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From seals to squirrels, the Animal Protection and Rescue League (APRL) has been racking up an impressive record of victories for animals since Bryan Pease and Kath Rogers founded the San Diego-based non-profit seven years ago. Their latest win is persuading yet another local restaurant to remove foie gras from its menu. After Kath announced that they had convinced Bernard’O Restaurant to forgo foie gras, I asked her to share with other activists how APRL managed to get the restaurant to stop serving this cruel delicacy, which is produced by force-feeding ducks and geese until their livers become diseased (foie gras is French for “fatty liver”).
Kath told me much of the credit goes to Christina Tacoronti, APRL’s campaigns coordinator, and Lisa Osborne, a tireless volunteer at the vanguard of the foie gras restaurant campaign. “These two powerhouse ladies run the show on the anti-foie gras front here in San Diego,” Kath says. “Approximately 25 restaurants have removed foie gras in the past few months due to our campaign. Three pulled it from their menus this week alone!”
Christina was kind enough to walk me through APRL’s anti-foie gras campaign. Not surprisingly, they’ve taken a page from the Henry Spira playbook (in fact, Christina is in the process of creating an anti-foie gras manual for activists). She says they had a Valentine’s Day protest scheduled for another restaurant in the neighborhood, El Bizcocho, when they discovered Bernard’O was also serving foie gras. “Since the restaurants were less than a mile away from each other, we decided that we could easily target both of the restaurants on such a special day,” she says.
Christina’s first action was to call Bernard’O and ask if they would remove foie gras from their menu. “I explained to the owner how the product is made, that the sale and production of foie gras will be banned in California in 2012 and that the City of San Diego commends restaurants that remove the product before the ban goes into effect. After hearing all of this, the owner said he would consider removing foie gras. Generally, when a restaurant says they will ‘consider’ removing foie gras, it means that they will not remove foie gras and they are not taking you very seriously.” So Christina called back the next day to see if he had indeed considered it. “I also told the owner that if he would not remove it, we would be outside of his restaurant educating his customers with signs and posters about the cruelty of foie gras. Bernard did not seem to care.” She called him again, on February 13, to remind him that APRL campaigners would be outside his restaurant the following day, Valentine’s Day ― one of the most popular days of the year for couples dining out.
“On the day of the protest, as the protesters were walking up, Kath and I went into the restaurant to ask the owner one more time to take foie gras off the menu,” says Christina. “We were not welcomed in the restaurant, to say the least, and the owner’s wife promptly called the police. It was a good thing that I contacted the police beforehand and that I have a good relationship with the local sergeant.”
Anti-foie gras protests are often held on a Friday or Saturday night, which are busy evenings for restaurants (Valentine’s Day was a Saturday this year). Christina waited until Monday to call Bernard’O again. “I got to speak to the owner’s wife, who said that she was happy to have us there and that we actually increased the sale of foie gras that night. This is a sad tactic that the other side likes to use to make our efforts seem less significant. I told her that we would return if they would not stop serving foie gras. We scheduled the protest for two weeks later and I called the restaurant two days later.”
On the next phone call to the restaurant, Bernard’s wife tried playing the sympathy card, but Christina wasn’t buying it. “This time she said that she loved animals and that we should consider her right to make money. With this I knew I had her, and I upped the threat. I told her that we would be back for our second protest with more people and for a full two hours if she did not remove foie gras. At the end of the phone call, she said that she would talk to the owner and the chef and then get back to us in two days. At the end of the second day, we called the restaurant and talked to Bernard. He said they had talked about it and that the restaurant would no longer be serving foie gras. To confirm, we sent a volunteer to look at the menu and ask what the specials were and, indeed, the restaurant was foie gras-free.”
In other words, it took a few phone calls, a little face time and a single protest for a restaurant to give up serving foie gras. And this was a restaurant that had seemed steadfast in its position.
To ensure restaurants are sticking to their foie gras-free pledges, APRL visits them about once a month, checks the menu and asks if foie gras is available as a side dish. “If it’s not, great,” says Christina. “We will check back in a month. We do tell the owner that if we find that the restaurant is serving foie gras again, we will return without warning. And that is how we continue to get victories and make them last.”
