Is personality unique to humans?

BBC News:

Given our many achievements (I don’t see chimpanzees landing probes on comets in the near future) it’s a tendency that’s largely justified.

But most of our thoughts aren’t consumed with the magnificence or otherwise of our species. If we’re honest, most of our thoughts are taken up by us as individuals…

Paul McCartney to send his meat industry exose to the moon

Rocker Contributes to Crowd-Funded Lunar Mission to Shock Future Generations With Evidence of Today’s Cruelty to Animals

London – When news hit that a new crowd-funding project by British scientists will send thousands of digital time capsules to the moon in 2025, Paul McCartney stepped up to reserve a £60 “memory box”, in which images of 21st century cruelty to animals will be preserved as a reminder and a warning for years to come. The box will include “Glass Walls”, PETA’s groundbreaking meat industry exposé narrated by the former Beatle which derives its name from his famous quote: “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian”.

“PETA has no doubt that future generations will look back on the slaughter of animals for food with the same astonishment and horror that we feel when confronted with images of human slavery”, says PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi. “Paul’s contribution to the lunar time capsule ensures that we never forget what animals have endured at human hands and have hope for a vegan future.”

As PETA, whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat” reveals in its exposé, chickens and turkeys are crowded into filthy sheds by the tens of thousands and forced to live in their own excrement, pigs have their throats cut while they’re still conscious, fish suffocate or are crushed to death on the decks of fishing boats, and calves are taken away from their mothers within hours of birth. Animal agriculture also has a devastating impact on the planet. It’s a leading cause of water consumption, pollution, land degradation and the greenhouse-gas emissions that cause climate change. The United Nations has said that a move towards a vegan diet is necessary to offset the worst effects of climate change.

To stream “Glass Walls” or to order your free DVD copy, please click here, or visit PETA.org.uk.

The hidden cost of wildlife crime: four out of five animals die in transit

8 Dec 2014: World Animal Protection welcomes Prince William’s announcement for a taskforce to combat the role of transport in facilitating wildlife crime.

World Animal Protection Chief Executive, Mike Baker said:

“Tiger cubs drugged in suitcases, 1,700 live animals found in the boot of a hatchback car and monkeys sedated and taped to a passenger’s body. These are just a few examples of the abhorrent ways that animals are transported by criminals after being torn from their habitats to be traded for money. We must act now to expose and disrupt the trade routes and criminals who are killing and harming the world’s wildlife.

“Our wildlife is in crisis, and the trade in live wildlife is causing some of the worst suffering imaginable.  The shocking fact is that up to 80% of these animals die in transit, and many more will die within a year from the trauma of captivity.

“World Animal Protection welcomes this desperately needed initiative to bring together airlines, shipping companies and couriers, with animal welfare and conservation organisations to combat the hi-jacking of their transport services for wildlife crime. The commitment shown by HRH Prince William to combatting wildlife crime, keeps this urgent issue firmly on the global stage.”

World Animal Protection has a history of working closely with enforcement officials dealing with wildlife crime. Earlier this year it successfully campaigned to safeguard the future of the Metropolitan Police’s Wildlife Crime Unit, which is leading the fight against wildlife crime in London. With a network of 1.7 million supporters worldwide, the organisation is extending its campaign globally.

The charity is also working with Defra, ACPO, the National Wildlife Crime Unit and Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that wildlife crime is tackled effectively in the UK, and has recently released a report and online map to encourage more public to report wildlife crime to the police.

The illegal wildlife trade is now the fourth most lucrative transnational crime after drugs, arms and human trafficking. It is estimated to be worth between 10 and 20 billion dollars each year.

Heartbreaking pictures of a terrified circus monkey cowering in fear lay bare shocking treatment of animals in China

Daily Mail:

Still chained to the tiny bicycle he is being forced to ride, a monkey cowers by a wall, shuddering as his trainer approaches wielding a whip. 

