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‘Gay’ Penguins to Be Separated at Toronto Zoo November 15, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Animal Protection, Humor, LGBT.
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Roger’s note: I don’t know if we need to alert the gay rights or the animal rights folks; but something has to be done for poor Buddy and Pedro!

Nov 8, 2011 12:25pm
ht pedro buddy penguins jef 111108 wblog Gay Penguins to Be Separated at Toronto ZooToronto Zoo to separate two “gay” penguins so that they can breed. (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star)

The amorous connection between two inseparable male penguins will soon come to an end when the Toronto Zoo pairs them with females.

“The males will be put in with a specific female so they have the chance to get to know one another, and if they bond, that’s what we’re looking for,”   Bill Rapley, the zoo’s executive director of conservation and wildlife, told ABCNews.com.

Buddy, 21, and Pedro, 10, lived in a zoo in Toledo, Ohio, before traveling to Canada to become part of the Toronto Zoo’s first African penguin exhibit in 18 years.

Zookeepers quickly observed courtship and mating behaviors that are typically  exhibited only between males and females.

“When you put things in captivity, odd things happen,”  Kevin McGowan of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca, N.Y., told ABCNews.com. “The way penguins work is they do get paired for a long time. Basically, the only other penguin they care about is their mate, so it’s important for them to find somebody who’s compatible, and if you don’t have a normal upbringing then it’s difficult to say how ‘normal’ they can be.”

Buddy and Pedro, who were both raised in captivity, pair together every night, “bray” at one another, groom each other, and never seem to tire of standing alongside each other, the Toronto Star reported.

But because the penguins have “top-notch genes,” zookeepers want them to breed with females to help populate the species, which is endangered.

According to the Toronto Zoo’s website, the African penguin population initially declined because their eggs had been overharvested, and many of their habitats had been disturbed. Today, oil pollution and a shrinking food supply exacerbated by commercial fishing are the major threats to their existence.

The zoo is now engaged in a species survival plan to help the species populate.

But just because Buddy and Pedro are placed with females doesn’t mean they will want to pair with them, which might pose a challenge to the zoo’s attempts at animal husbandry.

“They don’t necessarily do what you want them to do, and what can be kind of tricky is getting them to accept the mate you want them to have,” said McGowan.

Part of the reason penguins tend to be so picky about their mates, he said, is because rearing chicks is “one of the hardest working times of their lives,” McGowan said. “There’s an awful lot of feeding.

“You can imagine if you’re going to invest so much time and energy in a chick … you would be choosy [about your mate] in that situation,” he said. “And the penguins are relatively choosy.”

Buddy might have an easier time adapting than Pedro. Before Buddy arrived  at the Toronto Zoo, he paired with a female for “quite a few years,” and they had eggs together, Tom Mason, Toronto Zoo curator of birds, told ABCNews.com.  ”After she passed away, Buddy was put with Pedro at the other zoo [in Ohio] and now they’ve been put in here to specifically breed with females. We’re setting up colony of 12 – to maximize genetics and avoid inbreeding.”

But when the breeding season is over, all the birds will eventually return to the same enclosure, and “if Buddy and Pedro want to be together … they will be back together, ” said Mason.

A Few Facts About African Penguins

  • Pairs mate for life
  • They live about 15 to 20 years
  • Both males and females incubate eggs
  • The population has dropped from millions to less than 60,000 since the 1800s

Wolves Fall Prey to Canada’s Rapacious Tar Sands Business September 18, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Animal Protection, Canada, Energy, Environment.
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Published on Saturday, September 17, 2011 by The Guardian/UK

On the pretext of protecting caribou, wolves are threatened with a cull. But the real ‘conservation’ is of oil industry profits

  by  Paul Paquet

Wolves are routinely, baselessly and contemptuously blamed for the demise of everything from marmots to mountain caribou in western Canada. Given that attitude, we at Raincoast Conservation Foundation are appalled, though not surprised, by Canada’s proposed strategy to “recover” dwindling populations of boreal forest caribou in northern Alberta’s tar sands territory. Essentially, the plan favours the destruction of wolves over any consequential protection, enhancement or expansion of caribou habitat.

