The Olympics Are Anything But Games to Abused Horses

The Olympic Games are allegedly about encouraging peace, mutual understanding, and respect through sporting competition. Sadly, this respect is not extended to the animal athletes. While humans like Simone Biles got lots of media coverage and sympathy for her emotional struggles, little attention was paid to horses being badly abused or, in one tragic instance, dying in competition.

Equestrian sport has a long history of callousness. Two years before the London 2012 Olympics, a video emerged of a training method – the rollkur technique – that even a leading dressage coach admitted was “vile” and “cruel.” It involves drawing the horse’s neck round in a deep curve so that its nose almost touches its chest. The video in question showed a rider warming up his horse for a sustained period of time in the position, with the horse’s tongue appearing to loll out and go blue. After debate about the issue at the time, the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) condemned the practice.

In 2002, a report from the Daily Telegraph which detailed “frequent incidents of violence” against dressage horses at competitions, including attacks that left horses with “torn mouths and bloodied flanks”, plagued the industry for years, although issues on this scale haven’t been widely reported for some time. The attacks – which were unconnected to the Tokyo Olympics – included riders whipping, beating and kicking horses. Some used spurs to cut the skin of the horses or wrenched the bridle as punishment after the horse failed to trot in the way the rider wanted.

Equipment used in equestrian sport – such as nosebands, spurs and shock collars – are intended to cause horses pain and discomfort to horses and make them compliant. Training methods can also cause lameness and other long-term injury to their bodies and minds. Let’s be real: dressage is the equivalent of breaking a horse’s spirit to force it to perform unnatural tricks for humans.

When it comes to dressage in particular, people will tell you that horses cannot be forced to do things they don’t want to, that they’re too big and strong to be bullied. But circuses have shown us that even tigers, elephants and bears can be forced to do all sorts of things they hate or fear while appearing “happy” to audiences.

The world got a rare peek at the cruelty behind the equestrian competition at this year’s Olympic Games when German pentathlon team coach Kim Raisner was disqualified and sent home after she punched a frightened horse. The entire show jumping component of the women’s pentathlon was excruciating to watch. Terrified horses, nervous, emotional riders, and complete, utter disregard for animal welfare. Several riders fell, as horses refused jumps and bucked in protest.

It was the cross-country competition (part of the eventing discipline) that saw the most tragic outcome. A horse named Jet Set on the Swiss eventing team was killed after appearing lame at a fence in the middle of the course.

All riders know that of all the equestrian disciplines, eventing — in particular the cross-country component — is the most dangerous. Eventing has been labelled THE most dangerous sport in the Olympics, and that is not an exaggeration. In a short year and a half between 2007 and 2008, 12 riders died while competing in eventing. Between 1993 and 2019, 71 eventing riders died, 69 while competing, and 2 more while training or warming up for competition. Of the 69 riders that died competing, only three deaths were not at the jump. But riders choose to take these risks. Horses do not.

Jet Set, 2007-2021

Jet Set, the Swiss horse who was killed, is not the first competition fatality. In 2008, a 10-year-old mare Tsunami II died after she somersaulted over a hedge and broke her neck. Later that year, Olympic horse Call Again Cavalier broke his leg in competition and was killed. A year later, an American horse named Bailey Wick died after landing on his neck after a jump. In 2010, Porloe Alvin flipped over a jump and broke his back. He died, too. In 2012, a horse named Sugoi broke his neck and died.

The sport treats injuries and fatalities as a tragic but sometimes unavoidable outcome. Jet Set’s rider Robin Godel said on Instagram that the horse “passed while doing what he loved most: galloping and jumping obstacles.” Did he, or are humans just putting a sentimental spin on animal cruelty?

The latest Olympic Games had numerous lessons for those who care about animals. The biggest lesson of all is that it’s time for equestrian sports to be dropped from the Olympics.

Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!

Animal Abuse Is No Way to Celebrate Easter

Here is a photo of me and Christmas, a chicken rescued from an egg farm in Connecticut at Christmas 1996. Christmas had been badly abused and was in terrible shape, but we nursed her back to health, and she was a beloved family member for many years. Christmas loved to fly up onto the couch and snuggle when I was watching TV. She would softly purr and often fell asleep tucked under my arm.

