Monday, March 31, 2008

Pigs with jobs

Boss hogs cleaning up country hazards

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 05/04/2008

Ridding woodland of brambles is a pig of a job but it's one these animals love, says Vicky Liddell

In a peaceful patch of Cambridgeshire woodland, a group of pigs is dozing contentedly in the spring sunshine. It's a lazy scene, but these Oxford Sandy & Black pigs are far from indolent.

An Oxford Sandy & Black pig (top) and Dan Bull on the Croxton Park estate
An Oxford Sandy & Black pig (top) and Dan Bull on the Croxton Park estate

They have just finished clearing a block of woodland of weeds and brambles and, in a few weeks' time, they will be moved on to start work on another overgrown area. The pigs are part of a woodland management scheme that is attracting increasing interest from farmers and gamekeepers.

On the Dunlossit Estate on the Isle of Islay, a gang of Tamworth pigs has made short work of an extensive area of bracken. In other parts of Britain, pigs have been successfully tackling ivy and rhododendrons.

Dan Bull is farm manager of the 700-acre Croxton Park estate near Cambridge and one of the pioneers of using pigs in woodland. "We started using them 15 years ago as a way of regenerating the woodland for shooting," he explains. "The woods had become neglected and the beaters were finding it difficult to battle through."

After trying out several different native breeds, they settled on the Oxford Sandy & Black, and the animals' impact on the estate was instant. Not only were the woods opened up, the rewards in conservation terms were amazing: new species of wild flowers and a marked increase in bluebells and breeding birds.

"It's a good balance now between the species," says Bull. "The woods are full of song. The pigs make tunnels in the earth that the birds can use and the half-digested wheat attracts a wide variety of wildlife."

Another unexpected advantage of keeping pigs in the woods is the decreasing numbers of muntjac deer.

The pigs are kept in family groups and moved around the estate on an eight-year rotation. The enclosures range from two acres to 11 and the areas are marked with an electric fence. Stocking rates vary according to the state of the woodland.

On an eight-acre block, there might be six sows plus their offspring; on a two-acre site, just 10 sows. In a few months, they can clear all the invasive ground cover and scrub while leaving the trees unharmed. According to Bull, it's all a question of timing.

"As long as the pigs are managed, they will do a wonderful job." It is only when they are allowed to get bored that they can become over-enthusiastic. One of the Croxton farm pigs once picked up a piece of wood with its teeth and hurled it at the electric fence. But they have never escaped.

Driving on the estate with Bull, I am surprised by how self-sufficient the pigs are. Apart from a basic shelter, a trough of water and a daily helping of home-grown organic wheat, they pretty much look after themselves.

The sows build their own nests out of sticks and straw in favourite spots that they return to again and again. They farrow once a year, producing up to 10 piglets each - which are not interfered with at all. "We only bring them into the shed for winter because of the heavy clay soil in the woods."

Dan Bull clearly loves his pigs and the feelings are mutual. The pigs follow him as though he is the Pied Piper, although this may have something to do with the large sack of wheat over his shoulder.

They also have more than a passing interest in the buckles of my boots. Clearly sociable and extremely friendly, Oxford Sandy & Black pigs are ideally suited to their woodland tasks.

Also known as the "Plum pudding" or "Oxford Forest" pig on account of its black blotches, the breed is one of Britain's oldest. Prolific, hardy and yet very docile, it is also usefully resistant to sunburn because of its rust-coloured coat. And despite reaching crisis point twice in the past 50 years, the breed is now finally gaining in popularity.

Managing woodlands with pigs is not new, as Bull is quick to point out. "It's what our ancestors were doing hundreds of years ago. We turned against it at the beginning of last century, and it's only now that we're going back to the future using the old traditional pig breeds."

It's a system that seems to serve everyone. The woods are manageable, the flora is regenerated and the pigs are in their element. And, at the end, there is delicious free-range organic pork that is sold direct from the farm to restaurants and butchers.

At Croxton Park, both pigs and farmer are lucky. This is the premium end of the trade - a world away from the unfortunate farmers who are losing £26 on every hog they sell as a result of rocketing feed prices.