Clearly, the caribou recovery strategy is not based on ecological principles or available science. Rather, it represents an ideology on the part of advocates for industrial exploitation of our environment, which subsumes all other principles to economic growth, always at the expense of ecological integrity. Owing to the breadth of the human niche, which continues to expand via technological progress, the human economy grows at the competitive exclusion of nonhuman species in the aggregate. The real cost of Alberta’s tar sands development, which includes the potential transport of oil by Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipelines is being borne by wolves, caribou and other wild species.

 

Consistent with Canada’s now well-deserved reputation as an environmental laggard, the caribou recovery strategy evolved over several years and many politicised iterations, carefully massaged by government pen pushers and elected officials who did their very best to ignore and obscure the advice of consulting biologists and ecologists. So, the government should quit implying that the consultation approach provides a scientifically credible basis for decisions. Apparently, scientists can lead federal Environment Minister Peter Kent to information, but they cannot make him think.

Egged on by a rapacious oil industry, the federal government has chosen to scapegoat wolves for the decline of boreal caribou in a morally and scientifically bankrupt attempt to protect Canada’s industrial sacred cow: the tar sands. Yet, the ultimate reason why the caribou are on the way out is because multiple human disturbances – most pressingly, the tar sands development – have altered their habitat into a landscape that can no longer provide the food, cover and security they need.

The relentless destruction of boreal forest wilderness via tar sands development has conspired to deprive caribou of their life requisites while exposing them to levels of predation they did not evolve with and are incapable of adapting to. Consequently, caribou are on a long-term slide to extinction; not because of what wolves and other predators are doing but because of what humans have already done.

Controlling wolves by killing them or by the use of non-lethal sterilisation techniques is biologically unsound as a long-term method for reducing wolf populations and protecting hoofed animals (ungulates) from predation. Lethal control has a well documented failed record of success as a means of depressing numbers of wolves over time. Killing wolves indiscriminately at levels sufficient to suppress populations disrupts pack social structure and upsets the stability of established territories, allowing more wolves to breed while promoting the immigration of wolves from nearby populations.

At the broadest level, the caribou strategy favours human selfishness at the expense of other species. Implicit is the idea that commercial enterprise is being purchased by the subversion of the natural world, with one set of ethical principles being applied to humans and another to the rest of nature. The strategy panders to the ecologically destructive wants of society by sacrificing the most basic needs of caribou. In doing so, it blatantly contradicts the lesson Aldo Leopold taught us so well: the basis of sound conservation is not merely pragmatic it; is also ethical.

Simply, the caribou strategy is not commensurate with the threats to the species’ survival. What is desperately needed is a caribou strategy designed to solve the problem faster than it is being created. Protecting limited habitat for caribou while killing thousands of wolves as the exploitation of the tar sands continues to expand will not accomplish this goal. Against scientific counsel otherwise, though, politicians have decided that industrial activities have primacy over the conservation needs of endangered caribou (and frankly, all things living).

Tar sands cheerleaders try hard to convince Canadians that we can become an “energy superpower” while maintaining our country’s environment. They are, of course, wrong. Thousands of wolves will be just some of the causalities along the way. Minister Kent and his successors will find more opportunity to feign empathy as Canadians also bid farewell to populations of birds, amphibians and other mammals, including caribou, that will be lost as collateral damage from tar sands development. How much of our country’s irreplaceable natural legacy will Canadians allow to be sacrificed at the altar of oil industry greed?

© Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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Paul Paquet

Paul Paquet is senior scientist with Raincoast Conservation Foundation. An international consultant and lecturer, with numerous university affiliations, he is an internationally recognised authority on mammalian carnivores, especially wolves.

