Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sick, Cruel Canada Begins its Annual Baby Seal Slaughter: Bludgeoning, Skinning Alive Seal Pups: Largest Slaughter of Marine Mammals on Earth

Every year I unfortunately have to post about this. Unbelievable that it’s still going on. Again, this is grown men going out and bludgeoning baby seals.

As stated at

Canada’s annual seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on Earth. Last year, the world looked on in horror as the Canadian government permitted the slaughter of more than 330,000 harp seals. During the hunt, baby seals are shot or repeatedly clubbed. Sealers bludgeon the animals with clubs and “hakapiks” (clubs with metal hooks on their ends) and drag the seals—who are still conscious—across the ice floes with boat hooks. Many of these animals are even skinned alive. Hunters toss dead and dying seals into heaps and leave their carcasses to rot on the ice floes because there is no market for seal meat. Veterinarians who have investigated the hunt have found that hunters routinely fail to comply with Canada’s animal welfare standards.

It is legal in Canada to kill seal pups when they are about 12 days old. During last year’s hunt, almost all the seals killed were 3 months old or younger. Many had not yet learned how to swim or eaten their first solid meals. Baby seals are helpless and have no way to escape from the sealers’ clubs.”

Unfortunately, they will now take their slaughter to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island Friday.

For more about what you can do to stop this, and to view photos and videos that show proof of the horrible violence of this issue, see:


Seal hunt ends off Iles de la Madeleine; more than 17,200 killed

By The Canadian Press

HALIFAX, N.S. - Seal hunters returned to the ice in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence for a few hours Wednesday to kill the last remaining seals allowed under their quota off Iles de la Madeleine.

Phil Jenkins, a spokesman for the federal Fisheries Department, said about 17,200 seals were killed on Monday and Tuesday, leaving only a few hundred remaining before the hunt ended at 10 a.m. local time.

Helicopters carrying observers from two animal welfare groups headed out to witness the final stage of the hunt, which involved sealers from the Quebec islands.

In addition to sealers in boats, the hunt involved sealers who were able to reach the animals by snowmobile and all-terrain vehicles because of ice that reached the shore.

Jenkins said a hunt in the gulf for sealers from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island is scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. Friday.

"That's the earliest, weather dependent," he said.

About 50 licensed sealers plus their crew will take part in that hunt between Iles de la Madeleine and Cape Breton. It has a small quota of 1,435 animals.

The federal government has set a combined allowable catch for this year's East Coast seal hunt of 338,200 harp, hooded and grey seals.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Burt's Bees, Tom's of Maine, Naked Juice, Cascadian Farms, White Wave, Boca, Ben and Jerry’s, the Body Shop: The Truth of Who Really Owns Them

A great article that really brings to light that many of the companies that market themselves as cruelty free or environmental are actually owned by horribly cruel companies that engage in animal testing and create products known for their toxic chemicals.

We wrote a while back about Tom's of Maine Selling Out to Animal Testing Giant Colgate-Palmolive -

In that, we also discuss other sell outs. Notably, White Wave, Celestial Seasonings, Boca, Ben and Jerry’s, the Body Shop, and numerous others. In fact, I wrote about the Body Shop’s sell out here:

As I stated, who would know that if you buy Boca you support Altria, or, what was once known as Philip Morris. Or when you buy Ben and Jerry’s you support Unilever. Sad state of affairs.

The point is that if you are committed to animal rights or environmental issues, know the truth behind the brands. Know who owns what.

Here are a few shockers listed in the story below:

Burt's Bees is now owned by Clorox, a massive corporate company that has historically cared very little about the environment, but whose main industry is directly associated with harmful chemicals, some of which require warning labels for legal sale.”

General Mills owns Cascadian Farm; Barbara's Bakery is owned by Weetabix, the leading British cereal company, which is owned by a private investment firm in England; Mother's makes it clear that it is owned by Quaker Oats (which is owned by PepsiCo); Health Valley and Arrowhead Mills are owned by Hain Celestial Group, a natural food company traded on the NASDAQ, with H.J. Heinz owning 16 percent of that company.”

Odwalla wasn't the small company it once was. It is now owned by Coca-Cola.”

Coca-Cola also owns Glaceau, the company once known for its "fresh new approach to bottled water that is inspired by nature and enhanced by science." Glaceau is the maker of Vitamin Water, Fruit Water, Smart Water and Vitamin Energy…”

Pepsi bought Naked Juice in 2006 for $450 million, in order to compete with Odwalla.”

