A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘animal rights

[URBAN NOTE] “Will ‘strong swell of support’ save Bowmanville zoo?”

The Toronto Star‘s Noor Javed reports on the potential for the Bowmanville Zoo, one of the oldest in Canada, to survive the summer. Or not, as the case may be.

A sudden burst in attendance and outpouring of support for the Bowmanville zoo is sparking hopes that the embattled facility may be able stay open after all.

The privately owned zoo, which is home to a number of exotic animals including lions, lemurs and tigers, announced last month that it was shutting down at the end of the 2016 season.

Zoo officials said allegations made by animal rights groups, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), around the mistreatment of animals at the hands of the former director, had kept crowds away and attendance was down by more than 65 per cent from the previous year.

But since the June announcement, the zoo has seen a “strong swell of support from the community” and attendance is now only down “about 25 per cent from prior years” said spokesman Angus Carroll.

“I can tell you that attendance is up in recent days and that is great,” said Carroll. “Nevertheless, we are not out of the woods. Attendance is still below last year and not where it needs to be make the zoo viable,” he said.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 10, 2016 at 6:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Bowmanville Zoo to close this year”

Noor Javed of the Toronto Star‘s reports on the impending end of Bowmanville’s zoo, open since 1919.

The exotic animals of the Bowmanville zoo — wolves, tigers, and baboons to name a few— will be looking for new homes after the east-end facility announced Thursday it will be closing at the end of the 2016 season.

At a press conference, zoo officials said recent “allegations” made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had led to a “catastrophically” low number of visitors— resulting in financial problems.

Earlier this year, the zoo’s director Michael Hackenberger stepped down after being charged with animal cruelty. The charges were due to a video released by PETA in December which appeared to show him hitting a tiger with a whip during a training session.

“Untrue allegations made by PETA in regards to a tiger incident have created a climate in which the zoo can no longer operate,” said Angus Carroll, the zoo’s director of communications, who estimated attendance is down 65 per cent since last summer.

“The zoo attendance is down dramatically, and in fact that hardly captures it. Catastrophically. So, there just isn’t enough money to run this zoo at this time,” he said.

In an interview, Brittany Peet, PETA Foundation’s director of captive animal law enforcement said “the blame lies solely on Michael Hackenberger.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 24, 2016 at 9:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto’s renegade capybaras: folk heroes for the social media age”

Eric Andrew-Gee’s article in The Globe and Mail looks at the import of the escaped capybaras of High Park.

[A]s the hunt settled into a waiting game, the capybaras themselves erupted into the city’s collective consciousness. Newspapers breathlessly reported every sighting. TV news trucks became a fixture around High Park. Social media went wild.

Soon, there were not one but two capybara Twitter accounts. Clever designers pasted their image everywhere. A bar on Queen Street West changed its WiFi password to “Capybara.” And one Twitter user implored High Park’s annual Shakespeare production to put The Taming of the Capybara on the program.

Even before the Toronto escape, capybaras were pseudo-stars of the Internet, beloved and endlessly memed for their surreal physical hybridity and Eeyore-ish countenance.

This was different. Early on, the capybaras were cast as heroic rebels. The nicknames didn’t take long: Bonnie and Clyde. When one local wag placed them in a photo of Steve McQueen’s motorcycle from The Great Escape, the transformation was complete.

Their lionization may have reflected a growing cultural unease with animal captivity, crystallized recently by the shooting of Harambe the gorilla after a child found his way into the ape’s enclosure. Or it may be the idea of once-tame animals fending for themselves in the wilds of High Park, which seems to have a special hold on the Canadian imagination: Last year’s Giller Prize-winning novel, Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis, is about a pack of dogs with human minds set loose in the same park.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 11, 2016 at 3:00 pm

[NEWS] Some Wednesday links

  • Bloomberg notes the rise of populism in Mexico, looks at how Europe is losing its reputation as a renewable energy leader, looks at political protest in Zimbabwe, and looks at changing habits of Saudi oil ministers.
  • Bloomberg View notes the politicization of the Israeli army, looks at an effort to smuggle Korean pop culture into North Korea, and considers strategies to encourage Japanese to have more children.
  • The Globe and Mail considers the risky strategy of marijuana growers, who hope to get the government to back down as they do their thing before legalization.
  • MacLean’s notes that the outcry over the shooting of the gorilla in the Cleveland zoo is misconceived, and reports on Kamal al-Solaylee’s book about being brown.
  • NOW Toronto notes that one argument raised against letting permanent residents vote in Toronto is that Donald Trump allegedly has an apartment here. (Wrong, on multiple grounds.)
  • Open Democracy looks at how British authoritarianism is restrained by the European Union.

