tagged w/ Tigers
Nala is an African Serval, she was kept as a "pet" for the first three years of her life, until her owner died and she needed a new home..... Fortunately Big Cat Rescue was in a postion to take her in and give her a permanent home in a more natural environment.
Unfortunately it's legal in over half of the USA to own wild animals like tigers, lions, leopards and other big cats. Of course they never make good pets and often end up spending their lives languishing in tiny backyard cages or enter back in to the exotic animal trade where they are killed for their body parts.
To learn more and find out how YOU can help make a difference please visit our website.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFTfnDZw7voNala is an African Serval, she was kept as a "pet" for the first three years... more
4 months ago
It is estimated that there are 10,000 to 20,000 big cats currently held in private ownership in the U.S., although the exact number remains a mystery. Since 1990, U.S. incidents involving captive big cats—including tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs and lion/tiger hybrids—have resulted in the deaths of 21 humans, 247 maulings, 259 escapes, 143 big cats deaths and 132 confiscations.
TAKE ACTION NOW! Help put an end to the abuse of big cats and help ensure the safety of the public .... This is the most important bill to ever be introduced to protect big cats. Please click the link and contact your state representatives letting them know that you support H.R.4122 - http://bigcatrescue.org/2012/big-cats-and-public-safety-protection-hr-4122
Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act HR 4122
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sNZ7v5jtZA&list=UUcftblae5aEnraa34d1FPQg&index=0&feature=plcpIt is estimated that there are 10,000 to 20,000 big cats currently held in private... more
11 months ago
Among the most endangered of all species is the wild tiger. Across China, tiger farms are popping up, created solely to supply the growing market for tigers and tiger parts. Adam Yamaguchi goes undercover to investigate the lucrative underworld of the tiger trade from India to China and explores the business of Asian zoos and breeding centers that are little more than exotic animal factories.Among the most endangered of all species is the wild tiger. Across China, tiger farms... more
Officers catch men chopping up wild animals in Thai slaughterhouse after following shopper with blood on his hands
It isn't every day that a man with bloody hands emerges from a convenience store and returns home to continue chopping up tigers, zebras and wild buffalo in an underground slaughterhouse.
So Thai police officers on a routine street patrol in north-east Bangkok had a lucky break when, by chance, they crossed paths with a member of a wild animal meat gang who had nipped out to buy some butchering supplies.
On following the man, Thai police discovered four other men chopping up a large male tiger. Zebra, crocodile, wild buffalo and elephant carcasses, along with 400kg of tiger meat, were also found in the building, ready to be sold as exotic meat and trophies.
"We found one tiger in an ice box, where it was being preserved with formaldehyde, and a lot of bones. On the floor, there were fresh cuts of white tiger, elephant and lion skins," the Thai nature crime police commander, Colonel Norasak Hemnithi, said. "The suspects later told us that they had gone out looking for ice to store the fresh meats."
Police have since arrested eight people, including the alleged mastermind, in what they and local wildlife organisations believe is a smuggling operation fronted by Bangkok zoos.
The case has shed light on Thailand's place at the heart of an estimated $10bn global trade in endangered species that is driving many plants and animals to extinction, according to wildlife groups. It highlights a worrying trend in which the meat of endangered animals is sold in resort restaurants in southern Thailand.
Demand for trophy items and exotic meats across Asia, but particularly in China, has driven up the trade in elephants, big cats, reptiles and birds.
The anti-wildlife trafficking group Freeland, which is working with police on the investigation, suspects the animals came from, or were sold through, private zoos in Thailand. "It's hard for police to go after zoos because there's a legal loophole [here] that can easily be used to front a breeding operation. Zoos have a permit to own tigers, so they can breed the tigers and sell the offspring," said a Freeland spokesman, Roy Schlieben, adding that an adult tiger could fetch more than $10,000.
Raids in Thailand, which heads the 10-country Asean Wildlife Enforcement Network in south-east Asia, have risen nearly tenfold in five years, Freeland said.
