ZooSpeak: ‘Life’ In A Zoo Through The Eyes Of A Brown Bear

Brown Bear, Germany, 2008

~ 1 ~

I’m aware of what you are

and I’m also aware of what you’re

thinking. You’re a human being

~ 2 ~

I’m aware of what you are

and I’m also aware of what you’re

thinking. You’re a human being

and you are thinking I am something else

~ 3 ~

I’m aware of what you are

and I’m also aware of what you’re

thinking. You’re a human being

and you are thinking I am something else

put here for your entertainment.

~ 4 ~

I’m aware of what you are

and I’m also aware of what you’re

thinking. You’re a human being

and you are thinking I am something else

put here for your entertainment,

that makes it easier for you to ignore me.

~ 5 ~

I’m aware of what you are

and I’m also aware of what you’re

thinking. You’re a human being

and you are thinking I am something else

put here for your entertainment,

that makes it easier for you to ignore me

and the wire mesh that surrounds me.

~ 6 ~

I’m aware of what you are

and I’m also aware of what you’re

thinking. You’re a human being

and you are thinking I am something else

put here for your entertainment,

that makes it easier for you to ignore me

and the wire mesh that surrounds me;

the wire mesh that separates us.

~ 7 ~

I’m aware of what you are

and I’m also aware of what you’re

thinking. You’re a human being

and you are thinking I am something else

put here for your entertainment,

that makes it easier for you to ignore me

and the wire mesh that surrounds me;

the wire mesh that separates us,

and your way of thinking from mine.

Gordon Meade

ZOOSPEAK

Gordon Meade is a Scottish poet and animal advocate. His 10th book of poetry is called Zoospeak. It’s about the inhumane and appalling conditions for animals who live in zoos and other terrible places. He wrote it to accompany the photographs in Jo-Anne McArthur’s, Captive, a haunting book of photographs featuring animals in captivity.

This Is NO Life

If you are unfamiliar with Jo-Anne’s work, go to We Animals Media and take a look. It will change you.

Please read and share Gordon’s poems.

The Mission of Protect All Wildlife is to prevent cruelty, promote the welfare of ALL animals EVERYWHERE, and help END animal abuse.

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15,000 Sheep Drown After Ship Crammed With Livestock Sinks In Sudan Port. The Ship was Licensed To Carry 9000 Sheep!

The animals died trapped inside a ship carrying them to Saudi Arabia, which sank a few minutes after setting sail.

THE BADR 1 HAS A CAPACITY OF ONLY 9,000 LIVESTOCK

The live export of animals has led to another tragedy. Over 15,000 sheep have drowned in the Sudanese port of Suakin, on the Red Sea, after the ship transporting them to Saudi Arabia sank. 

Although the reasons for the shipwreck have not yet been confirmed, the media has reported that the ship may have set sail carrying well above its maximum load of animals.

Witnesses have reported that minutes after setting sail, the ship tilted 45 degrees and gradually sank. The eight crew members were rescued but the majority of the animals on board did not survive.

The ship was bound for the city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, a major importer of live lambs and sheep destined to be slaughtered for their meat upon arrival.

According to a Sudanese port official, the ship “was carrying 15,800 sheep.” The official said all crew members were rescued, however, this incident will have several economic and environmental consequences. In his statement, he outlined that the sunken ship will “likely have an environmental impact due to the death of the large number of animals carried by the ship”. 

The livestock on the ship was valued at approximately $3.7M said Saleh Selim, the head of the association’s livestock division, as he called for an investigation into the accident. The port is already under investigation following a fire that blazed for several hours, and caused damage in the cargo area, earlier this month.

Omar Al-Khalifa, head of the national exporters’ association, said that the ship did not sink quickly. In fact, the ship took several hours to sink at the pier, meaning there was a window that suggested it “could have been rescued”. The animals were loaded on the vessel at the port of Suakin

The News Agency, AFP, posted this update following the tragedy:

Yet Another Tragedy

This tragedy is not the first. In 2021, 895 calves died after being trapped onboard a ship in the Mediterranean Sea. The ship had originally departed from a Spanish port on its way to Turkey, but it was rejected at the port.

As a result, the ship stayed at sea for two and a half months. Some of the calves died onboard, while the 864 survivors were slaughtered at the dock of the Port of Escombreras in Spain.

Every year, more than two billion animals are forced to travel long distances. When transported by sea, they often travel in hot and overcrowded conditions in old ships that are not designed to transport live animals. 

The safety of these ships has long been in question. According to a recent study carried out by the organisations Robin des Bois, the Animal Welfare Foundation and the Tierschutzbund Zürich, live transport ships are the most dangerous in the world. At an average of 41 years old, they are too old and not fit for purpose. 

Thousands of animals die during the journeys and many are thrown overboard, with their bodies occasionally washing up on beaches.

Other animals are transported by road. In 2021, Animal Equality investigated the live transport of sheep across Europe. Every year, millions of lambs are slaughtered in Italy after being forced to endure hellish journeys of up to 1,200 miles from other European countries like Hungary and Romania.

The Mission of Protect All Wildlife is to prevent cruelty, promote the welfare of ALL animals EVERYWHERE, and help END animal abuse.

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Royal Bengal Tiger Caught On Trap Camera In Neora Valley National Park

Royal Bengal Tiger In The Neora Valley National Park

The Royal Bengal Tiger Seen in Neora Valley National Park was caught on camera. The picture of the Royal Bengal Tiger was captured in Neora valley national park. For the past few years, the Royal Bengal Tiger has been found in the Neora Valley National Park in the Gorumara wildlife division. Once again, the Royal Bengal Tiger can be seen roaming in the forest. Some of these images were captured on The Trap Camera on Sunday. Once again the wildlife department is excited that the picture of the Royal Bengal Tiger has been captured on the trap camera.