[CAT] “Woman with 107 cats in home found guilty of animal cruelty”

Alyshah Hasham’s report in the Toronto Star of the conviction of a woman in the Yonge and Eglinton area on charges of animal cruelty related to her cat hoarding is disgusting. How could she have let things get so out of hand?

For two years inside the non-descript home of a law professor, a nightmare was brewing.

“Wall to wall cats; floors, walls, furniture rotting and coated in cat urine, cat fur and cat feces. The smell was literally overpowering,” a judge said Thursday. “The first officer on the scene thought there might be a dead body inside the house.”

Hours later, as OSPCA staff in haz-mat gear were in the process of removing a feral colony of 107 cats from the home, homeowner Diane Way returned with a pull-cart full of cat food.

“This was a sad case,” Ontario Court Justice William B. Horkins told the court Thursday, after a 23-day trial.

“With apologies to Shakespeare, Diane Way loved her cats ‘not wisely, but too well’ and as with Othello, there were tragic results.”

Written by Randy McDonald

March 12, 2016 at 1:50 pm

[LINK] “Even Snakes Have Friends—One More Reason Not to Slaughter Them”

National Geographic‘s Brandon Keim reports on how the increased recognition of the sociableness and intelligence of snakes may help save them from humans.

[I]n the words of Melissa Amarello, a herpetologist and founder of Advocates for Snake Preservation, “they’re shy, gentle creatures with rich family lives. They can have friends. They take care of their kids.”

Snakes may be limbless, cold-blooded, and separated from us by a few hundred million years of evolution, but they’re similar enough that we should feel empathy for them, says Amarello, who has launched a campaign against snake roundups.

Not too long ago, Amarello’s plea could have been dismissed as well-meaning anthropomorphism.

Even among people open to the notion that many animals think and feel in deep, often complex ways, snakes—and reptiles in general—weren’t thought to have much going on upstairs. Yet that wasn’t quite fair.

Their lack of facial expressions and vocal communication, the very traits that humans rely upon to make sense of one another, predisposed people to consider snakes unfeeling.

Snakes’ perceptual world, attuned to temperature and smell rather than sight, is so fundamentally different from our own that it was hard to test their intelligence.

That wasn’t the snakes’ shortcoming, though. It was ours.

Slowly but steadily, evidence of unexpectedly sophisticated snake behavior has accumulated. Amarello’s own research used time-lapse cameras to document social interactions of Arizona black rattlesnakes. Some proved to be loners and others social, with a distinct preference for the company of certain conspecifics—or, in a less fancy word, friends.

Other researchers have described the attentiveness of rattlesnake mothers to their young, as well as a long-unrecognized complexity of social interaction.

There is more, including video, at the website.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 11, 2016 at 8:48 pm

[LINK] “Macaque monkey doesn’t own copyright to selfies, San Francisco judge rules”

Even smart animals cannot claim copyright in the United States, as Olga R. Rodriguez wrote for the Associated Press.

A macaque monkey who took now-famous selfie photographs cannot be declared the copyright owner of the photos, a federal judge said Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick said in federal court in San Francisco that “while Congress and the president can extend the protection of law to animals as well as humans, there is no indication that they did so in the Copyright Act.”

The lawsuit filed last year by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sought a court order allowing PETA to represent the monkey and let it to administer all proceeds from the photos for the benefit of the monkey, which it identified as 6-year-old Naruto, and other crested macaques living in a reserve on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

The photos were taken during a 2011 trip to Sulawesi with an unattended camera owned by British nature photographer David Slater, who asked the court to dismiss the case. Slater says the British copyright obtained for the photos by his company, Wildlife Personalities Ltd., should be honoured worldwide.

PETA sued Slater and his San Francisco-based self-publishing company Blurb, which published a book called “Wildlife Personalities” that includes the “monkey selfie” photos.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 11, 2016 at 5:22 pm

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