APRL is working hard to get every restaurant in San Diego to stop serving foie gras now. Speaking of which, as I was preparing this blog, Kath told me they were planning a protest at El Bizcocho. A few hours later, I received an email from Kath: “Bizcocho took foie gras off the menu! Woo hoo!!!”
If you’d like to thank Bernard’O and El Bizcocho for making the compassionate choice, you can email them:
Bernard’O – email@example.com
El Bizcocho – RanchoBernardoInn@JCResorts.com
When I first heard that activist and graphic designer Josh Hooten was going to ride his bike 600 miles to raise awareness for animals, I was heartened and impressed. Six hundred miles on a bike is no easy task. That’s roughly the distance from San Francisco to San Diego; I don’t even like driving that far. But Josh is doing it for a great cause: he’s both celebrating 10 years of being vegan and he’s benefiting Farm Sanctuary, which he acknowledges had a major influence on him a decade ago.
“I don’t remember exactly how I found out about Farm Sanctuary, but I was living in Boston back then and involved in the punk scene,” Josh says. “There were ― and are — a lot of animal rights people in that scene, and Farm Sanctuary is a well-known organization on the east coast, as well as other places, obviously. The first I really remember learning the story of Farm Sanctuary was through Eric Weiss, who worked at Satya magazine, and for Eddie Lama, and is an amazing activist. He did a music zine called Rumpshaker, which was amazing — truly one of the best ever. He did an article on the farm and on [co-founders] Gene and Lorri. Hearing the story of Hilda and of their dedication and pioneering work really moved me. It took me awhile after that to finally go vegan, but Farm Sanctuary had a real effect on my decision and therefore on my life.”
After 10 years of vegan living, Josh will be giving back to the organization that inspired him by pedaling from his home in Portland, Oregon (where he and his wife, Michelle Schwegmann, run the ultra-hip Herbivore Clothing Company), down to Farm Sanctuary’s California shelter in Orland. His plan is to leave the first week of May and arrive at Farm Sanctuary in time to emcee their annual Country Hoe Down on May 16 and 17. (Look for the tired guy with the big smile.)
In addition to donations for Farm Sanctuary, Josh is hoping for another form of support. “I’m going to ask non-vegans to go vegan for the days that I’m riding down,” he says. “It’ll be nine or 10 days of pretty serious biking, so I’m asking folks who want to support me to do so by being vegan for those days if they aren’t already.”
Josh is busy training for the long ride, and he’s taking some beautiful photographs along the way. See it all and learn more at http://joshivore.blogspot.com/.
Today marks the beginning of National Justice for Animals Week, an effort launched by the Animal Legal Defense Fund to draw attention to the issue of animal abuse and urge law enforcement, prosecutors and lawmakers to protect our animals and our neighborhoods from abusers. With the theme “Fighting Animal Abuse, Honoring Animal Victims,” the week will be an annual event dedicated to raising public awareness in the US about how to report animal abuse and how citizens can work within their communities to create stronger laws and assure tough enforcement.
For 30 years, ALDF has been on the frontlines in the battle against animal cruelty, using the legal system to advance the interests of animals. With the launch of National Justice for Animals Week, ALDF embarks on an innovative way to educate the public about abuses that have become a hidden epidemic in the US. “Animal victims of abuse cannot speak for themselves, so concerned citizens and our legal system must speak up for them,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells.
National Justice for Animals Week will also be an opportunity to honor individuals who have given their time, skills and energy to ensure their communities are safe havens for animals.
There will be plenty for everyone to do this week. By signing ALDF’s Animal Bill of Rights, for example, concerned citizens can support the legal recognition of the rights of animals to have their most basic needs met and justice for animals who are abused and exploited.
Whether it’s puppy mills, factory farming, using animals in entertainment, keeping exotic animals as “pets” or anything in between, the public clearly has a lot to learn about animals. Thanks to National Justice for Animals Week, people will have a better understanding of how to recognize animal abuse ― and how to make sure abusers don’t get away with it.
For more details on this event, please click here.