The director general of the Thai wildlife agency said last month that poachers had slaughtered two wild elephants for their meat in a national park. Damrong Phidet told the Associated Press that trunks and sexual organs had been ordered by restaurants in Phuket. Some of the meat was to be consumed without cooking, like "elephant sashimi", he said.
But critics claim police are only touching the tip of the iceberg. "A lot of catches are lucky catches," Edwin Wiek, of Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, said. "In Saturday's case, the criminal was only caught because he went to 7-Eleven and had blood on his hands. These criminals are making a lot of money and have nothing to fear – the penalties are very low and hardly any jail sentences are given to these people."
The men arrested this month could face four years in prison and fines of 40,000 baht (£820) for illegally processing wild and protected animals, but Wiek and Schlieben said prison terms were unlikely and called for harsher penalties.
Tiger skins are often sold as trophy items to wealthy buyers in China, Thailand and Vietnam, with animal parts such as tiger bones being used in traditional Chinese medicine, Schlieben said, adding: "Then you've got mounted tigers, considered status symbols, and wild meat being consumed because it's 'more healthy' than domesticated animals."
Despite the increased number of wildlife criminal arrests in the past few years, Thai police have admitted they are still far from cracking the organised smuggling of animals through Thailand and abroad.
"We see about 100 [wildlife] cases per year," Norasak said. "We're [usually] able to catch the criminal but not the [mastermind] behind him. But we work consistently to investigate further and process cases."
The raid was the latest in a string of high-profile cases. A United Arab Emirates citizen was arrested at Suvarnabhumi airport, Bangkok, last May. He had live infant leopards, panthers, monkeys and an Asiatic black bear stuffed in his luggage.Officers catch men chopping up wild animals in Thai slaughterhouse after following... more
1 year ago
White Tigers do not exist in the wild, they are purposefully inbred in captivity to meet the demand of the paying public. The kind of severe inbreeding that is required to produce the mutation of a white coat also causes a number of other defects in these big cats.
The same gene that causes the white coat causes the optic nerve to be wired to the wrong side of the brain, thus all white tigers are cross eyed, even if their eyes look normal. They also often suffer from club feet, cleft palates, spinal deformities and defective organs.White Tigers do not exist in the wild, they are purposefully inbred in captivity to... more
1 year ago
NBC L.A. ...
Wildlife WayStation in Dire Financial State
"We are at the end of our rope," said Martine Colette, the sanctuary's founder and director
By Ashley Gordon
| Friday, Dec 2, 2011 | Updated 3:29 PM PST
Wildlife Waystation in Dire Financial State
Photo: Wildlife Waystation resident Bolero plays with a ball.
Taking care of wild animals is no easy task. Couple the labor and maintenance involved with a troubled economy and the result is an animal sanctuary on the brink of closure.
Tucked within the Angeles National Forest is the Wildlife WayStation, an animal sanctuary that some 400 wild and exotic animals, birds and reptiles call home. Since it opened its doors in 1976, it has relied solely on corporate and foundation grants, private donations, animal sponsorships and bequests – all of which have dwindled under the current economic climate.
“We are at the end of our rope,” said Martine Colette, the sanctuary’s founder and director. “We cannot stretch a dollar anymore and we are out of dollars.”
Colette said she is experiencing the most significant drop in fundraising activity in her 45 years of animal welfare and rescue work, making it increasingly difficult to meet the $150,000 needed monthly to maintain the WayStation. She even issued a plea for public help.
The nonprofit has significantly cut back on permanent support staff, instead, relying more heavily on volunteers to help with the day-to-day operation.
In addition, Los Angeles County requires such a facility to obtain a conditional use permit in order to open to the public.
“When we have a hearing, we contact the associated [governmental] agencies and they actually formulate conditions that would be appropriate for that facility,” said John Gutwein, deputy director of the Land Use Regulation Division of the county’s department of Regional Planning.
While the WayStation remains a licensed animal sanctuary, the high costs associated with county-required repairs has kept its doors shut to the public for the last seven years.
