PETA has discovered—and the U.S. Army's Office of the Surgeon General has confirmed—that the Army has implemented a major shift in policy that states, "Non-medical personnel are not authorized to participate in training that involves the use of animal models." These nonmedical service members, who previously were allowed to abuse and kill animals in these drills, will now be taught exclusively using non-animal "alternatives such as commercial training manikins, moulaged actors, cadavers, or virtual simulators."
This will likely prevent thousands of animals from being shot, cut apart, and killed each year in crude exercises like the disturbing military training drill that PETA exposed last year showing live goats who had their limbs broken and cut off.
But that's not all: According to the Army, this change is just one of several that will be unveiled as a result of a series of meetings that began in February about restructuring the military's medical training program. The shift is likely in response to PETA supporters' protests, as well as Congress' request that the Department of Defense (DOD) submit a detailed plan for the phase-out of all animal use in medical training drills in favor modern non-animal methods. That report, which has already been delayed once, is due on April 2. We'll keep you posted as we learn more about the military's broader plans to make all its deadly animal laboratories history.
What You Can Do
This is momentous progress, but we're not done yet. Please urge military officials to end the cruel use of animals in training for all personnel immediately.
Last Friday was especially good for animals. In honor of the Christian holiday Good Friday, PETA pigs were out in front of the HoneyBaked Ham store in Oakland, California, and lots of other stores, too, joined by friends holding signs like the one below and "It's a Good Friday to Go Vegan."
We also handed out copies of our "Glass Walls" video and vegan starter kits to curious customers, showing them what really happens to pigs before they become a honey-baked ham. (Spoiler: It's anything but merciful.) It was plenty of food for thought for Easter patrons.
How does your faith or philosophy about life influence your compassion for animals? Tell us in the comments below!
Update: When the plan to hire a Russian cargo jet to take the Toronto Zoo's three elephants to a Performing Animal Welfare Society sanctuary didn't work out, the Royal Canadian Air Force stepped up. Now, as soon as Defence Minister Peter Mackay gives the thumbs-up, Toka, Thika, and Iringa will be flying high courtesy of a C-17 transport aircraft and a military endeavour dubbed "Operation Dumbo Drop."
The following was originally published on November 29, 2012:
It could be only a matter of days until the Toronto Zoo's three captive elephants, Toka, Thika, and Iringa, let the frozen Canadian ground fade into the distance as they set off for their new home: the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary in sunny California. After a long campaign by Zoocheck Canada, PETA members, and the compassionate members of the Toronto City Council, the trio will trade their zoo enclosure for acres of varied natural terrain, lakes to bathe in, heated barns, and even therapeutic whirlpool baths. Although the elephants' tale has a storybook ending, their journey to freedom certainly wasn't without conflict.
The Long Road Home
When the Toronto Zoo, under pressure from Bob Barker, Zoocheck Canada, and PETA, initially agreed to release its captive elephants, it was determined to simply ship them to another decrepit zoo. But the Toronto City Council sided with animal advocates and voted for the gentle giants to be retired to PAWS instead.
Then it seemed as though one of the elephants' foot ailments might make the 40-hour drive too dangerous. So animal advocate extraordinaire Bob Barker stepped up and provided the trio with their own "Elephant Force One" of sorts, a private plane that will quickly whisk them to their new home. The Toronto Zoo then raised concerns about the potential for tuberculosis at PAWS, but an independent infectious-disease report determined that the facility was safe. Once again, the Toronto City Council voted, and once again, it resoundingly insisted that the elephants be sent to PAWS immediately.
A Tale of Two Cities
The Toronto City Council also said in its final motion on Toka, Thika, and Iringa that it feels that Edmonton, Alberta's, Valley Zoo should allow the zoo's lonely elephant, Lucy, to retire to PAWS as well. Because elephants are ill-equipped to tolerate frigid weather, Lucy is forced to spend the winter months confined to a small barn. Our lawsuit to free Lucy did not succeed despite the wonderful comments of one judge who felt Lucy should be free but who could not persuade the other judges on the panel. Lucy hasn't had the company of any other elephant in four long years. But Zoocheck Canada and PETA are determined to win her freedom, and Bob Barker is advocating for her with all his might.
What You Can Do
Please join us in asking Edmonton officials to give Lucy the peaceful retirement that she so deserves.
We do get a little ticked off that some people are still eating animals, but we are not alone: Apparently, so does at least one breed of ticks. Scientists have discovered that the bite of the Lone Star tick causes people to develop an allergy to meat. Once a person has been bitten, if he or she eats meat, things can get a little uncomfortable and a hives-like rash can break out within hours. That gave PETA the germ of an idea, and we'd like your input.
