what was hanging up in the butcher’s shop and what ended up on my dinner plate was a piece of an animal that used to have a life, just like the members of our own little menagerie.

I was 29 before I stopped eating meat and fish. It was no great hardship – I was halfway there already since there were precious few pennies in the purse. It took another 30 years before I realised the necessity of striking every animal product off my shopping list.

So what exactly IS the secret that enables our own crazy species to both love animals and eat them?

There’s nothing like a good #conspiracytheory, is there? Some are legendary  –  the moon-landing never happened. NASA faked it to win the Space Race. The FBI has concealed evidence of alien visitations. Princess Di was assassinated by the British Secret Service. And so on, and so on.

But the Animal Conspiracy, which conceals the answer to that big question, is a mammoth one (if you’ll pardon the pun) and is very real.

It’s easiest to unpick this Animal Conspiracy in two parts. First there is the unconscious, implicit, conditioned conspiracy. And secondly, the deliberate and much more sinister conspiracy, and I mean sinister. For now, I am only looking at the first. I’ll come on to the even more pernicious one in another post.

So this is how it works (in the academic world it’s called ‘food socialisation’ Sounds so innocuous, doesn’t it, for something so monstrous)

In our Western culture, animals are thought of as falling into specific groups defined entirely by how we humans relate to them and how useful they are to us. We absorb this way of thinking completely unconsciously from our mother’s knee.

So we have:

Wild Animals with whom we have little contact

Utility Animals who ‘work’ for us – horses, donkeys, farm and police dogs, and so on

Food animals – cows, pigs, sheep, hens etc

Animals for entertainment – racehorses, greyhounds, circus animals, animals in zoos and aquaria

Animals for ‘education’ – animals in labs, zoos and aquaria, in schools and universities

Companion Animals – pet dogs, cats, hamsters, budgies etc

And let us not forget

Vermin – this category can be made to encompass any species from buzzards to badgers that humans discover reasons for finding ‘a nuisance’. Matthew Cole & Kate Stewart

It is easy from this to see how the fate of every single individual animal rests upon its perilous, precarious relationship with humans. That relationship determines its allotted group, and may at any time change. Any individual animal could drop to a lower status group where its hold on life becomes even more tenuous. If you are no longer of use in your assigned category, to you befalls the fate of the ‘food animals’ and ‘vermin’. So greyhounds and horses past their racing best, unwanted pets – even ‘surplus’ animals in zoos, are ‘disposed of’.

Children absorb this way of placing animals in different mental boxes along with their mothers’ milk. This social construct is reinforced on their TVs, in their movies and their books. To give an example of how this conditioning is sustained, an analysis of kids’ programmes, movies and books found that when the stories convey the message you should be kind and not cruel to animals, they only mean animals that fall into the Companion Animals category. E S Paul

The portrayal of nonhuman animal characters … is commonplace in children’s fiction, with an emphasis on domesticated animals and pets, which communicates pet-keeping as the only emotionally important relationship with other animals [ie. other than human] Cole & Stewart

So on the one hand kids are told it’s wrong to harm companion animals, and on the other, it’s fine to eat animals, because the animals we eat are in a different category altogether – they are simply food.

Learning this contradictory message is an important part of learning omnivory Cole & Stewart

I mentioned earlier that any individual animal can be unlucky enough at any time to drop down into a lower status group. But the opposite is also true. Some lucky animals make the leap into, from their point of view, a more desirable group. So we have for instance farm animals rescued and cared for in sanctuaries. This though can cause some confusion in kids’ minds.

In this short (and sweet!) video two animals of the same species have been placed in very different groups all on the same day! No wonder this little girl is confused. Listen carefully to what she says to her little friend at the very end of the video

Actually, she isn’t confused, is she? Not as far as she’s concerned anyway. Because her parents have taken care to prevent her understanding that the two animals are in fact the same. How distraught would she be if she discovered that the brother or sister of the animal she is petting at the sanctuary was being roasted in her oven at home. The turkeys at the sanctuary are no longer in the ‘food animal’ group. So to keep them in separate boxes in her head and avoid their daughter’s inevitable anguish, her parents have had to invent a new animal – ‘baked turkey’.

It’s amazing what a word can do to distance the ‘food’ on the table from the living creature standing there in front of you. So we have beef, sirloin, steak – never ‘cow’. Bacon, pork, ham, gammon – never ‘pig’.

Or, as Carol Adam’s puts it so beautifully

Behind every meal of meat is an absence: the death of the animal whose place the meat takes. The “absent referent” is that which separates the meat eater from the animal and the animal from the end product. The function of the absent referent is to keep “our” meat separated from any idea that she or he was once an animal, to keep the “moo” or “cluck” or “baa” away from the meat, to keep something from being seen as having been someone C J Adams

A perfect description of what the little girl’s parents were doing.

 

What kids are undergoing is a kind of cultural, social brainwashing, in the same insidious way girls grow up thinking they need to shave their legs or pluck their eyebrows. The ‘brainwashers’ of course, don’t even realise they are doing it. Because we, the parents, the teachers, the storytellers, society at large are the brainwashers. And we in our turn absorbed the exact same cultural conditioning by an unconscious osmotic process seeping from each generation to the next.

