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Dr. Dolittle VS. Ringling Bros.

By: Godfrey Harris

The chutzpah of Chris DeRose is breathtaking. He purports to know that animals hate the “demeaning and unnatural tricks” they were forced to perform in Ringling Bros. circus. He asserts that certain behaviors — “swaying” — reflect deep psychological stress. He abhors the fact that animals are used for “human amusement.” He is sure that animals suffer, like humans, when they “never know freedom.” Just when did this real-life Dr. Doolittle learn all of this from the animals?
Might some animals actually enjoy what they do because they crave the rewards that come with their work for humans? Will Mr. DeRose next campaign to end dog shows, abolish guide dogs, terminate K-Nine units, and stop animal caregiving?
Rather than pass more restrictive laws based on the arrogance of zealots who know what animals want, we should remember the importance of our cultural heritage to the future.

 

About Godfrey Harris:
Godfrey Harris is a a public policy consultant in Los Angeles. He serves as managing director of the Ivory Education Institute. The above letter appeared in the Opinion Section of The Los Angeles Times on May 20, 2017 . This letter was in response to an article written by Mr. Chris Depose that appeared in the same paper on May 17, 2017 (see below).



The demise of Ringling Bros. is a victory for the animal rights movement

By: Chris DeRose

On Sunday, May 21, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will hold its final “greatest show on earth,” at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. For the last time, Ringling’s lions, tigers, camels and other captive animals will enter the ring and be forced to perform demeaning and unnatural tricks. It’s a momentous occasion that took the animal rights movement more than three decades to achieve.

I personally led some of the earliest rallies outside Ringling Bros. shows, back in the late 1980s. As the outcry from activists and advocacy groups grew, Ringling willfully ignored it. Instead of switching exclusively to human performers — who perform by choice rather than force — the 146-year-old institution continued to bully animals. This was its downfall.

The reason is simple: When it comes to animal rights, the tide of public opinion has turned. A 2015 Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans — 62% — believe that animals deserve protection, and 32% believe animals should have the same rights as people. In recent years, many businesses have been forced to change their practices. SeaWorld announced it would end its orca breeding program last March, and the state of California outlawed such programs a few months later. Several years ago, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to ban the use of bullhooks on elephants, and the city of West Hollywood banned the sale of fur products. Many pet stores have stopped selling dogs from puppy mills.

Life for these animals is one of isolation, boredom and trauma.

But while the end of Ringling is a victory for every activist who wrote a letter, signed a petition or protested outside the circus doors, the fight to free animals from cruelty, including in the entertainment industry, is far from over. Other circuses continue to exploit animals for profit, as do zoos, aquariums and rodeos.

For instance, in 2002, an investigator for my organization, Last Chance for Animals, captured footage of elephant training at the Carson & Barnes Circus in Oklahoma. The video showed violent training methods in which elephants were abused with bullhooks, electric prods and blowtorches. At one point, a trainer yelled, “Make ’em scream!” The footage shook the circus industry to its core. Yet the Carson & Barnes Circus still features animal performers.

The simple truth is that animals should not be used for human amusement. The process often is unnatural and cruel from start to finish. Many are taken from the wild as babies and watch as their parents are slaughtered. Others are born in breeding facilities and never know freedom. Life for these animals is one of isolation, boredom and trauma — this is why they so often exhibit abnormal behaviors, such as pulling out their own fur, incessant swaying and bar biting.

As we have seen with the demise of Ringling, the power of sustained activism is strong, but legislation could help hasten and strengthen this hard-won progress. In March, federal legislation was introduced into the House to ban the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling circuses and exhibitions, the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act. We urge Congress to pass it. In April, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to draft a ban on the use of animals for circuses and other live shows, including private parties. We urge the council to write a final version of the bill and enact it.

It took more than three decades for the animal rights movement to put an end to the cruelty Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus inflicted on animals. It shouldn’t take another three decades to eliminate similar animal mistreatment elsewhere.

About Chris DeRose:
Chris DeRose is president and founder of Last Chance for Animals (@LC4A), an international nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating animal exploitation.

 

LAWSUIT REACTION — SORTA

Although we filed our lawsuit in mid-December to prevent implementation of Sec. 2025 of the California Fish and Game Code —  née AB 96 that will virtually ban all trade and movement of objects made from or with ivory — the Attorney General has yet to formally respond despite a 15-day extension that ended on the 25th of January.

The first reaction from the State of California has come from the Department of Fish and Wildlife in the form of a $1,778,000 addendum to the Governor’s 2016-2017 budget for enforcement of the new law to “protect African elephants and rhinoceros from extinction.” Nicely put, since that is one of the key contentions of our lawsuit: that the well-being of elephants and rhinoceros are a concern at the national level, but it is hard to see how the protection of African elephants is any part of the business of the government of the State of California.

There was no provision for enforcement included in AB 96 — the sponsors were thought to fear a loss of support if “doing good” for elephants turned out to cost any real money. Our lawsuit notes that the absence of enforcement funds, however, clearly violates the State’s constitution. While the lawsuit may have forced the Department into calculating the cost of enforcing a ban on ivory, they apparently decided to take full bureaucratic advantage of an opening to fill up on budget authority.

The Department has larded its request for additional funds — demonstrably absent in several places from the Governor’s original 2016-2017 budget — with a host of new personnel and equipment. The addition of 4 new wardens, a lieutenant, a technical specialist in the DFW laboratory, a lawyer, an administrative specialist, and more trucks, equipment is ostensibly aimed at conquering a “threat” that is simply no where to be found. The Department did a key word statistical search to discover that over a 42- month period, 404 department hours were expended on activities that included the word “ivory” or “elephant.” No effort was made, of course, to determine if the use of the words on the Department’s reporting forms involved an illegal activity or a positive reference.

