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Animal News

AWA-violating elephant keeper barred from Los Angeles

Published 04/11/08

A circus-elephant keeper was ordered to leave after the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services learned that, using different names and business aliases in Arizona and Texas, the man had a history of numerous Animal Welfare Act violations. New city rules for exotic animals prohibit an exotic-animal permit for any applicant who has violated the AWA within five years. Finding abuse of elephants in circuses to be rampant, Born Free USA united with API is working hard to stop their use. Elephants belong in the wild.

Circus-elephant keeper ordered out of L.A.
Dana Bartholomew
Los Angeles Daily News

The perfect time to consider the future of the zoo

Published 04/10/08

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is facing serious challenges, to be sure: possible loss of industry accreditation and millions of dollars of needed repairs. Perhaps this is the perfect time for everyone involved to consider the very future of the zoo. I understand the allure of seeing magnificent wild animals up close, especially threatened or endangered species. But I also understand the costs — both financial and ethical.

Time for a decision on future of our zoo
Letter to the Editor
Adam Roberts
Senior Vice President, Born Free USA

The Baltimore Sun

Elephants and Ethics at the Circus

Published 04/07/08

While the article "On the Other Tightrope" framed the debate about circuses' treatment of animals in general terms and mentioned a pending federal lawsuit, it failed to point out what the evidence against Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is. Ringling Bros. employees have repeatedly been documented hitting elephants with bull hooks. Ringling Bros. elephants are kept chained all the time except when performing; in one documented case, elephants were chained for 77 consecutive hours. This is just the tip of the iceberg of information presented in the lawsuit. Abusing elephants with bull hooks and chains, which is standard industry practice, is simply unacceptable.

Elephants and Ethics at the Circus
Letter to the Editor
Nicole G. Paquette, Esq.
Senior Vice President, Born Free USA

The Washington Post

Saving the desert tortoise from predatory ravens

Published 04/03/08

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program beginning next Spring will kill ravens caught preying on desert tortoises threatened with extinction. USFWS considered comments by animal advocacy groups to use only non-lethal methods, but that would take too long to have an effect, said a USFWS biologist, adding that the decline of the desert tortoise population needed to be stopped as soon as possible. Non-lethal in the plan including educating the public to place trash in covered garbage bins and not to over-irrigate lawns so that pools of water can be used by ravens for drinking. Monica Engebretson, senior program associate with Born Free USA united with API, said she hoped the program would have included methods to prevent raven eggs from hatching and efforts to pass ordinances that would fine residents for not properly taking care of their garbage or lawns so that the effort is taken seriously.

Plan calls for killing ravens to save desert tortoise
Jennifer Bowles
The Press-Enterprise

Our lawsuit against trapping wins in Minnesota

Published 04/02/08

Trapping and snaring in the "core" habitat of the Canada lynx in Minnesota violated the Endangered Species Act, a federal judge said in a ruling published Monday. U.S. District Judge Michael Davis ordered the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to "promptly take all action necessary to [ensure] no further taking of threatened Canada lynx." Davis said the DNR must apply by the end of April for a special permit regulating incidental takings of Canada lynx. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed in 2006 by the Animal Protection Institute (now called Born Free USA) and the Center for Biological Diversity. According to the plaintiffs, trappers injured or killed at least 13 Canada lynx from 2002 to 2005.

DNR is told to put a stop to trapping Canada lynx
Dan Browning
Minneapolis Star Tribune

Troubled zoo could lose animals on loan from accredited zoos

Published 04/01/08

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore could lose its national accreditation unless the aging facility fixes a litany of expensive problems stemming from years of financial struggles. Born Free USA united with API charts incidents at AZA-accredited facilities involving animal escapes and other dangerous occurrences.

Zoo accreditation in jeopardy
Doug Donovan
Baltimore Sun

Owner Closes Wildlife "Sanctuary"

Published 03/31/08

After years of receiving citations and fines from state and federal wildlife officials, the owner of the Horseshoe Creek Wildlife Sanctuary, for big cats, bears, and other exotic animals has decided to close it. He expected the USDA to revoke his exhibitor's license in the next several days but chose to close the sanctuary's gates early. Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute aims to reduce the suffering of captive exotic animals. See our online report, "A Life Sentence."

