When Whales Get Sick, Activists Show Their True Colors

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Original source: https://petlife.media/when-whales-get-sick-activists-show-their-true-colors

Earlier last month, I wrote about how the Southern Resident orca population off the coast of Washington state had been placed on the international spotlight when an adult female known as Tahlequah, also known as J35, spent seventeen days carrying around her calf, who died shortly after birth. Around the same time, her cousin, J50, also known as Scarlet, began to battle malnutrition as a result of not being able to feed on Chinook salmon, the primary food source of this endangered orca population. After several attempts to feed her live fish and darting her with medications as a way to treat a possible infection, the US National Marine Fisheries Service has now suggested a plan that might be the only thing that could save her life-capturing Scarlet by locating her to a sea pen where she would be rehabilitated until she is healthy enough to rejoin her pod. Sounds like a simple idea to a complicated issue right? While it seems so ideal, there is one group of people who are in the way of this: the animal rights movement.

Activists claim that any kind of intervention that is aimed at saving Scarlet’s life would result in her having to be separated from her family and it would only serve as a reminder of orca captures that took place off the Washington coast during the 60s and 70s. Some activists even want nature to “take its course” on the four-year-old orca, but here is the thing though: Although the rescue attempt would have to require Scarlet to be separated, it would only be a temperate one since this rescue would involve the animal being rehabilitated for a period of time in hopes of being returned to her family. However, any chance that Scarlet would be taken into human care for rehabilitation under government orders would be very unlikely because of the undying hatred that these extremists have for any zoo or aquarium that houses marine mammals. In fact, these extremists and the groups that they are often associated with, have a very unrealistic and romantic view of what life is like for killer whales and other marine mammals out in their natural habitat. This view is not only dangerous to the welfare of the animal in question but also to the general public, who might cave into such views, which in the end can overshadow the fact that this orca population is threatened by loss of food source and the effects of pollution.

The specialists that the US National Marine Fisheries has employed to address Scarlet’s case are trying everything they can to find a solution that is aimed at saving her life. Yet, they are constantly being given “advice” by those who do not know anything about marine veterinary medicine or wildlife rehabilitation. Those who work for zoos and aquariums are also trying to help the government with the situation, but even they are not safe from the ongoing harassment that they are always getting from activists who use emotional tactics to criticize them for even being involved in saving Scarlet in the first place. It really seems like these activists don’t really understand that there are certain steps that are being taken to try and save this animal can be directly linked to having orcas in human care and learning how to better care for them over the years.

As someone who has interned at a marine wildlife rehabilitation facility that’s specialized in rescuing and rehabilitating dolphins and sea turtles, I can say that Scarlet’s condition is poor, but her situation is not going to get any better if activists are going to use social media as a method of attacking both government and zoological officials over what is best for the well-being of this endangered mammal. These ill-informed and scientifically illiterate comments are continuing to be thrown at anyone who is trying to help her in a very difficult circumstance.

It just sickens me that these people, the kind who claim to believe that all animals have the right to live without pain or suffering, would even think that Scarlet would be “better off dead” than be subjected to any kind of human intervention that has the potential to save her life. This is especially if this intervention would involve having Scarlet be temporarily held in human care for a period of time without losing her connection to her pod. Activists really need to take a moment, look at themselves in the mirror, and actually consider what they are saying could actually hurt this animal in the end. Their hostile attitudes will, in the end, do more harm to wildlife and do any good.

Support for Humane Certified™ Institutions following Travel Operator Decision

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Source: https://www.americanhumane.org/blog/support-for-humane-certified-institutions-following-travel-operator-decision-2/

American Humane, which has worked to protect animals for 141 years and is the largest certifier of animal welfare in the world, stands by Loro Parque and our other Humane Certified™ institutions as they were audited against the independent, gold star standard of animal welfare, backed by science, top animal experts, veterinarians and ethicists.

