Can I just say straight off the bat, that I am constantly being amazed by pigs? It seems like not a week goes by when I don't hear a story of how impressive these little oinkers are. The latest one that had me shaking my head in wonder is the footage that shows a pig saving a goat from drowning! Yes - you read that right. Watch the drama unfolding in the clip below!
(Weird coincidence alert: Check out the Unleashed sticker to the right which predicted that this would one day happen! Whooo, spooky.)
What an amazing story. That pig is a hero in my books. And can I just say - thank Goat the pig was there, because the guy filming hardly covered himself in glory. Would it have killed him to put the camera down and help out?? But I'll move on.
So, we can add "heroic" to the list of things we now know about pigs. Did you also know that they are playful and will wag their tails like a dog when they're happy? And that they've been found to be smarter than dogs, and even as smart as 3 year old children!
But did you know that pigs need some rescuing of their own? In factory farms, pregnant mother pigs can legally be confined between bars for four months straight, with no room to even turn around. Piglets can have their tails (and balls!) cut off with absolutely no pain relief. And the sad fact is, that for most factory farmed pigs in Australia, the day they are trucked to their deaths at an abattoir, their last day on earth - is the only day they will ever feel the sun on their back.
Pigs are amongst the most mistreated animals in the world. Their very intelligence and charm only makes the cruel treatment dished out to them in factory farms even worse. You're probably thinking that what is legal to do to pigs in the name of profit is pretty shocking. You'd be right. And when farmers break the rules, it can get even worse. You may remember the shocking conditions at Wally's Piggery in NSW last month, and the horrible deaths pigs faced at a Victorian abattoir in December last year.
Luckily, rescuing them from factory farms couldn't be easier -- simply choose not to eat them. Take the pledge to go veg, and save almost a hundred animals (not just pigs) every single year. With your kind choices at meal time, you can be the lifesaver that these animals so desperately need.
So we're heading into the warmer months again soon, and that means plenty more time spent outdoors. It means the beach and music festivals. It means visits to the pool, nighttimes sessions at outdoor cinemas and picnics with your buds (serving up delicious cruelty-free options, of course).With all these different ways to have fun and muck around, you'd think that watching animals being tormented at rodeos would be the last thing people would be interested in.
Rodeos were started in the US, but have made their way to Australia, and now occur in all states and territories. (Except the ACT which must stand for Awesome Capital Territory because they've banned rodeos.) If you're wondering why rodeos are such bad news, just take a look at the footage collected here of rodeos IN AUSTRALIA within the last two years.
If you couldn't bring yourself to watch the footage (and I wouldn't blame you, it's not easy to watch) then what it shows is frightened and stressed animals being dragged by their necks; animals slamming into fences; broken bones, and deliberate provocation. The calf roping it shows is particularly nasty and is so cruel that it has been banned in SA and Victoria.
Despite the footage, rodeos still take place. But the tide has turned thanks to pressure from Australians who don't want to see animals mistreated like this. Major businesses like Kmart and Telstra have dropped their support for rodeos, and thousands of Aussies have pledged to never support these events. You can help bring on the end to this cruel 'sport' by taking the pledge too.
Sometimes you hear of celebrities doing some crazy things and you think, "Maybe they're not the best role models." (Michael Jackson swinging his kid over a balcony, anyone?). But then sometimes you hear of them doing something that's actually pretty worthwhile. Check out these celebs who've decided to use their powers for good rather than evil, and see how you can be a star for animals too.
I'm gonna start with Brian May, guitarist for rock legends Queen, just because I like his hair so much. Brian is a driving force in the opposition to a proposed culling of badgers in the UK. Badgers are native to the UK, but farmers are worried that they spread disease among their cattle. Rather than look into alternatives to prevent this from happening, farmers are insisting on just shooting badgers en masse. Brain May is using his celebrity status to make the public aware of this, and hopefully prevent it from happening. You can protect animals in Australia from suffering at the hands of hunters too. Send a message to the pollies in charge that hunting is cruel and unnecessary - and that it needs to stop.