Even if every use of these words reflected something nefarious, less than 10 hours a month out of nearly 175 working hours per month were consumed by activity related to ivory or elephants. How many businesses hire 8 new employees to deal with a roughly estimated 6% increase in workload? How many businesses could afford the 36% added cost that new employees bring in the form of health insurance, workmen’s compensation, and the enhanced retirement contributions made for law enforcement personnel?

No one has produced a shred of credible evidence that California is a hotbed for trade in objects made from or with poached ivory. The best that anyone has been able to say is that there are certainly ivory objects for sale in retail shops in California that could “possibly” have come from tusks taken after 1977 — when the import of such material required paperwork and approval; but no one can say that any piece worked after that date has “probably” come from a tusk that came into the United States illegally. Until there is a proven problem in California with illegal ivory, the cost of this level of enforcement is a shameful waste of public funds.

We look forward to contacting all the key legislative players as well as the Governor’s office to point out the outrageous liberties the Department has taken with this supplemental request.

Godfrey (Jeff) Harris
Managing Director, Ivory Education Institute

Lawsuit Filed Against State of California

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

Plaintiff:

IVORY EDUCATION INSTITUTE,  a California non profit, unincorporated association, on behalf of itself and its participants and the taxpayers of California who own ivory objects of historic, artistic, cultural and practical importance created prior to 1977.

Defendant:

THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, by and through its agency the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

COMPLAINT FOR INJUNCTION TO PROHIBIT IMPLEMENTATION OF CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY BILL 96 (California Fish and Game Code Section 2022)

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Keep Your Hands Off Africa!

Ron Thomson was deeply involved in the management of both Hwange and Gonarezhou National Parks in Zimbabwe. He is the author of many books on conservation in Africa (http://www.ronthomsonshuntingbooks.co.za).  He is an expert who has lived and managed wildlife. Listen to his words about elephant populations in southern Africa, the animal rights groups, and the attitude of American government agencies toward the environmental and conservation problems that Africa is experiencing.

Godfrey Harris
Managing Director
Ivory Education Institute

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As someone whose passion is wildlife management – and who has a special interest in elephants and rhinos  – whose belief it is that maintaining biological diversity is the ULTIMATE and singlemost important goal of living resource management in a national park, I have to tell you that ALL our southern African national parks are horrifically overstocked with elephants – and that the elephants are busy turning their habitats into deserts.

In 1960 it was agreed by the National Parks Board of that time, that the Hwange National Park’s elephant stocking rate was no more than one elephant per two square miles (I still believe that is about right); and Hwange National Park is 5000 square miles in extent.  Between 1960 and 1964, therefore, I was involved in trying to reduce the elephant population of Hwange from (then) 3500 to 2500 – by shooting every elephant that crossed the park boundary into the tribal lands beyond.  Tim Braybrook and I shot hundreds of elephants during that period, but we  never achieved our objective because elephants were all the time invading Hwange from Botswana – attracted by the 60 boreholed game water supplies we provided for our game in Hwange during that same period of time.  And, in those days even, the elephants of Hwange were already rendering extinct several species of trees in the Hwange habitats.

Nevertheless, in 1960, lets say the ‘desired’ number of elephants for Hwange was 2500.  Compare that to the numbers today: over 50 000.  That means Hwange is currently overstocked with elephants by 2000 percent!  The Gonarezhou is now carrying 11 000 elephants – and the habitats have been trashed.  The 2000 sq mile Gonarezhou should be carrying  no more than 1000 elephants.  So the Gonarezhou is over 1000 percent overstocked.  Kruger should be carrying no more than 4000 elephants; it is currently carrying between 16 000 and 20 000 (depending on whose elephant assessment  you believe).  So Kruger is 400 to 500 percent over stocked.  Botswana is now carrying in excess of 200 000 elephants; yet in 1960, when irreparable habitat damage was first reported from Chobe National Park, the comparable count was (about) 7 500.  So Botswana is carrying, arguably, 27 times as many elephants as it should – and its other wild animal species populations have crashed by up to 60 percent (so far); in some cases by as much as 90 percent.  If you care to look at the situation in Namibia you will find the the same kind of elephant overpopulation situation exists there, too.

So where do these damned First World animal rightists get their propaganda figures from?  And why is the IUCN et al, not more concerned about elephant habitat damage than they are concerned about elephant numbers?  You NEVER hear IUCN so-called “experts” talking about the state of the habitats.  They only express positive comments when elephant count numbers are UP; and dismal forebodings (about extinction) when numbers are DOWN.  The IUCN is worse than the animal rightists!  Elephant population numbers and the health of elephant habitats go hand in hand.  They should be considered as one entity.  Don’t these people understand ANYTHING about the principles and practices of wildlife management? The world has gone crazy with its concern about the predictions of elephant extinctions contained in the animal rightists’ false propaganda. Do the figures I have quoted give you any reason to believe that the elephant, as a species, is facing extinction?  Nothing could be further from the truth.   Yet in America – from Barack Obama’s office down through the governments various administrations – everybody is going cuckoo over the possibility.  Aren’t the people of America normal, thinking and intelligent people?  Don’t they understand that the animal rights movement is a confidence industry.  The purpose of them propagating such disinformation is to make money – vast amounts of money – from the gullible public.

And all these people are now telling Africa HOW it should manage its wildlife.  That idea is preposterous!  These people should keep their hands off Africa!

Ron Thomson