The Waitrose "Save Our Bacon" campaign, launched in February, is collecting signatures to help raise awareness of the plight of the British pig farmer, who is now far more endangered than the breeds themselves.

"The Oxford Sandy & Black are great outdoor pigs," says Bull. "They have an easy temperament but they're also very clever. At the end of a stressful day, there's nothing better than coming down to the woods and spending time with them."


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Food for thought

Published: March 30, 2008

Woodbridge, Ontario

Olaf Hajek

Did your shopping list kill a songbird?

THOUGH a consumer may not be able to tell the difference, a striking red and blue Thomas the Tank Engine made in Wisconsin is not the same as one manufactured in China — the paint on the Chinese twin may contain dangerous levels of lead. In the same way, a plump red tomato from Florida is often not the same as one grown in Mexico. The imported fruits and vegetables found in our shopping carts in winter and early spring are grown with types and amounts of pesticides that would often be illegal in the United States.

In this case, the victims are North American songbirds. Bobolinks, called skunk blackbirds in some places, were once a common sight in the Eastern United States. In mating season, the male in his handsome tuxedo-like suit sings deliriously as he whirrs madly over the hayfields. Bobolink numbers have plummeted almost 50 percent in the last four decades, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.

The birds are being poisoned on their wintering grounds by highly toxic pesticides. Rosalind Renfrew, a biologist at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, captured bobolinks feeding in rice fields in Bolivia and took samples of their blood to test for pesticide exposure. She found that about half of the birds had drastically reduced levels of cholinesterase, an enzyme that affects brain and nerve cells — a sign of exposure to toxic chemicals.

Since the 1980s, pesticide use has increased fivefold in Latin America as countries have expanded their production of nontraditional crops to fuel the demand for fresh produce during winter in North America and Europe. Rice farmers in the region use monocrotophos, methamidophos and carbofuran, all agricultural chemicals that are rated Class I toxins by the World Health Organization, are highly toxic to birds, and are either restricted or banned in the United States. In countries like Guatemala, Honduras and Ecuador, researchers have found that farmers spray their crops heavily and repeatedly with a chemical cocktail of dangerous pesticides.

In the mid-1990s, American biologists used satellite tracking to follow Swainson’s hawks to their wintering grounds in Argentina, where thousands of them were found dead from monocrotophos poisoning. Migratory songbirds like bobolinks, barn swallows and Eastern kingbirds are suffering mysterious population declines, and pesticides may well be to blame. A single application of a highly toxic pesticide to a field can kill seven to 25 songbirds per acre. About half the birds that researchers capture after such spraying are found to suffer from severely depressed neurological function.

Migratory birds, modern-day canaries in the coal mine, reveal an environmental problem hidden to consumers. Testing by the United States Food and Drug Administration shows that fruits and vegetables imported from Latin America are three times as likely to violate Environmental Protection Agency standards for pesticide residues as the same foods grown in the United States. Some but not all pesticide residues can be removed by washing or peeling produce, but tests by the Centers for Disease Control show that most Americans carry traces of pesticides in their blood. American consumers can discourage this poisoning by avoiding foods that are bad for the environment, bad for farmers in Latin America and, in the worst cases, bad for their own families.

What should you put on your bird-friendly grocery list? Organic coffee, for one thing. Most mass-produced coffee is grown in open fields heavily treated with fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. In contrast, traditional small coffee farmers grow their beans under a canopy of tropical trees, which provide shade and essential nitrogen, and fertilize their soil naturally with leaf litter. Their organic, fair-trade coffee is now available in many coffee shops and supermarkets, and it is recommended by the Audubon Society, the American Bird Conservancy and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.

Organic bananas should also be on your list. Bananas are typically grown with one of the highest pesticide loads of any tropical crop. Although bananas present little risk of pesticide ingestion to the consumer, the environment where they are grown is heavily contaminated.

When it comes to nontraditional Latin American crops like melons, green beans, tomatoes, bell peppers and strawberries, it can be difficult to find any that are organically grown. We should buy these foods only if they are not imported from Latin America.