Another on stilts, is yanked about into a macabre dance, held up only by the chain wrapped around his neck, while another of the terrified creatures is tied to the horns of a goat as he flails about, desperate to be free.

These heartbreaking images were taken in Suzhou, revealing the cruel core of China’s circus industry…

Celebrity vet speaks out against “severely compromised” welfare of circus big cats

Marc Abraham joins ADI call for swift action to ban wild animal acts in UK

Celebrity vet Marc Abraham has called for a ban on wild animals in circuses in the UK after seeing how the lives of the animals from the last circus big cat act in Britain are “severely compromised”. Although the circus season is over, Animal Defenders International (ADI) has documented that the show must go on for the lions and tigers owned by Thomas Chipperfield who continue to put on display during the winter months on the exposed north east coast of Scotland. Confined most of the time to the back of the truck, the animals display behaviour that shows they are not coping with their restricted, unnatural environment.

Celebrity vet Marc Abraham said, “Big cats are never meant to live like this. These poor lions and tigers are being kept in a small cage on the back of a truck in a cold and exposed location, with limited access to their outdoor enclosure, and no place to retreat from public view. I am particularly concerned by the abnormal pacing behaviour the animals are displaying, a sure sign their welfare is severely compromised. I support the fantastic work of Animal Defenders International in calling on politicians to pass a ban which will end the suffering of all wild animals in circuses.”

Footage filmed by ADI at the big cats’ location in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, shows one of the three tigers pacing back and forth inside the ‘beastwagon’, made up of caged compartments in which the animals both live and are transported. This pacing is an abnormal, repetitive ‘stereotypic’ behaviour which is not seen in the wild, but is commonly observed in circuses, and indicates compromised welfare.

ADI documented similar scenes whilst the animals performed with Peter Jolly’s Circus earlier in the year, whenwildlife vet Simon Adams and UNEP conservationist and former MEP Stanley Johnson voiced similar concerns. Simon Adams stated “the limited space available in a travelling circus is unsuitable to big cats”, and Stanley Johnson called for a ban on the “degrading and incredibly damaging” use of wild animals in British circuses.

The lives that the Chipperfield tigers endure in the circus are in stark contrast to the lives they would have in the wild. Given their solitary nature, tigers have limited contact with other tigers in the wild, and roam and defend their territory which can be as large as 470 km2. In the circus, they are forced to live caged inside their ‘beastwagon’ in close proximity to one another and alongside lions, who they would not encounter in the wild. Although an outdoor enclosure is provided, the big cats have limited access.

ADI President Jan Creamer said, “As vet Marc Abraham states, and ADI investigations show time and again, wild animals in circuses suffer. The public has already turned its back on such acts and now it is time for the government to play catch up and end circus suffering and bring in a ban without delay.”

The Chipperfield big cats are the first wild circus animals to be seen in Scotland for several years, and their arrival has caused Aberdeen MSP Kevin Stewart to table a motion calling on Scotland to ban such acts which has cross-party support. Early this year, the Scottish Government conducted a public consultation on the issue, to which a response is expected in the New Year.

Public support for a ban in the UK has been consistently high for 15 years. Over 200 local authorities have already banned the use of animals in circuses and, worldwide, 28 countries have national restrictions in place.

In Britain, the Government states it remains committed to banning the use of wild animals in circuses but little progress has been made since the measure was announced in 2012, leading Jim Fitzpatrick MP to introduce a Bill which enjoys cross-party support but continues to be blocked by just three Conservative MPs. It will have a second reading on 5th December.

