Your Entertainment, Their Suffering
Since when did the murderer become the elite?

True human goodness can manifest itself, in all its purity and liberty, only in regard to those who have no power. The true moral test of humanity (the most radical, situated on a level so profound it escapes our notice) lies in its relation to those who are at its mercy: the animals. And it is in that that exists the fundamental failing of man, so fundamental that all others follow from it. (Translation from Kundera 1983)

Contrary to popular belief, ANIMALS DO NOT BELONG TO US! They are not property, they are not commodities, and they are not inanimate, stupid objects that do not think or feel.

Humans have victimised animals to such a degree that they aren’t even considered victims. We’ve actually turned animals into inanimate objects – sandwiches and shoes!

If we all understand that animals can use their eyes to see, ears to hear, noses to smell, mouths to eat, legs to walk, wings to fly, fins to swim, genitalia to procreate, bowels to defecate, it always amazes me that most people don’t believe that they can also use their brains to think, feel, be rational and be aware. Am I supposed to believe every body part on an animal works exactly how it’s supposed to… except the brain?

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Is slavery exclusive to the human race? Have sheep, pigs, cows and chickens not fallen victim to slavery?

Discrimination is everywhere, through racism, sexism, heterosexism and religious beliefs; however the most common and MOST ACCEPTED form of discrimination in this day and age is specism.

Specism – "The unethical, unprincipled point of view that the human species has every right to exploit,  enslave and murder another species, all because we believe that our species is so much more special, and much better than all others. We are the only ones that count and we are the only ones that matter. That line of thinking is the basis of all forms of discrimination." Gary Yourofsky, Animal Activist.

Being human is a biological property, and biological properties are generally not morally relevant ones. For example, the idea that being male; or being white gives you extra moral entitlements is not very popular these days.

It is never ok to be picking and choosing which forms of discrimination to be opposed to: which ones to call evil; and which ones to say are acceptable. Discrimination is either evil on its foundation or it’s not.

Animals will suffer and die from the very fact that we share this planet with them. We build homes through their habitat and pollute our common environment. Is there a reason why we have to maximise the suffering, cruelty and death that they already endure by eating them on top of it all? 98% of animals, who are abused and killed on this planet, are abused and killed by the meat, dairy and egg industries.

Whenever we sacrifice the vital interests of animals to promote our own non-vital counterparts, we are doing something morally wrong. We are treating a living creature without morals. The case against eating animals shows that the most vital interests of animals are routinely violated in the process of raising and killing them for food, and also shows that there are no similarly vital interests for humans that might be promoted by eating meat.

Quote from a pig farmer – “When it’s born, I’ll give it a battery of injections, clip its teeth (i.e. cut them down to gum level), notch its ears for identification, and cut its testicles and tail off (without anaesthetic – that would cost me money). Then I shall move it for ‘finishing’ to a large building, divided into pens. It will share this building with several thousand other pigs until it is slaughtered. To prevent the build-up of a mountain of excrement, a raised, slatted floor – somewhat like a cattle grid – has been installed. This is uncomfortable (the point of cattle grids is that animals don’t want to walk on them), and would eventually lead to deformity if the pig lives long enough. But, don’t worry, it won’t.”

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The most common response I hear to this is – “well that’s why I only eat free-range, family farmed animals.” I agree that the lives of these animals may be happier and healthier, and morally speaking, better. However, there is still a small issue - DEATH! Yes, all slaughter houses are different; some undoubtedly worse than others, but there is no such thing as a humane, free-range, family slaughterhouse, where animals happily walk to their own murder. To worry about the way of their death makes us overlook something far more important – they die! Remaining alive is a vital interest of animals, just as it is for humans. It is absurd to consider, (just because of the quality of an animal’s life), that by raising and killing them for food, that we are not sacrificing their most vital interests, and therefore doing something morally wrong.

Every second on American highways, there are no less that 5,000 overfilled trucks inside of which are living, terrified, innocent beings being driven to slaughter houses. When the trucks arrive, the animals are so frightened that they won’t even get off the trucks. They are not stupid, they know what’s next. So people go in with electric prods and force them to walk down the steps to their own death. Inside, these innocent living beings are hanged upside down, fully conscious. They go in alive against their will and come out chopped into pieces.

How would you feel if the day that you were born, somebody else had already planned your execution?

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This behaviour is inexcusable of a species that claims to understand right from wrong. These animals have not done one single thing to us to deserve the cruelty we cause to them.

Root cause of world hunger = meat eating societies.

65% of the world’s grains are set aside every year to feed 53 billion land animals that are killed every year on this planet, and 10s of billions of marine animals, instead of using those crops for 6.5 billion people. The grain-meat conversion ratio is roughly 16:1, that is, it takes up to 16kg of grain to produce 1kg of meat. In America, from birth until death, each meat-eater consumes around 3,000 land animals and thousands of other marine animals.

