Saturday, September 15, 2007

Maggie is moving

from this existence:
Maggie is moving from this existence...

to this:

After years of living alone in conditions* pictured above (first photo), the Alaska Zoo has agreed to move Maggie, a captive African elephant, to the Performing Animal Welfare Sanctuary (PAWS) in San Andreas, California. The news is posted on the Friends of Maggie website.

There she will share a large habitat with three African elephant gals named 71, Lulu, and Mara.

This decision was made easy for the zoo, thanks to the generosity of Bob Barker who offered to donate $100,000 to the zoo to do with as they wish, and another $750,000 to PAWS for the ongoing care of Maggie. Bob has long been a supporter of PAWS and a fierce advocate for captive wildlife. (My guess is the Price was Right for the zoo! The pressure's been on the zoo for years to move her and they've refused to budge before now.)

Bob Barker's announcement on YouTube.

The state of Maggie in the Alaska zoo:
- Living alone is detrimental to the well being of elephants. They are social, highly complex creatures. In the wild they live in herds and have bond groups. Maggie has been without elephant companions for years.
- Living in a climate that forces her to be indoors for up to nine months of every year. The indoor life means a cement cell with only a few toys and, in Maggie's case, a treadmill for exercise. (Yes, the zoo spent thousands of dollars on a goddamn treadmill thinking that would do the trick. Maggie refused to use it. She has never used it.)

Life will soon be very different, Maggie. Relief from arthritis (caused by standing on hard floors), no more pressure wounds, no more bobbing and swaying, now more rubbing your flesh against concrete until it bleeds, no more grinding your tusks to stumps on a brick wall. No more despair and frustration. No more loneliness. (Oh, and no treadmills, just trails!)

* What you see in this photograph is typical of zoo life for most captive elephants, and indeed most captive wildlife all over the world. Many zoos still operate as if it's the nineteenth century, stuffing animals in inadequate spaces to be exhibited to the public. Although zoos now use the language of conservation and education to market their "product" and their breeding programs, they are first and foremost a business. Not surprisingly, most zoos do not make a lot of money - some barely break even. Most either cannot afford - or are unwilling to spend - what it takes to create a suitable environment for captive wildlife, and they always put the needs and interests of their human visitors first. Genuine sanctuaries are viable alternatives. (Note: unfortunately, some outfits are exploiting the Sanctuary label to make a buck. For example: the Scott Riddle "school of elephant management" in Arkansas. Riddle has a long history of cruelty toward elephants. If an organization is not recognized by TAO, it's probably not a sanctuary. Buyer beware!)

I'd like to add that many people who work with animals in these conditions often see nothing wrong with them and believe they are being kind and loving. I've met many zoo keepers and volunteers who genuinely love the animals in their care. (Most are powerless to do anything to change the conditions and merely do their best). What boggles my mind is anyone defending this as a way of life for an elephant. I'm appalled every time I hear someone claiming this is a loving or even an adequate environment when all the evidence screams it is the opposite. We wouldn't treat our dogs and cats this way but think nothing of throwing a huge wild animal in what is virtually a prison cell for its entire life. Who does the cage serve and benefit? Certainly not the animal.

Humans can be very strange and scary sometimes.

If someone put me in a cage and told me it was his or her way of loving me, that it was good for me I'd want to kill myself.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

My thoughts exactly

Pottery Barn Sex
The bland couplings of HBO's Tell Me You Love Me.
If Hollywood produces another show about beautiful dysfunctional soap opera couples, with triple X added of the variety that could only titillate a twelve-year old boy, I will scream.

Why are audiences polite with Bush?

He garbles his words, he is rarely prepared, he lies to save face, he's a fucking idiot, and people sit there and let him go on and then applaud him politely. He's not the fucking queen.

Boggles the mind

Whale dies after machine-gunning off Vancouver Island
Sunday, September 9, 2007
CBC News

A whale has died after being harpooned and shot with a machine-gun by aboriginal hunters near Vancouver Island, a U.S. coast guard official said Sunday.

Coast guard Petty Officer Kelly Parker said five people, believed to be members of the Makah band based in Neah Bay in Washington State, killed the California grey whale on Saturday.

Parker said the hunt took place in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, near Washington's western tip.

"The five individuals involved were picked up by police but no charges have been laid," said Parker.

The Makah band has treaty rights to kill whales for traditional, sustenance purposes.

However, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) said the use of a machine-gun may not qualify.
No shit Sherlock. Heading out in a motorboat with a machine gun doesn't honour any tradition.

There are a few elders in that tribe who are disgusted by this behaviour. Maybe they can bitchslap some sense into the thugs.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The War on Democracy by John Pilger

is available in 10 segments on YouTube, beginning here. I've also posted the videos in order below this paragraph. The documentary serves as a much needed reality check, reminding the viewer that what Bush is doing to Iraq is merely a continuation of a decades-long tradition in US foreign policy. The American government's primary interest lies in protecting empire. The War on Democracy shows that the principles of democracy can be found more readily among the poorest people of Latin America than anywhere near the corridors of the White House. It features an exclusive interview with Hugo Chávez and Pilger also speaks to former US government officials who claim the CIA waged covert wars in Latin America. Secret prisons, kidnappings, torture and corruption are not new 'investments' for the United States. Invasion, bloody coups, exploitation and take over is an old, painful, and bitter reality for many countries in Latin and South America, one that continues today. Canadians would do well to pay attention to what is going on there and elsewhere as the US extends its reach for precious natural resources. We'd be idiots to think the US gives a rat's ass about our sovereignty, our social programs, our policies and institutions.

YouTube limits the length of videos so the film is in 10 segments below.

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

Part 4.

Part 5.

Part 6.

Part 7.

Part 8.


Part 10.

Hats off to This Old Brit for providing info about the film earlier this year.