Polk Wildlife Sanctuary Closes
Ray Reyes
The Tampa Tribune

Three Ringling zebras escape. Again.

Published 03/27/08

The zebras made a run for it. Spotting a door ajar, three striped members of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus broke out yesterday from their temporary home in Baltimore's 1st Mariner Arena.

Three circus zebras escape
Nick Madigan
Baltimore Sun

Virginia "Zoo" closing after fraud

Published 03/26/08

A chiropractor who is also the owner and operator of Snowflake Farms, a zoo that features a wide array of animals including leopards, giraffes, zebras, monkeys and wildebeests, has been given 60 days to figure out what to do with his exotic animals before he goes to federal prison.

Scott County Chiropractor Sentenced for Fraud, Must Get Rid of Zoo Animals
Mac McLean
Bristol Herald Courier

Setting it straight for the Alaska Congressman

Published 03/24/08

The Bear Protection Act is pro-hunting, pro-bear, anti-poaching legislation. Alaska already prohibits commercialization of bear galls; this bill would support the state's efforts to manage its bear population successfully. The bill is supported by the humane and conservation community, numerous state game departments, law enforcement investigators and hunting organizations. Should it also be supported by Alaska's embattled congressman?

Young should realize that Bear Protection Act is pro-hunting
Adam M. Roberts, Senior Vice President, Born Free USA
Letters to the editor
Anchorage Daily News

Good and bad at the San Francisco Zoo

Published 03/21/08

The San Francisco Zoo is getting both praise and criticism for its handling of a Christmas Day tiger escape that left one person dead and two injured.

Zoo gets mixed grades on tiger escape
United Press International

Ringling draws protests in New York

Published 03/20/08

Animal rights groups protested outside Madison Square Garden Tuesday, saying conditions for circus animals are inhumane. The rally's organizers are calling on the City Council to pass a bill banning the use of "wild and exotic animals" for "public amusement." The legislation has 22 sponsors. "I think it's an entire misrepresentation of the truth," said the show's producer, Nicole Feld, whose family has owned the Ringling Bros. Circus for three generations. "Our animals are absolutely precious to us and are part of the Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey family."

Elephants on 34th Street: Must Be Circus Time
Benjamin Sarlin
New York Sun

San Francisco Zoo to be rescue center?

Published 03/19/08

San Francisco's Animal Control and Welfare Commission on Tuesday unanimously agreed to send a proposal to the Board of Supervisors to convert the San Francisco Zoo to an animal rescue center. The commission, an advisory council to the board on animal-related issues, wants the supervisors to hold hearings on animal welfare at the zoo, including the idea of making the facility into a sanctuary for exotic species owned privately and kept in inhumane conditions.

Commission wants S.F. Zoo to be rescue center
Heather Knight
San Francisco Chronicle

Chimpanzees should not be dressed up as humans

Published 03/18/08

A leading scientific organization has been reprimanded by top conservation biologists for depicting chimpanzees as "frivolous subhuman." A recent promotional campaign by the American Association for the Advancement of Science used chimpanzees dressed in hats while reading the association's journal Science, one of the world's top research publications.

Chimp depiction angers famed scientist Goodall
Margaret Munro
Canada.com

Elephant poaching on the rise

Published 03/17/08

The fight to protect Africa's elephants has just got more dangerous. Across the continent, armed groups linked to civil wars and conflicts are using the illegal ivory trade to fund their activities.

Warlords turn to ivory trade to fund slaughter of humans
Belfast Telegraph

Macaque moves to Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary

Published 03/14/08

The Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary welcomed its newest member, an 11-year-old macaque named Ferguson, to its family of monkeys early March. Ferguson came from the Performing Animal Welfare Society, a sanctuary in Galt. PAWS originally rescued him after he was found locked in a crate, abandoned by his owner.