Air pollution, water pollution, deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions - the number one cause is animal agriculture.

A study by the Pew Commission demonstrated conclusively that, globally, farmed animals contribute more to climate change emissions than ALL forms of transport combined. According to a University of Chicago study, the difference between a vegetarian and a meat-based diet is equivalent, in climate emission terms, to that between owning a mid-sized sedan and a large sport utility vehicle.

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Most commonly I hear the argument – ‘but we were meant to eat meat’. It is likely that the eating of meat once played an important role in human development, providing us with sufficient protein for our brains to undergo the sort of enormous growth that culminated in anatomically modern humans. However, just because something was once useful does not mean that it will always be so. To say that eating meat was once a good thing does not mean that it continues to be. Given the ready availability of high-quality vegetable products that can be produced at a fraction of the environmental cost, eating meat is now a very bad thing, both morally and prudentially.

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There are four reasons for why humans eat meat – habit, tradition, convenience and taste. The latter being the most popular one I hear – “it tastes so good.”  Pleasures of the palate hardly correspond to vital interests. Some might say that eating meat can help our vital interests, for example - to get the protein we require. This would only be true if eating meat was our only source of protein. “Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for all individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes” American Dietetic Association 2009

“Vegetarian diets are often associated with a number of health advantages, including lower blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart-disease, lower blood pressure levels, and lower risk of hypertension and type-2 diabetes. Vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates.” American Dietetic Association

When you consider that heart disease and cancer together account for almost 50% of annual deaths in the US, it seems unquestionable: good health is not a reason for eating meat. In fact, the most commonly cited reason for a vegetarian conversion is health.

When you go vegan, you eliminate cholesterol entirely from your diet as you only get cholesterol from meat, cheese, milk and eggs. Your body produces cholesterol on its own and this is the only form of good cholesterol. You remove around 95% of saturated fat when you go vegan and all of the naturally occurring trans-fatty acids too. Between 2-9% of all meat and dairy naturally comprises trans-fatty acids. Obviously you can cut out all animal protein…

Animal protein is way too acidic for the human body; we don’t process it properly. It has been suggested as the main reason for why 1 in 3 meat eaters get cancer. And it’s one of the main causes of osteoporosis. When animal protein enters the human body, it makes our blood acidic instantaneously, but our blood can’t stay acidic for long or else we’ll die, so our bodies have to figure out a way to neutralise the acidity. There’s only one way to make this happen - with phosphate - and the one source of phosphate in the human body is in our bones. Our bones are made up of calcium phosphate, binded together, our body leaches calcium phosphate out of the bones, takes the phosphate to neutralise the acidity, and we urinate the calcium. That is why every single epidemical study shows that societies who consume the most amount of animal protein have the worst rates of osteoporosis, bone fractions and cancers, while societies that consume the least amount of animal protein, have little to no rates of osteoporosis, bone fractures or cancers.

So eating animals does not promote vital human interests, and it in fact does quite the opposite. Eating meat is actually incompatible with many vital human interests, making it morally wrong. Rather than promoting, it actually jeopardizes some of the most vital human interests imaginable – interests in having a healthy body and a healthy environment. Eating meat is both a moral and a prudential disaster. We will eventually outgrow eating meat, not because we suddenly become more moral, or more intelligent, but because we have to.

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How come vegan food tends to be considered as gross to a lot of people? Many people seem to find it absurd that a meal can only consist of vegetable and grains? But meat - blood, flesh, veins, muscles and tendons - the cut up corpse of a dismembered body, how does meat not qualify as being gross and disgusting.

Somebody else’s rib cage, severed legs, sliced up thighs and mutilated breasts sitting on your plate doesn’t make you think twice?

How is a beverage - a liquid that oozes out of the udders of cows, a secretion that drips from the mammary glands of another being, that’s loaded with pus, acceptable to most. (When you hook machines up to the udders of cows 3 times a day to suck them dry, those machines cause mass amounts of infections on the inside and outside of the udder. Add all the bovine growth hormones that they put in cows to make sure they produce huge quantities of milk which always leads to another infection; the machine doesn’t know what not to suck out: you are left with puss, mucus and infections right in with your milk. And yes milk is pasteurised, but pasteurisation is not a removal process, you are only sanitising puss. The scientific term – somatic cell count. USDA allows the dairy industry to have one eye dropper amount of puss in every glass of milk.)

In order for a female mammal to produce milk, she has to be pregnant. Every year, every cow in every dairy farm is raped, with a long steel device, or sometimes with a bare hand, to inject bull semen. And after birth, the babies are stolen… well the dairy industry can’t have the babies drinking up all that milk that was meant for them, when they would rather sell it to you instead. Every time you have a glass of cow’s milk, some calf is not!

