The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would make animal cruelty a federal felony. The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or PACT Act, bans abusive behavior including crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling and other bodily injury toward any non-humans.
The bill was introduced by two Florida congressmen, Democrat Ted Deutch and Republican Vern Buchanan, in January. It was approved Tuesday by a voice vote.
The PACT Act expands the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which was passed by Congress in 2010 and made the creation and distribution of animal crushing videos illegal. However, the new act closes a loophole by prohibiting the underlying acts of animal abuse, according to the office of Congressman Deutch.
“There’s no place in a civilized society for maiming and torturing animals – period,” said Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who is a co-sponsor of the Senate bill. Current federal law prohibits animal fighting and only criminalizes animal cruelty if the wrongdoers create and sell videos depicting the act. Under the PACT Act, a person can be prosecuted for crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling animals and sexually exploiting them. Those convicted would face federal felony charges, fines and up to seven years in prison.”I’m glad Congress is finally sending the PACT Act to the President’s desk to be signed into law,” Blumenthal said.Right now, all 50 states have laws in their books against animal cruelty on the state level. If President Trump signs the bill, authorities can go after the wrongdoers because they will have federal jurisdiction and will not be bound by state laws. They can also prosecute criminals if the cruelty occurs on federal property.
The Humane Society Legislative Fund called Tuesday’s Senate vote a well-deserved victory. “We’ve made the case for this measure for many years, and view it as one of the largest victories for animals in a long time,” President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States Kitty Block said. She went on “Over the course of 30 years in animal protection, I have encountered terrible animal cruelties, but acts of intentional torture are the most disturbing because they demonstrate how some people treat the most vulnerable in our society,” . “Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla) are tremendous advocates for animal protection, and we thank them for their leadership in closing this important gap in the law.”
The bill has been endorsed by the National Sheriffs Association and the Fraternal Order of Police.
There was outrage when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the remains of Elephants legally hunted in Zimbabwe and Zambia could now be legally imported to the United States as trophies.
This new policy overturned a ban put in place by the Obama administration in 2014. African Elephants are considered “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, a step below being endangered. The animals’ numbers have plunged from around 10 million 100 years ago to around 400,000 today, largely because of poaching and habitat loss. The Fish and Wildlife Service has not changed the Elephants’ status; instead, it now argues that supporting “legal, well-managed hunting programs” will help provide “much-needed conservation dollars to preserve habitats and protect wild herds” in Zimbabwe and Zambia, the agency’s principal deputy director, Greg Sheehan, said in a news release.
But then, to further complicate matters, President Donald Trump tweeted Friday evening that nothing would actually change until he “reviews all conservation facts.”
The idea that killing more elephants will help save the species is counterintuitive, and its line of reasoning is difficult for many conservation organizations to support: Let rich hunters pay hefty sums to shoot elephants, and use the money to help conservation efforts and local communities. Supposedly, the villagers won’t then need to poach elephants to feed their families and pay their kids’ school fees. Still, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, a respected organization that sets the conservation status for all species, supports the notion.
But the evidence that “hunting elephants saves them” is thin. The hunting-safari business employs few people, and the money from fees that trickles down to the villagers is insignificant. A 2009 report from the IUCN revealed that sport hunting in West Africa does not provide significant benefits to the surrounding communities. A more recent report by an Australian economic-analysis firm for Humane Society International found that trophy hunting amounts to less than 2 percent of tourism revenue in eight African countries that permit it.
And then, there is a larger moral question: How does hunting affect male elephants, especially the “big tuskers” that hunters want, and the overall population?
If elephants are recognized as legal persons, a term the U.S. courts have granted corporations, it would be more difficult to hunt them at all—let alone import their body parts. Wise’s lawsuit cites extensive scientific studies that have established elephants’ cognitive abilities, emotional and empathetic natures, complex social lives, lifelong learning, and memory skills. “Taken together, the research makes it clear elephants are autonomous beings who have the capacity to choose how to live their lives as elephants,” he tells me.
One thing elephants would not choose, Wise and elephant researchers agree, is to be hunted. “It doesn’t matter to elephants if they are killed by poachers or trophy hunters,” says Joyce Poole, who has studied African elephants in the wild in Kenya and Mozambique for more than 40 years and is the codirector of ElephantVoices, a conservation organization. “Either way, you’re a killer. And if elephants understand that about you, they change their behavior.”
