Animal rights groups work to "Open Cages" of animals on fur farms

December 24, 2019 by  
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The fashion industry has recently experienced a rise in fur bans , thanks to successful pressure by animal rights advocacy groups and heightened consumer awareness. But these fur-free policies also need to extend beyond the haute couture sector to change the agriculture industry as well. This is where the work of organizations like Tušti Narvai and Open Cages come into play. In 2014, Tušti Narvai, which translates from Lithuanian as Empty Cages, was founded in Vilnius. Its English branch, Open Cages, was then established in the U.K. four years later. As their names symbolize, both sister nonprofit organizations strive to “change the world for animals” by strengthening the protection of farmed animals , improving animal welfare and preventing their suffering. In fact, one of the key projects by Tušti Narvai and Open Cages is to end fur farms. The groups do so by mobilizing the public through education and legal change. Related: Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s to be fur-free by 2021 But who are Tušti Narvai and Open Cages? These organizations are members of Anima International (AI) , a coalition of European animal protection advocacy groups that “envisions a world where animals are not treated as products.” Both sister organizations have been conducting several campaigns to better the situation of farm animals by minimizing animal cruelty and demanding compelling change. These campaigns include the improvement of chicken welfare, the elimination of cages in industrial farming, the ban on foie gras and fur bans. Learn more about these campaigns here . The fur ban has been gaining traction within the fashion industry , in many ways due to the ongoing and very visible anti-fur movement by various animal rights groups. Tušti Narvai and Open Cages have jointly added to that momentum. In Great Britain alone, Open Cages has implemented the #FurFreeBritain campaign, together with the Humane Society International (U.K.). It is projected that the ban on fur will adversely alter the supply chain, therefore reducing incidences of unnecessary animal torture and mortality that stem from cramped living spaces, malnourishment, neglect and even brutality. For instance, Open Cages shared an exposé on a fox that was recently saved from a fur farm. “Now he lives happily in a sanctuary and is an ambassador of this cruel industry,” says the Open Cages website. Scientific American and the International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF) have stated that the majority of the fur industry’s pelts are now sourced from farm-raised animals, specifically mink, fox, chinchilla, lynx, muskrat and coyotes. Moreover, most of the remaining fur farms in the world can be found in Europe. These facts are what motivate the work of Tušti Narvai and Open Cages. From now until December 31, for every 10 euros in donations to the fur ban initiative, an anonymous sponsor will match them by $100. The campaign efforts are all to help in the fight against fur farms. In the words of Tušti Narvai, “Together, we can change the fate of animals kept on farms.” + Tušti Narvai + Open Cages Image via Clem Onojeghuo

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Animal rights groups work to "Open Cages" of animals on fur farms

Japan relaunches its whaling industry

July 2, 2019 by  
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Japan has officially relaunched its commercial whaling industry, sending the first vessels out to sea this month for the first time in 30 years. Animal rights and marine conservation defenders have condemned the relaunch of the whaling industry as a loss for whales and marine ecosystems, but the Japanese argue that it is a traditional part of their culture and that it will not negatively impact whale populations. The first vessel returned with a 26-foot-long minke whale, but the ships will also hunt Baird’s beaked, sei and Brydes whales. In total, the Japanese Fishing Agency will allow 227 whales to be slaughtered and sold legally to restaurants and markets. Related: Russia to release hundreds of illegally captured orcas and belugas from ‘whale jail’ According to Reuters, whales make up 0.1 percent of the total meat consumption in Japan , and the industry supports only about 300 jobs. Though it is seemingly insignificant as food stock, it does hold cultural importance for many Japanese who grew up eating whale. “It’s part of Japan’s food culture,” Sachiko Sakai, a taxi driver in Kushiro, Japan, told Reuters . “The world opposes killing whales, but you can say the same thing about many of the animals bred on land and killed for food.” Much of the momentum for the relaunch has been initiated by the prime minster, who received considerable election support from constituents from a whaling city. In 1986, Japan announced that it would allow whaling for scientific research, purportedly to quantify the populations and the impact of whaling. Many conservationists believed that commercial whaling continued under the guise of scientific exploration. Nicola Beynon of Humane Society International said, “The word ‘research’ may have been removed from the side of the factory ship, finally ending Japan’s charade of harpooning whales under the guise of science , but these magnificent creatures will still be slaughtered for no legitimate reason.” Via Reuters Image via Rob Oo

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This summer sneaker is completely biodegradable

