Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"The Greater Akashic System" – July 15, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) (Subjects: Lightworkers, Intent, To meet God, Past lives, Universe/Galaxy, Earth, Pleiadians, Souls Reincarnate, Invention: Measure Quantum state in 3D, Recalibrates, Multi-Dimensional/Divine, Akashic System to change to new system, Before religion changed the system, DNA, Old system react to Karma, New system react to intent now for next life, Animals (around humans) reincarnate again, This Animal want to come back to the same human, Akashic Inheritance, Reincarnate as Family, Other Planets, Global Unity … etc.)

Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle
American zoologist played by Sigourney Weaver in the film Gorillas in the Mist would have been 82 on Thursday (16 January 2014)

Saturday, January 18, 2020

New cases of cruel slaughterhouse practices revealed: RTL

DutchNews, January 17, 2020

Pigs on a factory farm. Photo: Depositphotos.com

A number of slaughterhouses in the Netherlands are still causing unnecessary suffering to pigs despite pledges from agriculture minister to curb the practice, RTL Nieuws reports. 

RTL said that between January 2018 and July 2019 several new instances had come to light in which pigs were placed in vats of very hot water while still alive. The broadcaster bases its claim on reports requested from Dutch health and safety watchdog NVWA by pig protection organisation Varkens in Nood. 

In the reports, NVWA inspectors said they had personally witnessed six cases in which live pigs were placed in the vats and tried to swim. They also reported seeing a live pig dumped on a pile of bodies and pigs being beaten by workers. 

The practice of immersing live pigs in vats of hot water first came to light in Belgium in 2017. In 2018 RTL requested Dutch inspection reports and found that as many as 19 Dutch slaughterhouses had been fined 48 times over animal welfare issues, including placing and drowning live pigs in very hot water. 

One particular slaughterhouse had been fined 11 times in the space of six months in 2018, RTL said at the time

Dutch farm minister Carola Schouten said at the time she would tighten up the rules on abattoir closures and increase fines for animal cruelty following revelations about conditions in Dutch slaughterhouses. 

NVWA inspectors are a permanent fixture at the 21 big slaughterhouses in the Netherlands but smaller ones are only checked at intervals. It is not clear at which of the slaughterhouses the latest cases were found to have occurred. 

Varkens in Nood spokesperson Frederieke Schouten said all slaughterhouses need more supervision. ‘The only solution are cameras at every slaughter line. A slaughterhouse that does not keep to the rules more than once will have to be closed immediately.’

Animal sector calls for ‘fair trade mark’ for dogs

DutchNews, January 17, 2020 

A healthy and happy spaniel.

There is a fair trade mark for cocoa – so why not for pets? 

Animal rights and vets organisations, concerned about the sale of puppies of unknown backgrounds and health problems, have set up a FairDog platform. 

The website, which aims to be up and running within two years, should offer pet buyers puppies with a certified pedigree and reliable details about their health, behaviour and breeding method. 

According to the NOS broadcaster, some 150,000 puppies are sold each year in the Netherlands. It reports that many are cheap, come from Eastern Europe, and could suffer from health problems such as viruses and bacterial infections. 

Piko Fieggen, of the Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals which is one of the FairDog project’s founders, told the NOS. ‘If you take on a dog, you want a nice dog that you can enjoy without problems. The goal is that in the Netherlands we soon only have healthy and well-socialised dogs.’ 

The initiative will offer a quality stamp for dogs offered on its site, and dogs from abroad will be checked rigorously for infectious diseases. The aim is that it will also offer advice for people who might want to adopt, for instance, a former racehound or stray. 

Linda Wouters, a dog breeder, told the NOS that a screening programme was wise, especially for dogs with a risk of genetic issues. ‘The French Bulldog is a race that often has a lot of problems and often it is simply bred rather than people making an effort to improve the breed,’ she said. 

Vet Mijntje de Beer, who works in Boxtel, warned that a cheaper dog would not come cheap in veterinary bills if it is not healthy. ‘I often see dogs from eastern Europe that just aren’t healthy, which have parasites or specific bacteria or viruses,’ she reportedly said. ‘You can’t take a puppy with diarrhoea to a training course so they quickly get behind in their development.’ 