Now that spring is here, we take it for granted that the birds’ cheerful songs will fill the air when our apple trees blossom. But each year, as we continue to demand out-of-season fruits and vegetables, we ensure that fewer and fewer songbirds will return.

Bridget Stutchbury, a professor of biology at York University in Toronto, is the author of “Silence of the Songbirds.”


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Wildlife Zoo Greets New Babies

March 26th, 2008 @ 12:50pm

by KTAR Web

Spring has sprung at the Wildlife World Zoo where some primates welcomed some new little ones.

Zoo officials say a ring-tailed lemur and a patas monkey gave birth in recent weeks.

While both babies are very young and will be clinging to their mothers for warmth and protection for the next several months, zoo visitors will still be able to get glimpses of them on display.

That patas are native to Africa and the ring-tailed lemur is only found on the island of Madagascar.

For more information on the Wildlife World Zoo, visit


Other new babies at Wildlife World Zoo

Twin Ocelots

Ring Tailed Lemurs

Spider monkey

Baby Aero leads the way in Chester Zoo’s springtime penguin parade


CHESTER Zoo’s sweetest new arrival is the first of many treats in store for the zoo keepers on Penguin Island.

The Humboldt’s Penguin chick, named Aero, hatched on Monday after being incubated for 46 days by parents Warty and Hislop.

The Zoo’s penguin keepers decided on chocolate themed names for Easter, and it is hoped Aero will be joined by up to 20 other chicks between now and the middle of April.

Aero weighs in at just 85 grams, and has a sibling that is due to hatch out any day.

Penguins usually lay a clutch of two eggs and the parents take it in turns to incubate the eggs for around 40 days.

Zoo Welcomes Newest Additions

Friday, March 28, 2008 6:27 PM

POWELL, Ohio — New additions kept zookeepers moving on Friday.
The Columbus Zoo welcomed the birth of three North American River Otters about two weeks ago, 10TV's Kurt Ludlow reported.
The litter of pups was the first batch of baby animals the zoo expects this spring.
"It's been a long time since we've had actual babies on our department," said zookeeper Scot Shelley. "We've got a lot of older animals and it's nice to see some young animals coming in."
The Columbus Zoo's Dusti Lombardi said the entire staff was excited about the delivery.
"This is our first litter that has survived here," Lombardi said. "So this is really exciting for us – and the mom is taking care of the babies. She's doing an excellent job."
Audrey, the mother otter, gave birth to two girls and a boy, Ludlow reported.
A television monitor allows guests to see the new otters that are tucked away in a den.
"The babies will come out on exhibit," Lombardi said. "When they come out they are going to be adorable."
The otters were not the only special deliveries expected this spring at the zoo, Ludlow reported.
A baby penguin recently hatched, and will be on display in about a month, zookeepers said.
Flamingos, Markor goats, Bonobos, Okapi, Palace cats and Red Pandas were expected to be born at the zoo this summer.
Until then, Lombardi and the other zookeepers had their hands full with the new otters.
"They're going to be active during the day because babies are going to be out running around," Lombardi said. "They're going to be getting into trouble … as most babies do."


Its the weekend - time for some R & R

Sydney, Australia: veterinarian Sam Gilchrist gives 13-year-old koala Petra an oral medication at Wildlife World. Photograph: Anoek De Groot/AFP/Getty Images

Rhenen, Netherlands: Polar bear 'Freedom' swims with her child for the first time outside in Ouwehands zoo. Photograph: Olaf Kraak/EPA

Moscow, Russia: Two polar bear cubs and their mother in Moscow zoo. Photograph: Yuri Kochetkov/EPA

Yokohama, Japan: a nine-month-old female golden snub-nosed monkey called Mei Mei relaxes at the zoological gardens. Photograph: Itsuo Inouye/AP

Emmen, The Netherlands: a newborn Asian elephant next to his mother. Photograph: Harm Meter/EPA

Valencia, Spain: a pair of suricatos sunbathe during the inauguration of Bioparc, the new city zoo. Photograph: Juan Carlos Cardenas/EPA

Heidelberg, Germany: a Geoffroy's tufted-ear marmoset carries its offspring at the zoo. Photograph: Ronald Wittek/EPA