Because of this, the organization finds itself in a Catch-22: It is in need of money to meet county requirements before the public is allowed on the premises; however, it is lacking the money that would be raised through public visitation to make repairs.
Gutwein said he visited the organization six or seven years ago and at the time thought the level of animal restraint was not suitable for outside visitors. He also expressed concern involving an evacuation plan for the animals if a fire were to start in the high-brush area.
Still, he said the WayStation’s issues are completely due to a lack of resources.
“If [Colette] did have the resources, I have no doubt she could make those improvements so perhaps parts of the facility could be open to the public," he said.
Colette said the WayStation is mostly funded by the Average Joe, the people the economy has hurt the most. For this reason, she believes the best case scenario for long-term sustainability of the organization would be a partnership with a company that could get behind its brand.
“I know that the public will be empathetic and there will be a certain amount of dollars sent to the station,” Colette said. “But the real solutions have to come from any of the options I’ve outlined.”
The worst case scenario would be the closure of the 160-acre property and would leave the government with the difficult task of relocating hundreds of troubled animals.
“We have an opportunity to make a difference in these animals’ lives now. Once we are unable to care for them, governmental agencies step in,” Colette said. “That is a very scary concept.”
Marcia Mayeda, director of the county’s Department of Animal Care & Control, said that if her department had to intervene it would work with the United States Department of Agriculture to find a solution.
“It is not easy. We’ve taken over 300 dogs over time from people who could no longer care for them,” Mayeda said. “Although tigers are way different, we do have a lot of resources to help find new homes from them.”
.NBC L.A. ...
Wildlife WayStation in Dire Financial State
"We are at... more
October 18, 2011 Zanesville, OH: 56 lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, wolves, giraffes, camels and bears escaped from the Muskingum County Animal Farm, and the owner Terry Thompson, who had just gotten out of prison was found dead there after shooting himself...
BE A VOICE FOR THE ANIMALS! Please visit this webpage to help us put an end to this abuse: http://bigcatrescue.org/get-involved/roar
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-Wqsd2Vl7AOctober 18, 2011 Zanesville, OH: 56 lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, wolves,... more
1 year ago
Animal rights group calling for all exotic animal auctions banned
Ohio SPCA has taken its case to Governor Kasich
Read more: http://www.newsnet5.com/dpp/money/consumer/troubleshooter/animal-rights-group-calling-for-all-exotic-animal-auctions-banned#ixzz1crfh0pn8
Last Updated: 18 hours and 9 minutes ago
By: Joe Pagonakis, newsnet5.com By: Joe Pagonakis, newsnet5.com
MT. HOPE, Ohio - The Ohio SPCA is now demanding a ban on the sale of all exotic animals, following the terrible incidents at the Zanesville farm of Terry Thompson.
The animal rights group focused its attention on the Mt. Hope Alternative Animal and Bird Auction held Friday in Holmes County.
5 On Your Side cameras were not, allowed inside the auction, but hundreds packed the sale to bid on exotic birds, waterfowl, wallabies, reptiles, hogs and sheep.
The Mt. Hope Auction is not selling lions, bears and other potentially hazardous animals found running loose on Terry Thompson's farm.
The Mt. Hope Auction is being monitored by the USDA, and is in full compliance with Ohio law. Still, the SPCA wants sales of this type stopped.
"It's cruel to the animals, they are totally out of their environment and habitat," said SPCA Coordinator Lisa Bell. "We feel this should not be allowed."
The SPCA plans to take its case to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, asking for a ban or tougher restrictions on the sale of non-hazardous exotic animals.
Organizers of the Mt. Hope Auction would not comment on Friday's sale.
Some visitors to Mt. Hope believe the situation in Zanesville has caused to some to overreact.
"There's a big difference between Lions and Bear, and Wallabies and Pheasants," said Rob Weber. "They're a little exotic, I don't know how dangerous they are."
The SPCA claimed exotic animal auctions of any kind can perpetuate animal abuse.
