A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘animal rights

[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

[LINK] “More African Elephants May Be Sold to China This Year”

National Geographic‘s Adam Cruise reports on Zimbabwe’s continued export of elephants to China. This may be better that killing surplus elephants wholesale, but there are still obvious ethical issues afoot.

In October 2014, tens of young elephants were taken from their family groups in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, where they were held in a capture unit for eight months until July 2015. That’s when 24 were flown to the Qingyuan quarantine facility in Guangdong Province before being transferred to Chimelong Safari Park, also in Guangdong.

Oppah Muchinguri, Zimbabwe’s minister of environment, water and climate, said that more of the country’s wildlife will be captured and sent to China to give them a better and safer environment, according to the China Daily. Muchinguri spoke during a visit to the Qingyuan animals and plants preservation center, Guangdong, on New Year’s Eve.

“We are happy that young African animals have been well accommodated here in China,” she said. “We are willing to export more in the years to come as it would help in the preservation of wild animals.”

In September 2015, National Geographic reported that the elephants in China were being mistreated and were slipping into poor health.

Previously, in 2012, Zimbabwe exported eight elephants to China, according to a database produced by the Convention on International Trade in Wild Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), the international body that sets wildlife trade policy. Only four survived the journey. Another three died shortly after arriving in China, leaving only one surviving elephant.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 2, 2016 at 5:47 pm

[LINK] On Australia fining Japanese whalers off Antarctica

The National Post carries this Associated Press article. Now, to enforce it!

An Australian court fined a Japanese whaling company 1 million Australian dollars ($700,000) on Wednesday for violating a court order that it stop hunting whales in an area off Antarctica.

Federal Court Justice Jayne Jagot found that Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha, the company that operates Japan’s hunting ships, had repeatedly breached a 2008 court injunction to stop killing whales inside Australia’s exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from Australian-declared territory in Antarctica.

Commercial whaling was banned in 1986, but Japan continued to kill whales under an exemption for scientific research. The country does not recognize Australia’s territorial claim on the waters off Antarctica, and kept up its annual hunt despite the 2008 injunction until the International Court of Justice ruled last year that the hunts were not truly scientific.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 19, 2015 at 12:54 pm

[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


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