AmsterDam, Netherlands: Baby giraffe Niek makes its first public appearance at the Artis animal park. Photograph: Koen Van Weel/EPA

Hamburg, Germany: Kumbuko, a baby giraffe, strolls around in its enclosure at the Hagenbecks Tierpark zoo. Photograph: Maurizio Gambarini/EPA

Leiferde, Germany: Three brown owl siblings in the Nabu-Artenschutzzentrum. Photograph: Nabu-Artenschutzzentrum/EPA

New York, US: Tundra, a male polar bear, breaks the ice prior to going for a swim in the Bronx zoo's outdoor pool. Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS/AP

Budapest, Hungary: Jorek, a one-year-old, 150kg polar bear cub, stands on his hind legs after a swim in his new home in Animal Park. Photograph: Istvan Kiss/EPA


Rat flood hits Bangledesh

Try telling these people a rat is a pig is a boy.
Rare flowering of the bamboo causes "rat flood"
in Bangladesh.

Last Updated:
Saturday, 22 March 2008, 12:06 GMT

Rat infestation hits Bangladesh
By Mark Dummett
BBC News, Bangladesh

An infestation of rats is creating severe food shortages in the impoverished Chittagong Hill Tracts region of Bangladesh, close to the borders of India and Burma.

Sangram, a rat catcher in the remote Bangladeshi village of Theihkyong, has never been busier and nor has his work been as important as it is now.

Rat catcher Sangram setting his bamboo traps
Sangram has placed rat traps along field boundaries

That is because the fields surrounding the village have been stripped by an invading army of rodents, which villagers say crossed over the nearby border with India three months ago.

It has become more than a job. Sangram now needs the rats to keep his family members alive.

They eat two bowls of smoked rat a day, accompanied by the wild roots he finds in the forest.

"My wife, my five children and I normally eat rice, but the rats have destroyed everything," the grim-faced Sangram said.

"All we have left are the rats and these wild potatoes."

We are in big trouble and want people to realise that
Lal Jinja, priest

They live in a traditional one-room house - the roof is of thatched grass - the walls and floors weaved strands of bamboo. It sits on high stilts.

There is space underneath for a harvest of rice, maize and vegetables but this year it is empty.

Theihkyong is a poor village with two churches and a community school. But there is no clinic, no electricity, no running water or telephones.

The people here have to fend for themselves. They are proud of their independence and their identity as members of one of Bangladesh's tribal minorities, but when something bad happens, they have nothing to fall back on.

The rat minefield

The rat traps that Sangram looks after are huge and ingenious. A long bamboo fence divides two fields but every so often Sangram has left open a booby-trapped entrance.

Map of Bangladesh showing Dhaka and Chittagong

When the rat walks in, it triggers the trap, and a bamboo pole, weighted with soil, drops with a thump.

He walks along the fence throwing the squashed, light-brown rats into a basket he wears on his back.

At home they will be strung together and smoked over an open fire until they are black and hard.

Sangram also checks uninhabited houses that dot the fields. Inside are dozens of carefully concealed snares.

It is the villagers' revenge. They have turned their desolated hillsides into a rat minefield. They have caught thousands of them.

In the community centre of Theihkyong they gather to show me baskets of dried rat tails.

They have kept them as proof of the crisis now facing the village, a crisis that outsiders refused to believe for months.

"We are in big trouble and want people to realise that," Theihkyong's priest Lal Jinja said.

"We want people to see these rat tails so they can understand our suffering."

The government and relief agencies are finally beginning to believe them and are waking up to the problem, which extends far beyond the boundaries of this single village.

Occupying force

According to the UN's development programme, about 125,000 people have been affected by food shortages and the rats.

Some have started to receive aid, but unless more arrives soon these people will be cut off from the outside world, without any food to eat for months.

A basket of dried rats tails
The villagers have collected thousands of rat tails

That is because the monsoon is on its way. There are not many bridges and it will be impossible to ford the rivers once the rains come.

The starving communities sit in the hills along Bangladesh's south-eastern borders with India and Burma.

It is an impoverished region called the Chittagong Hill Tracts, where the indigenous Christian and Buddhist tribes complain of decades of mistreatment by the central authorities.

