Note To My Critics:

The links to the many sites that I've included contain information that I believe to be relevant, be it the graphics, the videos, the undercover investigations, etc. . Exposing & and ending the brutality and savagery inflicted on the non-human animals is what I am focused on. I strongly believe that every voice against animal abuse/exploitation is of value and -and- collectively we have the power to end it. I am here for the animals, not for anyone's approval and for that I make no apologies. ** I do not promote violence towards humans. ___________________________________________________ Bookmark and Share

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Animal testing at Vanderbilt University

Jon Christian, the editor-in-chief of Orbis, the progressive VU newspaper wrote about what he called the "veil of silence" over Vanderbilt's animal testing program.

According to Christian, university staff associated with animal testing "quickly terminated" their phone calls with him, refused to return his messages, and everyone says they are prohibited from talking with the press.

There is only one person at VU authorized to speak to the press, and he does so by press releases and official statements.

The only person who agreed to speak with Christian was a board member from the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and she did so only under condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Everyone assured Christian the conditions of animals in the VU laboratories were at the industry standard, even the anonymous IACUC board member.

But VU has been fined for Animal Welfare violations three years in a row.

People associated with the VU animal testing department cited the threat of activism by the Animal Rights community as a reason for keeping their information under lock and key. But does an institution that receives public funds have the luxury of opacity? The public has a right to knowledge of how its taxpayer dollars are being spent.

In the process of writing his story, an official who refused to identify himself ordered 
Christian out of a building in which he was taking photographs, even though he legally had the right to be there and take photographs. Researchers were warned about Christian and told not to speak to him.

So why does Vanderbilt not want the public to know what goes on in their laboratories? Are they worried that even if they really were conforming to industry standards for the treatment of their animals (their AW violations says otherwise) that the public would see that even the industry standard is still horrifying.

The truth is there is no way to test on animals that isn't cruel, horrifying and unnecessary. Laboratories have a vested interest in opacity, as it keeps the public unaware of the callous nature of their experiments. If the public were aware of how their public funds were being spent to torture animals, would they so willingly support Vanderbilt? It's doubtful.

Any industry that tortures and kills animals will benefit from hiding the details from us, but opacity is a luxury they don't deserve. And transparency is their responsibility to the public.

Something To Think About

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"No Dogs In Heaven"

An old man and his dog were walking down a hot, dusty road lined with a beautiful white fence on both sides. As they walked along, the old man and his dog became very thirsty and tired.
Soon, they came to a gate in the fence where, on the other side, they saw a nice grassy, wooded area surrounding a cool clear pool of fresh water. "Just where a thirsty 'huntin' dog and a man would like to rest!" thought the old man. But there was a sign over the gate that read "No Dogs" so they walked on.

Further on, they came upon a man in flowing white robes standing just inside a strong iron gate across a path that led to a beautiful, sunny meadow with a cool clear stream running through it.

"'Scuse me Sir," said the old man, "My dog and I have been on this road all day. Mind if we come in and sit in the shade for awhile?" "Of course!" The man said. "Come on in and rest. You look thirsty and tired." The old man said, "We sure are!" and started through the gate with his dog.

The gatekeeper stopped him. "Sorry, you can come in but your dog can't come with you. "You see, this is Heaven, and dogs aren't allowed here. He has to stay out here on the road." "What kind of Heaven won't allow dogs?" said the old man. "Well, if he can't come in, then I'll stay out here on the road with him. He's been my faithful companion all his life and I won't desert him now."

"Suit yourself," said the gatekeeper, "but I have to warn you, the Devil's on this road and he'll try to sweet talk you into his place. He'll promise you anything, but dogs can't go there either. If you won't leave that dog on the road, you'll spend all Eternity on the road with him. Better if you stay here."

"Well, I'm stayin' with my dog," replied the man and he and the dog walked on. Gradually, the fence became more and more faded and rundown until they finally reached a spot where the boards fell away completely leaving a gap. Another man dressed in old, ragged clothes sat just inside the broken fence under a shady tree.

"'Scuse me Sir," said the old man, "My dog and I have been on this road all day. Mind if we come in and sit in the shade for awhile?" "Of course!" The man said. "Come on in and rest. There's some cold water here under the tree. Make yourself comfortable."