One Day We’ll All Be Terrorists December 28, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Human Rights, Torture.
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Published on Monday, December 28, 2009 by TruthDig.comby Chris Hedges

Syed Fahad Hashmi can tell you about the dark heart of America. He knows that our First Amendment rights have become a joke, that habeas corpus no longer exists and that we torture, not only in black sites such as those at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan or at Guantánamo Bay, but also at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan. Hashmi is a U.S. citizen of Muslim descent imprisoned on two counts of providing and conspiring to provide material support and two counts of making and conspiring to make a contribution of goods or services to al-Qaida. As his case prepares for trial, his plight illustrates that the gravest threat we face is not from Islamic extremists, but the codification of draconian procedures that deny Americans basic civil liberties and due process. Hashmi would be a better person to tell you this, but he is not allowed to speak.

This corruption of our legal system, if history is any guide, will not be reserved by the state for suspected terrorists, or even Muslim Americans. In the coming turmoil and economic collapse, it will be used to silence all who are branded as disruptive or subversive. Hashmi endures what many others, who are not Muslim, will endure later. Radical activists in the environmental, globalization, anti-nuclear, sustainable agriculture and anarchist movements—who are already being placed by the state in special detention facilities with Muslims charged with terrorism—have discovered that his fate is their fate. Courageous groups have organized protests, including vigils outside the Manhattan detention facility. They can be found at www.educatorsforcivilliberties.org or www.freefahad.com. On Martin Luther King Day,  this Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. EST, protesters will hold a large vigil in front of the MCC on 150 Park Row in Lower Manhattan to call for a return of our constitutional rights. Join them if you can.

The case against Hashmi, like most of the terrorist cases launched by the Bush administration, is appallingly weak and built on flimsy circumstantial evidence. This may be the reason the state has set up parallel legal and penal codes to railroad those it charges with links to terrorism. If it were a matter of evidence, activists like Hashmi, who is accused of facilitating the delivery of socks to al-Qaida, would probably never be brought to trial.

Hashmi, who if convicted could face up to 70 years in prison, has been held in solitary confinement for more than 2½ years. Special administrative measures, known as SAMs, have been imposed by the attorney general to prevent or severely restrict communication with other prisoners, attorneys, family, the media and people outside the jail. He also is denied access to the news and other reading material. Hashmi is not allowed to attend group prayer. He is subject to 24-hour electronic monitoring and 23-hour lockdown. He must shower and go to the bathroom on camera. He can write one letter a week to a single member of his family, but he cannot use more than three pieces of paper. He has no access to fresh air and must take his one hour of daily recreation in a cage. His “proclivity for violence” is cited as the reason for these measures although he has never been charged or convicted with committing an act of violence.

“My brother was an activist,” Hashmi’s brother, Faisal, told me by phone from his home in Queens. “He spoke out on Muslim issues, especially those dealing with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His arrest and torture have nothing to do with providing ponchos and socks to al-Qaida, as has been charged, but the manipulation of the law to suppress activists and scare the Muslim American community. My brother is an example. His treatment is meant to show Muslims what will happen to them if they speak about the plight of Muslims. We have lost every single motion to preserve my brother’s humanity and remove the special administrative measures. These measures are designed solely to break the psyche of prisoners and terrorize the Muslim community. These measures exemplify the malice towards Muslims at home and the malice towards the millions of Muslims who are considered as non-humans in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The extreme sensory deprivation used on Hashmi is a form of psychological torture, far more effective in breaking and disorienting detainees. It is torture as science. In Germany, the Gestapo broke bones while its successor, the communist East German Stasi, broke souls. We are like the Stasi. We have refined the art of psychological disintegration and drag bewildered suspects into secretive courts when they no longer have the mental and psychological capability to defend themselves.

“Hashmi’s right to a fair trial has been abridged,” said Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “Much of the evidence in the case has been classified under CIPA, and thus Hashmi has not been allowed to review it. The prosecution only recently turned over a significant portion of evidence to the defense. Hashmi may not communicate with the news media, either directly or through his attorneys. The conditions of his detention have impacted his mental state and ability to participate in his own defense.