The only government institution that is decently funded is the army.

It says it needs a large presence to defend the region against a myriad of tribal rebel groups from India, Burma and Bangladesh itself. But locals say it sometimes acts like an occupying force.

The looming famine is proof of this neglect, as the crisis - and the rat invasion - were entirely predictable.

It happens to this region roughly every 50 years. That is how often the bamboo forests that cover the hillsides blossom.

Their seeds are high in protein and, when the rats eat them, they breed four times faster than normal.

After their numbers swell and they finish eating the bamboo seeds, they move into people's fields and eat their crops.

The blossoming, the rat problem, and the food shortages began two years ago in India then moved into Bangladesh in January and have now headed south into Burma as well.

The last rat plague in 1959 caused devastation just over the border in the Indian state of Mizoram.

The people there suffered so much and were so appalled by the lack of help from the government, they launched a rebellion that lasted 20 years.

In the Chittagong Hill Tracts, many people remember that time as well. One of them is the 93-year-old king of the Marma tribe, Raja Aung Shue Prue Chowdhury.

He tells me that the rats then "were as big as pigs".


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

God talks to St Francis

Imagine the conversation the Creator might have had with St. Francis on the subject of lawns:

God: "Frank, you know all about gardens and nature, what in the world is going on down there on Earth? What happened to all the dandelions, violets, thistles and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honeybees, and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles."

St. Francis: "It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers weeds and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass."

God: "Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds, and bees, only grubs and sod worms, it's temperamental with temperatures. Do these suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?"

St. Francis: "Apparently so Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn. "

God: "The spring rains and warm weather probably make the grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy."

St. Francis: "Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little they cut it, sometimes twice a week."

God: "They cut it? Do they bale it like hay?"

St. Francis: "Not exactly Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags."

God: "They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?"

St. Francis: "No sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away."

God: "Now let me get this straight. They fertilize the grass so it will grow, and when it does grow, they cut it off and then pay to throw it away?"

St. Francis: "Yes sir.

God: "These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work!"

St. Francis: "You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it."

God: "What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life."

St. Francis: "You had better sit down Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away."

God: "No way! What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?

St. Francis: "After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it
around in the place of leaves."

God: "And where do they get this mulch?"

St.: Francis: "They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch."

God: "Enough. I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts, what movie have you scheduled for us tonight?"

St. Catherine: "Dumb and Dumber, Lord. It's a real stupid movie about..."

God: "Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis."


Exploitation or an excellent idea?

Giraffes to help prune Hamilton's trees | Wednesday, 26 March 2008


TALL ORDER: Residents of Hamilton have been given the chance of feeding the giraffes at the Zoo - and getting rid of their tree prunings at the same time.

The giraffes are always hungry at Hamilton Zoo, and local residents are being given the chance to serve them up a treat.

Giraffes eat a range of tree branches which can be found in household gardens and Hamilton zoo-keepers have offered to prune suitable trees free of charge.

The giraffes preferred fodder includes Lemon wood, Coprosma, Feijoa, Red Robyn, Tree Lucerne and Ake ake.

Hamilton Zoo director Stephen Standley said that this was a great opportunity for local residents to contribute to the animal's diet while at the same time getting their pruning done for free.

"Tree branches or ‘browse' are a favourite treat of our giraffes and they offer numerous nutritional benefits. Because suitable browse is often sourced from common household trees, we are always interested to hear from members of the public ."

The long necked Africans might not be the only creature your household plants end up feeding, as the zoo's big cats will also benefit.

"Recycled browse is used to offer a new and intriguing scent for the cats," he said.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I have seen the light

The following statement I copied straight from the Voice for Animals website:

"Animals are not commodities to be bought and sold. Stores who participate in this, and breeders who supply them will one day, in an enlightened future, be seen for who they are... slave traders."

Dear Voice for Animals,

I am writing to tell you that I have finally seen the light.

It seems you were right all along. The buying, selling and keeping of animals is nothing but slavery, they should not be owned but should be free to live their own lives, make their own decisions, go where and when they please.

As of today, I intend to turn over a new leaf. Liberation, not slavery is to be the order of the day.

