A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘animal rights

[LINK] “Elephants are people too (or soon could be)”

Al Jazeera America’s Sadhbh Walshe notes that advocates for the legal personhood of intelligent animals are now turning to elephants.

[Elephants cannot] choose to leave their show business profession. Yet this may be about to change, as one mystery elephant prepares to make legal history by challenging its captivity in an American courtroom.

The elephant’s identity is currently secret until the court papers are filed, to avoid tipping off the animal’s owners. But lawyers at the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) have already lined up a sanctuary to take the elephant if the ruling goes their way.

In order to prevail, however, the NhRP has to convince a judge that this elephant is not a thing lacking legal standing but a person with the capacity for at least some of the basic rights typically reserved for humans — namely bodily liberty. If successful, the case could radically alter the legal status of some animals. Even if unsuccessful, it is likely to trigger a debate over just exactly how “personhood” is legally defined and whether or not it should be reserved for human beings.

When human beings are being held against their will, they have the right to petition a court for a writ of habeas corpus to challenge the legality of their captivity. The NhRP’s goal is to extend the same habeas corpus protections to at least some captive animals by having the courts recognize their legal personhood.

According to the NhRP’s founder, Steven Wise, when he began this work 30 years ago, people would react with disbelief at suggestions that animals could be anything other than property. But today, as more and more species are being listed as endangered and awareness grows about the suffering captive animals are subjected to, Wise believes that gaining personhood rights for at least some highly intelligent species or closely related ones like chimpanzees is not just attainable but inevitable.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 13, 2015 at 10:12 pm

[LINK] “Former Orca Trainer For SeaWorld Condemns Its Practices”

This NPR report is distressing. It does not make me feel guilty for visiting Niagara Fall’s Marineland, with its captive cetaceans, but it does make me feel concerned for their fate.

Last year 4 million people visited SeaWorld’s theme parks, where the top shows feature orcas, also known as killer whales. For years, activists have charged that keeping orcas in captivity is harmful to the animals and risky for the trainers who work with them, a case that gained urgency in 2010 when Dawn Brancheau, a veteran orca trainer, was dragged into the water and killed by a whale at the SeaWorld Park in Orlando, Fla. When Brancheau died, there was some dispute as to whether the whale’s intent was aggressive and whose fault the incident was.

John Hargrove, who spent 14 years as an orca trainer, mostly at SeaWorld, says there was no doubt that the whale was aggressive. And the reason for whales’ aggression, he says, is that they’re held captive. Hargrove eventually became disillusioned with SeaWorld’s treatment of orcas and left the company.

“As I became higher-ranked, I saw the devastating effects of captivity on these whales and it just really became a moral and ethical issue,” Hargrove tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies in an interview about the book. “When you first start to see it, you first try to say, ‘OK, well, I love these animals; I’m going to take care of them.’ … You think, ‘I can change things.’ And then all these things, of course, never improve and then you start … seeing mothers separated from their calves; you start seeing trainers being killed, and then they blame [the trainers] for their own deaths.”

He said his “final straw” was when SeaWorld publicly testified that “they had no knowledge we had a dangerous job.”

The documentary Blackfish, released in 2013, covers Brancheau’s death and an incident two months earlier at a theme park in Spain when an orca killed a trainer named Alexis Martinez. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated Brancheau’s death and concluded SeaWorld had exposed trainers to hazardous conditions; it fined the corporation. In its order, later upheld on appeal, OSHA also banned SeaWorld from permitting its personnel to enter the tanks to train and perform with orcas, a practice known as water work.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 24, 2015 at 10:47 pm

[NEWS] Some Sunday links

  • Al Jazeera notes that Tunisia is still on the brink, looks at the good relations between Indians and Pakistanis outside of South Asia, suspects that a largely Armenian-populated area in Georgia might erupt, and reports on satellite imagery of Boko Haram’s devastation in Nigeria.
  • Bloomberg notes that a North Korean camp survivor caught in lies might stop his campaign, reports on Arab cartoonists’ fears in the aftermath of Charlie Hebdo, notes the consequences on Portugal of a slowdown in Angola’s economy, and notes that the shift in the franc’s value has brought shoppers from Switzerland to Germany while devastating some mutual funds.
  • Bloomberg View warns about anti-immigrant movements in Europe and notes that Turkey’s leadership can’t claim a commitment to freedom of the press.
  • The Inter Press Service notes Pakistani hostility to Afghan migrants, notes disappearances of Sri Lankan cartoonists, and looks at HIV among Zimbabwe’s children.
  • Open Democracy is critical of the myth of Irish slavery, notes the uses of incivility, and observes that more French Muslims work for French security than for Al-Qaeda.
  • Wired looks at life in the coldest town in the world, and notes another setback in the fight for primate rights.

[LINK] “An Orangutan Has (Some) Human Rights, Argentine Court Rules”

Wired‘s Brandon Keim reports on the story of Sandra, an orangutan in a Buenos Aires zoo, who has been deemed to possess some human rights. This sort of story is inevitable, I think, especially given the speed with which human beings have come to realize the existence of high intelligence elsewhere in the animal world. Should this intelligence, this sapience, not be protected in ways analogous to the ways in which dependent humans are protected?

The Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights, an animal advocacy group, had asked Argentine courts recognize the 28-year-old great ape’s right to freedom from unjust imprisonment.

On Friday, an appeals court declared that Sandra, who is owned by the Buenos Aires Zoo, is a “non-human person” who has been wrongfully deprived of her freedom.

Sandra, who was born in German zoo and sent to Argentina two decades ago, at an age when wild orangutans are still living at their mother’s side, won’t be given complete freedom.

Having lived her entire life in captivity, Sandra likely could not survive in the wild. Instead, if the zoo does not challenge the decision within 10 working days, Sandra will be sent to a sanctuary in Brazil.

“This opens the way not only for other Great Apes, but also for other sentient beings which are unfairly and arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in zoos, circuses, water parks and scientific laboratories,” said lawyer Paul Buompadre, one of the activists who filed the suit, to the La Nacion newspaper.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 24, 2014 at 3:07 am

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • 3 Quarks Daily writes about the ways in which Cuba, and Havana, have been seen in the American imagination.
  • Antipope Charlie Stross solicits suggestions as to what he should print with a 3-D printer.
  • Crooked Timber is alarmist about the United States, making comparisons to Pakistan and to Weimar Germany.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining the simulated atmospheres of warm Neptunes.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Russians are leaving France without their Mistral carriers and that Russia is talking about building its own space station.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that an Argentine court has given an orangutan limited rights.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that transgendered workers now have legal protection in the United States.
  • Marginal Revolution reflects on the new Nicaragua Canal and is skeptical about Cuba’s economic potential.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw links to an essay examining how New Zealand set the global 2% inflation target.
  • The Search looks at one effort in digitizing and making searchable centuries of book images.
  • Towleroad looks at Taiwan’s progress towards marriage equality and notes the refusal of the archbishop of Canterbury to explain the reasons for his opposition to equal marriage.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the different effects of the collapse in oil prices on Russia’s different reasons, looks at language conflicts in the Russian republics, and observes the revival of Belarusian nationalism.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Bad Astronomy shares Dawn‘s first picture of Ceres.
  • The Crux considers whether chimpanzees should be considered people in a legal sense.
  • Cody Delistraty shares 13 vintage photos of winter in early 20th century Paris.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining the current state of research into the magnetic interactions of stars with their exoplanets.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a new generation of brain sensors.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Ireland’s Roman Catholic bishops are campaigning against same-sex marriage.
  • Livejournaler jsburbidge ruminates on the pitfalls of misreading the past, starting from Jack Whyte’s historical novels.
  • Language Hat reports on the digitization of old Russian books.
  • Languages of the World’s Asya Perelstvaig considers what exactly the “Russian world” actually is.
  • Marginal Revolution notes falling birth and fertility rates in the United States.
  • Livejournaler moiraj mocks Diane Francis’ claim that indigenous peoples in Australia benefit from a better land-claims settlement system than their Canadian counterparts.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla reacts to Dawn‘s first picture of Ceres.
  • J. Otto Pohl compares the plights of Crimean Tatars and Palestinians.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer updates us on Panamanian-Venezuelan relations.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog shares a projection of the Ukrainian population forward to 2100.
  • Towleroad notes how a Latvian politician destroyed her career and is now facing criminal charges by praising Nazi homophobia.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that the University of Virginia can’t lodge a libel claim against Rolling Stone for its flawed rape report.
  • Livejournaler nwhyte notes some interesting long durée patterns–in net reproduction, in family wealth, in residence, and the like–in the families whose DNA was used to identify the body of Richard III.
  • Window on Eurasia notes a Russian who defines his country as an empire with rightful claims and argues about the need for non-recognition of Crimea’s annexation to be finalized.

[ISL] “Sable Island horses should be removed, says biologist”

CBC reported these weekend just past on a proposal that the herd of horses on Sable Island, almost literally a giant sand bank several hundred kilometres southeast of Nova Scotia, be removed to the mainland. Biologist Ian Jones makes a convincing two-pronged argument, that the non-native horses not only are damaging a fragile environment but that they themselves are suffering in an environment that cannot support them in health.

According to a scientific report ordered by Parks Canada, excessive inbreeding, a tiny population and extreme weather linked to global warming all pose risks of extinction to the fabled horses. Parks Canada is the newly appointed custodian of the historic sand crescent that lies about 175 kilometres off the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia.

The herd, first introduced to the island in the 1760s and left to fend for itself since 1960, now numbers more than 500 animals but the population could drop precipitously after just one harsh winter, with food hard to access under heavy snow or ice, according to the study. The ponies also may suffer from low genetic diversity, making them less resilient to disease and prone to reproductive failure.

But Jones argues the horses “hurt” the island and “cause destruction.”

“Remote island ecosystems are the most endangered ecosystems,” he said. “Sable Island is such a place and the horses are modifying the island. They need to be removed.”

Jones adds that the island’s environment is hurting the horses.

“I love horses … and I certainly wish the very best for those horses,” he said. “Every bite they take, they get a mouthful of sand and grass. Their teeth are wearing away. They endure a lot of suffering because of the climate.

“If you or anyone kept horses in these conditions on your farm, you would be charged and convicted with cruelty to animals.”

Written by Randy McDonald

December 1, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 465 other followers