Now another holiday is approaching. For many, Easter is a celebration, but for animals abused in the name of holiday gift-giving, there is nothing to celebrate.
In this shocking video , you can witness chicks being dyed to be given as Easter “gifts.” They are dumped into plastic bins, drenched in dye, and tossed the way one would toss a salad. No doubt some of these tiny, delicate birds sustained injuries, and all were surely frightened. Dyeing animals is illegal in half our states; unfortunately, that means it’s still legal in the others.
And when Easter has passed? Received as gifts, these unnaturally-colored chicks are more likely to be viewed as “toys” than living things to be cared for. Children should never be taught to view animals as playthings but instead to respect the lives and rights of all living beings. Chicks given as novelty gifts are often abandoned as their colors fade.
Chicks require special care that many families aren’t prepared to give, but it’s not just chicks who suffer from holiday novelty gift-giving. Nationwide, rabbits rank third among animals turned in at shelters, many surrendered by people who were not prepared to give longtime care to the cute bunny they took home for Easter.
If you were thinking of buying a chick, a bunny, or any other animal to give as a present this Easter, don’t do it! Instead, give a child an actual toy—the kind that’s stuffed with cotton and does not require food, water, veterinary visits, hours of love and attention every day, and years of commitment.
If you and your family are ready to provide a loving, permanent home for a chicken, a bunny, or other animal, please adopt from a shelter or rescue group after giving the decision a lot of thought and thoroughly researching how to care properly for these sensitive, complex animals.
Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet



Animal Cruelty Alert – Check Your Coconut Milk Label

 More and more compassionate people are choosing plant-based alternatives to cow’s milk because they don’t want to support cruelty to animals. These alternative milks, including almond, soy, oat, walnut, and others, are all easy to find, delicious, and cruelty free. But if coconut milk is your choice, there is something you must know. Recent investigations have revealed that one of the world’s major suppliers of coconuts, Thailand, is packing cruelty into every crate of coconuts. Ninety-nine percent of the coconuts harvested in that country are being picked by monkey slave labor – terrified, young pig-tailed macaques who are kept chained, abusively trained, and forced to climb trees to pick coconuts. Because of this, many retailers and food companies are now refusing to buy milk, meat, flour, and oil derived from Thai coconuts.    

Coconuts from other parts of the world, including Brazil, Columbia, India, the Philippines, and Hawaii, are harvested using willing human tree-climbers, tractor-mounted hydraulic elevators, rope or platform systems, or ladders. Coconut water typically comes from coconuts grown on dwarf trees, including the Nam Hom variety, so harvesting them doesn’t require anyone, human or non-human, to climb to great heights. 
In Thailand, the pig-tailed macaques are illegally abducted from their families and homes when they’re just babies. They’re fitted with rigid metal collars and kept chained or tethered, or locked inside cramped and filthy cages with no shelter from the rain. Denied the ability to move around, socialize, or do anything else that makes their lives worth living, these intelligent animals soon exhibit behavior indicative of extreme stress, endlessly pacing and circling. Monkeys who try to free or defend themselves have their canine teeth pulled.

These captive monkeys are forced to learn how to perform difficult tasks, such as twisting heavy coconuts until they fall off the trees from a great height. Tethered by the neck with a metal collar, they are forced to climb up and down trees and collect between 1,000 and 1,600 coconuts per day; a skilled human can pick about 80. Sometime the monkeys grow so tired ofrom picking coconuts that they faint. Those who fall from the 50-foot trees and are injured are no longer useful to the coconut industry; they are killed.

To earn more money off the captive monkeys, trainers at Thailand’s so-called “monkey schools” force their prisoners to participate in circus-style shows by riding bicycles, shooting basketballs, and performing other confusing and demeaning tricks in front of paying visitors.

