A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘animal rights

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

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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”

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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

[LINK] “China to Shut Down Its Ivory Trade by the End of 2017”

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National Geographic‘s Jani Actman reports on new hope from China re: the world trade in elephant ivory.

China will shut down its domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017, according to an announcement made today by the Chinese government.

The announcement comes more than a year after China’s President Xi Jinping and United States President Barack Obama pledged to enact “nearly complete bans” on the import and export of ivory, an agreement Wildlife Watch reporter Rachael Bale described as “the most significant step yet in efforts to shut down an industry that has fueled the illegal hunting of elephants.”

It also follows a commitment made in October by the international community to close domestic ivory markets.

“This is the best New Year’s present I’ve ever had,” says Sue Lieberman, vice president of international policy for the Wildlife Conservation Society, a nonprofit based in New York City that works to help save elephants and other wildlife. “China is the world’s largest market, both of small ivory items and high-end, expensive ones.”

The global ivory trade has been banned since 1989, but during recent years large-scale poaching has resumed, and elephant numbers have fallen as low as 415,000. Advocates believe that legal domestic ivory markets perpetuate an illegal trade because older, pre-ban ivory can’t easily be distinguished from poached ivory.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 2, 2017 at 9:30 pm

[LINK] “Ontario SPCA charges Marineland with 5 counts of animal cruelty”

CBC’s Amara McLaughlin reports on the charges of animal cruelty brought up against Niagara Falls’ Marineland. I would say it’s time: Certainly the conditions facing animals there, including the cetaceans on display, have often been criticized.

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has charged Marineland with five counts of animal cruelty after a complaint raised concerns about some of the animals’ well-being at the Niagara Falls, Ont., amusement park, which features both marine and land animals.

Marineland is facing cruelty charges regarding three kinds of animals — a peacock, guinea hens and American black bears.

The charges include permitting the animals to be in distress and failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care. In the case of 35 black bears, the zoo has been charged with failing to provide adequate and appropriate food and water.

“Reports of animal cruelty are taken very seriously,” said Steve Toy, an Ontario SPCA senior inspector in a news release. “When we receive reports of cruelty that involve wildlife or exotic animals, we will utilize our experts as well as industry experts to assist us with our investigation.”

OSPCA officers and a veterinarian responded to investigate when the complaint was made on Nov. 10.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 26, 2016 at 7:00 pm

[NEWS] Some Wednesday links

  • Bloomberg talks about Poland’s problems with economic growth, notes that McMansions are poor investments, considers what to do about the Olympics post-Rio, looks at new Japanese tax incentives for working women, looks at a French war museum that put its stock up for sale, examines the power of the New Zealand dairy, looks at the Yasukuni controversies, and notes Huawei’s progress in China.
  • Bloomberg View is hopeful for Brazil, argues demographics are dooming Abenomics, suggests ways for the US to pit Russia versus Iran, looks at Chinese fisheries and the survival of the ocean, notes that high American population growth makes the post-2008 economic recovery relatively less notable, looks at Emperor Akihito’s opposition to Japanese remilitarization, and argues that Europe’s soft response to terrorism is not a weakness.
  • CBC notes that Russian doping whistleblowers fear for their lives, looks at how New Brunswick farmers are adapting to climate change, and looks at how Neanderthals’ lack of facility with tools may have doomed them.
  • The Globe and Mail argues Ontario should imitate Michigan instead of Québec, notes the new Anne of Green Gables series on Netflix, and predicts good things for Tim Horton’s in the Philippines.
  • The Guardian notes that Canada’s impending deal with the European Union is not any model for the United Kingdom.
  • The Inter Press Service looks at child executions in Iran.
  • MacLean’s notes that Great Lakes mayors have joined to challenge a diversion of water from their shared basin.
  • National Geographic looks at the elephant ivory trade, considers the abstract intelligence of birds, considers the Mayan calendar’s complexities, and looks at how the young generation treats Pluto’s dwarf planet status.
  • The National Post notes that VIA Rail is interested in offering a low-cost bus route along the Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia.
  • Open Democracy notes that the last Russian prisoner in Guantanamo does not want to go home, and wonders why the West ignores the Rwandan dictatorship.
  • TVO considers how rural communities can attract immigrants.
  • Universe Today suggests sending our digital selves to the stars, looks at how cirrus clouds kept early Mars warm and wet, and notes the discovery of an early-forming direct-collapse black hole.
  • Variance Explained looks at how Donald Trump’s tweets clearly show two authors at work.
  • The Washignton Post considers what happens when a gay bar becomes a bar with more general appeal.
  • Wired notes that the World Wide Web still is far from achieving its founders’ dreams, looks at how news apps are dying off, and reports on the Univision purchase of Gawker.

[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