Folsom Zoo adds a new monkey
Mary Chou
Folsom Telegraph

"A powerhouse organization for global wildlife conservation"

Published 03/13/08

Nestled among a quiet residential neighborhood on S Street, the Animal Protection Institute has provided four decades of authoritative leadership lobbying for improved protection for animals, particularly the treatment of circus animals and exotic pets. As forward-thinking organizations do, API and Born Free USA began working together on wildlife conservation issues and merged in November 2007.

Keeping wildlife in the wild
Jennifer Davidson
Sacramento News & Review

Is the prohibition of trade saving wildlife, or endangering it?

Published 03/12/08

In 1989 CITES agreed to ban trade in ivory. Last year CITES, which now has 172 member countries, extended this ban for a further nine years. But some scientists think poaching may be as prevalent as it was before the original ban.

Call of the wild
The Economist

No medical basis for the decision to euthanize Chico

Published 03/11/08

The Spokane Regional Health District has euthanized Chico, a pet monkey that escaped from its owner's South Hill home and bit three people last week. Chico was euthanized after the health district rejected an offer from Dr. Ned Buyukmichi, the resident doctor at Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in southwest Texas, to pay for expensive rabies shots for the three victims bitten by Chico last week, and to provide a permanent home for Chico and supply transport for the primate. However, Dr. Buyukmichi said that when he made this offer to health officials in Spokane it was roundly rejected as "not an option."

Health District euthanizes Chico
KXLY.com

Illegal wildlife trade profits go to organized crime and even terrorist groups

Published 03/10/08

Wildlife poachers have been found to have ties to groups dealing in arms and drugs, and may have links to terrorists.

Trail of skins and bones leads to underworld
Bob Dart
Minneapolis Star Tribune

Crates of endangered reptiles abandoned at South Africa airport

Published 03/07/08

Three animal transport crates containing endangered reptiles were found abandoned at Oliver Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. The crates, destined for the Czech Republic, were taken to the Johannesburg Zoo and unpacked. Contrary to the consignment listing lizards and frogs, the crates contained hundreds of snakes, geckos, lizards, chameleons, and arthropods,. About 10 to 15 percent of the animals had died during the five to six days they had been in the crates. More were expected to die of dehydration during the following days.

Reptiles abandoned at OR Tambo
The Times

Dogs shot after being caught in traps

Published 03/06/08

Tammy Lewis thought it was strange when her dog, Jeezy, went missing. The 11-month-old puppy usually did not wander far from her home. He mostly remained around the house, playing with his older brother. "Most of the time they stayed in the yard, they really didn't go anywhere," Lewis said. "But one day they were gone." The next day the family went looking for the lost dog. They trudged through the woods as far as a half-mile from home, but found no sign of him. A week later Lewis's neighbor told her why. Her dog was dead. And so was his bluetick coonhound.

Dog Owners Shocked, Saddened By Shootings
Kevin Allen
Rappahannock News

More tormenting of zoo animals

Published 03/05/08

A 17-year-old and a 14-year-old were arrested at the Cohanzick Zoo in New Jersey after witnesses saw and heard them shoot at a rare white Bengal tiger and a black Asiatic bear. The boys were charged on multiple weapons counts. In addition, the SPCA signed charges against both boys for tormenting an animal. Neither of the animals was seriously injured.

Two teens shoot bear, tiger at N.J. zoo
Sam Wood
Philadelphia Inquirer

Illegal traps claim another victim

Published 03/04/08

It was supposed to be a quiet morning walk with the family dogs before the Super Bowl ...

Pets fall prey to illegal traps
Elizabeth Shaw
The Flint Journal

Extinction Trade

Published 03/03/08

Endangered animals are the new blood diamonds as militias and warlords use poaching to fund death.

Extinction Trade
Sharon Begley
Newsweek

More trouble at the San Francisco Zoo

Published 02/29/08

Two months after a Siberian tiger mauled three men at the San Francisco Zoo — resulting in the death of one of them — two other men were allegedly caught late Thursday throwing acorns at the zoo's two black rhinos. Zoo officials said the rhinos, which are endangered, did not appear agitated by the incident. "I'm so glad the system works well," zoo spokesman Paul Garcia said, referring to the emergency hotline phones that were installed after the maulings by Tatiana the tiger on Christmas Day. (There is no reference int he news story to the use of the hotline phones.)