The state’s principal chief conservator of forests, Deval Roy, said, “We have received pictures of the Royal Bengal Tiger in the forests of Neora before. But this time the picture was caught on the trap camera several times. Earlier in the winter, pictures of the Royal Bengal Tiger were captured on camera. This time the picture has been taken from December to March. It is being investigated whether the pictures taken are of the same Tiger. “

Earlier there was a lot of evidence that there were Tigers in the jungles of Neora Valley. Once upon a time, there was a Tiger in the Neora Valley, but it was not seen for several years. The foresters thought that some of the places in the forest, which are still unfit for human transport, are suitable for Tigers to live in. At times, the Tiger seems to be scratched at the base of the tree, but no forester has seen the Tiger. On January 18, a Tiger was first spotted on the side of the road from Pedong to Lava. On January 18, a driver in the hills, Anmol Chhetri, caught him on camera.

On December 19, 2017, an automobile driver named Anmol Chhetri captured the first picture of the Tiger on his way from Lava to Rishop on his mobile camera. After that, the trap camera was created by the forest department. The camera captured pictures of the Royal Bengal Tiger several times. And that’s why they guessed that there were more than one number of Tigers in the forests of The Neora Valley. Since then, more or less pictures of Tigers have been captured every year. Even last year, the Tiger was captured on camera. And once again the picture of the Tiger was caught on the trap camera kept in the forest. Ensuring the safety of the Tigers is now the only aim of the forest department. For this, the security of the forests of Nawara is being strengthened, said an official of the concerned department.

The Buxa forest has the recognition of the Tiger Project in the North East. However, there has been a debate over whether there are Tigers or not for the past few years. Meanwhile, there is a rush to bring Tigers from Vin state to Buxa. And in the meantime, the Tiger was seen in the Neora Valley. Not once, but several times.

A Tiger was first spotted in the region in January 2017 by a car driver who took photos of the big cat. Later, the same Tiger was caught on a trail camera installed by the forest department across the 88-sq km the national park in January 2018.

The Tiger Was Earlier Caught On A Trail Camera In The 88-Sq Km Neora Valley National Park

“On December 18, 2019, a trail camera captured a tiger. We are yet to analyse the image. We cannot say right now if it is a male or a female,” said Ravi Kant Sinha, principal chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden of West Bengal.

“A thorough analysis of all images captured in the past three years is yet to be done. So, it is not possible for us to say if there are multiple tigers or the same one is being spotted,” Sinha added.

The Mission of Protect All Wildlife is to prevent cruelty, promote the welfare of ALL animals EVERYWHERE, and help END animal abuse.

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A Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Is Surrounded & Run Off By A Pack Of Wolves In “Once In A Lifetime” Footage

Every year, millions and millions of people visit Yellowstone National Park, but not everybody gets a show like this.

The Bear Is Chased Off By The Wolves

Captured by Yellowstone Adam Brubaker of Tied to Nature, the video picks up in the Hayden Valley area of Yellowstone with a couple of Wolves from Wapiti Lake Pack and a curious Grizzly bear.

You’d think that a bear would want to run away when he’s outnumbered by a few Wolves, but nope, this fella charges forward to get a better look.

A group of tourists have witnessed a scene straight out of a Sir David Attenborough documentary, when a pack of wild Wolves decided to take on a giant Grizzly bear.

In a stunning video shot by Tied to Nature tour operator Adam Brubaker, tourists witnessed a pack of 10 Wolves surround a bear which Mr Brubaker believes was eyeing off their kill.

The encounter, which happened at Hayden Valley in the famed Yellowstone National Park, was described as a “once in a lifetime” sighting by the qualified naturalist.

“I had the awesome opportunity to share this once in a lifetime Wolf and Grizzly sighting while on tour in Yellowstone today.” he wrote on his Facebook page alongside the video.

“This Grizzly was foraging in the far end of the valley when the Wolves started to cross his path. The Grizzly started standing up on his hind legs to get a better view of what was going on and then started to approach the Wolves.

At one point, the bear reared up on its hind legs to get a better look over the tall grass.

“Soon the rest of the Wolf pack appears and escorts the bear into the trees.”

Some thought that the Wolves might have been trying to protect their cubs, but Mr Brubaker believes they had dinner nearby – and didn’t want a hungry bear to snack on any leftovers.

“From what I could see the pups were not with them,” he told USA Today.

“The white Wolf has blood on her face and neck, so there could have been a carcass, but while I watched them they were not feeding on one.”

While grizzlies and Wolves typically avoid each other, encounters have happened before.

“Bears may benefit from the presence of Wolves by taking carcasses that Wolves have killed, making carcasses more available to Bears throughout the year,” National Park Service told Newsweek .

“If a bear wants a Wolf-killed animal, the Wolves will try to defend it; Wolves usually fail to chase the bear away, although female grizzlies with cubs are seldom successful in taking a Wolf kill.”

“I could see that the two species were probably going to cross paths but I did not expect what was going to happen.

“For many people, this would be a once-in-a-lifetime encounter. Neither the Wolves nor Bears were injured. I believe I saw the same bear yesterday out in the same place this time with no Wolves around.

“I have been a guide in Yellowstone for seven years and visiting the park for 20 and every day can offer something new or different.”

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Mother and Daughter Orangutans Released into the Wild to ‘Revert Impending Extinction Crisis’

After completing rehabilitation at the BORA Rescue & Rehabilitation Centre in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Bornean Orangutans Ucockwati, 18, and Mungil, 8, were deemed eligible for release.

Bornean Orangutans Ucockwati, 18, and Mungil, 8 Were Released into the Wild To ‘Revert Impending Extinction Crisis’

A pair of Orangutans, mother and daughter, were released into their natural habitat.

