Tag Archives: animal times

The late great Sam Simon

By Ingrid Newkirk

There’s a black ribbon hanging outside PETA’s Sam Simon Center in Norfolk, Virginia, this week, and a group of sad people inside it. The building’s namesake—TV producer, writer and director Sam Simon—beat the odds: He lived two whole years past the few months his doctor gave him when he was first diagnosed with terminal colon cancer in 2012. He spent those years living life to the fullest—and helping animals live life to the fullest, too.

Shortly after being diagnosed, Sam asked me to come to the hospital to help him draw up a “bucket list” of ways in which he could help animals.

I had first met Sam back in 2002 when he donated his fee for directing an episode of The Drew Carey Show to PETA because the plot involved greyhound racing and he felt that he could not in good conscience keep the money. He was funny and kind and didn’t mince words if he thought children or animals were being abused.

Sam’s first order of business was to work with PETA to close two dismal, dungeon-like concrete bear pits in North Carolina and Georgia and send the bears to a sanctuary. Despite being gravely ill, he personally traveled to the sanctuary to let the bears out of their transport cages and watched them gallop through the grass for the first time in years with a wide little-boy grin on his face. “I just wanted to have some days where I get to see animals walk in grass for the first time,” he said. “Through PETA, we rescue animals in roadside zoos and circuses. They are some of the most abused animals in the country.”

But Sam was just getting started. During the next two years, which he called the happiest of his life, he helped PETA rescue hundreds of animals, including two chimpanzees who had been held in solitary confinement in cramped, barren cages at (separate) roadside zoos. Sam paid to send them to a spacious tropical sanctuary, where they can now interact with others of their own kind for the first time in decades, climb on “jungle gyms,” lounge under palm trees and do other things that chimpanzees love to do.

He paid to transport Sunder—an elephant who had been chained by all four legs at a temple in India for seven years—to a 122-acre sanctuary, and he paid to build a new fence around it so that Sunder and the other elephants could roam freely 24 hours a day. He purchased an injured racehorse, saving him from a catastrophic breakdown. He bought more than 400 chinchillas from a California breeder, saving them from electrocution and shutting the fur farm down. As he walked through the facility’s cramped rows of cages, Sam whispered to the chinchillas, “This is your last day of abuse. This is your first day of freedom.”

An outspoken opponent of the cruelty that occurs in circuses and marine parks, Sam lived to see the tide of public opinion turn against SeaWorld after the release of the riveting documentary Blackfish. And the last piece of good news he received was that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which he had protested in person, had vowed to take performing elephants off the road by 2018.

A longtime vegan, he set up his own charity, The Sam Simon Foundation, to provide homeless people with vegan meals as well as to sponsor spay and neuter surgeries in low-income areas of Los Angeles. The foundation also rescues dogs from shelters and trains them to assist deaf people and war veterans who suffer from physical and mental trauma.

Funny to the last, Sam was a fabulous friend to all living beings, from children in Nepal to veterans in America to animals the world over. May he rest in peace.

Ingrid Newkirk is the president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; www.PETA.org.

New look!

Please let me know what you think! … Email me at incitytimes@hotmail.com (We are tweaking this website  as I type …)

– Rosalie (Rose), editor, ICT (paper and website)

Here’s an ICT Animal Times op-ed for ya. (I’ve pretty much gone vegan this past year – feels good not to be responsible for the killing of an animal …) :

Knee-deep manure: Another reason to dump dairy

By Paula Moore

 If you’re reading this as you eat your morning cereal, now would be a good time to set down your spoon. PETA recently obtained video footage of lame and emaciated cows—one little more than a skeleton—trudging through a sludgy pool of their own liquefied manure at a North Carolina dairy farm. The farm’s waste pit had not been emptied for so long that excess waste was up to the animals’ knees. As the cows emerge from this cesspool on their way to the milking parlor, the manure hardens and dries on their legs and feet, resulting in sores and painful ulcers. It even splashes onto their udders just moments before they are milked.

 Still hungry? The disgusting conditions that PETA found on this farm are enough to turn anyone’s stomach—and prompt a switch to soy milk—but they’re just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dairy-industry cruelty.

 During a previous investigation, PETA revealed that cows on a dairy farm in New York were jabbed and struck, even in the udder, with poles and canes. One farm manager repeatedly electro-shocked a cow on the face and jabbed another cow, who was unable to stand up, in the ribs with a screwdriver and used a skid steer to drag her 25 feet. Young calves bellowed and thrashed as workers burned their horn buds—without providing any pain relief—in order to stop their horns from growing.

 You’d never know that nearly all cows born on dairy farms have tissue that will develop into horns if given the chance. That’s because workers press searing-hot irons into the top of calves’ heads to destroy horn tissue or use sharp instruments or other tools to saw off, gouge out or cut out the horn and sometimes the surrounding tissue. Cows struggle desperately and cry out in pain during these procedures, which are routinely performed without giving them any anesthetics or painkillers.

 And many consumers don’t even know (probably because they’ve never really thought about it) that cows produce milk for the same reason why human mothers do: to feed their babies. On dairy farms, cows are repeatedly impregnated and then forced to watch helplessly as their babies—whom they carry for nine months, just like us—are torn away from them again and again.

 Mother cows, who are smart, inquisitive animals and whose maternal instinct is just as strong as our human one is, grieve the loss of their calves and bellow plaintively after them for days. Some mother cows have been known to escape their enclosures and walk for miles searching for their calves. Such pitiful scenes are common in the dairy industry. Mother cows are allowed to bond with and care for their babies for just a few hours before they are dragged away so that humans can consume the milk that was meant for them.

 And what happens to the calves? Many male calves are shoved into tiny veal crates (so if you drink milk, you’re also supporting the cruel veal industry), while most female calves are destined for the same fate as their mothers: repeated artificial insemination and pregnancies until their bodies give out at 4 or 5 years of age. Then they’re trucked to the slaughterhouse, far short of their 25-year natural life expectancy, and ground up for burgers and dog food.

 If you find such cruelty hard to swallow, maybe it’s time to think twice before buying another carton of milk or tub of yogurt. Dairy-free (and cruelty-free) options such as almond milk and soy milk; vegan cheese and sour cream; coconut-milk coffee creamer; and ice cream made out of rice, soy or coconut are available in almost any grocery store. Why not try them?