Keeping with the musician theme, Australia's own Missy Higgins is renowned for her efforts in helping animals. Despite constant touring and releasing a new hit record, Missy found time to make a stand against battery cages. Hens in battery cages go their entire lives without feeling the sun on their feathers and the ground beneath their feet. Instead they are crammed several birds to one wire cage with no room to spread their wings. Missy jumped at the chance to help battery hens, providing her time and voice to an Animals Australia campaign to get rid of battery cages in Australia. You can help too, by pledging to make the battery cage history.
There's no denying that Ricky Gervais is one of the funniest people on Earth. The compassionate comedian is also very vocal in speaking out against testing on animals, and with 3 million followers on twitter the message is reaching a massive audience. How could anyone not be against animal testing though, when you hear the cruelty the animals endure for the sake of a new lipstick or toothpaste? Thousands of animals every year are confined in laboratories only to be burned, poisoned and killed in unnecessary product tests. You can join with Ricky against animal testing, by taking the pledge against products tested on animals.
This list could go for days, but I'll wrap it up with a favourite celeb here at Unleashed - Jona Weinhofen, guitarist for Bring Me The Horizon (and also I Killed the Prom Queen). Vegan for over 10 years, Jona has put his fame to good use by talking up the benefits of a vegan lifestyle - for both you and animals. He recently committed to donating proceeds from a garage sale to Animals Australia, and his tumblr feed is a constant source of cool info and ideas for fans interested in animal protection. (You can also keep track of the latest developments with his beard growing - he's in love with that beard!). Jona proves that there's a hundred different ways anyone can get involved. Join the Unleashed Action Team and find out for yourself how easy it can be to help animals!
p.s. With all your new knowledge about compassionate celebs, you'll be over-qualified to enter our current comp to win your choice of shirt from Herbivore Clothing in the US. Find out how to win, but hurry 'cos entries close this week!
You may have heard a lot in the news recently about the live export of Australian sheep and cattle to overseas countries. The amount of animals involved and the amount of suffering they have to go through makes live exports one of the most serious cases of animal abuse in Australia. If you love animals, it's definitely an issue you'll want to know all about.
Live exports is in crisis at the moment, with tragedy after tragedy unfolding. It might be a bit confusing keeping a track of what is happening where, but hopefully this map will help make it clear for you. (Sorry North and South America - there just wasn't enough room for you! NZ, you missed out, too.)
BAHRAIN: 21,000 sheep were stranded aboard a ship in the middle of the Arabian Gulf, in soaring temperatures for 2 weeks(!!) after Bahrain refused to accept them. Every extra day stuck on a ship results in more animal suffering and more deaths.
The sheep on this ship were eventually offloaded in PAKISTAN. There they are being held in overcrowded mud-filled pens and their ability to lie down or reach food and water is severely restricted. Authorities there are supporting a plan for a mass kill and for their bodies to be thrown into large pits.
KUWAIT: A similar situation to Bahrain unfolded in Kuwait, with Australian sheep left in limbo out at sea for a week, suffering through high temperatures and confined spaces. Eventually these animals were unloaded. But sadly, that wouldn't have been the end to their suffering. They then would have been killed fully conscious.
QATAR: Of 250 dairy cows sent to one property, over 60 of them died in one week from thirst, hunger and heat stress. One vet technician said that these gentle animals "were frying from the inside out". Of 10,000 sheep sent to the same property ... only 3000 are left. To make this tragedy even worse - the property owner is planning to import another shipment of dairy cows later this year. Lend your voice to help stop this plan immediately.
EGYPT: 2 shiploads of cattle face an uncertain future as the Egyptian govt is refusing to allow them to be slaughtered. These cows have been stuck in sweltering heat and cramped feedlots for weeks now.
INDONESIA: 11,000 cattle are stranded in Indonesian feedlots after the govt there "rejected" them. These cows cannot come back to Australia because of our quarantine laws, so they are stuck in limbo, some of them since May! This is despite the fact that 94% of them are pregnant or have given birth since arriving.