Cows make milk for their babies and for their babies alone, they don’t make milk for baby elephants, baby orangatans, baby hedgehogs, baby humans, adolescent humans or adult humans. This body of ours has absolutely no need for cow milk like it has absolutely no need for giraffe milk. The only milk we ever need is our own mother’s breast milk when we are born. No mammal on this planet needs milk once it is done weaning!

“The assumption that animals are without rights, and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance, is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.” Arthur Schopenhauer, German Philosopher.

You have a choice. You could be radically cruel, ensuring that animals have no freedom, ensuring that they never experience one drop of human kindness, allowing their babies to be stolen from them, allowing their beaks to be sliced off, their horns cut off, their testicles ripped out, ensuing that there’s a knife in their throat every second of every day for the rest of eternity. Or you could choose to be radically kind, to never intentionally harm another animal for breakfast, lunch or dinner ever again. After all these creatures have never harmed you, violated or taken advantage of you in any way, shape or form. The least you could do is return the favour!

Still not convinced? Please watch this incredibly moving video on animal rights - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_K36Zu0pA4U

Adopt or Shop?

In the USA, there are 45 times more cats and dogs than humans born. And of these, if lucky, 1 of 10 dogs and 1 of 12 cats will ever find a home. EACH HOUR, 800 cats and dogs are being killed in US shelters due to overpopulation, typically 4-5 million destroyed per year. And in the UK, the RSPCA alone euthanized around 53,000 animals last year. So why is it that I keep hearing about people who want to buy new cats and dogs from breeders, pet shops and advertisements in the local paper? What is it about these pure breeds that make them so much more appealing than saving the life of an innocent cat or dog?

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Unknowingly, every time someone buys a puppy from a pet store, they are supporting puppy mills. Puppy mills – often referred to as puppy farms in the UK (yes we do have them too) – are large scale, profit driven, breeding operations. The dogs are often kept in wire cages where they have never seen the outdoors, never felt grass and have never been hugged in a way that shows them they are cared for. Often this lack of socialisation makes them more difficult to train as they have less desire to please new owners. Commonly cages in puppy mills are stacked on top of each other with nothing between allowing urine and faces to fall through to the animals below; this can cause acid burns and skin lesions, they are not treated for medical conditions. Often the dogs are debarked by ramming a rod down their throat to rupture the vocal chords. Less well known, these mills also exist for kittens. Mothers being forced to breed in every heat cycle with multiple males until they no longer can, at which point they risk being destroyed or dumped. Buying a new pet over adopting one encourages this type of animal abuse and adds to the overpopulation problem.

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Many consider that shelter dogs are all mixed breeds and therefore, in order to get that ‘perfect’ pure breed, they need to go elsewhere. In fact, around 40% of dogs – adopted from shelters or bought from breeders – will end up in a shelter. Whether or not a dog is a purebred, does not change those statistics. We live in a society now where we have come to except engineering the birth of our children… and pets, people are looking for perfect, and unfortunately for them that does not exist.

Keeping it in the family is never a happy ending! To create a purebred puppy, you need two dogs from the same gene pool. As the gene pool is limited, many breeders will use dogs from the same family gene pool = INBREEDING. Far too often pure bred dogs suffer from the effects of inbreeding as their gene pools are limited or closed, with the risk of genetic defects significantly rising with each successive pair. These defects include higher risk of cancers and tumors; eye, skin and heart disease; joint and bone disorders; immune system and neurological diseases; and epilepsy. The risk of these defects is much higher for a pure bred than it is for a mutt.

There are millions of excellent, friendly, playful cats and dogs in rescue centres, of all ages and breeds (pure and mixed). These animals are not ‘rejects’, but are animals who unfortunately fell into the wrong hands – the hands of people who did not want the responsibility, who did not research the pet they were getting, who did not treat their pet as an animal, but rather a human. And for this reason, they are at the risk of living out the remainder of their lives in an isolated cage with little or no interaction, if not already destroyed.

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People may be wary about behaviour issues of shelter cats or dogs. Luckily, shelter workers want what is best for the animal and do not want to see them mistreated, in an uncomfortable living environment, or to be returned back to the shelter, and will therefore be very honest about the behaviour of each of the animals.

There is nothing better than looking at your pet everyday knowing you have saved a life.

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The Future of the Orangutan is in YOUR PALM!

The global demand for palm oil is increasing at such an alarming rate that we are rapidly destroying the planet in which we live. But… could it be so simple that careful supermarket shopping could help to save not only the forests and wildlife, but the human race and the planet itself?

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Palm oil is an extremely popular vegetable oil used in over 50% of all products, most commonly found in hundreds of food items, as well as cosmetics, cleaning agents, and is even used in biodiesels. But as the demand for palm oil increases, what impact does this have on the tropical forests, the biodiversity found there and the global climate?