Man cited for allegedly throwing acorns at San Francisco Zoo's rhinos
Linda Goldston
San Jose Mercury News

Exotic Pet Amnesty Day

Published 02/28/08

With alternately tearful goodbyes and barely contained impatience, more than 100 South Floridians surrendered their unwanted exotic animals at the Miami MetroZoo on Saturday. The Exotic Pet Amnesty Day event was designed to give owners a safer alternative to turning the critters loose. Of the more than 150 pets handed over, all but six found new homes.

It's A Zoo Out There: Event Collects 150 Exotic Pets
Rasha Madkour
Associated Press

A sanctuary where many animals died in a recent fire has no USDA license

Published 02/27/08

An animal sanctuary where nearly 100 animals died in a fire last month remains open despite not being licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, records show. A consent order filed Aug. 14, 2006, states that Safari Joe's Wildlife Ranch, also known as Safari Joe's Exotic Wildlife Rescue, owned by Joe Estes, has a history of violations, according to the USDA. An administrative law judge ruled that Estes had committed at least 39 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

Embattled animal ranch is still open
Jeff Billington
Tulsa World

The USDA won't enforce the Animal Welfare Act

Published 02/26/08

In 2006, a big cat owner who provided exotic animals for Hollywood movies was killed and partially devoured by one of her tigers. Authorities reported the tiger that killed her was 100 pounds underweight. Less than a year earlier, the USDA cited her for failing to prove her animals were “being fed an adequate diet.” And that’s all the agency did ...

A paper tiger: USDA cited Sandstone owner of underfed tigers — and never followed up before attack
Duluth News Tribune

A local newspaper profiles our CEO, Will Travers

Published 02/25/08

At age 5, Will Travers spent a year in Africa while his parents – Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna – were starring in a movie about efforts to return a lioness to the wild. Released in 1966, "Born Free" was an instant classic with a lasting impact, raising the public's consciousness about animal welfare through the beloved lioness Elsa. The movie had a lasting impact on Will Travers, too. He is the chief executive officer of Born Free U.S.A. united with Animal Protection Institute, a nonprofit based in Sacramento. The organization, which began in November with the merger with API, tackles many animal issues, among them the plight of animals in zoos.

For activist, it’s lions and tigers and cares
Blair Anthony Robertson
Sacramento Bee

Animals in Entertainment: Cruel Spectacles

Published 02/21/08

From Pedicab News: "Although many of us may have fond memories of a day at the circus when we were young, we are largely unaware of what those amusing moments for us cost the captive animals in a lifetime of abuse that is hidden from the public." The video on the website linked below shows elephants riding tricycles in an Asian circus, with reference to the campaign of Born Free USA united with API. "In Thailand," continues the text, "as in many other eastern nations, elephants have been used as work animals for centuries. However, since the Industrial Revolution, their use in industry has been justifiably diminished, but exploiting them for enslaved showmanship serves no useful purpose, at all."

Elephants on Trikes
Pedicab News

Young elephant’s pregnancy brings criticism on zoo

Published 02/14/08

Sydney’s Taronga Zoo is celebrating the news that its 9-year-old Asian elephant is pregnant, but animal rights groups said that there was little conservation benefit in Thong Dee’s pregnancy and that the young elephant faced health risks. “We know that calves born in zoos have double the mortality rate in the wild, and this pregnancy will put both mother and calf at great risk,” siad the chief scientist with Australia’s Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (RSCPA).

Young Sydney elephant’s pregnancy sparks protests
Paris Maggs-Smith
Reuters

Applying the law to deadly pet food

Published 02/06/08

Two Chinese businesses and a U.S. company were indicted on Wednesday, February 6, in the tainted pet food incidents that killed dozens of animals last year and raised worries about products made in China. In a related story, one pet food maker was ordered to pay $3.1 million in compensation. Born Free USA united with API’s “What’s Really in Pet Food” report discusses the history of pet food recalls, and much more about the pet food industry.