On Friday, February 20, as the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship Steve Irwin arrived in Hobart, Tasmania, Australian Federal Police served a search warrant and seized records and videos shot for the Animal Planet series Whale Wars. According to a statement on the Sea Shepherd site, the warrant authorized the seizing of “all edited and raw video footage, all edited and raw audio recordings, all still photographs, producer’s notes, interview transcripts, production meeting minutes, post production meeting minutes as well as the ship’s log books, global positioning system records, automatic radar plotting aid, purchase records, receipts, financial transaction records, voyage information and navigational plotted charts.”
The statement adds: “The Animal Planet series Whale Wars was very embarrassing to the Japanese government and the Japanese whaling industry in 2008. Japan does not wish to see the airing of the second season of Whale Wars and is putting as much diplomatic pressure on Australia as they possibly can to prevent further exposure of their illegal whaling operations in the Southern Ocean.”
An Australian federal agent said the raid resulted from a formal referral from Japanese authorities and that police were undertaking preliminary inquiries into this summer’s Southern Ocean confrontation. Sea Shepherd says two crew members were injured when Japanese whalers used water cannon, concussion grenades, acoustic weapons and threw brass and lead balls at Sea Shepherd boats. Japanese whalers claim the Steve Irwin rammed them.
The seized videos, which reportedly depict the clashes between Japanese whalers and Sea Shepherd activists, may be turned over to the Japanese government. According to Don Rothwell, an Australian National University law professor quoted in the media, legal obligations mean evidence of alleged maritime offenses could be forwarded to Japan.
The Japanese government-owned fleet’s president, Kazuo Yamamura, is calling on Australian authorities to impose international agreements. “These maritime laws are not options,” Yamamura said. “If they are not applied, they are of little value.” This is highly ironic coming from a group that openly flouts the international ban on whale hunting in the Southern Ocean. Japan circumvents the ban by using an International Whaling Commission loophole that permits research of the whales.
Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd said the Steve Irwin had never been searched before, but he welcomes any charges that led to the crew facing a court. “My position is that if they want to put me on trial for anything connected with this, then I am happy to do it,” he said. “We are not there protesting; we are down there to stop a blatantly criminal activity, to stop whaling in a whale sanctuary. These actions have to go to court somewhere, so let’s start it here.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is taking advantage of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver to focus attention on Canada’s annual slaughter of seals. This week PETA unveiled its parody of the 2010 Olympic logo: the multicolored Inukshuk emblem with a club raised over its head and a bloody seal below. Underneath, the Olympic rings drip with blood. The group will use the campaign’s logo on trading pins and billboards and at pre-Olympic events around the world. It’s just one part of what PETA says will be a year-long campaign to increase awareness about the hundreds of thousands of baby seals who are killed each spring, primarily on the ice floes off Newfoundland and Labrador.
“There’s never been a better time for Canada to clean up their image by ending the seal kill,” says Lindsay Rajt, PETA campaigns manager.
PETA says it will join forces with its international affiliates in the UK, Germany, France, India, Australia and Asia. On behalf of every animal protection organization in the world, it will focus attention on the massacre by staging protests and sending action alerts to millions of supporters.
“If Canada wants to clean up its world image for the Olympics, the first thing it should do is call off the universally condemned seal slaughter,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “We want to make sure that everyone who’s interested in Canada’s Games learns about Canada’s shame.”
PETA is asking people to write to the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee to voice their outrage over the senseless massacre of seals.
For more ways to help end the seal slaughter, please click here.
“Leading animal rights activist defects to Countryside Alliance – and now says hunting with dogs is ‘beneficial.’” That headline, from the February 18 edition of the UK’s Daily Mail, came on the four-year anniversary of Britain’s Hunting Act. The story has animal activists wondering what’s going on. Reporter Vanessa Allen explains that James Barrington, a former director of the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), is heading the efforts of a pro-hunting group called Countryside Alliance to overturn the ban on hunting. The ban outlaws hunting with dogs, particularly fox hunting, in England and Wales. Such hunts have long been part of British culture, and enforcing the ban has been difficult at best. Recent videos, for example, show hunters harassing and assaulting anti-hunt observers.
Allen writes that Barrington’s goal is still animal welfare: “[Barrington] said foxes suffered more through snaring, poisoning and shooting than through hunting with hounds, which was banned in the controversial Hunting Act introduced by the Blair government in 2005.”
