Family and friends.

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I’ve been busy and tired and stressed and [insert your excuse here]. Still recovering from a weekend spent hauling railroad ties to and fro, in order to prepare the garden for the coming season. I was so tired last night, I had trouble sleeping, and woke up exhausted. I hate it when that happens.

Anyway, go check out Sanctuary Tails, one of Farm Sanctuary’s latest projects (the other being Making Hay). I’m totally digging on the new blog, and find myself returning to it whenever I’m in need of a smile – it never fails to deliver.

Many of the most recent entries deal with love, family and friendship among the sanctuary’s varied inhabitants: there’s Dutch the duck, Molly and Morgan the goats, and Sprinkles and Tim the piglets.

Oh, the piglets!

There’s not an animal species on earth I don’t love, but I’ve got a special place in the cockles for pigs. Probably because my own two (canine) girls, Kaylee and O-Ren, remind me of a mama sow and her baby piglet. They both have cute lil’ piggy butts; Kaylee, owing to the several+ litters she birthed before making her way to us, has a slightly stretched belly and large, obviously, err, used nipples, whereas Rennie’s got a bald, pink, pokey lil’ tummy. In the morning, Kaylee barks and dances for breakfast, while Rennie will stay behind in bed with me (if Shane’s nice and present enough to feed the dogs before I arise), roll over onto my pillow, and rub her “piggy fat” in my face. I cannot think of a more delightful way to start the day. Seriously.

Speaking of the family, now’s as good a time as any to share a few photos of Shane and the dogs. I took ’em Sunday afternoon, after we’d finished the weekend’s yardwork, which is why he looks so beat. The dogs, on the other hand, spent the day lounging in the sun, so they were full of…something. Ralphie and Peedee were play-fighting all over the place, totally oblivious to Miss Kaylee, who just wanted a little lovin’ from daddy. Rennie, as usual, was all about the tennis ball.

2009-03-22 - Shane & Dogs - 0007

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Pig Who Sang to the Moon by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (2003)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

I know I offered a semi-review of The Pig Who Sang to the Moon a few weeks ago, but I wanted to write something more appropriate for Amazon, Library Thing and the like. Posting positive reviews of animal-friendly books, television shows and films is a good way to help such media garner more exposure and business – and support the team, too! As is voting for positive review of animal-friendly materials – hint, hint, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

The Pig Who Sang to the Moon by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (2003)

A beautifully tragic look at “food” animals


My first introduction to Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s work was in high school, when I read his 1996 book, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals. At the time, I was a newbie vegetarian, just becoming involved in animal advocacy. When Elephants Weep helped validate my decision to go veg, and reinforced my resolve to stay that way.

Fast-forward thirteen years. I picked up Masson’s latest ethology tome, The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals, on a whim. Remembering his earlier work, I expected a beautiful, brilliant, touching look at the inner lives and experiences of farmed animals. I was not disappointed.

In The Pig Who Sang to the Moon, Masson lays out the evidence – from the highly scientific to the folksy anecdotal – which points to a wide range of emotional experiences in farmed animals, including love, grief, sorrow, joy, empathy, altruism, fear, trust, friendship, contentment and the like. Far from being unfeeling brutes, the billions of animals bred, farmed and slaughtered for human consumption (10 billion annually in the U.S. alone) have complex emotional and intellectual lives. Some of their emotions – such as the strong maternal instinct – mirror our own, while other emotions and intellectual abilities far surpass those of humans. For example, when suffering egregious cruelties (such as those found on modern factory farms), non-human animals can’t always identify the source of or reason for their pain and abuse. This serves to heighten their fear, such that some species of non-human animals may actually have a greater capacity for suffering than humans. Clearly, this could – should – have profound implications vis-à-vis our treatment of non-human animals, particularly those of the “farmed” variety.

Masson structures the book so that each chapter covers a different species of farmed animals: pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, cows and ducks, in that order. He juxtaposes information about the animals’ emotional lives – thoughts, feelings, sentience, capacity for joy and sorrow, etc. – with the brutal reality for the vast majority of these “owned” animals. Treated like milk and meat machines, dehumanized and objectified, their individuality obscured and their needs ignored, farmed animals suffer the worst of humanity’s whims and wants.

(More below the fold…)

The not-so-curious case of Santino the chimpanzee.

