On February 9th, 2014, a healthy two-year-old giraffe named Marius was culled and subsequently, dissected in front of the public at Copenhagen Zoo. The zoo shockingly justified this action, claiming his genes were already represented in the captive giraffe population in Europe, and that there was limited space available for a young, male giraffe in zoos that were members of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).
Parts of Marius’ body was then fed to the zoo’s carnivores. On the seventh anniversary of that appalling act, Born Free is calling for European zoos to phase out keeping giraffes in captivity, and instead, focus their conservation resources on the protection of giraffe populations in the wild.
“A zoo is no place for giraffes, where these complex, social, wide-ranging, browsing animals are subjected to a life of social deprivation, environmental restrictions, and inadequate nutrition. As a result, giraffes in zoos frequently suffer compromised health and stereotypic behaviors,” said Dr. Stephanie Jayson, Born Free’s Wild Animal Welfare Consultant, in statement. “The ex situ management of giraffe in European zoos significantly impacts the welfare of the individual animals involved, and has no clear role in the overall conservation of the species.”
With an estimated captive population of more than 800 giraffes in zoos across Europe, including over 150 in the UK, Born Free’s call stems from their new report, Confined Giants, which highlights the detrimental physical and mental impact of captivity on giraffes. Key summary points include:
Social deprivation: Wild giraffes live in complex societies. Females are incredibly sociable, forming long-term relationships with other females, as well as creating nursery groups for their offspring. In contrast, many giraffes in captivity do not have the opportunity to form complex societies due to the limited capacity of zoos to house large communities of giraffes in a diverse landscape. Several zoos hold only one or two giraffes, including Knowsley Safari Park, Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, Twycross Zoo, and ZSL London Zoo in the UK. Opportunities for female giraffes to form relationships with other females are limited. Several European zoos, including Dudley Zoological Gardens and ZSL London Zoo in the UK, hold just two female giraffes, while some hold only a single female.
Environmental restrictions: Wild giraffes spend approximately a third of their day walking, and their average home range size varies between five and 514km2. In comparison, outdoor enclosures in European zoos average around 2600m2 (just over one quarter of a hectare or almost two thirds of an acre) – merely 0.0005-0.05% of the average home range size of wild giraffes. Restricted space negatively impacts the welfare of giraffes and has been associated with problems, such as overgrown hooves and stereotypic pacing. Add this to the temperate European climate, forcing giraffes to have their outdoor access restricted when outdoor temperatures fall too low, and a widespread lack of environmental complexity. Typically simplistic and bare, zoo enclosures for giraffes are incomparable to the African savanna and woodland habitats of wild giraffes.
Inadequate nutrition: Wild giraffes spend most of their day feeding on browse, predominantly the leaves and stems of trees and shrubs, as well as smaller amounts of climbers, herbs, flowers, fruits, and bark. In European zoos, this is not possible. It is not feasible to provide a large amount and variety of browse, so substitute food items must be offered, which can result in compromised health and welfare. Many nutritional diseases have been reported in giraffes in European zoos and various aspects of the captive diet, and its presentation, have been associated with oral stereotypic behaviors. Inappropriate food items such as cereal grain products, fruit and vegetables are still being fed to giraffes in many European zoos.
Compromised health: Giraffes in European zoos suffer from numerous captivity-associated health problems, including nutritional disease and lameness, and their longevity is reduced, with many failing to reach more than 15 years of age. One survey showed that 54% of giraffe groups in EAZA-member zoos reported at least one case of overgrown hooves, laminitis, joint problems, or a combination of all three. Insufficient exercise, nutritional imbalances, inappropriate enclosure substrates and trauma are thought to contribute to overgrown hooves, and suboptimal diet is likely a factor in the development of laminitis. Giraffes in zoos also commonly suffer from trauma, including entrapment, entanglement, slips and falls, and all too often this can be fatal.
Stereotypic behaviors: These repetitive behaviors observed in captive animals are induced by frustration, repeated attempts to cope, and/or central nervous system dysfunction, and have been linked with poor animal welfare. Giraffes are prone to stereotypic behaviors in captivity, particularly oral stereotypic behaviors involving the tongue, and pacing. It is thought that giraffes have developed behavioral disturbances in almost every zoo and that giraffes and okapi together are the species with the largest number of animals affected by stereotypic behaviors in the global zoo animal population.
Dr. Jayson continued: “A strategic and humane phase out of giraffes in European zoos would require careful planning. An end to breeding would be a first step, as not adding to the captive population would mean that, over time, as animals die ‘naturally’, the captive population would start to shrink. To improve the welfare of giraffes remaining in captivity, social grouping, environment, nutrition, health and stereotypic behaviors of giraffes should be assessed at each zoo and changes made to improve the lives of individual animals. Where appropriate, this may involve consolidating animal collections to provide more appropriate social grouping and to house remaining giraffes within the largest, most complex environments possible.”