I asked Douglas Batchelor, LACS’s chief executive, for his take on the matter. “James Barrington left the League Against Cruel Sports well before I joined over 10 years ago,” he said. “He has since leaving been closely associated with the pro-hunting movement. He set up a new organization which in turn was involved with setting up a Parliamentary group called the Middle Way group. That group proposed a licensing of hunting instead of a ban, and it later emerged that the group had been in part at least indirectly funded by the Countryside Alliance, the main pro-hunting group.”
According to Douglas, Barrington’s pro-hunting work is becoming news because of recent efforts to better identify the work of lobbyists in the UK Parliament. “It comes as no surprise to us that James Barrington has been identified now by the Countryside Alliance as being a consultant to the Countryside Alliance and the Middle Way Group. As far as we have been concerned, that has to all intents and purposes been the case for years as far as his public pronouncements are concerned.”
When asked if he considered James Barrington to be a “defector,” Douglas told me: “I don’t use that sort of language. As far as I am concerned, he left a long time ago, and now works for someone else. We have an expression here that says, ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune.’ That is how I see the role of James Barrington.”
The Daily Mail story concludes by noting that 75 percent of the country is in favor of the hunting ban. Rachel Jay, a spokesperson for LACS, adds: “On its fourth anniversary the Hunting Act continues to work well with 68 prosecutions so far and at least 50 more pending.”
If animal advocates have anything to say about it, appalling eBay auctions like this one will be history.
Several advocacy groups in Canada and the US are asking the online-auction giant to ban the posting of certain guided trophy hunts. The Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Big Wildlife and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation have sent a letter to eBay CEO John Donahoe requesting that the posting of hunting auctions for such animals as bears, wolves and mountain lions no longer be allowed.
“Have the lives of Canada’s grizzly bears, wolves and other large carnivores become so cheapened by the purveyors of trophy hunting that selling an opportunity to kill one is now as commonplace as trying to unload a kitchen appliance or baseball cards on eBay?” asked Chris Genovali, executive director of the British Columbia-based Raincoast Conservation Foundation.
“Few eBay users are aware the company also auctions off the lives of some of our planet’s most magnificent animals,” added Oregon-based Big Wildlife communications director Brian Vincent. “EBay has become an online marketplace peddling the slaughter of wolves, bears and cougars.”
Protecting wildlife from humans is no easy task. Grizzly and brown bears in Alaska and British Columbia, for example, face habitat loss from industrial logging, mining, energy development and urban sprawl and death from trophy hunting, poaching and international trade in bear parts. Though grizzlies are protected under the US Endangered Species Act in the lower 48 states, trophy hunters in Alaska and Canada are free to target the animals.
“We look forward to reviewing the communication sent to us by Big Wildlife, Raincoast Conservation, and the Alaska Wildlife Alliance in regards to the sale of guided trophy hunts, and are in the process of opening a dialogue with them to understand their most recent concerns,” reads a statement from eBay. “EBay is a unique global online marketplace and our international team of legal and policy experts constantly review, refresh and streamline our policies closely collaborating with international and domestic law enforcement authorities, regulatory agencies, non-governmental organizations and our community of buyers and sellers.”
Last year, following an International Fund for Animal Welfare report that revealed eBay was helping to fuel illegal trade in wildlife products, the company announced a global ban on sales of ivory products. After working with the Humane Society of the United States, eBay has also discontinued auctions for canned hunts.
When 10 activists from Austria’s Association Against Animal Factories (“Verein gegen Tierfabriken,” or VGT) were arrested in May 2008 and charged with “suspected forming of a criminal organization in connection with direct animal right actions,” activists around the world were quick to show their support. Animal Liberation Victoria even carried out an open rescue in solidarity with the prisoners, saving 13 hens from a battery-egg operation in June. All the attention shined a spotlight on the Austrian government, which released the activists in September. Clearly, in an age when the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act can become law with hardly an objection from lawmakers, anyone might find themselves behind bars for voicing an opinion not in step with the status quo.