Friday, March 13th, 2009


Santino the chimp with a stone in his hand. Photograph: PA

Many of you have no doubt already heard the story of Santino, a chimpanzee being held captive in a Swedish zoo who, in gathering rocks to throw at visitors to the zoo/prison, evidenced abstract thinking and planning for the future.

STOCKHOLM (AP) – A canny chimpanzee who calmly collected a stash of rocks and then hurled them at zoo visitors in fits of rage has confirmed that apes can plan ahead just like humans, a Swedish study said Monday. Santino the chimpanzee’s anti-social behavior stunned both visitors and keepers at the Furuvik Zoo but fascinated researchers because it was so carefully prepared.

According to a report in the journal Current Biology, the 31-year-old alpha male started building his weapons cache in the morning before the zoo opened, collecting rocks and knocking out disks from concrete boulders inside his enclosure. He waited until around midday before he unleashed a “hailstorm” of rocks against visitors, the study said.

“These observations convincingly show that our fellow apes do consider the future in a very complex way,” said the author of the report, Lund University Ph.D. student Mathias Osvath. “It implies that they have a highly developed consciousness, including lifelike mental simulations of potential events.” […]

Osvath said the chimpanzee had also been observed tapping on concrete boulders in the park to identify weak parts and then knocking out a piece. If it was too big for throwing, he broke it into smaller pieces, before adding them to his arsenal.

“It is very special that he first realizes that he can make these and then plans on how to use them,” Osvath said. “This is more complex than what has been showed before.” […]

For a while, zoo keepers tried locking Santino up in the morning so he couldn’t collect ammunition for his assaults, but he remained aggressive. They ultimately decided to castrate him in the autumn last year, but will have to wait until the summer to see if that helps. The chimpanzees are only kept outdoors between April and October and Santino’s special behavior usually occurs in June and July.

“It is normal behavior for alpha males to want to influence their surroundings … It is extremely frustrating for him that there are people out of his reach who are pointing at him and laughing,” Osvath said. “It cannot be good to be so furious all the time.”

I’ll try to not rehash what others have said, but if I may, a few points:

I’ve noticed that a disturbing number of news articles refer to Santino as “belligerent,” “anti-social,” and the like. His behavior is characterized as unreasonably antagonistic and hostile, as if it’s wholly unprovoked. On the contrary; Santino’s actions are defensive, not offensive. How would you respond if, day in and day out, naked apes invaded your space, gawked, laughed and pointed at you, and occasionally even assaulted your person, both verbally and physically? (Anyone who’s taken even the occasional trip to a zoo has witnessed humans – adults and children alike – harass the animals, usually with words and noises, but also with improvised weapons.) Probably you wouldn’t like it. Probably you’d become fed up and eventually lash out. Santino is 31 years old; though I’ve no clue how long he’s been held captive in a zoo, probably it’s been years – possibly, decades. How would you handle 31 years of captivity and slow torture?

In regards to the zoo keepers’ efforts to control Santino’s “belligerent” behavior by castrating the poor bloke, I say this: isn’t the obvious answer to remove him from the gorram display? That’s the real issue at play here, not his aggression or excessive levels of testosterone.

And also: humans often invoke our superior intellect – whether this is defined as a sense of self, ability to plan for the future, ability to craft and use tools, what have you – as an ethical justification for our exploitation and enslavement of non-human animals. So what do we do when a non-human animal exhibits human-like intelligence? Why, we (try to) castrate it out of him, of course! Can’t have a dirty, filthy ape acting like a person now, can we? Oh, the irony.

I can only hope that Brother Kwan – another forward-thinking primate – escaped his captors after his own attempt at freedom. Brother, described only as “a monkey,” killed his abusive owner by throwing a coconut at the man’s head. Slave owner Leilit Janchoom died instantly.

Perchance Brother Kawn will make an appearance on a future segment of TCR’s “Monkey on the Lam“?

(More below the fold…)

Best friend, hero.

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Today’s blub-worthy video comes courtesy of Marc Bekoff at Ethological Ethics:

The video’s description on You Tube is rather sparse, but fear not – google to the rescue! Apparently, this video is a few months old, and 100% true:

Footage from a traffic camera overlooking a busy freeway in Santiago, Chile captured a dog performing a heroic act — pulling an injured friend from oncoming traffic.