 

This adorable video shows another small child trying to make sense of society’s paradoxical message about animals. A truly remarkable 3 year old. Few adults have his clarity.

 

It will take something radical to demolish the Animal Conspiracy which masquerades as normalcy. But history shows these radical social shifts can happen  – emancipation of slaves, women’s suffrage, gay rights … And we have the best possible tool to break the animal conspiracy open and see it dissipate in a puff of smoke.

More to come in Part 2

 

 

 

SeaWorld to end killer whale shows in wake of mounting protests

CEO announces plan to phase out controversial shows at its San Diego park by 2017 after protests that began after release of documentary Blackfish

Trainers have orca whales perform for the crowd during a show at SeaWorld in San Diego in March. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

Joel Manby, SeaWorld’s chief executive, said he had listened to guests’ criticism of its Shamu stadium whale circus and it would end the “theatrical killer whale experience” in San Diego by the end of 2016.

He said the company will replace its Californian Shamu show – in which whales dive, jump and splash guests to the demands of their trainers – with “an all new orca experience focused on the natural environment [of the whales]”.

“We are listening to our guests, evolving as a company, we are always changing,” Manby said as he unveiled a new corporate strategy on Monday. “In 2017 we will launch an all new orca experience focused on natural environment [of whales]. 2016 will be the last year of our theatrical killer whale experience in San Diego.”

Part of a report from SeaWorld on 9 November 2015 which confirms they will be phasing out the orca shows at San Diego.

Photograph: Seaworld

He said the decision to end the orca shows in California was in direct response to customers, who he said had made it clear that they want less of a theatrical experience and would rather see the whales in a more natural setting. Attendance at the San Diego park is falling fast. Visitor numbers dropped 17% last year to 3.8 million, according to city authorities, and Manby warned investors last week that numbers are still falling and would contribute to a $10m hit to SeaWorld’s profits this year.

The orca whale theatrical performances will continue at SeaWorld’s other killer whale parks in San Antonio, Texas, and Orlando, Florida.

Manby told investors in a webcast on Monday that the company was going to refocus on conservation of animals rather than using them as entertainment. “People love companies that have a purpose, even for-profit companies,” he said.“Just look at WholeFoods … I don’t see any reason why SeaWorld can’t be one of those brands.”

SeaWorld’s change in direction comes as the company battles against a mounting public backlash after Blackfish, which focuses on the death of a trainer who was dragged into the water and drowned by an aggressive bull whale, helped turn what was a fringe animal rights issue into a national and international debate. Celebrities including Harry Styles, Matt Damon and Jackass’s Steve-O have waded in, pushing the anti-SeaWorld message to the company’s target youth market across the world.

The backlash has hit the company, and its investors, where it hurts. SeaWorld has lost half of its market value since the 2013 release of Blackfish, a film cataloguing alleged mistreatment of killer whales at its parks. The shares trod water at about $18 on Monday.

SeaWorld’s decision comes just days after congressman Adam Schiff said he would introduce legislation forcing SeaWorld to end the captivity of orcas. “The evidence is very strong that the psychological and physical harm done to these magnificent animals far outweighs any benefits reaped from their display,” Schiff said. “We cannot be responsible stewards of our natural environment and propagate messages about the importance of animal welfare when our behaviors do not reflect our principles”

“The decision by SeaWorld to phase out killer whale shows in San Diego is a welcome step along the path towards ending the captivity of these magnificent creatures,” Schiff said on Monday after SeaWorld’s announcement. “Much more needs to be done, however, and I would urge the company to curtail the breeding of their orcas and partner in the creation of ocean sanctuaries. The fact still remains that as long as SeaWorld holds orcas in captivity, the physical and psychological problems associated with their captivity will persist.”

Peta, the main animal rights charity campaigning against SeaWorld, said the end of the “tawdry circus-style” Shamu shows was “inevitable and necessary”. “But it’s captivity that denies these far-ranging orcas everything that is natural and important to them,” Jared Goodman, Peta’s director of animal law, said. “This move is like no longer whipping lions in a circus act but keeping them locked inside cages for life, or no longer beating dogs but never letting them out of crates.

“As Schiff indicated when he introduced the federal orca-protection bill, no change to SeaWorld’s tanks will be sufficient to satisfy the needs of these animals. That’s why Peta is calling on SeaWorld to stop breeding orcas and start building sea sanctuaries where they can experience an actual natural setting and finally thrive.

Related posts

A Whale’s Tale – SeaWorld & the Humane Economy

A Whale’s Tale – SeaWorld & the Humane Economy Part 2

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Ten Wacky Things Vegans Do & Ten Things They Don’t!