July 2, 2019 by  
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Earlier this month, Native Shoes showed its true sustainability colors with the unveiling of 100 percent biodegradable, plant-based shoes that are completely free of animal products, not to mention stylish and perfect for wearing all summer long. The natural-tone sneaker is a culmination of plant materials including a midsole composed of 90 percent cork and 10 percent sisal backing. The outsole material is produced from natural lactae hevea through a 50-stage process that takes up to two weeks to complete. An organic linen sockliner with kenaf originating in Africa and corn felt make up the insole. Rather than the toxic glues that hold together most shoes, the Plant Shoe is held together with olive oil-soaked jute thread and natural, latex-based glue. For the main upper, the material is formed from otherwise discarded pineapple husks along with eucalyptus and organic cotton fibers. The laces are 100 percent organic cotton as well. Related: SAOLA offers sustainable sneakers sourced from algae and recycled plastic This plant-based and biodegradable design is in sharp, and much-needed, contrast to typical sneakers made from petroleum-based products, plastic , leather and other chemical-laden fabrics. Americans alone dump more than 300 million shoes into landfills every year, almost none of which will break down in a timely manner. Aimed at a completely sustainable model for shoe manufacturing, use and disposal, now and in the future, the Plant Shoe can be commercially composted at the end of its lifecycle. “The Plant Shoe was inspired by Native Shoes’ mission to become 100 percent lifecycle managed by 2023,” said Michael Belgue, creative director of Native Shoes. “The next step beyond our current recycling initiative was to create something that wouldn’t need to be reused or recycled but instead generates zero waste . Something that was born from the earth and could go back into it.” Although each component was scrutinized for the most sustainable options, the sneaker was designed to be stylish yet classic enough to outlast short-term trends. Unisex by design, Plant Shoes can be ordered directly from the company online or found at a brick and mortar location. They retail for $200 and are available in sizes 8-13 for men and 5-10 for women. Founded in 2009, Native Shoes is a footwear company headquartered in Vancouver, Canada with the goal of producing shoes that are light on you and the environment. Taking charge in the fight against post-consumer shoe waste, “Live Lightly” is the company motto and the Plant Shoe is here to prove Native Shoes’ dedication to that mindset. + Native Shoes Images via Native Shoes

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This summer sneaker is completely biodegradable

German court rules mass killing of male chicks legal

June 14, 2019 by  
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This month, the Federal Administrative Court in Germany ruled to uphold the common practice of killing male chicks, which are widely considered inefficient for meat production. The ruling is meant to be temporary, until an alternative and scalable solution is available, despite outcry by animal rights advocates. The hearing is in response to a ban of the practice from 2013 within a state in Germany. Following the ban, two major hatcheries challenged the decision, claiming that the practice was necessary for food production. On Thursday, the courts ruled that the practice was indeed legal– at least temporarily– and does not contradict the country’s Animal Welfare Act. Germany’s Minister for Agriculture, however, stated that the practice is ethically unacceptable. Related:Free at last: Canada passes Act to prohibit dolphin and whale captivity Male chicks are mass slaughtered throughout the world. They do not grow as fast as hens, and therefore are considered inefficient for meat production. The meat industry will be worth worth about US $7 trillion by 2025, and estimates show that about 84 percent of consumers had chicken in the last two weeks. Despite some reports that alternative meat demands are rising, meat industry statistics show growing demand for animal products, especially in wealthy nations. For every hen consumed, an equal number of male chicks has been slaughtered. The most common ways for slaughtering newborn chicks include gassing and high-speed grinders. In Germany alone, 45 million male chicks are slaughtered annually. One German company already has an alternative on the market– an egg they claim can be tested for sex before it hatches. The company can determine the sex of the egg just seven days after fertilization by extracting fluid from the egg and testing it for hormones. The company is selling their eggs in 200 German markets and hopes to take off as a solution to this animal welfare concern. Via The BBC Image via onefox

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German court rules mass killing of male chicks legal

Britain promises net-zero emissions by 2050

June 14, 2019 by  
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Britain recently upped the ante on its commitment to fight climate change , promising to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The new governmental plan is more ambitious than its original Climate Change Act from 2008, which pledged to reduce emissions by 80 percent. Prime Minister Theresa May claimed net-zero is a necessary step for Britain and a moral duty as well as a strategy to improve public health and reduce healthcare costs. Britain is the first G7 country to propose carbon neutrality, an ambitious goal that environmentalists hope will encourage other nations to follow suit and increase their Paris Agreement emission reduction commitments. Related: Labour party launches solar panel program for 1.75M homes According to Prime Minister May, Britain’s economy can continue to grow alongside the transition to renewable energy . “We have made huge progress in growing our economy and the jobs market while slashing emissions,” she said. Net-zero on a national level will mean that effectively all homes, transportation, farming and industries will not consume more energy than the country can generate through renewable energy. For certain cases where this is impossible, it will mean that companies and industries purchase carbon offsets. The roll out of this plan is to be determined but must include a variety of individual- and national-level actions, including a massive investment in the renewable energy industry as well as a reduction in meat consumption and flying and a total shift to electric cars, LED light bulbs and hydrogen gas heating. According to BBC, Prime Minister May also claimed that the U.K. “led the world to wealth through fossil fuels in the industrial revolution, so it was appropriate for Britain to lead in the opposite direction.” This claim erases the true legacy of the industrial revolution and the role Britain played, which includes environmental destruction, exacerbated inequality and economic exploitation of many nations — not wealth. Whether or not Britain is a world leader, its pledge might convince other nations to increase or at least stick to their commitments to reduce emissions . Via BBC Image via Sebastian Ganso

