USDA Orders Pittsburgh Zoo to Stop Using Dogs to Control Elephants

elephant (15)pawsupPaws Up!

To the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for enforcing humane handling of captive elephants.

According to a recent news article, USDA inspectors visited the Pittsburgh Zoo in January 2015. During the visit, a zoo manager was asked to demonstrate how the zoo uses Australian cattle dogs to control the zoo’s elephants. After the inspector observed an elephant’s distressed reaction to one of the dogs, the USDA issued a report with specific orders stating that the zoo must control the elephants without causing them behavioral stress. The zoo was ordered change “from this point forward” in regard to employing cattle dogs to control elephants.

Take Action: When viewing wildlife, support reputable wildlife sanctuaries and visit parks and refuges where animals can be seen in their natural habitats.

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Sea World Won’t Phase Out Business of Captive Orcas, Dolphins

pawsdownPaws Down!
To SeaWorld San Diego for continuing its captive orca exhibit and dolphin shows.

Dolphins deserve the freedom to live out their lives in the wild.

Dolphins deserve  to live out their lives in the wild.

In the wake of documentaries such as “The Cove” and “Black Fish,” many tourists no longer wish to see captive orcas and dolphins perform for crowds. Some major tourist attractions currently in possession of cetaceans like orcas and bottlenose dolphins have responded by reconsidering the concept of cetaceans in captivity. For example, the Baltimore Aquarium still holds captive dolphins, but ended its dolphin shows in 2012. Furthermore, Baltimore Aquarium CEO, John Racanelli, announced last summer a plan to potentially build an off-shore dolphin sanctuary  where the center’s eight captive dolphins could retire in peace. Meanwhile, SeaWorld San Diego has responded to emerging public concern and dropping attendance by implementing public relations damage control measures. In December 2014, SeaWorld demoted CEO Jim Atchison  to Vice President and instituted lay-offs to cut operation costs. According to a recent news article, the company is attempting to warm public opinion by enlarging the aquatic enclosure for the company’s eleven captive orcas. However, SeaWorld San Diego has not expressed any intention to end or phase out the attraction’s orca exhibit or dolphin shows. Both orcas and bottlenose dolphins are extremely intelligent, long-lived, and social animals who form close-knit family bonds. Both species have strong instincts to hunt as well as migrate. No fish tank, no matter the size, is an appropriate setting for these magnificent animals.

Take Action: Contact  Sea World San Diego and express your desire to see bottlenose dolphins and orcas in the wild.
Sea World San Diego
500 Sea World Drive
San Diego, CA 92109

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Urge the Release of Lolita from a Life of Captivity

Lolita was captured and taken from her family more than 40  years ago.

Lolita was captured and taken from her family more than 40 years ago.

For more than 40 years, captive orca Lolita continues to perform and live a solitary existence at the Miami Seaquarium on the island of Virginia Key in Biscayne Bay, Florida. Captured in 1970 in Puget Sound off the coast of Washington state, Lolita was taken from her pod and has been living in North America’s smallest whale tank since. In that time, Lolita has had one tank mate, Hugo, who died in 1980 due to an aneurism from repeatedly slamming his head into the tank wall. Many experts have called this an “act of suicide.” Since then, Lolita has been the only orca to live at Miami Seaquarium. Orcas are social animals, and the lack of interaction with other orcas opposes her natural behaviors. Lolita’s family, including her mother, are still alive in the wild and are now protected as an endangered species.

Earlier this year, Miami Seaquarium was purchased by Palace Entertainment, and the National Marine Fisheries Services has considered protecting Lolita as an endangered species as well. If successful, this would enable Lolita the chance of rehabilitation and eventually could be released back into the wild with the rest of her family.

Take Action: Contact Palace Entertainment and the Mayor of Miami-Dade County and urge them to consider releasing Lolita from years of confinement and exploitation so that she may reunite with her family in the wild.

Fernando Eiroa, President and CEO
Palace Entertainment
4590 MacArthur Blvd., Suite 400
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Commissioners
Stephen P. Clark Government Center
111 NW 1st Street, Suite 220
Miami, FL 33128

Dolphins Aren’t for Display

Coral World Ocean Park in St. Thomas wants to confine dolphins for viewing by paying tourists.