Currently, the ticks are predominantly found in the southeastern United States. But PETA has hatched a plan to release Lone Star ticks in parks in the Northeast, hoping that warming weather and moist conditions will help the ticks thrive. PETA's Don Beleav, a biologist who is investigating the feasibility of the project, explained how the resulting meat allergies will greatly benefit human beings who come into contact with the ticks:
Just as leeches purify the blood, these tiny insects can help people kick a habit that sucks for animals, human health, and the environment," says Beleav. "Obviously, PETA's main goal is to prevent animal suffering, but going vegetarian or vegan helps people lose weight, boosts their immune systems, and lowers their risk of three of our nation's biggest killers—heart disease, cancer, and strokes." Beleav continues, "Really the only pushback we anticipate will be from fast-food companies. Maybe McDonald's will start handing out free flea and tick collars with its value meals!
PETA is also considering offering the bugs by mail for anyone itching to go vegetarian but lacking the willpower to do so.
Rabbits are on a roll! Natural-products giant Nature's Gate just became the fourth company to pull out of the Chinese market until the country stops requiring tests on animals for cosmetics. After talks with PETA, Nature's Gate agreed that there is nothing pretty about tormenting animals in laboratories, and the company chose to forgo the large Chinese market, rather than sacrificing its commitment to being cruelty-free.
PETA is proud to give Nature's Gate our Courage in Commerce Award for its dedication to offering a wide array of quality personal-care and beauty products without harming animals anywhere in the world.
And Nature's Gate is in good company: Paul Mitchell, Dermalogica, and Pangea Organics have all pulled their products out of China in order to save animals' lives, and many more companies, such as Urban Decay and NYX, have refused to sell in China until the animal testing requirements are lifted. As a result, these conscientious companies are being rewarded with even more customer support, and with the help of the scientists PETA is helping to fund, China is prepping to approve its first non-animal testing method.
Please join us in thanking Nature's Gate, and continue to support companies that don't test on animals by checking PETA's online list of companies that do and that don't test on animals. Order your own free copy of PETA's first-ever global cruelty-free shopping guide and take it with you every time you shop! Naturally.
Authorities in Texas and Oklahoma are acting on complaints from PETA that a "kill buyer"—someone who purchases horses and transports them to slaughterhouses or feedlots—falsified forms certifying that horses who were being transported to slaughter were free of a deadly equine disease.
Twice last year, a PETA investigator rode along with the kill buyer as he moved dozens of horses he had purchased in Iowa through Missouri and Kansas to feedlots and transfer points in Oklahoma and Texas. The kill buyer was caught on tape admitting that the veterinary forms he carried "certifying" that the horses in his trailer were free of deadly equine infectious anemia (EIA)—a potentially fatal viral disease with no known cure or preventive vaccine—were actually those of other horses, not those on board his truck.
PETA alerted the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry and the Texas Animal Health Commission that the kill buyer, by his own admission, was bringing horses into the states without valid EIA paperwork, risking the health of hundreds of other horses when potentially infected horses were unloaded onto crowded feedlots.
The latest allegations in Oklahoma are part of a wider horse slaughter investigation involving allegations of stolen property, concealing stolen property, transporting stolen property across state lines, and other crimes.
What You Can Do
Obviously, this kill buyer needs to be brought to justice, but he is just one piece of a large and corrupt industry. This case is just more evidence of the pressing need to pass the Safeguard American Food Exports Act, which would make it illegal to slaughter horses in the U.S. and to transport them to slaughter in Canada and Mexico. Please contact your representatives today and urge them to support this vital bill.
Bill Gates has always been an innovator, so it's no surprise that one of the brightest minds of our time is tackling our most pressing environmental problems. "We need more options for producing meat without depleting our resources," he wrote on his blog. His solution? Vegan food. Bill is getting behind faux meats and eggs, which taste like the real thing but don't require vast amounts of natural resources for production. "Companies like Beyond Meat and Hampton Creek Foods are experimenting with new ways to use heat and pressure to turn plants into foods that look and taste just like meat and eggs," Bill wrote. "I tasted Beyond Meat's chicken alternative and was impressed. I couldn't tell the difference between Beyond Meat and real chicken."