Horizon Organic milk was bought out by the largest diary company in the U.S., Dean Foods Co., in 2005.”

Stoneyfield Farm Yogurt. I knew its socially conscious CEO, Gary Hirshberg, had created major organic brand recognition to become the No. 1 seller of organic yogurt in the United States, but since then Danone, the French conglomerate (which also owns Brown Cow), acquired a majority holding in Stoneyfield. This is the same Danone that had to recall large quantities of its yogurt in 2007 after it was found to contain unsafe levels of dioxins.”


Burt's Bees, Tom's of Maine, Naked Juice: Your Favorite Brands? Take Another Look -- They May Not Be What They Seem

By Andrea Whitfill, AlterNet. Posted March 17, 2009.

Confident that you are buying good, socially conscious brands? Find out the real story behind all that marketing money and store visibility.

My first introduction to natural, organic and eco-friendly products stems back to the early '90s, when I stumbled upon Burt’s Bees lip balm at an independently owned health food store in the heart of Westport, Kansas City, Mo.

Before the eyesore invasion of ’98, when Starbucks frothed its way into the neighborhood, leading to its ultimate demise, Westport was the kind of 'hood I still yearn for. It was saturated with historically preserved, hip and funky, mom-and-pop-type establishments, delivering their goods people to people.

I was surprised more recently when I saw Burt's Bees products everywhere -- in grocery stores, drug stores, corner bodegas and big-box stores like Target and Wal-Mart. I thought to myself, fantastic; the marketplace is working, and good for Burt. He has made his mark, and the demand for his products is on the rise.

Needless to say, I was shocked when I recently found out that Burt's Bees is now owned by Clorox, a massive corporate company that has historically cared very little about the environment, but whose main industry is directly associated with harmful chemicals, some of which require warning labels for legal sale.

Clorox; yes, that's right -- the bleach company with an estimated revenue of $ 4.8 billion that employs nearly 7,600 workers (now bees) and sells products like Liquid-Plumr, Pine-Sol and Armor All, a far cry from the origins of Burt.

I now understood. The reason Burt's Bees products were everywhere was precisely because they now had a powerful corporation in the driver's seat, with big marketing budgets and existing distribution systems.

The story of Burt is a charming one gone bad. Burt Shavitz, a beekeeper in Dexter, Maine, lived an extremely humble life selling honey in pickle jars from the back of his pickup truck and resided in the wilderness inside a turkey coop without running water or electricity.

In the summer of 1984, Shavitz was driving down the road and spotted a hitchhiker who needed a lift to the post office. He pulled over and picked up Roxanne Quimby, a 34-year-old woman who eventually became Shavitz's lover and business partner. Quimby started helping him tend to the beehives, and that eventually led to the all natural-inspired health care products made with Shavitz's honey and the birth of Burt's Bees products.

Burt's story and very powerful narrative gave Burt's Bees products their legitimacy in my book. Creative entrepreneurs and knowledgeable consumers together working their magic; not the results of a corporate behemoth out to dominate the marketplace.

However, Quimby and Shavitz's relationship became 'sticky' in the late '90s for reasons unclear, yet probably having little to do with honey. Their romantic break up carried over to the split of their business partnership as well. In 1999, Quimby bought out Shavitz's shares of the company for a small six-figure sum. Quimby then continued, becoming phenomenally successfully and growing sales to $43.5 million by 2002.

In 2003, a private equity firm, AEA investors, purchased 80 percent of Burt's Bees from Quimby, with her retaining a 20 percent share and a seat on the board. In 2006, John Replogle, the former general manager of Unilever's skin-care division became CEO and president of Burt's Bees. The company was sold to Clorox in late October 2007 for $925 million.

Quimby was paid more than $300 million for her stake in Burt's Bees. At the time of that deal, Shavitz reportedly demanded more money, and Quimby agreed to pay him $4 million. Quimby now refurbishes fancy, swank homes in Florida, travels the world and buys massive chunks of land in her free time. Our bearded man Shavitz, on the other hand, now 73 and unchanged, continues to reside amidst nature in his now-expanded turkey coop, which still remains absent of electricity or running water.

