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Posts Tagged ‘dolphins’

There have been SO many things I’ve wanted to write about lately, but I’ve let summer get the best of me and been a bad little blogger. In an effort to “catch up”, here are just a few of the things I’ve been thinking about the last couple months:

  • If you haven’t seen the documentary THE COVE yet, you need to.  It is a haunting, disturbing, thrilling, and often heartbreaking film about the dolphin trade and consequent slaughter in Japan.  While it will probably make you cry if you are anything like me, it will also inspire you to see how passionate the dolphin advocates are about this issue. They will stop at nothing to end this injustice, and that depth of passion just isn’t prevalent enough. The LA Times wrote up a good review of it if you want to read more.
  • Alec Baldwin wrote a great piece for the Huffington Post about the vilification of Michael Vick, and how in a lot of ways it’s hypocritical of a lot of people – specifically, if you are a meat eater, a leather-wearer, and an animal user.  Not that what Vick did can be in any way condoned, mind you, but that we all need to look at what we do day-to-day to contribute to animal suffering, and ask ourselves if it’s really worth it?  Are dogs any more special than pigs, cows, turkeys?  Should we condemn Michael Vick while letting ourselves off the hook just because we aren’t the ones directly torturing these animals?
  • This NYTimes.com article about the treatment of aging horses that have been used for racing is a great read.  It talks about the need for retirement homes, essentially, for these majestic animals.  About 3000 race horses are retired each year, and right now only about 1/3 of those animals find such homes. Most are abandoned or euthanized, or sometimes sold into slaughter.  Quite the “thank you” for years of making their owners mvdayposteroney, huh?
  • As for our human animal counterparts, one of the stories that really got my attention this summer was about the pervasiveness and brutality of rape in Congo.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Congo this summer is what first brought my attention to this matter, and I haven’t been able to stop reading about it.  It is devastating.  While women are the main victims of these crimes, Congolese men are increasingly being targeted.  One organization that is trying to help victims (primarily women) there is called VDay, a non profit established by Eve Ensler, who wrote The Vagina Monologues (a show I highly recommend).  Check out her site and see how you can help.

With that, I promise to post more regularly – enjoy the reading!  Oh, and check out my new food blog: Veg Out With Us!

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I have had nightmares before about animals. A while back, I wrote about my first “meat-mare” as my friend Al calls them. I thought it was pretty unusual considering I had never had such dreams prior to becoming vegan, but Al said he used to have them all the time.

More recently, I had a nightmare where I had to watch a man drown dolphins (yes, dolphins can – and do – drown). I wanted to stop the man, but I couldn’t. The people I was with, who also knew it was wrong, said that we’d be risking our own lives if we tried to stop him, and they pulled me away. I couldn’t stop watching, though – I kept going back, panicking the whole time about how I wasn’t doing anything to help them.

A while before that, I had a dream that I worked in a laboratory where we did experiments on small monkeys. The monkeys were very frightened and what was being done to them was clearly very painful. When we weren’t using them, they were put in little boxes with no windows all by themselves. It was awful. The whole time, I was trying to find ways to get them out of there, but in the meantime, I had to pretend that I didn’t mind doing these awful, painful things to them because I had to be secretive about my plan to free them. It felt so terrible, and I felt so helpless.

Again, I thought having dreams like this was unusual, but I’ve come to learn that it’s actually quite normal for animal advocates to have nightmares about either having to hurt animals, or having to watch animals being hurt and knowing there’s nothing you can do. Really, it sort of mirrors real life for those of us who abhor all the wrongs that are done to animals every day – we know it’s wrong, but often times it feels too overwhelming to do anything, or we feel helpless even if we are doing something.

Has anyone else had nightmares like this? Do they stop at some point?

