Every year in September, animal lovers from around the world turn their attention towards the Japanese fishing town of Taiji. This date marks the start of the infamous Taiji dolphin drive hunt.
In case you haven't heard of the dolphin hunt before, here's the bare-bones of it. Every year, local fishermen take to the sea near a secluded cove and begin to drive dolphins and small whales towards the shore. There, mothers and babies are separated by ropes, some dolphins are tied to boats, some become injured or break their pectoral fins in the watery panic, and some die from stress or exhaustion.
The bewildered animals are kept enclosed by nets overnight, and as the sun rises on the cove, the sea turns red as 'drive fishermen' pierce the dolphins and whales with long spears. Some fishermen use hooks to haul live dolphins into the boats where their throats are slashed. The dolphins' shrieks fill the air.
The animals that are killed are sold as meat (despite often containing dangerously high levels of mercury). The dolphins that are captured alive are sold to foreign dolphinariums where they will live their lives in captivity.
The goings-on in Taiji were brought to world attention in the Oscar-winning doco "The Cove". Since then, pressure has been steadily applied to those in charge of the hunt and those who allow it to continue.
There have been some major successes in the last couple of years. The number of dolphins killed in recent years seems to be in decline. In Australia, the coastal town of Broome suspended their sister-city relationship with Taiji after a campaign by Unleashed and Animals Australia supporters.
It's Father's Day this weekend, so what better time to rank some of the animal kingdom's best dads. These doting dads prove it's not just human fathers who deserve a pair of socks and a card on Father's Day.
In fourth place for the best dad award is the barking frog. This froggy father will sit beside his offspring while they are still in their egg sacs, keeping them moist until birth. These guys would be higher on the list ... if they weren't wetting the eggs with their own urine. Still, it's the thought that counts, right?? Bonus picture included of an oreophryne frog dad who hugs all his little ones at night to keep them moist and protect them from insects. What a guy!
Third place goes to the marmoset (a little monkey from South America). These dutiful dads take over the baby-sitting soon after birth, grooming and licking their infants. Later the dads will feed their young 'uns as well as piggyback them all over the place. This probably continues until the young marmosets get their driver's license and a car (I didn't pay much attention in science class).
Second place is claimed by the very deserving male emperor penguin. The Antarctic is so cold that if penguin eggs were to just touch the ground the embryo inside would most likely never be born. So what does dad do? He holds the eggs on the top of his feet covered by his belly ... for two months ... without eating! If you look up "dedication" in the dictionary, there'll probably be a picture of an emperor penguin looking straight back at you.
But at the top of this list of animal dads, winning the title of "Father of the Year 2012" is the seahorse. Seahorses are always going to be pretty hard to beat, seeing as how they are the ones who actually give birth! Yep, I've checked my research and it's true. On average, a seahorse will give birth to 100-200 "fries". That's a dad who takes his job pretty seriously.
So there you go. There are some pretty exceptional dads in the human world too, but it's worth remembering this Father's Day that animals also care for their young and want them to grow up and be healthy.
What is it about your dad that makes him so great? Tell us in 30 words or less and you could win an Unleashed stubby holder to give to him as a pressie. Entries close Friday 31st August.
WINNER ANNOUNCED: An Unleashed drinks cooler is on its way to Samanthadavey (and her dad) for making everyone at UL feel all warm and fuzzy inside :)
herbivore [pronounced hur-buh-vohr]: An animal that feeds chiefly on plants. Examples include elephants, gorillas, horses and me.
Herbivore Clothing Company: a store that sells awesome cruelty-free stuff with a pro-animal message. Examples include t-shirts, jumpers, wallets, and books.
Why am I telling you this? Well, because The Herbivore Clothing Company has teamed up with Unleashed for an excellent giveaway. You've got the chance to snag one of their many very cool t-shirts. Designed for herbivores and other animal lovers, their tees not only look good - they also carry a message that's worth showing off.