According to a release from The Orangutan Project, Bornean Orangutans Ucokwati, 18, and Mungil, 8, moved to the wild in the first in a series of Orangutan releases planned for 2022 by the Bornean Orangutan Rescue Alliance (BORA) — a joint initiative of the Indonesian Nature Conservation Agency (BKSD), Centre for Orangutan Protection and The Orangutan Project.

Conservationists deemed the two primates eligible for release after the animals completed their rehabilitation at the BORA Rescue & Rehabilitation Centre in East Kalimantan, Indonesia.

“Both had demonstrated advanced foraging and nest-making skills, as well as a healthy dislike for humans,” Hardi Baktiantoro, a field manager for The Orangutan Project and Founder of the Centre for Orangutan Protection, shared. “Ucokwati is particularly aggressive towards humans, no doubt due to her ill-treatment while in captivity, and this made her a prime candidate to successfully transition back into the wild.”

Before BORA, the Orangutan duo lived at the Wildlife Rescue Centre in Yogyakarta on the Indonesian Island of Java. Ucokwati moved to the centre after being rescued from an amusement park in October 2011. She gave birth to her daughter at the centre in May 2013.

“We don’t know how long Ucokwati had been held in captivity at the park,” Hardi Baktiantoro added. “As with most Orangutans that end up in such places like these, it is highly probable that she was taken from her mother as an infant and sold into the illegal pet trade.”

Ucokwati Surveying Her New Surroundings

Due to financial difficulties caused by the pandemic, the rescue centre shut down. As a result, the mother-daughter duo moved to the BORA Centre in April 2021.

Ucokwati and Mungil now live on Dalwood-Wylie Island, located in the Busang Ecosystem, one of the last remaining viable rainforest habitats for Orangutans on the island of Borneo. The location is a 10-hour trip by vehicle from the BORA Centre followed by a three-hour boat ride along the Busang River.

The area was chosen for the release so BORA’s staff can monitor the apes while the animals adjust to life in the wild. The Orangutans’ rescuers expect Ucokwati and Mungil to venture further into the Busang Ecosystem as they become increasingly independent.

Bornean Orangutans Ucockwati, 18, and Mungil, 8 Were Released into the Wild

Two other male Orangutans are set to follow in the mother-daughter duo’s footsteps and will soon be released into the Busang Ecosystem. The releases are part of a mission to ensure the future survival of critically endangered Orangutans.

“The alliance has been granted approximately 20,000 hectares within the 260,000-hectare Busang Ecosystem to undertake Orangutan rehabilitation and release for critically endangered Bornean Orangutans,” Leif Cocks, the founder of The Orangutan Project, said.

“The release of Orangutans like Ucokwati and Mungil back to the wild gives hope that we can revert the impending extinction crisis,” Cocks added. “But we cannot do it alone. We need more individuals to join us to secure and protect viable rainforest habitat before it is too late.”

What can you do to help END animal abuse!

The Mission of Protect All Wildlife is to prevent cruelty, promote the welfare of ALL animals EVERYWHERE, and help END animal abuse.

Please support our work by donating ANY amount, large or small. It only takes a minute and your donations help make our work possible. Thank you for your support.

James Cromwell Is Helping Animals Asia Group Build A Sanctuary To End Bear Bile Farming In Vietnam

Animals Asia, with help from celebrity supporters like James Cromwell, is working to build a second sanctuary in Vietnam for Asiatic Black Bears and Sun Bears rescued from bile farms.

A Bile Bear Sanctuary – Credit: Animals Asia

Actor and activist James Cromwell continues to give animals a voice, this time by helping Asiatic Black Bears and Sun Bears leave bile farms for a life of freedom.

Cromwell is working with Animals Asia to raise awareness about the sanctuary the charity is building in Vietnam, which is designed to comfortably hold and care for the last Asiatic Black Bears and Sun Bears currently residing at Bear bile farms across the country. Animals Asia, in collaboration with the Vietnamese government, already has a sanctuary in Vietnam, which houses nearly 200 rescue Bears.

According to Animals Asia’s founder, Jill Robinson, in 2017, Vietnam called a press conference with Animals Asia to announce their commitment to ending Bear bile farming, a practice where Bears — usually Asiatic Black Bears or Sun Bears — “are contained in tiny wire cages to immobilize them so that they can have their bile extracted from their gallbladder” for use in traditional medicine.

With the help of the Vietnamese government, Animal Asia has spent years moving Bears from bile farms to the non-profit’s existing sanctuary in Vietnam.

Bears Are Kept In Tiny Cages On Bile Farms For Years, Often Decades. Credit: Animals Asia

“Because the Bears are kept in tiny wire cages for their entire life, they have multiple physical and psychological problems. Very often, when we rescue them, the first thing that we’re looking at is what we call ‘Broken Bears,'” Robinson says .

“Many of them have had abdominal mutilations from where they’ve had a crude, surgical intervention to extract their bile. Many of them are blind. Many of them are missing limbs from having been caught in the wild in leg hold traps. Many of them have horrible mobility problems. Many of them have heart problems,” she adds of the cruelty Bears endure at bile farms.

Even when faced with this despair, Animals Asia knows that each Bear deserves a second chance, no matter how long recovery takes.

“They are relentless. They are courageous. They’re superhuman,” Cromwell says of the charity, which he has partnered with several times to save animals.

Actor And Animal Activist James Cromwell. Credit: Animals Asia

Founded in 1998, Animals Asia’s decades of hard work have brought the organization “to the cusp of ending Bear farming once and for all in Vietnam, which is the most thrilling thing ever because of the collaboration of the Vietnam government there,” says Robinson.

This new sanctuary will be the final step, as the existing Animals Asia sanctuary in Vietnam is almost full. There are still an estimated 310 Bears left at bile farms in the country that need a safe, permanent home.

“Hence our commitment and sense of urgency to start building this second sanctuary in Vietnam so that we can rescue the remaining number of Bears there and commit to our promise,” Robinson says.

