West Nile virus is still here, and it’s spreading among U.S. birds

api.nationalgeographic.com

By Jason Bittel 15-19 minutes


PUBLISHED June 4, 2020

Chief, a white-and-orange English setter, knifes through a forest of pale-barked aspen, so thick in places the trees seem to gobble him up, the ding ding ding of his collar the only clue to his whereabouts.

These impenetrable thickets in central Pennsylvania known as the Scotia Barrens make for hard hiking. But they’re prime habitat for ruffed grouse—crow-size birds whose mottled, russet coloring blends into the fallen leaves Chief is sniffing feverishly. If he flushes out a ruffed grouse on this November afternoon, he’ll get an extra hearty pat from his owner, Lisa Williams. That’s because Pennsylvania’s official state bird is getting harder to find.

“Depending on who you talk to, the ruffed grouse is either the king of the game birds, or it’s a forest chicken,” says Williams, grouse biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, a state agency whose mission is to conserve birds and mammals for present and future generations. Hunters prize ruffed grouse because they’re canny—elusive on the ground and tricky targets in the air.

They’re native to the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains, the Great Lakes region, and large swaths of Canada. In the spring mating season, males hop onto a log and beat their wings rapidly and rhythmically in a crescendoing womp womp womp“drumming” that carries more than a quarter of a mile,even through thick cover such as we’re tromping through following Chief’s helter-skelter lead.

But after a few hours of searching, the setter comes up short.

A male ruffed grouse in Yellowstone National Park, in Wyoming, puts on a courtship display. These spectacular, elusive birds are a favorite among hunters.

A ruffed grouse perches on a branch in Minnesota’s Sax-Zim Bog. In 2005, a biologist found West Nile antibodies in birds killed at the Annual National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt, in north-central Minnesota. Crows, blue jays, and owls are some of the 300 species hit hard by the mosquito-borne disease.

Photograph by Michael Quinton, Minden Pictures (top) and Photograph by Benjamin Olson, Minden Pictures (bottom)

Between 1978 and 2000, flush rates for ruffed grouse reported by hunters in Pennsylvania declined by 2 percent, reflecting the aging of the thick, young forests the birds need for food and shelter, Williams says. But then, between 2001 and the end of 2018, flush rates plummeted by 54 percent.

The culprit?

West Nile virus: a mosquito-borne pathogen that dominated the news when it appeared in New York City in the summer of 1999. Many expected the virus to race through the human population as a pandemic, but the disease peaked four years later with just under 10,000 cases nationwide. The fear waned.

The virus lingered in the woods, however, spreading from bird to bird— not just ruffed grouse but more than 300 species, causing brain lesions, and killing millions of birds. “Some of our best-loved backyard birds are missing,” Williams says. Crows, owls, and blue jays are among those that have suffered severe losses to West Nile virus. Ruffed grouse numbers have fallen in states from Minnesota and Michigan to North Carolina and New Jersey, a problem exacerbated by climate change.

In Pennsylvania, Williams says, ruffed grouse declined by an estimated 23 percent between 2017 and 2018—­“a horrendous year.” West Nile virus, she adds, is “a classic climate change disease.” Earlier springs in the forests give mosquitoes more time to pump out larvae, and increases in precipitation, also spurred by climate change, create more stagnant pools in which the insects can reproduce.

For all the seriousness of the situation, ruffed grouse numbers have yet to fall to a level that would trigger Endangered Species Act protections. That’s all the more reason to act now, Williams says. “The time to intervene is before you’re in that emergency-room situation. You want to do something while you still have enough animals to respond and work with.”

Following a hunch

Williams spent nearly two decades as a bat expert at the Pennsylvania Game Commission before switching to ruffed grouse in 2011. She had witnessed firsthand how white nose syndrome, a fungus that infects the faces and wings of bats, devastated local bat populations, and the more she examined ruffed grouse population information, the more she suspected that something similar was happening to the birds. But no one could say for sure, because in the early years after the virus showed up, most research focused on human health. (Read more about the killer fungus wreaking havoc on bats.)

In 2004, for example, Pennsylvania’s largest breeder of captive grouse reported that 24 out of 30 birds died during a two-week period. This prompted him to send one of the dead birds to a lab for testing, which determined West Nile virus as the cause of death. In 2005, a biologist found West Nile antibodies in birds killed at the Annual National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt, in north-central Minnesota. In 2006, experiments showed that West Nile could be particularly lethal to greater sage grouse, a relative of ruffed grouse native to the American West.

“There were all these different things that came together as I was sort of working through this hunch,” Williams says.

To get a better idea of what was going on, Williams mined information provided by hunters—an “amazing” trove going back to 1965. In Pennsylvania, ruffed grouse hunts are permitted from mid-October to the end of November, as well as for another 10 days in mid-to-late December. Each hunter is allowed to take up to two grouse a day but isn’t permitted to have more than six in the freezer at one time to prevent overexploitation of the birds.

In November 2019, I joined Duane Diefenbach, a wildlife ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, and his English setter Chelsea, in Susquehannock State Forest, in north-central Pennsylvania. Diefenbach is one of hundreds of hunters who report to the commission everything from the number of hours they spend looking for grouse and where they search to how many times their dogs flush out birds.

When cornered, a ruffed grouse explodes out of the forest undergrowth with thunderclapping wings. So when Chelsea freezes, signaling that she’s scented a grouse, Diefenbach closes in, shotgun poised. But no bird erupts. “This is probably where the grouse was 10 minutes ago,” he says ruefully.

By the end of our outing, though, Chelsea and a younger setter named Parker have flushed out eight grouse. Diefenbach doesn’t bag a single one, though. “That’s how it goes with grouse hunting,” he says with a grin.

Eight ruffed grouse may seem a good number, but 30 years ago, a day in this forest would likely have yielded 20 or so, according to Diefenbach. “Everyone I know agrees there’s fewer grouse, and that’s because there’s less habitat…but if you’re a dedicated grouse hunter, you know that the changes over the past 10 years have nothing to do with habitat.”

To get a deeper understanding of the effects of West Nile virus on ruffed grouse, in 2014 Williams began asking hunters to mail in feathers and blood samples, which she tested for the disease. Counterintuitively, she says, in a bad West Nile year, only about 4 percent of hunted birds have antibodies that indicate previous West Nile infection. But in years when West Nile ebbs, up to a quarter of the hunted birds may test positive for antibodies. That’s because when the virus is hitting hard, exposed grouse don’t survive long enough to be shot by hunters in the fall.

Williams says this suggests that the virus’s true toll is likely even higher, because there’s no way to estimate how many ruffed grouse die from it before the hunting season begins.

Fighting back

Since 2014, states from Minnesota to Maine and North Carolina have followed Pennsylvania’s example and collected ruffed grouse blood samples. Most places register declines similar to Pennsylvania’s, but Maine, inexplicably, seems largely unaffected. This could be because most hunting—and 98 percent of the testing—takes place in the northern part of the state where the climate is generally cooler, says Kelsey Sullivan, migratory bird biologist at Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Or, he adds, it could be “that quality habitats reduce occurrence and increase the ability of grouse to withstand and diffuse the virus.” And Maine’s north woods are as close to paradise for ruffed grouse as it gets.

Lisa Williams has been pushing the importance of habitat for a while. And in 2019, she teamed up with Bob Blystone and Jeremy Diehl, geographic information system analysts at the Pennsylvania Game Commission, to develop a computer model to assess habitat quality. It’s called the Grouse Priority Area Siting Tool (G-PAST), and it can help wildlife managers identify the best and worst areas for conserving ruffed grouse.

G-PAST predicts, for example, that the Scotia Barrens—previously some of the best ruffed grouse habitat in the state—is unlikely to regain that status region-wide because of its low elevation (where mosquitoes tend to thrive), its flat terrain (conducive to standing water where mosquitoes breed), and its lack of proximity to existing grouse populations (which hold potential for repopulating the area). By contrast, G-PAST finds that parts of Susquehannock State Forest, where the terrain is higher, could serve as critical ruffed grouse sanctuaries.

With that information, the Pennsylvania Game Commission can target forest areas for management strategies such as cutting stands of older trees to encourage the new growth preferred by ruffed grouse, which will also invigorate more than 30 other species, including deer, bears, turkeys, and rattlesnakes.

Another way to help grouse is by adjusting the pressures people put on them. New Jersey has banned ruffed grouse hunting indefinitely and is working with Pennsylvania to create its own version of G-PAST. Both Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have shortened their hunting seasons, and Ohio is considering doing the same. Hunters have been supportive of the measures.

“Grouse hunters are their own unique breed,” Williams says. “They’re highly passionate about the species, and they’re willing to give up their own recreation to try to help.”

Meanwhile, in coordination with hunters and other Great Lakes states, Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources, based in Saint Paul, recently started a two-year study of West Nile virus in ruffed grouse. According to Charlotte Roy, the department’s grouse project leader, the state is experiencing more frequent extreme rainfall events, which may lead to more West Nile-carrying mosquitoes.

“I think we should be aware of the impacts that we’re having on natural processes and potentially take corrective action where we can,” she says. “West Nile virus is going to be out there whether we pay attention to it or not.”

https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/animals/2020/06/west-nile-virus-spreading-among-us-birds?__twitter_impression=true

Missouri proposes opening its small black bear population to trophy hunters · A Humane World

blog.humanesociety.org

By Blog Editor 5-6 minutes

Missouri proposes opening its small black bear population to trophy hunters

Bears are highly intelligent with strong family ties. They spend prolonged periods raising and nurturing their young. Photo by Jos Bakker

Missouri has proposed a hunting season on its small and still-recovering population of black bears, who were once nearly wiped out because of overhunting and logging, which decimated their habitat.

The Missouri Department of Conservation estimates that there are now approximately 540 to 840 bears in the state. But some studies show that those numbers may be inflated. And even if there are as many bears as the MDC claims, it’s still not a large number.

Missouri has no good reason for allowing such a hunt. Bears self-regulate their own populations because of limited food availability and slow reproduction. There have also been minimal bear-human conflicts in the state, and these are entirely preventable.

Fact is, the only reason the MDC is proposing this hunt is to appease trophy hunters. But Missourians do not support it, not least because it would deprive a majority of the state’s residents of the joy of seeing a black bear in the wild. According to a March 2019 poll conducted by Remington Research Group for the Humane Society of the United States, nearly half of Missouri residents outright oppose hunting the state’s bears while fewer than a third support such a hunt.

Instead of allowing trophy hunters to kill them, the MDC ought to be working hard to preserve its bear population. Bears are critical for a thriving ecosystem. They disperse seeds across vast distances—even more seeds than birds. They open up forest canopies and allow sun to filter to the forest floor. They also break logs while grubbing, which helps the decomposition process and facilitates the return of nutrients to the soil. Keeping bears protected is critical to maintaining the state’s biodiversity.