The Burt's Bees story is disconcerting. I vaguely remembered long ago that one of my favorite ice cream products, Ben & Jerry's, sold out. Unilever (which also owns Breyers), the giant conglomerate with an estimated market cap of $50 billion and close to 174,000 employees, bought Ben & Jerry's in 2000 for $326 million.

I began to wonder about the other products I liked, trusted and respected for their independence and their social responsibility. How many were really owned by big corporations, who were going out of their way to hide the link between the big corporate company with the small, socially responsible brand? It didn't take long for my list of disappointments to grow and grow.

Upon first meeting someone, I can usually tell a quite a lot about them by the contents of their bathroom. The brand I see most often behind medicine cabinets of people I consider to be environmentally conscious is Tom's of Maine. What Tom's says to me about the person is that they are willing to spend a little bit of extra cash in order to take proactive steps to help green the Earth.

Well, no more. My bathroom assessments will never be the same. Tom's of Maine is owned by Colgate-Palmolive, a massive, tanklike company with an estimated 36,000 employees and revenue of approximately $11.4 billion. Its big products include: Ajax, Anbesol and Speedstick.

I am only left to wonder, is Trader Joe's, popularly known to showcase Tom's of Maine in its hygiene department, just as much in the dark about all of this as I have been? Or is Joe's simply another conduit for big corporate products?

As my curiosity grew, I took a little field trip to the grocery store with one of my friends to be a "brand anthropologist." "Let's get to the bottom of this," I said, aiming to check out all of the brands that I and countless other good consumers were buying in our efforts to support grassroots business and not corporate behemoths. Little did I know how deep the hole was going to be, and in some cases, how hard to find out who owns what.

Thinking Dairy

In the dairy section sit many flavors of Stoneyfield Farm Yogurt. I knew its socially conscious CEO, Gary Hirshberg, had created major organic brand recognition to become the No. 1 seller of organic yogurt in the United States, but since then Danone, the French conglomerate (which also owns Brown Cow), acquired a majority holding in Stoneyfield. This is the same Danone that had to recall large quantities of its yogurt in 2007 after it was found to contain unsafe levels of dioxins. (In an interesting twist, the still-active Hirshberg sits on the board of Dannon U.S.A. Unlike most of the early entrepreneurs, who took the dough and left the scene, Hirshberg is still involved. )

Meanwhile, I learned that Horizon Organic milk was bought out by the largest diary company in the U.S., Dean Foods Co., in 2005.

Thirsty? Juices and Water

Next I ventured to the juice section. Drinking Odwalla juices was an expensive habit I had justified for years because of its healthy California brand. The ubiquitous refrigerators in thousands of stores should have given it away that Odwalla wasn't the small company it once was. It is now owned by Coca-Cola. Almost as soon as Coca-Cola bought the company, back in 2001 for $181 million, it stopped selling the fresh-squeezed OJ that had made Odwalla famous and popular among the healthy set. With its massive distribution system, fresh squeezed wouldn't last the days and weeks the juices are in transit or on the shelf.

Not to be outdone (although it took it a while), Pepsi bought Naked Juice in 2006 for $450 million, in order to compete with Odwalla. Smuckers, the brand we are told is the "brand we can trust", grabbed several juice mainstays from the health food store shelves: After the fall -- R.W. Knudsen and Santa Cruz Organic.

Turns out that Coca-Cola also owns Glaceau, the company once known for its "fresh new approach to bottled water that is inspired by nature and enhanced by science." Glaceau is the maker of Vitamin Water, Fruit Water, Smart Water and Vitamin Energy -- all bottled waters that are adorably marketed and loaded with sugar. It's no wonder Coca-Cola was slapped with a lawsuit in 2006 for making deceptive and unsubstantiated health claims in its Vitamin Water marketing strategies; they are selling glorified sugar water.

As for bottled water, egads! That's a whole article in and of itself. The scourge of bottled water, of course, is an environmental disaster on many levels, as corporations have moved in to take control of water local supplies, while some of the same companies and their mega advertising budgets have created a giant market for bottled water, with enormous waste from plastic bottles and giant carbon foot prints as water is shipped over many thousands of miles from Fiji for example, or Italy, when pretty much no bottled water is needed. Frequently, tap water is of higher quality and more closely tested than bottled water.