Increasing numbers of consumers are speaking with their wallets, and retailers are listening. US supermarket chains Giant Food, Food Lion, Stop & Shop, and retailers like Bed, Bath, & Beyond, World Market, Walgreens, and Duane Reade, have pledged not to stock coconut food and drink of Thai origin. If you’re reading this in the UK, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Tesco, Ocado, Waitrose, Co-op, and Boots have done the same. Retailers in Germany and the Netherlands have joined in the pledge. Worldwide, more than 17,000 stores now refuse to buy any coconut products derived from monkey labor.

If you buy coconut milk, oil, flour, meat, or other products, be sure to check the country of origin of what you buy. If it’s from Thailand, don’t buy it. There is a good chance the purchase price is supporting animal cruelty. 

As a shopping guide, the following companies affirm that the products they sell DO NOT derive from coconuts picked by monkeys:

Amy & Brian


Aunt Patty’s


Artisana Organics

Better Body Foods

Big Tree Farms

Califia Farms

Carrington Farms

Coco Luxe Life (Australia)

Coconut Magic (Australia)

Coconut Secret


Dr. Bronner’s

Earth Circle Organics

Earth Conscious

Harmless Harvest

La Tourangelle Artisan Oils

Maison Orphee

Naked Coconuts

Native Pacific “Banaban” (Australia)


Ojio (Ultimate Superfoods)

Sanso-Boeki LLC (Japan)

So Delicious


Spectrum Organics

3 Buddhas Coconut Water

Trader Joe’s

Tropical Traditions

Vita Coco

Animals Suffer for Our Entertainment

While filming an episode of “Gunsmoke” in 1968, there was a scene in which a dog was supposed to jump up and steal a sandwich from an actor’s hand. I was in the scene, and try as he might, the poor dog couldn’t get the stunt right. Time is money in the entertainment business, and the scene was taking a lot of time. Finally, the dog’s trainer hit the dog to make him “pay attention.” I was standing less than ten feet away. If I’d been an adult, I would have taken the dog and walked off the set, but I was only nine and couldn’t say anything. But I have these photos, taken on set as I witnessed an innocent animal being abused, to remind me of how I felt. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen an animal abused on a set, and it wouldn’t be the last.

When animals are used for entertainment, they suffer—and the film and TV industries are no exception. Often torn away from their mothers as infants and subjected to lives of punishment and deprivation, animals used in movie and television productions have no control over their lives. They’re treated like props, often forced to perform confusing tricks on cue until they’re considered too old, too sick, or simply no longer profitable.

You’ve probably heard of American Humane, the organization which monitors the use of animals on film sets. They don’t do a very good job. First, there are only enough AH inspectors to monitor about one-third of film sets. Their priorities are also in question. The Los Angeles Times reported, in 2001, that the American Humane Film Unit “has been slow to criticize cases of animal mistreatment, yet quick to defend the big-budget studios it is supposed to police,” and that an examination of American Humane “also raises questions about the association’s effectiveness.” The article cites numerous cases of animals injured during filming which the American Humane overlooked. In 2013, The Hollywood Reporter ran a story which implicated American Humane in turning a blind eye to and underreporting incidents of animal abuse on television and movie sets. For example, during the filming of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” 27 animals died. Nevertheless, the movie received a “no animals were harmed” disclaimer. During the filming of the movie “Life of Pi,” the tiger “King” nearly drowned in a pool, yet this incident was not reported outside of the American Humane organization.

At off-set animal training compounds, living conditions are typically dismal, and abusive training techniques, including food deprivation, are commonly used to ensure that animals will perform on set in the fewest takes possible. Animals used in movies and on TV are trapped in the recurring role of “victim.”

Using wild animals such as bears, snakes, big cats, monkeys, wolves, and elephants for entertainment is inherently cruel, and there is never a situation in which it’s acceptable to use them in a movie or on a TV show. No amount of training can ever completely override their natural instincts. In nature, most animals do everything that they can to avoid humans, but those used by Hollywood trainers are forced into close proximity with their captors and are also deprived of their families, their freedom, and everything else that’s natural and important to them.

