Tigers forced to Perform at State Fair

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A “show”, called the Amazing Rainforest Experience, is run by Robert Mullen of the Orlando, Florida–based PM Productions Entertainment Inc., a production group that features traveling shows with a host of exotic animals.

Hundreds of visitors have complained the tigers appear severely emaciated, with prominent spines and hip bones. The cats also appeared lethargic, or even drugged. One described them as “skeletons.”

Julie Hanan, of the Minnesota-based Wildcat Sanctuary, told The Dodo that her group has been flooded with “desperate pleas” from people who’ve visited the fair and were shocked by the state of the animals.

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Abbie Knudsen, a biologist with Missouri’s National Tiger Sanctuary, has heard similar concerns from the public. “I have heard tons of accounts from people that have seen the animals, and visited the animals firsthand, that they do not look in good body condition,” she said.

Despite concern from both the public and big cat conservation groups the Missouri State Fair said that the tigers were being regularly inspected, implying that the animals were in satisfactory condition: “In accordance with the State Fair’s Animal Care policy, all animals and livestock shown, housed or displayed, shall receive care that is healthful and consistent with accepted husbandry practices and the rules and regulations set forth by the Missouri State Fair. This policy applies to animals in entertainment acts, such as the Amazing Rainforest Experience, as well. The Missouri Department of Agriculture state veterinarians monitor the tigers twice per day. These practices reflect the care and concern that Missourians have for livestock, poultry, companion animals and wildlife. ”

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The state of the tigers raises concerns about food deprivation, a common method used by trainers at circuses to keep animals in line. “Of course we can’t speak to the exact issue with this exhibitor, but we have seen in the past that they will tend to keep cats hungry to perform,” Hanan said.

In an interview with a local outlet, Mullen said that he fed the tigers 13 to 14 pounds of chicken daily. Both Bass and Hanan said if this is all the tigers are getting, the diet is insufficient: They would need more food, as well as red meat, bones and organs, to thrive.

Whatever the reason, it’s evident from the photos that the animals aren’t healthy. In one photo that shows a tiger on his hind legs, the ratio between the animal’s waist and his hips is disturbing.

This mistreatment by the “Amazing Rainforest Experience”,  is not new. A 2013 video released by the International Fund for Animal Welfare appears to feature the same company and shows several disturbing interactions between a trainer and the cats.

When a tiger initially tries to exit the stage, the trainer deters him and the animal listlessly makes his way through his routine. When the trainer later tries to shut a door on him, the tiger takes a swipe at him.

YouTube/IFAW – International Fund for Animal Welfare

Another scene features a severely underweight cougar, his hip bones standing out like blades. When he’s reluctant to leave the stage, the trainer grabs him by his collar and literally drags him out as he resists.

YouTube/IFAW – International Fund for Animal Welfare

If you find these picture and video disturbing and you want to help, you can let the Missouri State Fair know how you feel, click here: https://www.facebook.com/MissouriStateFair?fref=ts

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Injured Captive Orcas

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Recently a wildlife veterinarian, Heather Rally, who works for PETA recently visited SeaWorld’s San Antonio park. She was there to take a look at its orcas and saw severe dental trauma in the cetaceans and sea lions at risk of blindness.

One big issue was the terrible state of the orcas’ teeth. Captive orcas are already at risk for dental trauma — bored and stressed, they often begin gnawing on the edges of their tanks — but Rally said she was alarmed by the frequency and severity of the dental trauma she witnessed.

“Every single orca that I observed had significant wearing on their teeth, specifically on the lower mandible. They start chewing on their tanks, as a result and stress … as soon as they start doing that they start to traumatize their teeth.”

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The damage is much more than cosmetic. When the orcas, bored by captivity, begin to chew on the hard parts of their tanks, they fracture their teeth. The fractures expose the dental pulp, the living tissue within their teeth. Not only is this painful, but the fractures act as a “direct portal” for bacteria to enter the bloodstream — and can lead to heart problems, pneumonia, sepsis and death.

As a result, SeaWorld vets perform a “root canal” of sorts to clean out the pulp of the tooth. For the rest of their lives, the orcas have to undergo daily cleanings to keep their teeth fit, Rally said. “It’s not a pleasant experience,” she explained. “It takes a lot of time to train these animals to endure something like this.” Severe dental trauma is very rare in the wild

The cramped tanks also lead to in-fighting between whales, and sometimes gruesome injuries. In the wild, such encounters are very rare because the submissive animal can just swim away. But because SeaWorld houses its orcas in such unnaturally small quarters, tensions can quickly turn violent when they wouldn’t in the wild — leaving the whales at risk.

SeaWorld orca, Nakai with injury on chin area.
                                                SeaWorld orca, Nakai with injury on chin area.

Some of these injuries have been dire, such as in 2012 when a male named Nakai had his entire lower jaw torn off during a fight with another whale. In 1989, a female named Kandu broke her own jaw and severed an artery when she attacked another whale — she bled to death as her panicked infant calf swam circles around her.

SeaWorld drugs its whales with benzodiazepines to alleviate aggressive behavior, but the aggression does not stop. Former trainers have revealed that the park uses food deprivation to make whales perform, separates infants from mothers and pumps them full of drugs. Orcas also live shorter life spans in captivity than they do in the wild

The DODO: For the Love of Animals is an online news journal

World Elephant Day

World-Elephant-Day

Today is WORLD ‪‎Elephant‬ DAY, dedicated to preservation and protection of the world’s three elephant species. Less than 350,000 elephants remain in ‪#Africa‬ and less than 35,000 remain in Asia‬.