And as Michael Blanding notes on AlterNet, "In fact, many times bottled water is tap water. Contrary to the image of water flowing from pristine mountain springs, more than a quarter of bottled water actually comes from municipal water supplies. The industry is dominated by three companies, who together control more than half the market: Coca-Cola, which produces Dasani; Pepsi, which produces Aquafina; and Nestle, which produces several "local" brands, including Poland Spring, Arrowhead, Deer Park, Ozarka and Calistoga. Both Coke and Pepsi exclusively use tap water for their sources, while Nestle uses tap water in some brands.

The Breakfast Nook

Over in the breakfast aisle, my friend was a bit apoplectic when we learned that the "super healthy" Kashi cereals, the favorites of millions of healthy breakfast eaters, was bought in July 2000 for an "undisclosed sum" by Kellogg's, the 12th-largest company in North American food sales, according to Food Processing. I picked up a box of Kashi's "Go Lean Crunch" and searched every word; not one mention of the fact that Kellogg's owns them. That change was rally below the radar. In 2004, Kraft Foods, known for processed cheeses and Kool-Aid, bought the natural cereal maker Back to Nature. Kraft is a subsidiary of Altria, which also owns Philip Morris USA, one of the world's largest producers of cigarettes.

According to the New York Times, "Many of the alternative cereal brands are owned by larger companies, including Kellogg and General Mills."

"Cereals, like milk, are one of the primary entrance points for use of organics," said Lara Christenson of Spins, a market research group for the natural products industry, "which is pretty closely tied to children -- health concerns, keeping pesticides, especially antibiotics, out of the diets of children. These large firms wanted to get a foothold in the natural and organic marketplace. Because of the mind-set of consumers, branding of these products has to be very different than traditional cereals."

These corporate connections are often kept quiet. "There is frequently a backlash when a big cereal package-goods company buys a natural or organic company," Christenson said. "I don't want to say it's manipulative, but consumers are led to believe these brands are pure, natural or organic brands. It's very purposely done."

A little more digging shows that General Mills owns Cascadian Farm; Barbara's Bakery is owned by Weetabix, the leading British cereal company, which is owned by a private investment firm in England; Mother's makes it clear that it is owned by Quaker Oats (which is owned by PepsiCo); Health Valley and Arrowhead Mills are owned by Hain Celestial Group, a natural food company traded on the NASDAQ, with H.J. Heinz owning 16 percent of that company.

The Sweet Tooth

After the Kashi news, I wondered what was next? I didn't have to go any further than the organic chocolate aisle of my favorite deli to find Green and Black's organic chocolate was taken over in 2005 by Schweppes, the 10th-largest company in North American packaged-food sales. And even more surprising to chocolate lovers is that Dagoba Chocolate, which had a little cult chocolate following for a while, is surprise, surprise, owned by Hershey Foods.

There seems to be an apt analogy between the huge growth in the "naturalization" of packaged goods in grocery stores and supermarket aisles and the massive transformation of organic fresh foods. Organic farming began as a grassroots movement to produce food that was healthier and better for the land. But it is now a huge, $20 billion industry, increasingly dominated by large agribusiness companies. Furthermore, when the government certifies food as "organic," it has nothing to do with the original values of locally grown produce, workers being treated fairly, etc.

So it may cheer some to know that on the East Coast, McDonald's has served fair-trade-certified Newman's Own organic coffee in stores, while others may cringe at the words of Lee Scott, former CEO of WalMart, when he said, "We are particularly excited about organic food, the fastest-growing category in all of food."

"What's important to keep in mind is that these big corporations are getting into organics not because they have doubts about their prior business practices or doubts about chemical, industrial agriculture," said Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association. "They're getting in because they want to make a lot of money -- they want to make it fast." He said the companies couldn't care less about "family farmers making the transition to organic farms."

What does this all mean? One conclusion it is easy to come to is that big food companies and the stores and supermarkets that deliver their goods have stretched and abused descriptions of food until they are sometimes almost meaningless, and consumers believe that they are getting more benefits than they actually are. Consumers "walk down the aisle in the grocery stores' health and beauty area, and they're confronted with 'natural' at every turn," says Daniel Fabricant, vice president for scientific and regulatory affairs at the Natural Products Association. "We just don't want to see the term misused any longer."

On the other hand, Roger Cowe, a financial commentator states: "If you want to change what people consume on a grand scale, you have to penetrate mass markets. And you can't do that if you're a small, specialist brand stuck in the organic or whole-food niche, even if that means you are on supermarket shelves. It is a familiar dilemma: stay pure and have a big impact on a small scale, or compromise and have a small impact on a grand scale."