There are an estimated 1.5 dogs in the Netherlands, and the demand for the pet is thought to be greater than the regulated supply. The FairDog partners have also submitted a report to the Dutch government calling for more co-operation to ensure only ‘well-trained and healthy dogs’ are for sale.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Plea for New Zealand to house fire-threatened koalas

Yahoo – AFP, January 13, 2020

Koalas and their habitats have been hit hard by Australia's devastating bushfires
(AFP Photo/Tristan Kennedy)

Wellington (AFP) - Thousands of people have signed a petition for koalas to be introduced to New Zealand to escape Australia's devastating bush fires, but the proposal has been given the thumbs down by officials.

A group calling itself the Koala Relocation Society said koalas were "functionally extinct in Australia" but could thrive in New Zealand which has nearly 30,000 hectares planted in eucalypts.

There have been estimates of up to a billion koalas and other animals affected by the fires raging across Australia and there are concerns about how the survivors will cope given the loss of vegetation.

As of midday Monday, the online petition had 7,500 signatures, but a spokesman for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Television New Zealand that the government's focus was on helping to get the fires under control so koalas "can stay in their natural habitat".

Wellington Zoo animal science manager Simon Eyre believed any assistance should be provided directly to the Australian authorities dealing with the fallout from the fires.

"For us, it would be assisting in Australia and it wouldn't only be koalas, it would be other species affected by the fires as well," he said.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Walker gored by Tauros bull on Brabant nature reserve

DutchNews, January 6, 2020 

A Tauros bull in the Netherlands. Photo: Henri Kerkdijk-Otten via Wikimedia
Commons 

A man out walking in the Maashorst nature reserve in Brabant has been seriously injured after he was gored by a bull, local broadcaster Omroep Brabant reported on Monday. 

It is not yet clear why the bull attacked, but the man may have gotten too close to the animal in an attempt to photograph him, the broadcaster said. 

Several herds of Tauros cattle and European bison (wisent) live on the reserve as part of an ongoing project to keep grass growth under control and improve biodiversity. 

Last year, two walkers were also attacked by Tauros on the reserve and one broke her ankle as she attempted to flee. 

The Maashorst reserve covers 2,400 hectares and the large mammals roam freely over around one third of it.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Montreal horse-drawn carriages take one last lap

Yahoo – AFP, Anne-Sophie THILL, December 27, 2019

A horse-drawn carriage passes by in a street of Old Montreal, Quebec, Canada
on December 22, 2019.Montreal's horse-drawn carriages will be taken off the roads
on December 31, ending a long feud between the city and coachmen and a
quaint means of local travel that dates back to the 1600s. (AFP Photo/Eric THOMAS)

Montreal (AFP) - To tourists they are a time-honored, charming way of seeing the sights but animal rights activists say Montreal's horse-drawn carriages are a cruel and unnecessary relic of yesteryear.

A longstanding feud between the coachmen and their critics looks set to end however with the unique mode of transport set to disappear from the streets of Canada's second city by year end.

"You can pet him if you want," Nathalie Matte tells onlookers attracted to her hoofed beast with its flowing mane and tail.

In the heart of Montreal's Old Port neighborhood, a half dozen horses and carriages are lined up outside the Notre Dame basilica, waiting for riders.

A group of tourists, tempted by offers of a languid and comfortable ride along cobblestone streets, and a complimentary blanket across their lap on a cold winter's day, snap pictures.

Horse-drawn carriages line up in front of the Notre-Dame basilica in Old-Montreal, 
waiting for tourists in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on December 22, 2019.Montreal's 
horse-drawn carriages will be taken off the roads on December 31, ending a long
 feud between the city and coachmen and a quaint means of local travel that dates
back to the 1600s. (AFP Photo/Eric THOMAS)

The carriages this time of year are decorated with red ribbons and fir branches to mark the Christmas holidays.

"It's a unique way to see the city rather than just taking the bus or the subway," says Mujtaba Ali, 29, who is visiting with family from neighboring Ontario, as he steps off a carriage.

Horses and landaus -- four-wheel, convertible carriages named after the German city of their origin -- are a part of Montreal's cultural heritage, says owner Luc Desparois.

"They've been around as long as Montreal has existed," he told AFP.