The old man paused, "but what about my dog? Can he can come in, too? The man up the road said dogs weren't allowed here, and they had to stay on the road." The other man answered, "Well, you look pretty tired and thirsty. Would you come in here and rest if you had to leave that dog?"

"No sir!" the old man replied, "A glass of cold water and some shade would be mighty fine right about now but I won't come in if my buddy here can't come too. I didn't go to Heaven because my dog couldn't come with me, so I sure as how ain't about to go to Hell without him neither."

The man smiled and said, "Welcome to Heaven, and bring your dog!" The old man exclaimed, "You mean this is Heaven? And my dog can come with me? Then why did that fellow down the road say they weren't allowed in Heaven?" The man replied, "That was the Devil and he gets all the souls who are willing to give up a life-long companion for small comfort because they think it will make their lives a little easier."

The man continued, "They soon find out their mistake, but, then it's too late. The dogs come here, the fickle people stay there. God wouldn't allow dogs to be banned from Heaven. After all, He created them to be man's companions in life, why would he separate them in death?"

- Story is based on an episode of The Twilight Zone by Rod Serling

Monday, September 20, 2010

FBI Spied on PETA, Greenpeace, Anti-War Activists

FBI Spied on PETA, Greenpeace, Anti-War Activists

'Little or No Basis' for Terror Probes of Animal Rights, Peace Groups, Says Inspector General


WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2010
The FBI improperly targeted Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and two antiwar groups in domestic terrorism investigations between 2001 and 2006, the Inspector General of the Department of Justice said in a report released today.
The IG found there was "little or no basis" for the terror investigations, and that they were "unreasonable and inconsistent with FBI policy."
At least two of the investigations resulted in innocent people being placed on the domestic terror watch list for years, and one resulted in FBI Director Robert Mueller providing Congress with "inaccurate and misleading information," according to the report.
PETA slammed the FBI for using "McCarthyite tactics."
"PETA's effective activism scare well-heeled business interests that abuse animals," spokeswoman Jane Dollinger said "but when these outfits used their connections to violate the U.S. Constitution, the FBI's ham-handed attempt to catch us with our pants down backfired. As a result, the FBI was caught with its pants down."
The FBI launched five domestic terror investigations between 2001 and 2006 that were "unreasonable and inconsistent with FBI policy," the inspector general found.
The inspector general, Glenn Fine, is charged with conducting investigations of Justice Department employees and programs.
In addition to Greenpeace and PETA, the FBI targeted the Thomas Merton Center, a Pittsburgh anti-war organization, the Catholic Worker, another anti-war group, and an individual Quaker peace activist, according to the report.
The investigation of PETA began in the FBI's Norfolk, Va., office in the spring of 2001, when one of the group's members was suspected of "providing financial support to members of the Animal Liberation Front and other animal rights extremists to conduct direct actions," such as destroying property or research operations involving animals.
That preliminary investigation mushroomed into a wide-ranging probe of PETA and a number of its affiliate organizations that continued for six years. No criminal activity was ever documented and, the inspector general concluded, the investigation extended beyond the point at which it was justified.
Meanwhile, two individuals under investigation in the case remained on the terrorist travel watch list until 2006.
The investigation of the Merton Center began with a "make work" assignment for a FBI agent on a "slow day," the report said. The agent was dispatched to a November 2002 anti-war rally organized by the Merton Center to look for international terrorism subjects. The agent took a photo of a woman who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent, the report said, just to have something "to show his supervisor."
Four years later, FBI director Mueller, acting on information provided by his agents, testified to Congress that the surveillance was an "outgrowth of an FBI investigation."
The inspector general found that not to be the case. Indeed, the FBI had "no basis" for the surveillance and it later created two erroneous explanations to justify it, and the subsequent investigation, the report noted.
"It's kind of mind-blowing and perplexing to me that the FBI would target a peace and justice center that focuses on non-violence, in the name of terrorism," said Michael Drohan, president of the board of directors of the Thomas Merton Center. "We hope that this story will strengthen the peace movement."

