Tag Archives: animal suffering

What is SeaWorld hiding?


By Dr. Heather Rally

Anyone who followed the tragic life of Tilikum, the orca at SeaWorld who recently died, should be wondering why SeaWorld is refusing to provide specific details about what led to his death.

The corporation did tell federal officials — it is legally required to do so — that Tilikum’s cause of death was bacterial pneumonia, but all other details remain a mystery.

Necropsies, or animal autopsies, provide important information about the state of an animal’s health prior to and at the time of death. After years of reassurances by SeaWorld that Tilikum was generally in good health, at least until the last year of his life, the public deserves to know what, if any, issues contributed to the development of the pneumonia that reportedly killed him.

Did he have any other infections or any injuries?

What was the state of his heart and other internal organs?

Did Tilikum’s ground-down teeth play a role in his illness and death?

Once upon a time, the public actually did have the right to know the contents of a captive marine mammal’s necropsy report. Public display permits issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) routinely required that these reports be submitted.

But thanks to the lobbying of the captive-animal industry, including SeaWorld, in 1994, Congress took away the NMFS’ authority to include any permit requirement for captive animal care and maintenance, including necropsy reports.

Since then, only the aquariums, zoos and marine theme parks holding whales and dolphins have been privy to the details of the causes of animals’ deaths. Information with enormous scientific value on species that are federally protected and held in trust for the American people by the captive-animal industry has become proprietary.

Tilikum’s situation is different, however. His import permit — issued prior to the 1994 MMPA amendments — requires that a necropsy and clinical history be submitted to the government within 30 days of his death. This is because he came to the U.S. as a killer killer whale — the NMFS wanted to learn what, if anything, a necropsy might reveal when this whale, who had drowned a trainer in Canada before being imported, finally died. Given that he subsequently killed two more people, this requirement now seems highly prescient. Yet SeaWorld has not submitted the report, claiming that the amendments, which passed after the permit was issued, effectively voided that reporting requirement.

The federal government must not allow SeaWorld’s self-serving assertion to go unchallenged.

It was about a year ago when SeaWorld first announced that Tilikum was in failing health, and at 37, he is the first captive male orca who can genuinely be said to have died at an old age. This makes his necropsy report even more valuable. Bacterial pneumonia is a leading cause of death in captive orcas and is also frequently seen in stranded whales and dolphins in the wild. It is often unknown, however, whether pneumonia in wild whales is the primary cause of death or the result of debilitation from another disease process. Coupled with his detailed life history, which is typically absent for stranded animals, Tilikum’s necropsy and pathology reports could contain information that would be applicable to wild whales. Releasing these reports to the greater scientific community and to the public is simply sound science and good policy.

If any good whatsoever can come from Tilikum’s tortured existence, it’s that learning more about what killed him could prevent the same thing from happening to other orcas, both in captivity and in the wild.

SeaWorld should disclose Tilikum’s health records. If it does not, the NMFS should enforce the requirements of Tilikum’s permit, compel SeaWorld to submit the reports and make them available to the public.

As the Netherlands phases out animal experimentation, will other countries follow?

By Paula Moore

In a groundbreaking move, the Dutch government recently announced that it is working to end all experiments on animals. The Netherlands had already passed a motion in Parliament to phase out experiments on nonhuman primates, and now its goal is to be using only human-relevant, non-animal testing methods by 2025. PETA UK scientists have met with government officials and provided a 70-page document outlining areas of experimentation that can be ended immediately and a strategy for moving forward. Now the United States and other nations should follow suit.

The Dutch government’s bold decision promises great progress not only for the millions of animals who are intentionally infected with diseases, force-fed chemicals, blinded, burned, mutilated and left to suffer without veterinary care inside laboratories every year but also for human patients desperately waiting for therapies and cures for their illnesses. We’ve long known that mice are not just tiny human beings and that experimenters who cling to the archaic animal “model” as the gold standard of research are wasting precious time, resources and lives—both human and animal.

Although animals have the same capacity to feel fear and pain that we humans have, our physiology is vastly different, and results from animal studies are rarely relevant to human health. Multiple systematic reviews have documented the overwhelming failure of experiments on animals to benefit humans in the areas of neurodegenerative disease, neuropsychiatric disorders, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, inflammatory disease and more.

