PETA Complains about Zoo Fishing Program

In July, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals complained about a fishing program for children held at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo. The program is sponsored by Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection.

A state website describes the Connecticut Aquatic Resources & Education program thusly,

CARE classes introduce you to the wonders of water, fish and fishing. The CARE program has taught over 66,000 citizens about water, fish and fishing since 1986. Our Certified Instructors will pass along the knowledge they have learned through years of angling. Videos, demonstrations and activities will teach and entertain youths and adults alike. The program is comprised of free classes and outdoor workshops which foster resource stewardship, promote an understanding of aquatic systems and fishery management decisions and encourage both an understanding and utilization of aquatic resources.

This brought a complaint from PETA’s Karin Robertson, who told The Connecticut Post,

It is very inappropriate for a zoo to run a program for children teaching them how to fish. A zoo’s mission is to teach kids how to respect animals. Fish are amazing animals — to teach fishing is to teach cruelty to animals. . . .When fish are caught by hooks, they are impaled and ripped out of the water. Imagine hooking a dog or cat through the mouth with a large hook and dragging them.

According to The Connecticut Post, Robertson said the hundreds of scientific studies show that fish are intelligent and learn from other fish. Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection biologist George Babey took issue with that claim, telling The Connecticut Post,

The vast majority of peer-reviewed research reveals that fish are quite primitive in the development of their nervous system. Their brain even lacks entire sections found in higher-order animals that lead to a determination of pain.

Babey also noted that fisherman contribute large amounts of money, in many ways, to helping preserve the fish habitats.


Fishing program at zoo criticized. Joan Stableford, The Connecticut Post, August 1, 2005.

Connecticut Aquatic Resources Education. Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, October 25, 2002.

Meat, Milk from Cloned Animals Nearly Identical to Non-Cloned Meat, Milk

In a finding that must be a real surprise, the Center for Regenerative Biology at the University of Connecticut has concluded that milk and meat from cloned animals is nearly identical to meat and milk from animals produced the old fashioned way.

Currently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has asked the food industry not to sell meat or milk from cloned animals until it can analyze the safety considerations.

The University of Connecticut research found that the meat from cloned cows contained higher levels of fat and fatty acids but at levels that were still within accepted ranges by the beef industry.

Analysis of milk from cloned animals had similar findings. Researcher Jerry Yang said the results indicated that the genes of cloned animals function as they do in non-cloned animals. Yang told the BBC,

The production of each milk protein constituent involves the elaborate regulatory function of many proteins and enzymes, and any abnormal gene expression would likely be reflected by imbalances in the constituents of milk.

These findings are consistent with two other studies published in the journal Cloning & Stem Cells in 2004 which also found that milk and meat from cloned animals were nearly identical to that from non-cloned animals.

Still, skeptics abound. Compassion in World farming director Joyce D’Silva told the BBC,

We don’t know what this technology will result in in the future; we know so far that it is unsustainable. Huge numbers of animals die. They are born with deformed lungs, hearts and kidneys which don’t function. They die slow and lingering deaths. Is this the technology that we need or want? I don’t think so.

Well, of course we don’t know what the future will bring, so we should simply ignore any technology that we lack perfect information about. That’s the animal rights way. If you don’t know something, then the last thing you want to do is emerge from ignorance.


Produce from cloned cattle ‘safe’. The BBC, April 12, 2005.

Study: Cloned Meat, Milk Nearly the Same. Associated Press, April 11, 2005.

PETA Considers Legal Action Against "Domestic Terrorist" Martha Stewart

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced in September that it was considering lethal action against Martha Stewart after she boiled a live lobster on her Martha Stewart Living show.

In a press release PETA said,

Martha Stewart Living should change its name to Martha Stewart Dying. On a recent show, the domestic diva (or domestic terrorist, if you happen to be an animal) removed live soft-shell crabs from their shells and fried them while they writhed around in the pan. Just a few episodes previously, Martha boiled live lobsters and commented that lobsters don’t have a central nervous system, despite marine biologists? claims to the contrary.

As Connecticut law protects all animals from mutilation and cruel killing, PETA?s lawyers are considering legal action. One cannot justify the willful and callous act of deliberately choosing to remove the shells of conscious crabs and allowing the animals to writhe in a hot pan, cooking them to death as they struggle.