We can attest to the excellent welfare afforded to the animals at Loro Parque, including the orcas, which are healthy and very well-treated. Fewer than one-half of one percent of zoos, aquariums, and conservation centers in the world have achieved our rigorous certification, which thoroughly verifies the many dimensions of good welfare.

The decision by Thomas Cook is being driven by an animal activist philosophy that seeks to remove animals from our lives, and is not based on science, actual welfare considerations, the good care of the animals we encountered, or the invaluable need for humane conservation and public education that is critical to the survival of so many species with whom we share the Earth.

By taking this action, Thomas Cook has decided to take an unprecedented giant step away from their legacy of providing sound and unbiased guidance to travelers who seek good, safe, and ethical experiences, which will have the unfortunate effect of pushing more remarkable and endangered species closer to the edge of extinction.

Those seeking thrilling and ethical experiences with animals can rest assured they can find and enjoy them at Loro Parque.

EAZA Statement on Recent Thomas Cook Announcement

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Source: EAZA-Statement-on-Recent-Thomas-Cook-Announcement

The travel company, Thomas Cook, recently announced that as of summer 2019 they will no longer sell trips to facilities that care for orcas (Orcinus orca). The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) Accredited Member, Loro Parque, Spain is one such facility that this news affects. Loro Parque has been successfully caring for orcas for over 12 years and has a wealth of experience meeting their welfare and management requirements. Loro Parque passed the rigorous, holistic, EAZA Accreditation that covers Standards on Animal Accommodation and Care, Conservation, Education and Research and, in addition, they recently achieved a 100% rating in a focused animal welfare audit as part of requirements laid down by Thomas Cook. Conservation research programs involving orca at the park have also contributed to the development of prototype devices that use vocalizations to aid open sea orca protection and welfare.

The announcement by Thomas Cook cites animal welfare as a driver for their decision however, they do not appear to have considered the proven high animal welfare record that Loro Parque has. It is also difficult to understand the motives of Thomas Cook whereby they require a facility to undergo a welfare audit and then disregard the results. EAZA encourages Thomas Cook to reconsider their decision, specifically as it relates to EAZA Accredited facilities like Loro Parque who, in addition, have passed the Thomas Cook welfare audit requirements.

EAZA’s Accreditation process and Standards are publicly available as part of our commitment to transparency and professionalism.

To Visit or Not to Visit a Zoo or Aquarium? The Future of Wildlife Could Depend on Your Answer

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Source: https://behindthethrills.com/2018/08/to-visit-or-not-to-visit-a-zoo-or-aquarium-the-future-of-wildlife-could-depend-on-your-answer/

Last week, as a Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW) mother was photographed off the Washington state coast pushing her deceased newborn toward San Juan Island, a heartbreaking glimpse into the plight of this endangered killer whale population in the wild, a British travel company made a ham-fisted announcement that somehow in the name of “animal welfare” it will no longer sell tickets to zoological parks that display killer whales.

Widespread condemnation of the move was swift as other travel companies and the zoological community noted the irony of the company banning ticket sales to the two leading accredited and humane-certified parks that contribute so much to scientific research, education and conservation work to protect killer whales in the wild. The CEO of another travel company criticized the decision, calling it “misguided” and noting that “…there are bigger and better fights to be had that would have an impact on animal welfare….” He was right.

Meanwhile, as the SRKW population of only 75 has continued to dwindle (the dead calf was the first to be born in three years), scientists at SeaWorld were conducting research on their killer whales’ milk composition to understand the nutritional requirements for mothers and calves to determine if prey availability is sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of killer whales in the wild, information that is critically important because, as the Associated Press has noted, “…they’re not getting enough of the large, fatty Chinook salmon that make up their main diet.” In fact, scientists that study the SRKW population, like Ken Balcomb from the Center for Whale Research on San Juan Island, believe aggressive measures are needed to save the endangered population such as removing up to four dams on the lower Snake River to restore salmon runs.