These are also incredible animals, highly intelligent with strong family ties. Bears have the largest brain size of any carnivore and are highly sentient. They spend prolonged periods raising and nurturing their young. They are also slow to reproduce, which means hunting them can lead to their numbers dropping even faster than projected. Trophy hunters also tend to target adult breeding animals, which can lead to cubs being killed by incoming male bears looking to take over the newly opened territory.

Black bears are naturally shy and typically try to avoid humans, and the only times they are likely to come near humans is when there is food available. The MDC can help avoid such conflicts by expanding public education about simple, non-lethal preventative measures that residents can take to coexist peacefully with bears–including using bear-resistant trash cans, cleaning up BBQ grills, feeding pets indoors, and using electric fencing around chicken coops and beehives.

In what is also a concerning development, the MDC’s proposal leaves the cruel practices of bear baiting and bear hounding on the table “if management needs change in the future,” although these are not part of the current proposal. Hound hunting, or using packs of dogs to pursue bears, is an incredibly cruel practice that causes stress and distress to wildlife, and to the hounds themselves. Baiting—the practice of leaving large piles of junk food to attract the animals and then shoot them—is particularly heartless. Baits often attract mother bears who are looking for food but who find themselves in the crosshairs of a hunter instead. An overwhelming 77% of Missourians are strongly opposed to these methods, according to the Remington poll, and the MDC should not even be considering it.

Missouri’s wildlife officials would do well to heed the needs of the state’s wonderful wild animals, and the wishes of their residents, instead of kowtowing to a handful of trophy hunters. If you’re a Missouri resident, please let the MDC know that you’re opposed to this unnecessary killing of the state’s small and vulnerable bear population. The agency is accepting input on this proposal until June 5th, and raising your voice in opposition to it could make all the difference.

https://blog.humanesociety.org/2020/05/missouri-proposes-opening-its-small-black-bear-population-to-trophy-hunters.html?credit=blog_em_052720_id11427&utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=humanenation

Coronavirus ship may sail live sheep into northern summer, despite laws, says Minister David Littleproud

amp.abc.net.au

By national rural reporter Kath Sullivan. 5-6 minutes

An exemption to live export laws intended to improve animal welfare could be granted before the laws come into effect, allowing more than 50,000 Australian sheep to sail to the Middle East during the northern summer.

Key points:

  • About 56,000 sheep are ready to be loaded on a ship with six crew infected by COVID-19.
  • The ship won’t be cleaned or loaded in time to sail before exports to the Middle East stop on June 1 to protect animals from heat stress.
  • The Agriculture Minister says an independent regulator could allow the shipment to go ahead.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has told the ABC the Al Kuwait, docked at Fremantle with at least six crew infected with COVID-19, won’t be cleaned or loaded in time to sail by June 1, when the three-and-a-half-month ban on sheep exports comes into effect.

“It will miss the deadline of 1 June for the moratorium on the northern summer exports, but there’s an exemption in the legislation for the independent regulator to grant approval for that ship to sail after 1 June, particularly in light of these circumstances,” Mr Littleproud said.

“But that would be at the discretion of the independent regulator, not me.”

In March, the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environmentannounced a ban on live sheep exports to the Middle East from June 1 to September 14, due to the increased risk of heat stress.

“The changes will see improved animal welfare with a focus on conditions to manage the risk of heat stress during the northern hemisphere summer,” the department said at the time.

About 56,000 sheep are ready for loading on the Al Kuwait.

The Al Kuwait was expected to export 56,000 Australian sheep to the Middle East before a ban on sailing comes into effect on June 1.(Supplied: Rural Export and Trading, WA)

Mr Littleproud said they were in good health and distanced himself from a potential exemption, saying the independent regulator would need to make a quick decision about allowing the exports to take place.

“We don’t want to see this go too deep into June, but there’s a decision for the independent regulator,” Mr Littleproud said.

“I won’t be making a recommendation or making any of my personal views known to the independent regulator — that would be inappropriate,” he said.

“It is up to them to make their determination, that’s what the Australian public would expect. They’d expect that the live sheep that go into the Middle East do that in a safe way.”

‘Difficult to return sheep to paddocks’

Mr Littleproud said there were now “limited options” for dealing with the sheep.

“Those sheep have passed through biosecurity and it would be difficult for them to enter back into paddocks around Western Australia,” he said.

“The boat needs a deep clean and we have to work through the welfare of the crew and understand that and work with the company to see if other crew can take over.

“If that’s the case, that’ll evolve over the coming days.”

Mr Littleproud estimated a shipment of live sheep could be worth up to $12 million.

The formal ban on live sheep exports followed an industry-led moratorium in 2019 after a public campaign to end the tradey.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announced sweeping changes to the live export sector following a review by the Department of Agriculture.(ABC News: Sean Davey)

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which led calls to ban live exports, said alternative markets for the sheep should be found after slaughter at West Australian abattoirs.

“Under no circumstances should exemptions from regulations prohibiting the export of sheep between 1 June and 14 September be granted to accommodate this consignment,” said the RSPCA in a statement.

“This would subject the sheep to unacceptable levels of heat stress and [possibly] death due to extreme heat and humidity in Middle Eastern waters at this time of year.”

Sheep ‘well cared for’

State-based lobby group WA Farmers said there was no cause for animal welfare concerns.

“The stock due for departure are being well cared for,” WA Farmers spokesman David Slade said.

“They have access to ample feed and water, with the livestock being held in the usual feedlots. They are regularly monitored by livestock personnel including vets and stock handlers.”

The Al Kuwait’s owners, Rural Export and Trading, WA issued a statement saying it would work closely with WA health authorities following the detection of COVID-19 on the vessel, but made no mention of the livestock.

Earlier this month it issued a statement that said it was disappointed by the Government’s new regulations prohibiting shipments of live sheep to the Middle East over the northern summer.

“Animal welfare is part of good business and has always been a company focus with significant investments in the vessel fleet, feedlot infrastructure and abattoirs which are world class,” it said at the time.

https://amp.abc.net.au/article/12290198?__twitter_impression=true

Court orders the release of Kaavan the ‘mentally tormented’ elephant

dailymail.co.uk

4-5 minutes


  • An online petition for Kaavan the elephant had gained over 280,000 signatures
  • He was brought to the Islamabad zoo from Sri Lanka in the mid-1980s 
  • Caretakers responded to his aggression by chaining his legs and beating him
  • Animal rights groups have launched petitions to cover the costs of moving him

A court has ordered the release of a ‘mentally ill’ bull elephant to a sanctuary after 35 years suffering in a Pakistani zoo. 

Local and international animal rights organizations launched a campaign to free Kaavan the elephant a year ago after reports that zookeepers were beating him and denying him food. 

The Islamabad High Court today ordered wildlife officials to consult with Sri Lanka, where the Asian elephant came from, to find him a ‘suitable sanctuary’ within 30 days. 

An online petition gained over 280,000 signatures and small protests were held outside Marghazar Zoo. 

The campaign also attracted international attention, with rights groups and celebrities, including the singer Cher, calling for the elephant to be moved to a more humane facility.

After hearing the news of his release today, Cher said: ‘This is one of the greatest moments of my life.’The plight of Kaavan, a mentally tormented bull elephant confined to a small pen in an Islamabad Zoo for nearly three decades, has galvanized a rare animal rights campaign in PakistanPakistani caretaker Mohammad Jalal sits next to Kaavan the elephant at Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad Animal rights groups called on Pakistan to relocate Kaavan to an animal sanctuary. But the Capital Development Authority, the local agency in charge of managing the zoo, had refused

‘The pain and suffering of Kaavan must come to an end by relocating him to an appropriate elephant sanctuary, in or outside the country,’ the court ordered, criticising the zoo for failing to meet the animal’s needs for the past three decades. 

The court has also ordered dozens of other animals – including brown bears, lions and birds – to be relocated temporarily while the zoo improves its standards. 

Elephants are gregarious by nature, and males can become aggressive when they are separated from the herd. 

Kaavan, who was brought to the zoo from Sri Lanka in the mid-1980s, grew even more unruly when the female elephant he was being kept with died in 2012.

Activists say caretakers responded to his aggression by chaining his legs, beating him and confining him to an enclosure that was far too small.

Sunny Jamil, an activist at the Help Welfare Organization – a local animal rights group – said the mangled ceiling fan in the roof of the enclosure testifies to its insufficient height. 

Jamil, who visits the zoo regularly, says the pen can reach 40 degrees Celsius (100 F) in the summer, and that the elephant is given little water to cool down. ‘It is cruel,’ he said.Kaavan, who was brought to the zoo from Sri Lanka in the mid-1980s, grew more unruly when the female elephant he was being kept with died in 2012 Activists say caretakers have responded to his aggression by chaining his legs, beating him, and confining him to an enclosure that is far too small 

Mohammad Jalal, the caretaker for the 36-year-old elephant, said: ‘I have hardly seen him happy.’ 

Kaavan swayed back and forth as Jalal spoke – a sign of mental torment – and at one point hurled a brick at onlookers.

Animal rights groups have launched petitions to cover the costs of the move to the sanctuary. 

The Capital Development Authority, the local agency in charge of managing the zoo, had originally refused the transfer – perhaps fearing it would lose visitors. 

Instead, it had worked on bringing in another female elephant, said Sanaullah Aman, an official with the agency. 

Aman denied the allegations of abuse and said ‘every possible step’ was being taken for Kaavan’s wellbeing, without elaborating.Mohammad Jalal, the caretaker for the 36-year-old elephant, said: ‘I have hardly seen him happy’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8348989/amp/Court-orders-release-Kaavan-mentally-tormented-bull-elephant.html?ico=amp_articleRelated

‘Britain’s worst zoo’ threatens to KILL animals because it’s running out of money during lockdown

 

  • Borth Wild Animal Kingdom fear it only has enough money left for a week of food
  • The West Wales zoo costs £3,000 a week to run and has more than 300 animals
  • Owners Tracy and Dean Tweedy may euthanise the animals ‘as a last resort’
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

A zoo dubbed the worst in Britain is threatening to put down its animals because it is running out of money to feed the exotic breeds amid the coronavirus lockdown. 

Tracy and Dean Tweedy, who own Borth Wild Animal Kingdom in West Wales, fear they only have enough money to feed more than 300 animals for a week. 

The married couple say their money is running out to care for their stock and are planning ‘as a last resort’ to euthanise ‘the animals that we care for’. Married couple Tracy, 49, and Dean Tweedy (pictured) say their money is running out to care for their stock and are planning ‘as a last resort, euthanising the animals that we care for’ The zoo is running out of money to care for its 300 animals and the married couple said they are planning ‘as a last resort’ to euthanise ‘the animals that we care for’

Council chiefs ‘lost confidence’ in the ability of the zoo to operate safely following the deaths of two lynx and other animals.

In January this year, the zoo was ordered to close because it did not have trained gunmen in case of an animal escape.