While they may never get the life that they deserve in their natural habitat, wild animals used for movies and on TV shows can have the next best thing. Reputable sanctuaries across the country can offer them expert veterinary care, room to explore, seclusion, and freedom from the stress of transport and the chaos of film and TV sets. It’s the responsibility of Hollywood’s trainers to stop exploiting these animals and to relinquish them to reputable sanctuaries where they can have some semblance of a natural life. Filmmakers, too, have the responsibility never to use wild animals in their productions.

Domestic animals such as cats, dogs, horses, chickens, and cows have needs that are different from those of wild animals but are no safer from the deprivation, cruelty, and dangers of the movie and TV industries. Horses, for example, are historically among the animals most commonly injured and killed when used for movies and TV shows.

An investigation into one of Hollywood’s most prominent animal suppliers documented that pigs were suffering without adequate veterinary care, cats were virtually starved for days, and dogs were kept outdoors in barren concrete kennels without bedding, even though temperatures dropped into the low 40s at night. A law enforcement raid on another company that supplied animals for Netflix, Disney+, AMC, and USA productions, found more than a dozen dogs in kennels stacked on top of one another in a garage.

In the movie business, cash is king—and animals’ well-being will always be compromised as long as profit margins and production deadlines rule the day. The living conditions and preproduction training methods that animals endure are often unregulated and unsupervised by the industry, which is why there is increasing demand for filmmakers to use computer-generated imagery or animatronics or, if the circumstances are right, cast their own companions, as Bradley Cooper did when he recruited his own dog for the new version of “A Star Is Born.” Filmmakers should always avoid commercial animal suppliers.

Fortunately, viewers are learning to see animals as individuals—not props—and filmmakers are taking note. Movies such as “The Lion King” and “The Jungle Book” brought Simba, Rafiki, Baloo, and Shere Khan to life without forcing a single animal to perform. Shows like “The Walking Dead” and “The Umbrella Academy” have incorporated stunningly realistic CGI of wild-animal characters who were at the center of the story arcs. CGI, animatronics, and other types of technology are paving the way for an enlightened approach to depicting animals in cinema—one in which nobody is whipped, caged, starved, or abandoned.

While some filmmakers and TV producers understand that animals aren’t ours to abuse for entertainment, many still need to be persuaded—and that’s where viewers come in. By avoiding shows and movies that use animals, the public can send a powerful message to Hollywood that profits won’t come without principles and that we expect them to keep animals out of their projects. I encourage compassionate viewers to take the fight to the industry and post their disapproval about the use of animals in a production on the social media pages of the director, the network, and the production company.

Marine Parks: a Billion-Dollar Industry Built on Misery

In the summer of 1969, I sat for an interview on a local Los Angeles TV talk show called “Let’s Talk About.” The host of the show was Keith Walker, a sometime actor and screenwriter who would go on to write the story and screenplay for “Free Willy,” a 1993 movie about an orca who escapes from a marine park with the help of a boy. In the movie, most of Willy’s scenes were played by an animatronic orca, but some were played by a real orca named Keiko. Keiko was found by movie scouts at a run-down park in Mexico, where he lived in a tank only one foot longer than he was. The publicity from Keiko’s role in the movie led to an effort to free him back into the wild. It took until 2002, but Keiko was finally released into his native waters off Iceland. Sadly, overweight and in ill health from his years in captivity, he died one year later.

Keiko was not alone in his suffering. Aquariums and marine mammal theme parks like SeWorld in San Diego, Orlando, and San Antonio, and Miami’s Sequarium have long been a part of a billion-dollar industry built on misery. For intelligent, social animals, captivity in a marine park is a life sentence of loneliness, boredom, forced labor, and anguish.

Tilikum, a star attraction at SeaWorld Orlando, died in a concrete prison 33 years after he was taken away from his family in the cold waters off Iceland. For Lolita, torn away from her family in Washington’s Puget Sound when she was just a baby, this summer will mark a half a century in the same tank at the Miami Seaquarium. An orca named Kiska, abducted from her family as a baby, has been swimming in endless circles in a cramped tank in Canada’s MarineLand in Niagara Falls for 40 years. The most famous orca of all, Shamu, was captured after her mother was harpooned and killed and she refused to leave her mother’s body. Shamu was only nine years old when she died of septicemia from unhealthy living conditions at SeaWorld San Diego.