Did you know that every year… an area the size of 300 football fields is being cleared in the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia!?… No, you didn’t? Good, because it’s not true. In fact, an area the size of 300 football fields is being cleared every hour of the day!! That’s 6 fields a minute - all for the production of one vegetable oil - palm oil.

Over the past decade, global production of palm oil has doubled and is expected to double again by 2020. Although Oil Palms are originally from Western Africa, they can survive anywhere with sufficient heat and rainfall, therefore Southeast Asia is now the lead producer and exporter of palm oil. Indonesia particularly has been named as the country with the fastest rate of deforestation in the 2008 Guinness Book of Records; and largely due to deforestation the country is also the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

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The rapid increasing demand for palm oil has caused substantial expansion of plantations throughout the forests of Southeast Asia and Africa, this has in turn caused concern for environmental and social impacts. Palm plantations are progressing further into forest areas threatening the rich biodiversity in these ecosystems. Orangutans are particularly suffering from such damage, with palm oil being their main threat. In the palm oil industry Orangutans (one of our closest relatives, sharing 97% of their DNA with humans) are considered pests. During the process of deforestation, Orangutans are often run over by heavy machinery, beaten to death, set on fire or buried alive. Being extremely inquisitive animals, Orangutans often wander into palm oil plantations. This will usually result in the adults being killed and the babies being sold into the pet trade or entertainment industry. Being a key-stone species, Orangutans and the rainforest need each other in order to survive. In the rainforest, every 5 Organutans per square kilometer can help to sustain 5 species of Hornbill, 15 species of Lianas, 50 species of fruit tree and many more. But sadly scientists believe that they will be extinct in as little as 3- 12 years if habitat destruction does not stop, and most of their jungle habitat will be gone in around 20 years.

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Not only are animals losing their habitats, but the roads that are being constructed are exposing the forests to animal smugglers and poachers. These subjected species are now only found living in fragmented areas of the remaining forests.

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The production of palm oil is also causing devastating effects for our global climate. In order to make room for oil palms, plantation workers set fire to all remaining trees, shrubs and debris producing vast quantities of smoke pollution toxic to the Earth. This is believed to be the second biggest greenhouse gas contributor in the world.

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The Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is the World’s leading organisation promoting the production of sustainable palm oil. The association sets regulations for greener palm oil production and encourages the industry to expand in ways to not cause social conflict. Now 40% of the World’s palm oil producers are members of RSPO, including well-known brands such as Unilever, Cadburys, Nestle and Tesco. For a full list of members, see www.rspo.org.

The oil palm tree produces more edible oil per hectare than any other oil producing plant making it an important element for feeding our planet. this therefore makes it difficult to produce an alternative, and is a conceivable reason for why so many environmental activists support RSPO.

Greenpeace, on the other hand, are one of the more critical organisations on the topic of palm oil and believes that RSPO is creating an illusion for ‘sustainable’ palm oil and therefore justifying the industry’s expansion. They also state that although so many companies are RSPO members, deforestation is still occurring, and these members are not taking any steps to avoid the worst practices of the trade. “We’re not against palm oil or the palm oil industry. What we are against is any palm oil that comes from plantations converted from forest and peatland areas.”

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A very important thing to know is that palm oil is only a temporary product without a long-term sustainable solution. Oil palm plantations will only last for around 20-50 years before the soil is completely ripped of all vital nutrients and the trees can no longer produce fruit. By purchasing products containing unsustainable palm oil, you are aiding the destruction of rainforests, wiping out species, and creating a significant ecological disaster. Not only are we destroying the lives of orangutans and other animals, but we are destroying the human race, without rainforests we cannot survive.

Cat Claws and US Laws

Declawing is a procedure commonly used in North America to avoid cats from scratching their owners and furniture. This is legal in most US jurisdictions and it is estimated that around 25% of owned cats in the United States are declawed. Declawing is illegal in most ‘civilized’ countries around the world and is considered extremely inhumane. Although the procedure is legal in South Africa, Thailand and New Zealand, it is not common, and is only common in the United States and Canada.

Many believe that the process of declawing is a simple surgery to remove the cat’s nails; however a claw is not just a toenail and therefore the procedure is actually the amputation of the last bone on each toe. The equivalent on humans would be removing up to the first knuckle on each finger. It is a painful surgery with a painful recovery time during which the cat will still need to put pressure on the feet to walk, jump and scratch in the litter tray regardless of the pain felt.

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Declawing can bring a number of complications to the cat involved, including pain, tissue necrosis, infection, back pain and arthritis. Occasionally claws are not properly removed and therefore the nail can still grow back bringing infection with it.