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Ellie May

Ellie May

Update #1: A while back, I told you that my sister adopted a pug/french bulldog mix from the Humane Society. Ellie is a darling little girl with huge ears and a sweet disposition. Ellie was one of the pups rescued from Mystic Elegance Kennels in Olmsted County, MN. When we got her, she had had a cyst removed – it had been growing on her forehead and was left untreated. The owner of Mystic Elegance, Shelly Whelan, was selling pugs, boston terriers, french bulldogs and a few other breeds via the internet. At the time of the rescue, there were 131 live rabbits and 73 live adult dogs on the premises. There were also several rotting carcasses of dogs, rabbits and farm animals. Well, I am sad to report that Whelan did indeed regain custody of some of the animals: 15 adult rabbits and their litters, 1 goat with her 2 kids, and 25 adult dogs with their litters. She was fined $10,000 and ordered to keep the animals in more appropriate enclosures. I am so disheartened by this news. I think of little Ellie locked in a kennel all day long and it breaks my heart. She has such a sweet personality — one that has taken quite a while to come out after her unfortunate start in life — and I’m sure the animals Whelan recovered are the same way, and they will never know the joy of living with a loving family, stealing underwear and shoes, and peeing on carpets. They will only know loneliness and suffering. For more information, check out this website and the court order – and PLEASE don’t buy pets over the internet.

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Update #2: Regarding The Truth About Dolphins in Captivity: A letter to the editor of the Caribbean News Network from former dolphin trainer Richard O’Barry. 38 years ago, O’Barry left the captive dolphin industry and has been educating the public about its evils ever since. This letter is extremely well written and highlights many of the things I touched on in my post. O’Barry also wrote a book called Behind the Dolphin Smile.

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Until I read Tom Regan’s book, Empty Cages, I never really thought about dolphins in captivity. I mean, dolphins are beautiful animals, and watching them is mesmerizing. Though I can’t remember a time I’ve paid to go to a show involving dolphins, I know I’ve seen and been amazed by them on TV on a number of occasions. Reading that book, however, opened my eyes to what marine parks across the world don’t want us to know: dolphins are incredibly unhappy in captivity. Some facts:

  • Dolphins are incredibly intelligent. They have unique voices and communicate with each other frequently. They have been known to use tools and to teach their offspring to use tools.
  • Wild dolphins can swim 40 to 100 miles per day – in pools they go around in circles.
  • Many marine parks subject their mammals to hunger so they will perform for their food. Jumping through hoops, tail-walking and playing ball are trained behaviors that do not occur in the wild. Dolphins don’t perform for the love of performing or because they want to please humans – they perform because they are hungry.
  • The dolphins you see at marine parks were probably captured in the wild. They were taken from their families, to whom they were undoubtedly very strongly attached. Their strong bonds have been documented to lead them to stay with injured or ill individuals, even actively helping them to breathe by bringing them to the surface if needed.
  • Every seven years, half of all dolphins in captivity die from capture shock, pneumonia, intestinal disease, ulcers, chlorine poisoning, and other stress-related illnesses. To the captive dolphin industry, these facts are accepted as routine operating expenses.
  • The average life span of a dolphin in the wild is 45 years; yet half of all captured dolphins die within their first two years of captivity. The survivors last an average of only 5 years in captivity. In addition, 53% of dolphins die within 90 days of capture.

Like other animals, dolphins rely heavily on their families (“pods”). They get love, companionship and a sense of safety from being together. Obviously once they are stolen from their pods to become entertainment for humans, they lose this vital emotional support. It is understandable then that so many of them die — they literally die from heart break.

Dophin Care UK sums it up nicely, I think:

The tragedy of dolphin captivity can be seen between the shows. When the music stops and the cheerful crowds go home, the dolphins resume to lying listlessly on the surface of the water, starring into the barren concrete wall of their tank. There is nothing else for them to do. This is where their journey ends.

How depressing–I can’t imagine how lonely and bored they must feel. I am glad there are groups both in the US and abroad that are doing everything they can to stop the imprisonment of dolphins. In the meantime, please don’t go to these marine parks – you’ll be supporting a cruel, horrible industry and all for what? Just a little entertainment? It’s just not worth it.

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