I'm not saying that repping one of these tops will make you famous. But it will put you in the same category as Missy Higgins and Jona Weinhofen - people who are ready to speak up for animals. Other compassionate celebs include P!nk, Ben Stiller and Natalie Portman. C'mon Hollywood - just put 'em all in a movie together, already!
Winning the shirt of your choice from Herbivore Clothing is easy as 1-2-3, too. In 30 words or less,tell us which compassionate celebrity you'd wanna hang out with for a day and why. The best, most creative, most interesting response will win! So get your thinking caps on, and drop your idea into the comments. Good luck! (Comp closes 28th September)
After you get your entry in, why not head over to herbivoreclothing.com and start deciding which shirt you want when (if!) you win? WARNING: be prepared to lose an hour of your day checking out all the other cool gear they have.
Do you remember primary school? Every day was a paradise. There was nap-time and you got a scratch-and-sniff sticker just for being a neat writer! And then you hit high school and everything changed. No more Show-and-Tell to start the day. It was replaced by massive homework assignments and a calculator with a thousand different buttons.
High school can get pretty overwhelming, and sometimes it's hard to find time to help animals when you're buried with school work. That's why Lea's efforts to make her school a more compassionate place are so impressive. And that's also why she's the latest winner of Unleashed's Activist Challenge!
Despite battling through the heavy workload of Year 11 and 12, Lea still found the time and energy to get involved in a number of projects at her school. One highlight was hosting a vegan BBQ pool party for 200 hyped-up Year 8 kids. Another highlight - getting someone else to clean up after them.
When Lea finished Year 12, she left her school a more open-minded and animal-friendly place. You can find out just how she achieved this by reading the full story here.
For her efforts Lea has scored an Unleashed prize pack and much good karma. I even heard a rumour that Justin Bieber is writing a song about her! (I started the rumour though, so it may not be true.)
If you're getting active for animals, we want to hear about it. Tell us your story and you could be the next Activist Challenge winner! Good luck!
The time has come to announce the winner of our recent giveaway - the very tres chic Lamb Bag from Malc & Andi. This handbag is completely cruelty-free and comes from a company that proudly donates part of its profits to animal charities - including Animals Australia.
Alright - so before the winner is announced, can I tell you that picking just one winner for this giveaway was reeeeally hard. The amount of entries received and the stories that people told are a good sign for animals all around the country. With Unleashed members out there lending a hand, animals have got some formidable allies! Now ... let's see who won the handbag!
This entry from Rabidewok was great: "I dressed up as an animal and danced in Rundle Mall with friends handing out leaflets about co-existing peacefully with all animals!" And this one from laraking was also pretty cool: "Any animal that comes my way I give a gentle smile, a snack, a drink, a pat, kind words - and I'm vegan." And there were heaps of other entries just as good!
But just like an arm-wrestle against your sister - there can be only one winner (I'm 3 from 5!). And in this case, it's SammyGee95!
"For the past few months I have been designing fliers and walking around my city putting them into every mail box I pass. They contain a bit of information about vegetarianism and veganism, but instead of being a sheet of boring facts, I have tried to make sure that the facts are relevant to the people in my city. I am doing this at my own expense (ink isn't cheap I tell you!) and I am giving people the chance to contact me if they want to know more. It is a really hard job because I am also working 7 days a week, but it is really important to me and I have had some emails from people telling me that they were shocked and interested by the information I provided. It is really good to know that I am opening the eyes of some people out there who have obviously not been exposed to the truth before.
I also made up some A4 posters on coloured paper, each with a fact on it about animal cruelty IN AUSTRALIA. I have handed these out in the mall and on street corners, despite being a really shy person, and I love the conversations I have gotten into with people about animals and their views.
I believe that if I can spread my knowledge to 100 people and just 1 of those people makes the choice to stop supporting animal cruelty through their diet, then I have done my job and it is totally worth it."
Remember - you don't need to be a superhero to help animals. Deciding what you're going to have for lunch might seem like a trivial matter to you, but it can seriously save lives. It's the same when you hit the shops. Attending a rally, writing letters, handing out leaflets, or volunteering at an animal shelter helps animals and can inspire others to do the same. And all these little things add up to make a big impact for animals. What are you planning to do this week to help animals?