The Quebec city was founded by European settlers in the 1600s at the site of an indigenous village inhabited as far back as 4,000 years ago -- although the landau itself was invented in the 18th century

City Hall has ordered an end to the tourist rides out of concern for the horses. In 2018, the council passed a by-law banishing horse-drawn carriages, starting in 2020.

Two horse-drawn carriages pass by in a street of Old Montreal, Quebec, Canada 
on December 22, 2019.Montreal's horse-drawn carriages will be taken off the roads 
on December 31, ending a long feud between the city and coachmen and a quaint 
means of local travel that dates back to the 1600s. (AFP Photo/Eric THOMAS)

The death of a horse in 2018 while pulling a carriage was the last straw for animal rights groups, and prompted mayor Valerie Plante to speak out against the carriage industry, saying it was no longer welcome in Montreal.

The decision will put some 50 coachmen and their horses out of work.

Animal welfare

"It is a tradition that has long been appreciated but today I think it is time to move on," said Jean-François Parenteau, the city's pointman in the case.

The city, he said, must "show concern for the animals."

His comments drew praise from Galahad, a Quebec association for the protection of horses, which lobbied for the ban. Its founder Chamie Angie Cadorette said the horses faced tough working conditions.

"It is not just an hour a day. It is eight hours a day, going up and down roads in traffic," she said, accusing horse owners of neglect.

"They say they are mistreated. Prove it," retorts Desparois, who recently lost a legal challenge to the ban.

A coachwoman puts a cover on her horse while waiting for tourists in freezing 
temperatures in Old Montreal, Quebec, Canada on December 22, 2019.Montreal's 
horse-drawn carriages will be taken off the roads on December 31, ending a 
long feud between the city and coachmen and a quaint means of local travel 
that dates back to the 1600s. (AFP Photo/Eric THOMAS)

City Hall, under pressure from activists, had long sought to ban the carriages, but until now had managed only incremental steps, such as requiring horses be taken off the road when summer temperatures soared.

That did not satisfy animal rights groups.

In April, to prevent out-of-work horses from ending up at slaughterhouses, the city said it would pay the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Can$1,000 (US$760) for each horse offered a refuge or adoptive family.

As of December 16, only one application to join the program had been made.

The offer is a "total insult" for Desparois, owner of the Lucky Luc stable, which has a total of 15 horses and employs 15 coachmen.

"You could offer me $10,000 tomorrow morning and I would not sell them to you," he said, adding that after 34 years in the business his animals mean more to him than money could.

After the ban comes into effect, the "king of horse-drawn carriages" -- as local media has dubbed him -- plans to take his horses to other nearby communities or maybe even to Ottawa.

Coachwoman Nathalie Matte, 52, who's about to lose her job after Montreal's 
horse-drawn carriages will be taken off the roads on December 31, waits for 
passengers in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on December 22, 2019.Montreal's 
horse-drawn carriages will be taken off the roads on December 31, ending a long 
feud between the city and coachmen and a quaint means of local travel that 
dates back to the 1600s. (AFP Photo/Eric THOMAS)

Neither option, he says, will be as profitable as rides in the Old Port, where he charges Can$53 per half hour ride or Can$85 for an hour with an average of two to seven rides per day.

Older coachmen will simply take early retirement. Others will likely leave the profession.

"I won't have a choice but to quit. I won't have the means to move to Ottawa," said Nathalie Matte, 52, a coachwoman who plans to return to a previous job as a groom.

City Hall, meanwhile, is working on a retraining program to help coachmen transition to other tourist jobs.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Indonesia hits European Union with WTO lawsuit over palm oil

Yahoo – AFP, December 16, 2019

Indonesia has accused the European Union of discrimination against its palm
oil exports (AFP Photo/Mohd RASFAN)

Indonesia has filed a World Trade Organization lawsuit against the European Union over plans to phase out palm oil-based biofuel for cars, the trade ministry said.

The action could escalate a trade dispute between Indonesia -- the world's top palm oil producer - and the EU, which plans to end its use of biofuels by 2030, citing concerns over widespread deforestation caused by the sector.

The EU earlier imposed duties on imports of subsidised biodiesel from Indonesia saying it was needed to level the playing field for its producers.

In response to what it called "discriminative" policies against its key palm oil exports, Indonesia said it filed a complaint with the WTO last week.

"Indonesia officially sent a request for consultation on December 9, 2019 to the EU as the initial step for the lawsuit," Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto said in a statement Sunday.