The cruelty of live exports cannot be denied. The misery for animals begins from the moment they step onto boats at the port. They have no idea what will happen to them - BUT YOU DO! You can help protect sheep and cows in Australia by demanding an end to live exports. Join Animals Australia's campaign to shut down this terrible trade. Take action now!
UPDATE 27th SEPTEMBER:
"Like a giant mass of wool, bloodied and filthy, they lay in trenches, slit open, stabbed or clubbed to death, while many still wriggled with some life left in them, soon to be buried alive."
This is the scene emerging from Pakistan, where stranded Australian sheep now face an unimaginably horrible death.
Footage from Pakistan shows confused and scared sheep being stabbed and clubbed and their bodies being dumped into trenches. Some of them are still visibly alive when they are pushed into the pit.
This is what the boss at an exporting company said of the scene."I have watched the video and let me tell you that ever since I have seen those gruesome visuals, I haven't eaten or slept." And that's coming from the guy who sent the sheep there in the first place!
Levy the lamb had the odds stacked against him from the day he was born. Standing terrified by the side of a busy road, and refusing to leave his dead mother - things did not look good for Levy. His remarkable story of survival and his life now will amaze you. Read on for Unleashed's exclusive interview with Levy the Lamb!
Hi Levy. Thanks for making time for the interview.
Well I am missing morning tea for this but I'm a fan of Unleashed, so that's ok.
What else have you got planned for today?
Later today I might go for a walk with the dogs, have a snack then maybe a snooze before I help mum with the farm chores.
And what would be the perfect day for you?
Well that's a pretty good day but for it to be perfect add more snacks, some electrical cords to chew and perhaps an arvo inside the house ... preferably the kitchen, that's where the humans hide the good stuff.
You had a very tough start to your life. Can you tell us what your first memories are?
Wow! It's hard to go back there... Well, I remember I was on the side of a road with crows pecking at me. I wanted sheep-mum to wake up and tell them to go away but she was asleep. I was cold, lonely and hungry. I remember a nice man picking me up and looking after me. He mustn't have been able to wake sheep-mum up either so we had to leave without her. (INTERVIEWERS NOTE: Levy was born on the side of a busy road after his mum had fallen out of a sheep truck. She gave birth to Levy as she passed away, and so couldn't protect him from the crows.)
Do you know what would have happened to all those other sheep on the truck with you?
There is a lot of talk amongst my kind as to where those trucks go. Human-mum doesn't like them though so I'm guessing my mates didn't end up in a paddock full of delicious grass. I've heard horror stories about some humans killing and eating animals like me... I'll need therapy if I talk about that too much.
How did you come to be living with your current family?
The nice man who picked me up from the side of the road took me to a nice lady who looked after me for a couple weeks but she didn't have any grass for me to eat. So she took me to another nice lady (human-mum) who has a lot of grass. At first she fed me milk and let me sleep in the bed with her but now I am all grown up and I really like all the grass.
Do you have many friends to spend the day with?
Oh yeah I have loads of friends. The three dogs are my BFF's, the horses are alright, the pig is cool as long as you are on her good side (don't mention her waist line and you should be right). The cats are a bit strange, there are chickens and other sheep like me but I'm a real people person, I like my humans the most.
I know for a fact that you're determined to help your fellow sheep. Tell us what you've been up to and who you've met?
Human-mum raised me right, it's important to help those less fortunate, you know! I've had photo shoots; I'm on the Stop Live Export website and signs; and I've been on the news and in newspapers. I enjoy helping at stalls and protests and I have been lucky enough to meet a lot of nice people who are doing some super awesome things to help animals. I've even met politicians like Lisa Baker, Lynn MacLaren and Melissa Parke.
What's one interesting fact that people may not know about sheep like you? Just one?! Hmm, ok ... I can remember 50 different faces for about two years. So that means if you get on my bad side I have two years to come after you! Mwah-ha-haaaa!
Can you give us three words to describe yourself?
Handsome, loving and cheeky.
Is there a final message you want to pass on to all the young people reading today?