The video, from Azteca America Colorado, shows an injured dog lying in the middle of a freeway after being hit by a car, while a rescue dog dodges traffic to run to its side. The rescue dog then drags the severely injured canine across lanes of traffic as cars swerve around it.

No motorists stopped to help either dog, but a highway crew arrives at the end of the video.

The translation of the announcer is as follows:

“These images seen from the surveillance cameras show a very common situation with our overpopulated highways. It is normal for us to see dogs run over. In the video, we can see this dog fighting for his life because he was run over by the vehicle.

“What is very touching is to see the very heroic actions of this other dog who is trying to pull him to the side of the highway. We are going to keep seeing things like this until we find a solution to the dogs living on the streets.”

Emphasis mine, because I was pleasantly surprised to see that Fox News shared my initial reaction: namely, an immediate awareness that a “lowly” canine stepped in to rescue a fellow dog, whereas no humans could be bothered to do so. And yet, humans are the morally superior beings. *snort*

Naturally, Fox loses points for referring to the victim and hero as “it,” instead of “he” or “she.” Interestingly, the reporter from Azteca America Colorado didn’t fall into the same speciesist linguistic trap. Weird given his (?) seemingly blasé reaction re: vehicular-canine collisions.

(More below the fold…)

Horizontal Women

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Last week, I started reading Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals. Well, not so much “reading” as “listening to the audiobook.” (Hey, how else am I supposed to occupy myself while I clean the house?) I read Masson’s When Elephants Weep a long time ago – back when I was a newbie vegetarian – and enjoyed it immensely. I figured I’d like The Pig Who Sang to the Moon as well, and so far, so good.

Masson structured the book so that each chapter covers a different species of farmed animals: pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, cows and ducks, in that order. He juxtaposes information about the animals’ emotional lives – thoughts, feelings, sentience, capacity for joy and sorrow, etc. – with the brutal reality for the vast majority of these “owned” animals. Treated like milk and meat machines, dehumanized and objectified, their individuality obscured and their needs ignored, farmed animals suffer the worst of humanity’s whims and wants.

Though I’m only about a third of the way in, a theme which keeps resurfacing is the extra-special abuses (the collective) we mete out to the female members of the species. With brutal precision, farmers routinely turn the reproductive systems of female animals against them, finding newer and more callous ways in which to exploit them as science and technology allow. This isn’t to suggest that males don’t suffer as well – they do. But their suffering isn’t as prolonged or extensive as that of their female counterparts; veal calves, for example, are tortured for sixteen weeks and then, “mercifully,” (relatively speaking) slaughtered. Their sisters, meanwhile, are exploited as baby and milk machines for three to four years, after which they become ground beef. First, their babies and their babies’ food is stolen from them; and, finally, their lives are snatched away as well.

By the mere fact of their sex, sows, hens, ewes, does, nannies, cows and heifers – not to mention mares, bitches, jennies, jills, etc. – are ripe for especially brutal and prolonged exploitation. Oftentimes, this involves a constant cycle of pregnancy, birth, nursing and baby-napping, culminating with the female’s own death when she’s no longer able to breed or “produce” to her “owner’s” satisfaction.

Certainly, we recognize that the theft of a mother’s child is an atrocity when the victims are human mothers and children. At the same time, we argue that non-human animals deserve no rights because they are mere brutes, “lesser” beings, ruled by instinct and instinct alone. Yet, what is the drive to reproduce and parent if not an evolutionary instinct? And if we follow the popular line of reasoning – i.e., animals are creatures of instinct – does it not stand to reason that the maternal instinct is especially powerful in non-human animals?

100 million pigs are birthed, raised and slaughtered for “pork” annually – just in the United States. 100 million piglets are stolen from their mothers. Mothers who, without a doubt, grieve for their disappeared babies. These poor mothers are forced to relive the trauma over and over, as each new litter is stolen from them. This is what I mean when I say that a female’s – a mother’s – suffering must surely be the most painful to bear.

(More below the fold…)

A coma of cuteness (with a side of bittersweet).

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

It all started with this video, posted by Stephanie on the Animal Rights blog – Rat Loves Cat:

ZOMFG, me wants rats! Too bad I already have a house full of killer cats and canines. *pout*

Of course, once I was over at You Tube, I couldn’t stop clicking on all those cute vids on the right hand sidebar.

(More below the fold…)

Puppy/Pachy Love

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Hat tip to my lil’ sis, who sent me a link to this video the other day.

