From PETA.ORG. Some sweet – and arresting – images. – R.T.
By Jennifer O’Connor
Celebrities wield considerable influence on cultural trends, like it or not. When Oprah does a 21-day vegan cleanse, it makes headlines. When Amal Clooney rocks a Stella McCartney sheath, sales soar. However, one trend that seems innocuous — but is actually damaging — is the pressure on stars to have their photos taken with exotic animals used as “props.”
Celebrities who are asked to pose with wild animals for a magazine spread or who do so while on vacation invariably have good intentions and even love animals, so they are easy marks for the often mercenary and merciless amusement parks and sham “animal orphanages.” These businesspeople drool at the thought of posting or retweeting pictures of a star cuddling with a tiger cub or captive orca. Kind people are naturally drawn to places that claim to offer exotic animals refuge and are eager to see elephants paint, to cuddle with bear cubs or to swim with dolphins, but exposé after exposé has revealed that many of these outfits are breeders, dealers or exhibitors exploiting Hollywood’s goodwill and generosity.
At the recently shuttered Tiger Temple in Thailand, 40 dead cubs were found in a freezer, secretly slaughtered to make tiger wine and other folk remedies for sale on the black market. But it isn’t just the “tiger temples” that are being busted. The number of tourist traps that have tacked the word “sanctuary” or “rescue” onto their names has skyrocketed in recent years. Some are more brazen than others. Tons of celebrities, from Debra Messing to the Kardashian clan, have missed the bigger picture when visiting Mexico’s Black Jaguar–White Tiger Foundation, for example. Touting itself as a rescue organization, this facility refuses to spay or neuter animals and allows “sponsors” (i.e., big donors) to hold, cuddle and take selfies with big cats. Places like this use these celebrity photos to keep visitors coming through the gates.
Many exhibitors continually breed the animals just so they’ll have a constant supply of young animals in order to sell photo ops to people like Beyoncé and Jay Z. Of course the babies are adorable, but they grow fast, and within a few weeks, they are too big to handle. They’ll spend the rest of their lives, sometimes decades, in cramped and barren cages — or even be killed.
All over Asia, elephants are kept chained in trekking camps. A few camps are working to help elephants in trouble, but the vast majority are not, and training methods are barbaric and cruel. As soon as the cameras are gone after someone like Prince William poses with an elephant, the chains go back on and the bullhooks come out.
The same with swim-with-dolphins excursions: I’m sure Rhianna had no inkling that while she can come and go at will, there are metal bars inside those tanks, and the dolphins will remain trapped in that one place until the day they die. When Justin Bieber petted a tiger at a zoo, did he have a clue that the zoo owner had been charged with cruelty to animals? Probably not. And that has to change.
Fans, tell the stars: Stay away from exotic-animal photo ops, and the animals (not the animal exploiters) will be grateful. Of course, you don’t have to be famous to make a difference. Whether right here at home or at an exotic locale abroad, every one of us must fight the temptation to pose with a panther or cuddle a cub.
We’ve poured our hearts into the elephants-don’t-belong-in-circuses crusade. Progress!
NOW IT’S TIME TO SAVE THE BIG CATS WHO SUFFER in Ringling and other traveling shows. LIONS, TIGERS, PANTHERS, COUGARS … all of these MAGNIFICENT AND MAJESTIC wild cats have captivated humankind’s imagination for millennia. Because they are so big, so beautiful, so exotic. All the more reason to let them BE FREE IN THE WILD, WHERE THEY BELONG. – Rosalie Tirella
1. In circuses, big cats are often forced to live intiny, cramped cages.
2. Their maternal bond is broken.
3. Their basic social and physiological needs are denied.
By Jennifer O’Connor
I recently returned from a Caribbean cruise, which was supposed to be a lovely weekend with my mother. But what we brought home with us were memories of battered dolphins, beaten-down horses and bald parrots. Everywhere we went, we saw animals who were being abused and exploited in order to empty tourists’ wallets.
Travelers with money to spend are the driving force behind “swim-with-dolphins” excursions, horse-drawn carriage rides and beach photos with parrots or iguanas. But long after those tourists are back at home with stories and souvenirs, the animals will remain in the same grim conditions until the day they die.
Resorts and cruise lines make big bucks off the backs of dolphins. Although captive marine mammals in the United States are afforded some limited legal protection, programs outside the United States are often governed by few, if any, regulations. Many “swim-with” facilities operate almost continuously, giving the dolphins little respite from a constant stream of tourists. Even though dolphins are keenly intelligent and capable of swimming vast distances every day, their worlds are reduced in these facilities to cramped and shallow swimming pools. Most captive dolphins die far short of their natural life span.
We overheard many people talking about their “swim-with” excursions and claiming to “love” dolphins. But every ticket purchased from such operations directly contributes to the animals’ captivity and misery. Dolphins used by these operators will never know the complex ocean world in which they belong. They’ll spend every day of their lives in the same barren tank, serving the whims of tourists who are more focused on having an “adventure” than thinking about the cruelty they are supporting.
The horses we saw who are used to ferry tourists looked like props from The Walking Dead. They were skeletally thin, and many had clots of foam dripping from their mouths. Several had visible injuries, and one was obviously lame. Most looked like they could drop at any second. There must be some sort of “vacation blindness” that grips people, a compulsion to “do” things that allows vacationers to ignore the animals’ obvious suffering and line up to take a ride.
Along the beaches, once-beautiful parrots were hauled around for photo ops. The birds looked bedraggled and depressed. Their feathers were scruffy, and one had several raw sore spots. They were never allowed to fly. Avian welfare expert Dr. Kim Danoff notes, “Depriving birds of flight is mentally and physically stressful. Some birds respond by plucking their feathers out; some become aggressive. It also contributes to poor health including weak and atrophied muscles, cardiac problems and respiratory problems.”
The birds had no shade and were on the beach all day. Lorin Lindner, Ph.D., who founded California’s Serenity Park Parrot Sanctuary, points out that parrots are very sensitive to heat and direct sunlight as well as being vulnerable to sunburn, heatstroke and heat exhaustion.
We saw one teenager shriek and drop an iguana to the ground during a photo op. Without stopping to check for injuries, the handler quickly retrieved and passed the reptile on to the next person waiting.
As long as travelers succumb to temptation and take a swim or a ride or a photo using captive animals, this suffering will continue. While packing your bags for your vacation, please remember to include some compassion. Don’t spend any money or time at places where animals will continue to languish in misery long after you’ve returned home.