“It’s important for us to be vocal and active about supporting people who have been incarcerated for defending animals ― or even just speaking out in their defense ― because it relays a clear message that the people abusing animals are the real criminals, not the people trying to protect them,” says Dallas Rising, president of Support Vegans in the Prison System (Support VIPS). “Supporting political prisoners of any kind makes a difference for the individual, but especially for animal rights activists. The average animal rights prisoner has very little in common with the general prison population, so having a connection to people who share a similar value system can be very important to people who are isolated, bored and frustrated by the lack of meaningful exchange in their environment.”
Peter Young, who served two years in federal prison for liberating animals from several fur farms in 1997, believes that supporting humans in prison sends a strong message to activists that there is a safety net for them if they are caught engaging in illegal actions on behalf of non-human animals. “This peace of mind makes the work of people fighting for animals under darkness much easier,” he says. “I have also found the stories of animal rights prisoners to be powerful outreach. These stories of people breaking the law to save animals raise the bar and bring those new to the issue a sense that if other people are willing to break the law to save animals, the least they can do is be vegan.”
There are many ways to help imprisoned activists, and providing a little support to someone facing years in jail can buoy that person’s morale and nurture solidarity in the movement. I am going to focus on five main methods: writing letters, sending books, visiting, helping vegan inmates get plant-based food and providing financial support (sending money, helping with legal expenses, etc.).
The first step is knowing where inmates are, and the easiest place to find addresses for animal activists serving time is the Internet:
- Bite Back magazine maintains a list of prisoners that the publisher updates weekly.
- The Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) site lists activists currently serving sentences for their actions against Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS).
- The Vegan Prisoners Support Group lists inmates in the UK (including SHAC).
- A SHAC7 support site in the US is also worth checking out.
Cards and letters are paramount to relieving an inmate’s feeling of isolation; however, all mail is opened and read by prison officials, so don’t write anything that may cause problems for the prisoner. “Depending on the prisoner, do not discuss the case or anything related to the case,” advises attorney Shannon Keith, who has represented a number of animal rights activists and campaigns, including SHAC and Sea Shepherd. “Do not discuss your feelings about whether the person is innocent or guilty.” She also says that most prisons do not accept anything other than letters and photos. “So, no stickers ― especially no animal rights stickers. No pictures depicting protests.”
Dallas cautions supporters not to take it personally if the inmate doesn’t respond. “It is not about you,” she says. “Don’t get upset if the person doesn’t write back to you, especially if they didn’t know you before going in. And even if they did know you, they may not have the mental or emotional energy to write back. Or they simply may not have the time.”
Unless you’re lucky enough to have unlimited time and resources, commit to writing just one or two inmates, and do it consistently.
Here are a few more letter-writing do’s and don’ts.
- Write on both sides of the paper.
- Write your address on the letter or card.
- Number the pages of your letter.
- Make sure the content of any photos you sent is appropriate; write the inmate’s name and prisoner ID number on the back of photos.
- Let imprisoned activists know about animal activism going on around the world.
- Send currency.
- Send stamps, envelopes, blank paper or blank note cards.
- Tape your envelope closed.
- Include paperclips, staples or other metal objects inside your letter.
- Send food or care packages.
- Send photographs larger than 4”x6”. No Polaroid photos.
- Write “legal mail” on the envelope or anything in your letter that implies you are an attorney.
“Letters to a prisoner can be like anchors or lifelines to the outside world,” says Andy Stepanian, who served two years and seven months in prison for “conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act” as part of the SHAC campaign (he was released in December 2008). “Although my mail was vetted for content, I still received bundles of letters, and every time I did I felt like I could hold my head a little higher. The letters reminded me of where I came from and what I was fighting for.”
Most inmates appreciate receiving books, since reading is one way to pass the time behind bars. It’s a good idea to write to the prisoner first to confirm he or she can receive books; you can also ask what kinds of books they would like to read.
Books sent to most prisons must be new and with a soft cover (paperback); hardcover books will either be refused or prison officials will tear off the covers before passing the book on to the inmate. Unfortunately, many prisons will not permit you to mail a book to an inmate yourself; instead, books must be sent either directly from the publisher or through an online retailer such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Prisoners are often able to list books they would like to receive on Amazon’s Wish List section (just search the inmate’s name), or through a support group Web site.