Frequently housed with incompatible tankmates, dolphins, whales, and other marine mammals are often drugged in order to manage stress-induced aggressive behavior and relieve the monotony of swimming in endless circles. They break their teeth chewing on the metal bars and concrete sides of their tanks and are forced to perform ridiculous and unnatural tricks for tourists in exchange for food—all in the name of “entertainment.”

While wild female orcas can live to be more than 100 years old, orcas at SeaWorld often die by the time they reach their teens and rarely approach even the average life expectancy of wild orcas. More than 40 orcas have died at SeaWorld from causes such as bacterial infections and fractured skulls. More than 300 other dolphins and whales along with approximately 400 pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, and walruses) have also died at the parks.

“Touch tanks” as well as “swim with dolphins” and “paint with dolphins” programs allow the public to pet, kiss, paint with, or even ride these animals. Such programs invade the animals’ already diminished worlds and are intrusive, stressful, and even dangerous for them, as well as being risky for human participants.

Animals in “petting pools” are frequently exposed to foreign bacteria and other pathogens, and they can become anxious, frustrated, aggressive, and even neurotic as a result of being confined to shallow tanks and exposed to constant interaction with humans. Members of the public have been injured at SeaWorld’s dolphin-petting pools.

Even programs that enable people to swim with dolphins in nature can be invasive. Boats and swimmers may chase, harass, and scare them, interfering with their natural feeding, resting, migrating, and playing behavior. Dolphins may be smart and sociable animals, but they don’t want to swim with you any more than you want a strange family to show up at your house for supper and hang around all evening.

Captive marine mammals have some federal protections in the U.S., but enforcement is lax. There are simply too many animal exhibitors for the limited number of U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors – as of February 2020, there were only 104 inspectors for 12,851 facilities. Even when exhibitors are cited for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act, they are rarely assessed fines or meaningful penalties.

The world is moving away from keeping intelligent, sensitive cetaceans in captivity. In the U.S., the National Aquarium is building a seaside sanctuary – a safe ocean cove in which marine mammals can be released into a protected area of the sea to dive deep, feel the ocean currents, and finally live like they should, all while still receiving care, food, and veterinary support. Two whales have been moved from a marine park in China to a seaside sanctuary in Iceland, and The Whale Sanctuary Project just announced plans for a seaside sanctuary for rescued orcas and belugas in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Please don’t spend your money at marine parks and aquariums that keep ocean animals in captivity. Encourage them to create more space for rehabilitating (and releasing) injured wildlife by refusing to breed more animals. Pressure government officials not to subsidize these facilities with taxpayer money, and support legislation that prohibits the capture or restricts the display of marine mammals.

Please join me in urging SeaWorld and other marine parks to stop imprisoning animals and to relocate the orcas, bottlenose dolphins, and other animals to seaside sanctuaries, where they can thrive in the enrichment and diversity of the sea while still receiving the care that they require.

Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet.

Tired of Isolation? For Billions of Animals, This Is Their Entire Existence

Shelter-in-place restrictions, closed businesses and public spaces, and reduced social interaction has found us confronting unfamiliar feelings of alienation and isolation. Many people are disoriented by the sense of being estranged from their own lives.

Weeks or months of isolation necessary to inhibit the spread of the COVID-19 virus can be uncomfortable, but we know this disruption in our lives is only temporary. Try to imagine, if you can, the depths of isolation our society routinely inflicts on so many of our fellow beings – the nonhuman animals we breed or capture for our exploitation. For the animals languishing on farms, in zoos, vivisection laboratories, aquariums, circuses, pet stores, breeding mills, kill shelters, alienation and loneliness is the very essence of their existence, and a permanent condition.

It is widely believed that COVID-19 jumped to humans via the animal flesh trade, which has led to a critical focus on wildlife and “wet” markets. Deservedly so, but we must not forget that factory farms and meat packing plants remain the largest sources of human zoonotic disease pandemics. A 2012 study mapping human diseases that come from animals found that “while zoonoses can be transmitted to people by either wild or domesticated animals, most human infections are acquired from the world’s 24 billion livestock, including pigs, poultry, cattle, goats, sheep and camels.”