Born Free is urging zoos to direct funding towards protecting giraffes in the wild, instead of spending money on the continued breeding and expansion of captive giraffe collections in Europe. Edinburgh Zoo has reportedly spent £2.7million ($3.7 million USD) on a new giraffe enclosure.
“Such financial resources could be better applied to support wild giraffe conservation, securing and restoring vast landscapes, and reversing habitat degradation, fragmentation, and loss,” said Dr. Nikki Tagg, Born Free’s Head of Conservation. “This level of investment could potentially bring significant benefits to wild giraffes, connecting and protecting natural habitat in north Kenya, Somalia, and Tanzania, as well as increasing community awareness and engagement, conflict mitigation and anti-poaching efforts.”
Born Free’s full report can be viewed HERE!
The post European Zoos Urged To Phase Out Keeping Giraffes In Captivity Following Born Free’s New Report appeared first on World Animal News.
In a report released yesterday, Oceana reveals data on marine mammals and sea turtles becoming entangled and swallowing plastic off the coast of the United States. After surveying dozens of government agencies, organizations, and institutions that collect data on the impact of plastic on marine animals, Oceana found evidence of nearly 1,800 animals from 40 different species swallowing or becoming entangled in plastic since 2009.
Of those, a staggering 88% were species listed as endangered or threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Act. Perhaps even more concerning, Oceana says that the animals reflected in this report are far fewer than the true number of sea turtles and marine mammals that consume or become entangled in plastic in U.S. waters.
“Before now, the evidence that many U.S. marine mammals and sea turtles were being harmed by plastic was not compiled in one place. While there may never be a complete account of the fate of all marine animals impacted by plastic, this report paints a grim picture. The world is hooked on plastic because the industry continues to find more ways to force this persistent pollutant into our everyday routines, and it is choking, strangling, and drowning marine life,” Dr. Kimberly Warner, report author and senior scientist at Oceana, said in a statement. “This report shows a wide range of single-use plastic jeopardizing marine animals, and it is not just the items that first come to mind, like bags, balloons, and bottle caps. These animals are consuming or being entangled in everything from zip ties and dental flossers to mesh onion bags people use at the grocery store. We can only expect these cases to increase as the industry continues to push single-use plastic into consumers’ hands.”
Oceana’s report found that plastics affected animals at all life stages, from recently hatched sea turtles to seal mothers with nursing pups. Plastic consumption was the most prevalent problem in the animal cases reviewed, comprising 90% of the total animals affected. Entanglement also affected a significant number of marine mammals and sea turtles, with some animals so constricted that they sadly lost limbs as a result.
The following are some of the key points from the report:
Most of the species that consumed or became entangled in plastic are endangered or threatened, including: Hawaiian monk seals, manatees, Steller sea lions, and all six species of sea turtles in the United States.
In the cases where plastic ingestion was likely the cause of or contributor to death, seven cases involved just one piece of plastic.
Bags, balloons, recreational fishing line, plastic sheeting, and food wrappers were the most common types of identifiable plastics consumed by these animals.
Plastic packing straps, bags, balloons with strings, and sheeting were the most common items entangling the marine animals.
Some sea turtle groups consumed plastic up to three times more often than average for their species.
Some marine mammals, such as the northern fur seal, consumed plastic up to 50 times more often than average for eared seals.
Additional items involving entanglement or ingestion included: bottle caps, water bottles, straws, plastic chairs, plastic forks, toothbrushes, children’s toys, buckets, bubble wrap, sponges, swim goggles, plastic holiday grass, sandwich bags, and polystyrene cups.
The report features case studies from around the U.S., including:
In Florida, a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle was found entangled in a plastic bag that had become filled with sand. The plastic bag had wrapped around the animal’s neck, and scientists believe the animal drowned due to the weight of the bag, or it suffocated from the entanglement.
A Florida manatee likely died from a plastic bag, straw, string, pantyhose, and fishing line that had all filled its stomach and colon.
In Virginia, a female sei whale swallowed a DVD case, which lacerated her stomach and led to gastric ulcers, harming her ability to find food.
In New Jersey, a plastic bag was the only item found in the stomach of a dead pygmy sperm whale.
In California, a northern elephant seal nursing a dependent pup was found with a packing strap around her neck.
In South Carolina, a sea turtle center found almost 60 pieces of plastic that a loggerhead sea turtle defecated during its rehabilitation.
“This report is merely a snapshot of what’s happening to the animals inhabiting plastic-polluted waters around the United States, imagine how great the numbers would be if they included the animals not observed or documented by humans,” stated Christy Leavitt, report author and plastics campaign director at Oceana. “Plastic production is expected to quadruple in the coming decades, and if nothing changes, the amount of plastic flowing into the ocean is projected to triple by 2040. The only way to turn off the tap and protect our oceans is for companies to stop producing unnecessary single-use plastic, and that will require national, state, and local governments to pass policies ensuring they do.”