CBS News reports on “The Animal Odd Couple”:

The so-called “odd couple” in this story is Tarra (an elephant) and Bella (a dog), both residents of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

I say “so-called” because interspecies friendships aren’t exactly unheard of; heck, according to the AVMA, 43,021,000 American households “own” dogs, 37,460,000 “own” cats, 4,453,000 “own” birds and 2,087,000 “own” horses. While many of these relationships are more akin to that of master/slave, these numbers still allow for quite a few cross-species friendships between human and non-human animals. Personally, I count Ralphie, Peedee, O-Ren, Kaylee and Jayne among my bestest of friends.

Oh, but wait! In common parlance, humans aren’t considered “animals” – so interspecies friendships in which one half of the pair is human doesn’t register as an “odd” “animal” couple. Well, allow me to deconstruct further.

When 37.2% of U.S. households include at least one dog, and 32.4% include one or more cats, there’s bound to be some crossover. Interspecies friendships, in fact, aren’t as uncommon as you might think, human-animal relationships aside. Just Google “interspecies friendships” and you’ll get an idea of how rich and social the lives of non-human animals can be, especially when lived without human interference (such as isolating them from other non-human animals).

Of course, pachyderm/canine relationships are still somewhat odd, inasmuch as domesticated dogs and elephants don’t normally come into contact with one another. But you get my drift, yeah? – Namely, just because we (as in, the collective “we”) don’t take the time or effort to recognize the complexity of a species’ needs, desires and interactions, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

We simply choose not to see the “humanizing” characteristics in non-human animals:

Because Dog forbid we recognize how closely animal sentience mirrors our own.

(More below the fold…)

More human than (the) human(s).

Monday, October 20th, 2008

In The New York Times, “Farm Boy” Nicholas Kristof “Reflects” on time spent murdering innocent, sentient beings:

Then there were the geese, the most admirable creatures I’ve ever met. We raised Chinese white geese, a common breed, and they have distinctive personalities. They mate for life and adhere to family values that would shame most of those who dine on them.

While one of our geese was sitting on her eggs, her gander would go out foraging for food—and if he found some delicacy, he would rush back to give it to his mate. Sometimes I would offer males a dish of corn to fatten them up—but it was impossible, for they would take it all home to their true loves.

Once a month or so, we would slaughter the geese. When I was 10 years old, my job was to lock the geese in the barn and then rush and grab one. Then I would take it out and hold it by its wings on the chopping block while my Dad or someone else swung the ax.

The 150 geese knew that something dreadful was happening and would cower in a far corner of the barn, and run away in terror as I approached. Then I would grab one and carry it away as it screeched and struggled in my arms.

Very often, one goose would bravely step away from the panicked flock and walk tremulously toward me. It would be the mate of the one I had caught, male or female, and it would step right up to me, protesting pitifully. It would be frightened out of its wits, but still determined to stand with and comfort its lover.

He goes on to say,

So, yes, I eat meat (even, hesitantly, goose). But I draw the line at animals being raised in cruel conditions.

How very generous of you, Mr. Kristof.

(More below the fold…)

Celebrating Mothers of all stripes.

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

Saluting Animal Moms on Mother’s Day

According to writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the trials of motherhood make moms the great vacationless class. Although she may have been talking about the human variety—the moms who are near and dear to us—other animals show the same tireless dedication to their children. PETA hopes that this Mother’s Day, while you are praising your family’s matriarch, you’ll also remember that some of the best moms in the world are found in the animal kingdom.

Northern Fur Seals

Human mothers tuned in to Channel Mom may find themselves responding to anybody’s child when they hear someone calling the M word, but fur seals never make this mistake. Fresh from foraging for food, moms have to find their young quickly in a sea of hundreds—or possibly thousands—of seals, so both mother and pup depend on their uncanny powers of vocal recognition to find one another. Both will call out and answer, responding selectively to one another until they are reunited.

(More below the fold…)


Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Say it with me now: Awwwweeeee!

CNN - An Unlikely Pair

ME WANTS!!!!!1!!!1 ME WANTS NOW!!!!!1!!!1

Because CNN apparently does not allow embedding of “their” videos (Zum, iReports, anyone? Not really “theirs”!), you’ll have to go to CNN to experience the cuteness. Here’s a direct link. Which I could only retrieve by emailing the video to myself. Seriously, WTF CNN? Even Comedy Central has hopped onto the embedding bandwagon. It’s 2008, for dogsake.