A Bile Bear Sanctuary. Credit: Animals Asia

Plans for the new sanctuary will be publically revealed on May 27, with an event in Vietnam that Cromwell will virtually attend. While plans are in motion for Animals Asia’s second Vietnamese sanctuary, the charity is still raising the $5.8 million needed for its construction.

Cromwell hopes that animal lovers will help Animals Asia reach its goal “because we have to learn the lesson from these creatures.”

Robinson says that the rescue Bears she meets in Vietnam continue to amaze her with their strength and forgiveness.

Bears Play In Their Enclosure At Animals Asia’s Sanctuary In Vietnam Credit: Animals Asia

“Once we bring them into our sanctuary, it may take days, it may take weeks, it may take months for that trust to — and you suddenly see a spark, a light that comes into their eyes. Anyone that’s rescued a dog will know exactly what I’m talking about. You suddenly see that mind-set switch,” she says.

“Their personalities start to emerge. That is the most beautiful thing to see. Bears that were horribly traumatized are now turning somersaults on their own in the grass just because they can. They’re in playful Bear bundles with their friends just because they can. They’re foraging in huge expanses of forest in the sanctuary just because they can. They have choices of whatever they want to do, of whatever they want to eat throughout the day as well. It’s a privilege to be working with these species to really begin to understand the animal they are,” she adds.

To learn more about Animals Asia and how to help with their new sanctuary in Vietnam, visit the charity’s website.

Freed From A Bear Bile Farm – Tuffy Jumps For Joy. Credit: Animals Asia

What can you do to help END animal abuse!

The Mission of Protect All Wildlife is to prevent cruelty, promote the welfare of ALL animals EVERYWHERE, and help END animal abuse.

Please support our work by donating ANY amount, large or small. It only takes a minute and your donations help make our work possible. Thank you for your support.

A Viral Video Of An Elephant Doing A Headstand Leaves The Internet Angry. Here’s Why!

A video of an Elephant doing a headstand has gone viral online and triggered a discussion about animal cruelty.

The video shows Elephant standing on its head, like he’s doing a headstand.

A video circulating on social media shows an Elephant in a circus-like pose while taking a bath. But the viral video has angered social media users.

The video has been shared by Morissa Schwartz on Twitter with the caption, “I didn’t know Elephants could do this.” It has received over 380k views and has had more than 200 comments mostly expressing the belief that cruel training has been used to train the Elephant to ‘perform’.

Meanwhile, in the video, it could be heard crowd of spectators gasping and cheering at the view. After watching this act by the Elephant, angry viewers took to the comment section to express their outrage. Many of them even claimed that the headstand was not real and the big creature was trained for doing so. People also said that there are chances that the animal was unethically trained to do it to entertain the crowd. The video has spread outrage on the internet.

Here are a just a few of the comments it garnered:

It is very essential for us to understand that these animals go through a lot of fear and pain in making such moves. The humans train them and brutally torture these animals to make them do these poses.

ELEPHANTS ARE BEATEN INTO SUBMISSION FROM A VERY YOUNG AGE

But we, the citizens, can create a groundswell of changes and instil compassion in the hearts of cruel human beings while creating a safe world for Elephants. If you’re genuinely hurt and angered by the atrocities against Elephants, here are nine things you can do right now:

1. Scratch off Elephant rides from your bucket list.

2. Boycott festivals that exploit Elephants and perpetuate cruelty

3. Do not visit zoos, circuses, or any entertainment that involves Elephants or any animals for that matter.

4. Educate yourself and influence your immediate circle of family and friends, creating ripples of change. Gods in Shackles is a great educational aid that exposes the dark truth behind captivity.

6. Write letters and petitions to your elected officials.

7. Remember to vote – you have the power to vote them out.

8. Share this story and help create awareness.

9. Write a science-based review on TripAdvisor and other travel sites.

What you can do to help wildlife

The Mission of Protect All Wildlife is to prevent cruelty and promote the welfare of ALL animals EVERYWHERE.

Please support our work by donating ANY amount, large or small. It only takes a minute and your donations help make our work possible. Thank you for your support.

Pilot Whales Killed In Season’s First Faroese Hunt

 The devastating scene of pilot whales thrashing in blood-filled water as hunters converge on them with their killing tools.

On May 7th, more than 60 pilot whales were captured and butchered in this year’s first pilot whale hunt in the Faroe Islands. Ingi Sørensen, a Faroese diver, author, and underwater photographer who is fiercely against the practice documented the slaughter, known as grindadráp in Faroese. His video recording shows several motorized boats driving the pilot whales towards the selected whaling beach in the islands’ capital of Torshavn. Images reveal the devastating scene of pilot whales thrashing in blood-filled water as hunters converge on them with their killing tools.

They hunt the long-finned species of pilot whales that inhabits the North Atlantic. It is a wide-ranging, toothed whale that belongs to the dolphin family and which, among dolphins, is second in size only to the orca. Pilot whales live in matriarchal pods with an exceptionally strong social structure. They are one of the most frequently reported whale species in events of mass strandings and are known to stay together as a group, even in a crisis. This makes it easy for hunters to drive entire pods of them ashore. And once the pod is helplessly stranded, men and women—mostly men—begin the process of killing every single member, including pregnant and lactating mothers and their offspring. When the carnage is over, calves that were cut from their mothers’ wombs can be seen lying next to their dead mothers, umbilical cords still attached.