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Research has shown that newly declawed cats will shift their body weight onto the large central pads on their feet as opposed to their sore toes. Over time this can cause stress on the leg joints and spine causing arthritic problems for multiple joints. Also the tendons that control the toes retract after surgery and remain contracted for the life of the cat, essentially ‘freezing’ the joint. These toe joints can become so arthritic that they cannot be moved.

Pet owners should not consider declawing as an option as this can also lead to a number of behavioural problems as well as physical problems for the pet. Cats scratch for a number of reasons: they do it to remove dead husks from their nails, to mark their territory and to stretch their muscles. Many owners have their cats declawed to avoid furniture damage, and some, especially those with immune-deficiencies or bleeding disorders, are scared of being scratched by their pets. However many people don’t realize that declawing cats can make them less likely to use a litter box and more likely to bite which can be more dangerous to these people than scratches.

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A cat’s claws are an important part of their design and to amputate them will drastically alter the structure of their feet. Declawing takes away the cat’s primary means of defence and therefore if they escape to the outdoors, they will likely lose to predators. Cats are born with claws for a reason and that is how it should stay.

Canned Hunting - Pure Evil or Genuine Conservation Efforts?

Canned hunting is the shooting of wild animals in a confined area where they have no chance to escape. This most commonly takes place in Africa and North America where you can pay a large sum of money to shoot your trophy and take it home with you.

Bullet Safaris is a large organisation that offers clients the opportunity to hunt almost any wild animal in Africa. After receiving an overwhelming amount of abuse on their Facebook page, it was surprising to read their response - "Due to the extraordinary interest of anti-hunters and other uninformed Facebook users on my site I have constructed the following response: Get a grip and attempt to defend a cause that you can at least understand. I hope that anti-hunting is not your only area of interest as you are uninformed and ignorant of what my company does and hunting as a whole. Hunters actually promote conservation and put hundreds of thousands of dollar towards it - as hunters - out of our pockets. How much money and time have you and the rest of the anti-everything people put towards a cause out of your own pocket? Please educate yourself and stop embarrassing yourself in the public realm, i.e. my page on Facebook.”

So… supposedly this is what conservation looks like?

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A new article was posted this week showing the true economics of trophy hunting. It shows that canned hunts are adding to the extinction of the lion before adding to conservation -

http://www.khou.com/community/blogs/animal-attraction/Animal-Attraction—-212457351.html

We all know about the Rhino poaching crisis that we are currently facing, however you may not be aware that rich hunters are legally murdering rhinos for fun. The hunters claim to be helping conservation with the money they pay to kill these rhinos, this is the information they are being fed by the hunting organisations. The rhino is already endangered and trophy hunting is just adding to the rhino’s extinction.

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Here is a report from a witness of a canned lion hunt - Bruce Hamilton:

'The lioness had three cubs. We took her out of the camp that morning into a hundred hectare enclosure, which was not legal. And she was still running up and down the fence. She wouldn't leave her cubs, even though bait was used to try and lure her away from the fences so that the hunter wouldn’t see the fences and be caught up in the illusion. Even though she wouldn’t leave the fences, he still shot her. He could see the cubs on the other side of the fence, but that didn’t bother [them]. Even when the lioness was skinned and the milk was pouring out of her teats, it didn’t bother the hunter or the professional hunter that she was still producing milk for those cubs, and now they didn’t have a mother.’

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Please can someone explain to me how this helps conservation?

The idea that we have the right to inflict suffering or death to another sentient being for human pleasure is the most arrogant and distasteful concepts in all of human thought.

‘’No Animals Were Harmed In The Making Of This Movie’’?

‘’No animals were harmed’’ is the well-known disclaimer used by the American Humane Association (AHA) to make audiences feel comfortable when watching animals in film and television. The statement implies that healthy animals have been supervised and treated ethically from start to finish of filming and live as natural lives as possible when off set in captivity.

The AHA started to supervise animals in film making after a horse was thrown off a cliff to its death during the filming of the 1939 movie Jesse James. Since then AHA has been the sole monitoring party for the humane treatment of animals in film and television. The organisation went on to create the Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media, and state than on set an Animal Safety Representative inspects to make sure that all instructions are upheld. The guidelines require the animal to have access to suitable food, water, shelter and veterinary care when on set. 

The AHA Film and Television Unit is funded by Screen Actors Guild, and is therefore not an independent authority.

Yes these animals may be supervised during filming, however what about off set, during training and once the cameras stop rolling? These animals are ripped away from their mothers from an incredibly early age to be as attached to humans as possible, and are then put through a rigorous training regime which most commonly involves fearful training and physical abuse in order to suppress natural instincts and encourage performing on cue. Most performing animals have minimal living conditions and spend most of their time alone. Consequently they are expected to suffer from numerous physiological and psychological problems. It is believed that the chimpanzee smile often seen on screen is essentially a fearful grimace.