The World Health Organization confirms that the greatest risk for zoonotic disease transmission occurs at the human-animal interface through direct or indirect human exposure to animals, their products (meat, milk, eggs, etc.) and/or their environments, while the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization notes that “seventy percent of the new diseases that have emerged in humans over recent decades are of animal origin and, in part, directly related to the human quest for more animal-sourced food.”

Just a decade ago, swine flu, an H1N1 influenza virus, jumped from farmed pigs to humans and infected nearly 61 million people in the U.S. alone, where it resulted in 12,469 deaths, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Worldwide, as many as 284,500 people were killed by the swine flu pandemic.

The infamous 1918 influenza pandemic was also caused by an H1N1 virus. Attributed to having developed from either a swine flu or avian flu virus on a pig or poultry farm (pre-dating factory farms, it should be noted), the pandemic killed an estimated 50 million people around the world.

All this is just the tip of the iceberg.

While pandemics are tragic, they are not inevitable. In the grand scheme of things, they are symptoms of a much deeper sickness with which we have infected not only ourselves, but whose toxic consequences can now be seen across the globe. Witness the burning of the Amazon rainforest to make room for ever more cattle ranching. See Australia, where the ceaseless bulldozing of koala habitat and the deliberate mass killing of kangaroos, both on behalf of the beef industry, kill far more of these animals every year than the recent wildfires. See, too, the unprecedented rates of species extinction resulting from habitat loss, whose number one driver is animal agriculture; the climate crisis to which meat and dairy production contribute more greenhouse gas emissions than all global transport combined, leading to devastating droughts, floods, fires, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events.

This sickness is not the scale of our killing but in the mentality that views animals not as fellow beings but as resources to be farmed and consumed. Humans have thrown out the order of nature and taken it upon themselves to decide where animals will live, if they may reproduce and how and when, if the children they bear will ever see their mothers, when or if they may be allowed to socialize with their own species. What, when, and how much they will eat, what mutilations they will be subjected to, and, to a great extent, when and how they will die.

What can it mean that, in a society obsessed with personal identity and freedom, we have erased the very concepts of identity, liberty, autonomy, and consent from entire populations of sentient individuals. We give little or no thought to the moral implications of the indignity and debasement we inflict on them for our own profit and pleasure. To degrade any individual, much less entire species, to the lifelong status of property, captive, and commodity, is the grossest devaluing of life, and the ultimate alienation.

Farmed animals are the innocent victims of our arrogant and ignorant species. They do not “live” as we know and value the word; they endure an existence. They are powerless, brought into the world by violation on an industrial scale for the sole purpose of gratifying human indulgence.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can thrive without causing this devastating harm.

It is no coincidence that our systematic destruction of animal lives is also destroying our own. As I write this, U.S. slaughterhouses and meat processing plants have been identified as the largest hotspot for coronavirus infection in the country. Instead of shutting them down to stop the spread of this killer virus, an executive order is forcing them to stay open to supply our society’s fetish for flesh. Headlines fan the fears of “mass meat shortage” that threaten to starve us all. News flash: it won’t. There are more than enough things to eat that aren’t hacked off the corpses of animals.

Our culture is in a state of addiction. It is pathological. And it is wrecking our planet, which ought to be incidental to the immorality of force-breeding billions of sentient individuals into captivity, reproductive subjugation, and slaughter. Lives are not commodities; beings are not property.

Until we divest from this poisonous sense of entitlement, this blood-soaked stupor of violence, exploitation, and consumption, our species is doomed.

Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet.

Cruelty to Animals Is No Three-Ring Circus

Hanna-Barbera’s The Roman Holidays was a humorous look at “modern-day” life in Ancient Rome, as seen through the adventures of the Holiday family. I voiced the youngest Holiday, Precocia. The Holidays had a family “cat,” a lion named Brutus. Brutus’ antics very often got the family in trouble, but it was all in cartoon fun. What’s not funny is the life of a lion – or a tiger, or an elephant, or any animal – in a circus.