Orangutan Island Episode 4 tonight on Animal Planet

Friday, November 30th, 2007

—– Original Message —–
From: Michelle Desilets
Sent: Friday, November 30, 2007 8:50 AM
Subject: primfocus: Orangutan Island Episode 4 tonight on Animal Planet

Please tune in…and let us know what you think! ORANGUTAN ISLAND: Lessons Learned, Lessons Lost

World Premiere Friday, November 30 at 8:30 PM (ET/PT)

The community now numbers 34 after an unexpected loss and the rainy season continues relentlessly. The inexperienced orangutans are still trying to figure things out – some learn new survival skills while others forget crucial lessons already learned.

Unexpectedly, Hamlet becomes a role model as the group learns to imitate his effective method of foraging for food in the flood waters. Meanwhile, Chen Chen keeps out of Hamlet’s sight on the platform, hanging out with his long-time friend Donald. But when Donald ventures out to look for food, the darkness and rising flood waters leave him scared and disoriented. Will Chen Chen realize Donald is missing and go searching for him? Cha Cha ignores vital lessons she’s learned and lets her curiosity lead her into a dangerous playdate with a snake. Then meet Jordan, a bit of a social outcast whose fond memories of being bottlefed could turn out to be deadly.

To find out more, please visit or our partner in the US, Orangutan Outreach at

Michelle Desilets
Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation UK
“Primates Helping Primates”



DawnWatch: "Ethical living: Do fish have feelings too?…" UK Guardian, 21 June, 2007

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at]
Date: Jun 21, 2007 6:16 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: “Ethical living: Do fish have feelings too?…” UK Guardian, 21 June, 2007

The UK’s Thursday, June 21 Guardian has a piece headed, “Ethical living: Do fish have feelings too?: Animal rights campaigners are turning their attention to aquariums. But should we really get worked up about angel fish and guppies, wonders Harry Pearson.” (p 18)

Pearson opens with:

“When I was a child, my Aunt Nancy had a tank of tropical fish – guppies, black mollies, angelfish – in the front room of her house in Redcar. If anyone asked if the fish had enough space, her reply was automatic. ‘Oh yes,’ she would say. ‘You see, they only have a memory of five seconds.’ The fish, it seemed, swam to one end of the aquarium and by the time they had got there, they had forgotten everything they had seen. As a result, the fish found this small box of water as infinite and fascinating as the universe.

“That fish have an incredibly short memory is known to everyone. Unfortunately, like many well-known ‘facts’, it is not true. Several years ago researchers at the Australian Veterinary Association blew the five-second-memory idea right out of the water. Today, the generally held view is that fish have a memory span of at least a few months.

(More below the fold…)

DawnWatch: NY Times on chimps –"Almost Human, and Sometimes Smarter." 4/17/07

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at]
Date: Apr 17, 2007 10:45 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: NY Times on chimps –“Almost Human, and Sometimes Smarter.” 4/17/07

The Tuesday, April 17, New York Times has an interesting article on the cover of the Science section (page F1), by John Noble Wilford, on the intelligence of chimps. It is headed “Almost Human, and Sometimes Smarter.”

It tells us that certain similarities between chimps and humans “go beyond expressive faces and opposable thumbs.”

It says:

“Chimps display a remarkable range of behavior and talent. They make and use simple tools, hunt in groups and engage in aggressive, violent acts. They are social creatures that appear to be capable of empathy, altruism, self-awareness, cooperation in problem solving and learning through example and experience. Chimps even outperform humans in some memory tasks.”

It discusses researchers having “found that chimps as social animals have had to constrain and alter their behavior in various ways, as have humans.” That phenomenon is compared to human morality. It notes that chimps use tools.

(More below the fold…)

DawnWatch: Unforgettable elephants PBS Sunday 4/1/07. Great review in New York Times.

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at]
Date: Apr 1, 2007 4:28 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Unforgettable elephants PBS Sunday 4/1/07. Great review in New York Times.

This evening, Sunday April 1 at 8pm, the PBS Nature series will air “The Unforgettable Elephant.” I will paste below information about the program, and a strong review from Saturday’s New York Times.

If you miss it this evening, you should be able to catch an encore. This page will help you find out when it will air again:

(I share this email with those not in the US as your public stations may air the show at other times, and you can keep an eye out.)