But it was allowed to reopen in February before having to close again in March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Ms Tweedy, 49, said many staff are on furlough and the zoo’s business relief grant of £25,000 has nearly run out.

She said: ‘We were already only scraping by financially after the long, quiet winter season.

‘We need help now more than ever. Despite everything, we are as determined as ever to not give up.’  Council chiefs have ‘lost confidence’ in the ability of the zoo to operate safely following the deaths of two lynx. Pictured, the lynx in the zoo before it escaped and was shot https://secured.dailymail.co.uk/embed/gamp-video/8352217/video-1571188.html#amp=1Ms Tweedy, 49, said many staff are on furlough due to the coronavirus pandemic and the zoo’s business relief grant of £25,000 has nearly run out It costs £3,000 a week to run the zoo and if the animals cannot be fed or re-homed, a cull of the animals has been considered. She said it costs £3,000 a week to run the zoo and a cull of the animals has been considered if they cannot be fed.

After the money runs out, the couple will have to start looking at re-homing but are considering euthanasia as a last resort. 

Problems for the zoo began in late 2017 when Lilleth the Eurasian lynx escaped and was shot dead by a marksman after being found at a nearby caravan site.


A second lynx, Nilly, also died in what was described as a ‘handling error’.

A report revealed one in five of the zoo’s animals died in just one year. It was discovered that monkeys, crocodiles and a leopard also died from its animal stock during 2018.

28762782-0-image-a-20_159031751901228762788-0-image-a-22_1590317533675

Tracy and Dean bought the zoo for £625,000 in 2016 to start a dream new life with their family, but it has turned into a nightmare A report revealed one in five of the zoo’s animals died in just one year. It was discovered that monkeys, crocodiles and a leopard also died during 2018.28762776-0-image-a-21_1590317526995Pictured, the police at the zoo when the Lynx escaped

28762772-0-image-a-23_1590317548668

Tracey said: ‘It would be tragic if mid Wales lost its only zoo. We work with so many local organisations on animal education and wildlife conservation that we see ourselves as a vital asset for the communit.

Tracy said many of the animals would be very hard to re-home due to licence requirements needed to look after the exotic animals. 

‘We also run as a sanctuary for animals that have been rescued from the exotic pet trade. For many of these animals, we are a last resort.ADVERTISEMENTnull

‘They came here because destruction was their only alternative.

‘They would be very difficult to re-home as the licence requirements to look after these animals and provide the proper care, can be very involved and expensive,’ she said.

The couple say Westminster has announced a fund to help zoos in England but there is no similar support in Wales.

The Welsh government said it had already provided all licensed zoos with details of existing support schemes. Ms Tweedy said many of the animals would be extremely difficult to re-home due to licence requirements to look after the exotic animals The couple say the Westminster government has announced a fund to help zoos in England but there is no similar support in Wales

‘If any zoo operators have concerns about their ability to meet the needs of their animals, they should contact their local authority’s animal health team for advice without delay as they are on hand to offer support,’ a spokeswoman said.

It said its £500m economic resilience fund provided more generous support than one specifically for zoos would have. 

A spokesman for Ceredigion County Council earlier said: ‘The local authority has lost confidence in the ability of the zoo to operate responsibly and safely.’ 

Zoos were forced to close at the end of March due to the coronavirus lockdown and many have warned their futures are in danger from the impact of the pandemic. 

Andrew RT Davies, Shadow Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the Welsh Parliament, said: ‘This is a dire situation that the zoo finds itself in, but I’m afraid that zoos right across Wales are in the same precarious situation and desperately need support due to the profound impact of Covid-19.

‘It’s outrageous that whilst the UK Government has taken action and given £14 million to support zoos in England the Welsh Government has still not followed suit.

 

‘It is high time that the Welsh Labour Government listened to the plight of our zoos and introduce the much-needed fund.’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8352217/amp/Britains-worst-zoo-threatens-KILL-animals-running-money-lockdown.html?__twitter_impression=true

Leonardo DiCaprio saves gorilla park by donating to €1.8 million fund | Living

Leonardo DiCaprio saves gorilla park by donating to €1.8 million fund

American actor turned environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged his support for a gorilla conservation park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Virunga National Park needs $2 million (€1.8 million) in funding to stay afloat after suffering an attack in April of this year. A suspected Rwandan militia group allegedly killed 12 park rangers in the ambush. Ever since, the lack of security patrols has put the endangered mountain gorilla population at even greater risk.

In light of the covid-19 pandemic, gorillas are facing further challenges. Scientists worry that the health crisis poses an “existential threat” towards the survival of the species.

AFP PHOTO / VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK / © LuAnne Cadd

A mountain gorilla at Virunga National ParkAFP PHOTO / VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK / © LuAnne CaddLUANNE CADD

“Virunga urgently needs funds to protect the endangered mountain gorilla population, to provide support to the rangers and the families of rangers who have fallen in the line of duty, and to help deliver essential disease prevention efforts,” the actor told BBC News.

“I had the great honour of meeting and supporting Virunga’s courageous team in their fight against illegal oil drilling in 2013,” he said.

DiCaprio has announced that he is donating towards the Virunga Fund via his organisation Earth Alliance. In a recent Instagram post, he wrote, “The future of Virunga hangs in the balance as it deals with the impacts of Ebola and COVID-19, and now this recent attack.”https://www.instagram.com/p/CAVVjUdlaR1/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=12&wp=743&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.euronews.com&rp=%2Fliving%2F2020%2F05%2F19%2Fleonardo-dicaprio-saves-gorilla-park-by-donating-to-1-8-million-fund#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A2905%2C%22ls%22%3A1164%2C%22le%22%3A1183%7D

Other contributors to the fund include the Emerson Collective, Global Wildlife Conservation and the European Commission.

Why save Virunga National Park?

Virunga National Park is the oldest nature reserve in Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world and home to the endangered mountain gorilla. In total, the park provides a habitat for several hundred species of birds, reptiles and mammals.

Two active volcanoes located in the park, Mount Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira, have helped shape its unique ecosystem. Over 3,000 species of flora and fauna have been recorded so far, including animals like the blue-headed tree agama, the African elephant and the golden monkey, which is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.

There are fewer than 1,200 mountain gorillas left in the world

© Phil Moore / AFP

Orphaned mountain gorilla at Virunga National Park© Phil Moore / AFPPHIL MOORE

The Gorilla Organization is a UK-based charity working to protect our closest living relatives. Today, there are fewer than 1,200 mountain gorillas left in the world, so the charity encourages the public to adopt a gorilla for £3 a month to help save them from the threat of extinction.

They are building a ‘Gorilla safe zone’ in the DR of Congo basin rainforest by planting millions of trees. This is to help local communities and stop them entering the national parks where the last wild gorillas can survive.

https://www.euronews.com/living/2020/05/19/leonardo-dicaprio-saves-gorilla-park-by-donating-to-1-8-million-fund

Petition · Tim Cadogan: Stop GoFundMe from allowing campaigns on cruelty to animals such as Trophy Hunting. · Change.org

Eleonora Carrara started this petition to Tim Cadogan and 3 others

GoFundMe has helped many needy causes and individuals with legitimate fund raising campaigns throughout the years. It makes fundraising easy and accessible.

However, GoFundMe is now approving fundraisers for Africa Trophy Hunters!

The promotion of senseless killing of “trophy” animals by GoFundMe especially at a time in history when the planet is in an ecological crisis in terms of the environment and its wildlife is reprehensible. GoFundMe should take down this fundraiser immediately. This campaign is regressive and has tarnished the GoFundMe image.

Alternate positive campaigns to create sustainable, cruelty free employment in Africa and elsewhere should be encouraged. Why would GoFundMe promote such a deplorable campaign rather than promoting positive changes benefitting local tourism, the environment and the animals. 

GoFundMe – do the right thing and disassociate yourself from this cruel and deplorable campaign. Take the Africa Trophy Hunters fundraiser down!Start a petition of your ownThis petition starter stood up and took action. Will you do the same?Start a petition

Updates

  1. 7 hours ago1,500 supporters
  2. GoFundMe – Take down the Africa Trophy Hunters fundraiser!Thank you to all the concerned supporters across the worl… Eleonora Carrara16 hours ago
  3. 1 day ago1,000 supporters
  4. 2 days agoEleonora Carrara started this petition

Elke KRAFCZYK·2 days agoit`s a SHAME to see such a organization like gofundme promoting cruelty to animals.You lost quite a few supporters having done this.

https://www.change.org/p/tim-cadogan-stop-gofundme-from-allowing-campaigns-on-cruelty-to-animals-such-as-trophy-hunting?recruiter=326543891&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_abi&utm_term=psf_combo_share_initial&recruited_by_id=5b5f6440-19c8-11e5-9869-c790e7c62e87&fbclid=IwAR0gtX-GyRbamwGTtDjzm5dJPruQil9kB8bP5ZQAfwD4_5iM2e0pnCSf7Ac

To prevent the next pandemic, it’s the legal wildlife trade we should worry about

National Geographic Logo

Wildlife WatchCoronavirus Coverage

Millions of live animals enter the U.S. each year without disease screening—leaving us vulnerable to another outbreak, a former wildlife inspector says.

By Jonathan Kolby PUBLISHED May 7, 2020

Camels, the source of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) outbreak that started in 2012, await sale at a market northwest of Cairo in 2015. The legal trade in wildlife is as serious a risk for the spread of zoonotic diseases as the illegal trade, experts warn.
Photograph by Ahmed Gomaa Xinhua / eyevine/R​edux

Twenty thousand live bullfrogs from China that will be cooked and eaten as frog legs. Forty green monkeys from St. Kitts and Nevis for biomedical research. Three hundred giant clams from Vietnam and 30 stingrays from the Brazilian Amazon for home aquariums. null

That motley assortment is a miniscule glimpse of what the legal international wildlife trade might look like on a given day in any of the 41 ports of entry staffed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service inspectors. I routinely saw consignments like these—alongside crates filled with shampoo bottles, cucumbers, and freshly cut roses—at the Port of Newark, New Jersey, when I was a wildlife inspector, from 2004 to 2010.

At airports, seaports, and land border crossings in 2019, $4.3 billion of legal wildlife and wildlife products was imported into the U.S. Approximately 200 million live animals are imported to the U.S. annually, according to a five-year trade report: 175 million fish for the aquarium trade, and 25 million animals comprised of an array of mammals, amphibians, birds, insects, reptiles, spiders, and more. On top of that, thousands of illegally traded shipments of wildlife are intercepted each year. In 2019 alone, the agency opened more than 10,000 illegal wildlife trade investigations.

The diseases that hitchhike into the country on legally imported wildlife continue to go largely unnoticed.

But along with such a diversity of wildlife, a kaleidoscope of pathogens is also entering the country. My experience with the Fish and Wildlife Service, where I worked for 10 years, first as a wildlife inspector and most recently as a policy specialist regulating and managing the international wildlife trade, showed me that although many controls have been implemented to combat illegal trade, the diseases that simultaneously hitchhike into the country on legally imported wildlife continue to go largely unnoticed.