Each US federal prison has set up certain days and times ― visiting hours — for family and friends to visit inmates. The inmate you plan to visit should tell you what the hours are for that prison. But you can’t simply show up and expect to see an inmate.
“Most prisons require that you be accepted and on an approved list first, so before you take your trip to the prison, call to make sure you do not have to be approved first,” says Shannon. “If so, mail the prisoner and ask them to fill out a form for your visit. You will receive an approval later, and then you can visit as you please during visiting hours. When visiting, know that you are being watched and possibly recorded. Avoid discussing legally sensitive subjects. Dress appropriately.”
In the UK, visiting a convicted prisoner requires you to first have a visiting order (a “VO”); these are generally issued to inmates once a month, and he or she will mail it to you. Depending on the prisoner, visits are one to two hours, and prisoners may be allowed between two and four visitors a month. For more information on Visiting inmates in the UK, click here.
If a city or county jail is denying a prisoner access to vegan meals, a few phone calls to the warden can help, says Dallas. “There’s not a lot people can do to help make sure a vegan is getting good food in a federal prison, but in a jail, phone calls matter a lot.”
Peter agrees. “Mob-action phone calls work,” he says. “You can’t overstate how concerned most jailers are with outside scrutiny. I have never had a problem with food that 100 phone calls in six hours did not fix. One jail was so concerned about the perceived threat of angry activists they sent a sheriff to the supermarket each morning, with a shopping list I wrote with my own hand.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals can help with prisons. PETA’s Bruce Friedrich says it is best if the judge orders the prison to provide vegan food before the convicted vegan heads to jail. “If your judge orders it, you’re set.” Failing that, family and friends on the outside can help by contacting PETA. “PETA is always ready to work to get vegan food for anyone who is having trouble,” says Bruce.
Although prisons may not be known for their vegan fare, some have surprisingly good plant-based food options, including lentil shepherd’s pie, vegan pizza, veggie burgers and mock meats. Here is PETA’s list of the top 10 veg-friendly US prisons.
Prisoners must pay for envelopes, postage stamps, phone cards and other necessities. They may even have to buy their own vegan food from the prison commissary. They probably also have legal fees. All these expenses can be offset with a fundraising effort managed by friends on the outside. Some organizations, like SHAC, set these up and allow people to donate online. Moreover, they raise funds through benefit concerts, film screenings and product sales.
“Fundraising for costly legal fees is always appreciated,” says Dallas. “As a bonus, you automatically have something to write about.”
You can also support inmates by sending money directly to their commissary account. The US Bureau of Prisons has a system to maintain an inmate’s monies while he or she is incarcerated. Family, friends or other sources may deposit funds into these accounts. For details on options for depositing funds into a prisoner’s account, click here.
You might also consider money-transfer services like JPay that allow you to get funds to a prisoner the next business day.
Prisoner Support Groups
SVIPS – United States
Founded by Dallas Rising, Peter Young and Aaron Zellhoefer, Support Vegans in the Prison System (SVIPS) assists prisoners needing vegan food, toiletries and general support.
VPSG – United Kingdom
Vegan Prisoners Support Group (VPSG) helps prisoners obtain vegan food, vegan toiletries and vegan footwear. British animal rights activist Jo-Ann Brown formed the group in 1994 to aid activist Keith Mann. Since then, VPSG’s work has grown, and it has been called upon to advise on disputes between prisoners and the prison service relating to vegan diets. Though based in the UK, VPSG supports prisoners in other countries. While incarcerated in Austria last August, for example, VGT activist Elmar Völkl wrote: “The Vegan Prisoner Support Group work must have been very good, because from the first day I got vegan food (on the first day I didn’t get anything), although I didn’t ever mention the word ‘vegan’ once!”
ALFSG – United Kingdom
The Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group (ALFSG) is a legal, above-ground organization that provides financial and practical support to those who find themselves in prison as part of the movement.
Advice from Prisoners of Conscience
Peter Young gave a talk on prisoner support at last year’s Let Live conference, and it’s definitely worth checking out.