Some think that socially responsible business sellers don't lose it all when selling out. Both Craig Sams from Green and Black chocolate and the late Anita Roddick from the Body Shop ( sold to L'Oreal/Nestle -- one of the most vilified of multinational companies) have said that they believe that an acquired ethical company can influence its new parent to improve its corporate behavior.

Others are not so positive about this turn of events. Judy Wickes from the Social Venture Network describes corporate takeovers of socially responsible businesses as "a threat to democracy when wealth and power are concentrated into a few hands." And David Korten, in his book, When Corporations Rule the World, explained how sustainable business "should be human scale -- not necessarily tiny firms, but preferably not more than 500 people -- always with a bias to smaller is better."

It is clear that so-called organic brands are a rapidly growing portion of the consumer dollar, and that every major food corporation has invested deeply in buying these already-established brands.

Marketing strategies have been fooling us to trust that the niche brands continue to be small, environmentally conscious businesses that combine ecologically sound practices with a political agenda to put products out on the market under a business model of "the Greater Good."

In fact, they are frequently cogs in the giant corporate wheel. I like to refer to this "other" business model as "We've Been Had." It is time for we, the consumer, to question how much the ownership and neglectful marketing of these "pseudo" responsible brands warrant crossing them off our shopping list.

And it is time to find products more in tune with our values, which include thinking small. At least until they, too, get bought out by some large conglomerate.

The Obvious Cruelty of Keeping Chimpanzees in Captivity: Will it Ever End?

I’ll let this opening quote from the story below state it all: “Nobody should own a chimpanzee. Not in America. Not even in Africa, home of all chimpanzees not born in captivity.”

Overall, a great article that points out the obvious.


Chimps R Us: How Much Longer Are We Going to Keep Our Cousins as Pets?

By G. Pascal Zachary, AlterNet. Posted March 17, 2009.

A life of captivity is too cruel for chimpanzees and dangerous for their owners. We should give them the freedoms we grant ourselves.
Nobody should own a chimpanzee. Not in America. Not even in Africa, home of all chimpanzees not born in captivity.

The gruesome attack by an adult chimpanzee on its Connecticut owner last month provided a vivid reminder of why Congress should impose a complete ban on keeping chimps as pets. .

Twenty states still permit this dubious instance of animal loving. Last month, the House has passed a bill ending this option. Now the Senate must do the same. The debate in Congress centers on practical reasons against keeping chimpanzees. They are simply too dangerous to live alongside humans; and caring for them properly, in a private home, is virtually impossible.

The utilitarian case against pet ownership obscures a wider moral lesson about relations between chimpanzees and their human kin. They are too much like us not to be included in our what intellectual historian David Hollinger calls "the circle of we.".

A close genetic relative to humans, chimpanzees are intelligent, sensitive, solve problems and form coherent social relationships. They plan, they improvise, they endure. For those who closely study or assist chimpanzees, either in the wild or in African sanctuaries, come to believe, as I do, that chimpanzees are as glorious as humans -- and deserve to exist on some roughly equal plane as us.

"Chimpanzees deserve to be treated with the same dignity as a human being," says Sheri Speede, an Oregon veterinarian who runs a large chimp sanctuary in the West African country of Cameroon. "They are entitled to the same quality of life as we are."

If Speede is correct, should not chimpanzees be as free as humans? Should the nation debate -- with the same energy shown in the national conversation over the practice of keeping chimpanzees as pets -- ending the incarceration of the 269 chimpanzees now captive in 35 American zoos?

I perhaps have no standing to ask this question. I am not an expert in chimpanzees, nor have I been a militant defender of their rights and entitlements. At least not for very long.

My first close encounter with a chimpanzee came eight years ago. On a whim, I visited the zoo in Accra, Ghana. I saw an African woman inside a small enclosure, playing with an orphaned 1-year-old chimpanzee named Jimmy. Hunters had killed his mother.

The woman, named Chizo, was his surrogate mother. She joined Jimmy in his cage -- under the supervision of a primate expert from Europe -- bringing him some measure of natural development, since unrelated chimpanzees would not likely befriend him.

Baby chimpanzees are smarter than humans at the same age, research has shown (and orphaned chimps, given human care can be even smarter; one study, published in February, found that such chimps recorded higher scores on IQ tests than many human infants). As I returned to the zoo in successive days in order to strike up a friendship with Chizo, I came to agree with the scientific consensus, marveling at Jimmy's intelligence.