Elephants aren’t considered game animals in most African countries with substantial populations of these animals. But trophy hunters after large male elephants can seek their prey in South Africa, Namibia, Cameroon, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Gabon, and Mozambique. Kenya banned the sport in 1973, while Tanzania continued to permit legal hunting. That caused problems for the elephants of Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, says Poole, who was studying the large males in the park at the time. The park borders Tanzania, and after the Tanzanian government opened a hunting block on the opposite side, the Amboseli male elephants who wandered across became prized targets.
“It was an awful time,” Poole recalled, “because on one side, the elephants learned to trust tourists—generally white people—in cars. From our studies, we know they can smell the difference between whites and local people. They also distinguish us by our languages. They know people who speak Maa, the language of the local Maasai people, may throw spears at them; those who speak English don’t.” However, the tables were turned on the Tanzanian side of the border. There, white people in cars who drove up close to see an elephant might lean out with a camera—or a rifle.
“The elephants didn’t run because they didn’t expect to be shot,” Poole said. Two of the large males she was studying were lost this way to trophy hunters. She and others protested to the Tanzanian government, and these particular hunting blocks were eventually closed.
Poole does not know how the loss of these big males, who’d fathered many calves, affected the other elephants. Female elephants, though, do mourn family members who die, and are especially troubled when the matriarch, their leader, passes. In 2003, for instance, researchers in Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve watched as Eleanor, an elephant family’s matriarch, died from natural causes. When Eleanor fell heavily to the ground, Grace, a matriarch from another family, used her tusks to lift her friend and helped her to her feet. Despite Grace’s efforts, Eleanor died that night. She had a tiny, six-month-old calf who never left her side. In a photograph, the calf stands like a small sentinel beside her mother’s body, while the rest of the family bunches together, grieving.
Researchers have rarely seen similar moments among male elephants, who as adults, live away from the female herds they grew up in, and return only to mate. That behavior led to a “myth that males are far less social than females,” said George Wittemyer, a conservation biologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins who has studied elephants in Kenya for more than 20 years. His new research contradicts this notion. “Actually, the males are always in groups and have preferences for certain companions. They’re not the loners they’ve been made out to be,” he said.
“The death of a bull will cause less disruption than the death of a family member,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, a zoologist who founded the organization Save the Elephants. “If a bull is shot while associating with a family the others will normally run away.” But he noted: “Bulls will defend or help each other sometimes, when one is down.”
From a population standpoint, “older male elephants are very important to the health and genetic vitality of a population,” said Cynthia Moss, who has led the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya since 1972. While hunters in the past have used the belief that older males are reproductively senile as an argument for killing them for their ivory, research has revealed that they are in fact an elephant population’s primary breeders. “By living to an older age, [older males show that] they have the traits for longevity and good health to pass on to their offspring,” Moss said. “Killing these males compromises the next generation of the population.”
It’s not clear if the Fish and Wildlife Service will consider how trophy hunting affects individual elephants or their families. The agency didn’t comment on Trump’s tweet when contacted, but later issued a public statement confirming that permits would be put on hold. “President Trump and I have talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in the statement.
Wise believes that the emotional and psychological suffering the elephants endure from this sport is obvious. “One day it will be seen for the moral outrage that it is,” he said.
A North Dakota brewery is helping local pups find their forever homes by featuring their faces on the front of its beer cans.
Partnering with the rescue organization 4 Luv of Dog Rescue, Fargo Brewing Company hopes that adding the dog’s mugs will help these harder-to-adopt pups get noticed. The dogs featured have a hard time socializing, so they don’t do well at adoption events. Hopefully, the cans will change that.
Jerad Ryan, a volunteer with 4 Luv of Dog, says the partnership between the brewery and the non-profit was his idea.
“Our wonder dogs are dogs that will live their best life in a home by themselves and there’s no other pets,” Ryan said. “They can be a little bit tougher to find homes for, foster homes, that type of thing. We are featuring those dogs in a can and bringing them here, so the public can meet them,” he added.
“The harder-to-adopt dogs sometimes labeled as ‘Oneder dogs’ have always had a special place in my heart,” shelter volunteer Jerad Ryan told the outlet. “My first three-and-a-half years volunteering at the shelter I would spend extra time with the dogs that had been there long-term mostly due to the fact they don’t do well living with any other dogs. Many of our foster homes already have a resident dog or two so it is difficult to find these particular dogs a forever home.”
Fargo Brewing will hold a beer release during which four of the dogs from the cans will stop by the brewery. The brewery also plans to donate any profits from the limited release to the rescue organization.