Nine out of 10 experimental drugs that pass animal studies fail in humans, and the few that are approved often need to be relabeled or pulled from the market after they sicken or kill human patients. Decades of HIV/AIDS experiments have failed to produce effective vaccines for humans, even though at least 85 were successful in primate studies. And while “[w]e have cured mice of cancer for decades”—according to former National Cancer Institute Director Dr. Richard Klausner—”it simply didn’t work in humans.”

No wonder John Ioannidis, professor of medicine and of health research and policy at Stanford University School of Medicine, says it is “nearly impossible to rely on most animal data to predict whether or not an intervention will have a favorable clinical benefit-risk ratio in human subjects.”

There are better ways to conduct research than intentionally sickening and injuring animals.

For example, scientists can replicate human organs on microchips to test the impact of potential drugs. Sophisticated computer models can simulate the progression of developing diseases and accurately predict drugs’ reactions in the human body. Advanced brain-imaging techniques—which allow the human brain to be safely studied down to the level of a single neuron—can replace crude experiments in which animals are intentionally brain-damaged.

In the field of toxicity testing, non-animal methods harnessing scientific advances in molecular and cell biology, genetics, computational power and robotic testing systems can test more chemicals in a single day than have been tested in the past 20 years using animals. These methods allow scientists to test mixtures of chemicals, assess chemical effects on vulnerable populations or life stages, and detect sensitive effects that animal tests cannot.

But setting aside the fact that experimenting on animals is bad science and that there are more relevant and efficient methods, it is morally wrong to poison, infect, burn and cut up animals in a laboratory. Just as our science has advanced, so has our understanding of the other beings with whom we share the planet. Other animals, like us, are conscious beings who develop friendships, have complex social structures, use language and make tools, are capable of understanding cause-and-effect relationships, solve problems, form abstract thoughts and show empathy.

Fortunately, this is not a case of “us” vs. “them.” By embracing bold policy initiatives as the Netherlands has done and investing in exciting and progressive non-animal methods, we will have far more promising treatments and cures for humans and more effective and reliable methods for toxicity assessment, while also sparing tens of millions of animals unimaginable suffering.

Yes, baby seals are still being slaughtered in Canada

By Paula Moore

As you read this, baby seals are being shot to death — or their soft skulls are being crushed with hakapiks, which are hooked clubs with piercing metals tips — on the ice floes off the coast of Canada. Sealers will be allowed to kill up to 400,000 harp seals during this year’s commercial slaughter, all for something that no one even wants: their fur. The seals’ skin will be torn off, and their bodies will be dumped in the sea or left to rot on the ice.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Canada’s cruel commercial seal slaughter had ended years ago. Indeed, as far back as 2005, Vancouver Sun columnist Daphne Bramham reported that because of limited media coverage, 60 percent of Canadians were “blissfully unaware that the seal hunt still exists.” But this is one instance in which ignorance is not bliss. Baby seals are helpless and have no way to escape from the sealers’ clubs and guns, so it is up to us to speak out and stop this barbaric slaughter.
And let’s get one thing straight: Although sealers object to calling these animals “babies,” that’s exactly what they are. Many of the young seals are slaughtered before they have even eaten their first solid meal or learned how to swim. While sealers are not allowed to kill “whitecoats,” seals can be killed as soon as they lose their iconic white natal fur at just a few weeks of age. Most are killed when they are between 3 weeks and 3 months old.

And the commercial slaughter is as wasteful as it is cruel. Ten years ago, sealers killed about 350,000 seals, but in 2015, that number dropped to 35,000 – the lowest in two decades. Fewer than 1,000 sealers have participated in the slaughter in recent years because of a lack of markets for seal-derived products. Seal fur processors admit that they are stockpiling pelts because they can’t sell them.

That’s because compassionate people around the world want nothing to do with this bloody business. Russia — which at one time had been importing 95 percent of Canadian seal pelts — has banned seal fur and other seal-derived products, as have the United States, the European Union, Mexico and Taiwan. And despite years of marketing efforts in China to create a demand for seal skins and meat there, it has not shown much interest in buying these cruelly obtained products, either.

So if seal fur isn’t allowed in fashion capitals like New York and Paris, and public sentiment around the world is firmly against the slaughter, why is it still going on?

The sealing industry survives only because of government bailouts. The Canadian government pours millions of tax dollars into propping up this dying industry, which has long cost Canada more money to support than it brings in, primarily for the shameful reason that the major federal parties want to control parliamentary swing seats in Newfoundland and Labrador.

That money could be better spent promoting Canadian businesses with brighter futures and helping sealers make the transition into other types of work. Letting the sealing industry limp along is not fair to either the seals or the sealers.