He quickly concluded, for instance, that I was a rival for Chizo's attention. And with an eerie insight, the afternoon that I first asked her on a date, Jimmy mounted a vigorous effort to prevent her from departing his cage, blocking the escape door over and over, even threatening to break out with her.

He kept me waiting on the other side of the bars. Time and again, I thought he'd planned this whole stalemate, simply to upset me. (Indeed, researchers in Sweden this month published a study documenting the "contingency plans" made by one adult chimp in a Swedish zoo.)

Chizo worked closely with Jimmy more than a year. Their partnership was ended by Chizo's decision move with me to the U.S. Before we left Ghana, we both felt sorrow over leaving Jimmy behind.

An effort by a global network of chimpanzees activists failed to secure Jimmy's release to a sanctuary, where he could live in a natural environment, while still under the protection of humans. After we settled in the U.S., another serious attempt was made to gain Jimmy's release, but again the government of Ghana refused.

The recent controversy over pet chimpanzees made me think about the hundreds of chimps in zoos in America and around the world -- and of Jimmy, too. He remains in a zoo in Ghana, although he's been joined by another orphan, a younger female, also rescued and brought to the zoo after the slaughter by hunters of her parents.

In September, Chizo and I visited Jimmy and his new friend. Jimmy instantly recognized Chizo from a distance of more than 100 feet. Jimmy, now 7 years old, is too big and strong to permit Chizo to join him in his cage. Yet they played anyway, hugging and dancing separated by steel bars. Jimmy showed off, jumping from a high perch onto a trampoline and doing endless somersaults.

He remembered me, too, though with less affection. Shrewdly drawing close to him by extending one hand in friendship, I approached the bars, looked in the eyes -- and then watched in astonishment as he three a hand full of waste at me. I ducked, adroitly, causing him to miss.

For a few hours, we played a game of cat and mouse. He drew me closer through acts of kindness, and then turned against me. Sometimes, he tossed waste at me with an unnerving accuracy, other times he spat in my direction.

Those days visiting Jimmy in the Kumasi zoo convinced me that, while he could not understand why Chizo and I had vanished from his life, he had felt long and hard our absence -- and now celebrated our return.

Before I departed, I asked the zoo director might he ever release Jimmy? I offered, as others have before, to arrange his transfer to sanctuary -- a kind of "gated community" where chimps experience something akin to living in the wild, yet are protected from hunters, each other and truly wild chimps who might attack them with lethal force.

I've visited Speede's sanctuary in Cameroon and seen up close the excellent care the chimps receive -- and their happy communion with each other and the forest. There are two other chimpanzee sanctuaries in this West African country, and together they are searching for land where a select group of their chimps can be released into a freer environment.

Releasing chimps, grown accustomed to the comforts of a sanctuary, is fraught; their survival skills diminished, these chimps can fall prey to other animals, hunters or even disease.

Speede, for instance, gives chimps medical care, and her sanctuary has special fencing, even at the canopy of the forest, to keep wild chimps from mounting attacks.

Lovers of chimpanzees worry of course that these human relatives are doomed to extinction as the lush forests they inhabit get cut down by loggers, bisected by roads and infiltrated by hunters. Trade in so-called bush meat, while illegal and constrained, continues. Demand comes from wealthier city dwellers, some of whom live in Europe or America.

Speede believes that sanctuaries -- and "release" programs of the sort she's preparing -- may be the only means of preventing the ultimate destruction of chimpanzees and their extraordinary ways of being.

If she's right, should Americans consider supporting such sanctuaries rather than the zoos where we now visit chimpanzees? In the case of Jimmy, I'm certain he would prefer to live in one of the two dozen sanctuaries around Africa. His cage in Ghana is small and has a cold concrete floor. The zoo director's desire for Jimmy to impregnate a female at the zoo strikes me as unwise. Given the longevity of chimps, Jimmy could easily live 30 or more years in his cage -- outliving me, easily, yet serving as a source of amusement and education for visitors to the Kumasi Zoo.

"He's our top attraction," the zoo director told me, when he once more rejected the idea of letting Jimmy go.

To free the 269 chimpanzees in American zoos is perhaps less urgent, because these zoos long ago switched to larger, more flexible enclosures that produce an illusion of open space. I do not doubt that the 269 chimpanzees residing in these advanced enclosures are unaware of their captivity.