It is NOT too late. Preserving habitat and ending the ‪‎ivory‬ trade will help these animals survive.

Malaysian customs officers show elephant tusks which were recently seized in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur

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World Lion Day

african lion king

Today is WORLD ‪‎LION‬ DAY.

In the aftermath of the killing of Cecil‬, President‬ Robert Mugabe‬ of ‪‎Zimbabwe‬ has made his first public comment on the subject: “All the natural resources are yours. Even Cecil the lion is yours. He is dead but yours to protect, and you failed to protect him. “All this ‪‎wildlife‬ is yours, we should protect them,” he said. “They should not be shot by a gun, it’s a sin. Or an arrow. I was stopped from killing animals with an arrow when I was seven or eight years old. I was told: ‘These are God’s creatures.'”

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Perhaps there is hope if President Mugabe has seen the light and changed his views.

Happy Huntress-MelissaBachman

On this day let us work to end the hunting of these magnificent big cats for “sport”.

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Founder & CEO

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Costa Rica Bans Sport Hunting

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Costa Rica just became the first country in Latin America to ban sport hunting. Costa Rica’s Congress voted unanimously on Monday to approve the ban, which will protect the country’s wildlife – including several species of native big cats. Any hunters caught breaking the new law will face jail time or hefty fines.

Hunters from around the world travel to Costa Rica to hunt the country’s jaguars and pumas for sport and to capture these species of cats and sell them on the black market as pets.  Illegal hunting tours bring in a pretty penny for tour leaders, and their popularity helped spur the newly announced ban. Parrots are also a target, since they can be captured and smuggled out to be sold as pets around the world.

Kinkajou climbing on branches in Costa Rica. ca. 1980-1997 Costa Rica

The Costa Rican people started the initiative to protect their wildlife  it began as a grass-roots campaign that brought over 177,000 signatures to the national Congress. Now that the bill has been approved, violators of the hunting ban will face up to four months in jail and fines up to $3,000.

Earlier this fall, an amendment was made to the country’s Wildlife Conservation law. The new hunting ban strengthens this reform. Costa Rica is a very environmentally conscious country, and it has placed a major focus on conserving its rich biodiversity.

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Christopher J. Gervais, FRGS
Founder & CEO
Christopher@WCFF.org
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Three toedsloth

A Call for Saving Leviathan, for Saving the Whales, Part 1

Gray Whale

“From Hell’s Heart I stab at thee” decried Melville in “Moby Dick.” In the heyday of whaling, tens of thousands of sperm whales were destroyed for oil every year to light the cities of modern civilization. Advancing as the dominant force on earth, man slaughtered hundreds of thousands of the great mind of the oceans, the whales.

Is humanity capable of saving the seas? The ways the seas and the whales go, so does civilization. The seas are acidifying. Whales are key not just for their fecundation of the phytoplankton on which we depend for oxygen, but also for the entire immune system of the oceans. The oceans are being asked a reprieve. Without the life it sustains, humanity will drown. As Laurens van der Post wrote in “The Hunter and the Whale,” “Killing disproportionately was the last unforgiveable depravity.”

“Thinking Like a Dolphin,” National Geographic’s May issue cover story, confirms the urgency of the issue and underscores the supreme importance of cetaceans to humanity. I once heard Paul Watson speaking out for the cetaceans. He shared an anecdote from several decades ago, when he tried to stop a Russian whaler from harpooning a sperm whale. His words carried all the power of a fury decrying the modern Ahabs as he maneuvered with his zodiac trying to position himself between the long steel blade and the brain of one of the most remarkable beings on earth. Eventually the harpoon found its way into the body of the sperm whale causing untold agony.

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In the depths of its pain, surrounded by pools of blood, as the ocean turned crimson, the whale’s eye, reflecting the earth in miniature, shot a glance of what seemed like a depth charge of pity at Watson and his men. It was pity, full of loss of an enormous warrior who has battled giant squid and the ferocious crushing solitude of the fathoms below. It was pity not for itself, but for the entire human race! When Watson discovered that the whale oil of exceptional quality was being used to lubricate Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles by the Soviet Union, his voice rose and trembled because he felt the human species had gone completely mad.

The peak days of whaling are over, most whale populations have survived, but some like the southern right whales are exceptionally vulnerable. The ignominy of hundreds of years of slaughter and now industrial pollution is crucifying the cetacean mind.

In ancient Greece and even more recently off the coast of India there are many stories of dolphins saving humans from drowning. Arion who invented the dithyramb (a wild ancient Greek choral hymn) tells the story of the dolphin that saved the life of a singer who was thrown from a ship into the sea. Pliny the Elder, Cicero, Oppian in his long poem “Halieutica,” and the great historian Herodotus tell similar tales of the incomparable human cetacean bond.

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Korianos’ story as told by Plutarch is perhaps the most inspired. Some fishermen in Byzantium were to kill a group of dolphins. Korianos interceded, paid the fishermen and freed the dolphins from their net. The dolphins gave a long look at Korianos and then departed. A few weeks later, a storm raging off the coast capsized a boat on which Korianos was onboard. He alone survived and was saved by a dolphin that carried him to shore. Plutarch mentions that when Korianos died, a group of dolphins appeared before his funeral pyre with heads above water to mourn, as his human companions had done. When the smoke cleared, the dolphins disappeared and were never seen again! (from “The Dolphin, Cousin to Man“ by Robert Stenuit 1968).

* Reprinted from permission from the author, my good friend Cyril Christo.

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