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Zoos

Who were the lions eating yesterday?

Who were the lions eating yesterday?

Posted 14 February 2014   by Amy         Permalink | 7 Comments

Tags: zoos, giraffes, exotic animals, Melanie Joy, carnism

Maybe you've already heard… A few days ago, a healthy 2-year-old giraffe at Copenhagen Zoo, named Marius, was killed. The zoo decided they didn't have space for him. So he was shot in the head and his body was fed to the lions - in front of a crowd of spectators.

Marius's death has shocked people all around the world and has raised some big questions: Is the real reason Marius was killed that he was no longer cute enough to attract visitors to the zoo? Do zoos really have a role to play in conservation or do they just profit from confined animals? (There are some thought provoking answers to these questions here and here.)

But the question that jumped out at me when I heard about Marius's death was this: Who were the lions eating yesterday?

It's always tragic to see a young healthy animal, like Marius, killed. He deserved to live a full happy life, just as we all do. But like Marius, the pigschickens or cows who were fed to the lions yesterday would have also been young and healthy. They may not have been as exotic, and they probably didn't have a name, but does that make them any less deserving of our concern?

With people the world over understandably saddened and outraged by what happened to Marius, I hope this is an opportunity for us to reconsider how we view all animals - to recognise that they all have the ability to feel joy and seek pleasure, just as they all have the ability to suffer.

So why, as a society, do we seem to care more about the well-being of some animals than others? I don't know anyone who can answer that question better than Melanie Joy. If you haven't seen her presentation 'Carnism: The Psychology of Eating Meat' it's certainly worth a watch:

I would love to hear your thoughts about Marius's death and Melanie Joy's talk in the comments below :)

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Zoos closed! Animals freed!

Zoos closed! Animals freed!

Posted 16 August 2013   by Amy         Permalink | Be the first to comment

Tags: zoos, Costa Rica, good news, exotic animals, action

In my mind, this is what Costa Rica looks like:

520-costarica.jpg

Why? Well, probably because I have no concept of geography whatsoever. But more importantly, because they’re charging ahead when it comes to animal-friendly reforms.

Costa Rica has just announced that they’re going to close two of their government-owned zoos. Why? Environment Minister Rene Castro says his decision was influenced by his grandmother’s pet parrot.

"One day, we took the parrot out to the patio, and a flock of wild parrots passed, and the parrot went with them," he says. "It made a big impression on me because I thought that we were taking good care of her. We fed her with food and affection ... all these things that we as humans thought she liked. And when she had the chance, she left."

So he’s setting all the animals free! Well, 400 altogether. The two sites will be converted into botanical parks, displaying biodiversity in a natural way. The animals will be relocated to rescue centres or shelters where they will then be rehabilitated to the wild or, if they are unable to return to their natural habitat, taken care of by professionals.

We don’t want any more captivity, any more caging of animals, unless it’s because they’re being rescued or saved,” says Environment Minister Rene Castro. You go Castro!

This awesome news comes within a year of Costa Rica banning hunting as a sport! At the time, politician Victor Emilio Granadas said “hunting is not a sport but a cruelty!” He said the law “will allow us to live in peace with other living things that share our planet.

What’s more, circuses with performing animals were banned way back in 2002. So now you know why I think of Costa Rica as a land of rainbows and happiness.

The best thing about all this news is that it reminds me that making the world a better place for animals is very achievable. It’s already happening! You can be a part of the movement for change here in Australia. It’s as easy as becoming part of the Unleashed Action Team. You will be among the first to hear about animal protection campaigns and be part of a dedicated group of individuals making a difference for animals. Click here to join the team.

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Knut's Unbearably Bad Luck

Knut's Unbearably Bad Luck

Posted 6 April 2011   by Jesse         Permalink | 6 Comments

Tags: zoos, Knut, bears, rant, David Attenborough

One of the most lasting memories I have of zoos, is going with my highschool. I remember standing in front of the tassie devil enclosure. Most of the enclosure was grassy, including a raised mound in the middle. But around this mound ran a heavily worn dirt track (roughly the same width as a tassie devil) and on this dirt track ran a lone devil. Around and around he went, like a broken record... around and around and ... you get the idea.