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Leaked footage shows brutal animal abuse at Fair Oaks dairy farm

June 7, 2019 by  
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One of the largest dairy farms in the U.S. is under fire as leaked footage shows graphic animal abuse by farm workers at Fair Oaks. The farm and popular agriculture tour site was infiltrated by activists who were hired as workers and recorded the brutal treatment of calves. Founder and owner Mike McCloskey has pledged to fire remaining workers, improve animal welfare training and allow live streaming of the calves in the “Adventure” area, where about 500,000 annual visitors and school groups tour the farm every year. Related: How to choose the healthiest, most sustainable milk alternative Despite his promises, Fair Oaks has received considerable attention and backlash, including calls for boycotts and removal from shelves in Chicago and Indiana. However, it remains to be seen how much the massive corporation will clean up its act , and how many consumers will remember to spend their dollars elsewhere. According to McCloskey, the problem was bad employees who did not follow the animal welfare training guidelines. In a video statement , he said, “That was a terrible judgment on my part. The way I have to look at this is that as hard as we try, you can always end up with bad people within your organization, and this is what happened to us.” The video depicts workers kicking, punching and burning calves as they stuffed them into trucks or piled their dead bodies just out of sight of school field trips. “The difference between the Fair Oaks Farms Dairy Adventure and the reality of the dairy industry is night and day,” said Richard Couto, the founder of Animal Recovery Mission. “Everything is a lie.” The local police department is currently investigating the cases of animal abuse , and Fair Oaks’ founder has promised to increase video surveillance and hire a private auditor to make unannounced visits. While many are calling for a boycott of Fair Oaks and its associated Fairlife brand, some lawmakers and agriculture industry advocates argue that this was an isolated incident and that the boycott will cause people to lose jobs. + Animal Recovery Mission Via Journal and Courier Image via Shutterstock

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New York could become the first state to ban cat declawing

June 7, 2019 by  
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On Tuesday, New York lawmakers voted to ban cat declawing. If New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signs the bill, cats may be packing their little suitcases and moving to the first state to protect their claws by law. “Cat declawing is a horrific, yet often practiced surgery that leads to a lifetime of pain and discomfort for thousands of cats,” Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan told NPR . “Today, though, every cat and kitten in New York state lands on its feet as we prepare to make New York the best state for cats to live in the United States.” When cats are declawed, the vet removes part of the cat’s toe bones as well as the claws. Usually the surgery is only performed on the front feet, but sometimes claws are removed from all four paws. Pet owners often order this painful surgery to protect their furniture, and many command declawing as a requirement if the cat wants to live indoors. Adverse effects from declawing include back and joint problems, personality changes and litter box issues due to painful paws. Once their claws are removed, cats are unable to defend themselves nor to climb trees to escape predators, so they must stay inside forever. If the bill becomes law, the declawing procedure will still be performed for medical issues including injuries or infections. While many people and most cats were jubilant at the NY news, the bill is not without controversy. The New York State Veterinary Medical Society opposed the bill, arguing that pet owners who are diabetic, hemophiliac, immune-compromised or on immune suppressing medication are at great medical risk from cat scratches. They might be forced to relinquish their cats if declawing becomes illegal. According to the American Humane Society, about 71 percent of cats that enter shelters are euthanized. However, many other vets supported the bill, which passed on June 4, the annual New York State Animal Advocacy Day . This annual event is described on its Facebook page as “a bi-partisan event to further protect our companion pets from cruelty.” People who care more about couches than cats might consider adopting a pet rock instead. Via NPR Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat and Flensshot

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Italy bans the use of animals in circuses