U.S. Indicts 3 Firms In Tainted Pet Food Cases
CBS News

An improvement for animals in California pet shops

Published 02/05/08

An investigation into 64 California pet shops, conducted by API in Spring 2007, revealed significant area of animal neglect. In October, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 1347, the Pet Store Animal Care Act, which imposes stricter standards for the daily care of all animals sold in stores, not just cats and dogs. As Born Free USA united with API’s Monica Engebretson explains, inspections are “complaint-driven, so it requires concerned citizens to call attention to the stores.”

New state law on pet shops imposes stricter standards of care
Stephanie Hoops
Ventura County Star (Camarillo, CA)

An accident waiting to happen

Published 01/24/08

For a £160 fee, Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire, UK, allows customers to stroke with their fingers Rocky, a 9-year-old Siberian and Bengal tiger cross. The park also permits customers to feed Narnia, a white tiger. Meat is held up to the bars so it can be pulled into the cage. Will Travers, CEO of Born Free USA, said: “These are wild animals. This is an accident waiting to happen.”

Wildlife park lets you pet tiger for £160
Daniel Foggo and Holly Watt
The Sunday Times

“The Exotic Pet Trade” on the radio

Published 01/16/08

Adam Roberts, Senior Vice President of Born Free USA united with API, joins Animal Wise Radio hosts Mike Fry and Beth Nelson for a lively discussion of the exotic pet trade.

Other issues touched upon include the combining of Born Free USA with API, National Bird Day, and Adam's forthcoming participation in the Mount Kenya “10 to 4" Mountain Bike Challenge.

Listen by clicking the control below.

Marking the plight of exotic birds

Published 01/14/08

Not every wild bird is free to fly. Avian advocate groups say that while the U.S. has enacted laws to protect our native birds — such as blue jays, cardinals and crows — from commercial exploitation, the bird pet industry is still able to sell and exploit exotic birds and parrots that hail from other countries, says this news story on the bird population in New York City that quickly moves to coverage of National Bird Day.

Giving feathered friends a lift
Amy Sacks
New York Daily News

How high can tigers jump?

Published 01/10/08

Among the questions experts are now asking: How high can tigers jump? And have zoos and sanctuaries dangerously underestimated tigers? That is to say: Are the walls high enough? One can see in the accompanying slide show just how barren the tiger enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo is.

Experts Debate Tiger Safety After Fatal SF Mauling
cbs5.com (KPIX-TV, San Francisco)

The intensely boring life of tigers in zoos

Published 01/08/08

Tigers are among zoo visitors’ favorite animals. They’re also one reason many people hate zoos. Saddened by the picture of misery presented by the tiger who repetitively paces back and forth, back and forth, some people never go back. “Tigers simply don’t belong in the zoo,” says Adam Roberts, senior vice president of the animal advocacy organization Born Free USA. “Tigers don’t belong on concrete, tigers don’t belong behind bars, and frankly, tigers don’t belong near people.”

Tigers don’t belong in zoos
Susan McCarthy
Salon.com

Born Free USA’s Adam Roberts argues against zoos

Published 12/27/07

The Christmas Day tiger mauling at the San Francisco Zoo that killed a 17-year-old boy and severely injured two men has ignited a national debate about whether wild animals should be held in captivity.

Should Animals Be Held in Captivity?
Good Morning America

FDA Urged to Respect Will of Congress and Maintain Moratorium on Cloning

Published 12/20/07

API members and supporters were among the 150,000 concerned constituents who told the FDA there was an essential need for a more complete assessment of the public health, animal welfare, and economic impacts of cloning animals for food before the agency makes its final decision. Here’s the latest news.

Consumers May Receive Unwelcome Gift This Holiday Season
American Anti-Vivisection Society press release

Monkey returned to human “Mommy” after 7 months in the zoo

Published 12/11/07

A judge orders the return of a confiscated Capuchin monkey kept as a “pet.” Nowhere in this news story is it mentioned that keeping such animals as “pets” is misguided and shows ignorance of the true behavior of monkeys.