At the time, I just thought that all tasmanian devils must be crazy (I'm sure a childhood of Taz cartoons made this explanation seem obvious.). But several years later, when I found out that a life of confinement and lack of stimulation can lead many animals in zoos and circuses to go mad, I realised that a more likely explanation was that not all tassie devils are crazy - just the one I saw in that zoo.

If you've been following the story of the celebrity polar bear, Knut, who died a couple of weeks ago in Berlin Zoo, then you'd know that he also lived a very troubled life. Born in captivity, and rejected by his mother shortly after birth in 2006, he was raised by a human zookeeper. I'm sure this zookeeper did his best to raise Knut well, but let's face it, he was not 2.5m tall with a coat of white fur, and by 2008 there were reports that Knut was knuts, calling him a "publicity addicted psycho".

Fame can do some strange things to people - so can jail. So what can being raised by a human in an unnatural, confined environment, with constant crowds looking on do to a polar bear? Well here's a description from one of his keepers at the zoo: "He actually cries out or whimpers if he sees that there is not a spectator outside his enclosure ready to ooh and ahh at him. When the zoo had to shut because of black ice everywhere, he howled until staff members stood before him and calmed him down." This from an animal that would normally live a more-or-less solitary life in the wild!

A couple of years ago Berlin Zoo ran into financial problems and even considered selling their polar bear celebrity. But ultimately Knut lived out the rest of his short life at Berlin Zoo - confined to an enclosure, never able to roam the vast expanses that his bear buddies in the wild do.

Sadly, I'd say I've learnt more about what life's like for a polar bear from David Attenborough's docos than Knut ever learnt being raised by a man in an enclosure in Berlin. Given the choice, I wouldn't go back to a zoo after seeing the dizzying madness of that tassie devil running in circles. Fortunately, Attenborough and others have made more docos about animals in the wild than any of us are ever likely to manage to watch.

What do you think of wild animals being kept on display in captivity? Leave a comment.

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Zoo Sells Endangered Antelope to Hunter

Zoo Sells Endangered Antelope to Hunter

Posted 6 August 2009   by Jesse         Permalink | 12 Comments

Tags: zoos, conservation, extinction, canned hunts, hunting, rant

What's wrong with this picture?

The NSW Shooters Party are presently pushing for changes to animal cruelty laws to legalise 'canned hunts' – where hunters pay thousands of dollars for the privilege of shooting trapped animals, including endangered species. One member of the Shooters Party is a Mr Bob McComb.

Over the last 3 years Dubbo Zoo has sold 24 blackbuck antelope - a seriously endangered species - to Mr McComb. If the Shooters Party's bill passes, then these 24 blackbuck antelope may be the first visitors to Mr McComb's planned 'private game reserve' (ie. canned hunt).

Hmm. Where to begin?!

As if it weren't enough that Australia is driving our own native species to extinction faster than the rest of the world, now we need to breed other countries' endangered animals just so they can be shot?

I've heard many a zoo pat themselves on the back for their 'conservation' work, through breeding programs. So when the Dubbo Zoo says these 24 endangered antelope were 'not required' for their collection, and sells them to a hunter, you've got to wonder if they've checked the definition of conservation in a dictionary lately!

Of course, Mr McComb seems to be a little confused about what the word means as well, "I see private game reserves as a very effective way to achieve that conservation". I tell you what – if I were an endangered animal Mr McComb (and the Dubbo Zoo for that matter!) would be the last person I would want to see running to my rescue!

I could rant about this all day, but instead, I'll ask you to join me in writing to Dubbo Zoo to tell them how appalled you are that they would sell any animal (endangered or otherwise) to a hunter.

[email protected]

And if you feel like you're on a roll after that letter, you might also like to write to the NSW Premier and Environment Ministers to ask them to reject the Shooters Party's bill.

NSW Premier Nathan Rees
[email protected]

Hon. Carmel Tebbutt, Minister for Climate Change and Environment
[email protected]

Phew! I'm glad I got that off my chest, it's been bugging me all day!

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