Importing any live animal brings with it the risk of disease—to native wildlife, to livestock, and to people. The outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China, theorized to have jumped from bats into humans and then spread at a wet market in Wuhan, possibly through an intermediate host, has shined a spotlight on how easily zoonotic diseases can emerge from wildlife. Indeed, an estimated 60 percent of known human diseases originated in animals, according to the World Organization for Animal Health.

Much of the public discussion around COVID-19 has focused on the potential role of the illegal wildlife trade in spreading pathogens. But as a wildlife trade specialist and conservation biologist—I studied the spread of disease among imported frogs—I’ve learned that we need to think just as critically about the risks and vulnerabilities presented by the massive legal trade, which continues to place both ourselves and the world at risk of more pandemics. null

With few exceptions, the U.S. has no laws specifically requiring disease surveillance for wildlife entering the country, and the vast majority of wild animal imports are therefore not tested. Inspectors with the Fish and Wildlife Service are the first to set eyes on an imported shipment of animals, and they’re charged with enforcing a variety of national and international laws, regulations, and treaties that focus on preventing illegal and unsustainable trade. But its mandate doesn’t extend to monitoring animal or human health. Its only responsibilities related to disease are the enforcement of rules limiting trade in certain fish and salamander species, which have the potential to spread devastating disease to other animals of their kind.

In fact, no federal agency is tasked with the comprehensive screening and monitoring of imported wildlife for disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulates the importation of wildlife and wildlife products known to “present a significant public health concern,” focusing primarily on bats, African rodents, and nonhuman primates, Jasmine Reed, a CDC spokesperson, wrote in an email. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) intervenes only if there’s a disease risk to poultry or livestock animals of agricultural importance.

This leaves millions of animals that come into the U.S legally each year unchecked for diseases that have the potential to spill over to humans or other animals. null

The CDC insists it’s keeping an eye out. “CDC works closely with other federal agencies to ensure animals and animal products that present a public health concern are regulated,” Reed says. “Through our partnerships with international agencies, we are constantly evaluating and assessing what we and the international public health community do to detect, prevent, and control zoonotic disease threats.”

“I’m confident that our authorities are doing the best they can with the resources they have,” says Catherine Machalaba, a policy advisor for EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit focused on the connections between human and wildlife health. “But I’m not confident that’s a good enough benchmark when we’re talking about leaving the door open [to potential diseases that are] a threat to our health and security.”

About two million American bullfrogs are imported live to the U.S. from factory farms abroad each year to be eaten. Legally imported frogs have been found to carry the devastating chytrid fungus at high rates, putting all North America’s amphibians at risk. With no government agency responsible for comprehensive pathogen screening and monitoring of imported wildlife, scientists have little understanding of the range of diseases being imported.Photograph by Jonathan E. Kolby

The problem isn’t unique to the U.S.—most countries do not have a government agency that comprehensively screens wildlife imports for pathogens. “The absence of any formal entity dedicated to preventing the spread of diseases from the wildlife trade is such a chronic gap around the world,” Machalaba says. “When multiple agencies have to be called in for any given shipment, personnel is limited, and coordination is lacking, there’s bound to be gaps—a false sense of security that another agency has it covered.”

Outbreaks from legal trade

Many recent zoonotic outbreaks affecting people sprang from trade that was allowed at the time, says Lee Skerratt, a wildlife biosecurity fellow at the University of Melbourne, in Australia. null

In 2003, for example, people in six U.S. states became ill from exposure to the monkeypox virus after it entered the country in a pet trade shipment of 800 rodents from Ghana. In that shipment, African giant pouched rats, rope squirrels, and dormice carried the virus. It spread to prairie dogs held in the same pet trade facility, which were then sold to the public, starting the animal-to-human outbreak. Luckily, although human-to-human transmission of monkeypox can occur, no cases were confirmed.

Three months after the infected animals had been imported, the CDC banned the import of all African rodents into the U.S. That gave the Fish and Wildlife Service the legal power to detain shipments in violation of the ban and alert the CDC, which could choose to require quarantine, re-exportation, or euthanization of the animals.

https://assets.nationalgeographic.com/modules-video/stable/assets/ngsEmbeddedVideo.html?guid=00000169-c514-d209-a9fd-d7b585d70000&account=2423130747#amp=1 Amphibians ‘apocalypse’ driven by globalization, wildlife trade

Although this outbreak led to an import ban on African rodents, the government stopped short of doing any risk assessments to consider whether rodents from other places might also carry diseases that would require regulation, Machalaba says.

“Wildlife coming into the U.S. are sourced from many countries that are ‘hot spots’ for emerging diseases—of potential concern for human health but also posing threats to other sectors via our food systems and ecosystems,” Malachaba says.

Warnings about shortcomings

Officials have long known about the gaps in the U.S.’s regulatory system. In 2005, the National Academies of Science published a report that found a “significant gap in preventing and rapidly detecting emergent diseases” from imported wildlife.

Five years later, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which audits government spending and operations, published a report on live animal imports and diseases. It found that the Fish and Wildlife Service “generally does not restrict the entry of imported wildlife that may pose disease risks.” Furthermore, the report says, the CDC doesn’t use its full power to prevent the import of live animals that pose a risk of zoonotic diseases.

The 2010 report recommended that the CDC, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and USDA develop and implement a coordinated strategy to prevent the import of animals that may be carrying diseases. But a follow-up assessment in 2015 found that the agencies did not take action. There simply weren’t the economic or staffing resources to make it happen, it says. null

The ability to prevent and control emerging zoonotic diseases requires an understanding of the diversity and abundance of pathogens being imported. But without monitoring and surveillance of imported wildlife, we don’t have this information, Skerratt says. “This is a problem for the wildlife trade as there is much that we don’t know, especially for diseases that could affect other wildlife,” he says.

The CDC also acknowledges the lack of research. “We need more data through risk assessments and basic research before adding any new regulations,” Reed says.

But it’s a Catch-22: For an agency to systematically collect pathogen data from wildlife imports, it would need a legal mandate from the government. But the government is only likely to do that once it has pathogen data to guide its decisions.

Amphibian cataclysm

Pathogens passed from animals to humans aren’t the only cause for concern. Amphibian chytrid fungus, the aquatic fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, is the first disease known to infect hundreds of species simultaneously and drive many of them toward extinction. It’s so dangerous because it can jump between nearly any amphibian—a class with more than 8,000 species. It has already spread to remote protected areas around the world. From my Ph.D. research, I discovered that imports of factory-farmed American bullfrogs—nearly 2.5 million a year, more than any other live amphibian species—introduce frighteningly high numbers of chytrid-infected animals into the U.S.

The deadly amphibian chytrid fungus, introduced to the U.S. through the legal wildlife trade, has spread to native frog species across North America, even in protected areas like King’s Canyon National Park, in California. The U.S. continues to allow the import of species known to carry the disease.
Photograph by JOEL SARTORE, Nat Geo Image Collection

Scientists note the role of legal transcontinental trade in driving the chytrid pandemic—yet the trade continues, despite the biological and economic cost. Domestically, for example, the Fish and Wildlife Service has spent millions of dollars to prevent chytrid-driven extinctions of native species, such as the endangered Wyoming toad, through captive breeding and reintroduction efforts, while continuing to allow legal importation of amphibians that spread the very pathogen threatening those native species.

Humans have never been part of a pandemic on the scale of that now affecting amphibians. Even tragedies such as the Black Death, in the mid-1300s, and the 1918 influenza pandemic devastated only one species of mammal: humans. By contrast, emerging wildlife diseases, notably chytrid, have been much less picky in the diversity and numbers of animal hosts they infect and kill. Imagine what it would be like if the next pandemic could infect hundreds of the world’s 5,000 species of mammals—including humans—causing many to become extinct.

The best way to minimize risk

An enormous variety of plants and animals are involved in the international wildlife trade, and many are a regular part of our daily lives: Imported seafood for dinner; timber for building homes and musical instruments; pet birds and frogs and aquarium fishes; mother-of-pearl buttons on dress shirts; medicinal plants like ginseng; cosmetic essential oils such as argan and frankincense; and even many of the orchids and cacti for home decoration. This is why ending the legal trade in wildlife seems unlikely, and why, Skerratt says, controlling disease at the source is the best way to minimize the risk to public health.

There seems to be a lack of economic incentive to create a wildlife health law in the U.S. to regulate the pathways of spread of wildlife pathogens.

Priya Nanjappa, Director of Operations, Conservation Science Partners, Inc.

Key to reducing the spread of pathogens is a “clean trade” program, in which private industry and government officials work together to implement safer strategies, according to Matthew Gray, associate director of the University of Tennessee Center for Wildlife Health, in Knoxville.

Gray says that clean trade could involve testing either before transport or at the border, so that animal health certificates could accompany wildlife—similar to what’s required for livestock. “If clean trade is not economically sustainable, government subsidies could be provided, as done often with agriculture,” he says.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to develop a program in the U.S. to monitor imported wildlife for pathogens and develop risk assessments, says Peter Jenkins, senior counsel for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, an environmental nonprofit. “We have a very good model of this, and it’s the U.S. livestock trade.” The USDA’s Animal Plant and Health Service implements a comprehensive system of veterinary services and trade controlsto reduce the risk of importing pathogens that can harm animals, including cattle, sheep, poultry and others.

Jenkins estimates such a program could be implemented for a reasonable cost, with just $2 million and six full-time government employees, a figure developed with Congressional staff in 2015 when Jenkins was lobbying to expand the Fish and Wildlife Service’s “injurious wildlife” program. “We’re not talking about a Cadillac program. We just need people doing the research, making risk-based predictions, and then operationalizing those predictions to reduce risk.”

Yet it hasn’t happened.

“There seems to be a lack of economic incentive to create a wildlife health law in the U.S. to regulate the pathways of spread of wildlife pathogens, but the COVID-19 disease highlights the consequences of our lack of understanding of these pathogens,” says Priya Nanjappa, director of operations at Conservation Science Partners, Inc., a nonprofit that provides research and analysis for conservation projects.

The lack of incentive, Najappa says, seems to stem from the false belief that if an imported disease doesn’t immediately threaten public health or agricultural animals, it’s not a major threat to economic interests. But take white-nose syndrome, a fungus that has decimated millions of bats, across several species, in the U.S. Some of these bat population crashes led to Endangered Species Act protections, which in turn place restrictions on economic activities such as logging within the species’ habitats.

The CDC, Fish and Wildlife Service, and USDA did not comment on what kinds of resources the agencies would need to do additional risk assessments, implement monitoring for diseases in the wildlife trade, or whether the pandemic would prompt them to push for increased disease surveillance.

With COVID-19 aiming a spotlight on long-existing deficiencies, now is the time for the best minds in the Fish and Wildlife Service, CDC, USDA, industry and academia to come together and consider what steps can be taken to sew this hole shut, before the next animal-origin pandemic is thrust into our daily lives.