Therefore the saying ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ is incredibly misleading to audiences. This statement does not literally mean that no animals were harmed, and the disclaimer has even been used when animals have been severely injured or even died during the filming of that particular movie, television show or commercial. 

During filming of the 2008 movie Speed Racer, an AHA representative witnessed a chimpanzee being hit by its trainer. No charges were pressed and it was recorded as ‘’an uncontrolled impulse’’. Five piranhas also died on set for an unknown reason.

And for the 2012 blockbuster The Hobbit which is known for it’s incredible use of computer-generated imagery, many animals were used and harmed during the making of the movie. In fact, due to horrendous housing conditions alone, 27 animals died – including horses, sheep, goats and chickens. http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/11/19/27-animals-died-during-making-of-the-hobbit-say-handlers/

The finale of Apocolypse Now (1979) shows a real water buffalo being slaughtered by machetes. The Disney film Snow Buddies (2008) unknowingly used underage and ill dogs during production resulting in five puppy deaths on set.

No Hollywood ending for Tai the elephant -

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Although AHA claim to have a representative onset to monitor animals being used, it is most often during the pre-production stages when these animals are mistreated. During the filming of the 2011 movie Water for Elephants, it is believed that the elephants involved were treated well while onset of the movie. However, footage has been found to show the training process that Tai, the elephant featured in the movie, was put through years before along with many other elephants. The footage shows the elephants, including a baby elephant, being beaten with bull hooks, receiving electric shocks, being dragged by the trunk, having their tusks sawn off with no anaesthetic, and elephants screaming out in pain. This is how these animals were treated so that they would learn and perform tricks that would one day get them a role in a movie. Even after filming the movie, Tai has gone back into the circus and is still being forced to perform on demand (shown in the video below).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqH7JGORBSg

Finally, the right message -

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) is a movie is based around the exploitation and abuse that captive apes suffer to the benefit of humans, and to fit in with this theme, Director Rupert Wyatt insisted no real apes to be used during filming of the movie. He explained that he could not think of a worse way to demoralize that message than by using real apes.

With the advanced technologies and abilities we have in 2013, there is no need for real animals to be used in such cruel ways. Rupert Wyatt is the perfect example of how we can make amazing entertainment without resulting to animal abuse.

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Animals in Hollywood!

Unlike humans, no wild animal has ever dreamed of being on the big screen!

Wild animals such as big cats, primates, bears and many others are still being exploited for the purpose of film, advertisement, sporting mascots, and novelty displays. Being a star on the big screen may seem glamorous to us, however there is nothing impressive about tearing an infant away from its mother, and subjecting it to abusive training and unnatural living conditions. Instead, the act of performing is traumatic, painful and confusing to such animals.

The entertainment industry wants as social an animal as possible; therefore the mothers and infants are typically torn apart from a devastatingly young age causing psychological damage for both individuals. Social animals, such as elephants, primates and wolves are often forced to live alone, causing extreme levels of stress. Roaming animals, such as big cats, elephants and bears should be giving the space to explore and exercise. Yet being confined to small spaces they cannot express their natural behaviours, resulting in intense distress - both psychological and physical. In order to perform on cue, these animals are often beaten to a stage of fearfulness and anxiety. In fact, the chimpanzee ‘grin’ regularly seen on screen is essentially a fearful grimace.

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When these wild animals are too large, too dangerous, too old, or simply their 15 minutes of fame is up, where do they go? Most likely they are dumped off at roadside zoos. Apes are usually only used till the age of 8 years, but can live to be 40-50 years old, therefore after a youth of traumatic training, a large period of their lives are spent in retirement in miserable, confined spaces.

‘’No animals were harmed’’ is often the understandably satisfying statement giving to viewers from the American Humane Association (AHA), yet this is incredibly misleading. AHA is funded by the Screen Actors Guild and is therefore not an independent authority. AHA does not supervise the living conditions of these animals as isolated infants, while off set or during pre-production training, and have also been known to overlook the mistreatment of particular animals on set. For example, during filming of 2008’s Speed Racer a trainer was seen to hit a chimpanzee in full view of the representative; it was recorded as ”an uncontrolled impulse” and the rep did not press charges. AHA state that ‘accidents’ and ‘abuse’ can happen. I will look into the AHA policies in more detail in my next blog.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also cited various trainers and production companies for breach of the Animal Welfare Act, which in fact are very minimal guidelines for the animal’s well-being.

In a time when we have the ability to use computer-generated imagery (CGI) and other highly advanced technologies, why should we still be using real animals in film and television?