Young 'uns! You are our hope for a better future. Every cruelty-free choice you make, every person you inform and every time you help an organisation in any way, it gets us closer to ending the abuse of my mates. Don't let people pull the wool over your eyes ... we don't want to go on trucks and ships, we don't want our babies stolen from us, we don't want to spend our lives in tiny cages, we want to be happy and live!
Thanks for telling us your story today, Levy! (And thanks to your human-mum Rachael for her help in translating, too).
Levy escaped the fate facing countless numbers of animals around Australia, who are either killed in Australia for meat, or live exported to other countries. Once they leave Australian shores they face voyages across oceans, and many die at sea. In the countries they are exported to, they are slaughtered in ways that most Australians would object to.
Levy now has a girlfriend!! This is just very recent news, so details are sketchy at the moment. I can tell you though that Levy is very much in love, and wants to do nothing but spend all day with his new lady-lamby friend.
Unconfirmed reports state that Levy and his girlfriend have been "sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G." But seeing as how they are sheep, and sheep are not known for their awesome tree-climbing skills ... I find these reports to be highly doubtful.
There has been only one photo so far of the lovely couple. Judging by how close they're standing though, I would say that Levy is probably at second base. You go, Levy!!
If you wanted to know the full story about where cage eggs come from - where would you go for the info? A website set up by the Australian Egg Corporation Ltd (AECL)? Or would you ask an imaginary green man named Gumby from the 1950s? If you chose the imaginary Gumby, you'd be ... CORRECT!
In case you don't know, Gumby was a plasticine man (thing?) on the telly from the 1950s right through to the 1980s. Him and his mates (including a talking horse and a dinosaur that drives a car) spent each episode getting crazy and generally having a good time. Now believe it or not, but it seems Gumby is more interested in schooling people about the reality of cage eggs than the AECL are! Check out this episode of Gumby where the Blockheads kidnap his friend Tilly (who is a chicken. Yes, Gumby is friends with a chicken - legend.)
Here's what Gumby got right about cage egg production:
Hens will never feel the sun on their feathers.
They're confined to cages their entire lives, with no chance for exercise.
Hens suffer broken bones and lameness after spending their lives in a cramped cage.
If a hen stops laying eggs, she's in serious trouble
The most accurate part comes at the 1.41 minute mark though. When Tilly asks where she is, her caged neighbour replies, "This is hell". Pretty heavy stuff for a kids show!
So how does this match up against what the AECL wants you to know about battery hens? On their website about hen welfare, they've listed all the supposed advantages for chickens confined in battery cages. (Remember, the space each bird gets inside these cages is not much larger than an A4 sheet of paper, and chickens spend their ENTIRE lives in there).
1) "If a bird does become sick, cage-based housing makes it easier to identify and remove birds for treatment." That's a touching thought, but I'm not sure that the sick bird at the end of this video would consider her 'treatment' that helpful. And it's not uncommon for birds to die unnoticed in their cage, leaving their cage mates stuck in a cage with their dead body.
2) "Better protection from in-fighting and cannibalism." The reality is hens have the tips of their beaks sliced off to prevent them from pecking at each other in their cramped cage. Since when was cutting bits and pieces off animals to make them fit cruel systems ok?
3) "Protection from the elements and predators like eagles, snakes, foxes and feral cats." But I want to know who's protecting them from factory farmers! Being doomed to a life sentence in a battery cage is no life. They'll never smell fresh air, or even get to properly stretch their wings.
One fact that neither Gumby or the AECL mention, is what happens to all the male chicks in the egg industry (sadly, not just for cage eggs)...
"Hell" pretty much sums it up :(
The simplest way to make sure you aren't supporting chicken cruelty is to go egg-free (or if not, then at the very least ditch cage eggs). Your body doesn't need eggs any more than it needs plasticine and you can find egg replacers at most big supermarkets. You can do your bit to help hens by pledging to make the battery cage history.
(p.s. Want to know what all the other labels on egg cartons really mean for hens (and chicks)? Then grab this handy chart.)