"Ohio's lax laws, and the failure to enforce current laws, allows animals to suffer and die at the hands of abusers," said Ohio SPCA Spokeswoman Teresa Landon.
Police said Terry Thompson released dozens of wild animals at his Zanesville farm back on October 18, just moments before taking his own life.
Police were forced to track down and kill 48 lions, bears, and tigers to restore neighborhood safety.
Scripps Media IncNewsNet5...
Animal rights group calling for all exotic animal auctions banned... more
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has warned the US, the UK, and all tiger-range nations that China has re-opened the trade in wild cat skins—including tigers—ahead of a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting this week in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the EIA, China has reinitiated a Skin Registration Scheme that allows the trade of big cat skins from legal sources, such as captive-bred cats and controversial tiger farms, however the NGOS argues the scheme lacks transparency, providing an easy cover for the sale of skins taken from big cats poached in the wild.
"The Skin Registration Scheme is going in totally the wrong direction. It’s doing nothing to actually help tiger and leopard conservation, instead providing a cover for illegal trade and creating a confused consumer market," says Debbie Banks, EIA Tiger Campaign Head, in a press release.
China is a signatory of the Global Tiger Recovery Program, which ambitiously pledged to double tiger numbers in the wild by 2022 with initial funds of $300 million. However, EIA contends that the re-opening of the Skin Registration Scheme makes a 'complete mockery' of China's promise to conserve tigers.
The EIA states that it has already found examples of cat skins on sale on-line. According to the Hindustan Times one tiger rug cost $124,000, while a stuffed tiger cost $700,000. Leopard skins ranged from $100,000 to $300,000.
Currently, there are an estimated 3,500 wild tigers in the world, down from approximately 100,000 in 1900; during the last decade alone tigers have lost 40% of their viable habitat; and already in the past century, three tiger subspecies went extinct and one may only survive in captivity. These bleak statistics underlie the difficulty of saving tigers. The great cat is threatened by habitat loss (much of which has vanished already), poaching for skins and traditional medicine, declines in prey species, and human-tiger conflict, which includes casualties both of humans and tigers.The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has warned the US, the UK, and all... more
The wild tiger is among the world's most endangered species, pushed to the brink of extinction in large part by poachers who are killing the animals for profit. The illicit tiger parts trade is worth billions of dollars and nowhere is it more active than in China, the world's leading consumer of illegal wildlife. Nearly two decades ago, the Chinese government instituted a series of conservation efforts ostensibly aimed at saving the tiger from what appeared to be its imminent demise, but correspondent Adam Yamaguchi goes undercover and exposes flagrant and widespread violation of China's tiger trade laws. At the heart of Yamaguchi's investigation are China's many tiger parks, touted as safe-haven preserves. In truth, as evidenced by the material that "Vanguard" gathers, these parks may be anything but.
Monday 1st August, 10pm
Sky 183, Virgin 155
Vanguard is Current TV's no-limits documentary series whose award-winning correspondents put themselves in extraordinary situations to immerse viewers in global issues that have a large social significance. Unlike sound-bite driven reporting, the show's correspondents, Adam Yamaguchi, Christof Putzel and Mariana van Zeller, serve as trusted guides who take viewers on in-depth real life adventures in pursuit of some of the world's most important stories.The wild tiger is among the world's most endangered species, pushed to the brink... more
L.A. considers putting zoo operations in private hands
Officials say the change would save nearly $20 million over five years and prevent possible closure. Critics question the savings and say the move could mean less transparency in animal welfare.
Los Angeles Zoo
Photo: Zoo patrons view a pair of Masai giraffes at the Los Angeles Zoo. Two potential private operators have expressed interest in running the zoo. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
July 28, 2011
Someone else may soon be tending to the misty artificial rain forest at the Los Angeles Zoo where Bruno, a 300-pound orangutan with a wispy orange beard and a hulking frame, makes his home.
The city opened the zoo and botanical gardens in 1966, but officials are now considering a proposal to turn over management to a private operator. That means the gardeners, plumbers and other city employees who help run the zoo could be transferred to other departments and replaced with private workers.