First Amendment Views Not an Issue

In the case of Greenpeace, the inspector general concluded that the FBI "articulated little or no basis for suspecting a violation of any federal criminal statute."
The investigation was started when the FBI suspected Greenpeace activists might try to disrupt corporate shareholder meetings of two Alaskan energy producers. The protests never happened, yet the FBI kept its investigation open for three years, "beyond the point at which its underlying justification no longer existed," the report concluded.
Mark Floegel, an investigator with Greenpeace, said Greenpeace was "disappointed but not surprised," and that grouping Greenpeace with terrorists was "paranoid and wrongheaded."
"It's nice to know these errors, we hope, are being corrected," Floegel said.
The Catholic Worker was investigated under the "Acts of Terrorism" classification after some of its members trespassed on a military facility and staged a peaceful protest. The inspector general found the classification "inappropriate" and reiterated that the FBI is not authorized to target civil disobedience.
In response to the review, FBI Deputy Director Tim Murphy wrote in a letter to the inspector general, "We are pleased the report concludes the FBI did not target any groups for investigation on the basis of their First Amendment activities.
"As noted in your report '[t]he FBI's investigations of these individuals were generally predicated on concerns about potential criminal acts by these individuals, not their First Amendment views.'
"Additionally," Murphy wrote in a Sept. 14 letter to inspector general Fine, "as described in the report, inaccurate information was provided to the FBI director and Congress regarding the basis for an agents presence at an anti-war rally that was sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center in November 2002. The FBI regrets that incorrect information was provided in this matter."
The inspector general recommended that the FBI determine whether any administrative action was warranted in regard to inaccurate information about the Merton Center surveillance being given to Congress and the public. The report also explored the possibility of revising the FBI?s domestic investigative guidelines that involve collecting information at public events.
The inspector general also recommended that the FBI Inspection Division conduct a review of the Pittsburgh field office case files.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Milk Comes From Grieving Mothers

by Javier Moreno on Friday, September 17, 2010 at 10:24pm

Every Year, 9 Million Mothers Are Forced to Endure The Worst Loss.

All females used for milk production are torn from their babies shortly after birth. Some try to fight off the attackers, some try to shield their babies with their own bodies, some chase frantically after the transport, some cry pitifully, some withdraw in silent despair. Some go trustingly with their keepers only to return to an empty stall.

They all beg for their babies in language that requires no translation: They bellow, they cry, they moan. Many continue to call for their babies for days and nights on end. Some stop eating and drinking. They search feverishly. Many refuse to give up and will return to the empty spot again and again. Some withdraw in silent grief. They all remember to their last breath the face, the scent, the voice, the gait of every baby they carried for nine months, soundered to, birthed with difficulty, bathed, loved, and never got to know, nurture, protect, and watch live. Their baby girls will be raised to replace their own “spent” mothers, their baby boys will be killed for veal.

After repeated cycles of forced impregnations, painful births, relentless milkings, and crushing bereavements, their spirit gives, their bodies wither, their milk dries up. At the age when, in nature, a female cow would barely enter adulthood, the life of a dairy cow is over. When her milk “production” declines, she and her other “spent” herd mates are trucked off to slaughter. Some are pregnant. All are still lactating. As they are shoved towards their death, they drip milk onto the killing floor.

All Dairy operations, whether conventional or organic, exist solely by doing to millions of defenseless females the worst thing anyone can do to a mother. Dairy consumers support and perpetuate this intentional cruelty with their purchases.

You can stop it. Go vegan now.

This message is brought to you by Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Police fatally shoot dog at Adams Morgan festival.
By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 13, 2010

A D.C. police officer shot and killed a festival-goer's dog amid hundreds of onlookers in Adams Morgan on Sunday afternoon in an incident that was either completely justified or totally unnecessary, depending on whom you ask.

This much, witnesses say, is clear: Sometime after noon on Sunday, two dogs started snapping at each other in the middle of a crowd enjoying cheese fries and funnel cake at the annual Adams Morgan Day festival on 18th Street NW. D.C. police officers soon got involved, and at some point, one of them shot and killed the larger dog, described as either a pit bull or Shar-Pei mix.

The disagreement is in the details.