Neighbouring Malaysia, the world's second-biggest palm oil producer, has also threatened WTO action against the EU.

Teresa Kok, the minister overseeing Malaysia's palm oil sector, told AFP on Monday that she will head to Europe in March, and a challenge will not be filed until after then.

She said she wanted to try to convince European officials to change course on her trip.

"I want to give my trip a chance and see whether I can avoid filing the case at the WTO," she added.

Palm oil is the world's most widely used vegetable oil and a key ingredient in a wide range of products from food to cosmetics.

But environmentalists say it drives deforestation, with huge swathes of Southeast Asian rainforest logged in recent decades to make way for palm plantations.

Iman Pambagyo, Indonesia's director general for international trade negotiations, said Jakarta had previously tried other bilateral avenues to reach an agreement, without success.

"We need to assert Indonesia's stance on EU policy," Pambagyo said, referring to the WTO complaint, and adding that he hoped for a "best solution".

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Golden jackal caught on camera in Drenthe, third sighting in three years

DutchNews, December 6, 2019 

A golden jackal. Photo: tontantravel via Wikimedia Commons

A golden jackal has been spotted in Drenthe, a first for the province, local broadcaster RTV Drenthe reports. The animal was photographed by chance when it walked past a wild life camera in a undisclosed location. 

The sighting dates from November 22 but has only now been made public to prevent people from going out and trying to find the notoriously shy animal. 

There are only two other reported sightings of the jackal in the Netherlands – in 2016 and 2017 two of the animals were spotted in the Veluwe nature reserve. The camera that caught the jackal in Drenthe was part of a project by the Zoogdierenvereniging Nederland to count mammals such as otters, beavers and pine marten. 

‘When I saw the pictures on my camera I was flabbergasted, volunteer Cindy de Jonge-Stegink told the broadcaster. De Jonge-Stegink thought at first she was looking at a wolf but was put right by Forest Commission warden Aaldrik Pot. ‘It was relatively small, with pointy ears and snout’, he said. 

Jackals have been making their way to northern Europe from eastern Europe for a number of years now and have been spotted in Germany and Denmark as well. There have been no signs the animals have actually settled there. 

Shy 

The organisation’s wolf expert Glenn Lelieveld said jackals are shy and only need a small habitat of around four square kilometres. ‘It might well be that the jackal has been walking around in Drenthe for quite a long time. But it may have crossed the border by now. They can walk hundreds of kilometres in search of a new area to settle in and their tracks are very difficult to see.’ 

Jackals are omnivores and it has been suggested that if jackals were to settle here they could help reduce the deer population in a natural way. 

Jackals are not a danger to humans. ‘If you leave them alone they will leave you alone,’ Lelieveld told RTV Drenthe.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Rescued tigers leave Poland for Spain

Yahoo – AFP, December 1, 2019

The tigers (including Gogh pictured at the Poznan zoo) were found in late October
emaciated and dehydrated in the back of a truck taking them from Italy to a zoo
in Russia's Dagestan Republic (AFP Photo/Wojtek RADWANSKI)

Warsaw (AFP) - Five of nine tigers that narrowly survived a gruelling journey across Europe set off on Saturday for their new home at a Spanish animal refuge after weeks of recovery at a Polish zoo.

"The tigers have left. We're very happy that in just 24 to 30 hours they will arrive," said Malgorzata Chodyla, spokeswoman for the zoo in Poznan, western Poland.

Their destination is the Primadomus Wildlife Refuge in the southeastern Spanish town of Villena.

Chodyla said there was a brief scare, as two of the tigers did not want to sleep, despite the sedatives they were given.

"When the whole team has to enter the enclosure to carry out the tiger and it suddenly lifts its head up, those are some tense moments. But everything happened safely," she told AFP.

She added that the vehicle had heating and the tigers had enough room to switch positions.

In late October, Polish border authorities found 10 emaciated and dehydrated big cats in the back of a truck taking them from Italy to a zoo in Russia's Dagestan Republic.

Polish prosecutors charged two Italian truck drivers and a Russian man believed to have organised the journey with animal abuse after the truck got stuck for days on Poland's border with Belarus.

Prosecutors also charged a Polish border service veterinarian for failing to properly examine the tigers when they first arrived at the Koroszczyn crossing, where one of them died.