The death of a newborn orca this past week is not an isolated incident for this endangered killer whale population. In the past month, a four-year-old juvenile that was part of the 2014-2016 SRKW “baby boom” was observed by field researchers to be severely emaciated. Of the 11 calves born during that hopeful time, less than half remain alive today, and scientists don’t expect this juvenile to survive. This only underscores the need to continue to fund research and implement meaningful conservation measures to help wild orcas, work that is undermined by the decision of this travel company to phase out ticket sales by next summer to parks doing work that could help save this population.

Scientific investigation of adult and calf nutritional requirements is just part of SeaWorld’s $10 million pledge to fund research and other conservation activities for killer whales, the largest private commitment of its kind. Other risks to cetaceans include toxins possibly transferred during pregnancy and lactation to offspring that may be causes for reduced pregnancy success and increased health issues in wild killer whales. Researchers were also studying pregnancy and lactation on SeaWorld’s killer whales to understand how the whales metabolize toxins—that is, until pressure from animal rights activists forced SeaWorld to stop breeding its killer whales, bringing an incomplete end to this important research.

The other park impacted by the British travel company’s decision, Spain’s Loro Parque, also contributes to orca research in the areas of bioacoustics, diet, and environmental contaminant effects in wild killer whales, including research on the potential effects of toxins on reproduction and validating a new method of sonar technology to remotely measure body dimensions of wild whales, to name just a few of the recent and ongoing research projects supported by patrons of this world-class facility through their admissions tickets.

In truth, zoos and aquariums are among the major funders of in situ and ex situ conservation projects and research that benefit a wide range of animals in the wild. Several critically endangered species have increased their populations through zoo and aquarium breeding programs, including the California condor, the black-footed ferret, the whooping crane, and the Arabian onyx. Zoos and aquariums also rescue and rehabilitate thousands of sick and injured animals in the wild each year, giving permanent homes to those that can’t be released back into the wild. The education and conservation messages of zoos, aquariums and marine parks reach millions of people each year. Their popular interactive programs help facilitate a powerful human-animal bond that inspires visitors to want to help conserve animals in the wild. And zoological training professionals develop and share science-based animal husbandry and best practices, work hard, and make real sacrifices with their personal lives to ensure the animals in their care have amazing, enriched lives and the best possible welfare.

These positive conservation outcomes are possible because of revenue generated through visits to these and other zoos, aquariums and marine parks each year. Yet a travel company pressured by activists apparently thinks it’s helping animals with its decision to stop selling tickets to zoological facilities that exhibit species to which it objects—even when those institutions passed with flying colors animal welfare inspections based on the animal rights-activist-inspired criteria the company itself embraced, and even though that same company has no zoological knowledge or expertise.

Both impacted zoological institutions are in fact accredited by long-standing, more experienced, knowledgeable and respected accrediting and certification bodies, including the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, the American Humane Association, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and others. They didn’t need the extra validation from the new travel certification recognized by this company, but they willingly subjected themselves to it in the spirit of good will because they are proud and confident of their animal care and welfare standards and have nothing to hide. Not surprisingly, the parks passed the required 100 percent on their inspections, only to be rewarded with the surprise announcement by the travel company that ticket sales to their parks would be dropped beginning next summer.

Vissers senseless trip to the EU Parliament’s Petitions Commission

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Source: https://www.facebook.com/729987117081529/photos/a.733823220031252.1073741827.729987117081529/1805670359513194/

Animal rights activist Ingrid Visser constantly doesn’t understand the CITES permit and the regulations of this institution especially the regulation 338/97 that transposes the CITES Convention to the European system. Her interpretation is completely wrong – she already failed on eight occasions in front of different administrative and judicial bodies in the Netherland, who all rejected the claim of her and her Foundation.

Now she aims to talk to the EU Parliament’s Petitions Commission and present it again. Of cause, she wants money to do that and a campaign was started to get money from those, who apparently don’t know that Free Morgan Foundation was never able to clarify how the breeding of a species in Annex A in a zoo can be harmful or negatively affect the conservation of the species. In any case, the existence of specimens under human care reduces and limits the future need for captures of specimens for scientific use, which is undoubtedly beneficial for the species. Therefore, the breeding of Morgan, or any other species of Annex A cannot contravene Article 338/97 or the CITES Convention.