Aaron Block, 25, of Dupont Circle said he was walking his 2-year-old Shar-Pei mix, Parrot, up 18th Street when the dog suddenly turned around and bit a poodle that was passing by. He said he separated the two dogs -- cutting his hand inside Parrot's mouth in the process -- and was subduing his dog when police arrived.

That's when a D.C. police officer took over, putting his knee in the middle of Parrot's back while he pulled the dog's forelegs behind him, Block said. He said that the officer then grabbed Parrot by his neck and threw him over a banister at the Brass Knob antique store and that just as the dog righted itself, the officer pulled out his gun and fired. Parrot was "a full 12 to 15 steps away," Block said, and was "making no aggressive overtures." The dog, he noted, "doesn't handle stairs well."

"The officer drew his gun in an unnecessary act of cowboy gunslinging law enforcement and shot my dog amidst a crowd of thousands," said Block, who was fostering Parrot while he was waiting to be adopted through the Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. "The problems here are almost too numerous to count."

Block's account is supported by at least one witness, Jennifer Naideth, 29, who was in town from Los Angeles selling cosmetics at the festival. She called the shooting "so unnecessary and so violent," adding that "there was no human life in danger."

Police and others had a different perspective.

Jacob Kishter, commander of the 3rd Police District, said that once the officer pushed the dog down the stairwell, "the dog immediately turns and runs at the officer aggressively." The officer, 25-year-veteran Scott Fike, fired one shot, fatally wounding the dog, which police described as a pit bull.

"It's definitely going to be justified based on everything that we know," Kishter said, adding that police interviewed the officer, the owners of both dogs and other officers on scene.

The police account also has witness support.

Tony De Pass, 67, a former D.C. police officer who lives in Northwest, said that the dog was charging directly at him when Fike drew his gun and fired and that "if the officer hadn't shot the dog, the dog would have got one of us, either me or the officer."

"What he did, I would have done the same damn thing," De Pass said.

Block, though, said he sees the police's response as an attempt to cover up what he considers the "executing" of his pet. He said that he would walk with Parrot to and from work every day and that he was a "very people-friendly dog, with absolutely no bite history."

The incident unfolded before hundreds of revelers at the heart of the Adams Morgan celebration, disrupting an otherwise peaceful afternoon. Eric Jost, 26, of Cleveland Park said he watched a young girl with a butterfly painted on her face become "hysterical" as she "witnessed it all."

Soleiman Askarinam, the owner of Spaghetti Garden on 18th Street, said the day's revelry was suddenly punctuated with screams and angry dogs barking, then a gunshot.

"For a second," he said, "it was very scary."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dolly, A Pit Bull's Story

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Animal Liberation Song (video)

One Species - Animal Liberation Song from The Voiceless on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dalai Lama to chicken farmers: Let your hens roam and your eggs be salmonella-free

Dalai Lama to chicken farmers: Let your hens roam and your eggs be salmonella-free | Money & Company | Los Angeles Times
NOTE:  Of course I wish that no being suffer a life of exploitation but at least this would be a start.

Getprev When it comes to folks getting their feathers ruffled amid the largest egg recall in U.S. history, which people jump to mind?

Federal investigators? Of course. Lawmakers? Food safety experts? Sure.

The Dalai Lama?

It’s true. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate issued a statement late last week that (ever so nicely) lambastes egg farmers in commercial agriculture and advocates that consumers switch to cage-free eggs.

“The abuse we inflict on hens has always been particularly disturbing to me, and I have always been particularly concerned toward how these animals are treated in industrial food production,” the Dalai Lama wrote. “I was troubled to learn from my friends at the Humane Society of the United States about the practice of confining egg laying hens in tiny cages.” (To read the whole statement, click here.)

Given all of the serious problems the world is facing these days, the Dalai Lama opining on the benefits of cage-free eggs may seem like kind of a surprise.

Not to the HSUS. Turns out that the group has a “faith outreach” staff, whose job is to touch base with religious leaders in the U.S. and internationally, to talk about “animal protection issues,” according to the group’s website.

And timing is everything. When the Dalai Lama came out with an egg-related statement, HSUS was quick to tout how it relates to its support of cage-free farming practices -- and how, the group alleges, cage-free eggs are safer eggs for consumers to eat.