Like any issue involving labor — or animals — the fight over the fate of the zoo has caused a considerable stir.
City officials say the change would save nearly $20 million over the next five years and rescue the zoo from possible budget reductions or even closure. But opponents of the plan question the savings and warn that privatization could mean steeper ticket prices for the zoo's 1.5 million annual visitors and less transparency when it comes to animal welfare.
The zoo plan is only the latest example of a shift in how budget-strapped officials think about "core services" and City Hall's basic obligations to taxpayers. They are also considering proposals to privatize the Los Angeles Convention Center, an animal shelter in the San Fernando Valley and several arts facilities.
Such public-private partnerships are common in Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History are two county facilities operated by nonprofit organizations.
"It's not a revolutionary idea," said Miguel Santana, L.A.'s chief administrative officer, who came to City Hall from the county in 2009. "This model has worked across the country as a way of ensuring services are maintained in an era of declining revenues."
According to a draft proposal for the zoo plan, which the City Council's Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee will consider Thursday, Bruno and the rest of the animals would remain the property of the city, along with the zoo's Griffith Park grounds.
All current staff would remain employees of the city, but those who do not hold zoo-specific jobs might be transferred to other city departments. Future hires would be employees of the new operator.
Two potential operators have already stepped forward.
One is the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn., or GLAZA, a nonprofit headquartered on the zoo's campus that raises money for the institution, manages its memberships and operates its concessions. In 2010-11, it raised about $13 million for the zoo, according to GLAZA President Connie Morgan
The other party is Parques Reunidos, a Madrid-based theme park operator that runs 70 amusement parks, water parks and zoos worldwide.
Dave Towne, a former consultant for the L.A. Zoo, said that if a private company takes over, the face of the zoo may change. "Any private, for-profit operation is going to Disney-fy it," he said. "That's just what they do."
Towne, former director of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, oversaw the transition of that zoo's management to a nonprofit 10 years ago. He said private operators run the majority of the nation's major zoos and are often more successful at marketing and fundraising than cities, in part because they are less encumbered by bureaucracy.
Animal activists fear that could result in a lack of transparency. Catherine Doyle, of In Defense of Animals, said that if the zoo is privatized, "it will become even more secretive and insular."
She and others have long accused the zoo's management of not being forthcoming about animal care, and have asked that the operator be required to answer to a city-appointed animal welfare commission.
Adriana Hawkins, a zoo gardener for six years, says everyone will suffer if longtime employees are reassigned. The zoo will lose expertise, she said, and the employees will lose jobs they love.
"I don't want to go down to the harbor; I don't want to spend my life on the freeway," Hawkins said. "I have a passion for the zoo."
Santana and others have said that privatizing the zoo will allow it to flourish. A report he commissioned said that under private management, the zoo would be able to reap up to $3.8 million more each year in revenue, thanks to new opportunities for corporate sponsorship, fundraising and special events.
But City Councilman Richard Alarcon said that's all the more reason to keep control of the zoo. "If a private corporation can make it profitable, why can't we?" he said.
It costs $26 million a year to run the zoo and pay the salaries, benefits and pensions of more than 200 employees. The city contributes about $14.6 million; the rest of the budget comes from ticket sales and donations.
Officials say if the city does not privatize management, that figure could grow as high as $19.4 million by 2015. But even if it does complete a deal, the city will still contribute about $13.8 million to the zoo in 2015, according to the proposal.
The savings may be small in the short term, but Santana insists that it adds up. Next year, he and other officials will have to find a way to close a $200-million budget deficit.
.L.A. considers putting zoo operations in private hands
Officials say the change... more
As far back as I can recall, I’ve been an animal lover. I remember this old framed photo on the living room wall of my house -- it was of a tiger leaping out of the water. I’d dream of one day being able to see a real life tiger doing the same.
