tagged w/ Animal Defenders International
Los Angeles Times...
Elephant rides should be a thing of the past
Elephant rides are a tradition at the L.A. County Fair, but it's one tradition the fair should abandon, both for the animals' and the public's sake.
PHOTO: Rosie, an Asian elephant, cooled herself off with water during a break from giving rides at the Los Angeles County Fair. (Los Angeles Times)
September 7, 2011
The Los Angeles County Fair is steeped in traditions, from its Ferris wheel to fried everything. But elephant rides are one tradition the fair should do without.
The Humane Society of the U.S., the country's most influential animal welfare organization, is against them, saying that elephants are typically trained for rides and other performance activities through the use of bullhooks and electric prods. The Assn. of Zoos and Aquariums "strongly encourages" its member organizations to discontinue rides in the interest of safety.
The elephants at the fair are supplied by the Perris, Calif.-based outfitter Have Trunk Will Travel, a member in good standing of the association. But its founders, Kari and Gary Johnson, are accustomed to controversy following in their elephants' footsteps. Officials of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who asked the fair to cancel the rides, circulated a video from Animal Defenders International that purportedly shows trainers from Have Trunk Will Travel using bullhooks and electric prods to get elephants to perform.
In a statement, the Johnsons said the video was six years old and heavily edited. "We stand by our care and training methods," said the statement. Kari Johnson confirmed that the trainers use bullhooks — "the pointed end is to push them away, the curved end is to pull them toward you." But she defended the company's care of its six Asian elephants, saying they are well treated on a 10-acre ranch and noting that the outfitter is involved in research on and conservation of the endangered species.
What's more, the company has supplied Asian elephants to the fair off and on for 20 years without incident or evidence of inhumane treatment on the grounds, according to fair spokesperson Leslie Galerne-Smith.
In our view, the video is beside the point here. Zoos, including the L.A. Zoo, are spending millions to create elaborate habitats for elephants, which are the world's largest land mammals. Some zoos have reevaluated whether their facilities can sufficiently accommodate the needs of pachyderms. Some are also instituting a policy of almost no unprotected contact between keepers and elephants, which is considered more humane and safer for all. At a time when the management of captive elephants is focusing on conservation and the animals' well-being, hoisting people onto their backs seems out of step.
The animal welfare groups, the elephant supplier and the fair officials all say they care deeply about elephant conservation. If that's true, there ought to be a way to allow people — including fairgoers — a chance to see and learn about these stately creatures of the wild without riding them.
.Los Angeles Times...
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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...
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Killer whale dies unexpectedly at SeaWorld Orlando
By the CNN Wire Staff
October 5, 2010 3:37 p.m. EDT
* 25-year-old Kalina died Monday after a sudden illness; cause is yet to be determined
* She is the third adult whale to die at one of SeaWorld's parks in four months
(CNN) -- A 25-year-old killer whale unexpectedly died at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, the park said in a statement Tuesday.
The whale, named Kalina, died Monday evening after a sudden illness, according to the statement.
The cause of death will be determined by a necropsy, the park said, adding that the results could take up to six weeks.
The park said Kalina "showed no signs of illness as recently as Friday" and had a normal appetite Sunday.
"She began exhibiting signs of discomfort Monday afternoon and died suddenly in the evening," the statement said.
Kalina is the third adult whale to die at one of SeaWorld's three locations in four months. In September, 12-year-old male killer whale Sumar died suddenly at the San Diego park, and 20-year-old Taima died while giving birth to a stillborn calf at the Orlando park in June.
The average life expectancy for male killer whales in the wild is about 30 years, while females generally live about 50 years. The average life span in captivity is significantly less.
Photo: KalinaKiller whale dies unexpectedly at SeaWorld Orlando
By the CNN Wire Staff
October 5,... more