The group was instrumental in getting California's Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act passed and signed into law. The measure, which passed by more than 63% of the vote, banned small, confining crates or cages or veal calves, egg-laying hens and pregnant sows. Farmers have until January 2015 to phase out their existing structures and build new facilities. The bill's success created a ripple effect, putting pressure on other states to pass similar reforms.

HSUS isn’t the only group to be leveraging the egg recall to try to rally support for its cause: Food & Water Watch, a national consumer advocacy group, launched a membership drive with e-mail pleas that opened with “It's Time to Stop the Corporate Bad Eggs From Controlling Our Food.”

--P.J. Huffstutter

Don't Be Deceived by HumaneWatch

Digging Through the Dirt: Don't Be Deceived by HumaneWatch

Don't Be Deceived by HumaneWatch

It's sad to see that some animal-rights activists have bought in to HumaneWatch's deception.

It's also easy to see how they've been duped.

HumaneWatch is a bogus Web site created by Rick Berman and David Martosko of the deceptively named Center for Consumer Freedom. It even has a Facebook page and runs ads on Facebook that hide the CCF's anti-animal/pro-corporate stance.

What animal lover could find fault with a photograph of a cute puppy (right) followed by this copy?
Love animals? You'll love HumaneWatch too. You'll help us keep national "humane society" groups HONEST.
But if animal lovers knew who funds HumaneWatch and the CCF, they'd never agree to join such a group.

The CCF is funded in part by animal agribusiness, and Martosko relishes calling animal activists "wackos" and "nuts."

As I've noted before, the goal of the CCF is to discredit The Humane Society of the United States, to make it less powerful. The CCF doesn't care about dogs and cats in local humane shelters. That's just a ploy. What the CCF does care about is preventing The HSUS from passing ballot initiatives that will hurt the CCF's animal-agribusiness clients.

Sure, it's good to have oversight of organizations, whether they be billion-dollar corporations (like BP) or charitable groups. However, the CCF is obviously the wrong entity to be doing the so-called monitoring.

For more information about what HumaneWatch really is, check out this video created by an HSUS supporter, without input from The HSUS.

Don't be taken in by the cuddly puppy in their ad or by the animal-friendly sound of "HumaneWatch." The people behind it are heartless, greedy businessmen whose lack of a conscience allows them to go to great lengths in their deception.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Circus Elephants

The circus elephant in the room « Thomas Paine's Corner
Posted by thomaspainescorner on August 22, 2010


Animal rights blogger Gary Smith describes the ‘training’ of circus animals.


Recently several different animal protection organizations combined their grassroots organizational skills to hold what was called the largest circus protest in history. Hundreds arrived – by carpool, bus and subway – in Los Angeles for the opening night of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus at Staples Center.

Protesters spoke with prospective circus-goers, many of whom then opted to leave without buying a ticket. Entire families returned their tickets to the box office after paying for them – all because the painted fa├žade of a circus hides an ugly reality, particularly for elephants.

The majority of circus elephants were captured in the wild as babies. Like human mothers, female elephants won’t willingly give up their children. It is widely reported that in 2000, poachers killed 60 free-roaming female elephants so their babies could be taken and sold to the entertainment industry.

Family bonds are intensely strong in elephant families. Eyewitnesses have seen still-nursing baby elephants refuse to abandon their dead mothers, even attempting to suckle from their corpses. When born in captivity, babies are removed from their mothers so they can be more easily adapted to following a human trainer (rather accurately depicted in the Disney cartoon “Dumbo”).

Pat Derby is founder and president of Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), a nonprofit organization that specializes in the care of exotic animals formerly used for entertainment such as elephants, big cats and primates. Derby says elephants in particular are highly social animals with emotional and physiological needs that cannot be met in a circus.

“Elephants need space, freedom of choice, a complex social environment and an enriched, diverse habitat to survive in captivity,” said Derby. “The constant confinement on chains, in small spaces, in trucks, trains and other vehicles is very damaging psychologically and physically. Their inability to make simple choices about eating, drinking, dusting, mudding – all essential functions for a healthy elephant – while traveling and performing creates constant stress and abnormal behavior. The lack of complex social activity and habitat combined with other factors leaves the circus elephant with nothing to enrich their lives.”