The main argument, which is repeated over and over again, can be summarized in one sentence: The EU has not adequately transposed the regulation 338/97 in the forms of the regulations 865/2006 and 792/2010. Visser and her collaborators from the animal rights industry claim the preprinted forms do not reflect the strict prohibitions of Regulation 338/97. Actually, this is a misinterpretation and bases on (intentional?) misunderstanding by the Free Morgan Foundation. The activist act as if they wouldn’t know the fact, that the prohibitions of the regulation are very clear in article 8 (1) of the regulation, and it is also clear in the 8 (3) that if any of the exceptional circumstances occur, the prohibitions do not apply. The radical animal rights activists persist in interpreting the exceptions to the application of regulation 338/97 as conditions of use, which are also exclusive. When the Free Morgan Foundation has exposed this interpretation to the CITES Management Authorities they have replied that it is wrong.

So, Visser and all those, who collect money, seem to know that they are wrong, they heard it from CITES, many judges and experts again and again. They never gave this information to their followers and donators, at least as far as we know. That’s why there are still people donating to this untrustworthy foundation. Some could say, these people are betrayed, because Visser and the animal rights industry never told them the truth, but we want to let you make your own decision and would like it if you’d share it with us in the comments.

Does Free Morgan Foundation betray their followers?

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Original source: https://www.facebook.com/729987117081529/photos/a.733823220031252.1073741827.729987117081529/1805744742839089

„Fly Morgan the Orca to EU Parliament” is the headline of the campaign of Free Morgan Foundation (FMF). The untrustworthy organization explains: “Finally, after more than three years of the FMF raising awareness, the European Union Parliament will discuss issues involving Morgan.” This is not correct.

“Alerted only days ago, scientist Dr Ingrid N. Visser, and lawyer Matthew Spiegl, will have the chance to speak to the Parliament about the issues with Morgan’s permit and the violations that have been committed against her.” This is simply a lie.

The radical activists will not speak to the parliament. Both will have the chance to talk to the Petitions Commission of the European Parliament and if they are lucky 10-20 of the more than 750 MEPS will attend the meeting. This is a secondary commission formed by a small group of MEPs were any petition from any citizen of the EU can be heard, no matter how strange or weird the petition is they consider it and pass the question to the relevant body in the EU.

During the next days we will refute Free Morgan Foundation’s claims in detail in order to show you, that Ingrid Visser and her collaborators have not a single argument – they just stick to a misinterpretation of basic regulations of CITES and the EU. Eight courts and a lot of experts already explained, that they are wrong.

So, stay alert, if you are interested in the refutation in English, German and Spanish. We would like to know your opinion: Is Free Morgan Foundation betraying their followers, when they say, they would “speak to the Parliament”? Please, leave your opinion in the comment section below.

Better dead than fed, PETA says

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Source: Better dead than fed, PETA says

DON’T BE FOOLED by the slick propaganda of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The organization may claim to champion the welfare of animals, as the many photos of cute puppies and kittens on its Web site suggest. But last week, two PETA employees were charged with 31 felony counts of animal cruelty each, after authorities found them dumping the dead bodies of 18 animals they had just picked up from a North Carolina animal shelter into a Dumpster. According to the Associated Press, 13 more dead animals were found in a van registered to PETA.

The arrest followed a rash of unwelcome discoveries of dead animals dumped in the area. According to veterinarian Patrick Proctor, the PETA people told North Carolina shelters they would try to find the dogs and cats homes. He handed over two adoptable kittens and their mother, only to learn later that they had died, without a chance to find a home, in the PETA van. “This is ethical?” Proctor railed over the phone. “I don’t really think so.”

This is not the first report that PETA killed animals it claimed to protect. In 1991, PETA killed 18 rabbits and 14 roosters it had previously “rescued” from a research facility. “We just don’t have the money” to care for them, then PETA-Chairman Alex Pacheco told the Washington Times. The PETA animal shelter had run out of room.

