Animal Rights Collective Blog


Baby Ringling Elephant Has Deadly Virus, Pulled from Lineup by christine

Ringling Bros. Is Endangering Baby Elephants

by Laura Goldman · February 26, 2011, for Change.org

Ringling Bros. training a baby elephant with bullhooks and ropes

Barack, the first Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephant conceived via artificial insemination, was born to Bonnie, also a circus performer, the night before Inauguration Day in 2009. He was named after the new president. Like his namesake, the last couple of years have been rocky for the elephant.

In February 2010, at barely a year old and the youngest elephant in the circus, Barack was pulled from the performing lineup. He had become infected with the deadly elephant herpes virus (endotheliotropic herpesvirus or EEHV) that has killed several young Asian elephants in U.S. zoos over the past 30 years, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The elephants are usually 7 years of age or younger, and unless treated, they can die within a week after they start showing symptoms of the virus, such as swelling of their heads and necks, their tongues turning blue, and lethargy. Some elephants survive after being given famciclovir, an anti–herpes drug, but the mortality rate is still a staggering 85 percent.

Barack was the second of the circus’ elephants to contract the virus. The first was his father, who survived. Circus officials told the Orlando Sentinel that the two cases were unrelated.

Like his father, Barack survived, and returned to performing last July. But a few weeks ago, exactly a year after he first contracted the virus, Ringling Bros. reported that Barack has become infected yet again.

While there is no cure for the disease, one of the principal causes is a weakened immune system due to factors such as stress. In his young life, Barack has been subjected to the rigors of training, performing and constantly being transported from one town to the next – none of which are natural for an elephant.

Back when Barack was born at Ringling Bros.’ Center for Elephant Conservation (sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?), the circus released a statement by Kenneth Feld, the center’s founder.

“The reality is that the worldwide elephant population is declining, which means the overall mortality rate is increasing and that is a heart-breaking fact,” Feld said. “That is why, at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, practical solutions that help to care for and to save these magnificent animals are critical.”

If Barack survives, the only practical solution to save this magnificent animal is to retire him to a sanctuary so he doesn’t become sick again and add to that increasing mortality rate.

In Defense of Animals, an international animal protection organization, has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, charging that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is endangering baby elephants. No elephant, particularly a very sick one, should have to endure the stress of performing.

Sign the petition telling the USDA to intervene with the circus and save the lives of Barack and all performing elephant calves.

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“Green” Eggs and Ham? by christine

For those of you that missed his presentation at the UPC Conference, Vasile Stanescu blew more than a few peoples’ minds as he presented his academic discourse on the myths of the locavore movement.

“The essay confidentially identifies and lays bare the faulty reasoning that underpins the increasingly popular locavore movement, and makes explicit the need for truly progressive causes to seriously consider the intersections of speciesism, gender, race, class and citizenship on the national and global level.” – Dr. Richard J. White, Journal for Critical Animal Studies

“Green” Eggs and Ham? The Myth of Sustainable Meat and the Danger of the Local

Vasile Stanescu, Journal for Critical Animal Studies

In the New York Times bestseller, The Omnivores Dilemma, Michael Pollan popularizes the idea of a “local” based diet, which he justifies, in part, in terms of environmental sustainability. In fact, many locavores argue that a local based diet is more environmentally sustainable than a vegan or vegetarian diet and concludes that if vegans and vegetarians truly care about the environment they should instead eat sustainably raised local meat. However locavores are incorrect in their analysis of the sustainability of a local based diet and in its applicability for large scale adaptation. Instead locavores engage in the construction of “a literary pastoral,” a desire to return to a nonexistent past, which falsely romanticizes the ideals of a local based lifestyle. They therefore gloss over the issues of sexism, racism, speciesism, homophobia and anti-immigration sentiments which an emphasis only on the local, as opposed to the global, can entail. In this manner the locavorism movement has come to echo many of the same claims that the “Buy American” movement did before it. The conclusion is that a local based diet, while raising many helpful and valid points, needs to be re-understood and rearticulated.

More…