ADI is currently caring for 30 lions and 9 monkeys as it works with authorities in Peru and Colombia to help enforce wild animal circus bans. The groundbreaking rescue mission, Operation Spirit of Freedom, follows a similarly historic operation by the organisation in Bolivia, charted in the award-winning documentary Lion Ark which is currently being shown at selected cinemas across the UK. A gala screening and celebrity fundraiser for the Peru rescue will be held on Saturday 6th December, attended by Bill Bailey, Bill Oddie, Alexei Sayle, Gillian McKeith, Celia Hammond and Bollywood actress Sofia Hayat. Tickets are available at http://www.lionarkthemovie.com/news/lion-ark-in-londons-west-end

Father and son jailed after ‘profound and severe case’ of animal neglect

A father and son, Robert and Conor McAleenan from Country Antrim in Northern Ireland, have today been given custodial sentences and banned for keeping horses for 25 years on 17 animal cruelty offences. The pair had pleaded guilty to the charges brought by the PSNI following a rescue case in November 2011 in which 66 horses, ponies and donkeys were removed from their farm off the Lisnevenagh Road and a separate site nearby. Conor was sentenced to 22 months and will serve 7 months in prison, while his father Robert was given 20 months’ and will serve 4.5 months in prison. The judge also issued a deprivation order so all the animals can now be signed over into the permanent care of the charities who rescued them.

PSNI Sergeant Allison Liddle and vet Nicolas de Brauwere from Redwings Horse Sanctuary attended two sites on 25th November 2011 and found a number of horses and donkeys in a state of suffering and many more living in pitiful and highly unsuitable conditions. Many were starving hungry and one horse was so weak that it had to be euthanased on welfare grounds. Another piebald mare was so emaciated that she was unable to stand up and despite the best efforts of the rescuers over the next few days, she never recovered. The horses had been left without food or water, many were standing in their own waste with no clean bedding and they were suffering with worm infestations, overgrown hooves and infections such as strangles.

With help from the police, Redwings Horse Sanctuary, the Donkey Sanctuary and Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary spent several days removing all the horses and donkeys from the site and taking them to places of safety. After several days at a holding yard to regain their strength under the care of Redwings Welfare Vet Nicola Berryman and a team from Crosskennan, 23 of the horses and ponies were transported to Redwings HQ in Norfolk.

Redwings Head of Welfare and Senior Vet Nic de Brauwere, who was the lead witness for the prosecution in the case, said: “The welfare concerns I identified were profound and the suffering inflicted on the equines was as severe as it is possible to encounter. I believe Robert and Conor McAleenan fundamentally failed to protect the welfare of their horses and donkeys. They failed to address even their basic health and husbandry requirements and allowed several of the animals to suffer profoundly and for an extended amount of time. I am absolutely delighted to see that justice has finally been done but speaking frankly, this should never have happened in the first place.”

The group rescued by Redwings all made a full recovery and have been named after Breakfast items including, Jam, Muesli, Benedict, Waffle and Croissant. They will be guaranteed a home for life at Redwings, either living at its sanctuary sites or rehomed through the charity’s Guardianship Scheme. Several can be visited at the Redwings Oxhill visitor centre in Warwickshire. One of the cobs, Marmite, has also become the poster boy for the charity’s Strangles awareness campaign after arriving from the farm infected with the disease.

PSNI Sergeant Allison Liddle said: “This was one of the most harrowing things I have ever seen both as a police officer and an animal lover. The sight of the awful conditions that these animals were forced to endure will stay with me forever. The tragedy of having to destroy those who had suffered too much was heart-breaking for everyone who was involved in this case. I was joined by Constable Sarah Reid who diligently and professionally built a solid case for these animals and I am delighted that someone has been brought to justice. Animal cruelty has no place in our society. There is no reason why animals should suffer. I would urge anyone who suspects that animals are being harmed or kept in dangerous or unhealthy conditions to call their local police so the appropriate action can be taken swiftly”.

Lyn Friel, founder and manager of Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary, said: “We were delighted to have been able to help the horses and ponies from the yard at Lisnevenagh, which was the worst case of horse cruelty we had ever witnessed. The sights will stay with our volunteers forever. All of the horses rescued have lovely temperaments and we have spent a lot of time on their rehabilitation and preparation for rehoming. Four of the Shetlands have just moved to their new home this week. We are very grateful to Redwings for answering our plea for help when the scale of the case became apparent. It was a real team effort to save as many of these cruelly treated horses as possible.”

