Friday, June 9


This may be something of a watershed as well: Time Magazine, arbiter of conventional wisdom for the better part of a century, asks a rhetorical question in its headline, "Who Belongs in the Zoo?" and takes a step toward the answer in its subhead: IT MAY BE THAT SOME ANIMALS JUST CAN'T BE KEPT HUMANELY IN CAPTIVITY. (Caps in original) Yes it may. Of course, the burden of proof should be on zoos, circuses, racetracks etc. to prove that any animals can be kept humanely in captivity rather than the reverse, but as I said, it's a step.

The focus, of course, is on the most glaring injustice: Elephants. And while the overall thrust of the article is as wishy-washy as you'd expect, it does at least contain some perspectives by an "outspoken zoo consultant" (read: not one of those wild-eyed animal activists) such as this line about the new expanded "environments" for elephants: "From the animals' point of view, they are not better than they were when they were in cages. It's all done for theatrics."

And that was even before this development: "Animal rights activists have called for the resignation of the director of the Los Angeles Zoo, holding him responsible for the death of a 48-year-old Asian elephant named Gita. Gita died Saturday morning. Zoo officials said they believed Gita died when toxins from her muscles entered her bloodstream under the crushing weight of her own frame. The elephant had suffered arthritis for years." Gee, wonder how the pooor elephant ever contracted arthritis, eh?

Meanwhile, though it seems unlikely to happen on this go-round, it is possible that elephants, chimpanzees, tigers and lions in circus performances within New York City. While I have publicly advocated for Philadelphia to be the first metropolis to take this step, I won't shed any crocodile tears if we lose out to New York on this one.

Thursday, June 8


I try to stay away from the vicissitudes of the fashion world, but I think this is a pretty big development: "Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. said late Thursday that it is eliminating fur from all of its apparel and home collections, starting with the holiday 2006 season." The AP article notes that "The move by Polo Ralph Lauren represents the first major designer house to abandon fur since designer Calvin Klein did so in the mid-1990s."

Tuesday, June 6


I have no idea if elephants in Thailand would be happier where they are or in a deluxe, state-of-the-art Australian zoo. But I wanted to point out this story because I'm always raging about losers like SHAC whose strategies are based on terrorizing employees, neighbors of employees, children of employees, fellow college alumni of employees, etc. This, by contrast, is a form of protest I can endorse - peacefully but decisively (for now) blocking the act of exploitation at a point where it can be done.

"Thai animal rights activists on Tuesday blocked eight Asian elephants from being shipped to Australia, arguing the animals would suffer in zoos that spent millions to create special bathing, exercise and sleeping areas for them. Two rights activists stepped in front of trucks as they tried to leave a quarantine station in the western Thai province of Kanchanaburi late Monday, bound for Bangkok's airport. The standoff continued into Tuesday, when about 15 villagers gathered outside the station to protest the move, and officials eventually removed the animals from the trucks and took them back to their quarters."

Again, this could all be reversed by tomorrow, but at the very least it was a worthy effort, and something to which more activists worldwide should pay heed.