Sporting Mascots and Novelty Displays

Universities around North America are still using live animals as mascots for sporting events. Human mascots have the ability to cheer, react with the crowd and boost the team spirit, while live animals have to be kept in confined, unseen spaces where they are terrified by the loud noises, flashing lights and screaming fans which can cause defensive and aggressive animals.

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Bars, restaurants and hotels also use live animals in order to attract customers. The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is one of many establishments that confines wild animals in minimal spaces for visitor’s entertainment and curiosity, including lions, tigers, leopards and dolphins. Many of these animals become depressed, miserable and sick unsurprisingly as they lead extremely deprived lives where there complex needs are incapable of being met.

imagePlease be cautious as you too could be aiding this abuse without even knowing it.

Entertainment or Abuse?

Elephants walking a tight rope, tigers jumping through hoops of fire, monkeys smoking a cigarette, parrots riding a bicycle. How in 2013, do we still find this amusing? Today, thousands of wild animals are still being used in circuses, zoo shows and film stunts around the world. They are being forced to perform incredibly unnatural behaviours purely for human entertainment.

Why do the most dangerous animals in the world put up with this? Simply, these animals do not know their own strength. They have been beaten into submission from an early age, both physically and psychologically, and do not believe they have the ability to refuse. According to some trainers, only 1 in 30 wild animals will perform continuously, therefore there are thousands being destroyed because they would not.

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Circus animals are constantly travelling between shows and therefore live their lives in confined transport cages with barely enough room to stand. Research has shown that these confined spaces along with extensive travelling can cause high stress levels and ultimately negative behavioural effects for the animals.

Due to the psychological damage that such unnatural performance training causes on these animals, many turn to self-mutilation, by chewing and biting at their own bodies, some may also go into depression, and others become incredibly stressed or aggressive.

No matter the species, the needs of wild animals cannot be met in travelling shows.

Conservation efforts? As well as the direct impacts that unnatural training and performing has on these animals, there are also negative effects that could indirectly threaten their species in the wild. The obvious example of this would be the tiger. The tiger is one of the most dangerous animals in the world; however these tricks and performances misrepresent the power and strength of such animals, and because a lot of circus tigers have been physically and emotionally beaten, you do not see the true danger of them. Man is shown to overpower the most dangerous animals in the world, and the performance also makes you believe in a special bond between man and beast, which is the worst message for the public to see. Due to this, human respect for exotic animals and the natural world will continue to decrease, and owning these animals as pets becomes more common. In my opinion, the only thing children learn from these circuses is that it is acceptable to exploit and mistreat animals for amusement.

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Last year, I was fortunate enough to experience ‘La Nouba’ by Cirque du Soleil. You will never find an animal in any one of their performances, yet the amazement you experience is beyond belief. The creativity throughout is an inspiration; the non-stop action is both exciting and hilarious, leaving you wanting more. When we have the ability to create something so unique and amazing with simply the gifts that we individually possess, why should we exploit the natural world in such an inhumane way?

The White Tiger Fraud

If nature is designed to prevent the survival of genetic mutations that are a danger to a specie’s survival – why do white tigers exist?

Natural selection would not allow the white tiger to survive in the wild. If a white tiger were to be born in the wild, the mother would either kill or abandon the cub as she knows it will not survive with its colouration and does not want to draw attention to her other cubs. So if they do not exist in the wild, why should we breed them in captivity?

White tigers are very popular among zoos, performing shows and exhibitions because they bring profit. The belief that the white tiger is a far rarer and more endangered species than the orange Bengal tiger has made it a significantly more popular cat to be seen.

In actual fact, the white tiger is simply an orange Bengal tiger with a severe genetic mutation. It is a condition called leucism whereby pigmentation is reduced due to a double recessive gene. Both parents must carry this particular gene for a white tiger to be born and is therefore a result of excessive inbreeding. This genetic anomaly is in fact so rare in nature that only 1 in 10,000 tigers are born white in the wild.

The same gene that produces the white colouration, also causes optic nerves to be wired to the wrong side of the brain, therefore making all white tigers to be cross eyed, whether it is noticeable or not. The inbreeding also leaves most white tigers with clubbed feet, cleft palates, spinal deformities, immune deficiencies and mental impairments which cause them to live miserable, short lives, if any life at all.

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The truth is that every single white tiger that you see in captivity in the US has been inbred from one single tiger in the 1950s. Back in the early 1950s, a white tiger cub was captured, raised and inbred by a man in India. He bred father to daughter, mother to son, to get more white tiger cubs since this is a recessive gene that both parents must carry. This inbreeding continued for generations and now every single white tiger that you see in captivity can be traced back to that one single white tiger in the 1950s with them all been inbred ever since.