Jonathan Kolbyis a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement officer and policy specialist focusing on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). His Ph.D. research at James Cook University focused on biosecurity and the spread of wildlife pathogens through international trade. He is a National Geographic Explorer and helped establish the Honduras Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Center, working to combat the amphibian extinction crisis caused by chytrid fungus. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Wildlife Watch is an investigative reporting project between National Geographic Society and National Geographic Partners focusing on wildlife crime and exploitation. Read more Wildlife Watch stories here, and learn more about National Geographic Society’s nonprofit mission at nationalgeographic.org. Send tips, feedback, and story ideas to ngwildlife@natgeo.com.

https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/animals/2020/05/to-prevent-next-pandemic-focus-on-legal-wildlife-trade?__twitter_impression=true

Rescue Cat Allegedly Thrown Across Home on Zoom Video – Animal Petitions

A former planning commissioner allegedly threw his cat while he was attending an online business meeting. Demand that this animal be removed from this person’s home and that rescuers do everything in their power to find this sweet cat a new home if it is found that this senseless and thoughtless act was committed.

Source: Rescue Cat Allegedly Thrown Across Home on Zoom Video – Animal Petitions

Unending Quarantine: We Are Not the Only Ones

unnamed

freefromharm.org

Ashley Capps 10-12 minutes


In addition to the logistical and financial crises so many continue to endure as a result of COVID-19, extended social distancing has plunged much of the world into a full-blown existential crisis as well. Shelter-in-place mandates, shuttered businesses and community spaces, and the loss of important social and familial rituals has found us confronting an unprecedented moment of alienation. We are profoundly disoriented by the sense of being estranged from our own lives.

While this feeling of separation is emotionally harrowing, I believe it can also provide an opportunity to consider the abjectly alienated existences we routinely inflict on so many of our fellow beings; the nonhuman animals we breed or capture for the purposes of exploitation. For us, this estrangement from the lives we belong to is temporary. For the animals languishing on farms, in zoos, vivisection laboratories, aquariums, circuses, pet stores, breeding mills, kill shelters, and anywhere else humans have imprisoned our fellow creatures, alienation is the very essence of their existence, and a permanent condition.

A “beef” cow at a “livestock” show. Photo by Unparalleled Suffering Photography.

And while the plights of all of these creatures is urgent and worthy of closer examination, in the interest of time I will limit this reflection to animals who are farmed; not only because they comprise the bulk of my research and advocacy, but because our consumption of animals, and our obsession with meat, is now unavoidably implicated in the current pandemic on multiple levels.

Our Fatal Flesh Obsession

While it is widely believed that COVID-19 jumped to humans via the animal flesh trade, this has led to a disproportionately critical focus on wildlife and “wet” markets. In reality, the “livestock” sector is the single largest source of human zoonotic disease pandemics globally. A 2012 global study mapping human diseases that come from animals found that “While zoonoses can be transmitted to people by either wild or domesticated animals, most human infections are acquired from the world’s 24 billion livestock, including pigs, poultry, cattle, goats, sheep and camels.”

Indeed, the World Health Organization states that “the greatest risk for zoonotic disease transmission occurs at the human-animal interface through direct or indirect human exposure to animals, their products (e.g. meat, milk, eggs…) and/or their environments,” while the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations notes that “Seventy percent of the new diseases that have emerged in humans over recent decades are of animal origin and, in part, directly related to the human quest for more animal-sourced food.”

Just a decade ago, swine flu, an H1N1 influenza virus, jumped from farmed pigs to humans and infected nearly 61 million people in the U.S. alone, where it resulted in 12,469 deaths, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Worldwide, as many as 284,500 people were killed by the swine flu pandemic.

The infamous 1918 influenza pandemic known as the Spanish Flu was also caused by an H1N1 virus. Attributed to having developed from either a swine flu or avian flu virus on a pig or poultry farm (pre-dating so-called factory farms, it should be noted), the pandemic killed an estimated 50 million people globally.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The Bigger Sickness

While these pandemics are tragic, they are not inevitable. In the grand scheme of things, they are symptoms of a much deeper sickness, one of our own making, with which we have infected not only ourselves, but whose toxic consequences can now be seen across the globe: in the burning of the Amazon rainforest to make room for ever more cattle ranching; in Australia where the ceaseless bulldozing of koala habitat, and the deliberate mass killing of kangaroos, both on behalf of the beef industry, kill far more of each species every year than the recent wildfires that drew a collective gasp of horror; in the unprecedented rates of wildlife species extinction resulting from habitat loss, whose number one driver is animal agriculture; in the climate crisis to which meat and dairy production contribute more greenhouse gas emissions than all global transport combined, leading to more and increasingly devastating droughts, floods, fires, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events, while inching global temperatures inexorably toward the point of no return.

A koala mother and joey on a bulldozed log pile in Queensland. Photograph: WWF

Killing animals is killing us.

And the sickness is not in the scale of our killing; this is not an argument about the evils of industrial animal farming and a need to simply shift to more so-called humane, bucolic forms of exploitation and slaughter. The sickness is the mentality that designates sentient beings as something to be farmed at all. These animals, from whom we have stolen so many dignities; the dignities of self-determination, of bodily and reproductive autonomy, of family, of wildness, and of inherent existential worth, live suspended in a Frankensteinian netherworld of separation, entirely outside the natural order their ancient instincts once belonged to.

A mother goat at a “livestock” show. Unparalleled Suffering Photography

As author Joanna Lucas has written:

“Isolated from the natural world to which they belonged for millennia, farmed animals are forced to live their short lives in severely degraded physical and psychological environments that are far different from the ecosystems and cultures from which they historically derive. Severed from the intricate social structures that governed and guided their free-living communities, and confined, without the possibility of escape, to a human world where they have no place in the present, no link to the past, and no possibility of a future, domesticated animals have no power whatsoever over the most important aspects of their lives.

Humans decide where they will live; if they will ever know their mother; if, and how long, they will nurse their babies; when, and if, they will be permitted to see or be with their families and friends; when, where, or if they will be allowed to socialize with members of their own species; when, how, and if, they are going to reproduce; what, when, and how much they will eat; how much space they will have, if any; if, and how far, they will be allowed to roam; what mutilations they will be subjected to; what, if any, veterinary care they will receive; and when, where, and how they are going to die.”

Photo by Toronto Cow Save.

What can it mean that in a society obsessed with personal identity and freedom, we have erased the very concepts of identity, liberty, autonomy, and consent from entire populations of sentient individuals without so much as blinking at the moral implications of the indignity and debasement we needlessly inflict on them in the name of profit and palate pleasure?

To degrade any individual, much less entire species, to the lifelong status of property, captive, and commodity, is the grossest devaluing of life, and the ultimate alienation.

A dead hen on the egg conveyor. Jo-Anne McArthur/WeAnimals Media

Quoting author Linda Clark:

“When we use other individuals, they have not a thing to call their own; not their bodies, not their children, not even their very lives. Nothing. Reduced to commodities and resources, every moment of their existence is governed by human economics of the service that can be taken from them, the cash value of such substances as milk, eggs and body fibres that can be stripped from their living bodies, and ultimately the value per kilo of their pitiful corpses hacked and sawed to pieces. Our use of them is thorough and utterly pitiless.

These are the innocent victims of our deluded species. They do not ‘live’ as we know and value the word. They endure an existence. They are powerless, brought into the world by violation on an industrial scale for the sole purpose of gratifying human indulgence.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can thrive without causing this devastating harm.”

blank

And here’s author Will Tuttle:

“Harboring the idea of owning another living being is in itself an act of violence, and our outer violence toward nonhuman animals, which is so devastating to us all, springs from this idea… [W]e are never owners of others. We can be their guardians, companions, friends, protectors, admirers, and appreciators, and this blesses us far more than we might think. The move from “owner” to “guardian” frees both the “owners” and the “owned,” and establishes the foundation for peace, freedom, and justice. We are all harmed by the culturally mandated ownership mentality that reduces beings to mere commodities, whether for food, clothing, entertainment, or the myriad of other uses. It is long past time for us to awaken from the cultural trance of owning our fellow beings…”

blank


It is no coincidence that our systematic destruction of animal lives, which is in large part facilitated by our refusal of their subjectivity, is also destroying the earth. As I write this, U.S. slaughterhouses and meat processing plants have been identified as the largest hotspot for coronavirus infection in the country, but are being forced to stay open by executive order of Donald Trump in order to supply the flesh fetish. Meanwhile, headlines continue to report “mass meat shortage” fears alongside images of people in full medical masks browsing empty meat refrigerators.

Our culture is in a state of addiction. It is pathological. And it is wrecking our planet, which ought to be incidental to the immorality of needlessly breeding billions of sentient individuals into captivity, reproductive subjugation, and slaughter. Bodies are not commodities. Body parts are not barcodes. Beings are not property.

Until we divest from this poisonous sense of entitlement, this stupor of violence, exploitation, and consumption, our species is doomed.

May it be otherwise. 

blank
  •  

Petition: Tell the USDA to Stop Increasing Line Speed at Slaughterhouses

onegreenplanet.org

By Sharon Vega 2-3 minutes


During a pandemic that has exposed that humans’ treatment of animals leads to dangerous repercussions, there are still inhumane and cruel things being done. The United States Department of Agriculture has been quietly approving line speed waivers. This means that employees who themselves are already in danger must work at an increased pace to inhumanely kill more animals faster.

Line-speed waivers remove restrictions on how fast a meat plant’s line can move. There is already abuse and cruelty involved in killing animals and gutting and packing them as if they were objects, but to speed up the process blatantly proves there is no possibility of humanely handling the animals.

At one pork plant alone in South Dakota, 16 percent of the employees tested positive for COVID-19 — that’s 592 employees. These slaughterhouses don’t have the ability to effectively practice social distancing and provide protective gear to all employees, so they shouldn’t even be working. But Trump signed an executive order sending workers back to meat plants without protection.

Sign this petition telling the USDA to stop approving line-speed waivers which are inhumane and also endanger the workers who are already at risk.

Sign these other relevant petitions as well to demand change:

For more Animal, Earth, Life, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter! Also, don’t forget to download the Food Monster App on iTunes — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, vegan and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy!

Lastly, being publicly-funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!

Protect Pets From Convicted Animal Abusers – ForceChange

Dogs, cats, and other domesticated animals can legally be homed with convicted animal cruelty offenders, putting their lives in jeopardy. Demand lawmakers stop animal abusers from owning pets.

Source: Protect Pets From Convicted Animal Abusers – ForceChange

Protect New Black Iguana Species from Extinction – Animal Petitions

A newly discovered black iguana already faces extinction. Demand that immediate action be taken to protect this species from harvest, hunting, and habitat loss.