SHAC activist Lauren Gazzola believes no form of support is better than activists staying active. Lauren, now serving a four-year, four-month sentence at a federal prison in Connecticut, told Abolitionist Online: “[T]o everyone who has written, sent books, donated, or done any other form of direct support, please know that the best form of support we can receive is vicarious ― please get out and fight for the animals. Step up your efforts, no matter where you currently stand in your activism ― take one step further, inspired by the SHAC7, and make our conviction a victory for the animals.”
“It’s easy to get lost in prison,” says Andy. “Lost in solitude, despair or other negative sentiments. Letters and outside support help pull you out of that space and strengthen you, make you whole.” Andy encourages people on the outside not to be deterred if they don’t know what to write about. “What many fail to understand is that the prisoner is just eager to make contact, to hear good news about movement victories or reconnect with an old friend. If you are a stranger, don’t feel discouraged. I can speak from firsthand experience that on some of my worst days while imprisoned, it was the words of a stranger that helped me trudge through another day. Something as simple as describing a beautiful day outside may mean the world to a prisoner at that moment when they open your envelope.”
A new documentary was released this week exposing the global primate trade and the treatment of these animals inside the notorious Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) testing facilities in England. Produced by Animal Defenders International (ADI), Save the Primates shows animals being taken from their homes in the wild and delivered directly to laboratories. HLS in Cambridgeshire is a major contract testing operation for multinational product brands; it can hold up to 550 monkeys at a time. During ADI’s one-year undercover investigation, 217 monkeys were killed in just five studies.
This new investigation is part of a European initiative to ban the use of primates in experiments and is being coordinated by ADI and the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS). Among the horrors Save the Primates reveals:
In South America, owl monkeys scream as they are torn from their families in the rainforest to be taken to Colombia for malaria experiments.
In Vietnam, monkeys frantically rattle their tiny, rusting cages while being held captive by a primate supplier approved by the UK Home Office. (In a single year, this business supplied nearly 500 monkeys to HLS.)
In the UK, primates are used in commercial testing at HLS in Cambridgeshire. The video shows struggling monkeys strapped into chairs and forced to inhale products. Many of the animals are housed in one-cubic-meter cages and then taken out to be held down by workers as tubes are forced down their throats.
The new “Save the Primates” report and investigation are part of a comprehensive study linking primate research and the international primate trade to the alternatives that are now available. Hoping to secure Europe-wide support for an end primate tests, ADI and NAVS have produced Save the Primates in English, French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish.
“There is a unique opportunity in Europe to finally begin phasing out experiments on primates,” says ADI Chief Executive Jan Creamer. “Nobody looking at the undercover footage of monkeys at this leading UK laboratory could fail to be moved by the stress and suffering these animals are forced to endure. Yet there are alternatives to using monkeys in these tests. Now that the truth of everyday suffering has been revealed, we must seize the opportunity to put an end to it.”
Sea Shepherd is reporting today that three Japanese whaling ships moved in on the anti-whaling vessel the Steve Irwin in the Ross Sea off of Antarctica. “At 0500 Hours Sydney, Australia, time on February 4th, the three harpoon vessels of the Japanese whaling fleet literally attacked the Steve Irwin,” a statement reads.
Sea Shepherd accused the Japanese whalers of them of cutting dangerously close to the bow of the Steve Irwin in rough waters and fog. “If their intention was to intimidate us, it did not work,” said Captain Paul Watson. “When it comes to playing chicken on the high seas, we have much more experience than the whalers.”
Captain Watson also accused the whalers of throwing hunks of metal and golf balls at Sea Shepherd activists, slightly injuring two Steve Irwin crew members.
The Yushin Maru 2 has now rejoined the fleet after leaving the area on December 20th with propeller damage. The three harpoon ships converged to flank the Steve Irwin as the Sea Shepherd ship pursued the Nisshin Maru. “As long as we’re chasing them they’re not going to kill whales,” Captain Watson said. “Every day we can keep them from whaling and on the run is a victory for us.” He estimates the fleet has killed about 300 fin and minke whales this season, compared with almost 600 last season. “I know that they’re not going to get their quota again this year; they’re one vessel short.”
The Sea Shepherd statement adds: “The whaling fleet is crisscrossing the Ross Sea erratically. The whalers appear to becoming increasingly frustrated and angry that Sea Shepherd has shut down their whaling operations.”