A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘animal rights

[NEWS] Three links about smart animals: elephants as legal persons, cetacean footage, bonobo empathy

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  • Three elephants in Connecticut are the latest animals subject to a bid by activists to grant them status as “legal persons”. The Washington Post reports.
  • Gary Chabonneau has won a court battle versus the Vancouver Aquarium to secure rights to footage he took of their captive cetaceans. CBC reports.
  • Bonobos have been proven in a recent experiment to have the capacity to be empathetic towards strangers. National Geographic reports.
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Written by Randy McDonald

November 18, 2017 at 8:30 pm

[NEWS] Three regional notes: Oka land dispute, Marineland, Niagara Falls

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  • The simmering Oka land dispute continues. NOW Toronto reports.
  • Marineland is suing the OSPCA, charging the animal welfare group with trying to end this business. The Toronto Star reports.
  • Niagara Falls has authorized the construction of two new towering hotels, dozens of stories high. The Niagara Falls Review reports.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 27, 2017 at 7:00 pm

[NEWS] Five links about vulnerability: parrots, Uighurs, indigenous peoples, fangsheng, Jones Act

  • Hundreds of parrots in a Surrey sanctuary are still waiting for permanent homes. Global News reports.
  • NPR reports on how many Uighurs in China find success through their racially mixed appearances, as models.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer explains the rationale behind the Jones Act, with its stiff shipping charges for Puerto Rico.
  • The Chinese Buddhist fangsheng ritual, involving the release of captured animals into the wild, has issues. The Guardian reports.
  • Tyson Yunkaporta’s essay takes a look at the appeal of SF/F, and post-apocalyptic fiction, for indigenous peoples.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Far Outliers notes how the new Suez Canal helped create a network of coal-using port cities across Eurasia.
  • Hornet Stories notes that Serbia’s out lesbian Prime Minister, Ana Brnabic, marched in Belgrade’s pride parade.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a statement by the Pentagon that transgender troops can still re-enlist for the next few months.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes a fundamentally ill-thought defense of colonialism by Bruce Gilley.
  • Marginal Revolutions notes that Swedish support for the far right is linked to perceptions of foreign threats to employment.
  • Out There looks at the last days of Cassini at Saturn.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw notes real estate shenanigans in greater Sydney.
  • Drew Rowsome has a critical, but positive, review of closeted gay author Frank M. Robinson’s autobiography.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy sums up the outcome of the controversial monkey selfie copyright case.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that Russian challenges to language legislation in Tatarstan hint at future challenges.

[URBAN NOTE] “‘Giving them something natural’: Toronto Zoo elephants find happy retirement in California”

CBC News reports on how Toka and Thika, two elephants formerly resident at the Toronto Zoo, are adapting well to their sunset years in a California sanctuary.

For Toka and Thika, retirement is turning out just fine. There’s warm sunshine, new friends to spend time with and the chance to do whatever they want.

Three years after they were sent halfway across the continent, the aging elephants from the Toronto Zoo have found a new lease on life roaming the hills of a northern California sanctuary.

“Toka has fit right in and she is a part of the group now and I think that’s really good for her,” Ed Stewart, executive director of the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary, told CBC’s the fifth estate.

“Thika is a much bigger challenge but it’s been good for her, too.”

After much debate and controversy surrounding the fate of the zoo’s last elephants, Toka, Thika and Iringa were trucked 4,000 kilometres to the PAWS sanctuary in San Andreas.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 10, 2017 at 11:00 pm

[LINK] “Marineland charged with six new counts of animal cruelty”

For people like myself who look back on visits to Marineland wtih fond memories, news like this shared by the Toronto Star‘s Sammy Hudes is terribly depressing.

Ontario’s animal welfare agency announced six new animal cruelty and neglect charges against Marineland on Monday as part of a continuing investigation into the care of land mammals at the theme park.

The charges include one count each for permitting elk, red deer and fallow deer to be in distress. They also include one count each for failing to provide prescribed standards of care.

“Essentially, animals being in distress can relate to not being provided with adequate care: food, water, shelter, necessary veterinary care in some cases,” said Jennifer Bluhm, deputy chief of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Bluhm said the new charges stem from the same investigation that resulted in the Niagara Falls, Ont. attraction being charged with five counts of animal cruelty in late November.

Those charges were related to the treatment of peacocks, guinea hens and black bears.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 10, 2017 at 6:00 pm

[LINK] “Of Primates and Persons”

Savage Minds introduces the first of several posts to be made this month by Coltan Scrivner about personhood, starting from the question of whether other primates are people.

When the concept of a person is brought up, many seem to begin by comparing the “other” to humans, using our species as a measuring stick. We take for granted that our species exemplifies what it is to be a person, to be an agent in the world. This leads many of us to assume that personhood is somehow intrinsically tied to human beings. It’s “a part of our DNA,” so to speak, to be a person. Thus, any other creature or entity that might be considered to be a “person” is measured against abilities that exist in Homo sapiens. This often tosses the question to scientists to figure out if the “other” is enough like us to be a person. When considering chimps and other apes, this has been the charge of cognitive and comparative psychologists.

For quite some time now, chimps and other primates have been subject to a battery of cognitive tests aimed at assessing theory of mind. One of the first major studies in this area was Gallup’s “mirror test.” In essence, an animal is sedated and a mark is placed on their forehead, where it could not be seen by any normal method. The animal awakens in front of a mirror with no knowledge of the dot. If they begin to use the mirror to inspect themselves, in particular the dot, it suggests that the animal has some idea that the thing in the mirror is not just “that animal,” but is “me.” Thus, they would possess, at minimum, a sense of bodily awareness. The study has been replicated numerous times with various animals, but consistent passing has largely been restricted to adult species of Great Apes. Moreover, humans don’t start passing the test until around 18 months of age.

One of last cognitive bastions separating humans from other primates was the inability to show that other primates understand false beliefs. This might seem like an odd barrier, but understanding false beliefs, or the intentions of others, is an important and potentially testable component of understanding the mind of others. However, a recent study published in Science has purportedly demonstrated that chimps – as well as orangutans and bonobos – can in fact understand the false beliefs of others. Through the use of eye tracking software, all three primates were shown to anticipate another ape’s (okay, really a human dressed as an ape) false belief by looking where the misinformed ape would look before they did, even though the observing primates knew the object wasn’t in that location. If replicated and demonstrated to be a reliable finding, there will indeed be little in terms of testable self-consciousness that we possess that at least some apes do not.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 4, 2017 at 5:30 pm