For many, the opportunity to see a tiger in the wild is just a dream. Few will ever have the chance, thoug they may at one point or another see one in a local zoo. For the next generation, that might be their only hope to ever see one.
In the last century, tiger populations in the wild have plummeted from well over 100,000 to a pathetic 3,000. Three thousand tigers left in the wild. In the entire world. It’s startling, and frankly, sickening.
Over the years, a number of factors have contributed to the majestic tiger's precipitous decline. As the world’s population approaches 7 billion, land has been cleared for booming cities, and the ever-encroaching human has wiped away much of the tiger’s natural habitat. Poachers, who have few other means of survival, hunt the tiger for its beautiful, coveted skins and body parts. Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine have long extolled the health benefits of consuming tiger bones.
But that's all we're left with: 3,000. Conservationists around the world have rung the alarm bell for years, and the fears of an all-out extinction are reaching a fever pitch. Tiger poaching, and the trafficking of tiger parts, was banned over a dozen years ago. Trafficking in tiger skins and organs carries a pretty hefty penalty, but the black market is thriving.
My team and I decided to set out to Asia to investigate the trade in tiger parts, to see whether there’s any hope to prevent an all-out extinction. We headed to China, which drives the demand for this illicit market. Of particular interest to the Chinese are the tiger’s bones. In traditional chinese medicine, the tiger’s bones are the most prized of all ingredients and are said to cure rheumatism, as well as increase male potency. Thus there is a lucrative trade in very expensive "tiger bone wine."
We’d been told that it would be difficult to get our hands on this wine, because it’s illegal. On day two in China, I was sitting in front of a Chinese medicine doctor and his massive jug of tiger bone wine, complete with the parts inside. That wasn’t so hard. The doctor further added that he could have a tiger killed so that I could have some fresh wine. He warned us that this was now illegal, but he’d help us get it out of the country and back home. He also gave me the choice of having wine made from the bones of a wild tiger or a farmed tiger, but said the wild ones are superior.
China believes it can save the wild tiger, not by curbing the demand for tiger parts -- which again, are illegal -- but by farming them. There are two massive tiger "conservation centers" in China, together holding upwards of 4,000 tigers. Four thousand tigers, confined in a collective space of mere hectares. These "conservation centers" are supposedly saving the tiger from extinction. Not by captive breed-and-release programs – they don’t release them, and anyway captive-release programs don't really work.
Instead China says that farms reduce the pressure on the wild tiger. Poachers won’t go after the tigers if the centers can supply the demand with a cheaper product – undercutting their costs, if you will. That's what they say. Unfortunately, the economics don’t quite address the qualitative differences between the tigers -- as believed by those who buy into this "tiger win will make me virile" bullshit.
We then headed to a town in Burma (Myanmar), which borders China and is probably the biggest illicit wildlife trade market in the world. There, tiger skins and parts were out on full display. The first store I walked into was selling a half-dozen tiger skins, aquariums full of tiger skeletons in wine, and all manner of other illegal products like leopard and ivory. And this was just one of a half-dozen stores on this one street.
I questioned the shopkeepers, who insist their tigers are wild caught and not from farms. They say the discerning customers demand their tigers come from the jungles and forests, not from cages. I pressed the shopkeeper for something fresh, and she invited me back to her kitchen.
I was shocked at what I saw: a dead tiger lying on the floor of her kitchen. The tiger had just been skinned the day before, so what lay before me was a carcass of muscle, bone, cartilage and blood and guts. She returned with a cleaver and asked if I wanted lunch. After years of boasting that I am a man who will eat anything, I had finally reached my limit, and I declined.
Back in China, we visited the two big tiger farms, which masquerade as zoos. Visitors can gawk at these magnificent creatures, learn a little about the animals. At the first, we saw few visitors. There were maybe 20 people. And as we walked from cage to cage, we didn’t see any educational signage you might see at a zoo. The only sign we saw was a one that explained the tiger’s importance in Chinese medicine. If the "zoo" attempted to veil its intentions, it did so very poorly.