Herbie the bull is living what I would say is my dream life. He gets to run around outside on the grass all day ... and play with a ball. If you thought dogs were the only animals that loved playing with toys, then check out the love affair Herbie is having with his new ball!
Just like cats and dogs, cows have their own individual personalities. Rosamund Young (author of The Secret Lives of Cows), points out that cows "can be highly intelligent, moderately so, or slow to understand; friendly, considerate, aggressive, docile, inventive, dull, proud, or shy." They form friendships with other cows, and mother cows form strong bonds with their calves.
You may be wondering, "Where do the calves go? Do they get a ball like Herbie?" As much as that would make my day, the reality couldn't be any more different. After separation, the mother and the calf will cry out for each other for days but their chances of a reunion are next to none. Most calves will be killed as a "waste-product" of the dairy industry at just 5 days old. This includes all male calves because they can't produce milk, and any young females not needed to restock the herd of milking cows. Every year in Australia, 700,000 calves are killed like this as part of the system that puts milk and cheese on supermarket shelves.
Not a "feel-good" kinda story is it? The good news for you and for cows though, is that there are alternatives to dairy available in supermarkets and delis across Australia. So Good ice-cream, Tofutti Cuties, oat milk, and Notzarella cheese are all items you can sub into the fridge to replace dairy products. And those are just my faves. Not only do they taste good, they also help save cows and their calves from suffering. That's win-win for everyone!
When it comes to milk, are you Team Oat or Team Soy (or even Team Rice)? And what about desserts - So Good or Tofutti? Tell all in the comments below!
Now, I'm a massive fan of Lady Gaga's music, and I think that she's got a lot of important things to say. But jeez she makes some shocking decisions when it comes to what she wears. Her latest monster balls-up is wearing fur. As if that's not bad enough - you should hear her bumbling justification for it.
You might remember a couple of Gaga's other fashion crimes. Her meat bikini (blergh-kini?) springs to mind immediately. This time she's draped herself in a fur coat in the middle of the northern summer. She defended herself by saying that while normal people would "see a carcass, I see a museum piece de resistance". She goes on to describe it as an "art piece". Really? It looks more like the carpet a mate of mine used to have in the back of his station wagon.
Look closely at the photo - see the adorable little dog there? If I was that dog ... I'd be freakin' out! After all, millions of dogs are killed each year for their fur. I wonder whether Lady Gaga would have looked at the coat differently if it had been made out of that little guy. A recent segment on Today Tonight showed that fur products being sold here in Australia contain dog and cat fur, even though it's illegal to import.
To make fur clothes, animals are beaten, anally electrocuted, drowned, or poisoned. Some are even skinned alive! When she was criticised for wearing fur, Lady Gaga responded by saying, "I do not support violent, abusive campaigns for ANY CAUSE". It's just a bummer that she DOES seem fine with violence and abuse against animals, I guess.
With the Olympics done and dusted for another four years (good job, London) I was interested to read this story about half-man, half-fish Michael Phelps.
Yeah, ok - it's not a real story, but it's a pretty funny read. What isn't so funny is the fact that around the world, 1000s of whales and dolphins ("cetaceans" if you wanna impress your friends) are captured from the wild and delivered to oceanariums. There they'll live out their days in tiny tanks, sometimes being trained to perform tricks for human entertainment.
Everyone knows dolphins are amongst the smartest animals on Earth. They play with each other and body-surf at the beach; they've been observed wrapping their "noses" in sponge when searching for food to prevent grazes (c'mon, we've all been there!); and this is what blows me away: dolphins in a pod will stay with sick or injured friends, even pushing them up to the surface to breathe if they can't do it themselves!!
Locking cetaceans into tanks at SeaWorlds around the globe is pretty much like giving them a life sentence in prison. Just think of how huge the oceans are, and how far dolphins and whales would swim in a day. Imagine all the things they'd see and experience in a lifetime! Now think of how desperately bored and cooped up they must feel spending day and night in tanks not even a fraction the size of their natural habitat. Sucks, doesn't it?