“The prosecution’s case against Hashmi, an outspoken activist within the Muslim community, abridges his First Amendment rights and threatens the First Amendment rights of others,” Ratner added. “While Hashmi’s political and religious beliefs, speech and associations are constitutionally protected, the government has been given wide latitude by the court to use them as evidence of his frame of mind and, by extension, intent. The material support charges against him depend on criminalization of association. This could have a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of others, particularly in activist and Muslim communities.”

Constitutionally protected statements, beliefs and associations can now become a crime. Dissidents, even those who break no laws, can be stripped of their rights and imprisoned without due process. It is the legal equivalent of preemptive war. The state can detain and prosecute people not for what they have done, or even for what they are planning to do, but for holding religious or political beliefs that the state deems seditious. The first of those targeted have been observant Muslims, but they will not be the last.

“Most of the evidence is classified,” Jeanne Theoharis, an associate professor of political science at Brooklyn College who taught Hashmi, told me, “but Hashmi is not allowed to see it. He is an American citizen. But in America you can now go to trial and all the evidence collected against you cannot be reviewed. You can spend 2½ years in solitary confinement before you are convicted of anything. There has been attention paid to extraordinary rendition, Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib with this false idea that if people are tried in the United States things will be fair. But what allowed Guantánamo to happen was the devolution of the rule of law here at home, and this is not only happening to Hashmi.”

Hashmi was, like so many of those arrested during the Bush years, briefly a poster child in the “war on terror.” He was apprehended in Britain on June 6, 2006, on a U.S. warrant. His arrest was the top story on the CBS and NBC nightly news programs, which used graphics that read “Terror Trail” and “Web of Terror.” He was held for 11 months at Belmarsh Prison in London and then became the first U.S. citizen to be extradited by Britain. The year before his arrest, Hashmi, a graduate of Brooklyn College, had completed his master’s degree in international relations at London Metropolitan University. His case has no more substance than the one against the seven men arrested on suspicion of plotting to blow up the Sears Tower, a case where, even though there were five convictions after two mistrials, an FBI deputy director acknowledged that the plan was more “aspirational rather than operational.” And it mirrors the older case of the Palestinian activist Sami Al-Arian, now under house arrest in Virginia, who has been hounded by the Justice Department although he should legally have been freed. Judge Leonie Brinkema, currently handling the Al-Arian case, in early March, questioned the U.S. attorney’s actions in Al-Arian’s plea agreement saying curtly: “I think there’s something more important here, and that’s the integrity of the Justice Department.”

The case against Hashmi revolves around the testimony of Junaid Babar, also an American citizen. Babar, in early 2004, stayed with Hashmi at his London apartment for two weeks. In his luggage, the government alleges, Babar had raincoats, ponchos and waterproof socks, which Babar later delivered to a member of al-Qaida in south Waziristan, Pakistan. It was alleged that Hashmi allowed Babar to use his cell phone to call conspirators in other terror plots.

“Hashmi grew up here, was well known here, was very outspoken, very charismatic and very political,” said Theoharis. “This is really a message being sent to American Muslims about the cost of being politically active. It is not about delivering alleged socks and ponchos and rain gear. Do you think al-Qaida can’t get socks and ponchos in Pakistan? The government is planning to introduce tapes of Hashmi’s political talks while he was at Brooklyn College at the trial. Why are we willing to let this happen? Is it because they are Muslims, and we think it will not affect us? People who care about First Amendment rights should be terrified. This is one of the crucial civil rights issues of our time. We ignore this at our own peril.”