This morning when I got up, I went outside and opened the gate. I told all my animals that they are now liberated. They can do as they please. They all quickly ran out through the gate and I closed it behind them.

Slavery is dead.

Yes, slavery is as outdated as sending small boys up sooty chimneys.

No more will I have to carry heavy bales of hay and straw in the morning before I go to work, in the dark, and at night when I get home, again in the dark, when the temperature is below freezing and the wind is howling, so that my animals can be comfortable and well fed.

No more will I have to defrost the drinker, when the temperature is -25C, so that my animals can get a drink.

No more will I have to shovel excrement into a wheelbarrow then push that heavy wheelbarrow across rough ground before tipping it, then going back to do it again, so that my animals can be clean.

No more will I have to mend the fence, in the dark, with frozen fingers and with the flashlight between my teeth, when the temperature is below freezing and there is a gale blowing, so that my animals can be safe.

No more will I have to drive to the auction mart to buy the aforementioned hay and straw, load said hay and straw onto a trailer, drive it home and unload it, so that my animals can be comfortable through the cold Canadian winter.

No more will I have to drive to the store that closes before I officially finish work, so I have to leave early, to buy oats, minerals, salt, dog, cat, rabbit and chicken food, so that my animals can not only be fed but well nourished.

No more will I have to drive to the aforementioned store, having left work early, to buy wood and nails to mend the aforementioned fence.

No more will I have to stop the car at the end of the drive to open the gate, in the dark, drive through, stop the car again, and close the gate behind me so my animals cannot wander on to the road where they might cause an accident or be injured.

No more will I have to stop the car at the other end of the aforementioned drive, get out, open another gate, drive through, get out again, and close the gate behind me so that the animals cannot get at the aforementioned hay and straw and spoil it, which they surely would do.

No more will I have to get up in the middle of the night to let out dogs that forgot to pee when I let them out before I went to bed.

No more will I have to get up in the middle of the night during calving and lambing season to check that the cows and ewes haven't dropped their babies in the snow and wandered off and forgotten about them, as some of them are prone to do.

No more will I have to take the aforementioned babies into my house and wrap them in warm blankets after the aforementioned mothers have dropped them in the snow and wandered off and left them, as I have had to do in the past.

No more will I have to walk for miles so that my dogs can have some exercise.

No more will I risk getting scratched, bitten, kicked, trampled, or knocked over because the aforementioned animals don't realize how big and strong they are and how weak and feeble I am.

No more will I have to go to work to earn the money to pay for all the aforementioned items.

And as I am not going to work, I will sit around and watch TV, or play cards or talk to people via instant messaging.

I will probably be sued when someone hits a cow that is laying in the road in the middle of the night, and writes off their car.

I will worry about them, knowing that they are having to scrape away the snow to find a few blades of last years grass, that they have no shelter when the temperature drops to below freezing and the wind is howling, and that they are at constant risk from disease carrying oand predatory critters, farmers guns, and rusty old machinery that litters the Alberta prairies, but my conscience will be clear, because they are free.

Within a few months I will get depressed and maybe suicidal, because there will be nothing to live for.

I will have to see a psychiatrist and take medication and become a burden on society.

But that's all right, because even when I feel like shit I will know that I have done the right thing in letting my animals go free.

Oh wait a minute, what's that noise I hear? It sounds like mooing, bleating, humming, clucking barking, neighing and braying.

My animals are all standing by the gate waiting to be let back in. I wonder why that is? I know you won't believe this, but they think having a human slave is preferable to having to fend for themselves.

Oh well, back to the grindstone.

Slavery is alive and well and living in Alberta.

One of the unenlightened ones

Monday, March 24, 2008

The private zoo

"The roadside zoo is a grossly substandard, usually amateur facility that lacks trained, experienced animal care staff, proper funding and safety practices.

Animals are confined to small, barren, often filthy cages, with next to nothing to do day in and day out.

Animals in roadside zoos suffer poor welfare as a result of inadequate housing, care and diet. Deprived of opportunities to exercise their natural behaviours, most animals experience some degree of frustration and boredom. In the most severe cases, these animals become psychologically disturbed and may manifest abnormal behaviours."