November 13, 2017 by  
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Animal rights activists are winning victories as more countries prohibit animals in circus acts. This month the Italian Parliament adopted legislation to phase out animals in traveling shows and circuses, according to Animal Defenders International (ADI). It’s a big move, as there are an estimated 100 circuses with 2,000 animals in Italy . Italy became the 41st country to pass measures prohibiting animals in circuses. ADI said on their Facebook page that Italy’s Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini promoted the legislation to phase out animals in circuses. Related: America’s largest animal circus closes after 146 years ADI president Jan Creamer said in a statement, “Traveling from place to place, week after week, using temporary collapsible cages and pens, circuses simply cannot provide for the needs of the animals. Through ADI’s undercover investigations we have shown the violence and abuse that is used to force these animals to obey and perform tricks. We applaud Italy and urge countries like the UK and the US to follow this example and end this cruelty.” It’s not yet clear how Italy’s phase-out will play out; ADI said within a year, Italy will outline how the law will be implemented through a ministerial decree. It’s not yet known how long circuses will have to phase animals out of their shows. ZME Science highlighted some of the issues with animals performing in circuses, pointing to an investigation from researchers at Wageningen University. They found 71 percent of observed animals were experiencing medical issues, and 33 percent of lions and tigers didn’t have access to an outdoor enclosure. They said circus lions spent 98 percent of their time inside on average. Elephants spent 17 hours a day shackled on average, and tigers – though scared of fire – were often forced to jump through flaming hoops. Ireland also stood up for animal rights recently , with a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses that will take effect on January 1, 2018. Via Animal Defenders International ( 1 , 2 , 3 ) Images via Wikimedia Commons and ~Pawsitive~Candie_N on Flickr

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It’s finally illegal to own wild animals in the UAE

January 6, 2017 by  
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In a move sure to please animal rights advocates around the world, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has now completely banned the private ownership of wild animals. This is big news, as owning exotic animals as pets is a sign of status in the Middle East country. Al Jazeera reported on Wednesday that the new law outlaws both dealing in and ownership of all kinds of wild, domesticated and dangerous animals. This includes wild cats such as cheetahs, which have reportedly been domesticated in the UAE and other nearby countries. While not necessarily related, the new law comes on the heels of a video featuring an excursion with five tigers on a beach near Dubai’s Al-Arab hotel that went viral on social media, and other videos of people driving around with lions. According to Gulf News , these kinds of animals can now only be housed at zoos, wildlife parks, and circuses, along with breeding and research centers. Related: China makes it illegal to eat endangered species Gulf news also reports that anyone who breaks the law by taking any kind of exotic animal “out in public” will be slapped with as much as six months in jail and a fine or $136,000 USD. Al-Ittihad , an Arabic daily paper adds that people who use such animals to “terrorize” other people will be faced with a jail term along with the stiffer financial penalty of about $180,000 USD. Needless to say, a law like this is a breath of fresh air for animal rights activists, including El Sayed Mohamed. The regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Dubai said this new law sets an example for not only other Arab countries, but also the world. “We welcome and congratulate the UAE Government in taking this important initiative, which we wish to be a milestone for the rest of the countries, not just in the region, but also in the world,” he told the The National , an Abu Dhabi newspaper. This adds to more good news in the animal rights world, where China made it illegal to eat endangered species last year. Via Al Jazeera Images via Mukul2u and Cecil , Wikimedia Commons

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"World’s saddest polar bear" will get temporary reprieve from tiny mall cage

November 14, 2016 by  
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Pizza the polar bear , known as the “world’s saddest polar bear,” will get a temporary reprieve from her cage at the Grandview Mall Aquarium in Guangzhou, China . As the mall makes minor alterations, Pizza will temporarily return to her birthplace, according to the aquarium . But many animal rights organizations say the sorrowful polar bear should not have to live in a mall at all. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yuRaNlx0bk “Pizza the polar bear will temporarily leave Guangzhou and return to her birthplace,” The Grandview Mall Aquarium said on their social media account on WeChat . The three-year-old polar bear was born at a zoo in Tianjin, a city in northeastern China, according to The Guardian. The mall did not state when Pizza would return, but in the meantime, their facilities will undergo renovations. The New York Times said Pizza’s enclosure will be doubled as part of the alterations, based on an article in The Guangzhou Daily. Related: “World’s saddest polar bear” offered new home at UK wildlife park Several other animals, including beluga whales, arctic foxes, walruses and a wolf also live at the Grandview Mall Aquarium, and animal rights campaigners say their predicament should not be forgotten. Capital Animal Welfare Association Director Qin Xiaona told The New York Times, “We still want to see the aquarium closed once and for all, to see all the animals moved.” Back in October, three Chinese organizations and Humane Society International (HSI) spoke out about Pizza’s ongoing plight, pointing to videos of the polar bear pacing and swinging her head as confirmation of her declining mental state. The groups said the mall should be shut down. HSI campaigner Peter Li told The Guardian, “No amount of renovation could ever make a shopping mall a suitable place for this animal.” He said it would be cruel and heartless to return Pizza to the Grandview Mall Aquarium. Via The Guardian and The New York Times Images via screenshot

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