Babar, who was arrested in 2004 and has pleaded guilty to five counts of material support for al-Qaida, also faces up to 70 years in prison. But he has agreed to serve as a government witness and has already testified for the government in terror trials in Britain and Canada. Babar will receive a reduced sentence for his services, and many speculate he will be set free after the Hashmi trial. Since there is very little evidence to link Hashmi to terrorist activity, the government will rely on Babar to prove intent. This intent will revolve around alleged conversations and statements Hashmi made in Babar’s presence. Hashmi, who was a member of the New York political group Al Muhajiroun as a student at Brooklyn College, has made provocative statements, including calling America “the biggest terrorist in the world,” but Al Muhajiroun is not defined by the government as a terrorist organization. Membership in the group is not illegal. And our complicity in acts of state terror is a historical fact.

There will be more Hashmis, and the Justice Department, planning for future detentions, set up in 2006 a segregated facility, the Communication Management Unit, at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind. Nearly all the inmates transferred to Terre Haute are Muslims. A second facility has been set up at Marion, Ill., where the inmates again are mostly Muslim but also include a sprinkling of animal rights and environmental activists, among them Daniel McGowan, who was charged with two arsons at logging operations in Oregon. His sentence was given “terrorism enhancements” under the Patriot Act. Amnesty International has called the Marion prison facility “inhumane.” All calls and mail—although communication customarily is off-limits to prison officials—are monitored in these two Communication Management Units. Communication among prisoners is required to be only in English. The highest-level terrorists are housed at the Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, known as Supermax, in Florence, Colo., where prisoners have almost no human interaction, physical exercise or mental stimulation, replicating the conditions for most of those held at Guantánamo. If detainees are transferred from Guantánamo to the prison in Thomson, Ill., they will find little change. They will endure Guantánamo-like conditions in colder weather.

Our descent is the familiar disease of decaying empires. The tyranny we impose on others we finally impose on ourselves. The influx of non-Muslim American activists into these facilities is another ominous development. It presages the continued dismantling of the rule of law, the widening of a system where prisoners are psychologically broken by sensory deprivation, extreme isolation and secretive kangaroo courts where suspects are sentenced on rumors and innuendo and denied the right to view the evidence against them. Dissent is no longer the duty of the engaged citizen but is becoming an act of terrorism. 

Copyright © 2009 Truthdig, L.L.C.

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.  His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

Humanity Even for Nonhumans April 16, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Animal Protection.
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Published: April 8, 2009
New York Times 

One of the historical election landmarks last year had nothing to do with race or the presidency. Rather, it had to do with pigs and chickens — and with overarching ideas about the limits of human dominion over other species.

 

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Nicholas D. Kristof

I’m referring to the stunning passage in California, by nearly a 2-to-1 majority, of an animal rights ballot initiative that will ban factory farms from keeping calves, pregnant hogs or egg-laying hens in tiny pens or cages in which they can’t stretch out or turn around. It was an element of a broad push in Europe and America alike to grant increasing legal protections to animals.

Spain is moving to grant basic legal rights to apes. In the United States, law schools are offering courses on animal rights, fast-food restaurants including Burger King are working with animal rights groups to ease the plight of hogs and chickens in factory farms and the Humane Society of the United States is preparing to push new legislation to extend the California protections to other states.

At one level, this movement on behalf of oppressed farm animals is emotional, driven by sympathy at photos of forlorn pigs or veal calves kept in tiny pens. Yet the movement is also the product of a deep intellectual ferment pioneered by the Princeton scholar Peter Singer.

Professor Singer wrote a landmark article in 1973 for The New York Review of Books and later expanded it into a 1975 book, “Animal Liberation.” That book helped yank academic philosophy back from a dreary foray into linguistics and pushed it to confront such fascinating questions of applied ethics as: What are our moral obligations to pigs?

John Maynard Keynes wrote that ideas, “both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else.” This idea popularized by Professor Singer — that we have ethical obligations that transcend our species — is one whose time appears to have come.

“There’s some growth in numbers of vegetarians, but the bigger thing is a broad acceptance of the idea that animals count,” Mr. Singer reflected the other day.