Faroese whale hunters use motorized boats to chase pods of pilot whales ashore. Faroese whale hunters use motorized boats to chase pods of pilot whales ashore. Credit: Ingi Sørensen
Faroese whale hunters use motorized boats to chase pods of pilot whales ashore. Credit: Ingi Sørensen

For centuries, the people of the isolated Faroe Islands survived by hunting whales, and during times of famine, pilot whales became their rescue. But times have changed, and pilot whale meat and blubber are no longer considered everyday food in the Faroe Islands. Many toxins build up in animals’ bodies as they ascend the food chain. This bioaccumulation reaches dangerous levels in top predators, such as pilot whales. In 2008, the chief physician for the Faroese Department of Occupational Medicine and Public Health, Pál Weihe, and the islands’ chief medical officer, Høgni Debes Joensen, warned that pilot whales are contaminated with dangerously high levels of mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), as well as DDE, a breakdown product of the insecticide DDT. In a press statement issued in 2008, the physicians noted that mercury and PCB exposure contribute to Parkinson’s disease in adults, impaired immunity in children, and compromised fetal development. “It is recommended that pilot whale is no longer used for human consumption,” they warned.

The Faroese government chose not to follow the doctors’ recommendations. In June 2011, however, the Faroese Food and Veterinary Agency urged limited consumption of pilot whale meat and blubber. They issued special recommendations for women and girls: refrain from eating blubber while they plan to have children, and do not eat whale meat while pregnant or breastfeeding. No one should eat the kidneys and liver of pilot whales, the agency said.

As a result of the government’s hazardous decision to downplay the risks of consumption, the pilot whale hunt continues to this day. I have heard whalers boast that they can kill a pilot whale in a few seconds. What they don’t consider is the lengthy time it often takes to drive the pod ashore. And, apparently, they also don’t think about the distress that these ocean-going marine mammals experience when forced to strand in shallow water with no possibility of escape. Once stranded, the pilot whales are subjected to complete chaos, commotion, and yelling as hunters start the practice of dragging them ashore. They do this by injecting a rounded stainless-steel hook into a whale’s blowhole. The hook is attached to a long piece of rope, and several men drag the struggling whale ashore. A pilot whale can weigh more than 5000 pounds, and it is easy to imagine how terrifying and painful it must be to be dragged out of the water in this manner. Once the whale is fully beached, a hunter finishes it off by jamming a spinal lance into its spinal canal, thereby severing the spinal cord, and cutting the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain.

A whale hunter kills a pilot whale with a so-called spinal lance, thereby severing the spinal cord and cutting off the blood supply to the brain. In 2015, the spinal lance replaced the traditional whaling knife as a killing tool. A whale hunter kills a pilot whale with a so-called spinal lance, thereby severing the spinal cord and cutting off the blood supply to the brain. In 2015, the spinal lance replaced the traditional whaling knife as a killing tool. Credit: Ingi Sørensen
A whale hunter kills a pilot whale with a so-called spinal lance, thereby severing the spinal cord and cutting off the blood supply to the brain. In 2015, the spinal lance replaced the traditional whaling knife as a killing tool. Credit: Ingi Sørensen

While hunters are killing some of the pilot whales with spinal lances, other whales are still fighting for their lives in shallow water. They can see and hear their family members being mutilated and destroyed just a few feet away from them during their desperate struggles. Swimming in the blood of their dying pod members, all they can do is await their turn. I am sure they are fully aware that their pod, which has taken several generations to build, is being demolished. Their torment, to me, is undeniable, and it is impossible for me to fathom how anyone can participate in it, especially now that the meat and blubber contain some of world’s most dangerous toxins and should not be considered food.

On a positive note, not all Faroese people agree that the pilot whale hunt should continue. Ingi Sørensen puts it this way: “There is no justification to wipe out entire schools of pilot whales, and the much-used argument of maintaining the hunt as a Faroese tradition that must be carried into future generations has no validity.” He adds: “Throughout centuries, pilot whales have saved us from starvation. Today, their meat is so toxic, our own health authorities warn us it’s too dangerous to eat. The destruction of these incredible beings needs to stop, once and for all. Now it’s our turn to save them, by leaving them be and focusing our attention on saving their habitats.”

Pilot whales are fighting for their lives as hunters jam rounded stainless steel hooks into their blowholes to drag them ashore. Pilot whales are fighting for their lives as hunters jam rounded stainless steel hooks into their blowholes to drag them ashore. Credit: Ingi Sørensen
Pilot whales are fighting for their lives as hunters jam rounded stainless steel hooks into their blowholes to drag them ashore. Credit: Ingi Sørensen

The lack of empathy is not a Faroese phenomenon. It is a human phenomenon, and people carry out animal cruelty daily in every single country of the world. Please refrain from posting derogative comments based on negative stereotyping against all Faroese people, as they shut down all possibilities of dialog.

This article by Helene O’Barry was first published by The Dolphin Project on 25 May 2022.  Lead Image: Once helplessly stranded, the whales are subjected to complete chaos, commotion, and yelling as hunters start the practice of dragging them ashore. Imagine the terror these highly social and complex beings go through as the entire pod is being demonished in a tremendous bloodbath. Credit: Ingi Sørensen.

#StopTheGrind

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Please support our work by donating ANY amount, large or small. It only takes a minute and your donations help make our work possible. Thank you for your support.

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Be Aware Of The Dark Truth Behind Guruvayur Elephant ‘Sanctuary’ In India

A CHAINED ELEPHANT IN GURUVAYUR CAPTIVE ELEPHANT ‘SANCTUARY’

By Sangita Iyer, Author, Gods In Shackles. Founder, Voice For Asian Elephants Society

MADHAVAN, A POPULAR BULL ELEPHANT, TRIES TO BREAK THE CHAINS.

“Fifteen Hundred captives were cooped up in a shed built to accommodate probably 200 at the most. We were cold and hungry and there was not enough room for everyone to squat on the bare ground, let alone to lie down. One five-ounce piece of bread was our only food in four days.”

A holocaust survivor, Dr. Viktor Frankl, painstakingly chronicles this horrific scene at the Auschwitz extermination camp in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning“. He recalls the Nazis captured approximately 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, forced them to travel by train for several days and nights, then stuffed them into a tiny room, with nine prisoners sharing a bunker and two sheets.

