Stories tagged animal cruelty

Sep
25
2008

Depending on the variety: you may indeed end up a very different person.
Depending on the variety: you may indeed end up a very different person.Courtesy william c hutton jr
You know what’s bad? Animal cruelty.

Seriously. I mean, I don’t want to go out on a political limb here, but… I’m against it. You can put that on your head and call it a hat: JGordon is officially against animal cruelty.

Unfortunately, I’m also lazy and ignorant. What exactly constitutes animal cruelty? And, if I’m taking part in it, will it be too inconvenient for me to change my ways?

Is dressing my dog up in clothes that match my own considered “cruel”? What if I take him out on the town, and refer to him as my “twin” and “special friend”?

Reaching into fish tanks to flick the goldfish—cruel, or playful? Because the fish seem to like it, even if their owners don’t.

Screaming at pigeons? And does the language I use matter?

And how, really, should I feel about the dairy industry?

Well, that’s when I turn to PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA is a non-profit animal rights organization that works to prevent animal cruelty in medical and cosmetic testing, factory farms, and fur farms (among other areas). It encourages activism, transparency in business’ use of animals, and community involvement. And changing the names of towns like Rodeo, California, and Hamburg, New York, to something “less suggestive of animal exploitation.” And comparing the treatment of animals to the Holocaust. And sending letters to celebrity babies, reminding them that they shouldn’t wear fur. Vital, heady stuff.

This week, PETA has sent a bold new letter to ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s, with a message sure to resonate in the hearts of non-celebrity baby people around the world: stop using cruelty-tainted cow’s milk for your gourmet ice cream, and start using delicious, healthy, human breast milk.

The letter points out that, in addiction to the cruelty employed in obtaining cow’s milk, drinking milk can lead to anemia and diabetes in children, as well as allergies and obesity and heart disease. This may very well be the case, although the citation for all of these arguments is a link to another PETA website called “milksucks.com.” Milksucks.com points out that a glass of milk is about 49 % fat, which seems like an awfully dubious figure. (The USDA says that whole milk is about 3.25% fat. But they would, wouldn’t they.) A variety of studies show both increases and decreases in cancer, heart diseases, etc, from consuming milk (Here’s a link to wikipedia’s milk medical research section, which has links to the original studies cited, which I don’t want to take the time to post here.)

Breast milk, it seems, is pretty good for babies, and may be good for folks with gastro-intestinal disorders. And it doesn’t come from sad cows, as far as I know.

PETA got the idea from a particular Swiss restaurant that plans to replace 75% percent of the cow’s milk they use with human milk. The obvious next step is to present the notion to a major ice cream maker, although I’m not sure that the massive breast milk infrastructure that will allow a Swiss restaurant to partially replace the cow milk they use exists in America. Still, the message was sent, and I think the American people heard it loud and clear: PETA has some ideas that we can relate to.

Dec
10
2007

Sort of the opposite here: And I think I might throw up.
Sort of the opposite here: And I think I might throw up.Courtesy Ke Wynn
It’s amazing that we ever get anything done in this world, considering how weird it is.

A zoo in Thailand recently began circulating emails containing photos of a female tiger with a littler of piglets. The tigress, according to the email, was heartbroken over the loss of her own cubs, and accepted the piglets, wrapped in tiger skins, as replacements. She has been watching over them ever since, and, apparently, even nursing them.

That alone would have done it for me. “Wrapped in tiger skins”? I wonder where the tiger skins came from? I mean, what, did they just have a whole bunch of dead baby tigers on hand… oh. And piglets nursing from a tiger? There’s something unsettling about that, especially considering that the tiger is probably going to eat those things eventually (that’s what I’d do, at least).

The story doesn’t end there, however. After a worldwide chorus of “aww”s and “OMG!!!!”s, an animal welfare group decided to investigate the source of the pictures. They originally came from The Sriracha Tiger Zoo, home to over 400 tigers (400 tigers!), as well as a handful of other exotic animals, located about an hour outside of Bangkok.

The tiger in the picture turns out to have been raised by pigs herself (something not entirely uncommon in Thailand, at least according to this article) and therefore saw the piglets as part of her family, even without their sharp little striped jackets. The photos (which can be found using the link above) were apparently part of a publicity stunt by the zoo.

Whether or not putting piglets in jackets and tossing them in a tiger cage constitutes animal cruelty is perhaps debatable, but this isn’t the first time the Sriracha Zoo has received scrutiny for dubious behavior. Along with the circus attached to the zoo (a source of debate in itself), Sriracha has been accused of causing 23 tigers to die of bird flu by feeding them infected chicken carcasses (who would have thought it was possible?), as well as breeding tigers, without a license (a tiger-breeding license?), for export to China, where tigers parts are very valuable as ingredients for traditional medicine (a list of various tiger parts and their uses in traditional medicine can be found here. Kind of interesting).

The zoo denies any wrongdoing, although it seems they may have been better off without the tiger/piglet attention. Delightful.

Sep
21
2007

The last stand?: Elephants and their riders strike a pose at the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, recently. Some cities, like Minneapolis, are considering banning wild animals from circus performances (Flickr photo by Edith Frost)
The last stand?: Elephants and their riders strike a pose at the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, recently. Some cities, like Minneapolis, are considering banning wild animals from circus performances (Flickr photo by Edith Frost)

The debate at Minneapolis City Hall keeps churning on: should wild animals be banned from performances in circuses in the city?

If the proposed ordinance would pass, it would make it illegal for circuses to showcase lions, tiger, elephants or other exotic animals. Sponsors of the proposed ordinance say that animals in the shows are often mistreated.

So far in the U.S., only one city, Albuquerque, N.M., has an animal ban for circuses. And in action at the Minneapolis City Council on Thursday, Sept. 20, council members weren’t ready to go to an all-out ban, but passed measures for tighter regulations and fines for animal mistreatment.

So what do you think? Should wild animals be freed from circus performance? Or do they have a great life of easy food, great travel and fun companionship. Personally, I think I’d prefer to be a circus animal than an animal in a zoo. Would you be more or less inclined to go to a circus if it didn’t have wild animals? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.