If you catch ‘Unforgettable Elephants’ and enjoy, please don’t forget to express your appreciation. Nature takes feedback at

There is a little promo video, with a scene from the documentary, at

Here is the Introduction to the show, from the Nature web page

NATURE chronicles African elephants families through stunning film and still photos in UNFORGETTABLE ELEPHANTS, premiering Sunday, April 1.

We have seen them dressed in costumes and dancing at circuses, living solitary lives at zoos or giving our children a thrill with a ride on their back. But the largest land animals live a life that is completely foreign to us when left to their own in the wild-one complete with battles and births, kidnappings and camaraderie. Fifteen years ago, Martyn Colbeck chose to document in film and photos the life of one family of African elephants. For the better part of two decades, his subject, the elephant matriarch Echo and her close-knit family, have never failed to astonish him, amuse him and inspire him.

(More below the fold…)

DawnWatch: NY Times front page on gay sheep experiments 1/25/07

Friday, January 26th, 2007

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at]
Date: Jan 25, 2007 5:09 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: NY Times front page on gay sheep experiments 1/25/07

The front page of the New York Times has a story headed, “Of Gay Sheep, Modern Science And the Perils of Bad Publicity.” The article, by John Schwartz, covers protests against experiments at Oregon Health and Science University on gay sheep.

It opens:

“Charles Roselli set out to discover what makes some sheep gay. Then the news media and the blogosphere got hold of the story.

“Dr. Roselli, a researcher at the Oregon Health and Science University, has searched for the past five years for physiological factors that might explain why about 8 percent of rams seek sex exclusively with other rams instead of ewes. The goal, he says, is to understand the fundamental mechanisms of sexual orientation in sheep. Other researchers might some day build on his findings to seek ways to determine which rams are likeliest to breed, he said.

“But since last fall, when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals started a campaign against the research, it has drawn a torrent of outrage from animal rights activists, gay advocates and ordinary citizens around the world — all of it based, Dr. Roselli and colleagues say, on a bizarre misinterpretation of what the work is about.

“The story of the gay sheep became a textbook example of the distortion and vituperation that can result when science meets the global news cycle.”

The article continues in that vein, slanted to suggest that those protesting the experiments have misrepresented them. It does, however, acknowledge “that the sheep are killed in the course of the research so their brain structure can be analyzed.” And buried towards the bottom it mentions a release that quoted Dr. Roselli as saying that the research ”also has broader implications for understanding the development and control of sexual motivation and mate selection across mammalian species, including humans.”

(More below the fold…)

DawnWatch: Experiments on gay rams protested by Navratilova — Weekend Australian, 18 November 2006

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at]
Date: Nov 19, 2006 10:52 AM
Subject: DawnWatch: Experiments on gay rams protested by Navratilova — Weekend Australian, 18 November 2006

The Weekend Australian includes a feature article, Peter Wilson, that shines a light on US government funded animal research. Headed, “Animals’ true nature will out” (P 25) it tells us that tennis star Martina Navratilova is protesting “experiments at two US universities aimed at manipulating the hormones of sheep to make homosexual rams develop an interest in ewes.”

Weekend Australian
November 18, 2006 Saturday
Peter Wilson

FEATURES; Inquirer; Pg. 25

We read:

“Navratilova and the lobby group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals say the US government-funded experiments are cruel and have potentially dangerous implications for gay people if the idea takes hold that homosexuality can be cured.”

The article provides some interesting information on what is natural:

“It turns out that species ranging from kangaroos and emus to fish, foxes, seagulls and those joked-about whales have some members that swing both ways, or even bond and have sex exclusively with partners of their own sex.”

(More below the fold…)

DawnWatch: Wall Street Journal on monkey fairness — 11/10/06

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at]
Date: Nov 10, 2006 5:20 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Wall Street Journal on monkey fairness — 11/10/06

The Friday, November 10, Wall Street Journal covers another one of those studies likely to make laugh those of us who live with animals — the astonishing discovery that other animals have emotions like ours. But what should make us smile with satisfaction and relief, rather than just laughing at the obvious, is that this kind of information is being reported in the Wall Street Journal. It is hard to miss the increasing attention that bastion of capitalism has been giving to animal issues. We can only hope the coverage affects societal attitudes towards animals, and, eventually, the way our species treats them.