A similar concentration camp for Elephants exists in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where 45 captives are crammed into 12 acres of land. They are tethered beneath the scorching sun at 45°C, languishing in their urine and excrement, and deprived of their basic primordial needs. Most of them were illegally captured wild Elephants from the north-eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, and Bihar, and sold to the Kerala Elephant owners during the annual “Sonpur Mela” festival that takes place every November.

BULL ELEPHANTS IN THEIR MUSTH ARE TETHERED NEXT TO EACH OTHER.

This is the world’s most notorious Elephant prison, called “Punnathur Kotta,” aka the “Guruvayur Captive Elephant Sanctuary.” It is adjacent to the UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Guruvayur Temple. Tourists from around the world travel here, many having been led to believe that the Elephants at this concentration camp are happy and well cared for. They are oblivious to the dark truth behind the shackled Elephants and their weaving motions.

Although many reviews on TripAdvisor from local people glorify this “sanctuary,” the most recent post in November 2021 affords a one-star rating by a U.K. visitor. Entitled “Nothing but a prison for distressed Elephants,” it paints the harsh realities that Elephants suffer.

“Elephants are constantly chained, many by front and back legs simultaneously. Many are chained so tightly they can hardly move, others constantly rock and sway due to stress. Terrible to witness in the 21st century.”

In the wild, Elephants wander across vast areas for hours on end, grazing on a wide variety of berries, barks, roots, leaves, fruits, grass, and even soil to obtain mineral supplements from the earth. They need to keep moving to balance their massive bodies. Socializing is a must for their sanity. Elephants also keep themselves busy, making tools and devising strategies when confronted by enemies.

A BULL ELEPHANT IN HIS PEAK MATING PERIOD IS THOUGHTFUL AND GENTLE

Females socialize, with a wise matriarch leading her family, and fiercely protecting the young. In contrast, bulls form bachelor groups and join a female herd only during their annual musth cycle – peak mating period. During this time, their testosterone and energy levels surge. They are overwhelmed by the urge to mate. The bulls secrete musth fluid from their temporal glands, emitting a potent smell to attract females. It triggers the instinct to fight off the bulls. They deplete their surging energies by mating, fighting, and covering extensive distances.

At the Guruvayur concentration camp, however, the bulls are denied food, water, and shelter, so their energies will be depleted. Worse still, many Elephants come into their musth cycle around the same time. The musth odour is even stronger as the bulls are tethered right next to each other. It’s hard to resist the urge to fight the neighbouring bulls. Frustrated, these prisoners pull their chains that cut into their flesh, causing bloodied and swollen ankles.

THIS BULL ELEPHANT STRUGGLES TO COPE WITH THE BLISTERING SUN
THIS BULL ELEPHANT STRUGGLES TO REACH THE FILTHY TANK WITH LITTLE WATER

Out of sheer desperation, many bulls have attacked their handlers, only for the torture to be intensified. One Kerala veterinarian alleges that the handlers toss rocks on the bulls’ genitals to inflict maximum pain in the most sensitive areas of their body and control them.

But the cruellest of all rituals awaits these bulls after their musth cycle. A group of 10 to 15 drunken men will beat the living daylight out of the bulls. This brutal practice is called “Katti Adikkal,” which means “tied and beaten.” It is driven by a misguided myth that Elephants may have forgotten their commands during the musth cycle.

It’s also common practice to control every movement with a long pole stuck behind the bull’s ear, enforcing the so-called “freeze” position. If the bull moves too much, the pole will fall, and he will be punished. The atrocities meted out against Kerala Elephants, including this prison, are exposed in Gods in Shackles.

FRUSTRATED, THIS BULL TOSSES A CLUMP OF MUD AT ME. PHOTO CREDIT: SANGITA IYER

With every single natural behaviour suppressed, Elephants are under chronic stress, displayed by swaying side to side, bobbing their head up and down, and even biting their trunk and trying to break the chains.

Dr. Jessica Bell Rizzolo, a trans-species psychologist and wildlife crime expert, explains in an interview with me that these symptoms are caused by years of abuse and lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Depravation of agency is among the critical factors that hinder brain development and exacerbate PTSD.

“So, if that Elephant is unable to make basic decisions about his or her life, who to mate with, when to have social interactions with another Elephant, how long to stay with the mother, that could really impact the right brain development.”

An Elephant brain is three times as large as the human brain, with a highly evolved cerebral cortex. Dr. Bob Jacobs and his team have released shocking scientific research detailing the devastating consequences of unnatural and depleted environments on Elephants’ brain structure and functions. Key points from “Putative neural consequences of captivity for Elephants and cetaceans” include:

1. The impoverished nature of the captive environment has detrimental consequences for the brain, including degeneration of nerve cells in the cerebral cortex, which is involved in higher cognitive functions.

2. An unnatural environment leads to chronically elevated levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, which has a wide-ranging negative impact on brain structures and functions, including inflammation of brain tissue and the death of nerve cells.

3. One effect of chronically elevated stress hormones is the intricate, normally well-balanced interaction of key regions of the brain – the prefrontal cortex (planning), the hippocampus (spatial learning), and the amygdala (emotional processing) – becomes dysregulated (i.e., unbalanced). In both human and non-human animals, such disruptions in the delicate communication among these regions are associated with mental disorders such as PTSD, hyper-aggression, increased vigilance, and/or depression.

4. The chronic stress that characterizes impoverished environments disturbs neurotransmitter (chemical) systems, resulting in poor communication among different brain structures and cellular networks. For instance, because of changes in the release of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex, aberrant environments decrease an animal’s ability to cope with the stress of captivity.

5. Impoverishment and the accompanying chronic stress can potentially suppress the immune system. For example, the endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) is prevalent among immunocompromised captive Asian Elephants.