Bill has been using Twitter to spread the word about faux meats, and plenty of other brainy people joined in to illustrate how smart it is to care about animals:
Greta Van Susteren shares with Bill the honor of being one of Forbes' Most Powerful People—and she also agrees that caring about animals just makes sense. She took to her blog to protest the cruel and deadly cat experiments at her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Bill Gates and Steve-O might seem like an interesting pair, but they are certainly in agreement on meat. Steve-O explained his feelings in his Huffington Post article "Crazy for Veggies: "I'm convinced that of all the changes I've made to my lifestyle, it's the adoption of a vegan diet that has been best for me—physically, mentally, and certainly spiritually. It's benefited every area of my life."
The computer whiz and the comedian are in good company with Jessica Chastain, Russell Brand, Kristen Bell, and Kristen Wiig, all of whom Celebuzz featured in an article about how "meat is so passé." And celebrity Mayim Bialik is helping New York Times readers make their Passover Seder vegan.
An anonymous person is helping animal advocate extraordinaire Sam Simon, who has been diagnosed with stage-four cancer, see how much everyone appreciates him, with a "Thank You Sam Simon" page on Facebook. Sam posted: "Well, Thank You to Whoever started this page. This is Sam. I'm overwhelmed by your kind thoughts. I want you all to know I have a great team of docs, traditional and alternative, and I plan on beating the cancer. If you'd really like to thank me, please vow to never buy a ticket to Sea World or Ringling Bros again! xo"
Please help show your appreciation for Sam's awesomeness by "liking" the "Thank You Sam Simon" page.
Republican strategist Mary Matalin and her husband, Democratic consultant James Carville, differ on most political issues—but when it comes to legislative attempts to block undercover investigators from PETA and other organizations from revealing how animals suffer on factory farms, the couple stands united in opposition to "ag-gag" bills.
To that end, Matalin filmed a PETA appeal and sent it to Republican legislators—the primary sponsors of these measures—in Arkansas, California, Indiana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Vermont, highlighting the importance of PETA's undercover work in prosecuting abusers and stopping institutionalized cruelty. After she introduces a video clip about a case that revealed routine beatings and even the sexual abuse of pigs on a Midwestern factory farm and which led to criminal convictions, Matalin states, "A meat-trade magazine called the case a 'wake-up call' for the industry. Unfortunately, factory farms keep hitting the snooze button, and instead of fixing the problems, they're trying to blame the messenger."
What You Can Do
Thanks to the support of concerned citizens, "ag-gag" bills have already been killed in several states, but we can't rest until all lawmakers stop trying to shield lawbreakers. Please join PETA, Mary Matalin, James Carville, Bob Barker, Cloris Leachman, Katherine Heigl, and many other figures from both sides of the aisle in urging legislators to protect consumers' right to know the truth about factory farms. If you live in Arkansas, California, Indiana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, or Vermont, please take action.
Poor little Olivia was a 5-pound skeleton with fur when a man found her wandering outside the warehouse where he works, just a few miles from PETA's headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia. She was suffering from an apparent sinus infection, which had caused her cheeks to balloon to the point that her eyes were just slits and she could barely see. On top of that, she was so weakened and anemic from prolonged, severe malnutrition that she was only a day or two away from needing a blood transfusion.
PETA rushed her to a veterinarian, and with round-the-clock care, she beat the odds and pulled through. She's now recuperating at PETA's Sam Simon Center, where she is already feeling well enough to display a natural aptitude for the Cat Charmer.
If you are interested in opening your home to a feline companion, Olivia comes highly recommended: PETA staffers bill her as a 3- to 4-year-old sweetie pie who gets along well with other friendly cats. No one claimed Olivia through the lost-and-found report that we filed, even though she obviously once had a home (she has been spayed and declawed), and she will be vaccinated and microchipped before she is adopted out.
Does Olivia sound like she could be your new best friend? Send an e-mail to Adopt@peta.org to find out more or to fill out an adoption application.
Less than a year after a security guard reported the abuse of a chained elephant by a bullhook-wielding Ringling Bros. circus handler in Colorado, an employee at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum—a venue where PETA captured Ringling bullhook use on video as part of a 2009 undercover investigation—has reported more bullhook abuse during Ringling's March 2013 tour there.
PETA's 2009 investigation of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus found that workers were beating, whipping, and hooking elephants and striking tigers.
Based on the whistleblower's affidavit, PETA has submitted a complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), along with an urgent request for the agency to inspect Ringling while it remains in New York (through April 3). The arena staffer—who also noted that she saw no exercise pens set up for the tigers—complained to the Nassau County District Attorney Office's animal-cruelty unit, which is investigating.