Today’s report, by Sharon Begley, is headed, “Animals Seem to Have an Inherent Sense of Fairness and Justice.” (p B 01.)

It describes experiments in which monkeys in adjoining cages pulled in trays with cups of food.

We learn,

“When pulling the tray requires two monkeys’ efforts, but only one cup is filled, the lucky monkey often shares its spoils.”

And we read:

“Animals other than humans are not only sensitive to unfairness, but are driven to rectify it. Philosophers have long argued that this ability underlies much of our human morality.”

(More below the fold…)

DawnWatch: Miami Herald op-ed on animal emotion — 11/10/06

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at]
Date: Nov 10, 2006 6:07 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Miami Herald op-ed on animal emotion — 11/10/06

As a perfect compliment for the Wall Street Journal article on monkey sense of fairness, the Friday, November 10, Miami Herald includes an op-ed by PCRM’s Jonathon Balcombe headed, “Animal Rights. They think, feel pain.” (p29)

It opens:

“Recent news that Happy, a 34-year-old Asian elephant, recognized herself in a giant, shatter-proof mirror at the Bronx Zoo is just the latest in a burgeoning list of eye-opening revelations into the minds and motivations of other beings.

“Recent studies have shown that mice empathize with familiar mice who are suffering, that captive male monkeys will hand over a bottle of fruit juice for a chance to ogle photos of female monkeys’ bottoms and that rats accustomed to being tickled will come running for more, making high-pitched chirps linked to the origins of human laughter.

“Such discoveries are not confined to mammals. Pigeons navigate using human roads, ravens slide or roll down snow banks just for kicks and iguanas will shun boring food to brave the cold for a gourmet treat.

“Fish, too, can no longer be dismissed as mindless, unfeeling things. Three fish biologists recently described fishes as: ‘steeped in social intelligence, pursuing Machiavellian strategies of manipulation, punishment, reconciliation and cooperation.’

“The once-long list of uniquely human traits is dwindling almost as fast as you can say ‘human supremacy.'”

(More below the fold…)

DawnWatch: NY Times editorial calls for valuing other animals for their differences — 11/2/06

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at]
Date: Nov 2, 2006 3:52 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: NY Times editorial calls for valuing other animals for their differences — 11/2/06

On Thursday, November 2, the New York Times includes an editorial, (the newspaper editorial page’s official opinion) commenting on the recent discovery that elephants understand mirrors. (See Tuesday’s DawnWatch alert at if you missed that story.)

The editorial is headed, “Horton Sees an Image.” (p A26)

It describes the elephants’ newly discovered ability, then comments:

“Such tests appear to mark a boundary between animals that display some form of consciousness and those that don’t. But what they really do is raise questions about the value we attribute to consciousness and our inevitably human definition of it. It is always us setting the rules.

How many tests set by elephants could we pass?”

(More below the fold…)

DawnWatch: Elephant mirror tests front page Wash Post and AJC, in NY Times and others — 10/31/06

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

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From: DawnWatch – news [at]
Date: Oct 31, 2006 2:25 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Elephant mirror tests front page Wash Post and AJC, in NY Times and others — 10/31/06

The discovery that elephants understand how mirrors work, and the suggestion that the understanding proves self-awareness, has made big news today, Tuesday October 31. The story is in hundreds of papers across the world and even on the front page of some leading papers.

The Washington Post has the story, by Rick Weiss, on the front page, headed, “Who’s That Pretty Pachyderm?”

It opens:

“Elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror and use their reflections to explore hidden parts of themselves, a measure of subjective self-awareness that until now has been shown definitively only in humans and apes, researchers reported yesterday.”

The test is described:

“The new study involved three female Asian elephants at the zoo, in New York City. Workers built a 64-square-foot acrylic mirror, cemented it to plywood, framed it in steel and bolted it to a stone wall of the elephant enclosure.”

At first the elephants explored the mirror. Then:

“That was followed by an eerie sequence in which the animals made slow, rhythmic movements while tracking their reflections. Then, like teenagers, they got hooked.

“All three conducted oral self-exams. Maxine, a 35-year-old female, even used the tip of her trunk to get a better look inside her mouth. She also used her trunk to slowly pull her ear in front of the mirror so she could examine it — ‘self-directed’ behaviors the zookeepers had never seen before.

(More below the fold…)