Please adopt shelter pets. And if you can, please consider adopting a senior pet. Seniors already know so much and their hearts are open to love. with more to give back than you ever imagined! There is nothing I love more than a “senior” dog or cat! They are some of the best pets you can invite into your life.
Anyone who believes that money can not buy you happiness has never paid an adoption fee!
Even the youngest of us can make a sea change in society only if we have the determination and dedication to do so. This is being proven by Pavel Abramov, who took up the responsibility of helping an animal shelter. The boy sells custom pet portraits in exchange for food and other supplies for the animal shelter.
This idea came to his brilliant little mind when his family lost their pet “Barsik”. It had a great impact on his juvenile mind and since then he couldn’t bear to see stray animals suffering. About one year ago, Pavel and his mom Ekaterina Bolshakova started the “Kind Paintbrush” project.
Living in Arzamas city in Russia, the mom-son duo has also been managing “What a little volunteer is capable of?” This is a group on VK- a Russian social media site. It shows how a child is capable of bringing about huge changes. They don’t get any funds from any organization; neither do they have a manager or employees. It’s just the two of them and their patrons.
Pavel makes a contract with pet owners whereby the boy sells custom pet portraits of their pets in exchange for food, medicines, toys, etc., for dogs living in the animal shelter. What is more interesting is that he meets the pets whom he drew after finishing the painting. He likes getting to know about the rescue story of every single pet, of how they came to live with their current family.
The 9-year-old kid is the youngest among all the volunteers of the sole animal shelter in Arzamas. It cares for more than 100 dogs and thus needs pet supplies regularly. Pavel sells custom pet portraits to the pet owners and in return asks for whatever supplies the shelter requires at that time.
Ekaterina Bolshakova says that the whole family takes pride in their son’s project “Kind Paintbrush”. As every kid of his age, Pavel wants to do several things and thus runs short of time. He wants to become an architect and build an animal shelter. Well, for now, what he is doing is enough because not every boy sells custom pet portraits in exchange for food and other supplies for a shelter!
When you have to spend a long time in a hospital bed it can
be hard not seeing much of your friends – especially the four-legged kind!
But not anymore – Staff at the Trinity Holistic Centre at
The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough have pulled out all the
stops to open up their own pet shed.
The purpose-built facility in the holistic centre garden now
provides an opportunity for families to bring in small animals such as dogs,
cats and rabbits so that patients can be reunited with their much-loved pets –
providing they are well enough to leave the ward.
Patients will be accompanied by a staff member or therapeutic
care volunteer from South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust throughout their
pet therapy session and strict hand washing rules will be in place to comply
with infection control rules.
The pre-arranged visits can be for up to an hour, but for
safety reasons only one pet can be on site at any time and they must be kept
under control by a family member.
Lauren Farrow, Macmillan information and support centre’s business manager said: “We wanted to use our garden to help patients who are missing their pets to spend some precious time with them.
“Pets are such an important part of our lives and can really affect our sense of wellbeing so this project fits really well with the holistic work that we do.
“Guidance from the Royal College of Nursing champions the importance of this kind of therapy so we were keen to make it a realistic option for our patients. After all, patients who spend long periods of time in hospital can actually have a quicker recovery if they have access to their pets.”
Darren, 50, of Appleton Wiske, has six dogs and is currently
in hospital for up to six months after breaking his leg in two places in a sky
He said: “I think it’s a fantastic idea. Dogs offer calmness
and lift the mood and this gives you the chance to bring in your own dogs which
is much more special.”
This project has been made possible thanks to the kind
sponsorship of Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation’s Golden
Giveaway, Ageing Better, Serco and friends and family of Christine Wall.
Trinity Holistic Centre is a charitable organisation
supporting patients, carers and staff at James Cook and at the Friarage
Hospital in Northallerton.
The service is dependent on the generosity of its volunteers, supporters and fundraisers.
Protect All Wildlife are advocates for wildlife and expose animal abuse and abusers wherever in the world they are. We will NEVER stop fighting for better animal rights and welfare.
We are proud to have financially supported charities like DSWT, Thula Thula Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, Lion Aid, The Orangutan Foundation, Elephantopia and PupAid through taking part in sponsored runs, skydiving and abseiling events.
Proceeds from sales go towards my various fundraising activities for animal charities. To date Protect All Wildlife have raised over £25,000 for animals.
Elephant rides are an attraction regularly offered to tourists in several Asian countries including Thailand. But to get there, the animals undergo a very particular training that is actually akin to real torture.