Were your holidays ever as good as this kid's?? This is Matteo - and on his holidays he made some new friends. Probably the most awesome new friends ever. Check out his holiday snaps and then read on to see how Matteo and his marmot mates are connected to the biggest scientific announcement in years, and how it will affect you!
Matteo and his family have been visiting the marmots for four years now - and every year the marmots rush to greet him again. Normally very shy of humans (probably not helped by the fact that marmots are killed for their fur and to eat), these ones have welcomed Matteo into their community. He doesn't have to live in their dens with them ... but still, you would if you could, right?
Now, how is all this connected to a major scientific announcement??
Earlier this year, scientists (including the smartest man alive Stephen Hawking) met in England to have the mother of all parties make a super important announcement. They stated their support for the idea that animals are conscious beings - that is, animals are aware of the world around them, just like humans are. (Even if you're not into science, it's a really interesting read ... apart from the last bit about "homologous subcortical brain networks". I started tuning out around there.)
The scientists agreed that animals have their own personalities, they experience emotions and feelings based on what is happening around them, and they make plans for their future. This behaviour has been found in animals as different as great apes, dolphins, magpies, and octopi. (My favourite kind of pi. Gettit? Har-har-har).
And how is all this related to Matteo and the marmots? You see, as a young kid Matteo would already be realising that animals have different personalities. He'd be learning that from his marmot mates. And if you've ever made animal friends perhaps with a cat or dog at home, you've probably seen that as well. They can be playful like Herbie the bull, worried like Autumn the rescue chicken, and can be terrified like Tommy who was exported to Indonesia for slaughter.
Whether an animal is one we share our home with, one we see on our holidays, or one who is normally regarded as "meat" - they can feel pain and can suffer. They can also experience joy and happiness, and can appreciate kindness. It's the decisions you make every day that can bring that happiness into their lives, and save them from fear. Make a start by taking one of our pledges today.
It may not be groundbreaking news to you - but scientists have recently found out that dogs not only know when humans are sad, but they actually want to help us feel better! And if you've ever been licked on the face by a dog ... you'll know that they're pretty good at cheering people up. This weekend is your chance to give a little back to man's (and woman's) best friends.
In what sounds like a very adorable experiment, dogs (who lived with people, not lab dogs) were introduced to strangers who had to display all different emotions. When the person was pretending to cry, the majority of dogs would run over and try to comfort them. They would nuzzle and lick the person - apparently a doggie's way of saying, "there there, don't cry". Nawww. How sweet is that? Claims that the dogs would then offer to spend the night on the couch with the upset person eating soy ice-cream and watching Big Brother are yet to be proven. I bet they would though, dogs are that awesome.
This weekend you have the chance to return the favour, and help dogs who are in distress! There are rallies planned for Sunday in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide to support Oscar's Law(a campaignto ban the breeding of dogs in puppy mills, and to promote the adoption of companion animals through shelters and rescue groups).
The conditions that dogs endure at puppy mills are heartbreaking. "Many dogs slowly go insane. They spin in circles or pace back and forth in their cells, some never see daylight, and the outside world is a foreign place to them ... They shy away from human hands as they have never known kindness. The dogs are deprived of even their basic needs as the current law is only concerned with food, shelter and water. The dog's psychological and social needs are ignored on factory farms." This is just part of a description of puppy farms from oscarslaw.org.
Also, the breeding of more dogs on these puppy farms only adds to the dog overpopulation problem in Australia. Already 23 dogs and cats are killed every hour around the country because they don't have homes. This is a cruel fate for these animals who would love nothing more than to share hugs and pats with a family of their own.
So this Sunday, make time to help out dogs in distress. You can show your support at these places and times.
Melbourne: Parliament House, midday. Sydney: Belmore Park (opp. Central Station), midday. Adelaide: Light Square (Curry St.), midday.
p.s. Animals Australia will be holding stalls at all three rallies, so make sure you come and say 'hi!' and find out what else you can do to help animals.