What we’re seeing now is an interesting moral moment: a grass-roots effort by members of one species to promote the welfare of others. Legislation is playing a role, with Europe scheduled to phase out bare wire cages for egg production by 2012, but consumer consciences are paramount. It’s because of consumers that companies like Burger King and Hardee’s are beginning to buy pork and eggs from producers that give space to their animals.

For most of history, all of this would have been unimaginable even to people of the most refined ethical sensibility (granted, for many centuries those refined ethicists were also untroubled by slavery). A distinguished philosopher, Thomas Taylor, reacted to Mary Wollstonecraft’s 1792 call for “the rights of woman” by writing a mocking call for “the rights of brutes.” To him, it seemed as absurd that women should have rights as that animals should have rights.

One of the few exceptions was Jeremy Bentham, the philosopher who 200 years ago also advocated for women’s rights, gay rights and prison reform. He responded to Kant’s lack of interest in animals by saying: “The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?”

In recent years, the issue has entered the mainstream, but even for those who accept that we should try to reduce the suffering of animals, the question remains where to draw lines. I eagerly pushed Mr. Singer to find his boundaries. “Do you have any compunctions about swatting a cockroach?” I asked him.

“Not much,” he replied, citing reasons to doubt that insects are capable of much suffering. Mr. Singer is somewhat unsure about shellfish, although he mostly gives them the benefit of the doubt and tends to avoid eating them.

Free-range eggs don’t seem offensive to him, but there is the awkwardness that even wholesome egg-laying operations depend on the slaughtering of males, since a male chick is executed for every female allowed to survive and lay eggs.

I asked Mr. Singer how he would weigh human lives against animal lives, and he said that he wouldn’t favor executing a human to save any number of animals. But he added that he would be troubled by the idea of keeping one human alive by torturing 10,000 hogs to death.

These are vexing questions, and different people will answer them differently. For my part, I eat meat, but I would prefer that this practice not inflict gratuitous suffering.

Yet however we may answer these questions, there is one profound difference from past centuries: animal rights are now firmly on the mainstream ethical agenda.

I invite you to visit my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter.

Oh, Canada: Stop the shameful seal slaughter April 14, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Animal Protection, Canada.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

Alisa Mullins

 

www.opednews.com, April 13, 2009

 

If anyone wonders why animal rights groups speak out against Canada’s violent commercial seal slaughter year after year, I invite you to visit PETA’s blog, The PETA Files. There you’ll see a disturbing photo of a baby seal who was beaten and skinned for her fur. The seal’s skull has been smashed in, and the ice is red with her blood.

 

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the seal slaughter—and in the next few weeks, tens of thousands of seals just like the one in the photograph will meet the same gruesome fate.

 If you’ve been following the animal rights movement since the 1970s, you no doubt remember the early days of the massive worldwide campaign to end Canada’s despicable slaughter of harp seals. Who can forget those heartbreaking ads showing fluffy white baby seals staring at the camera with their enormous eyes?

Public outcry forced Canada to ban the killing of “whitecoats” in 1987, and the seal slaughter essentially collapsed. But in 1996, all that changed when the Canadian government began subsidizing the massacre in an effort to rebuild it. It has since grown almost every year and is now the largest slaughter of marine mammals in the world. This year alone, hunters will be allowed to kill more than 338,000 seals.

 

Canadian officials should have let the seal slaughter die a natural death.

 

While hunters are no longer allowed to kill “whitecoats,” they can club and shoot baby seals as soon as the animals begin to molt their white natal fur—about 12 days after they’re born. Yes, seals can legally be killed before they are even 2 weeks old—before they have eaten their first solid meal or taken their first swim.

 

The difference between bashing in the head of a 12-day-old seal and bashing in the head of a 13-day-old seal is lost on most people.

 

Not surprisingly, opposition to the seal slaughter is once again growing. In the U.S., the sale of seal fur has been banned since 1972. Belgium and the Netherlands have passed laws banning the importation of seal fur, and the European Union is considering similar legislation. In early March, a European Parliament committee voted in favor of a bill that would ban the importation of all seal products (with an exception made for Canada’s Inuit hunters). The full parliament is expected to vote on the bill as early as April.