-World Society for the Protection of Animals

What a load of rubbish!!!!!

A "roadside zoo" should more correctly be called a "private zoo". As far as I am aware, all zoos are at the side of a road, otherwise how would anyone get there!

Anyway, to get back to the point, a private zoo is usually a family owned and funded collection of animals. A private zoo does not receive any government funding.

The animals may be large exotics, such as lions and tigers. or domestics such as rabbits, donkeys, goats and sheep. The latter being more commonly referred to as a "petting zoo". They may be restricted to one type of animal, or may contain a variety of species. Collections can start off quite small and grow as time goes by.

I have visited many private collections of animals. It is my experience that the owners of these collections are experts in their field. They know their animals intimately because they've been with them day in, day out for years. They have far more experience than a university trained "zookeeper" who may have been working at a different zoo last week.

Private zoos tend to lack videos, piped jungle sounds, indoor exhibits, fancy lighting, extravagant habitat exhibits, fancy gift shops or restaurants. These aesthetic extras are merely for the benefit of the visitor, they have no bearing whatsoever on the health or wellbeing of the animals.

Many private zoos become dumping grounds for unwanted animals both domestic and exotic. These animals are taken in, housed, fed and cared for, for the rest of their lives at the expense of the zoos owner.

There are currently, a number of private zoos in Canada but they are an endangered species.

Organisations such as peta, wspca, zoocheck and voice for animals have outlawed zoos as bad places where animals are systematically abused by both owners and visitors.

If you care about zoos, and would like your children and grandchildren to learn respect for animals, support your local zoo.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dogs are allowed a walk with Old Masters in Tuscany

Tuscany is about to become a dog-owners' paradise, with a new law allowing pets into art galleries, theatres, restaurants, cinemas, post offices, museums and beaches.

The law, which is due to come into force by June and reverses a longstanding ban, was drawn up by the Greens on the centre-left Tuscan regional council.

Fabio Roggiolani, a leader of the Greens and head of the regional health commission, said: “We are knocking down the barriers that separate Man from his best friends.

“Most people in Tuscany agree with this measure, which is in line with regional regulations forbidding discrimination or cruelty against domestic animals.”

To protect public health and hygiene, pets will have to have a veterinary health certificate, and dogs must be muzzled if necessary. Owners will have to guarantee that their pets will not disturb public order.

Mr Roggiolani said that “for obvious reasons” dogs and other pets would still be banned from the Teatro del Maggio Musicale, the Florence opera house. “We have to apply a bit of common sense.”

In theory the measure applies to all domestic animals. “A taboo has fallen,” Corriere della Sera said. “Fido can go with you to the trattoria, Sylvester the Cat can purr beneath Michelangelo's David, Tweety Pie can chirrup in his cage at the foot of his owner's hospital bed.”

In practice it is dogs that are most likely to have their daily walks extended to the beach or the art gallery. Roberto Santini, who runs a beach concession at the Tuscan resort of Forte dei Marmi, said that many of his clients had dogs, including Massimo Moratti, the president of Inter Milan football club, who often cut his holiday short because he could not bear to leave the dog behind.

Fulvio Pierangelini, an Italian celebrity chef, said that he was relaxed about allowing pets into his restaurant at San Vincenzo on the Tuscan coast provided they behaved properly, adding: “Mind you, I draw the line at cooking for them.”

Franco Zeffirelli, the opera and film director, who has four dogs, said that the move “rewards the dignity of Man's best friends”. He added: “Dogs and cats are rather like small children - they should stay where they are happiest. I would never take my dogs to La Scala. It would be torture for them.”

Cristina Acidini, head of museums in Florence, said that she loved animals but was horrified at the idea of pets running riot in the Uffizi Gallery. “There are hundreds of paintings with dogs or cats in them, but I am alarmed at the idea of them being allowed into art galleries, which are overcrowded as it is,” she said. “Museums are places for aesthetic meditation, not for pitbulls or dalmatians, not to mention parrots or goldfish.”

Marcella Amadio, a centre-right regional councillor, said that she was concerned about allergies. “I distrust people who love animals more than humans,” she said.