Between 35 and 40,000, is the number of wild Elephants that remain in Asia, according to estimates. A figure to which should be added the more than 15,000 domesticated Elephants. If you go to Asia one day, you will certainly meet these majestic pachyderms with big ears. You may even be asked to ride on their backs for a ride.
Millions of tourists enjoy this ‘attraction’ every year in Asia, especially in Thailand. Nevertheless, it hides a reality that few tourists are aware of: to get there, the animals suffer a real torture. If the words can seem strong, they are not, as all those who have seen with their eyes what is really happening. Indeed, to be trained, Elephants undergo a ritual called “phajaan”.
The principle is simple: “break the spirit” of the Elephant. As two globetrotters, Seth and Lise, explain, “the origin of phajaan comes from the ancestral belief that one can separate the mind of an Elephant from its body so that it loses its reflexes and instinct natural wilderness and be completely under the control of man “. Concretely, it is to submit the Elephant until he agrees to do everything asked of him.
Beaten, hungry and sleep-deprived
From a practical point of view, it is only by using violence that the trainers achieve it. Phajaan lasts between 4 and 6 days and is carried out on young Elephants. The animals are separated from their mothers and locked in narrow cages where they are chained. Without being able to struggle or even move a limb, they are then repeatedly hit in strategic places, the most sensitive.
In addition to being beaten, Elephants are kept awake, deprived of food and water under the eyes of trainers (“mahout”) who recite prayers that can be translated as “Elephant, if you stop fighting, we do not you’ll hurt more, “says a documentary. The torture does not stop until after several days, when the trainers believe that the spirit of the Elephant is broken, that his behaviour has changed.
Out of his cage, the animal appears submissive, impressed by the fear of the man who subjected him to this torture. Then begins a real training that will consist in teaching the Elephant all the necessary commands or gestures intended to amuse the tourists. Once the specimen is formed, it can be used as an attraction for most of its life.
50% of Elephants die during the ritual
It is estimated that half of the Elephants would not survive phajaan. Others would become aggressive: about 100 mahouts are killed each year by their animals. Still others would go insane or have trouble with their experience, rendering them unusable for attractions. Most would then be killed.
The surviving Elephants are used to wander the tourists, to beg or for work. In order for them to remain submissive, they are given a few booster shots by hitting them or pressing the sensitive spots again. In tourism, an Elephant can spend the day carrying people without a minute to rest, eat or drink. The rest of the time, most animals are tied up so that they are not dangerous.
A life that would often lead to the appearance of disorders including neurological. “If you ever have a chance to spot domestic Elephants, watch them,” Seth and Lise explain. “Chance or not, all the Elephants we’ve seen had signs of recent abuse, scars, obvious signs of poor health, some are more damaged than others, and it’s extremely rare to see one of these well-treated animals. “.
“It is largely because of tourists that this business works, so it is up to tourists to make the right decisions. The future and especially the well-being of thousands of Elephants is at stake,” they conclude in their blog.
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Elephants had never been part of Lawrence Anthony’s plan for Thula Thula, but in 1999 he was telephoned by a conservation organisation which asked whether he would be willing to take on a herd of nine animals which had escaped from every enclosure they had ever been in, wreaking havoc across KwaZulu-Natal, and were considered highly dangerous. Realising that the Elephants would be shot if he declined, Anthony agreed to give them a home.
But he was the herd’s last chance of survival – notorious escape artists, they would all be killed if Lawrence wouldn’t take them. He agreed, but before arrangements for the move could be completed the animals broke out again and the matriarch and her baby were shot. The remaining Elephants were traumatised and very angry. As soon as they arrived at Thula Thula they started planning their escape.
“They were a difficult bunch, no question about it,” he recalled. “Delinquents every one. But I could see a lot of good in them too. They’d had a tough time and were all scared, and yet they were looking after one another, trying to protect one another.”
Lawrence decided to treat the Elephants as errant children, working to persuade them, through words and gestures, that they should not behave badly and that they could trust him. He concentrated his attention on Nana, the matriarch of the herd: “I’d go down to the fence and I’d plead with Nana not to break it down,” he said. “I knew she didn’t understand English, but I hoped she’d understand by the tone of my voice and my body language what I was saying. And one morning, instead of trying to break the fence down, she just stood there. Then she put her trunk through the fence towards me. I knew she wanted to touch me. That was a turning point.” Soon they were allowed out into the reserve.