Awesome news!! In the face of community pressure (including a campaign run on Unleashed), the NSW govt has backed down over plans that would have allowed 12 year olds to go out hunting by themselves. People just like you spoke out against this potentially deadly plan, and have won a significant victory to protect animals from being stabbed, shot and mauled.
The original campaign on Unleashed.
The hunting plan would have seen kids as young as 12 roaming about state forests with bows and arrows, knives and hunting dogs, looking for animals to kill. I don't know about you, but that sounds exactly like a nightmare I once had. To make the matter even worse, it sounds like many pollies weren't even aware the plan had been put together. Fortunately, Unleashed members and other concerned people WERE aware, and made their voices heard very clearly.
This story has had a positive ending, but there is still more to be done. Animals can't speak for themselves; they need you to be their voice. This back-down by the NSW govt proves that a strong compassionate voice can save lives. What else will you do today to help save animals?
Every month the best comment on the blogs is picked out and highlighted. It might be funny, it might be thought-provoking, it might be poorly spelt. It might even be something YOU wrote. Find out what August's top comment was here ...
August's Top Comment:
"This is so disturbing. I've been in shock. It's hard to find the words to really express the absolute horror that those beautiful pigs go through. There is around 12,000 signatures on the petition last time I checked which is incredible! Going to the rally on Saturday, really looking forward to it. Making vegan cupcakes to share afterwards." Lily Meave, on Unimaginable cruelty at NSW piggery.
That's what Unleashed member Lily Meave had to say after the hellish conditions at Wally's Piggery were exposed in August. For her passion and energy, she's won the Unleashed badges that were up for grabs in August for the best comment of the month.
The prize for this month (September) is a complete Unleashed campaign sticker pack. Get commenting to win!
The competition details ...
Have you ever found $20 in your pocket weeks after putting it in there? Feels pretty sweet doesn't it? Everybody loves scoring something for free, And we're making those dreams come true every month with our Top Comment Comp!
Here's how it works: Blogs get posted on Unleashed. You comment on blogs. At the end of each month, we'll pick the top comment posted that month. If one of your comments is the funniest, smartest, deepest for the month - then you win the prize. Boom. Easy as that.
The winner is announced at the end of each month, and all blog comments will be considered.* Good luck!!
Previous Top Comments July
"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." Sair Scare, on Food for Thought? (Gross-out warning!)
"It's these kinds of stories that ought to be making the news. Proving to the world that compassion and empathy are both attractive qualities accessible by all, as long as they are willing to open their eyes, if only for a moment, to the impact their choices and decisions have on other species." 4_da_animals1, on Lives Risked and life saved in rescue!
* 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 a hot new shirt to show for it.
When I was really young I wanted to have lollies for every meal. I spent all my pocket money on them. I was jealous of Americans because they had Halloween - a whole night dedicated to scoring free lollies. That was until I found out that some lollies out there are actually made with pig skin and cow bones!
I would never have suspected that lollies would ever be made with animal ingredients! You can see for yourself on the pack though - the ingredient is called "gelatine". Gelatine is made from pig skin, cow skin, and the bones of both animals! Gross, isn't it? But look out, 'cos it gets grosser - here's a couple of pictures of the gelatin making process.
The lollies that gelatine is usually found in are the gummy/chewy types like Snakes Alive and Starburst. Animals aren't killed expressly so they can be turned into gelatine - but still, it's pretty rank to know that Gummi Bears have pig skin in them.
There are also plenty of gelatine-free lollies on the average supermarket shelf too. So next time you're deciding what lollies to buy, try one from the list below. And make sure you share them with your friends and fam too, making sure to mention what you know about gelatine ;) So enjoy the lollies - they'll taste good, and you'll feel good!
Chuppa Chups (the non-milky ones)
Pascall Jelly Beans
Natural Confectionary Co. Jelly Beans
Wizz Fizz Sherbet
(p.s. Here's a tip for American kids next Halloween: have two costumes, do two rounds ... receive double the lollies. Thank me later.)
What lollies have I missed on the list?? Let me know in the comments below.
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.