Chimp champ Goodall crusades against deforestation

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RIO DE JANEIRO: Even in the veritable tower of Babel that is the United Nations’ largest-ever conference, it’s safe to assume that Jane Goodall was the only one speaking chimpanzee.

“Ooh, ooh, ooh, ah, ah,” the iconic British conservationist chanted into the microphone, delivering a series of melancholic bursts she said roughly translated as “please help.”

“I think that’s what chimpanzees would be saying if they could articulate it that way,” Goodall told participants at a meeting Thursday of the conservationist umbrella group Avoided Deforestation Partners. The event took place on the margins of the U.N.’s Rio+20 mega-conference on sustainable development, which has drawn an estimated 50,000 diplomats, environmentalists, policy makers and concerned citizens from across the globe to Rio de Janeiro.

The world’s forests are among the crucial, life-sustaining environmental systems scientists say are teetering on the brink of a tipping point. The U.N.’s Environment Program warned earlier this month that the planet’s systems, which also include air, land and oceans “are being pushed towards their biophysical limits,” after which sudden and catastrophic changes could ensue.

Environmentalists had cast Rio+20 as the last, best chance to avert such a scenario, and the event attracted a host of high-profile personalities, including Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and media mogul Ted Turner, who urged policy makers to take action on their pet causes. But the three-day conference was beset by bickering between rich and poor countries, and environmental protection groups have lashed out in chorus against the event’s final document, which they say is grossly inadequate.

Goodall, a Cambridge University-trained ethnologist who’s among the top advocates for the chimps she has studied for more than half a century, spoke movingly of the deforestation that has encroached on Tanzania’s Gombe National Park, where she began studying chimps. The chimpanzee population of equatorial Africa once numbered in the millions, but deforestation and other threats have slashed their numbers to an estimated 170,000-300,000, making the chimp an endangered species. 

Goodall said a recent flight over Gombe, a tiny 30-square-mile sliver of a park perched on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, brought the devastation of the surrounding landscape into sharp relief.

“The trees were gone, the hills were bare,” she said. Outside the park, trees had been cut down by the impoverished locals for firewood and for plots of land on which to eke out a living.

She said both the kind of “desperate poverty” that surrounds Gombe and, on the other end of the spectrum, the unquenchable appetites for consumer goods in wealthy countries, were to blame for deforestation.

“The unsustainable lifestyles of those not living in poverty is leading to the actions … of the big mining companies, the big petroleum companies and the big logging companies” — the enemies of forests worldwide, she said. 

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Pass the Federal Hen Protection Bill

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Most Americans care about animals—two-thirds support “strict laws for the protection of farm animals,” according to Gallup. And yet there is no federal protection for animals on farms and no protection for more than 98 percent of farm animals at slaughter—because the Animal Welfare Act exempts farm animals and the Humane Slaughter Act exempts birds.

Simply put, the abuse endured by each of the almost 10 billion farm animals who will be slaughtered this year would warrant felony cruelty charges if dogs or cats were similarly abused.

The worst of the worst abuse is experienced by laying hens, who endure 18 months in tiny cages where they can’t spread a single wing or do anything else that is natural to them. Their muscles and bones waste away, and they go insane from the lack of mental stimulation. Imagine spending your entire life in your bathroom, with 6 or 7 other people. They live in their own filth.

And remember, science has found that chickens are smarter than dogs or cats—they have foresight, empathy, and the ability to reason. As primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall puts it, “farm animals feel pleasure and sadness, excitement and resentment, depression, fear, and pain. They are far more aware and intelligent than we ever imagined…they are individuals in their own right.”

Now, Congress has a chance to make a small but positive improvement in the lives of hundreds of millions of hens annually, by passing the Federal Hen Protection Act (HR 3798/S 3239). The legislation is bi-partisan: Among the 13 Senate co-sponsors are Sens. David Vitter (R-La.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). Among the 80 House co-sponsors are Reps. Allen West (R-Fla.), Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Dan Burton (R-Ind.), and Barney Frank (D-Mass.).

And perhaps more importantly, it’s endorsed by the industry that would be regulated—the United Egg Producers, which has even set up a website to support the bill.

Not only would the bill eventually give hens cages that are 20 times as big as their current file-drawer sized living spaces, but it would also—within a year—require labels on egg cartons so that consumers know what they’re buying and give tens of millions of hens almost immediate improvements in their living conditions (e.g., about 40 percent more space and a ban on starving them for two weeks to shock their bodies into another laying cycle).

This legislation is far from perfect; conditions for hens would not be anyone’s definition of good in these larger cages. But they’re significantly better than barren battery cages, and for the animals involved, this legislation will make a meaningful difference.

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The Brutal Killing of Bluefin Tuna Exposed | Animal Equality Undercover Investigation

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Published on 2 Jun 2012 by 


Sign the petition to ban the killing of tuna

Each year, in Carloforte, Sardinia, hundreds of blue fin tunas are caught in traps while they migrate to their breeding ground and later slaughtered. Animal Equality, has documented both the natural behaviour of tunas underwater, and the plight of the blue fin tunas who are brutally killed. Blue fin tunas are able to feel pain and suffering like any other animal. This slaughter in Carloforte is a cruel practice that must stop immediately.


• Unnaturally high densities of tuna at the catching stage presented a significant stressor to individual animals.

• Fish were dragged from the ocean with giant sharp metal pick hooks and brought on-board ships.

• Extensive tissue damage was caused by the piercing, blunt hooks, and this is likely to have inflicted acute pain on the fish, who were still alive and conscious.

• The suspension of the tunas’ body weight caused the further tearing of tissues as a result of gravity working against the hook.

• The struggling, frantic movements of the tuna whilst suspended in the air indicated that the fish were in pain and stress.

• Fish were observed being repeatedly stabbed with knives in the thoracic (chest) region and major arteries, causing death via exsanguination.

• Animals were slaughtered in the presence of conspecifics which is likely to cause additional stress.

About us:

“Read the following, a very interesting PDF article by Mark Bekoff.  I have been honored to have Marc’s professional opinion, on certain animal issues I have dealt with & it’s basically what I’ve been feeling my whole life, but articulated beautifully and backed up by research; I have the utmost respect for him. He is also co-founder with Jane Goodall of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; along with many more titles & books.” 

Aquatic animals, cognitive ethology, and ethics: questions about sentience and other troubling issues that lurk in turbid water. Mark Bekoff

“Some people argue that ‘smart’ animals suffer more than do less intelligent beings and therefore it is easier to justify the use of invertebrates, fish, and various rodents rather than dogs, cats, or great apes, for example. However, intelligence and suffering are not necessarily correlated and clever animals do not suffer more than less clever individuals.”

Prof Marc Bekoff 2006a, 2007.

Here is an insightful video of the work Mark Bekoff does:-

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