As Lawrence battled to create a bond with the Elephants and save them from execution, he came to realise that they had a lot to teach him about love, loyalty and freedom. Set against the background of life on the reserve, with unforgettable characters and exotic wildlife, he wrote The Elephant Whisperer, a book that appealed to animal lovers worldwide.
After his death, Lawrence’s beloved Elephants came to his house to say goodbye.
When Lawrence died at the age of 61 in 2012, two herds of wild South African Elephants slowly made their way through the Zululand bush until they reached the house of late author, the conservationist who saved their lives. The formerly violent, rogue Elephants, destined to be shot a few years ago as pests, were rescued and rehabilitated by Anthony, who had grown up in the bush and was known as the “Elephant Whisperer.” For two days the herds loitered at Lawrence’s rural compound on the vast Thula Thula game reserve in the South African KwaZulu — to say good-bye to the man they loved. But how did they know he had died? Known for his unique ability to calm traumatized Elephants Lawrence had become a legend. He is the author of three books, Babylon Ark, detailing his efforts to rescue the animals at Baghdad Zoo during the Iraqi war, the forthcoming The Last Rhinos, and his bestselling The Elephant Whisperer. There are two Elephant herds at Thula Thula. According to his son Dylan, both arrived at the Anthony family compound shortly after Anthony’s death. “They had not visited the house for a year and a half and it must have taken them about 12 hours to make the journey,” Dylan is quoted in various local news accounts. “The first herd arrived on Sunday and the second herd, a day later. They all hung around for about two days before making their way back into the bush. “Elephants have long been known to mourn their dead. In India, baby Elephants often are raised with a boy who will be their lifelong “mahout.” The pair develop legendary bonds and it is not uncommon for one to waste away without a will to live after the death of the other.
What Is The Thula Thula Land Expansion Project For Elephant Habitat?
The original herd of 7 Elephants that Lawrence Anthony rescued in 1999 has now increased to 30 Elephants meaning the maximum sustainable capacity of Thula Thula has been reached!
How Can The Long-Term Future Of The Elephant Whispered Herd Be Secured?
Thanks to the local community, Thula Thula has the opportunity to add a further 3500 hectares of land to increase their habitat. This solution requires 35 km of electric fencing as well as roads, increased security, guard training, security equipment and vehicles, conservation, land management and the list just go on, to keep the wildlife safe. Community projects such as this, not only support the wildlife but also improve local employment and education.
For my part, I am doing a 10,000 feet skydive to help raise funds for this project.
By donating to this cause you are helping to secure the future for the Thula Thula Elephants and local communities.
I am very proud that Protect All Wildlife has been chosen to publish a guest blog by the now retired dolphin trainer David Capello, aka The Psychic Trainer, featured in The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy Expose of abuse in UK dolphin training pens.
Dolphinariums Don’t Just Break Dolphins, They Break People Too!
“Lies, deceit, corruption – to say nothing of cruelty. All facets of the lucrative captive cetacean industry. And I should know, because I was once a big part of it.
So, who am I?
I have several pseudonyms, my most popular being ‘Capello’, the most colourful being ‘The Psychic Trainer’. But there is another handle – one I’d rather remain unwritten, as my whistle-blowing return was never intended as self-promotion. Either way, I am the trainer featured in The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy exposé, three books written under the fiction banner to avoid legal problems. A story now described by one discerning reviewer as ‘… fact stranger and more brutal than fiction!’ Yet, incredibly, all events chronicled are true, facts authenticated by original dolphin logbooks, long since thought destroyed. (A common Company practice on the death of a show dolphin.)
As you can imagine, my emergence with these logs has severely rattled the conglomerate and animal celebs involved in the story, resulting in a national UK media blackout. A cover-up that appears to have infiltrated the USA, after this award-winning exposé was controversially pulled from an over-subscribed summer reading programme by an unnamed US official. Desperate actions that beg the question, ‘Why are so many organisations, people and – now it would appear – governments so afraid of my story? Why are they so anxious to shut me up?’ Questions that can only be answered by reading the exposé itself.
As for me, my involvement with the aqua circus began at the tender age of 17, when I landed what I believed to be my dream job – a naivety that saw me whisked away from family and friends, and deposited in the harsh confines of the UK dolphin training pens; a facility breaking raw dolphins for the commercial dolphinaria.
Always held in high esteem, trainers graduating from this establishment were known for being ‘hard-nosed’. Not surprising considering the daily horrors they inevitably witnessed – botched transports that left countless dolphins injured and even maimed. I personally witnessed air burns, a blinding and much, much worse, devastating for the dolphins that survived, because – as my pen colleagues always reminded me – many Atlanteans didn’t.