The surviving nine tigers were taken to two Polish zoos.

The Poznan zoo described them as "emaciated, dehydrated, with sunken eyes, excrement stuck to their fur, urine burns, in a total state of stress, without the will or desire to live" when they were first discovered.

According to animal rights organisations, there are only between 3,200 and 3,900 tigers in the wild worldwide.

Another 7,000 are held in captivity, mainly in Asia.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Online fundraiser for bushfire-hit koalas tops Aus$1 mn

Yahoo – AFP, November 21, 2019

The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital near Sydney has raised more than
Aus$1 million on GoFundMe to help bushfire-hit koalas (AFP Photo/SAEED KHAN)

Sydney (AFP) - An online fundraiser for koalas injured in devastating bushfires topped Aus$1 million ($680,000) on Thursday, making it Australia's biggest campaign on the GoFundMe platform this year.

Deadly bushfires have ravaged vast swathes of eastern Australia, and wildlife carers estimate the blazes have killed hundreds of koalas this month in New South Wales state alone.

A crowdfunding page set up by the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital to provide automatic water drinking stations for wild koalas soared past Aus$1 million, with donations from more than 20,000 people from countries including the United States, France and England.

The wildlife charity's "Help Thirsty Koalas Devastated by Recent Fires" drive, which had an initial goal of just Aus$25,000, got more donations than any other campaign in Australia this year, GoFundMe said, and is the second-biggest since the platform launched Down Under in 2016.

It is one of 700 bushfire-related fundraisers launched on the platform in the past 10 days, which to date have raised a combined total of Aus$2 million.

An online fundraiser for koalas injured in Australia's devastating bushfires
tops Aus$1 million ($680,000)

The next-biggest has raised Aus$60,000 to support firefighters and people impacted by the blazes, which have killed six people, razed hundreds of homes and scorched about 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) of land since October.

The koala hospital, some four hours north of Sydney, has rescued 31 koalas from the scorched bush in recent weeks, and said it had been "overwhelmed by the kindness, good wishes and support from the Australian and international community".

It plans to use the excess funds to deliver koala drinking stations to other parts of the state, purchase a water-carrying vehicle to replenish the stations, and to establish a koala breeding programme.

With more than 1.3 million hectares (3.2 million acres) of land scorched in the state, the fires have also destroyed large tracts of the tree-dwelling marsupial's habitat.

A so-called "Koala Ark" would be built for recovering koalas, the hospital said, hoping they will eventually breed and be returned to the wild.

Poisoned Sumatran elephant found dead in Indonesia

Yahoo – AFP, November 21, 2019

The dead elephant's stomach contents would be analysed to confirm its cause
of death (AFP Photo/Cek MAD)

A Sumatran elephant has been found dead from an apparent poisoning, an Indonesian conservation official said Thursday, in the second killing of the critically endangered subspecies this week.

The 25-year-old female elephant's corpse was discovered at a palm oil plantation in East Aceh regency Thursday, hundreds of kilometres from where another was found decapitated and with its tusks ripped off on Monday -- a suspected poaching case.

"Our initial findings found that the Sumatran elephant was allegedly killed by poison," said Rosa Rika, a doctor with Aceh's conservation agency.

The dead elephant's stomach contents would be analysed to confirm its cause of death, she added.

Last year, a Sumatran elephant was found dead from poisoning in another part of the region, after several similar cases in recent years.

Rampant deforestation to create plantations has reduced Sumatran elephants' natural habitat and brought them into conflict with humans, while their tusks are also prized in the illegal wildlife trade.

On Wednesday, some three dozen wild elephants stormed into a village in Aceh, destroying two homes.

Last month, Aceh said poachers who threatened endangered animals in the province could receive up to 100 lashes starting from next year. The conservative region administers public whippings for a range of offences under local Islamic law.

Indonesia's environment ministry estimates there are fewer than 2,000 Sumatran elephants still in the wild.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

As France dithers, Paris bans use of wild animals in circuses

Yahoo –AFP, Ambre TOSUNOGLU, Mariette Le Roux, 15 November 2019

Polls show a vast majority of French people to be against the use of animals
for entertainment

While France mulls whether to join a majority of EU nations in banning wild animals in circuses, the city of Paris pressed ahead Friday with its own plan to outlaw the practice amid fresh concerns over cruelty.