Source: Protect New Black Iguana Species from Extinction – Animal Petitions

Stop killing dogs in Ukraine

sosvox.org

Stop killing dogs in Ukraine Because of the coronavirus, human stupidity, misinformation, and false information have killed thousands of cats and dogs in many countries around the world, including China, blaming them for the pandemic. Fortunately, it has been proven that animals do not transmit the virus, but many people do not know it and animals continue to suffer from torture and are killed in the worst possible ways. In China they have already stopped with the murder of dogs in their vast majority, but in countries like Ukraine they still think that they are responsible for or transmitters of the coronavirus, so they are shot, poisoned or beaten to death. They are captured, locked up in small cages where they all live piled high, and then killed without mercy, out of simple ignorance. We must ask the Ukrainian government and its President to do everything humanly possible to protect the lives of the dogs that are being brutally killed, because it has been shown that they do not transmit the virus nor are they responsible for the pandemic, on the contrary, they are as victims as us, or even more.

https://www.sosvox.org/en/petition/stop-killing-dogs-in-ukraine.html?fl

Provide Love and Shelter for Pets of COVID-19 Victims – Animal Petitions

Beloved pets face neglect or even homelessness due to the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Dakin Humane Society in Massachusetts is allowing people who get seriously ill with coronavirus or COVID-19 to temporarily surrender their pets until they are well. Tell the Humane Society of the United States to put a similar program in place around the country so that owners who get sick can be reunited with their beloved pets after they recover from COVID-19.

Source: Provide Love and Shelter for Pets of COVID-19 Victims – Animal Petitions

Don’t Allow Abandoned or Distressed Dogs to Die Because of Property Rights – Animal Petitions

 

A dog suffered a slow death after she was allegedly abandoned without access to food. Though multiple concerned neighbors reported her desperate howls, rescuers could not legally breach the house due to property rights and bureaucratic red tape. Demand that animal lives be placed over property rights.

Source: Don’t Allow Abandoned or Distressed Dogs to Die Because of Property Rights – Animal Petitions

Sign Petition: Punish Abuser Who Beat His Dogs So Bad They Threw Up.

678589-1586548889-wide1097105911.jpghttps://www.thepetitionsite.com/678/589/977/?TAP=1732thepetitionsite.com

2 minutes


This wicked man was witnessed slamming his dogs onto the ground, and dragging them across pavement!

Add your name if you want to punish him FOR REAL.

His name is Bryan Ellis.

He was seen by neighbors doing unspeakable things to two helpless dogs.

“They described Ellis picking up the white dog and throwing the dog to the ground several times, while also hitting the dog.

“One of the witnesses saw the white dog walk away limping and vomiting.

“The brown pit bull had been dragged along the road surface by Ellis and was now safe at a nearby home, also vomiting.

“Both dogs appeared badly injured according to all witnesses,” according to a statement from the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office.

“When deputies examined the brown dog, they say they noticed that its front paws were scraped and bleeding,” reported AZ Family.

All those poor dogs wanted to do was give this man their love.

All they got in return was horrible abuse.

What kind of human being could even think of doing this?

We have to protect innocent animals from people like Brian Ellis.

Senator Bernie Sanders has been a long-term advocate for animal rights, and has co-sponsored numerous pieces of legislation to protect endangered species, as well as to combat animal cruelty.

That’s why we’re asking him to lead a movement in Congress that would prevent convicted animal abusers from ever owning animals again.

Don’t you want to save other dogs from suffering the fate of those two?

Then add your name to ask Senator Sanders to draft legislation that would prohibit animal abusers from owning animals!

 

PETITION: Stop Boiling Black Cats And Grinding them into Paste for ‘Coronavirus Treatment’

ladyfreethinker.org PETITION: Stop Boiling Black Cats And Grinding them into Paste for ‘Coronavirus Treatment’ 2 minutes

Representative Image via Adobe Stock Sign This Petition PETITION TARGET: Vietnamese Ambassador to the U.S. Ha Kim Ngoc Innocent black cats are being boiled alive, skinned, and ground up into powders and pastes in Vietnam in a horrifying attempt to treat and prevent coronavirus. Haunting images of live cats being immersed in boiling water, rows of feline corpses drying in the sun, people preparing and packaging the disturbing concoction, and a baby drinking what appears to be the ‘elixir’ surfaced after workers from the charity No to Dog Meat released shocking video footage. The trade in this sickening solution is booming in Hanoi, and the mixture is even being advertised and sold online. There’s zero scientific credibility behind the belief that ingesting cats in any form protects against COVID-19; on the contrary, mounting evidence shows that the live animal trade puts humans at risk of catching deadly illnesses from animals. As people the world over become increasingly aware of the dangers associated with the cruel and unhygienic live animal trade, torturing these poor creatures for any reason represents a blatant step backward for both animal rights and public health. The needless slaughter of helpless cats based on bad information must end. Sign this petition urging the Vietnamese Ambassador to the U.S., Ha Kim Ngoc, to push for a countrywide ban on this brutal practice and to educate citizens about the dangers of killing and ingesting these animals.

SIGN: Stop Boiling Black Cats into Paste as Coronavirus ‘Remedy’

Sign the Petition: We need strict laws to ban illegal killing and selling of small animals

“The new COVID-19 coronavirus, SARS, MERS, Ebola, Avian Influenza, and Swine Flu are all derived from animals. Serious rethinking of the food animal industries is called for, and we need strict laws banning the illegal killing and selling of small animals.” Thanks to our modern global transportation systems, we can travel from one side of the world to the other in a day, and buy and sell goods from other countries with ease. But this also means that diseases can spread at the same speed and ease. Viruses emerging in one country or region are no longer only that country’s or region’s problem. Recent Instances of Fatal Viruses from Animals Swine Flu is a variant of a family of influenza viruses found in pigs and is possibly the result of gene exchange between the influenza viruses of humans, birds and pigs, all with which pigs can be infected. The fatality rate is under 1%, but it is so easily transmitted that it has been reported that globally around 203,000 people died. Avian Flu was first found to have infected humans in 1997 in Hong Kong. It is transmitted via the feces and secretion of birds. This virus spread not only in Asia but to Europe and Africa, and killed around 17,000 people, with an additional 400 people dying from its variants. Ebola, which first occurred in 1976 and rose to notoriety in 2014, was originally found in artibeus jamaicensis, the Jamaican fruit bat, and infected humans who consumed their meat, or the meat of the apes that also ate these bats. The fatality rate is 30~90%. 10,000 people died during the epidemic. MERS occurred in 2012 and looks to have been transmitted to humans from camels. It infected more than 1,000 people, killing 400 from 2012 to 2015. SARS, with a fatality rate of 11%, originated from an outdoor market in Guangdong, China in November 2002. This coronavirus spread to humans from wild civets initially from a cook who cooked their meat, followed by the doctor who treated him. The disease became a world epidemic via Hong Kong, Singapore, and Vietnam killing around 770 people, most of them in Asia. Spanish Flu, known to have begun in 1918, infected 500 million people and is estimated to have killed between 17 million to over 50 million people worldwide. It is the worst contagious disease in the history of mankind, killing more people than both world wars. Recent research has revealed that Spanish Flu was a variant of the H1N1 coronavirus, to which Swine Flu and Avian Flu are also related. It’s quite possible that it’s yet another variant that is threatening the world today. Development and Spread of New Viruses These viruses that have occurred over the last few years around the world—SARS, MERS, Ebola, Swine Flu, Avian Flu, and the new COVID-19 coronavirus—have one thing in common; they have spread to humans through cross-species transmission (CST) due to close proximity with infected animals. In particular, SARS, MERS, and COVID-19 are all coronaviruses, pathogens found in various animal species, the ultimate source of which is as yet unknown. The new COVID-19 coronavirus is strongly suspected of being derived from infected pangolins and transmitted to humans from contact while being sold in a market in the city of Wuhan in central China. Contagious diseases are quicker to spread between individuals of the same or different species when they are in close proximity to one another, such as in farms, markets, and slaughterhouses. There are large and small markets all over China where all sorts of wild animals are secretly traded and small animals, including stolen cats and dogs, are all shut up in cages. They are slaughtered and cooked on the spot, or their meat is taken somewhere else. Their blood, feces and other secretions are spread on clothing, on hands, and the ground. It is the perfect environment for the spread of infection, both within and between species. Then there are other cities in China, like Hebei, the world’s largest leather producer. Within the city, the manufacturing, rendering, storage, and sale of animal carcasses and fur are often carried out in people’s homes. There are mounds of fox and raccoon pelts on the ground in the street auctions. The furs of wild animals are stored and hung in the windows of department stores. In South Korea, there are illegal dog slaughterhouses and the illegal slaughter of small animals in street markets all throughout the country. And Korea is the only country in the world to have dog farms, in which dogs are raised in large groups in unsanitary conditions for their meat. Korean dog farms often breed chickens alongside the dogs, and the two species are slaughtered in the same facility. Activists from CARE encountered both chickens and dogs infected with influenza at the same slaughterhouse in 2018. In one cage, 10% of the 300 chickens were already dead from influenza. In other cages lay the bodies of dead dogs, and infected dogs coughing up blood. We already know that the influenza virus can be transmitted to other species, so it is not beyond possibility—and may only be a matter of time—before another deadly variant arises from the close proximity of infected chickens and dogs, and humans in these slaughterhouses. CARE warned the government of the dangers of influenza rampant in the dog farms and slaughterhouses of Korea and demanded an investigation. As of yet, there has been no answer. How To Stop Future Infections China announced the shutting down of wild animal markets for the time being, in order to restrict contact with the animals thought to be the cause of the recent COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Furthermore, China is pursuing a ban on the trade in wild animals altogether. However, a simple ban on the sale and slaughter of wild animals is not enough. These markets are also selling other small animals, like dogs and cats. The Korean government recommends thoroughly cooking meat, just as it did in the mad cow disease crisis. However, without solving the fundamental problem, mere preventive measures for humans are not enough. Avoiding the consumption of meat is not enough, because the process of rearing and slaughtering animals for meat is itself a potential cause of contagion. This peripheral treatment of the problem only highlights the fact that profits are considered more important than human lives. Quite apart from the animal rights perspective, we must make a decision about the slaughtering of all small animals, whether wild, or domesticated and not traditionally considered food animals, like dogs and cats, or considered food animals like chickens, because without laws in place, they are vulnerable to illegal and unregulated trade and slaughter, with the potential threats to human well-being outlined above. Serious Thought Needed It is not much of an overstatement to say that our problems began with capturing wild animals and their domestication into farm animals. The development of civilization and the consequent rise in population necessitated the need for ever more efficient ways of producing food. Our meat-eating culture developed mass food animal farming and methods, which, along with the stress and suffering these methods cause and the selective breeding for individuals that produce more food, has made the food animal production industries ideal environments for the development of spread of new viruses. It then takes just one cross-species transmission event to produce a human epidemic. Our excessive animal-derived-food-consuming culture and food animal industries must be reconsidered as a global priority. If we don’t address this issue, not only will the abuse and suffering of billions of animals continue, and not only will these industries continue to pollute our environment, consume ever more resources, and contribute to climate change, but it’s entirely possible that the next time a new virus jumps from a non-human to a human in a factory farm, a slaughterhouse, or a market, we won’t be able to combat it.

https://www.change.org/p/we-need-strict-laws-to-ban-illegal-killing-and-selling-of-small-animals?utm_source=sendinblue&utm_campaign=Sign_CARE_Petition_We_need_strict_laws_to_ban_illegal_killing_and_selling_of_small_animals&utm_medium=email

Coronavirus: WHO urges China to close ‘dangerous’ wet market as stalls in Wuhan begin to reopen.

