Tag Archives | Animal Rights

War on Wildlife Crime – Time to Enlist the Ordinary Citizen

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Bradnee Chambers writes at Common Dreams:

It is no exaggeration to say that we are facing a “wildlife crisis”, and it is a crisis exacerbated by human activities, not least criminal ones.

Whatever our definition of wildlife crime, it is big business. In terms of annual turn-over it is up there narcotics, arms and human trafficking – and the proceeds run into billions of dollars each year, helping to finance criminal gangs and rebel organizations waging civil wars.

With seven billion people on the planet, it is tempting to shrug one’s shoulders and ask “What difference can any one individual make?”  Such an attitude means that we are in danger of repeating the “tragedy of the commons” – everyone making seemingly rational decisions in their own immediate interests – but this is a short-sighted approach that undermines the common good and ultimately sows the seeds of its own downfall.

With seven billion people on the planet, it is also tempting to say that people’s need for food, shelter and well-being should take precedence over nature conservation, but the two are not necessarily irreconcilable.  In fact far from it – the two often go hand in hand and are totally compatible – non-consumptive use of wildlife, such as whale-watching and safaris, provide sustainable livelihoods for thousands of people.

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Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

Shrine 93rd circus 2014 Paula Lively (CC BY 2.0)

Shrine 93rd circus 2014
Paula Lively (CC BY 2.0)

Tamara Lush via ABC News:

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus says the “Greatest Show on Earth” will go on without elephants.

Animal rights groups took credit for generating the public concern that forced the company to announce its pachyderm retirement plan on Thursday. But Ringling Bros.’ owners described it as the bittersweet result of years of internal family discussions.

“It was a decision 145 years in the making,” said Juliette Feld, referring to P.T. Barnum’s introduction of animals to his “traveling menagerie” in 1870. Elephants have symbolized this circus since Barnum brought an Asian elephant named Jumbo to America in 1882.

Kenneth Feld — whose father bought the circus in 1967 and who now runs Feld Enterprises Inc. with his three daughters — insisted that animal rights activists weren’t responsible.

“We’re not reacting to our critics; we’re creating the greatest resource for the preservation of the Asian elephant,” Kenneth Feld told The Associated Press as he broke the news that the last 13 performing elephants will retire by 2018, joining 29 other pachyderms at the company’s 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida.

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Flying Hamsters: Circus Attaches Alive Hamsters to Balloons For Children, But They Died Mid-Flight

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Who thought up this brilliant idea?

From November via The Daily Mail:

Animal rights campaigners in Russia are furious after a circus allegedly attached hamsters to balloons and dropped them down to children in the audience as ‘live gifts’.

The rodents were apparently dead by the time they reached the crowd below, leaving the children in the audience ‘acutely distressed’.

Some parents have complained the animals were placed inside bottles and thrown into the audience and, in some cases, rats were used instead of hamsters.

The circus, based in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, takes this controversial act all over Russia, according to the Siberian Times.

34,000 animal lovers have so far signed a petition calling for them to stop using hamsters in such a way.

Olga McManaman, who organised the petition, said: ‘I invite all animal lovers and caring people to protest against this outrageous practice of inhumane animal treatment.’

The animal rights campaigner from Siberia has urged people not to donate hamsters to the circus because they will be mistreated.

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New York Court Rules Chimpanzees Have No Human Rights

Sorry chimps, you don’t get the same rights as us humans, despite the best efforts of the Nonhuman Rights Project. Reuters reports on what would have been a truly ground-breaking decision had it gone the other way:

In the first case of its kind, a New York appeals court rejected on Thursday an animal rights advocate’s bid to extend “legal personhood” to chimpanzees, saying the primates are incapable of bearing the responsibilities that come with having legal rights.

A five-judge panel of the Albany court said attorney Steven Wise had shown that Tommy, a 26-year-old chimp who lives alone in a shed in upstate New York, was an autonomous creature, but that it was not possible for him to understand the social contract that binds humans together.

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“Needless to say, unlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions,” Presiding Justice Karen Peters wrote.

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Humans, Chimps and Why We Need Personhood for All

Not Tommy the Chimp. By Tambako The Jaguar via Flickr (CC by-nd 2.0)

Not Tommy the Chimp.
By Tambako The Jaguar via Flickr (CC by-nd 2.0)

via Time:

We accord rights to babies, the profoundly disabled and elderly people with dementia. Is Tommy the ape that different?

