The focus of this month’s BeZine is “All God’s Creatures”. Try closing your eyes for a moment and imagining a world without animals. No gentle bird song to wake you in the morning, no coyotes or owls to sing you to sleep at night, no furry face or wagging tail to greet you after a hard day at work. Your diet would be affected, too, whether you eat meat or not – about 35% of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators. As it is, animal species extinction is happening 1000 times faster because of humans. I think it would be a very different world without our animal friends; a darker, much emptier one.
Fortunately, speaking up for animals is one of those things that just about anyone can do. Whether it’s a preference for domestic cats and dogs or wild and exotic animals, no matter what kind of animal you love, there is a campaign out there just waiting for your help. I’d like to present some of the causes of specific animals which are important to me, and encourage you to join me and find animals you’d like to help.
- Meet Tony, the Truck Stop Tiger.
Tony is a sixteen-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger who has lived his entire life in a cramped, concrete cage in a truck stop parking lot in Louisiana. Poor Tony is an exploited, illegally kept roadside attraction/gimmick and activists have been fighting to free him since 2010 (6 years!) to get him released to a reputable big cat sanctuary (there are several who have offered to take him in, since he would not survive in the wild).
“Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger, has endured more than a decade of misery at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. Living at an isolated gas station parking lot, with the stench of fuel and the drone of diesel engines, is harmful to an animal with such sensitive hearing and an acute sense of smell, says veterinarian Jennifer Conrad, who has cared for captive large cats for decades. Tony is “in poor condition and needs intervention on his behalf,” she says. He has been taunted by truck stop visitors and his enclosure lacks adequate enrichment. As a result of this stressful confinement, Tony constantly paces, putting him at risk for dangerous and painful injuries.” ~ ALDF.org
Petition for Freedom
Twitter: @FreeTonyTiger and @TonyTiger2000
- Meet Lolita, the Orca.
Lolita is a 20-foot-long, 4-ton orca who has lived at the Miami Seaquarium since 1970. She was 4 years old when she was forcefully taken from her mother and pod in Puget Sound and placed into a 35-foot wide, 20-foot deep tank with no shade. Activists have been trying to free her to have her relocated and reintroduced to her home in Puget Sound since 2003. Not only are killer whales highly intelligent, they can roam as much as 100 MILES a DAY in search of food and play. From a range of hundreds of miles to a small, concrete tank that’s 35-feet wide, forced for 45 years to do tricks for human entertainment…
“When not performing in her show, Lolita floats listlessly in her tank, all by herself. In the wild, killer whales swim hundreds of miles a day, diving as deep as 500 feet. In her tank, she swims in circles inside the 35 foot wide area and can only go as deep as 20 feet, in a small area in the center of the tank.” ~ Save Lolita.org
- Meet Lucy, the Lonely Elephant.
Lucy is a 40-year old Asian elephant who was sold to the Edmonton Valley Zoo in Canada as a young calf. Not only is the near-freezing climate horrible for ANY elephant (who live in tropical or desert regions in the wild), but Lucy has been alone for a very long time, suffering serious foot problems, obesity and arthritis (due to standing on concrete floors her whole life), and exhibiting all the classic signs of stress and depression that are known to plague elephants in captivity.
There are numerous celebrities (like Bob Barker, Leonardo DiCaprio, William Shatner and others) who have gotten involved, two well-known elephant sanctuaries (The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society)) have offered her a permanent home in climates MUCH more suitable with experienced elephant vets on staff, and enough money has been raised and donated to pay for her transfer fifty times over. Activists have been fighting to free her for over 10 years, but the city and zoo both refuse to allow any independent veterinarians (meaning not associated with the zoo) to examine Lucy, so she continues to suffer. And we continue to fight for her freedom.
From Elephant Advocacy: “They are born to roam often traveling as far as 30 miles per day browsing and foraging for food and water. When an elephant is deprived of the ability to roam long distances and to socially interact within a stable herd, they lose their sense of belonging and slip into neurosis, depression, dissociation and chronic illness. The complexity and depth of the elephant psyche is terrorized and traumatized by captivity. Social deprivation, solitary confinement, chains, taming techniques and circus training is cruel and unusual abuse for any elephant and enslavement to entertainment venues is inhumane.“
I’m not saying that all zoos or aquariums are bad. Zoos often play an important role in conservation/rehabilitation and may end up being the only reason that future generations are even able to see living examples of certain species. But we share this planet with animals. That doesn’t mean that we can endlessly kill, trap, destroy their habitat, exploit, dominate and drive to extinction the rest of the animals that are left! I hope you’ll give it some thought and agree to be another voice for those creatures who have no choice, no say in how humans affect them. The Earth needs them. WE need them.
– Corina Ravenscraft
© 2016, words, Corina Ravenscraft; illustrations as indicaated above