Ringling’s history of animal care leaves much to be desired. PETA reports that since 1992 at least 26 elephants have died in Ringling’s care — among them four babies. Riccardo was euthanized at 8 months old after falling from a pedestal and fracturing both back legs. Ringling’s negligence in providing veterinary care cost the company a $20,000 settlement when 2-year-old Kenny was found dead in his stall with a bleeding rectum after being forced to perform twice in one day. A 4-year-old named Benjamin drowned in a pond as he tried to escape his trainer in an incident caught on tape.

Big cats, primates, bears and camels are also victims of negligence and mistreatment.

Authorities have criticized or cited Ringling for a long list of violations of the Animal Welfare Act such as causing harm and stress to animals, unsafe handling, poorly maintained enclosures, too-small enclosures, failure to provide veterinary care to ill and injured animals, failure to maintain accurate veterinary records, insufficient exercise, and unsanitary feeding practices.

It’s usually the training methods, however, that make the public recoil in horror. Elephants and other exotic animals don’t innately do tricks like riding bicycles, standing on their heads, balancing on balls, or jumping through rings of fire for human audiences. Whips, restraints, muzzles, electrical prods, pitchforks, blowtorches and other frightening tools must be used to train animals to perform awkward, unnatural acts. Unlike training a dog at home, circus animals aren’t given “positive reinforcement” such as tasty treats. They receive negative reinforcement in the form of fear, dominance and physical abuse.

“Training for performance usually begins at an early age,” said Derby. “The constant abusive, negative training and deprived physical environment reduces the circus elephant to a catatonic zombie with little resemblance to the majestic, intelligent elephants in the wild. They are performing robots with no similarity to wild species, and there is no educational benefit to keeping these animals in such horrible confinement.”

Ringling employees have reported, and undercover video confirmed, that elephants are regularly abused and beaten with bullhooks – a tool much like a fireplace poker – in order to control their movement and force them to perform. An elephant’s skin is fairly thick, but sensitive, and trainers know the critical areas (such as behind the ears) where using the bullhook will be most effective and cause the most pain. Injuries, including cuts, puncture wounds, swelling and abscesses frequently result from this “training.”

Backstage, veterinary technicians and other employees are on hand to do “spot work,” in which they patch up these injuries before showtime. One typical remedy is a gray powder called “wonder dust” that is rubbed into the bloody wounds to conceal injuries from the audience.

Seeing elephants bleeding would no doubt frighten the children and horrify the adults.
Members of the Polito family of Moorpark, Calif., attended the protest in Los Angeles.

“The circus is so child-oriented, my kids felt compelled to be here,” said Colleen Polito, who attended with her son, her daughter and her daughter’s friend. “They want other people their age to know the truth about what these animals suffer in the name of entertainment. The way circus animals are treated is appalling. Elephants are one of the most intelligent and gentle species on the planet. Unfortunately, those traits make them easy prey for greedy humans. The suffering and pain they are put through is incomprehensible to me.”

“Circus animals don’t have the ability to just say, ‘I’m out of this,’ but I do,” said Colleen’s 13-year-old daughter Clara, who is a vegan with her own baking company. “This issue is important to me because many circus-goers are ignorant to the fact that they’re paying a company to keep doing what they do: abuse animals, and make them do unnatural things. My goal is to end the use of animals in circuses.”

Linda Hogan, former wife of wrestler Hulk Hogan, made an especially powerful spokesperson against circuses. She says she once witnessed Ringling Bros. abuse animals behind the scenes at Madison Square Garden, where her husband was performing the night before Ringling’s opening day.

“Someone was nice enough to take us and our children backstage to see the animals, the elephants in particular,” said Hogan. “What we saw was animals shackled, less than two feet from where they could lay down, and a baby elephant away from them, in another training quarter, being abused. I vowed at that point that I would never, ever take my children to the circus again.”

“It’s inspiring to see so many people here to speak up, especially Linda Hogan,” said Prabhat Gautam, president of Positive Television, a media production company helping connect celebrities and other notable personalities with compassionate causes. “The modern-day circus is about as real as professional wrestling. A circus is actually even more staged – wrestlers pretend to beat each other up, but circuses actually beat the animals.”