In the wild, it is normal for Elephants to occasionally encounter predators such as humans and other carnivores, which triggers a brief increase in stress hormone levels. However, once the threat disappears, the hormones return to a normal level, allowing the body and brain functions to resume their natural state.

But in this concentration camp, Elephants are under chronic stress. Despite obeying the commands of the handlers, the Elephants are constantly whacked with vicious bullhooks and poked with long poles as a constant reminder that their masters are in control.

One video of a helpless Elephant being chained and beaten ruthlessly by a group of men, as hundreds of others simply watched this heinous brutality, went viral on social media. This bull had killed his handler, and apparently, the men were teaching him a lesson – never to mess with them.

The prisoners at the Auschwitz camp suffered a similar fate: “Beatings occurred on the slightest provocation, sometimes for no reason at all… We heard the lashings of the straps and screams of the tortured men. At such a moment it is not the physical pain which hurts the most, it is the mental agony caused by the injustice, the unreasonableness of it all… The most painful part of beatings is the insults which they imply.”

Is it even conceivable that the bull who was being beaten in front of hundreds of people felt the insults and shame? Many neuroscience and psychology studies on Elephants reveal that Elephants are highly intelligent and emotional animals. They display empathy not only towards their own kind but also other species.

It has also been demonstrated that Elephants have their own culture, and they observe rituals, for instance, a grieving ritual, when they encounter the skeletal remains of other Elephants. They pass social information through generations. They have strong social bonds. So, by capturing Elephants randomly and separating them from their herd, their culture becomes fragmented.

The Guruvayur concentration camp Elephants conceal layers upon layers of trauma… and with no escape from the ongoing brutality and unpredictability, they seem to have just given up on life. Dr. Rizzolo says, “The trauma is such that the sense of self is impaired. That Elephant doesn’t even have a sense of themself in relation to themselves and in relation to other Elephants in relation to their herd… “If that normative social structure is ruptured on a larger scale. You see results of that just as you see in human cultures that have experienced trauma after trauma.”

At the Auschwitz concentration camp, Dr. Frankl observed similar dysfunctional behaviours: “Apathy, the blunting of the emotions and the feeling that one could not care anymore, with the symptoms arising during the second stage of the prisoner’s psychological reactions, and which eventually made him insensitive to daily and hourly beatings.” (Pg. 23)

Knowing these psychological, emotional, and mental traumas caused by captivity, is it then moral or ethical to confine these sentient animals for human entertainment? The cultural and religious lobby groups will turn a blind eye and continue to justify their actions.

But we, the citizens, can create a groundswell of changes and instil compassion in the hearts of cruel human beings while creating a safe world for Elephants. If you’re genuinely hurt and angered by the atrocities against Elephants, here are nine things you can do right now:

1. Scratch off Elephant rides from your bucket list.

2. Boycott festivals that exploit Elephants and perpetuate cruelty.

3. Do not visit zoos, circuses, or any entertainment that involves Elephants or any animals for that matter.

4. Educate yourself and influence your immediate circle of family and friends, creating ripples of change. Gods in Shackles is a great educational aid that exposes the dark truth behind captivity.

5. Speak out and expose the cruelties. All of us have cell phones and have access to an abundance of social media platforms.

6. Write letters and petitions to your elected officials.

7. Remember to vote – you have the power to vote them out.

8. Share this story and help create awareness.

9. Write a science-based review on TripAdvisor and other travel sites.

Complacency and apathy have no place in an era confronting the sixth mass extinction. Asian Elephants are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. With only 40,000 of them left on the entire planet and 27,000 of them in India, we need to do everything in our power to protect them in their last bastion. Only collectively can we end the suffering of Elephants and foster compassion towards these majestic animals.

Please Sign The Petition : Stop Elephant Captivity in Kerala Temples

GODS IN SHACKLES WITH AUTHOR SANGITA IYER
AN EXCELLENT FOREWORD BY DR JANE GOODALL

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That’s My Girl With The Gorilla… But She’s Totally Safe, Says Father Who Released A 20-Year-Old Home Video To Show How ‘Gentle, Noble And Wonderful’ Gorillas Are

Many will be deeply moved by the sight of a toddler beating her chest with tiny fists while a 300lb Gorilla lounges alongside her, eating a kiwi fruit. They will laugh as the two toss straw over their heads and gasp when one of the world’s largest primates leans forward to give the little girl a tender peck on the cheek.

Others, however, will be horrified. More than once, the Gorilla gathers the girl in her arms, carrying her off as she would one of her young. The bond between the playmates is unmistakable despite the the grainy VHS footage being more than 20 years old.

Dressed in navy jumper and light blue trousers, 18-month-old Tansy Aspinall romps in the sunshine, one minute swaying on a rope swing, the next tumbling down the slide, tummy first, her not-so-little friend behind her. Not-so-little being the operative phrase. For Tansy’s playground is, in fact, an animal pen at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent and her chums are Western Lowland Gorillas.

Scroll down to see the video of Tansy Aspinall and the Gorilla for yourself…

Controversial parenting: A photo taken in 1990,before the video was filmed, that shows Tansy Aspinall in the arms of an adult gorilla at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent

Controversial parenting? A photo taken in 1990, before the video was filmed, shows Tansy Aspinall in the arms of an adult gorilla at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent

Her father, Damian, released the family film via The Mail on Sunday and made it available on YouTube. It is a controversial decision and Damian, was prepared for criticism but remains unrepentant.

‘This is a family video,’ he says. ‘Before I wouldn’t have released it but now, with the internet it is different. I don’t care if I get a bit of stick because I think the gorillas get a good deal out of it. There’s an upside for them that there wasn’t before. If we can show millions of people how gentle and noble and wonderful these animals are, then I think we’re doing the Gorillas a service. I’m happy to take the stick for that.’

