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Canadian Projects

Canadian Blog

by Barry Kent MacKay,
Senior Program Associate

Born Free USA's Canadian Representative

Barry is an artist, both with words and with paint. He has been associated with our organization for nearly three decades and is our go-to guy for any wildlife question. He knows his animals — especially birds — and the issues that affect them. His blogs will give you just the tip of his wildlife-knowledge iceberg, so be sure to stay and delve deeper into his Canadian Project articles. If you like wildlife and reading, Barry's your man. (And we're happy to have him as part of our team, too!)

Dangerous Snakes are Not Therapists

New fad puts vulnerable people at risk

Published 05/01/14

Thanks to a new trend, young children, kids with autism, frail elderly people, and other folks are unknowingly facing a needless new risk of physical and psychological harm. Increasingly, organizations—companies and charities alike—are taking advantage of a very safe practice, with very real benefits, to indulge their own desire to keep exotic, and even dangerous, animals.

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Hunters Who Want to Kill Bears Change their Tune

When all else fails, get personal

Published 04/23/14

Judging from newspaper reports, there seems to be a bit of a change in how the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) is trying to promote the spring bear hunt—or maybe the media are ignoring what they were saying. The original argument was that the spring bear hunt does not orphan as many bears as its critics claim, and that male bears eat cubs (which they may do, but it is not commonplace). But, the concerns of those of us opposed to hunting bears in spring are based on what was reported by scientists studying the hunt. Without seeming to consult with those scientists (apparently including the bear experts working for him), Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources David Orazietti, and his boss, Premier Kathleen Wynne, chose instead to implement a “test” spring hunt, starting May 1 and running for six weeks. It is limited to eight wildlife management units in Central and Northern Ontario.

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Advice to Gail Shea and the Canadian Government: Here's How to Impress the EU

The Canadian government fantasy is just not that widely shared

Published 04/18/14

You may wonder why I, a long time opponent of Canada’s east coast commercial seal hunt, would offer advice to those who fight people like me: the Canadian government. No fear. Anything not fitting the current Canadian government’s ideology is ignored, and yet I live in hope. Call it Canadian pride, or what is left of it, but I hate how we’re increasingly considered to be so backward and regressive on issues pertaining to the environment and animal welfare by so much of the rest of the world—including the European Union (EU), whose ban on the import of products from the east coast commercial seal hunt is opposed by Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Gail Shea.

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CAZA/AZA Hypocrisy is of Elephantine Proportions

Why zoos are no friends to Calgary Zoo's elephants

Published 04/10/14

Until last fall, for several years, my colleagues and I were engaged in what became a deeply contentious battle (read more here) to rescue three mature female African savannah elephants from the Toronto Zoo—elephants that the Toronto Zoo itself decided could no longer be kept. Put simply, we wanted to move the elephants to a world-renowned sanctuary, Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) ARK 2000, in California. The City of Toronto owns the zoo’s live animal collection, which included these elephants, and they decided to send the elephants to the sanctuary, while the Toronto Zoo wanted them sent to another zoo. American celebrity Bob Barker generously offered to pay the transport costs, should the elephants go to the sanctuary.

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One Hundred Years Ago

A brief reflection on the intertwining of disparate events

Published 04/01/14

One hundred years ago, here are some of the things that happened. The Royal Ontario Museum opened in Toronto, which has, among other things, the world’s largest collection of preserved specimens of passenger pigeons. I spent a considerable portion of my life here, from childhood to senior citizenhood, studying, researching, and trying to learn about the natural world.

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Cranbrook, Deer, and Surveys

Surveys: Why I don't answer those things

Published 03/20/14

Two confessions up front… One, I like to make my opinions about things important to me known. Two, I do not answer surveys—ever. No; I don’t see a contradiction.

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Seaworld and Blackfish: Part 9 (Final)


Published 03/14/14

The following blog series is a point-by-point rebuttal to SeaWorld, following SeaWorld's critical reaction to the controversial 2013 documentary, Blackfish. Each blog entry will present an argument made by SeaWorld and a rebuttal by Barry MacKay. This is the final entry.

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SeaWorld and Blackfish: Part 8

Animal rescue

Published 03/12/14

The following blog series is a point-by-point rebuttal to SeaWorld, following SeaWorld's critical reaction to the controversial 2013 documentary, Blackfish. Each blog entry will present an argument made by SeaWorld and a rebuttal by Barry MacKay.

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