Working the pens was physically and mentally gruelling. Early training was always conducted lying belly down on wet platforms, so we could interact with our dolphin captives eye to eye. Fifteen-hour days were commonplace. Depriving the dolphins of sleep was an important method used to secure the quickfire results that management demanded.
It was here that I witnessed my first suicide dolphin – a phenomenon that the captive industry vehemently denies. It was also here where I learned to hand-catch in preparation for transports, veterinary treatments or force-feeds – the latter, horribly distressing.
The force-feeds consisted of wrapping disinfected towel gags around the upper and lower jaws of the manually pinned-down dolphins, followed by physically pushing lubricated herring down into their throats to activate their swallowing mechanism. This nightmare was normally performed five fish at a time, punctuated by brief rest periods. Even so, this was not always successful, as the dolphins often vomited back their forced feed.
Much worse than the vomiting, however, was the unseen damage inflicted on the dolphins’ psyches, because once they’d undergone this torturous procedure, they were left vulnerable to what many pen trainers refer to as the ‘dolphin mind-set’, a mental condition that, once activated, proves difficult to reverse … suicide by self-starvation.
In fact, my only fond memory of the pens was Duchess and Herb’e (Flippa), my beloved Perfect Pair, for it was their brilliance that allowed the three of us to escape that hellhole and head to our first purpose-built dolphinarium.
The rest, as they say, is history. Over the next three years, my two magnificent show dolphins took the aqua circus by storm, achieving the much-revered shadow ballet. Their story has been lovingly chronicled by the Holroyds in The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy book series – a warts-and-all exposé that I pray will help bring down this horrendous industry.
As for me, once I’d made my decision to walk away from the aqua circus, I was never tempted to return, despite a lucrative offer to train Europe’s then only captive orca. My reason? I viewed my achievements not with pride, but with shame. Nevertheless, despite the attempted cover-up, my experiences are now a documented part of UK dolphinarium history – a tool to shine a light into the sinister and murky world of captive cetaceans.
Sudan, the world’s last male Northern White Rhino has fallen gravely ill, driving the subspecies one step closer towards extinction.
The 45-year-old rhino is known, is suffering from two infections on his right back leg. He lives at Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy, which announced on Twitter late last month that Sudan’s “health has begun deteriorating, and his future is not looking bright.
The Rhino’s troubles began late last year, when Sudan developed an age-related infection on his back leg. He was treated and seemed to be recovering well, but a secondary, deeper infection was recently discovered behind the original one.
“This has been treated, but worryingly, the infection is taking longer to recover, despite the best efforts of his team of vets who are giving him 24-hour care,” Ol Pejeta wrote on Twitter. “We are very concerned about him—he’s extremely old for a rhino and we do not want him to suffer unnecessarily.”
Elodie A. Sampere, a spokesperson for the conservancy, tells Faith Karimi of CNN that Sudan is still feeding and walking about, “albeit very little.”
“Euthanasia will be explored if we feel he is suffering too much and won’t recover,” Sampere says.
Sudan is one of the world’s last three Northern White Rhinos, and the only male. Two females—Najin and her daughter Fatu—also live at Ol Pejeta. Recent efforts to breed the rhinos have not been successful; Sudan has a low sperm count, Najin’s knees are too weak to endure breeding attempts and Fatu is infertile. Last year, Sudan was given a Tinder profile as part of a campaign to raise funds to develop reproductive technology for the rhinos.
Northern White Rhinos have already been classified as extinct, since none exist in the wild, according to Ann M. Simmons of the Los Angeles Times. And all species of rhino are facing grave threats. While millions of the animals once roamed across Africa and Asia, only 30,000 now survive in the wild, according to Save the Rhino. Poachers, who illegally hunt Rhinos for their horns, are the main threat to the animals’ survival. At the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Sudan is constantly flanked by armed guards.
Scientists are exploring various options for reintroducing the northern white rhino subspecies, among them in-vitro fertilization. Barbara Durrant, director of reproductive sciences at San Diego Zoo Global, tells Simmons that other possibilities include using stem cell technology to create a northern white rhino embryo (which could then be implanted in a surrogate), creating a hybrid between Northern and Southern White Rhinos, or even cloning the animal.
But, Durrant notes, scientist “have lot of work to do to develop those technologies.” More urgent is the need to stamp out the demand for Rhino horn and bring an end to the poaching of these magnificent creatures.
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