PETA Considers Legal Action Against Martha Stewart on Cruelty Charges. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, September 2003.

Earth Liberation Front Activists Vandalize Connecticut Home

A newly-constructed home in South Windsor, Connecticut, was vandalized by Earth Liberation Front extremists who spay-painted slogans such as “ELF” and “No Sprawl” on the house.

A relatively minor event, except as an illustration of just how little local law enforcement understands the dynamics of such groups. Here’s The Hartford Courant’s quote from the local police chief,

Town Police Chief Gary K. Tyler dismissed the possibility of a link to the organization [ELF].

“It wouldn’t surprise me if some kids saw [the group] on the Internet or hear it from their parents,” Tyler said.

Sgt. Matthew D. Reed, police spokesman, said there was no reason to belive that an organized group was responsible for the vandalism. “But anything is possible,” he added.

Police seem unable to grasp with the concept of an un-organized group, such as ELF, and as long as they are unable to understand that none of these acts are committed by some sort of organized group of activists, extremists who carry out these crimes will be at a distinct advantage.


Group implicated in vandalism. Dan Uhlinger, Hartford Courant, July 3, 2003.

Friends of Animals Unhappy with Proposed Pig Race

Derby, Connecticut is planning to hold a pig race as part of its Derby Day festivities on June 29, which has drawn fire from Friends of Animals which considers it cruel to allow spectators to watch pigs race around a track.

Friends of Animals’ Jessica Rae Patton told The Connecticut Post,

It’s inhumane to pigs because pigs can’t sweat; they have no sweat glands and can’t pant. They need pools of water and mud holes to keep cool, and they shouldn’t be made to run in the summer heat. It’s ludicrous

John Coscia, a member of the Derby Cultural Commission, countered that the animals are treated humanely and have access to wallowing pools and rest areas. Coscia told The Connecticut Post,

I don’t think it is inhumane like they say. I’ve seen these pig races before and they’re fine.

Of course Friends of Animals thinks it is cruel to ever have animals perform for entertainment purposes. According to Patton,

We don’t think any animal should be forced to perform for entertainment.

That is a sentiment that Friends of Animals’ Priscilla Feral reinforced, saying,

I don’t think the pigs should be used for entertainment purposes in spectator sport. Pig should be left alone.


Pig race promotion prompts complaints. Associated Press, May 25, 2003.

Official: Pig racers for Derby Day not mistreated. Anthony Spinelli, The Connecticut Post, May 12, 2003.

Leave the Vegan Kids Alone, Part 2

A couple years ago I wrote about an incident in which a Utah high school tried to prevent a student there from wearing a t-shirt that carried the slogan, “Vegans Have First Amendment Rights.” Utah had been the site of a number of animal rights-related attacks by some Straight Edge hooligans, and the high school completely overreacted by banning the word “vegan” from clothing claiming that it qualified as a bonafide gang symbol.

In the intervening couple years, American schools have been carrying out one action after another in the name of “zero tolerance” that makes that little dustup pale in comparison. Now administrators at Stonington High in Connecticut have decided to join this dubious honor roll by punishing a student whose only transgression was criticizing McDonald’s at a school assembly.

The setting was a job interview skills session that took place at the school that McDonald’s agreed to host. The student, Tristan Kading, is a 15-year-old vegetarian and animal rights activist. At the assembly, the representative from McDonald’s asked for volunteers to participate in a mock job interview and Kading volunteered.

When the interviewer asked Kading to tell her a little bit about himself, Kading told her that he hated large corporations like McDonald’s. According to Kading, then “She says `Give me back the mike,’ and I said I would not want to work for a company that falsely advertises its French fries.” (McDonald’s until recently claimed its french fries were vegetarian, when in fact they contain a beef byproduct in the flavoring).

The principal of the school told Kading he was an embarrassment to the school, and forced Kading to read an apology over the public announcement system.

Legally, the principal was almost certainly within his rights as a school administrator to administer such punishment. But ethically the whole incident stinks. I don’t agree with Kading’s view of McDonald’s at all (in fact I think it is one of the more responsive and customer-oriented corporations around), but the only embarrassment to the school I see here is the heavy handed actions of the principal.


Forced Apology Sparks Debate. Rick Green, The Hartford Courant, June 3, 2001.