In Defense of Animals Can’t Count to Two

In January, In Defense of Animals released a list of what it called the “10 Worst Zoos for Elephants.” Among those zoos listed was the Cameron Park Zoo, in Texas. IDA complained that,

Even though companionship is essential to elephants’ psychological health, this Texas zoo displays and keeps a single elephant.

In fact, the Cameron Park Zoo has had two African elephants since its elephant exhibit opened in 1993, except for a brief period in 1996 after an aging elephant died.

IDA says it got the information from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s database of zoo animals, but didn’t bother to call the zoos it listed as the “10 Worst” to verify that information. IDA’s Catherine Doyle told the Waco Herald-Tribune,

It wasn’t meant to be a scientific study. It was an opinion piece. . . . The most important thing is that the public be educated about issues with elephants in zoos. These animals are suffering in zoos and dying in zoos because of captivity-induced conditions.

Certainly one should never expect to receive anything scientific from IDA, just as you shouldn’t expect anything historic from the t-shirt they sell with a bogus quote from Abraham Lincoln.

Its the activism that counts — screw the accuracy.


Animal rights group wrongly harangues Cameron Park Zoo. J.B. Smith, Waco Herald-Tribune, January 11, 2005.

Portland Restaurants Surrender to Foie Gras Opponents

The Portland Tribune reported earlier this month that two restaurants in Portland decided to remove foie gras from their menu following protests and harassment by animal rights activists.

Hurley’s restaurant and the Heathman Restaurant were both targeted by animal rights activists for serving foie gras, and both decided to remove it from their menu after holding out for several weeks of protests.

According to the Portland Tribune, activists protested at Hurley’s every Friday and Saturday night, and showed up at the lunch hour at Heathman. The activists were part of In Defense of Animals, according to the Tribune.

Many of the protests were perfectly legal, if a bit goofy. According to the Tribune,

Protester Diane Luck was wearing a duck costume. She kneeled on the sidewalk, clutching her throat, while another protester mimicked force-feeding by pouring grain into the mouth of her mask.

Other parts of the protests involved clearly illegal activities,

[Hurley’s owner Tom] Hurley also said he lost thousands of dollars from fake phone reservations placed by opponents of foie gras. In Defense of Animals denies any direct responsibility for the calls.


Foie gras protests successful. Anne Marie Distefano, The Portland Tribune, November 19, 2004.

USDA Files Complaint Against University of California at San Francisco Over Treatment of Animals

U.S. Department of Agriculture filed a complaint against the University of California at San Francisco in late August, charging the university with at least 60 violations of the Animal Welfare Act between 2001 and 2003.

In its 18 page complaint, the USDA charges ranged from failing to provide post-operative anesthesia to failing to properly clean cages. A UCSF spokesman told the San Francisco Chronicle that the complaint appeared to be a compilation of citations the university had received during its biannual USDA inspections.

The UCSF filed a response to the complaint in October denying almost all of the charges made by the USDA. In a press release, the UCSF said,

The University questions the timing of the Complaint, which is a compilation of citations issued by a local USDA inspector during inspections at UCSF between May 2001 and February 2003 — nearly two, to three-and-a-half-years, ago. All of the allegations were addressed by UCSF at the time and, where appropriate, remedial measures were implemented. Corrective actions were reported back to the USDA or verified by the USDA at its subsequent inspection. The USDA has so far failed to explain why it has issued an aggregate Complaint at this time.

The University notes that the number of allegations contained in the USDA Complaint is misleading. The local inspector reported 26 citations for the May 2001-Feb. 2003 period. However, the Complaint, issued from Washington, DC, was structured in such a way that most of the citations were restated multiple times, under different categories, raising the total number of allegations to 61.

In its report on the legal action, The San Francisco Chronicle, repeated a false claim by In Defense of Animals that the USDA charged UCSF with performing a craniotomy on a primate without using anesthesia. In fact, the complaint alleges that the primates were not given post-operative analgesics. The UCSF responded to that particular complaint by claiming that post-operative analgesics were only withheld for clinical reasons.

The full complaint by the USDA can be read here (PDF).


U.S. agency cites UCSF for abuses of animals. Julian Guthrie, San Francisco Chronicle, September 15, 2004.

USDA files animal welfare charges against leading research facility. Press Release, In Defense of Animals, September 15, 2004.

IDA and PETA Protest Oklahoma State Prison Rodeo

In Defense of Animals and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals both sent letters this month demanding a stop to the Oklahoma State Prison Rodeo.

For 64 years the prison rodeo has featured inmates at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary competing in the world’s only prison rodeo.