The Center for Consumer Freedom, which represents the food industry, a frequent target of PETA campaigns, released data filed by PETA with the state of Virginia that shows PETA has killed more than 10,000 animals from 1998 to 2003. “In 2003, PETA euthanized over 85 percent of the animals it took in,” said a press release from the lobby, “finding adoptive homes for just 14 percent. By comparison, the Norfolk (Va.) SPCA found adoptive homes for 73 percent of its animals and Virginia Beach SPCA adopted out 66 percent.”

The Center’s David Martosko considered PETA’s hefty budget — reportedly, $20 million — and many contributions from well-heeled Hollywood celebrities, then figured, “PETA has enough money in the bank to care for every unwanted animal in Virginia (where it has its headquarters) and North Carolina.”

PETA prefers to spend donations, apparently, not caring for flesh-and- blood animals entrusted to it but on campaigns attacking medical researchers, meat-eaters or women wearing furs. It is as if PETA prefers the idea of animals to animals themselves.

Why does PETA kill animals that might otherwise find a home?

I repeatedly phoned PETA, but never reached an official who would answer my questions. PETA’s Web site spun the story under the banner, “PETA helping animals in North Carolina” with an emphasis on its efforts to “solve the animal overpopulation in North Carolina.” Here’s more: “PETA has provided euthanasia services to various counties in that state to prevent animals from being shot with a .22 behind a shed or gassed in windowless metal boxes — both practices that were carried out until PETA volunteered to provide painless death for the animals.” Make that painless deaths for animals that could have found love.

Besides, PETA always has been about killing animals. A 2003 New Yorker profile included PETA top dog Ingrid Newkirk’s story of how she became involved in animal rights after a shelter put down stray kittens she brought there. So she went to work for an animal shelter in the 1970s, where, she explained, “I would go to work early, before anyone got there, and I would just kill the animals myself. Because I couldn’t stand to let them go through (other workers abusing the animals.) I must have killed a thousand of them, sometimes dozens every day.”

That’s right. PETA assails other parties for killing animals for food or research. Then it kills animals — but for really important reasons, such as running out of room.

Martosko hopes animal lovers will learn that their donations will do more good at a local animal shelter than at PETA. “For years,” he added, “we thought that PETA just cared for animals more than they cared for humans. But now it seems they don’t care much for either.”

No lie about not caring for people. In 2003, Newkirk hectored late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat because a terrorist blew up a donkey in an attempt to blow up people. Newkirk also told the New Yorker the world would be a better place without people. She explained why she had herself sterilized: “I am opposed to having children. Having a purebred human baby is like having a purebred dog; it’s nothing but vanity, human vanity.”

Now you know. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals doesn’t really like people. PETA has no use for ethics. And PETA kills animals.

Where Rights May Be Wrong

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Original article: Island Connections – Loro Parque vs PETA

After several months of wrangling, a legal dispute between the animal rights organisation PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and Loro Parque has now come to an end. Here’s a look behind the scenes of this animal rights activist group. The sequence of events is as follows. In 2016 Loro Parque sued PETA over accusations made to the Guardia Civil SEPRONA division (Spanish nature protection service) over supposed maltreatment of its orcas. PETA not only reported Loro Parque to SEPRONA but also started an international press campaign against the park, even though the previous investigations by SEPRONA had confirmed that there were absolutely no indications of maltreatment and that the orcas were in the finest conditions. The sentence published on November 7 by the Puerto de La Cruz court confirms and accredits that, “The orca installations at Loro Parque fulfil the regulations in force and the general condition of the orcas is the correct one”. It also states that, “The activity developed at Loro Parque complies strictly with the applicable legal requirements and has the obligatory authorisations and licences” and confirms that it has been verified that, “The zoological park has qualified personnel to take care of and medically treat the orcas that live in its installations”. At no time does the judicial resolution question the wellbeing of the orcas at Loro Parque, on the contrary, it makes it very clear that the orcas are in good condition, and attended to by qualified professionals and experts. This implies clearly that the accusations of maltreatment or even torture were not true. However, the sentence balances between the right to honour and the freedom of speech. The court understands that these affirmations, although demonstrated as false, are protected by the right to freedom of speech.