No More Monkeying Around
Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post

Maggie's Walk on the Wild Side

Published 11/27/07

Alaska's favorite expatriate, Maggie the elephant, has her own 10-minute workout video.

Maggie joins California culture with sunshine workouts
Beth Bragg
Anchorage Daily News

A Letter to the Editor exposes circus cruelty

Published 11/09/07

“Do you think that most kids would want to go to the circus if they knew that the elephants were shocked, prodded and punctured with bullhooks in order to make them perform?” writes a woman who protested at a Ringling Bros. circus performance on behalf of API. “I think that if most kids had any idea of what goes on behind the scenes at Ringling Brothers, they would end up in tears, which, in my opinion, is the natural human response to learning about circus’ animal barbarism.”

Free the circus animals
Emily Bragonier
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Weekend Feedback

The international trade in exotic pets must be stopped

Published 11/05/07

The international trade in exotic pets such as monkeys, crocodiles and rats must be stopped if human beings are to be protected from global pandemics, a leading microbiologist has cautioned. Online comments on this news story include one from API’s Monica Engebretson.

Booming trade in exotic pets ‘could cause a pandemic’
Melanie Reid
The Times (London)

Maggie the elephant at last leaves the Alaska Zoo

Published 11/02/07

After living nearly her whole life in Alaska, Maggie the elephant was loaded and locked into a special metal crate Thursday at the Alaska Zoo and transported in a C-17 cargo plane to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield. Her new home will be the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in San Andreas, where she will have 30 acres to share with nine other elephants.

Maggie the Elephant is making way to new home in Calaveras County
Associated Press
San Jose Mercury News

Other Maggie stories:

Air Force gives Alaska’s only elephant a lift to warmer climes
Associated Press
Boston Herald

Air Force agrees to move elephant on C-17
Bruce Rolfsen
Air Force Times

Alaskan elephant finds her place in the sun
Dan Glaister
The Guardian

Why zoos fail at species conservation

Published 10/31/07

You can no more save a species by breeding it in a zoo than you can by retrieving DNA from a museum specimen, or implanting embryos of wild cattle species into domestic cattle. A mammoth recovered from DNA (if it can be) is no longer a mammoth, a tiger bred in a zoo is no longer a tiger.

Rattling the cages
David Horton
The Huffington Post

Circus elephants help spread drug-resistant TB

Published 10/30/07

All the evidence indicates that for the last 14 years TB positive and TB infected elephants have been traveling the country and performing in closed arenas full of little kids holding cotton candy and squealing with delight. People with compromised immune systems and the elderly are circus patrons. It's a family tradition in some homes to go to the circus when it's in town.

Idiocracy: Why the Media Is Not Protecting the People
Leslie Griffith
The Huffington Post

Lions and tigers seized from dangerous “conservation” organization relocated to accredited sanctuaries

Published 10/24/07

The Siberian Tiger Conservation Association, an Ohio “sanctuary” exposed in 2006 by investigations by API and ABC News 20/20, has gone out of business. The owner of the facility, Diana McCourt, had been operating the facility in violation of USDA regulations and federal law and was recently evicted from the property. She left behind two lions and four tigers, which are now being relocated to accredited sanctuaries where they, and the public, will never be put in danger again.

Animal Groups Rescue Abandoned Lions and Tigers From Ohio Woman
PRNewswire-USNewswire

Why people shouldn’t have exotic “pets”

Published 10/23/07

Residents of Florida’s Isles of Capri face the consequences of a former exotic “pet” released to the wild. Feral iguanas, a species classified as “threatened,” not only eat native flowering plants and fruits, they also burrow next to seawalls to lay their young, causing damage and destruction to the retaining walls. And because they prefer to defecate in or around water, iguanas have been known to take uninvited swims in private and community swimming pools.

Iguanas visit Capri
Ann Hall
Marco Island Sun Times

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