 

Canada isn’t taking this lying down, of course. In an effort to make the slaughter seem more palatable, they’ve implemented new “humane standards,” including a requirement that sealers wait 60 seconds before skinning seals in order to “ensure” that they are dead. I’m sorry, but bludgeoning defenseless animals, impaling them on boat hooks, dragging them across the ice and ripping off their skins after a 60-second pulse check—assuming anyone is actually watching—does not fit any reasonable definition of “humane.” And the new regulations don’t require a speck of oversight.

 

With the approach of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the eyes of the world will soon be turning toward Canada. PETA will be working to make sure that some of that focus shifts from Canada’s “games” to Canada’s shame. Killing sentient animals for something as selfish as fur can never be justified.

 

But the very least that we can do is end the sickening spectacle of the seal slaughter once and for all. It should have been banned long ago.

Gaza zoo destroyed Monkeys and camels were among many animals killed by Israeli fire at a Gaza zoo January 27, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War.
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6 comments

By Ashraf Helmi, Videographer, and Megan Hirons, Photographer

 

26_rg_gaza_zoo09_4.jpg
Jan 25, 2009

Israeli troops shot and killed zoo animals
http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=51213&s2=26


The Gaza Zoo reeks of death. But zookeeper Emad Jameel Qasim doesn’t appear to react to the stench as he walks around the animals’ enclosures.

A month ago, it was attracting families – he says the zoo drew up to 1,000 visitors each day. He points at the foot-long hole in the camel in one of the enclosures.

“This camel was pregnant, a missile went into her back,” he tells us. “Look, look at her face. She was in pain when she died.”

Around every corner, inside almost every cage are dead animals, who have been lying in their cages since the Israeli incursion.

Qasim doesn’t understand why they chose to destroy his zoo. And it’s difficult to disagree with him. Most of them have been shot at point blank range.

“The first thing the Israelis did was shoot at the lions – the animals ran out of their cage and into the office building. Actually they hid there.”

The two lions are back in their enclosure. The female is pregnant, and lies heavily on the ground, occasionally swishing her tail. Qasim stands unusually close to them, but they don’t seem bothered by his presence.

As he takes us around, he is obviously appalled at the state of the animals. The few animals that have survived appear weak and disturbed.

“The foxes ate each other because we couldn’t get to them in time. We had many here.” There are carcasses everywhere and the last surviving fox is quivering in the corner.

The zoo opened in late 2005, with money from local and international NGOs. There were 40 types of animals, a children’s library, a playground and cultural centre housed at the facility.

Inside the main building, soldiers defaced the walls, ripped out one of the toilets and removed all of the hard drives from the office computers. We asked him why they targeted the zoo. He laughs. “I don’t know. You have to go and ask the Israelis. This is a place where people come to relax and enjoy themselves. It’s not a place of politics.”

Israel has accused Hamas of firing rockets from civilian areas. Qasim reacts angrily when we raise the subject.

“Let me answer that with a question. We are under attack. There was not a single person in this zoo. Just the animals. We all fled before they came. What purpose does it serve to walk around shooting animals and destroying the place?”

Inside one cage lie three dead monkeys and another two in the cage beside them. Two more escaped and have yet to return. He points to a clay pot. “They tried to hide”, he says of a mother and baby half-tucked inside.

Qasim says that his main two priorities at the moment are rebuilding the zoo and taking the Israeli army to court. For the first, he says he will need close to $200,000(Dh734,000) to return the zoo to its former state – and he wants the Israelis to cover the costs. “They have to pay me for all this damage.”

We ask him why it’s so important for Gaza to have a zoo. “During the past four years it was the most popular place for kids. They came from all over the Gaza Strip. There was nowhere else for people to go.”

Has Israel gone berserk and lost all sense of reasoning? Should it be tried for war crimes at The Hague?


 

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