In a letter to Pittsburgh County Court Clerk Linda Price Williams, In Defense of Animals’ Kristie Phelps wrote,

I am writing on behalf of the 80,000 members of In Defense of Animals to urge you to end the Oklahoma State Prison Rodeo. We support measures by inmate Michael C. Washington to stop the Oklahoma State Prison Rodeo, but for different reasons altogether. Certainly no one would disagree that violent criminals should be prohibited from inflicting any sort of suffering. However by having inmates take part in a rodeo, the State of Oklahoma is encouraging it. The event gives inmates-40 percent of whom are imprisoned for violent crimes-the right to torment and abuse frightened animals in front of a cheering audience.

Experts, including Federal Bureau of Investigation profiler Robert K. Ressler, have proved that a high percentage of violent criminals have records of abusing animals. It is reckless to foster this violence, especially since many inmates will one day be released back into society.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ Christy Griffin told the McAlester News Capital & Democrat that rather than using animals the Department of Corrections should create a weightlifting or basketball competition.

Despite the protests, the rodeo went on as scheduled over the Labor Day weekend.


Animal rights groups pounce on OSP rodeo. Doug Russell, McAlester News Capital & Democrat, August 28, 2004.

Prison rodeo protested. Carrie Coppernoll, The Oklahoman, September 5, 2004.

IDA Supports Inmate’s Request for Cancellation of Prison Rodeo. Press Release, In Defense of Animals, August 26, 2004.

UPC and Other Groups Urge Signing of SB 1520

Yesterday, I noted that Friends of Animals sent out a press release opposing California SB 1520 which would outlaw force feeding of birds for the production of foie gras in 2012. Shortly after the Friends of Animals press release, United Poultry Concerns issued a press release urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign the bill and slamming groups opposed to the bill.

The UPC press release said it was joined in support of the bill by the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, VivaUSA, Farm Sanctuary, In Defense of Animals,, and the Animal Protection and Rescue League.

According to UPC,

The bill if enacted will abolish a farmed animal abuse. The fact that
there will be a phase-in period is not a reason to oppose this bill. We have
applauded the banning of battery-hen cages in the European Union and in
Austria, and the banning of sow gestation crates in Florida, but all of this
important legislation for farmed animals includes phase-in periods. No one
who supports farmed animal protective legislation wants to wait for the law
to take effect, but that is now how the legislative process works. Yes, the
foie gras industry is going to use the time to try to overturn the law and
do other nefarious things, but this means that our public education work is
cut out for us. Given the facts of foie gras production and the videotaping
of the procedure that we have (Delicacy of Despair), it seems unlikely that
the public is going to be persuaded to abandon the ducks and oppose a ban on
foie gras production and sale in California.

. . .

Those groups who actively oppose SB 1520 could lobby at state and federal
levels to try to enact legislation that would ban foie gras production/sale
immediately, but they are not doing so. Instead, they are obstructing the
passage of this bill while offering no real alternative, just bashing the
bill and the groups that have worked so hard to get the bill introduced and
to retain as much of the original intent of the bill as possible.

United Poultry Concerns urges activists to support SB 1520 and to refuse to
reject this opportunity in pursuit of a purist fantasy. The objections being
raised against SB 1520 are unrealistic given the realities of the
legislative process and the enormous obstacles that farmed animals have
traditionally faced legislatively. Sabotaging this bill is going to hurt the
ducks, not help them.

The foie gras ban is one of about 1,000 bills that Schwarzenegger must either sign or veto by then end of September. Schwarzenegger has previously called the bill “silly” and pointed to it as an example of why California needs a part-time legislature.


Why UPC Supports SB 1520 and Urges Everyone Else to Support the Bill. Press Release, United Poultry Concerns, August 31, 2004.

New Jersey Borough Passes Pet Guardian Resolution

Wanaque, New Jersey, became the first municipality in that state to pass a resolution declaring that pet owners are to be referred to as “guardians.”

Wanaque borough attorney Anthony Fiorello told The Record of Bergen County that the resolution was intended to be entirely symbolic,

It has no legal implication other than to try to bring the animal owner to a greater sense of responsibility to his pet.

Newsday quoted In Defense of Animals’ Elliott Katz as praising the change saying,

This will help people’s general consciousness from thinking animals are just commodities to understanding they’re pets and they need care. This will trickle down to children, and you will see people more pro-active about taking care of their pets; they’ll be less likely to abandon animals.

Katz forgot to mention that it would bring about world peace and solve hunger as well.


Borough pets now have ‘guardians,’ not owners. Newsday, May 13, 2004.