The question is how long can we, the jailers, allow that to continue?

Cruel Australia will Resort to Shooting Kangaroos to Deal with Population Issues

Again, a group taking a very limited view of how to deal with an issue. Going straight to the “let’s kill it away” proposal.


Kangaroos in the firing line in Australia

By ROD McGUIRK, Associated Press Writer Rod Mcguirk, Associated Press Writer – Tue Mar 17, 7:48 am ET
Kangaroos are seen in a field outside of government house in Canberra, Australia AP – Kangaroos are seen in a field outside of government house in Canberra, Australia Oct. 23, 2006. An official …

CANBERRA, Australia – Australia's capital is plagued by too many kangaroos, and the best solution is to shoot them, an official said Tuesday. Horrified conservationists vowed to demonstrate if authorities followed through.

Canberra has among the densest populations of the common eastern gray kangaroo in Australia, and they are regularly seen hopping in parks and other places around the city.

The kangaroo is a national emblem of Australia, but it can also be a nuisance. The animals munching grass and shrubs around Canberra are degrading their own habitats and adding to threats posed to rare insects and lizards.

Kangaroos hopping across streets are a frequent traffic hazard in the city, and they can pose other problems — as one family in the area discovered last week when a confused and panicked kangaroo leapt through a bedroom window and bounded around the house until it was thrust out the front door.

Jon Stanhope, the chief minister of the Australian Capital Territory where Canberra is located, released a draft plan Tuesday describing how his government would reduce numbers the city's kangaroo population by shooting them — a method that has long divided this community of 330,000 people.

The plan does not say how many kangaroos should be killed.

Supporters say the absence of more effective biological controls leaves shooting as the most humane way to control kangaroo numbers.

"There are probably more eastern gray kangaroos in Canberra now than any time in the last 100 years," Stanhope told reporters. "I think we have perhaps tried too hard not to cull."

The population of kangaroos in the area is hard to determine because the animals move frequently, according to the availability of grass and water.

The territory's government has been involved since 1998 in research to develop an oral contraceptive for kangaroos but none is yet effective in the wild.

Stanhope said the research to develop humane alternatives to shooting would be encouraged.

The report ruled out trapping and trucking kangaroos to where they are less abundant because the process was expensive, unproven and illogical given there was no threat to the species' survival.

Pat O'Brien, president of the Wildlife Protection Association of Australia, warned that authorities would be met by protests if they tried to shoot kangaroos.

"The whole thing is a propaganda exercise to try to get public support for killing kangaroos," O'Brien said. Kangaroo number were high, "but there's certainly not too many of them."

The killing of 400 kangaroos out of 600 at an abandoned military site in Canberra last year triggered several heated protests.

Those kangaroos were killed with lethal injections because firearms were judged to be too dangerous at the site, which was within Canberra's city limits.

Recent government surveys said some 17 percent of Canberra drivers had reported colliding with a kangaroo at sometime in the past, though 82 percent of respondents considered it important that wild kangaroos continue to live in the city.

Lion Shot and Killed at Australian Zoo

Just another posting in the “why zoos are unnatural and unnecessary” segment.


Lion shot after escaping Australian zoo enclosure

Wed Mar 18, 3:43 am ET

SYDNEY – A lioness was fatally shot after breaking out of its enclosure at an Australian zoo and forcing visitors to hide in nearby buildings, a zoo official said Wednesday.

The 9-year-old lioness was shot on Tuesday by an employee of Mogo Zoo in Mogo, about 190 miles (300 kilometers) south of Sydney, the zoo's business manager John Appleby said.

The lion, named Jameila, never reached a public area, but officials were concerned the animal might and decided to shoot it, Appleby said.

"She was moving quite slowly towards a public area, but under the circumstances a decision was made to put her down," he said. "Because it was a lion, it was considered a dangerous animal, and protocol is if there is any potential risk to the public a decision would be made."

Zoo officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment on how the animal escaped its enclosure.

About 30 people were visiting the zoo when the lion broke loose. After being alerted by zoo officials about the escape, visitors hid in buildings throughout the grounds until the animal was killed, Appleby said.

"I wouldn't say there was any panic — I think it was all very controlled," he said.

Staff members were devastated by the death of the cat, which was born at the zoo.

"It's an absolute loss," Appleby said. "The team are still quite upset."

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