There is no doubt that in a democratic society this right has to be protected but it is also necessary to protect the legal and legitimate economic activities which are the motor of our society. Therefore, Loro Parque will appeal against this sentence to the High Court in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in order to address the fact that the legitimate use of freedom of speech cannot be an excuse for organising defamation campaigns against organisations like Loro Parque, which has been fighting for and funding the conservation of nature and the wellbeing of animals for 45 years. The zoological director of Loro Parque,  Wolfgang Rades, commenting on PETA’s activities, said, “We are regularly audited and awarded by independent organisations. We work constantly with scientists from all over the world to confirm that our animals are doing well. In some of the radical protest organisations, people from completely different professions call themselves specialists who allegedly know better than qualified scientists.”

But who and what is PETA and what does the organisation that so vehemently attacks Loro Parque stand for? PETA is the abbreviation for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, founded in Norfolk (USA) in 1980 by the former activist and today’s PETA boss Ingrid Newkirk. The organisation now has more than two million members around the world and earns about $30 million a year. This money is exempted from taxes due to the non-profit status of the association. But how non-

profit is PETA really? This is a question that the organisation, which repeatedly draws attention to itself through media effective campaigns, has to put up with. First of all, it does not, as is so often mistakenly understood, stand for animal welfare, but for animal rights, and the organisation obviously interprets this concern very creatively. In general, the PETA representatives are against the exploitation of all animals. This also includes a ban on meat and dairy products, the wearing of leather, wool and fur as well as the rejection of leisure activities such as horse riding, hunting, fishing or beekeeping, and of course, the zoos and circuses are at the top of the list of the most criticised. In macabre flyers, the so-called responsible persons compare hen batteries with a concentration camp. Children are unsettled by sentences such as, “Your father kills animals”. In fact, a flyer addressed to children says, “Your daddy teaches you the wrong things when he tells you what is right and wrong – so you should explain to him that he kills fish while fishing and that it’s wrong to kill someone. Until your dad learns that killing others is no fun, keep cats and dogs away from him. He enjoys killing helpless animals so much that they could be next in line.”

Regarding the killing of animals PETA should keep its own doorstep clean. Animals that are freed by PETA, often with media impact, are seldom cared for until they are adopted. In 2016, the Washington Post reported that approximately 72 per cent of the rescued animals were put to sleep, not only because they were old, injured or too aggressive, but also because the effort to find a new home was described as a, “Waste of resources”. A former employee, who under the name of Mom2nomads, published her experiences on a blog, confirmed this. She says that not all new entries have been registered, or their weight has been reported as higher than it really is, so that more animals can be put to sleep without anyone knowing, some of them on the same day. Like the Chihuahua Maya belonging to nine-year-old Cynthia from Virginia. At the end of 2014, the animal vaccinated or sterilised and the owners could be encouraged to behave responsibly. But that was rejected outright. During this time, the organisation also decided to sterilise only the bitches of fighting dogs for cost reasons, knowing full well that there is a great danger that the male offspring could be used for dog fighting. All this has so exhausted me that I couldn’t bear it any more”. It is estimated that around 30,000 animals in PETA’s care have been killed over the last ten years. On flyers, PETA warns cat owners against letting their cats run free. The dangers posed by traffic and people are too great, in other words it’s a plea for keeping cats at home as the best way of life. Does this really do justice to the nature of the animal? And what is the difference between keeping a pet exclusively in one’s own four walls and keeping a tiger in a zoo enclosure suitable for the species? PETA’s line does not appear to be quite clear then put towards financing processes which cause more of a spectacle.