What Hogan saw is not unusual, since elephants in circuses spend most of their lives shackled. Male elephants, considered more unpredictable, are chained all the time out of fear for employee safety. A study by Animal Defenders International (ADI) of a traveling circus observed elephants who spend 58 to 98 percent of their time chained by at least one leg and sometimes both a front and hind leg; elephants are normally chained overnight. Captive elephants are prone to foot and leg problems because of long periods of time kept in shackles, standing on concrete and standing in their own urine and excrement. More captive elephants in the U.S. are euthanized due to foot conditions and arthritis than any other cause.

Adding insult to injury, Ringling Bros. animals endure an especially rigorous travel schedule, mainly by train boxcars exposed to weather extremes – more than 25,000 miles logged during 11 months of the year. Train trips average 26 hours and can be up to 60 to 70 hours long, and animal protection groups say that rather than deal with the mess, elephants are intentionally dehydrated while in transit and food is withheld.

Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros., forwarded inquiries about this protest to its public relations agency, which did not reply. In its online factsheet, Feld says it “is committed to the highest standards in the care of all animal performers.” Elsewhere, Feld has said “animal special interest groups” have an “aggressive and extreme agenda.”

Yet the only discernable agenda of the protesters in Los Angeles was concern for animals. In contrast, Feld Entertainment’s agenda is to profit from victimizing animals, like Sea World and other marine parks, rodeos, horse or dog racing, the food industry, the fur trade, and any other animal enterprise. There’s a lot of money to be made in capturing or force-breeding animals, keeping them confined in small boxes, and selling them to a public that is hungry for amusement – or simply hungry, period. It would be impossible to calculate (or frankly, conceive of) the amount of money taken in by the many forms of animal exploitation.

Feld’s real problem with animal activists is that they are able to reach out to people and show them the ugly side to animal entertainment. What seems “aggressive and extreme” are Feld’s training methods, the violent means by which animals are obtained from the wild, the rigorous performance schedule (11 shows in five days during the Los Angeles stay), the constant travel, and the abbreviated lifespans of performing animals.

“We don’t want to abolish circuses, we just want them to stop using animals,” said Gautam. “Acrobatic shows and jugglers and trapeze artists are a terrific form of entertainment for kids and adults, and unlike animals, humans are willing performers. In fact, there are many animal-free circuses that tour all over the world, and they are quite amazing.”

With only a few handfuls of performing elephants in the U.S., it’s hard not to believe an end to their suffering is in sight. Animal sanctuaries provide a comfortable “retirement” for performing animals, although they need public support to keep doing their work.

Whether you want to simply help elephants or stop animal exploitation in general, a powerful first step is to research the terrible side effects of using animals for entertainment, avoid supporting these industries with your consumer dollar, and discourage others from attending. Contact sponsors of the circus, as well as the venues, to voice your concern and let them know you will not support them if they continue to feature animal circuses.

Nationally, 26 U.S. cities have passed bans on performing animals and animal circuses within their borders. If one does not exist in your community, think about starting your own campaign. Several countries ban animal circuses outright, most recently Bolivia.

Bans are extremely effective as public opinion shifts – take the “sport” of bullfighting. Bullfighting is a centuries-old tradition in Spain, yet more and more Spaniards say they oppose it on ethical grounds. In July, lawmakers banned bullfighting in the northern region of Catalonia, which includes Spain’s second most populous city, Barcelona. It’s an exciting precedent and shows it is high time that animal abuse go the way of other outdated, exploitative forms of “entertainment” such as public hangings and minstrel shows.

Gary Smith is the animal rights blogger for Elephant Journal, a guide to the mindful life including yoga, organics, sustainability, and conscious consumerism. He is co-founder of Evolotus, a PR agency working for a better world. Evolotus specializes in health and wellness, spirituality, animal protection, natural foods, documentary films, non-profits and socially beneficial companies. Gary and his wife adhere to a vegan lifestyle and live with their cat, Chloe, in Sherman Oaks, Calif.

This is a message to all meat-eaters who are sick of vegetarians and vegans pushing their agenda

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