Please take a moment to urge Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is known for his progressive views on social justice issues, to usher in a new era of fiscal responsibility and compassion by ending federal subsidies of the commercial seal slaughter. (Visit PETA.org to find out how.) Then use your Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts to help spread the word and get more people involved. The commercial seal slaughter is a relic of a less enlightened past, and it needs to end.

Why I’m boiling mad about this summertime ritual

By Paula Moore

When did boiling animals alive become an acceptable summer pastime? I’m referring, of course, to the gruesome but widespread practice of dropping live lobsters and crabs into pots of scalding water, ignoring their frantic attempts to escape and calling it dinner. Kind people who would never dream of doing such a thing to any other type of animal seem to have a blind spot when it comes to the suffering of crustaceans.

We know that lobsters can feel pain (and even if we didn’t, shouldn’t we give them the benefit of the doubt?), yet in the U.S. alone we condemn 20 million of these animals to a painful death for our dinner plates every year. Enough.

I first learned of this barbaric summertime ritual in elementary school, when I was invited along on a beach trip with my best friend, Elizabeth, and her family. It was the first time I’d ever been away from home without my parents, and everything about the trip seemed like a great adventure—until the night that we had crabs for dinner. I remember watching Elizabeth’s mother put a kettle of water on the stove to boil. Then, someone produced a bag full of live crabs. Just as I was starting to think that there must be some mistake, the crabs were unceremoniously dumped into the boiling water. The fun was over.

While lobsters and crabs may seem very different from us—with their exoskeletons, claws and strange-looking antennae—in the ways that truly matter, they’re more like us than we may care to admit.

Numerous physiological and behavioral studies of crustaceans have shown that lobsters feel pain and when boiled alive likely suffer every second of the three long minutes that it takes for them to die.. Scientists have confirmed that when lobsters struggle frantically to climb the sides of the pot, these are panic and pain responses. At crustacean slaughterhouses, as a PETA eyewitness investigation revealed, lobsters and crabs are routinely dismembered while they’re still alive and fully aware.

In 2005, the European Food Safety Authority concluded that crustaceans are capable of experiencing pain and distress and recommended that steps be taken to lessen their suffering whenever possible.

In 2009, Dr. Robert W. Elwood, a professor of animal behavior at Queen’s University Belfast, published papers on this issue in the journals Animal Behaviour and Applied Animal Behaviour Science. “With vertebrates we are asked to err on the side of caution and I believe this is the approach to take with these crustaceans,” he says. Elwood’s experiments have even led him to change how he treats the invertebrates in his laboratory. He now uses fewer animals in his experiments and strives to keep the potential for suffering to a minimum.

And more than a decade ago, after the late David Foster Wallace visited Maine’s annual lobster festival—which he said had aspects of a “medieval torture-fest”—he was compelled to scour the available literature on crustacean pain and to ask readers to “consider the lobster.” In his now-classic essay of the same name, Wallace wrote that “after all the abstract intellection, there remain the facts of the frantically clanking lid, the pathetic clinging to the edge of the pot. Standing at the stove, it is hard to deny in any meaningful way that this is a living creature experiencing pain.”

In 2015, surely we can all agree that we do not need to cook animals alive for our supper. We have other choices. Besides tasty mock lobster and crab, other vegan summertime options abound, from corn on the cob to gazpacho to grilled veggie burgers to watermelon. When we choose these kinder options, dinner won’t resemble a horror show.

Wanna lose the fat? Feel healthier? Go veggie! Within a year you’ll lose 20 pounds – without even trying!

And you’ll be oh so proud of yourself knowing you’re not part of the factory farm hell where animals live in tortuous conditions, before being slaughtered. Why kill all those animals just to clog up your arteries and raise your cholesterol level? Why induce all that SUFFERING when there are so many protein-rich foods to put on your plate?!

Here’s a two-week veggie starter plan for you! Click on the days of the week in the blue bars and the blue words to see the yummy recipes and learn more!

And if you can’t make a 100% commitment, CUT BACK on your meat/ poultry consumption!  Every good deed counts/saves an animal!


– R. T.


Two-Week Vegan Meal Plan

Do you consider yourself “culinarily challenged”? Well, no worries! Our Two-Week Sample Vegan Menus below are designed for new vegans who are not sure what to eat and for longtime vegans who are looking to shake up their current diet and try something new. The recommendations focus on two types of dishes: easy-to-prepare meals with a balance of fresh ingredients and tasty heat-and-serve options.