“The circus is coming to town” is a saying that used to bring excitement to small town and city dwellers, but now with the knowledge of what really goes on “behind the big top,” people are thinking twice. Instead of paying money to see the exploitation of animals in circuses, people are choosing “animal free” circuses like Cirque du Soleil and many others who are saying “NO” to the use of animals in circuses. You see, there’s another side to the story of animals in the circus I’d like to address – animal cruelty.

Consider the elephants. Circuses typically confine these animals with a pair of heavy leg chains front and rear, diagonally opposite. An elephant thus chained cannot even turn in a circle. It’s not unusual for these animals to live in double leg chains all night and day except during performances and when they are on   public “display”. Some elephants are kept in a small electrified corral, but even those elephants may spend 10 hours or more a day in double leg chains. Male elephants may have their head and trunk movements restrained with additional chains. Most of us would be outraged to see a dog tethered in that manner. Yet a wild elephant, or even one born into captivity, has an immense, instinctive need to roam, take mud baths and interact with their own social community.

In nature, elephants sleep only four hours a night and can travel up to 80 kilometers a day, but the frustration, boredom, and loneliness of circus confinement creates the motivation for aggression. When I think about the effects of rampaging elephants’ (as has happened in cities worldwide), I wonder why animal acts have been tolerated for as long as they have. A visit behind the scenes of circuses can be an eye-opener. One sees tigers kept in cages equivalent to what an airline carrier would be for domestic cats (where the tigers can’t even turn around let alone express their natural behaviors), hippos in tiny containers with scarcely six inches of water, and bears with muzzles around their mouths while harnessed onto the backs of horses. Animals in circuses also engage in aberrant, repetitive movements such as pacing and rocking; these are pitiful symptoms of the complete boredom and isolation in a totally unnatural environment. Many circus animal “handlers” don’t really care or, worse yet, go out of their way to abuse  animals.

The opportunity to dominate large land mammals like elephants and tigers seems to attract individuals with violent behavior to work as “handlers.” One technique used to dominate an elephant is to wet him down and then repeatedly administer 110-volt shocks to drive the animal to its knees. Not only does this torture and terrify the animal, it may prematurely age its brain. Another is to strike an elephant repeatedly in their most sensitive areas with a bull hook, a long wooden rod with a sharp metal hook at one end. The “handlers” do this in order to get elephants, who weigh thousands of pounds, to do tricks which are difficult and completely unnatural for them to do. Some circuses say that they train their animals with a “reward system”; this is simply false propaganda meant to soothe an uneducated public.

If we want this world to be a more peaceful and less violent place, if we want to start teaching young children to have compassion and respect for those beings with whom we share the planet yet who are different from us, then we must not take them to places that show these magnificent animals doing stupid and unnatural tricks in ridiculous costumes. This teaches nothing to our children about these animal’s lives or who they truly are and should be.

Please teach your children compassion not cruelty and choose circuses that have the jugglers, clowns, cotton candy and acrobats, but do not contain the suffering of those circuses who use animals.

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Animal Abuse Is No Way to Celebrate Easter

For many, Easter is a celebration, but for animals abused in the name of the holiday, there is nothing to celebrate.

In this horrifying video, you can see the cruel process that chicks may endure when they are dyed bright colors to be given as Easter “gifts.” Although the caption for this video says it was taken in South America, such abuse could take place just about anywhere, including the U.S., where dyeing animals is still legal in about half our states. In the video, you can see how groups of baby chicks are dumped into plastic bins with no regard for their safety or comfort. No doubt some of these tiny, delicate birds sustained injuries—and all the animals felt fear as they were drenched with dye.

The video is hard to watch, but what might be even harder to consider is what happens to the birds after Easter is over. Purchased as gifts, these unnaturally-colored chicks are more likely to be viewed as “toys” than living things to be cared for. Children should never be taught to view animals as playthings but to respect the lives and rights of all living beings. Chicks given as gifts for Easter are most often abandoned even faster than their colors fade.