A proposal was adopted by the municipal council late Friday that will see permits withheld from 2020 for circuses that wish to operate in the French capital while employing exotic creatures.

"We can congratulate ourselves on this decision which marks a societal advance desired by all French people," said Penelope Komites, a Paris councillor responsible for nature in the city, adding she hoped the national government would follow suit.

Polls show a vast majority of French people to be against the use of non-domestic animals for entertainment, and dozens of cities and towns have banned travelling circuses featuring wild beasts.

But there is no national ban and the country still has dozens of circuses confining hundreds of animals -- roughly 500 according to anti-circus campaigners One Voice, and more than double that according to rights group PETA France.

There are no official statistics.

Most circus animals are lions, but there are also tigers, elephants, two hippos, baboons, macaques, snakes and parrots, camels, bears, ostriches and even zebras.

"The number of animals has decreased drastically due to public pressure," One Voice president Muriel Arnal told AFP.

But hundreds still "live in tiny, tiny cages inside trucks. They have nowhere to hide, they are stressed, and also they have nothing to do. Then they are taken out for the show or for... training which is very violent... They are never at peace."

Worldwide, abot 40 countries have fully or partially banned the use of wild 
animals in circuses

'Strong announcements'

The controversy was revived this week when a performing bear called Mischa died at an animal refuge southwest of Paris, two months after he was rescued from owners who allegedly subjected him to years of ill-treatment.

Mischa was allegedly kept in horrendous conditions with two other bears owned by an animal trainer couple, who displayed them at fairs and in restaurants.

Two years ago, a circus tigress named Mevy escaped from her enclosure to roam the streets of Paris where she was controversially shot dead in the name of public safety.

Circus elephants and camels have also escaped in France in the past.

In western Europe, 12 countries have a full, national ban on wild animals in circuses, and another 11 have partial, species-specific injunctions, according to a map compiled by One Voice.

Four European countries, including France, have only municipality-level bans, and two -- Lithuania and Luxembourg -- have none at all.

Worldwide, about 40 countries have fully or partially banned the practice.

The French government in April launched a working group to investigate the well-being of animals in circuses, zoos and dolphinariums. In May 2017, the French government banned the breeding in captivity of dolphins and killer whales.

And last Sunday, Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne promised further "strong announcements in the coming weeks".

Meanwhile, Paris and about 65 other French municipalities have moved on their own to put an end to the practice.

The French government in April launched a working group too investigate the 
well-being of animals in circuses, zoos and dolphinarium

'Life not worth living'

Under the new Paris prohibition, any circus that agrees to give up its animals will get funding of about 50,000 euros ($55,000) over three years to help it adapt.

"It's about time!" said Amandine Sanvisens, president of animal rights group Paris Animaux Zoopolis.

PETA also welcomed the move, which it said sent "a clear message to the French government that it is high time to ban the use of wild animals in circuses at a national level."

Arnal said that for circus animals, "It is not a life worth living."

Many "are not fed unless they perform. Then there is the beating... You cannot force a tiger to jump through fire unless they are afraid of something that is more frightening than fire."

A poll by Opinion Way last month found that about two-thirds of French people object to the use of wild animals in circuses, which only about 10 percent have visited in recent years.

But circus owners disagree: William Kerwich of the Cirque Royal defends the practice as a "tradition" and accused Paris of playing politics "to get votes in the next municipal election."

Komites said the new measure cannot be enforced, for now, for two of France's biggest circus companies -- Bouglione and Gruss -- who have refused to sign up voluntarily.

The Bouglione group owns the property where it hosts the Cirque d'Hiver in Paris, unlike most other circuses which operate on public property.

The Gruss group, meanwhile, will have no choice but to yield once its licence comes up for renewal.

Polls show a vast majority of French people to be against the use of animals for entertainment

Worldwide, abot 40 countries have fully or partially banned the use of wild animals in circuses

The French government in April launched a working group too investigate the well-being of animals in circuses, zoos and dolphinariums.

Related Article:


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

'It's a sin': Cambodia's brutal and shadowy dog meat trade

France24 – AFP, 11 November 2019


Siem Reap (Cambodia) (AFP) - Cambodian dog meat traders drown, strangle and stab thousands of canines a day in a shadowy but sprawling business that traumatises workers and exposes them to deadly health risks like rabies.