Serbian Animals Voice (SAV)

Coronavirus: WHO urges China to close ‘dangerous’ wet market as stalls in Wuhan begin to reopen

’75 per cent of emerging infections come from the animal kingdom… It’s partly the markets, but it’s also other places where humans and animals are in close contact,’ says Dr David Nabarro

The World Health Organisation is urging countries across the world to close “dangerous” wet markets amid warnings about the risks posed by environments where humans are in close contact with animals.

Wet markets in Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus outbreak first emerged, have begun to reopen following the lifting of lockdown restrictions. This move comes despite the virus being linked to the city’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market.

But WHO, as well as other public health organisations and campaigners, have said the markets pose a “real danger” as pathogens can spread easily and quickly from animals to humans.

Dr David Nabarro, a WHO…

View original post 497 more words

ENOUGH…THIS NEEDS TO STOP!!!

UPDATE: Dog and Cat Meat Are Now Banned in Shenzhen, China

LFT-logo-working-centered-croppedhttps://ladyfreethinker.org/chinese-city-officially-bans-dog-and-cat-meat/

Posted by Jason Bales | April 2, 2020

UPDATE: Dog and Cat Meat Are Now Banned in Shenzhen, China

Image via Shutterstock

In a historic step forward for animal welfare and human health, Shenzhen has officially become the first city in China to ban the sale and consumption of dogs and cats.

This encouraging legislation, which will go into effect on May 1, follows China’s ban on the sale and consumption of wild animals, which passed amid the coronavirus pandemic after a clear link was established between the origin of COVID-19 and a Wuhan seafood market that sold a menagerie of exotic species. Shenzhen’s dog and cat meat ban will extend to restaurants, shops and markets.

“Dogs and cats as pets have established a much closer relationship with humans than all other animals,” said an order posted by Shenzhen’s city government, “and banning the consumption of dogs and cats and other pets is common practice in developed countries and in Hong Kong and Taiwan. This ban also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilization.”

Despite the practice of eating dogs and cats being relatively uncommon – a majority of Chinese citizens never have nor want to partake in consuming companion animal meat – millions of dogs and cats are slaughtered every year in China. That number could drop dramatically if other cities follow the path now pioneered by Shenzhen.

Thank you to the over 40,000 supporters who signed the petition to urge Shenzhen to adopt this new policy and the over 170,000 who have signed to end China’s dog and cat meat trade for good — as well as the countless animal activists working toward this around the world. Thank you especially to the government of Shenzhen, and every Chinese citizen who has opposed the dog and cat meat trade.

If you haven’t signed yet, add your voice to help save millions of dogs and cats from needlessly suffering a torturous death in China’s meat trade.

What’s New…

66 Bipartisan Lawmakers Call for Immediate Global Ban on ‘Wet’ Markets
Turkey Issues Order to Feed Stray Animals So They Don’t Starve in Pandemic
China Proposes to Upgrade Dogs from ‘Livestock’ to ‘Pets’
People Are Building Mini Picnic Tables for Squirrels During Coronavirus Lock Down
Adorable ‘Evil Minion’ Dog Finally Finds Forever Home
VIDEO: One-Eyed Dog Still Loves Humans Even After Brutal Attack

Note: Please keep comments peaceful and family friendly.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of follow-up comments by email.

Notify me of new posts by email.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.+ View Comments

civet coffee
animal testing ad

Lucy’s Law is Now In Effect, Halting Puppy Mill Cruelty In the England

Pro-Trophy Hunting Lawyer Appointed Key Role at US Fish and Wildlife Service

VIDEO: Brave Rescuers Save Horse Hopelessly Stuck in Mud Pit

SIGN: Help Puppy Mill Dogs Trapped and Alone in Coronavirus Crisis

SIGN: Justice for Puppy Fed Rat Poison and Dumped in Trash

SIGN: Call to End Horrific Live Animal Markets Worldwide

Get Our Newsletter

Google+
SumoMe

Here’s why Easter Is bad for bunnies

https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/news/2017/04/rabbits-easter-animal-welfare-pets-rescue-bunnies?__twitter_impression=true

By Natasha Daly 13-17 minutes


PUBLISHED April 12, 2017

Roger, a rescued rabbit, peers over his owner Kyle Daly’s shoulder.

Photograph by Rebecca Hale, National Geographic

Editor’s note: Amid the coronavirus pandemic, shelters and rescue groups across the U.S. and around the world report a greater need for people to foster or adopt domestic pets, including rabbits. Some shelters even offer remote adoption screening and curbside pickups. If you’re interested in fostering a rabbit, here is a list of rescue groups by state and by country.

It’s the Saturday before Easter weekend at Petland in Fairfax, Virginia. Sixteen baby bunnies sit in three open pens, all for sale. Two teenage girls reach into a pen, scoop one up, and plop down on the floor, squealing over its cuteness: “I need it!”

The rabbits are all very young. No adult rabbits are for sale here.

“What happens to the babies who grow up before they’re sold?” I ask a salesman. “The breeder picks them up,” he says.

“What does he do with them?”

“I don’t know.”

It’s Picture Day for These Adorable Bunnies

Rabbits are the third most popular pet in America, after cats and dogs, according to the Humane Society of the United States—and the third most abandoned. Most Americans have a sense of how long cats and dogs live, the kind of care they need, their behaviors. But rabbits? I asked several of my colleagues how long they think domestic rabbits live. “One to two years?” “Maybe three?” In fact, with proper care, rabbits live 10 to 12 years. People’s understanding of them seems to be out of step with their ubiquity.

This disconnect appears to drive impulse pet rabbit purchases, says Anne Martin, executive director of the House Rabbit Society, the largest rabbit rescue organization in the U.S. Because many people think they’re short-lived, low maintenance, cage-bound animals, rabbits are seen as “starter pets,” akin to goldfish, perfect for kids. This misconception may help drive a glut of baby bunny sales ahead of Easter—and a subsequent rise in rabbit abandonments.

Jennifer McGee, co-manager of the Georgia chapter of House Rabbit Society, a shelter in the southeastern part of the state, says they normally receive one to two calls a week about abandoned rabbits. But in the six weeks after Easter, the shelter gets three to four calls a day. House Rabbit Society chapters in Idaho and Chicago report a more noticeable rise in summer, as “Easter bunnies” hit puberty and reality sets in for owners.

And here’s the reality: Although rabbits can make delightful companions, they’re not easy-care pets. Vets and insurance companies consider them exotic pets, so medical care can be more expensive than for a cat or dog. Rabbits need a lot of exercise and shouldn’t simply be pent up in a cage. This means they need to learn to use a litterbox (yes, rabbits can be potty trained), which takes patience, just as it does for cats. They’re also prey animals, and we’re, well, predators. They generally don’t like to be picked up by humans; they prefer to be in control, their feet on the ground.

“It takes a patient person to become friends with these silent and subtle animals,” says Margo DeMello, president of the House Rabbit Society.

Roger pops his head out of his travel carrier—he smells banana, his favorite treat. Likely around four years old, he was rescued from a park in Washington, D.C, where he’d been left in a cage.

Photograph by Rebecca Hale, National Geographic

Rabbits’ complexity means they often face a grim fate when purchased on a whim. Seemingly cute and cuddly, once baby bunnies mature, at between three and six months old, they can become aggressive and even destructive. Proper exercise, litterbox training, and spaying or neutering curbs the problem for most rabbits. But many new owners assume that the undesirable behaviors are the sign of a problem rabbit and get rid of it. Others may do a little research and balk at the time and money it takes to change bunny behavior. McGee says she’s often met with shock and frustration from parents: “What do you mean I have to spend $200 to fix a $30 rabbit?”

ABANDONMENTS: A YEAR-ROUND PROBLEM

It’s unclear how many rabbits are abandoned in the U.S.—and how many are Easter bunnies. There isn’t a central organization collecting data, DeMello says. Most individual shelters track how many dogs and cats are found, adopted, or euthanized, but they typically lump rabbits in with birds, reptiles, and small mammals in the “other” category.

Rescuers in local rabbit shelters from California’s Bay Area to rural Georgia to suburban Connecticut all tell National Geographic that although abandonments spike in the weeks and months after Easter, they’re a big problem year-round.

According to Martin, about two-thirds of rabbits rescued in Northern California are strays left to fend for themselves. In some cities, Las Vegas and Spokane, Washington, for example, public parks and empty lots have become dumping grounds overrun with hundreds of unfixed, unwanted rabbits. People abandon many rabbits outdoors, likely unaware that this is a death sentence. Domestic rabbits lack the survival instincts of their wild cousins, Martin says, and are unable to fight infection, build safe shelters, or adapt to heat and cold.

Kiba, an 11-year-old Netherland Dwarf, poses for the camera. He was surrendered to a shelter in 2012 in bad condition: underweight, with broken toes. He now has his own Instagram account: @kibabunny.

Photograph by Rebecca Hale, National Geographic

Shelters struggle to keep up. The Georgia House Rabbit Society gets more than 500 requests a year from owners looking to get rid of their rabbits—far more than they have the resources to save. Edie Sayeg, a rescuer with the group, believes thousands of rabbits are simply ditched outdoors in Georgia.

Elizabeth Kunzelman, a spokeswoman for Petland, a major national pet retailer that sells rabbits, says the spring months are “a perfect time for a child to begin caring for a new pet and learning responsibility.” But DeMello believes this mindset is problematic. “Children, honestly, want something cuddlier and more obviously attentive and are often frustrated when rabbits don’t respond to them the way they expect.” Other pet stores, including Petco and Petsmart, stopped selling rabbits several years ago because of concerns about abandonment. Kunzelman says Petland has a take-back policy for rabbits and other animals.

But two years after I visited the Petland in Fairfax, Virginia, the Humane Society of the United States released undercover footage documenting alleged mistreatment and deaths of rabbits at the store. Fairfax County police investigated and found 31 dead rabbits in a freezer in the store in April 2019. Lieutenant Ronnie Lewis, who oversaw the investigation, says that his team seized the dead rabbits as well as 17 living rabbits from the store. Police placed the surviving rabbits in custody of a municipal animal shelter. All 17 rabbits are now in foster homes and will be available for adoption shortly.

