NOVEMBER: She is hungry. She is alone. Snow is falling. But the bear’s sole focus is the hole she digs under the trunk of an ancient yellow birch that had toppled over, two years earlier, during a windstorm. This would be a good place to spend the winter — and, perhaps, to give birth to the cubs that are slowly growing inside her.
Imagine a colorful flock of parrots flying free. Perhaps you picture them in lush Mexican jungles or on craggy mountainsides in South America. But what about in the hectic streets of San Francisco?
This past April Fools’ Day, animal advocates wondered if the joke was on them.
That's because on April 1, 2003, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released a rule lowering the protected status of gray wolves under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Despite the fact that wolves, once systematically extirpated, have yet to recover in most of their historic range, this reclassification is likely just the first step in the eventual elimination of all federal protections for gray wolves in the lower 48 states. Once de-listed, the species’ fate would lie in the hands of individual states.
Dreaming of your next vacation? How about a wildlife safari where you can view exotic and endangered species from Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia? No time for a trip around the world? No problem! Your tour can take place right here in the U.S.A. As an added bonus, you can stalk these animals in a pen, shoot them at point-blank range, and take their mounted heads home as trophies. For a price, this shameful sojourn can be yours, courtesy of the federal government.
The pet shop seemed more like a pawn store, a place where disenchanted caretakers unloaded their birds for quick cash. During my visit, abandoned birds clamored for attention or followed me [Monica Engebretson] curiously with their eyes — except for a pair of Amazon parrots who sat motionless, side-by-side, with the most expressionless eyes I have ever seen in another living creature.
On a cool spring morning, a mother black bear and her two young cubs wander through a thick stand of Douglas fir. Having recently emerged from their winter den, they are hungry and eagerly search for cambium, the sugary, energy-rich sap found beneath tree bark.
“To protect the cow seems to be one of the most admirable manifestations of human progress. To me, the cow is the embodiment of the whole infra-human world; she enables the believer to grasp his unity with all that lives.”
— Mohandas Gandhi
To many people, Gandhi is the very embodiment of compassion, a man who sense of kinship easily extended to all of the world’s creatures. His vision of a benevolent interrelatedness between humans and other animals — cows, in particular — stands in stark contrast to the cruelties that modern agriculture inflicts on billions of living beings. There’s little doubt that Gandhi would be horrified at how the abuse of the cows he so treasured is an inherent part of today's dairy industry.
Thousands of captive wild animals — elephants, lions, tigers, ocelots, servals, wolves, bears, alligators, venomous snakes, monkeys and other nonhuman primates, and more — are privately held, displayed at roadside zoos and menageries, and used in traveling circuses all across the country.
The sale, possession, and use of captive wild animals is regulated by a patchwork of federal, state, and local laws that generally vary by community and by animal. What results is very little protection under the law. These animals need our help! We must pursue legislation on all levels to ensure stronger protections.