Tansy, now 33, agrees. She says: ‘I obviously understand that people might find it quite shocking seeing a baby going in with the Gorillas because that’s how they have been brought up – to see Gorillas in that King Kong kind of way. But really gorillas are such wonderful, gentle animals and they’re so human-like. So I hope it’s a way of people understanding how gentle and kind Gorillas really are.’

She was too young to remember the video taken at Howletts, the Palladian mansion that her grandfather, the gambler John Aspinall, bought after a particularly good night at the tables.

Laughing or crying? Video clip of 18-month-old Tansy Aspinall playing alone with one of Dad's gorillas

Laughing or crying? Video clip of 18-month-old Tansy Aspinall playing alone with one of Dad’s Gorillas

No fear: The toddler was filmed 19 years ago by Damian and has been kept secret because of some fears that it might have provoked a backlash from childcare experts because of the risk

No fear: The toddler was filmed 19 years ago by Damian and has been kept secret because of some fears that it might have provoked a backlash from childcare experts because of the risk

Gorilla-hug: The young girl is smothered by the 300lb adult

GORILLA-HUG: TANSY IS SMOTHERED BY THE 300LB POWERFUL ADULT

Aspinall filled the house and grounds with animals, including Tigers, Wolves and Gorillas. He also brought the pets he had kept in his previous home in London’s Eaton Square including  a Leopard, a Himalayan Bear and a Capuchin Monkey. In time, the animals were moved outdoors and Howletts became a wildlife park.

On John’s death in 2000, Damian took control and set up the Aspinall Foundation, a conservation initiative to return captive-bred animals into the wild. His foundation has now bred more captive animals – and reintroduced them into the wild – than any other organisation in Europe. There have been 139 Gorilla births, 33 Black Rhinos and 20 African Elephants. The animals are released into reserves in Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the foundation has approximately a million acres of guarded land.

Contrary to popular belief, this is no rich man’s hobby. True, Damian is wealthy thanks to the chain of casinos he set up with media mogul Kerry Packer’s son James – but it is all self-made money. His father refused to help him financially, and at the time of his death, Howletts was running at a loss of millions.

Gorilla-loving father Damian Aspinall, 52, with his daughter Tansy Aspinall (now 23)

GORILLA-LOVING DAMIAN ASPINALL WITH HIS DAUGHTER TANSY

John Aspinall was the owner of Howletts and grandfather to Tansy Aspinall

JOHN ASPINALL WAS THE OWNER OF HOWLETTS AND GRANDFATHER TO TANSY ASPINALL

Damian has not only ensured its survival but turned it into a truly groundbreaking conservation project. Tansy also wants to play a part in the foundation’s work – mainly, she says, because of her childhood experiences.

‘I don’t really remember that specific moment with the gorillas but I do remember playing with them,’ says Tansy, who has just completed a degree in politics at Bristol University and is ‘on the job hunt’. 

‘I don’t have any of the fear of Gorillas that people normally have. I just feel love and warmth. Of all the  animals, Gorillas are my favourite. And that’s because they were always something I went in with as a child. I remember them being so gentle –  they almost treated me as if I was one of their own little babies.’

AMBAM THE GORILLA SHOWS HOW HE CAN WALK LIKE A HUMAN

Of course, there are dangers. During his adolescence Robin Birley, Lady Annabel Goldsmith’s society club-owning son, was mauled by a Tiger at Howletts. In 1980, a Tigress called Zeya was shot after killing two keepers, and in 1994 the park’s head keeper was killed when a two-year-old Siberian Tiger pounced on him.

And in 1989 a two-year-old boy had his arm ripped off by a Chimp after he reached into a cage to stroke it at another Aspinall park in Kent, Port Lympne. There is no record of a Gorilla ever killing a human.

Damian says: ‘I wouldn’t put my children or daughters in with an adult Tiger or a Lion regardless of the relationship – but Gorillas are different.’ Even so, times have changed, something Damian accepts. Tansy and her younger sister, Clary, 20, are Damian’s daughters with his first wife, Louise Sebag-Montefiore. The couple divorced in 1997. Both girls were allowed to play with the Gorillas but Freya, his eight-year-old daughter by his former partner, Donna Air, was not. He says: ‘I gave an interview when Freya was young and they said, “Would you take Freya in with the Gorillas?” I said, “Yes, sure.” There was uproar. The police called and said if you do this we’re going to have to come and interview you and social services called and said, “We might take your child if you do this.” The usual absolute nonsense.’

Still, he’s teaching her Tiger speak and Gorilla gurgles. He’s serious. ‘I can speak Wild Boar,’ he says. ‘When you wake up in the morning, open the bedroom door and two Tigers jump in your bed, you’re in serious trouble if you don’t know good morning in Tiger-speak.’

Damian’s earliest memory is of playing roly-poly on the lawn with Wolves and rolling over a wasps’ nest. ‘I was about eight and was with my sister,’ he recalls. ‘The swarm came out and they chased us and the Wolves, biting and stinging us everywhere. Even the Wolves screamed.

‘One of the animal people grabbed me, my sister and the Wolves and shoved us underwater at a trough. I remember opening my eyes under the water and a wolf and I just looked at each other terrified. My fear was never of the animals – but I’ve been wary of Wasps ever since.’

Damian Aspinall has put the film on the internet to show the amazing bond that can be formed between Gorillas and humans.

He said: ‘It’s a thing of great beauty in my life. It’s priceless. It’s a very deep connection and when you know that and see that, you will know what I mean.

‘That’s why I released the video. If seeing Tansy does a little bit more to reinforce the belief that there is a place for Gorillas on this planet, then people can say whatever they like.’

What you can do to help wildlife

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Please support our work by donating ANY amount, large or small. It only takes a minute. Thank you for your support.

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