Week 1



Oatmeal with walnuts and raisins (most commercial oatmeal is vegan)
Fresh fruit


Avocado Reuben
Sumptuous Spinach Salad With Orange-Sesame Dressing


Tofu-Spinach Lasagne
Fresh tossed salad







Week 2

Print the Two-Week Sample Vegan Menus.

Want more options? Check out these resources from PETA:

How to Go Vegan

Accidentally Vegan

Our Favorite Products

Making the Transition



Try these delicious vegan options or check out our shopping guide for other great suggestions.


Beautiful shoes = BANNING the leather! Cruety-free sandals+ in which you can strut thru your summer!

No animals had their skins ripped off while they were still alive to make these summer stunners!

A style for EVERY one of YOU!

CLICK on the brand names to buy shoes/visit the companies’ websites.       – R. T.


Amelia Sandal


This cobalt blue shoe is bright and summery, and the material is durable, high-quality Italian faux leather. Bourgeois Boheme also has a large selection of men’s shoes.

2. Sydney Brown Flat Sandal


Sydney Brown is a Los Angeles–based designer. Her shoes are handmade and free of animal products. Instead, they contain materials such as coconut insoles and “reclaimed wooden soles, aiming to create every pair of shoes with a ‘cradle to cradle’ life cycle.”

3. PETA x M4D3 Limited Edition Espadrille


M4D3 stands for “Make a Difference Everyday,” and by purchasing these animal-free espadrilles, you’ll be doing just that.

4. Beyond Skin

Beyond Skin metallic shoes

Metallic flats, penny loafers, and Oxfords—oh, my! This U.K.-based brand leaves us speechless.

5. BC Footwear Tuxedo Flatform

Moo Shoes

These sandals are available through the cruelty-free vegan retailer MooShoes, which, in addition to shoes, carries belts, wallets, handbags, and other goodies for both men and women.

6. Timberland x Pharrell Williams’ Bee Line Boot


Pharrell Williams owns an eco-textile company called Bionic Yarn, and this collaboration between him and the Timberland boot company does Mother Earth a good one by creating unisex boots made from a blend of organic cotton and recycled plastic bottles. The boots feature two designs to choose from: honeycomb and blades of grass.

7. Nicora Johns 2-in-1 Copper Flat

Nicora Johns better

This shoe is awesome because you can wear it as a ballet flat or add the strap if you’re in a Mary Jane sort of mood.

8. Bhava Sara Asymmetrical Slip-On


This shoe is made with Japanese recycled ultrasuede (a microfiber that’s not animal-derived), organic ayurvedic dyed cotton, and reclaimed wood heels.

9. Report Neeley Heels*

Report Neely heels

If you’re looking to get dressed up a bit, these strappy heels, available throughZappos, will go a long way. They also come in three colors. …


Yay, CNN!!!!!

We think it’s so important that mainstream media expose the REAL AMERICAN farming industry! American farms are not some bucolic fantasy! More American papers and tv news shows need to run reports like CNN’s (see below) so ALL Americans see what really goes on at these agri-complexes. Even family farms send their livestock to slaughterhouses. … Americans are good people and will demand changes, humane treatment of cows, chickens, pigs, lambs … . State houses to the White House – let’s bombard these American institutions with the truth! They MUST REPRESENT us, WE THE PEOPLE, and we the people DEMAND a new day dawn on factory farms. – R. Tirella


CNN investigative correspondent Chris Frates is being awarded the Ann Cottrell Free Animal Reporting Award by the National Press Club for his work to expose animal abuse in the meat industry.

Frates’ series gave audiences an eye-opening look at the pervasive abuse and neglect that animals endure on farms. One of his reports broke PETA’s investigation of a worldwide leader in pig production, which revealed that pigs who were severely sick or injured were commonly left to suffer for days before finally dying or being hauled to slaughter.

CLICK HERE to watch the video.

Michael Vick’s hometown does right by dogs

By Daphna Nachminovitch

Dogs in Newport News, Virginia – where convicted dogfighter Michael Vick was born – got some good news recently.

After years of letters from and meetings with PETA, the Newport News City Council unanimously voted to ban dog tethering for more than one hour in any 24-hour period.

Newport News now joins more than 200 jurisdictions nationwide that have outlawed or restricted the abusive and dangerous practice of chaining up dogs as if they were bicycles — and every community in the country should follow their lead.