Margherita D'Amico, an animal rights campaigner, said that there would now be pressure for similar laws in other parts of Italy, including Rome.

Source: Times online March 19 2008

Peta promoting junk food to children


I Can't Believe It's Vegan. is a guide to vegan foods found in your local grocery store. The goal presumably is to persuade people that they are already half way to becoming vegan because many of these products are things we all eat every day.

Corn Pops, Pop-Tarts, Reese's Puffs, Kool-Aid, Cracker Jack, Barbecue Fritos, Krispy-Kreme Fruit Pies, Chocolate Creme Oreos, Swedish Fish, Campbell's Franco-American Mushroom Gravy, McCormick Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning (for non chicken eating vegan's?), French's Beef Stew Mix (wtf? ), Peanut Butter, Jam, Margarine, are some of the things listed in the guide.

However, these are all factory processed foods. High carbohydrate junk foods in my opinion, and most of it is made from dubious ingredients (large quantities of sugar, weird food additives and ingredients with unpronouncable names) and shipped long distances from source to supermarket, burning non renewable fossil fuels and damaging the environment.

peta is promoting this stuff to kids, so the kid sees it, and says, hey, I already eat a lot of that stuff - I'm already half way to being a vegan, so they start eating more of it, they show the list to their parents who then see that it's easy to buy vegan food for little Pammie, and so we are heading for a generation of kids who are even more unhealthy than they are at present.

If this is the diet peta is promoting, no wonder they are all brain dead.

Where are the fresh vegetables? Fresh fruit? Fresh herbs?

Where are Dried fruits? Nuts and seeds? Dried beans and pulses?

Where's the pearl barley and the rice?

Whatever happened to the homecooked meal? vegan or otherwise?

Another black mark for peta!!!!

If you love animals and want to eat a healthy diet, choose good variety of fresh fruit and salads, dairy products, grains, cereals and meat and stay away from the highly processed foods pictured here..

Happy Eating

Saturday, March 22, 2008

How to distinguish between animal rights and animal welfare.

Animal Rights activist Is more likely to:

Live in an urban area
Be a female teen or young adult (I know there are lots of granny activists and guys but they are in the minority)
Be readily influenced by what they see on a website or in an ad because they don't know any different
Be a brainless follower
Have a high disposable income
Have much free time for demonstration, letter writing campaigns etc.
Rarely, if ever, interact with animals
Make statements like, "I love pigs", when they really mean "I watched Charlotte's Web and Babe"
Be a vegetarian or vegan
Protest outside KFC
Assume animals have the same wants, needs, and reasoning skills as humans.
Less likely to be compassionate towards humans.

Animal Welfare advocate is more likely to:
Live in a rural or suburban area
Be of any age or gender
Learn from their own experiences
Know that information put out by animal rights organizations such as PETA and HSUS is mostly propaganda and lies.
Have more brain power than the average ARA
Have a lower disposable income.
Have little free time because they are busy caring for animals.
Interact with animals regularly, most likely on a daily basis.
Make statements like, "I still like pigs even though I have been bitten, trampled on, squashed and peed on by them numerous times"
Eat meat
Eat in McDonald's because KFC is too expensive.
Know that animals are animals and that they do not have rights.
More likely to be compassionate towards humans.


Animal welfare advocates care about animals.
Animal Rights activists care about denying other people their liberty.

A few facts:
HSUS is the wealthiest AR group on the planet. It spends $2million a year on travel expense alone keeping its multi national agenda going.

If animals rights activists have their way all these things will become distant memory:

Lab Testing, Aquariums, Bullfighting, Circuses, Equestrian competition, Fishing, Greyhound racing, Horse racing, Horse-drawn carriages, Hunting, Magic shows using animals, Movies with animal actors, Pet ownership, Ranching, Rodeos, Whaling, and Zoos among other things are all in danger.

Zoocheck and WSPCA

Both these organizations claim to be animal welfare groups working for the benefit of animals. Read their information carefully, look at the way the information is presented, and look at the way they beg for donations, then decide for yourself.

In my opinion they are animal rights groups.