As long as dolphins and whales are kept locked up in tanks for human entertainment and their best interests aren't taken into account, we're going to keep seeing stories like the one where two dolphins died after a rave was allowed right next to their pool. (Whaaat?!) Or despite the fact that there has not been a single recorded instance of a wild orca ever seriously injuring or killing a human, a captive orca in the US has now killed three people in separate incidents. There is also the sad story of Kuru the dolphin who jumped out of her tank during a show.
There must be a hundred different ways you can see and interact with animals that aren't harmful. Volunteer at a native wildlife rescue and rehab centre or animal refuge. How about snorkelling or scuba diving? You're not going to see a man standing on a dolphins back ... but really, who would wanna see that anyway??
Got any stories of seeing dolphins or whales in the wild? We'd love to hear them in the comments.
Sometimes you see or hear about something happening, and it changes your life forever. For many people, it might well be the footage and photos released last week of a piggery near Canberra. An investigation by Animal Liberation ACT and Animal Liberation NSW revealed some of the most appalling cruelty and neglect ever filmed on an Australian factory farm.
You can see footage and photos from the investigation here (WARNING: the content of the website is very distressing).
Just 20 mins drive from our nation's capital, workers were shown kicking piglets across the floor. In a room next to their mothers (within ear shot), young pigs screamed as they were beaten over the head with a sledgehammer and then slaughtered without any effective stunning. Footage shows some pigs apparently conscious and struggling for minutes after their throats had been cut. Buckets were filled with dead piglets, and various types of injuries and infections were left untreated. The footage is like some kind of sick horror movie.
Amidst the brutality and neglect, the scene I found perhaps most heartbreaking was a mother pig standing in a tiny crate, just being continuously pounded by a flood of water from a burst pipe. That these intelligent and sensitive animals could be treated so horribly is just devastating.
Even though a lot of what was filmed showed illegal cruelty, the legal practices filmed will also shock you. Piglets have their tails and teeth cut off without painkillers. Pregnant sows are confined to tiny crates where they're not given enough room to even turn around. This is legal and standard practice in piggeries across Australia. As is the dank and dark conditions evident in the footage. For many factory farmed pigs the first time they will feel the sun on their backs is also their last as they are transported to slaughterhouses to be killed.
Unfortunately, the abuse at Wally's Piggery isn't the first time (even recently) that farmed animals in Australia have been subject to such mistreatment. Earlier this year, a review in NSW found animal welfare breaches at *every* single slaughterhouse in the state. And late last year, an abattoir in Victoria was permanently closed because of extreme cruelty.
Hopefully, anyone involved with Wally's Piggery will face the full force of the law for what they've done. This won't help pigs who continue to experience fear, distress and cruelty in Australian piggeries which aren't breaking any laws, though. If you want to make a real difference to them, then don't eat them. By going veg you'll single-handedly save 100 animals every year, and you won't be contributing to an industry that puts profits before the welfare of animals.
If you've already gone veg, what was it that helped make your decision?
Proving once and for all that people who work at NASA must be pretty brainy ... scientists there have developed over 100 different meals for future manned trips to Mars. And each and every one of those meals is vegan! Maybe it's time to rename Mars from the 'Red Planet' to the 'Green Planet'?
Mars has been seen as the most likely planet for humans to live on in the future. NASA has a whole program dedicated to researching the place, and the plan is to send astronauts up there by the year 2030. At first it might sound like a 'world's worst job' kinda thing. It'll take astronauts 6 months to get there; then they're going to spend 18 months doing 'sciencey' things; then another 6 months to return to Earth. But throw in the all-vegan menu, and pics of the pizza that'll be going with them - and all of a sudden it doesn't seem too bad! Time to start paying attention in science class...