Khieu Chan bursts into tears when describing a job that haunts him as he goes to sleep: he kills up to six dogs a day, slicing their throats.

"Please forgive me. "If I don't kill you, I can't feed my family," the 41-year-old tells the 10 dogs awaiting their fate in a cage.

A cheap source of protein, dog meat is still eatem in several Asian countries from China and South Korea to Vietnam and non-Muslim communities in Indonesia.

Animal welfare activists say consumption has declined as the region's middle class has grown -- more people own pets, and there's greater stigma associated with eating dog.

But the brutal trade has flown under the radar in Cambodia where new research shows a thriving business involving roving dog catchers, unlicensed slaughterhouses and many restaurants in cities selling so-called "special meat".

An estimated two to three million dogs are slaughtered annually in Cambodia, according to the NGO Four Paws, which identified more than 100 dog meats restaurants in the capital Phnom Penh and about 20 in the temple town of Siem Reap.

"It has this massive trade," says Katherine Polak, a Thailand-based veterinarian who works with the NGO, which recently presented findings to the government.

Officials were "shocked" by the magnitude, she claims.

Rabies crisis

Motorbike riders criss-cross northern Cambodia trading pots, pans and cookware for unwanted dogs, loading them into a heavy rectangular cage on the back seat and making deliveries to middlemen.

Live specimens fetch $2 to $3 per kilo, incentivising suppliers to collect as many as possible.

Researchers say the dog meat trade is a public health crisis because it carries potentially infected animals all over the country.

Cambodia has one of the highest incidence rates of rabies in the world and most cases are from dog bites.

The trade also undermines local canine immunisation efforts by removing and killing vaccinated dogs.

Unsanitary slaughterhouses have no safety regulations as they aren't overseen by the government, and workers wear no protective gear.

"I got bitten by a dog but I did not get vaccinated because when I returned it was late at night," Pring That told AFP in a village in Siem Reap as he cooked dog meat stew with fermented fish paste.

Instead, the 33-year-old cleaned the wound with soap and lemon.

Industrial-scale slaughterhouses in developing countries put some distance between workers and animals.

But the Cambodian dog trade is hands on.

After receiving delivery, shirtless men poke dogs with sticks into holding cages.

They are then hung, strangled with rope, clubbed over the head or drowned in a pit filled with fetid water.

Just after sunrise in a village in Siem Reap, one worker pulled a dog out of a cage and hung it on the branch of a tree near drying laundry.

After gasping for breath for several minutes, it stopped moving.

It was then placed in boiling water to remove fur and chopped into parts.

"On a good day, I kill 10 dogs or 12 dogs," says former soldier Hun Hoy.

"I also feel pity for them, but I have to strangle them," the 59-year-old adds.

'Hear their cries'

Suppliers can earn from $750 to $1,000 in a country where wages in garment factories are under $200.

Productivity is crucial.

"It's faster to hit them," explains Dara, 30, a collector, trader and butcher.

"I know it's a sin," he adds.

Drowning is the preferred method of slaughter a few hours away in Kampong Cham and Kandal provinces.

"By putting them in the cage and drowning them in a pit, we don't have to hear their cries," said one woman.

Meat and parts are sold onto restaurants, where they are a popular with day labourers as a barbecued snack or a $1.25 soup.

The psychological trauma to bring cheap meat to the table is immense and those who find a better job take it.

Next to his dog cage in Takeo, Khieu Chan spoke about meeting Four Paws during their investigation of the trade.

In an unconventional twist, they gave him land for farming if he would close his restaurant.

One recent afternoon he helped the NGO gingerly take the sickly dogs out of the cage placed under a tree.

But before they were removed and sent to Phnom Penh for treatment, he knelt by the bars to say goodbye.

He says: "Now you have freedom. You are spared from death."

An animal rights collective, known as Dog Meat Free Indonesia Coalition,
together with world-renowned celebrities launched a global campaign to stop
the trade in dog meat on Thursday (02/11) at Hotel Gran Mahakam in South
Jakarta, in light of recent disturbing findings of animal cruelty in the Southeast 
Asian country. (Photo courtesy of Dog Meat Free Indonesia Coalition)

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