Michael Crane, Head of Welfare at The Donkey Sanctuary said: “The Donkey Sanctuary welcomes the serious sentence given to this father and son which reflects the extreme suffering they inflicted on their animals. Our Welfare Advisers were shocked and appalled to find emaciated donkeys living in squalor without food or water, fighting for survival  with other neglected donkeys and ponies and alongside the carcasses of dead animals. Since their rescue, seven of the ten donkeys have made a full recovery at our farms in Devon and two of them have started a new life with a foster home in Surrey, England. We are grateful to the PSNI for contacting us to help rescue these animals and to give them a fresh chance at life. They are now guaranteed sanctuary for life with The Donkey Sanctuary.”

Redwings provides direct care to over 1400 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules with a further 500 living out in loving guardian homes across the country. Please visit or call 01508 481000 for more information. To donate text code RWHS00 followed by the amount you want to give (e.g. ‘RWHS00 £5’) to 70070.

PHOTOS: The world’s largest animal sacrifice

Washington Post:

…More than 5,000 water buffalo were ritually sacrificed on Nov. 28, day one of the two-day festival, which happens every five years. This year’s toll was far lower than in 2009, when 200,000 animals and birds were sacrificed, due to the efforts of animal rights activists as well an Indian court order banning export of live cattle and buffalo from India to Nepal without a license….

Netball Champion Irene Van Dyk Urges Government to Score a Goal for Animals, Ban Cosmetics Animal Testing in New Zealand

Animals can’t speak up for themselves, says Irene WELLINGTON (2 Dec. 2014) – World-renowned Kiwi netball champion, Irene Van Dyk,has given her backing to the   BeCrueltyFree New Zealand campaign for a ban on cruel and outdated animal testing for cosmetics such as mascara, shampoo and anti-wrinkle cream. Irene, who represented New Zealand for 14 years before retiring in June this year, and who still plays for the Central Pulse in the ANZ Championship premier netball league, says animals are one of her off-court passions.

“Animals can’t speak up for themselves, so I’m proud to use my voice on their behalf,” says Irene. “Rabbits, guinea pigs and other defenceless creatures endure terrible eye, skin and oral poisoning tests for our vanity products, and it’s time we said enough is enough. The #BeCrueltyFree campaign is achieving amazing things around the world, with cosmetics cruelty outlawed in thirty-one countries so far. But it’s still legal here in New Zealand, and I for one think that’s unacceptable. So I’m urging our government to score a goal for animals, do the right thing and ban cosmetics animal testing so that New Zealand can #BeCrueltyFree too.”

The #Be CrueltyFree New Zealand campaign wants to introduce a national ban on cruel cosmetics animal testing through revision of the Animal Welfare Act currently going through Parliament. Kiwis can urge politicians to support it by sending them an e-card (http://e-activist.com/ea -action/action?ea.client.id=104&ea.campaign.id=22663&ea.tracking.id=website).

Carolyn Press-McKenzie, spokesperson for HUHA, said: “We already have strong support from the Green Party and Labour, but the Government is lagging behind and really needs to pay attention to the public mood on this issue. As well as those countries that have already banned cosmetics animal testing, there are Bills under consideration in Australia, Brazil, Taiwan and the United States, so New Zealand needs to get with the programme and outlaw animal testing for cosmetics. It’s cruel, scientificilly out-dated and completely unnecessary as hundreds of cruelty-free companies already make beauty products without harming any animals at all.”

#BeCrueltyFree New Zealand is run by Humane Society International, the New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society and Helping You Help Animals (HUHA). Globally, #BeCrueltyFree is the largest campaign in the world to end cosmetics cruelty.