Chicks require special care that many families aren’t prepared to give, but it’s not just chicks who suffer from holiday novelty gift-giving. Nationwide, rabbits rank third among animals turned in at shelters, many surrendered by people who were not prepared to give longtime care to the cute bunny they took home for Easter.

If you were thinking of buying a chick, a bunny, or any other animal to give as a present this Easter, don’t do it! Instead, give a child an actual toy—the kind that’s stuffed with cotton and does not require veterinary visits, hours of love and attention each day, and years of commitment. If you and your family are ready to provide a loving, permanent home for a chicken, a bunny, or any other animal, please adopt from a shelter or rescue group after giving the decision a lot of thought and thoroughly researching how to care properly for these sensitive, complex animals.

Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!


The Cruelty Behind “Cruelty-Free” Laboratory Meat

In the very first episode of Blondie, Cookie won’t eat her eggs. Who can blame her? Eggs are the product of a cruel and deadly industry. I like to think Cookie grew up to be vegan, just as the girl who played her did.

Millions have gone vegan in response of the horrific suffering imposed on animals, as well as for health and environmental reasons. For that reason, the merciless meat and dairy industries are running scared. Now they’ve come up with laboratory-grown, or cultured, “meat” as a substitute for the flesh of cows. They’re trying to peddle this lab-grown meat as a “cruelty-free” alternative, and it’s not just “cultured” beef vying for space restaurant menus – they’re also attempting to clone chicken breasts and fish fillets.

What they don’t want you to know is that growing meat in a lab requires a product known as fetal bovine serum, or FBS. FBS, as the name implies, is a byproduct made from the blood of cow fetuses. Dairy cows, who are kept pregnant throughout their miserable lives to ensure constant milk production, are slaughtered when they’re no longer productive enough to justify their upkeep on factory dairy farms. To get this FBS, these cruel meat producers take pregnant dairy cows to slaughter and bleed them out. The fetus is removed and brought into a blood collection room. The fetus, which remains alive during the process to ensure blood quality, has a needle inserted into its heart, and the blood is drained until the fetus dies, a slow death that takes about five minutes. This blood is then refined, and the resulting extract is FBS. This is hardly the cruelty-free future meat producers want you to believe in.

The bottom line is, meat made in a lab still requires the slaughter of cows and the killing of and extracting blood from the cows’ fetuses. Add to that all the same health risks associated with consuming animal flesh: high levels of cholesterol and saturated fat that increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

If you want truly cruelty-free alternatives to eating animal flesh, don’t be duped by the monstrous meat and dairy industry and their lab-grown beef. There are hundreds of clean, healthy plant-based products on the market. Visit a Whole Foods or other full-range grocer and ask to be introduced to the wide selection of vegan burgers, vegan ground round (great for tacos!), Gardein vegan meatballs, and on and on. Sample the many delicious milk substitutes, vegan ice cream sandwiches, and even vegan apple pie!

Here’s a great site that will answer all your questions regarding healthy and delicious vegan alternatives. You’ll be surprised at how many there are and how much fun and easy – and tasty! – it is to go cruelty-free!

Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

England and Scotland Join the Ban on Circus Animals

More victories for the animals! England and Scotland have passed legislation banning wild animals in circuses effective 2020. They join more than 40 other countries, including most of Europe, Latin America and several Asian nations, in banning the exploitation of animals for entertainment. The legislation followed a study that showed 94.5% of Britons and Scots favored such a ban.


It’s time for America to catch up with the rest of the world. New York City recently joined Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boulder, Colorado, Jersey City and Passaic, New Jersey, and counties in Massachusetts, Idaho, and North Carolina in saying NO to wild animals in circuses. That’s a step in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go.

Animals aren’t actors, objects to be imprisoned and gawked at, or circus clowns. Yet thousands of these animals are forced to perform painful and confusing “tricks” by means of physical punishment, being beaten and stabbed with bullhooks or tormented with electrical prods. These poor animals are hauled across the country in cramped and airless railroad boxcars or tractor-trailer trucks, kept chained or caged in barren, mind-numbing, filthy enclosures, and separated from their families and friends, all for the sake of human “entertainment.” Most of these animals live shortened life spans; many die, still in chains.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!