Armed with hidden cameras, we asked a security guard where we could buy some tiger wine. He took us to a back office, where we suddenly saw a buzz of activity. Fancy cars pulled up. Men, flush with cash, were buying wine by the boxload. Funny that the tiger farm and the tiger wine brewery are run by the same company, right? Don’t forget though...this is all still illegal.
On the last leg of our trip, we headed to India, which may hold the key to the survival of the tiger. The country is home to the majority of the remaining tiger population. But it’s also one of the epicentres to the problems that have conspired to extinguish the tigers: overpopulation, habitat loss, and poachers driven by poverty to kill whatever will earn them some money.
We managed to get to a protected national park, one of a few dozen designated sanctuaries for the tiger. One morning, we happened upon a beautiful tiger lazing in the water, seeking refuge from the punishing 110-degree heat. As she leapt out of the water, I sat motionless, speechless. It was one of the most magical moments of my life. I was excited, then saddened.
After a first-hand look at all of the alternatives, I had finally seen the tiger in its natural habitat. My childhood dream had come true. But now I know how rare and wild a dream it really is.
As far back as I can recall, I’ve been an animal lover. I remember this old... more
The Independent | London...
Victory in the campaign to ban circus animals
Government concedes defeat after bribes and intimidation fail to deter rebels
By Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent
Friday, 24 June 2011
MPs of all parties unanimously backed a ban on circus animals
MPs voted to ban wild animals in circuses last night after David Cameron's attempts to bully Conservative backbenchers into voting against the measure backfired and ended in a humiliating public defeat. In a decision hailed by campaigners as an "historic victory for animal welfare and protection", MPs of all parties unanimously backed a ban and the Government signalled that it would introduce one, ending forever the days of lions, tigers, elephants and other wild animals in the big top.
In an act of desperation, Conservative whips had warned they would impose the most serious parliamentary voting sanction, a three-line whip, to bring recalcitrant backbenchers to heel and get them to support the Government's alternative proposal of a licensing system. But in a victory for The Independent's campaign for a ban and for the long campaigns waged by animal welfare organisations, Downing Street backed down when it became apparent that it would lose the vote despite what backbenchers described as "desperate" measures. One of the three MPs who brought the cross-party motion for a ban disclosed that he had first been offered a government job – and then threatened that the Prime Minister would look "very dimly" on his recalcitrance – unless he amended or withdrew the motion. Mark Pritchard, a Conservative backbencher, stood firm and insisted that the measure be voted upon.
As astonished MPs listened, Mr Pritchard said: "Well I have a message for the whips and for the Prime Minister of our country – and I didn't pick a fight with the Prime Minister – I may just be a little council house lad from a very poor background but that background gave me a backbone. It gives me a thick skin and I'm not going to be cowed by the whips of the Prime Minister on an issue I feel passionately about and have conviction about.
"There may be some other people with backbones on this side and they will speak later, but we need a generation of politicians with a bit of spine, not jelly. And I will not be bullied by any of the whips."
MPs from all sides of the House including the Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster, Labour's Nia Griffiths and the Green leader Caroline Lucas attacked the Government's position, saying that both public and parliamentary opinion was in support of a ban.
The motion was to "direct" the Government to introduce a ban.
Shortly before the vote, the Animal Welfare minister, Jim Paice, said: "If at the end of this debate the House were to approve this motion then of course we will have to respect that."
Animal welfare groups were ecstatic. The RSPCA said: "This is a win for democracy as well as animal welfare." It said it hoped the Government would quickly and formally announce a ban.
Animal Defenders International, the group which shot undercover footage of the beating by a Romanian groom of Anne the elephant at Bobby Roberts Circus, said: "This debate and vote has exposed the Government and demonstrated just how out of touch they have been with their peers, the public, and animal welfare groups."
Mary Creagh, the shadow Environment Secretary, said: "The public will be absolutely delighted that MPs from all parties have stood up to the Tory-led Government on this issue to achieve such a fantastic result. The vote brings to an end 48 hours of chaos and confusion from the Government about their position on a ban. It is extraordinary that David Cameron used such bully-boy tactics to threaten his own MPs and tried to impose a three-line whip on the vote."