Dos – in no particular order

1 They have a mania for posting photos on Instagram and Facebook of the latest cakes and cookies taken into work for their unsuspecting fellow-workers. (OMG they even have a “Take a Vegan Cake to Work Day”!) What their colleagues do not realise is that vital information is being withheld from them, information which might make them think twice about the goodies on offer. It’s only once the whole office has swooped like a plague of locusts & demolished every last crumb – as invariably happens – do our people reveal the dismaying information that THE CAKES WERE VEGAN!!! Shock! Horror!

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2 They have a peculiar tendency to rescue small beasties, even ones so small you can barely see without a magnifying glass. Plastic pots and pieces of cardboard are kept at hand specially for trapping and then liberating stray wasps, bees, ladybirds, spiders, woodlice or ants that have wandered through the open back door and found themselves stuck in a human’s lair. Snails in grave danger from giant feet are carefully retrieved from the pavement and placed in the safety of an adjacent flower bed. Gardeners just love these freaks!

On one occasion, a certain misguided individual was seen to free a struggling wasp from a strand of spider silk, while another castigated her for depriving the spider of its lunch! (Confession: I was the heartless wretch who robbed the poor spider – couldn’t bear to see the wasp struggling so}


3 They have a strange habit of walking with eyes downcast. But don’t think it’s because they’re a depressed or diffident bunch. Not at all. They’re scouring the ground for the trail of rubber bands strewn by your friendly neighbourhood postie, schoolgirls’ lost hair bobbles, bits of twine, fishing line and those plastic loops that hold drinks cans together. Why? To prevent injuries to birds, mice, hedgehogs and other small creatures.


4 CHEESE!!! How could I forget the cheese question. Freshly-minted plant-gnashers love their new way of life but confess to a cheese-shaped hole in their stomachs. Cheese features large in vegan Facebook groups. Debate flourishes about the best plant-based cheese for pizza, vegan mac’n cheese, cheese sandwiches etc etc

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When vegan cheese first made an appearance, we cannot lie, it was pretty unpalatable, like eating bits of rubber. But now………. There are mozzarellas, cheddars, cream cheeses – and artisan cheeses with cranberries and walnuts, peppers and spring onion, are popping up all over the place.

Incidentally, the most recommended by our army of test chompers is Violife. Round of applause for Violife!


5 While we’re talking dairy

Our herbivores have another little trick up their sleeves – or rather in their bags. Out and about they carry an emergency tub of plant milk for that vital ingredient of civilised life, the cup of tea or coffee. But they don’t stop there – despite having their own with them, they request the stuff from the barista or waitress as well. Strange? There’s method in the madness. They’re getting the message through that there’s a growing demand for all those lovely cruelty-free milks. And it IS getting through.

That tub-in-the-bag is becoming less and less essential.


6 Still talking dairy!

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These bizarre folk leave no stone – or carton – unturned in their quest to find the perfect accompaniment to their coffee, a topic discussed at length on forums and Facebook.


7 They rush post haste on to social media to share every new supermarket or coffee shop vegan discovery, ESPECIALLY if it’s something unhealthy! These ‘finds’ are divided into 2 categories.

There are the ‘accidentally vegan’, of which PETA has a huge list

cookies-702931__180Oreos seem to feature quite prominently in Fb groups, but there are apple strudels and ice creams, baked beans and Marmite, some Doritos and Pringles, some Mrs Crimble’s cakes, and crumpets, Cadbury’s drinking choc and Skittles. And so on, and so on.

Then there are the ‘intentionally vegan’ items.  Just read on Fb – “I did a little dance in Tesco when I found a jar of vegan pesto!”. Even more crazy dancing recently over Quorn’s new vegan product range and the veganisation of Guinness!


But it’s not all about food.

8 They work for nothing. It’s true! They devote hours each day signing, sharing and tweeting petitions – from ban hunting to free Lolita, and everything inbetween.

And when they’re not on their phones and tablets (or eating vegan cake!) they are on demos outside circuses and labs, racecourses and greyhound tracks. Or on badger patrol. Or monitoring hunts. Or tending rescuees in sanctuaries.


Which brings us on to number

9 These Carrot-Crunchers all harbour a craving for their very own animal sanctuary –  with the exception of those who are already there. To be custodian of “4 dogs, 3 cats, 1 pig, 2 geese, 9 chickens, 5 doves, 2 guinea pigs and a bearded dragon” does not raise an eyebrow in the CC world. pig-1008500__180


10 So it’s apparent that their mania for rescuing small beasties extends to bigger beasties too. 

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Stray dogs and cats, newborn lambs and piglets fallen from cattle trucks, battery hens, neglected horses and cows. Every life is precious, but despite the rescuers’ best endeavours, some of the creatures are too far gone make it. No joke to be found there.


Well, we can’t finish on a sad note, so I’ll throw in a bonus, an eleventh thing vegans do, and end where we began – with CAKE!

11 However stuffed they are, however much they wouldn’t normally touch the stuff, if they find vegan cake or dessert on the menu these screwballs NEVER say, “Pass”. After all, who knows when the next one will come along? Black Forest Gateau anyone?



And now for the Don’ts

Sorry, I lied. Apart from the obvious, THERE ARE NONE!