British photographer David Slater can also tell a tale or two. About six years ago, he observed and photographed macacos in Indonesia to publish a picture book. The animals got used to his presence. One day, a monkey he called Naruto took advantage of an unobserved moment to use the camera’s shutter release and took his own picture. At first, Slater thought it had been an absolute stroke of luck. But the photos went around the world because PETA accused the photographer of denying the monkey the right to his own image. So, the monkey has a right to determine his image and everything about it? Every reasonable thinking person asks himself, “What are they doing? But not PETA. The organisation has ruined the photographer with its legal cases. He couldn’t make it to San Francisco on the last day of the case because he couldn’t afford the aircraft ticket. The photos are so well known that he can’t earn any more money with them anyway. In his commentary about the grotesque monkey selfie, the author and moderator Micky Beisenherz asked on the German website www.stern.de, “What about the countless photos of dead animals whose corpses you show off without their consent for your campaigns, robbing them of their last dignity?” Would it not make more sense to put the money of animal-loving humans into genuine animal protection, instead of into numerous questionable campaigns, nonsensical legal processes and apparent animal shelters, which are more like killing stations, and above all into their own bank account? All donors are advised to check carefully who they provide their money to and whether this really makes sense. He who screams loudest is not always right, but the one who does the most, is.

Activists Want Zoos to be an Endangered Species

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Source: http://www.highlandnews.net/news/political/activists-want-zoos-to-be-an-endangered-species/article_56e37f48-8436-11e7-8ef9-cb2e92b23414.html

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences asserts that a sixth mass extinction is underway. Primarily pointing to the extinction of several species, as well as the deterioration of animal habitats, the paper warns that habitats and animal populations are decreasing at an alarming rate. The conservation of endangered and threatened species is a critical issue. Ironically, animal activist organizations who claim the moral high ground are seeking to destroy two of the primary tools for supporting animal conservation: zoos and aquariums.

These institutions support conservation while conducting research across the globe on species ranging from primates to insects and everything in-between. The aptly named Phoenix Zoo has spent 50 years bringing back the Arabian Oryx (think, desert deer) from the brink of extinction and has reintroduced the animal to its native habitat. The National Zoo in Washington, DC did the same with the golden lion tamarin. Countless other zoos have helped with these and the survival of other endangered species. Using the best science, zoos also have an international database of their animals to assist in breeding efforts and ensure the genetic diversity of future generations of animals.

Despite these benefits, PETA and similarly positioned animal groups are threatening lawsuits under the Endangered Species Act that would spell the end of zoos and aquariums in America. Their legal claim? Keeping animals in enclosures is a form of illegal “abuse” of endangered species. They call zoos “prisons.” Nonsense. Zoos are great for the animals that live in them. A recent study from the University of Zurich shows that more than 80% of mammalian species studied have longer lives in zoos than in the wild.

Groups like PETA love to point to elephants as a case study because they have shorter lives in captivity, but animals that are generally “long-lived” take much longer to study. New strategies implemented in the last 10 years won’t show up in data until after this generation of animals has died. So as scientists have learned more about elephants and improved their lives in zoos, the results of that labor haven’t been realized yet. It also ignores the fact that the public’s exposure to elephants in zoos and circuses likely help in efforts to end the ivory trade. The research done by veterinarians and zoologists help all animals in a given species, directly refuting claims by PETA that “while confining animals to zoos keeps them alive, it does nothing to protect wild populations and their habitats.” Probably the most famous example is the decades of research on Giant Pandas. Scientists around the world brought the beloved animal from the brink of extinction on the endangered species list to the much better “vulnerable species” list.

Not only will anti-zoo efforts harm the animals themselves, which are not fit to be in the wild, but they will also destroy valuable educational experiences and local communities. Children’s physical exposure to animals—not just from books or tablets—is a key learning experience. Moreover, zoos and aquariums added nearly $20 billion to the U.S. economy from nearly 170 million visitors in 2012.

It’s important to understand that ultimately groups like PETA (or its cousin, the Humane Society of the United States) don’t want to make better zoos. They want to phase out the use of animals—whether at a zoo, on a farm, or at a circus. Some activists go so far as to question the ethics of pet ownership. Serious issues are facing animals of all stripes and in all corners of the globe. If organizations like PETA and HSUS have their way, it will be more than zoos and aquariums that go extinct. Will Coggin is the research director for the Center for Consumer Freedom in Washington, D.C.