Coral World Ocean Park on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, has requested their last permit needed from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would allow for the construction of a dolphinarium in Water Bay. With hopes of increased tourism and a boost in economy, proponents of the park are planning to erect a two-story education building, bathhouses, living quarters for employees, decking, and other facilities that will contribute to the removal of nearby corals and seagrass beds. A two-acre dolphin enclosure will house six dolphins captured from within Water Bay for the first year. Once water quality is deemed adequate, more dolphins will be brought into the dolphinarium for public view and interaction among staff members.

Dolphins will typically live up to 40 years in the wild, but when maintained in captivity, their life spans are severely shortened. Although the dolphins living within Coral World will continue to live within the natural currents of the surrounding waters, they will receive little environmental stimulation from their new two-acre habitat. Wild dolphins travel 40 to 100 miles a day in close-knit pods, or family units, when living in the ocean. This will be impossible for those captured for use at Coral World. Not only will they develop overwhelming stress from the separation from their pods, but they will also receive inadequate physical activity within their sea pens.

For these reasons, please comment on the permit application regarding the construction of a new dolphin exhibit enclosure by September 30, 2014, urging USACE directors to reject the permit application requested from Coral World Ocean Park. Protect dolphins and other marine animals from a life of confinement and encourage others to support their natural existence in the wild.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District
ATTN: Edgar Garcia
400 Fernandez Juncos Avenue
San Juan, PR 00901

Tony the Tiger Still Languishes

Lions, tigers, and other exotic cats are not suitable companions.

Lions, tigers, and other exotic cats are not suitable companions.

The Louisiana legislature has passed a bill that would exempt certain persons from the requirements for possessing big exotic cats and, therefore, would allow Michael Sandlin to continue to house Tony the tiger at Sandlin’s Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete.

Only experts with many years of experience studying and working with wild and exotic animals are capable of caring for and safely interacting with them. The general public lacks this expertise and should not attempt to keep wild and exotic animals as pets. Documented attempts by members of the general public keeping wild and exotic animals as pets have led to tragedy in many instances for both humans and animals.

Louisiana residents, please contact your governor immediately and let him know you want to see Tony freed from his captivity.  Ask him to veto this SB 250.

Orcas in Captivity

California may soon lead the way for orcas.

California is taking the lead the way for freeing captive orcas.

The Orca Welfare and Safety Act (AB 21240) that was before the California Assembly is now awaiting study. The bill would make it illegal to hold in captivity or use wild or captive-bred orcas for performance or entertainment purposes.

For marine life, especially orcas, the ocean is their habitat. Capturing them and putting them into an oversized swimming pool for our entertainment is putting their physical and psychological lives at risk. For instance, when confined to a tank, these sea mammals develop stereotypies. With little space and no stimulation, they can be seen swimming in static patterns around their fish bowl for hours at a time. They also develop skin problems from living in heavily chlorinated water and suffer from ulcers and pneumonia as well as self-inflicted injuries.

Orcas are highly social and form complex societies headed by females. The average lifespan for a female orca is 50 years and a male 30 in the wild. In captivity, they rarely live beyond 20 years. In addition, in the wild, they can travel up to 100 miles daily. There has been enough documentation of the extreme lives orcas live in captivity and none of it supports continuing the practice.

California residents, please contact your legislators and urge them to support this bill.

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Update on Jambbas Ranch Tours, Inc.


The U.S.D.A has temporarily suspended Jambbas Ranch Tour’s license for 4 months due to repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

Last year, we urged readers to contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture and ask the department to revoke the license of Jambbas Ranch Tours, Inc. for violations of the Animal Welfare Act. While the license hasn’t been revoked, it has been suspended for at least 4 months. Please contact the secretary of Agriculture and urge him to close Jambbas Ranch Tours and have the animals relocated to appropriate sanctuaries for them to live out their lives in peace.

The Honorable Tom Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250

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