Marine animals swallow plastic when they mistake it for food, or inadvertently swallow it while feeding or swimming. Once swallowed, it can obstruct their digestion or lacerate their intestines, and all of this can interfere with their ability to feed and obtain nourishment. These problems can result in starvation and death. When animals become entangled in plastics, they can drown, choke to death or suffer physical trauma, such as amputation and infection. Entanglement can also cause malnutrition when it prevents their ability to feed properly.
Scientists now estimate that 15 million metric tons of plastic floods into our oceans every year. That equates to about two garbage trucks’ worth of plastic entering the ocean every minute. The U.S. generates more plastic waste than any other country, according to a 2020 study. Plastic has been found in every corner of the world and has turned up in our drinking water, beer, salt, honey, and more. With plastic production growing at a rapid rate, increasing amounts of plastic can be expected to flood our planet with devastating consequences.
Tell your members of Congress to protect oceans and marine life from plastic pollution by voting in favor of a first-of-its-kind recently introduced bill that would phase out certain single-use plastics and shift the burden of plastic waste to the companies producing it. Please sign in support of The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, HERE!
You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg
The post Breaking! New Report By Oceana Finds That Plastic Pollution Is Responsible For Entangling & Choking 1,800 Marine Animals In U.S. Waters appeared first on World Animal News.
The inadequate, haphazard oversight by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) of the treatment of chickens and turkeys at slaughterhouses has resulted in the widespread mistreatment and suffering of birds at some of the nation’s largest plants, with no real consequences for the meat companies, according to new research released on Friday by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI).
AWI’s report reviews USDA inspection records from 2017 through 2019 at approximately 300 federally inspected turkey and chicken slaughter plants, which kill the vast majority of the 9.6 billion birds butchered every year for their meat.
The USDA has gradually increased the number of handling records issued for noncompliance with ‘good commercial practices’ (GCP) at chicken and turkey slaughter plants over the past 14 years. However, during the recent three-year period, inspectors took action to stop the abuse of birds in only 14% of the documented incidents.
Although the slaughter of birds is currently governed by the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act, not one single USDA regulation requires that individual birds be handled ‘humanely.’ As a result, inspectors are prevented from taking any enforcement action for most GCP violations.
Sixteen bird slaughter plants were cited for 20 or more ‘humane’ handling violations, yet the USDA only issued ‘Letters of Concern’ to Pilgrim’s Pride in Nacogdoches, Texas, and Mar-Jac Poultry in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for egregious or repeat handling problems, according to documents obtained by AWI through the Freedom of Information Act.
“Absent real accountability, industry leaders have no incentive to alter their behavior and treat birds more humanely,” Dena Jones, Farm Animal Program Director for AWI, said in a statement. “It is clear that the USDA is not serious about preventing mistreatment of birds at slaughter; the department’s GCP oversight program, which it created in 2005 in response to public and congressional outcry over bird mistreatment, is purely voluntary.”
Between 2017 and 2019, the most commonly cited “humane” handling problems at turkey and chicken slaughter plants involved birds drowning in scald tanks and the improper disposal of live birds, including burying them alive under piles of dead birds. Incidents affecting the largest number of birds involved high dead-on-arrival rates due to suffocationor prolonged exposure to extreme weather, as well as mechanical problems resulting in injury and death. For example, records showed that multiple birds had their legs ripped off or were disemboweled while conscious due to malfunctioning equipment.
Similarly, video footage obtained by animal advocacy undercover investigations has revealed that, even under the GCP program, the abuse of birds is still common practice at some slaughter plants, where workers have been observed throwing, kicking, and punching birds on numerous occasions.
In August, AWI and Farm Sanctuary sued the USDA for failing to require “humane” handling of birds at slaughter. The lawsuit is still pending.
AWI’s recent investigation, which updates its 2017 report on this issue, found that the following turkey and chicken slaughter plants received the most GCP citations from 2017 through 2019: Allen Harim Foods in Harbeson, DE (56); Mar-Jac Poultry in Hattiesburg, MS (49); Perdue Foods in Lewiston, NC (37); Moroni Turkey Processing (Pitman Farms) in Moroni, UT (35); and the former Simply Essentials Poultry in Charles City, IA (34).
Among the report’s recommendations:
The USDA should promulgate regulations requiring the “humane” handling of birds by addressing worker training, transportation, and holding conditions, the shackling of birds, the treatment of sick and injured birds, and more.
The department should proactively post online records related to noncompliance, and refer incidents involving intentional abuse for prosecution under state animal cruelty laws.
“Industry leaders and the USDA continue to promote a false narrative that there is robust federal enforcement of “humane” handling of birds at slaughter,” Jones said. “It is incumbent upon the next administration and Congress to put an end to this egregious cruelty.”
WAN and Peace 4 Animals looks forward to a compassionate plant-based future which no longer includes killing animals for their meat.
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