That dog

Will always wonder if he was killing or helping that dog. It all happened too fast for me to realize if I was witnessing torture or mercy up close.


By the time you read this post

A lovely stray male cat
Mostachón says: “Good morning”.

I hope for Duffgirl and I to have been able to help Mostachón find a suitable home. This lovely male cat wandered near our house last night, and stole our hearts.

Update: He came to greet us Saturday, Sunday and this morning. Thankfully, he`s growing used to us feeding him and petting him. This should ease the process of gaining his trust (I think we`re there already) in order to have him neutered this weekend. An animal welfare organization has already offered to help us screen potential adopters, as well as help partially finance his operation. 🙂

Does your brand support animal cruelty?

Not to be in a Debbie Downer mode, but I’ve been meaning to start a series of posts related to corporate sponsors of rodeos and other so-called attractions that foster animal cruelty. Mad props to SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness). Here are a few corporations that have been publicly linked to rodeos:

  • Bank of America
  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United States Army
  • United States Air Force Thunderbirds
  • Wal-Mart
  • Toyota
  • Holiday Inn
  • Anheuser-Busch
  • McDonald’s
  • Coors
  • Jack Daniels
  • American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA)
  • Ariat International
  • Bayer

That is what I call commitment.

“Hello. My name is”

Could you ever forget that name? Formerly known as Dan Carron, PETA Foundation staffer is using that simple introduction to draw awareness to the circus’s routine animal abuse. Now that his driver’s license is officially changed, only has to say his name to educate everyone he meets about animals forced to perform silly circus tricks.

I admire this man’s dedication to raising awareness towards what goes behind the scenes, in this endless cycle of torture that people know as circuses.

Hello, my name is

Knut’s death: captivity, greed and double standards

Last year, as I was reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals, the author described Knut, the first polar bear to be born in the Berlin Zoo in thirty years. He had the opportunity to visit Knut, while in Germany, and had a first hand glimpse into the massive popularity of the animal: there were “Knut commemorative plates, Knut pajamas, Knut figurines, and probably, although I haven’t verified this, Knut panties… Another zoo animal, the panda Yan Yan, was actually killed by Knut’s popularity. Zookepers speculate that the thirty thousand people crowding into the zoo to see Knut overwhelmed Yan Yan –either overexcited her or depressed her to death (it wasn’t clear to me). And speaking of death, when an animal rights group raised the argument –only hypothetically, they later claimed– that it would be better to euthanize an animal than raise it in such conditions, schoolchildren took to the streets chanting “Knut must live.”

On that note, it’s easy to forget that zoos are a business and animals are their commodities. Knut’s premature death last sunday, allegedly due to brain problems, should remind us about so many issues surrounding animal rights and animal welfare. Foer used Knut’s celebrity to help readers understand about speciesim or “the species barrier”: “If you go to see Knut and get hungry, just a few feet from his enclosure is a stand selling “Wurst de Knut”, made from the flesh of factory-farmed pigs, which are at least as intelligent and deserving of our regard as Knut. This is the species barrier”.

A recent BBC News article explains:

“profit became a big part of Knut’s short life. In 2007 alone Berlin Zoo made an estimated five million euros through increased ticket and merchandising sales. Hundreds of fluffy white toys were sold every day across the city, newspapers offered Knut figurines for 148 Euros and in 2008 a movie, Knut and His Friends, opened in cinemas across Germany. Knut’s life was about celebrity rather than natural history, says Ian Redmond, a consultant to the Born Free Foundation’s polar bear project in Canada. “It does seem to highlight the dichotomy of people who love this one polar bear in particular and those who care about polar bears right across the species.”

From a vegan perspective, I’ve come to understand just how misleading zoos really are: they are “promoted as educational, research, and preservation centers where children and adults can become enlightened about exotic animals and endangered species. A more accurate perspective is that they are pitiful prisons where inmates serve life sentences with no chance of parole”. (Joanne Stepaniak, The Vegan Sourcebook, page 85). Furthermore, “although many large modern zoos attempt to simulate natural habitats, the result is more appealing to audiences than to the animals… Zoos do not enable animals to hunt, mate, socialize, and live as they were intended to; hence, they do little to educate people about their normal behavior.

I was both surprised and disturbed with the televised images of the Knut’s death. However, I can see the big picture now and realize that, despite his dramatic background (Foer noted the fact that “he was rejected by his mother, the twenty-year-old Tosca, a retired German circus bear, and his twin brother died four days later” and his keeper’s devotion to his care: “[Thomas] Dörflein bottle-fed Knut every two hours, strummed Elvis’s “Devil in Disguise” on his guitar at Knut’s bedtime, and was covered in cuts and bruises from all the roughhousing”), this poor animal’s life and death serves as an example of human’s misguided and clouded perception of what animal should be: part of a spectacle, a source of income and object of marketing, or a living, breathing, sentient being that deserved better than what he got during his short 4-year-old life .