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 Â— 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.
Tony Moore of Fight Against Animal Cruelty In Europe said in march that his organization and other animal rights groups would oppose a proposed large aquarium to be built as part of a revitalization project in Southport, England.
Moore, whose group opposes aquarium projects on principle, claims that aquariums stress animals and are the equivalent of “peep shows”. He told The Liverpool Daily Post,
There is no justification for an aquarium, when we have such wonderful video footage of marine life. [Apparently Moore is unconcerned about the stress caused by camera crews in the seas]. Aquariums take many of their animals out of the wild and there is a constant need to replace them. Not only does this bring stress to the animals, surely this [aquarium] must be the least appealing out of all the proposed uses of the site.
. . .
It would be like a peep show. I thought I had better do something about it now before it really gets going, because I would not want something like this on my own doorstep. I do not want it to get to the point where they accept it.
Responding to Moore’s claims that the aquarium would place stress on the animals, John Pugh, member of Parliament for Southport, told The Liverpool Daily Post,
It is a bit premature to come to a judgment when one doesn’t know what kind of environment the marine life would be kept in. Some marine life can be kept in an aquarium quite well without any accusations of stress or abuse involved.
But not from animal rights activists such as Moore. The Fight Against Animal Cruelty In Europe web site maintains that (emphasis added),
A captive environment can never provide all that a wild animal needs. . . . Why not get a new idea instead of an old one especially one that abuses sentient beings.
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.
On August 22, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protested outside of the San Diego Zoo.
The activists were angered over the zoo’s decision to import African elephants from Swaziland. Swaziland had scheduled the elephants to be culled, but instead the zoo offered to import the animals as part of its breeding program.
Anyway, along with activists holding signs, PETA chose a method of protesting completely appropriate to its views — it unloaded a truckload full of manure in the zoo’s driveway in order to block the entrance. An unidentified man in an elephant suit locked himself inside the truck, but was pulled out and arrested by police.
PETA has pulled this sort of stun before. For example, during the 2000 presidential campaign it dumped a truckload of manure at a restaurant where then-Republican candidate George W. Bush had just finished having breakfast.
Not a pleasant way to protest, to be sure, but at least for a change PETA’s argument was intellectually honest.
Four activists with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were arrested in California and Florida on August 14 while protesting the planned importation of African elephants from Swaziland.
PETA and other groups had unsuccessfully tried to block the importation of 11 elephants from Swaziland that were destined for the Lowry Park zoo in Florida and the San Diego Zoo in California. The elephants will be part of breeding programs at both institutions.
In Tampa, Florida, police arrested three activists. Jayson A. Bayless, 29, of Norfolk, Va., and Valerie Lee Silidker, 28, of Davie, Florida, were arrested on burglary and disorderly conduct charges. Alan Hugh Berger, 57, of Charleston, South Carolina, was arrested on a trespassing charge.
The three PETA activists entered the offices of the zoo and apparently began screaming at the staff members and refused to leave when asked.
In San Diego, meanwhile, Lisa Ann Wathne, 42, of Washington state was arrested on a charge of trespassing after she unsuccessfully (!) tried to chain herself to an office building at the San Diego Zoo.
Elephant protest leads to arrest. Tallahassee Democrat, August 15, 2003.
Four PETA members arrested at Tampa, San Diego zoos. Associated Press, August 14, 2003.
In May, animal rights groups lost their bid to prevent the Los Angeles Zoo from moving a 42-year-old female African elephant to the Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee.
Los Angeles resident Catherine Doyle had sued to get a temporary restraining order blocking the move, but the zoo moved the elephant two days before the scheduled hearing on the restraining order.
Animal rights groups that had opposed the move, including The Humane Society of The United States (HSUS), In Defense of Animals, Last Chance For Animals and Venice Animal Allies Foundation, blasted the move. In a joint press release, the groups complained,
In its attempt to keep [elephants] Ruby and Gita together, Doyle’s lawsuit accuses the Los Angeles Zoo of violating public policy and trust, as well as the California Administrative Procedure Act. It does not cite any violation of the Endangered Species Act. This outrageous ploy on the part of the zoo and the L.A. City attorney was a blatant delaying tactic designed to leave Ruby’s fate in legal limbo and enabled the zoo to carry out their plan of transferring Ruby to the Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee, regardless of the elephants’ mutual welfare.
“I believe the L.A. Zoo, with Mayor Hahn’s endorsement, has shown its true colors with this covert operation of moving Ruby under the cover of darkness over a holiday weekend,” declares Gretchen Wyler, VP HSUS Hollywood Office. “The zoo has resorted to reprehensible legal maneuvering to achieve its intractable goal of separating these elephants, and like thieves in the night, has spirited away city property from the residents of Los Angeles.”
“Shame on the zoo for sneaking Ruby away in chains in the middle of the night, taking her away from her home and her best friend, while our request for a temporary restraining order was to be ruled on today,” states Yael Trock, the attorney for the plaintiff Catherine Doyle. “We are not giving up on this and intend to take further legal action.”
The Los Angeles Zoo moved the elephant because the Knoxville Zoo has an interest in developing an African elephant breeding program whereas the L.A. Zoo is in the process of focusing on Asian elephants in a process that could eventually lead to a breeding program as well.