Advocates of animal rights are eagerly awaiting the results of a case brought before a New York state appellate court in Albany earlier this month that will decide if a chimpanzee named Tommy is a person. The judge’s decision may be handed down at any time between late October and December. If, in the eyes of the law, 26-year-old ape Tommy is deemed a person, he will be released from the small cage where he is kept in isolation by his owner near Gloversville, New York, and sent to an ape sanctuary in Florida.

Tommy would then become the world’s first non-human animal to be legally granted personhood.

The idea behind the court case, argued on October 8th by lawyer Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Project, rests upon Tommy’s right to determine what happens to his own life.

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Matthew Calarco: Animal Rights Beyond Anthropocentrism

calarcoTraditional contemporary animal rights issues are mostly founded on an assumption that we have solid definitions of what constitutes a “human” and what constitutes an “animal”. What if our definitions of these terms are called into question? What does the animal rights issue look like if we construct our ideas about humanity and animality in different ways? Are our lines dividing humanity and animality solidly drawn, or can they bleed and bend, perhaps be drawn in completely different ways?

Philosophy professor and author of Zoographies Matthew Calarco approaches animal rights from a standpoint of continental philosophy: if our definitions of what a “human” is and what an “animal” is are not firmly set, then our consideration of animal rights, if not all of ethics, can enter entirely different areas the current dialog excludes.

via On Human-Nonhuman Relations:

1) Why do you think is important to employ continental philosophy for the animal question?

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Should a Chimp Be Able to Sue Its Owner?

This could change everything! Walk me now or I sue…

This excerpt from the New York Times Magazine picks up after Steven Wise visits a chimpanzee named Tommy at Circle L Trailer Sales near Gloversville, N.Y.:

…Seven weeks later, on Dec. 2, Wise, a 63-year-old legal scholar in the field of animal law, strode with his fellow lawyers, Natalie Prosin, the executive director of the Nonhuman Rights Project (Nh.R.P.), and Elizabeth Stein, a New York-based animal-law expert, into the clerk’s office of the Fulton County Courthouse in Johnstown, N.Y., 10 miles from Circle L Trailer Sales, wielding multiple copies of a legal document the likes of which had never been seen in any of the world’s courts, no less conservative Fulton County’s.

Under the partial heading “The Nonhuman Rights Project Inc. on behalf of Tommy,” the legal memo and petition included among their 106 pages a detailed account of the “petitioner’s” solitary confinement “in a small, dank, cement cage in a cavernous dark shed”; and a series of nine affidavits gathered from leading primatologists around the world, each one detailing the cognitive capabilities of a being like Tommy, thereby underscoring the physical and psychological ravages he suffers in confinement.

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Does Socialist Critique of Terrorism Apply to Animal Activists?

Pic: Daniel Schwin (CC)

Pic: Daniel Schwin (CC)

Jon Hochschartner writes at CounterPunch:

The animal rights movement has long been divided between militants and pacifists, between those who support violence against property or institutional exploiters and those who do not. In one camp, we find activists like Steven Best, who argue the scope of animal exploitation is so great that preventative violence is a moral necessity. In the other, we find activists like Gary Francione, who argue all forms of violence are wrong, including those directed at institutional exploiters or their property.

I’d argue that by focusing so intently on the morality of violence, the animal rights movement often ignores whether the debated tactics are effective. Additionally, I’d like to investigate what, if anything, we can learn from other movements that have grappled with the question of terrorism. In this essay, I will be examining the revolutionary workers’ struggle specifically.

Most socialists don’t have a moral opposition to violence, but recognize it’s generally incapable of creating large-scale, permanent change when carried out by individuals or small groups.

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Lawsuit Seeks “Legal Personhood” Rights For Captive Chimps

chimpsDo basic human rights extend to other animals with human-like cognitive abilities?The New York Times reports:

Should a captive chimpanzee have the same rights as a “legal person”? That’s the debate set to unfold after an activist group filed lawsuits on behalf of four chimpanzees, asking the New York Supreme Court to grant them the “right to bodily liberty.”

“We’ll be asking judges to recognize, for the first time, that these cognitively complex, autonomous beings have the basic legal right to not be imprisoned,” said Steven M. Wise, founder and president of the Nonhuman Rights Project.

The four chimpanzees are all held in New York state. Tommy, 26, is living in a cage on a trailer lot in Gloversville. Kiko, 26, formerly worked in the entertainment industry and is now living in Niagara Falls on private property, where he is caged. Hercules and Leo, two young males, are used in research in the Anatomy Department at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook.

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