The reason NASA has gone for cruelty-free space food is that it'd be impossible to preserve meat and dairy products on such a long journey. There's also an idea being floated that the Mars astronauts will be able to grow their own greens and eat them. It's common knowledge now that the farming of animals for human consumption is contributing to environmental destruction and wasting water here on Earth, so making the first human contact with a new planet vegan is a pretty good idea I reckon.
There's no word yet if the astronauts will be able to swing through Lord of the Fries to grab takeaway for their trip, but I'm betting that the boffins at NASA will have come up with plenty of meal ideas to keep them happy and healthy while they're up in space. If they need some more inspiration - there's plenty of delicious, cruelty-free eats here.
What food could you absolutely NOT do without if you were sent off to space for 3 years?
Another month done, another bunch of excellent comments on the blogs! The blog that seemed to generate a fair bit of interest (and where the best comment for the month has been picked from) was about a testicle cookbook. Yes - a testicle cookbook. Read the full entry here ... if you have a strong stomach.
Most readers thought a testicle cookbook was a pretty nutty idea, and debaybay got the lols by pointing out "the looks you would get at the supermarket giving the checkout chick testicles."
The best comment of the month though, goes to The Sair Scare, who hit the nail square on the head:
"When you really, truly consider the reality of eating meat, testicle pizza does not feel all that much more vulgar. I don't understand why most meat eaters have no qualms eating thighs, wings, breasts, connective tissue, blood vessels, flesh and blood, and yet are grossed out by eyes, tongues and testicles. It's all pretty gross to me."
100%. Agreed. Well done Sair Scare - a complete set of cause bands is heading your way!
Remember, this is a regular giveaway so now we're looking for the best comment of August! The prize for this month is a complete Unleashed badge set! To win, all you have to do is tell us what you're thinking by commenting under the blogs.* Have fun!
* We love it when you comment on blogs! We love it even more when your comments are thoughtful, inspiring, or make us laugh!! So just to be clear, this is not about who posts the most comments. It's about who posts what we think is the top comment for the month. You might only post one comment this month. But if it's a cracker, then you could be walking away with the complete badge set to show for it.
It's official: I've got Olympic Fever (or rabies ... I'm waiting for the doc to call with the results)! To help get you in the spirit of the Games, I've put together an international dream team of vegan and vegetarian Olympic athletes. These athletes became stars for their sporting achievements and became heroes for their refusal to eat animals. Now let's introduce the team!
In track and field we have Carl Lewis and Edwin Moses - who have a combined 3 gold medals between them. Oh wait, did I say 3? I meant, 13!! That's right, these guys won more gold medals between the two of them then almost the entire Australian team at the 2008 Games. Moses also set the improbable record of winning 122 races in a row. He didn't lose a single race he started for 9 years, 9 months and 9 days!
Running middle distance is the Flying Finn, Paavo Nurmi who bagged 9 gold medals over three Games. Vegetarian since the age of 12, Paavo has set world records in distances ranging from 1500m all the way up to 20kms, and his 5 gold haul in one Olympics is a track record that still stands.
Over in the pool, we have an Aussie *whistle* *cheer* And not just any Aussie, but the one with the best nickname ever in international sport - Murray Rose ... the Seaweed Streak! Born and raised a vegan, Rose set an amazing 15 world records, and bagged 4 Olympic golds in his stellar career. He claimed very clearly in interviews that it was his vegan lifestyle that helped him achieve such great success.
You don't need to be an Olympian to feel the benefits of cutting meat from your meals, either. People often report fewer pimple problems and glowing skin after going veg; and those looking to shed a few excess kgs might be interested to know that vegetarians have an average body weight up to 20% lower than meat eaters! Even "armchair athletes" can reduce their chances of obesity, diabetes and strokes by being vegetarian (even more true for vegans)!
Keep your eyes open for compassionate competitors at the Games this year (Lizzie Armitstead is one, and she's already won a silver!), and enjoy the events. Check out some of the easy and tasty snacks you can make for in front of the telly here.
We’re supposed to let you know that the ideas expressed here are the views of the individual authors, and may not necessarily reflect the views of Animals Australia or Animals Australia Unleashed. So now you know.