Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lions and tigers and bears

"And now for something completely different": comments on the current Discovery channel series, "Nature's Most Amazing Events," which consists of 6 hour-long (counting far too many commercials) programs starring animals of all kinds -- narwhals and sardines to polar and grizzly bears and lion prides. birds of all kinds. breathtaking nature shots -- aka, habitat!

One creature that comes out a hero is the salmon, which nourishes more life on the planet than any other animal, or words to that effect. This fish feeds predators of all kinds during the annual salmon run, and then, in death, it fertilizes the forests where its body's often taken by those predators -- trees grow taller, grass grows greener . . . so in turn the life cycle is supported. One surprising fact: the Pacific salmon, featured in this show, dies after laying its eggs, while the Atlantic salmon does not. The narrator said this difference is a mystery to scientists.

Sardines by the millions are shown moving up the coast of Sourth Africa, drawn by the cold water they must have. En route, they attract dolphins, which drive them upward for the waiting gannets, which then "plunge dive" as deep as 30-60 feet for sardine sandwiches. Besides dolphins, the 8-inch long fish are also pursued by sharks and a 40-foot whale whose name sounded like "Brutus whale," but couldn't have been! For that creature, one "bite" means millions of sardines. And still, half of them survive the trip north only to turn around and head south when the cold water there beckons.

Tonight, I'm expecting (hoping for) elephants. After yesterday's circus demo, it's time to see more of them, this time in potentially happier circumstances. However rough their life might seem -- as with the seasonally starving animals in earlier segments -- at least they're with their kind, their community, and in their natural habitat.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

"They can't say 'no'"

As I write this post, a circus show is underway in Trenton. With a few others, I was there earlier today for the first of 3 shows, hoping to change ticket holders' minds about attending because of the horrible ways circus animals are treated and must live. But I doubt we did any good at all for the animals, all involuntarily involved.

First, we were "penned in" -- literally behind bars at 2 sites near the arena but not near the crowd heading to the entrances. We could hold signs and one woman used a bull horn, but I had to wonder who could read the signs or hear the horn. George, another demonstrator, was late arriving because, despite telling the police about his rights, he'd been arrested. (He was given a summons after sitting in the back of the police car for 20 minutes, then released.)

Anyway, for the 2nd time, I've decided that it's pretty much a waste of time to demonstrate against the circus under present conditions. (I've asked Kim, who headed it up, if it's possible to get a permit ahead of time, which might also alert the police to our plans and maybe even make a few friends.)

Once home, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Trenton Times. The way local newspapers print circus stories with nary a reference to animal-free circuses or the existence of demonstrators against treatment of circus animals or the current trial of Ringling Bros. for animal cruelty . . . is a great source of irritation. There's no depth/investigative reporting going on with circus stories; newspapers seem merely to take dictation/reprint circus promos.

In the letter-writing process, I re-checked, a PETA site about the horrors of circuses. At the top, a drawing of an elephant shedding big tears with the words "They can't say 'no'" grabbed my attention. Those words summarize much of the purpose of this blog: to speak for animals, who can't speak for themselves. (Yes, sometimes they do "speak," by refusing to obey or acting out; the current trial of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey indicates what happens to such animals.)

Circuses are only one of the awful things that people do to/with animals -- non-human animals, that is. The PETA site also included a quote from Desmond Morris that I'll reprint here. It pretty well sums up my objection to circuses.

"The idea that it is funny to see wild animals coerced into acting like clumsy humans, or thrilling to see powerful beasts reduced to cringing cowards by a whipcracking trainer is primitive and medieval. It stems from the old idea that we are superior to other species and have the right to hold dominion over them." —Dr. Desmond Morris, anthropologist, animal behaviorist, author