Zoos Are Not Prisons. They Improve the Lives of Animals.

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Source: http://time.com/4364671/zoos-improve-lives-of-animals/

The recent death of Harambe—the Western lowland gorilla shot dead at the Cincinnati Zoo after a three-year-old boy fell into his enclosure—has ignited a fierce debate about the role of modern zoos. Some critics have seized the tragedy as an opportunity to advance an uncompromising anti-captivity narrative in which all zoos and aquariums are inherently unethical and cruel.

To be sure, there are bad actors. The spawning of so-called “roadside zoos”—an exploitative enterprise known for its systematic negligence and abuse of animals—are some of the most egregious cases-in-point. But blunt and sweeping indictments of zoos and aquariums fail to account for how ethical institutions enrich and ultimately protect the lives of animals, both in human care and in the wild.

Responsible zoos and aquariums exist to facilitate and promote the conservation of animals. And the need for intensive conservation campaigns is now more urgent than ever before: Our world is currently in the midst of the “Sixth Extinction,” a term coined by Elizabeth Kolbert in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name. Unlike the five preceding die-offs, which were precipitated by natural events—such as those that killed off the dinosaurs, exterminating three-quarters of all species on the planet—the current mass extinction is a result of human activities encroaching on wild spaces.

Today’s zoos and aquariums are uniquely positioned to combat those evolving threats. Using robust and sophisticated breeding programs, these institutions fund and facilitate countless initiatives to propagate species and preserve genetic biodiversity, and then reintroduce critically endangered or extinct species into the wild. Consider the Arabian Oryx, a striking breed of antelope from the Arabian Peninsula. The species was hunted to extinction in the wild nearly four decades ago, when the last wild Arabian Oryx was shot and killed in 1972. The Phoenix Zoo helped lead the ensuing breeding and reintroduction programs, which ultimately birthed more than 200 calves from just nine individuals. Now between Oman and Jordan, there are about 1,000 Arabian Oryx living in the wild.

The Arabian Oryx—which has since been removed from the endangered species list—isn’t alone. Breeding programs at zoos and aquariums have since saved numerous other species from extinction, including the European bison, the red wolf, and the Oregon spotted frog.

Even when animals are never introduced into the wild, placing them under human care can still improve the lives of their wild counterparts: Modern zoos and aquariums serve as bases for observation and research, which then helps protect wild animals.

One compelling example is the study of animal infection and disease, currently the subject of numerous ongoing research projects at zoos worldwide. The Zoological Society of London, for instance, is developing innovative methods to assess the risks of animals contracting disease when they’re reintroduced into the wild. Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington is leading global research efforts on the detection and treatment of the sometimes-fatal elephant herpes virus, with the ultimate goal of developing an effective vaccine to be administered to the species in both zoo and wild populations. And the San Diego Zoo retains a staff of 20 experts dedicated to the study of treating wildlife diseases that threaten conservation.

Of course, the positive contributions of zoos and aquariums in conserving wild animals cannot—and should not—outweigh the health and well-being of the animals living under the care of these institutions. That’s why American Humane Association is launching a global initiative to elevate the welfare standards of zoos and aquariums worldwide. The Humane Conservation program will be the first third-party certification devoted solely to verifying that animals living in these institutions are healthy, positively social, active, safe, and living with proper light, sound, air, and heat levels. And these standards will be set not by zoos but instead an independent collection of world-renowned experts in the fields of animal science, behavior, and ethics—a sharp departure from most existing accreditation programs, which are vulnerable to accusations of conflicts of interest and leniency.

To some detractors, the humane certification of zoos and aquariums is an oxymoron. But vast empirical and academic research discredits this black-and-white view. Animals in zoos and aquariums today can live longer, healthier, and richer lives than their forbearers ever did in the wild. Go see for yourself.