A ban on constant tethering can mean the difference between life and death for many dogs. A Newport News resident called PETA earlier this year after she found her dog Chaos hanging dead by his chain from her backyard fence. Two other dogs were chained in her yard, surrounded by mud and debris, and their doghouses were filled with soggy blankets. A puppy, Pebbles, was locked in a filthy wire crate inside a disgusting shed, standing in her own waste and with no access to food or water. Chaos was buried within a few feet of where he’d spent his existence, day in and day out, and another dog had already been chained in the same spot where Chaos fought for his life — and lost.

It shouldn’t take a law for people to treat their dogs with basic care and compassion. But as PETA’s fieldworkers have seen again and again, daily deprivation and neglect are rampant in communities where chaining is unrestricted.

Winter and summer months are especially perilous for dogs who are forced to live outdoors, and many don’t survive the temperature extremes, including a nameless brindle pit bull whom PETA’s fieldworkers discovered in Newport News on a cold December day in 2012. A necropsy revealed that she had been starved—there was nothing left of her but skeleton and skin. She had no body fat to insulate her from the winter cold. The dog’s emaciated sibling, a 38-pound pit bull, was tethered nearby with a chain that weighed 17 pounds—nearly half the dog’s bodyweight. Frostbitten ears, toes and tails—as well as hypothermia and death—are daily threats for dogs chained outdoors in the winter.
Tethering dogs “out of sight and out of mind” is a surefire recipe for neglect and suffering.

Many chained dogs’ collars become deeply embedded in their necks because no one bothered to loosen them as the dogs grew, or a heavy chain weighed down a tight collar, causing it to cut into the animal’s flesh. A puppy named Strawberry, who was chained outside with her mother and nothing but a wire crate for shelter, had a collar buried so deeply in her neck that it was barely visible. A dog named Brownie had a large, deep and badly infected wound around his neck where the rope that tethered him had become embedded in his flesh.

The crushing loneliness and deprivation of solitary confinement, with nothing to do but watch the grass grow—or the snow pile up—cause many chained dogs to become severely depressed or even aggressive and dangerous to the community.

Chained dogs are three times as likely to bite as socialized dogs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and children are often their victims. Only weeks before his death, Chaos—the dog who died hanging from a fence—broke free and bit a child, breaking the skin.

As recognized by the growing number of communities that have passed tethering bans, life on a chain is no life at all.

All dogs deserve to live indoors with a family who loves them, takes them for walks and cares about their health and well-being. It’s time to ban chaining everywhere.

Dear friends …

… For donkeys, horses, bullocks, and other animals in the sugar mill districts of India, one day’s work can be back-breaking — literally. But you can make a difference! Please become an Animal Rahat sponsor today and help bring desperately needed relief to working animals in India.

Animal Rahat is a unique lifesaving organization in India that was started with help from PETA. “Rahat” means “relief” — and that’s exactly what Animal Rahat provides to hardworking animals in India. The organization provides free veterinary care and respite to animals in desperate need.

Your desire to see an end to the abuse and mistreatment of animals around the world is what keeps us going. That’s why I want to make sure that you know about Animal Rahat’s lifesaving work for India’s animals.

The life of a working animal in India is filled with endless labor, suffering and sadness. India has one of the world’s poorest populations and is still dependent on animals for manual labor —especially in rural areas.

Bullocks, horses, camels and donkeys are forced to carry massive loads and pull heavy farm equipment using primitive and painful wooden yokes and crude harnesses that dig into their flesh. These animals often go an entire day without a drop of water as they toil in the burning heat and dust. Veterinary care — even for animals who are lame or dying — is often non-existent. Continue reading Dear friends …

Animal suffering in laboratories: a failure to care

By Alka Chandna, Ph.D.

Animal experimenters from Canada’s McGill University recently determined that mice—like humans and other mammals—make grimacing facial expressions when they are in pain. For the study, the ill-fated mice were videotaped after experimenters injected noxious chemicals into their abdomens, ankles, hands and feet; placed them on hot plates; placed their tails in hot water; clamped metal binder clips on the tips of their tails; and performed various surgeries on them without administering pain relief.

The results of the new study should bolster the argument that these animals suffer as we do and should not be treated like disposable laboratory equipment. Instead, the authors are ignoring the moral implications of their findings and will instead use the results as fodder for more dreadful pain experiments on animals. This is like subjecting a person to surgery without anesthesia just to pave the way for further surgeries with anesthesia. There’s simply no good reason for it.

Mice and rats are mammals with nervous systems similar to our Continue reading Animal suffering in laboratories: a failure to care