The Government had initially planned to ban wild animals from circuses but the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was forced to do a U-turn, and instead proposed a licensing system, after Mr Cameron, a keen hunter and shooter, blocked the move.
Mr Paice blamed a court challenge to a ban in Austria for the decision, but there was no court challenge and he was forced to admit during an emergency debate, called because of the misinformation, that he had misled the Commons. The Government's subsequent claim that a ban could be challenged under the Human Rights Act or the EU Services Directive was challenged by lawyers and the European Commission.
The Government and MPs came under intense pressure from voters. More than 32,000 signed The Independent's online petition calling for the Government to change its mind, and supporters of the protest group 38 Degrees, which had forced Defra to abandon plans for its forests sell-off, deluged MPs' offices with hundreds of emails, letters and phone calls.
During the debate, MPs said the issue was emblematic of wider animal welfare issues. But the most astonishing contribution came from Mr Pritchard who had secured the backbench debate, which should have had a free vote. He said: "On Monday if I offered to amend my motion or drop my motion or not call a vote on this motion – and we're not talking about a major defence issue or an economic issue or an issue of public-sector reform, we're talking about a ban on wild animals in circuses – I was offered reward and incentive. If I didn't call for a ban – I was offered a job. Not as a minister, it was a pretty trivial job.
"Then it was ratcheted up to last night and I was threatened. I had a call from the Prime Minister's Office directly and I was told unless I withdrew this motion that the Prime Minister himself would look upon it 'very dimly indeed'."
He told MPs: "It remains a mystery why the Government has mounted such a concerted operation to stop there being a vote on this motion."The Independent | London...
Victory in the campaign to ban circus animals... more
Deep in the jungle, armed forest rangers trek through the palms on a mission to confirm some rare good news: the discovery of a wild tiger population in an area of Thap Lan national park previously written off by wildlife experts.
Working with foreign conservationists, the rangers have been gathering evidence from camera traps over the past two years that suggests this single national park in Thailand may have more tigers than China.
Thap Lan, with its spectacular forests of saw-bladed plan palms, is an oasis of biodiversity amid expanding human development. Elephants, clouded leopards, spotted linsang, boar and deer thrive below the canopy, which is filled with the song of myna, lapwings, laughing thrushes and other exotic birds.
Locals have long insisted that tigers also prowl in this area. Camera traps, triggered by heat and movement, have been left strapped to trees for a month. Some have been destroyed by wild elephants or infested by nesting ants, but the memory cards inside have yielded a treasure trove of images of bears, leopards, itinerant monks, as well as tigers and – worryingly – armed poachers.
More than half the park has still to be checked, but rangers have already confirmed eight tigers. This is not yet enough to be classified as a sustainable population, but park managers are optimistic more animals will be found. "I'm very happy as this is beyond expectations," said Thap Lan's superintendent, Taywin Meesap. "There are areas deeper inside where we haven't placed camera traps yet. Given the results so far, there could be 20 to 50 tigers here."Deep in the jungle, armed forest rangers trek through the palms on a mission to... more
Is it too early to press the panic button?
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2 years ago
The number of Indian tigers living in the wild rose to 1,706 at the latest count, giving a boost to conservation efforts for the endangered species in the country with the world's largest population of the big cats .But the government on Monday raised concern over a sharp decline...The number of Indian tigers living in the wild rose to 1,706 at the latest count,... more
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within a game of the postseason in 2009, 2010 was a disappointing season for Detroit. The biggest problem seemed to be the inability to win away from Comerica Park, as the team was +23 at home and, obviously, -23 away from it.
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within a game of the... more
Employees of Tokyo’s Tama Zoo simulate the escape of a Siberian tiger from its enclosure following an earthquake.
Just have a look at the tiger...HA!Employees of Tokyo’s Tama Zoo simulate the escape of a Siberian tiger from its... more