Petland has since terminated its franchise agreement with the store, saying in a statement that the company is “saddened and outraged at this alleged gross violation of Petland’s animal care standards.” The store is now closed. The cause of the rabbit deaths remains under investigation by police.

It’s not just pet stores that promote rabbit purchases. Farm stores, 4-H clubs, backyard breeders, and Facebook and Craigslist users across the country advertise baby bunnies ahead of the Easter season. Suzanne Holtz, director of Illinois-based Bunnies United Network, says these sellers can be even more problematic than pet stores because the rabbits often have a misplaced “halo of rescue” about them. Her shelter will get calls from people looking to surrender a bunny they “saved” from Craigslist, where selling animals is ostensibly banned.

It’s a challenge to discourage people from buying rabbits as Easter gifts without discouraging responsible would-be owners from having them at all, Martin says, because for those who understand how to care for them, they make fantastic pets.

I know: I have two rescue rabbits of my own. Roger, a Blanc de Hotot (a French breed notable for black-rimmed “eyeliner” eyes) was found abandoned in a small cage in a park. Rescued by D.C.-area group Friends of Rabbits, he’s curious, fearless, and loving. Penelope, an English Angora, was found on the street as a baby. A Washington Humane Society rescue, she’s bonded with Roger—they’re companions who groom and play with each other—and is opinionated and ornery. They’re litter-trained, have free rein of our apartment, and bring me and my husband joy every day.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on April 19, 2019, to include new information about the Fairfax, Virginia, Petland.

To learn more about rabbit care, visit House Rabbit Society at rabbit.org. If you’re interested in adopting a rabbit of your own, you can reach out to your local HRS chapter, or an animal shelter in your area.

Petition: Coronavirus: STOP bleached animals!

Coronavirus: STOP animals bleached! Petition Coronavirus: STOP bleached animals! Petition: Coronavirus: STOP bleached animals! Author (s): Claude Lefevre The petition In this pandemic period, animals easily suffer panic and anxiety from their owners. After the waves of abandonment and euthanasia, now those who have kept their animals wash them with hydroalcoholic gel , bleach and other detergents . Ethylic coma. Burnt legs. These are the results of these products on your dogs and cats! By licking, they will absorb them which will cause them to irritate the mucous membranes, intoxication and skin reactions . Animals digest alcohol more difficult than us, their reaction is therefore amplified and their lives quickly endangered ! No scientific study has proven that our animals can transmit this virus to us, let’s not mistreat them for lack of information. I quote here the words of a particularly shocked veterinarian in Sciez in Haute-Savoie: “We are asked: how do I disinfect my animal when I come back from a ride? What should I put on his tongue because he licked all over the floor? What should I put on my feet, or even with what can I clean it completely? ” The clinics, the veterinarians… All call for the responsibility of the French towards their animals and the stop of these surreal behaviors. Washing our animals with soap and water after a ride and then rinsing well is more than enough . These are simple precautionary gestures that can be applied. Detergents are not a possible solution, stop these dangerous and deadly behaviors. This petition is for pet owners: be responsible, be aware. There is no evidence that your animals could be life threatening. Don’t put theirs. Take precautionary measures with soapy water rather than disinfecting your animals.

https://translate.google.com/translate?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mesopinions.com%2Fpetition%2Fanimaux%2Fcoronavirus-stop-aux-animaux-laves-javel%2F76688&hl=en-US

Together, let’s be united in front of the Covid-19. Support medical personnel, firefighters, law enforcement, supermarket employees … All the workers who look after us, protect us and feed us. Let us also show solidarity with our animals and protect them. Sources: https://www.huffingtonpost.fr/entry/coronavirus-chiens-chats-epidemie_fr_5e834a7dc5b603fbdf49b9bb?fbclid=IwAR1pzeEoA5-VMl27uskNP8jdssE2ySfPsse8XJhrikSKEFQea https://www.lci.fr/sante/animaux-en-coma-ethylique-chiens-et-chats-brulues-a-la-javel-des-veterinaires-s-inquietent-de-certains-comportement-surrealistes-

Ban The Dog and Cat Meat Trade Worldwide – Coronavirus is Only the Beginning

odiktphcjweseyn-800x450-nopad206199485.jpg
https://www.change.org/p/ban-the-dog-and-cat-meat-trade-coronavirus-is-only-the-beginning?source_location=petition_footer&algorithm=promoted&original_footer_petition_id=21007160&grid_position=15&pt=AVBldGl0aW9uAC%2FNOQEAAAAAXokeRY7qXhhlZGEyZGIxMw%3D%3D


change.org

Sign the Petition

Animal Hope in Legislation started this petition to president Trump and 1 other 2 minutes


We are demanding the closure of live meat markets. Since China has contained the spread of, and has not reported any new COVID-19 cases – live meat markets have reopened. It is believed COVID-19 started with a bat or pangolin in a live meat market, where it first infected humans through blood transfer.


These markets have no refrigeration or sanitation protocols. Live animals fester in pools of water or in cages, multiplying bacteria and viruses. Due to poor sanitation and no oversight, diseases manifest in food processing areas or on makeshift kill floors.


COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on different countries throughout the world. We have a chance to educate, and to learn from our past mistakes and experiences. This petition is asking the Trump Administration to put pressure on the Chinese Government, demanding these live markets be shut down to ensure safety of all animals, domesticated and wild.


Markets where dogs and cats are tortured and killed. Where frogs, snakes and turtles are kept live in pools of water. Where bats, mink, chickens, civets and pangolins are slaughtered. Though the Chinese government has made the decision to ban wildlife trade, it isn’t enough. All animals including dogs and cats must be included in this ban.

Demanding the Closure of Live Animal Markets in China

ogGgNOKoQoLnbjy-800x450-noPad

https://www.change.org/p/president-trump-demanding-the-closure-of-live-animal-markets-in-china?recruiter=false&utm_source=share_petition&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_initial&utm_medium=whatsapp&recruited_by_id=628a2ea0-7691-11ea-9639-23c2ac138443

change.org

Sign the Petition

Animal Hope in Legislation started this petition to president Trump and 1 other 2 minutes


We are demanding the closure of live meat markets. Since China has contained the spread of, and has not reported any new COVID-19 cases – live meat markets have reopened. It is believed COVID-19 started with a bat or pangolin in a live meat market, where it first infected humans through blood transfer.


These markets have no refrigeration or sanitation protocols. Live animals fester in pools of water or in cages, multiplying bacteria and viruses. Due to poor sanitation and no oversight, diseases manifest in food processing areas or on makeshift kill floors.


COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on different countries throughout the world. We have a chance to educate, and to learn from our past mistakes and experiences. This petition is asking the Trump Administration to put pressure on the Chinese Government, demanding these live markets be shut down to ensure safety of all animals, domesticated and wild.


Markets where dogs and cats are tortured and killed. Where frogs, snakes and turtles are kept live in pools of water. Where bats, mink, chickens, civets and pangolins are slaughtered. Though the Chinese government has made the decision to ban wildlife trade, it isn’t enough. All animals including dogs and cats must be included in this ban.

 

There’s no age limit on caring ❤️

Save Animals Abandoned Amid COVID-19 Outbreak – Animal Petitions

Animals are quickly becoming the forgotten victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, as false fears of their role in the virus’ transmission mount. Severely depleted shelter resources and aid could deprive thousands of animals of help and homes. Demand these abandoned innocents get the care they desperately need.

Source: Save Animals Abandoned Amid COVID-19 Outbreak – Animal Petitions

Do I need to worry that my dog has coronavirus?

worldanimalprotection.us

The simple answer is no. It’s understandable that many of us are feeling concerned about the possibility of contracting coronavirus, but to turn our attention towards dogs would be entirely misguided.

Just last month, heartbreaking images of pet dogs and cats emerged from China’s Hubei Province – their eyes glazed over, their bodies lying lifeless on the pavements, some surrounded by a pool of their own blood. The fear of catching the virus had terrified their owners, believing their pets could be carriers – they were thrown from the windows of the high-rise tower blocks. People’s fears were leading to cruel and unnecessary loss of life.

While not common, some authorities have reported pets being killed (either by force or humanely euthanized) or abandoned as a precaution. Thankfully, this doesn’t appear to be the common response, and most people realize this is a completely unnecessary reaction to the coronavirus rumor mill.

Coronavirus is frequently being compared to the SARS outbreak of 2003 as it bears striking similarities. Just like with SARS, there were also fears that pets could spread the disease. By the end of the epidemic, just eight cats and a dog tested positive for the virus, but no animal was ever found to transmit the disease to humans.

Now, the world is turning its attention to Hong Kong, where an elderly, 17-year-old Pomeranian dog has tested ‘weak positive’ for coronavirus. A dog of this age might typically be quite vulnerable to infections, yet it is still showing no signs of disease relating to COVID-19. Experts will be monitoring the dog and will be repeating the test in the coming days, although more tests need to be done.

To put it into perspective, consider that there are around 750 million dogs living in the world, mostly alongside people, and of all these, just one single dog, has tested weakly positive for coronavirus. This is an extremely rare and isolated case. We need to prevent a knee-jerk reaction to our canine companions, preventing any drastic measures.

It’s still early days, and experts are unsure how the disease interacts with other animals. There have been questions on whether the dog has actually contracted the disease, or just that the virus is being harbored in its body. After all, the dog was in close proximity to its owner, who does have the disease. For a dog to contract coronavirus, the disease will have had to mutate to enable it to latch on to dog cells. Right now, we don’t know for sure if this is the case, so this example tells us very little.

It’s also important to consider that the genes of dogs are very different from the genes of humans. While it looks as though the coronavirus might have originated in a bat, it’s a mystery how the virus jumped from bats to humans, and if there was another animal in the middle, bridging this gap.

Even if this case does show that the virus can jump to dogs, we don’t know enough at this stage about its possible transmission to other dogs, animals or even back to humans again. Take distemper, canine parvovirus, and heartworms for example – these are all examples of infections that cannot be transmitted from dogs to humans due to the differences in our genetic make-up among other things.

Pets are great companions and they shouldn’t pay the price of our fear by being abandoned or cruelly mistreated. We’re urging people to continue to protect their pets by trying to avoid crowded places for dog walks and keeping their time outdoors to a minimum where possible until we know more about the transmission of the coronavirus. This should also serve as an important reminder to be a responsible pet owner by microchipping, vaccinating and neutering your animals. For pets belonging to a household with COVID-19 infections, we recommend pets are also placed in quarantined facilities where possible or kept isolated from other animals at least.

Our message is clear – we need to look after our animals and not panic. There is no evidence showing that pets can be the source of infection of coronavirus. All around the world, dogs improve and add value to our lives. They keep us company, protect homes and livestock, and can learn to do extraordinary tasks – so let’s make sure we keep them, and ourselves, protected.

https://www.worldanimalprotection.us/blogs/pets-dogs-coronavirus-transmission

A dog friendly car 🐕