Because white tigers suffer from an enormity of problems, the ones that show visible signs of these conditions are known as the ‘throw away tigers’, they are the ones that you never see because they don’t make it on TV or in performing shows. Usually the orange ones that are born in this process are killed at birth as they are not as big money makers. In order to be a ‘perfect white tiger’, they must show no signs of deformity; they must possess a pure white coat with perfect black stripes and striking blue eyes. This is almost impossible to produce considering the amount of inbreeding involved. With severe inbreeding, 1 in 4 tigers will turn out white, 80% of which will be still-born with the remaining 20% deformed. According to some trainers, only 1 in every 30 of these white tigers will perform continuously, therefore countless tigers are being destroyed just for that one ‘perfect’ show tiger.

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The myth of the rare white tiger was created to deceive the public into believing that they are an endangered species being bred for conservation purposes. This is all a fraud, if a white tiger were to be released into the wild, it would most likely starve to death. Instead they are being bred for entertainment purposes because they bring in more profit than orange ones. White tigers also rely more on their owners due to their impairments, causing them to be more popular among entertainers.

Do you support any organisations that breed white tigers? If so, you are simply supporting the exploitation of such animals, to be inbred, deformed and destroyed, not to mention the unnatural training and handling that the ‘perfect’ animals are put through, (but I will get to that in a future blog). They are the only ones that suffer.

Ever wanted to pet a Tiger or a Lion?

To be able to pet and have photos with one of the most dangerous animals in the world may be exhilarating, providing a feeling of magnitude; but the damages a simple photo session can do to a tiger, lion, cheetah, leopard or any other wild animal is of an enormity that we cannot even begin to imagine. Here is a behind the scenes look of what really happens:

Cubs are most commonly being bred to make money for petting and photo opportunities, YES they may be ridiculously cute and YES it may be a once in a lifetime opportunity, but those views are far too selfish once you know the lives these animals are truly living for your one moment of entertainment.

In the US, The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) set a guideline that cubs can only be handled by the public between the ages of 8 weeks to 12 weeks of age. Before 8 weeks of age, it is said that the cub’s immune system is too weak, and after 12 weeks, the cub may cause danger to humans, therefore only allowing a ‘4 week window’. The first resulting problem of this is that this causes intense breeding of such animals only for them to be used for 4 weeks of their lives. Then where do they go when they hit 12 weeks of age? If ever you have been told that they live a great life in a huge sanctuary- there is no such thing. In America alone, hundreds of tigers a year are being bred for this sole purpose of cub petting, there is no sanctuary that has the ability to then care for this amount of animals after they hit 12 weeks of age, especially since it cost around $10,000 to feed 1 tiger for 1 year. In particular States, the law allows these exotic cats to be handled up to the weight of 25lbs, which usually results in starvation to keep the cub smaller for longer. Cubs of this age want to explore, play and sleep without interruption; however on display and in petting zoos this will never be possible. Even sick cubs have been seen on display; continually woken up, handled, tossed around, and camera flashes in their faces.

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Learn more about ‘The Big Cat Handling Crisis’ - http://bigcatrescue.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/FactsheetBigCatsHandling_rev.1.pdf

Are these facilities breeding to help conservation and species numbers in the wild? NO! These inbred, human imprinted and psychologically damaged animals cannot be rehabilitated back into the wild. When these animals are too old or too large to handle they can go to a number of places; often the pet trade, performing shows; or canned hunts. Canned hunting is the shooting of exotic animals in a confined area. This is legal in a number of countries including some US States, where you can pay a large fee to shoot your trophy and take it home with you. The more tame the animal, the more likely it will simply walk towards the shooter, therefore these are the most favoured animals, and consequently this will be the outcome of a lot of ‘petting cubs’. If you have ever pet a cub, imagine where it might be now?

In order for these wild animals to be tame, they are taken away from their mothers at an extremely young age to be raised by humans; so never truly learn a lot of their natural behaviours, this will never make them tame though. What about the mothers? The mother will usually be kept in a cramped breeding facility and will live her life in a restricted cage where her only use is to reproduce, and watch each of her cubs being ripped away from her. This causes emotional pain for both the mother and the cub.

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How about having your photo with a fully grown exotic cat? A lot of these facilities that allow you to touch such wild animals, even though they have tried to ‘tame’ them for years, will declaw and defang the cat, they will chain them up and even have them sedated, so that you could pay to sit on the animal and have your picture taken. You will be told that this is completely safe, but this will never be true. By declawing and defanging a wild cat, they know that their biggest defense has been taken from them, therefore making them far more aggressive. It only takes one swipe of their immensely large paw to do some serious damage; they have power behind them that we could not compete with. And unfortunately this has happened far too often where humans have been injured by wild cats that have been kept in unnatural situations.

If an animal has to be chained up and modified in order to appear ‘safe’, there is no reason for us to be anywhere near them. They are made for the wild, and that is the only place we should find them.

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