What You Can Do
Hasn't being slapped with the USDA's largest-ever penalty against a circus for violations of the Animal Welfare Act deterred Ringling from abusing elephants? Please politely urge USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to finally seize Ringling's suffering elephants and transfer them to a reputable sanctuary.
A source close to John Cuneo, the owner of infamous circus supplier Hawthorn Corporation, has leaked information to PETA that we hope will convince the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to revoke Hawthorn's exhibitor license permanently and to seek criminal charges against Cuneo as well as Lance Ramos, an unlicensed exhibitor who has repeatedly abused and neglected exotic animals and who, according to the whistleblower's testimony, was unlawfully hired by Hawthorn.
Hawthorn breeds tigers and leases them to circuses around the world. It has provided Shrine circuses, Cole Bros. Circus, Jordan World Circus, George Carden Circus, Hanneford Circus, and Tarzan Zerbini Circus with tigers. The whistleblower gave PETA firsthand information about pervasive abuse and neglect of animals and apparent violations of federal law, including the following:
These allegations are just the latest in Hawthorn's long, sordid history of cruelty to animals. Please join PETA in asking the USDA to take the appropriate disciplinary action, including revoking Hawthorn's license to exhibit animals.
A high school sophomore has developed a device that may help doctors better detect cancer in its early stages without invasive and painful biopsies—and he did it without harming a single animal. PETA awarded Daniel Suh, a student at Los Angeles' Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, a $1,000 prize and our Special Award for Humane Science for his nanowire device that detects circulating tumor cells.
PETA Director Justin Goodman presents Daniel with a framed plaque and $1,000 prize.
Daniel worked with researchers at the University of California–Los Angeles' California NanoSystems Institute on the screening device, which can detect breast and prostate cancer cells in the blood. Doctors can then harvest the cells for analysis and test potential cancer treatments.
Daniel, who presented his work at the Los Angeles County Science Fair, joins a forward-thinking group of students who have earned recognition from PETA for showing the scientific community that modern non-animal research methods are advancing medical science much more than hurting animals ever could.
As crowds rallied outside the Supreme Court while the justices heard arguments on landmark cases regarding California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), members of PETA were there to make the point that as Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Like other victims of oppression, animals shouldn't be mistreated because they are different from those in power. We can all stand up to corporate bullies by refusing to buy anything that comes from cruelty. PETA will be outside the Supreme Court again tomorrow as arguments are heard against DOMA.
We can now add Suffolk, Virginia, to the growing list of cities that recognize that dogs deserve better than life on a chain—something that PETA has been advocating for a long time.
In January, when Suffolk Council Member Mike Duman initially proposed a tethering ban, he met with resistance. But two short months later, the council voted to ban chaining completely. How did this reversal occur?
PETA wrote to council members and got our friend the comedian Wanda Sykes, who is from Virginia, to do the same. Daphna Nachminovitch, our vice president of cruelty investigations, raised awareness about the issue by writing a blog for a local website.
And we asked Alice Conner to share with the council the story of her 2-year-old cousin who was killed by dogs in Suffolk who became aggressive [http://www.peta.org/issues/companion-animals/chained-dog-attack-summaries.aspx] after being chained for years.
Local PETA members and residents also weighed in. And our message got through loud and clear.
PETA's Community Animal Project staff members receive more calls about abused and neglected chained dogs in Suffolk than in any other area surrounding the Sam Simon Center, our Virginia headquarters. As of September 1, 2013, Suffolk residents who do this to their dogs will face fines!
We thank Mike Duman, Alice Conner, Wanda Sykes, and all the other compassionate people who helped make the Suffolk tethering ban a reality. Now, with the help of Sykes and actor Patton Oswalt, we are working with Newport News, one of the two remaining cities in the region that still don't restrict or ban chaining, to improve living conditions for its dog population.
If you would like to help get a chaining ban passed in your hometown, we offer a wealth of resources.
When former congress member Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife pled guilty to using hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds to pay for personal items like fur coats and capes, elk heads, and taxidermied animals, it effectively put an end to what was once a promising career—not to mention dozens of animals' lives.
Only people who are truly struggling to survive have any excuse for wearing fur. For every cuff, collar, piece of trim, or coat made from real fur, animals endured misery and died after being beaten, electrocuted, or even skinned alive. By donating the coats to the homeless, the U.S. marshal would underscore the importance of need over greed while giving back to the community in Illinois.
What You Can Do
If you've ever wondered why we have a dog and cat overpopulation crisis, which is so bad that 6 to 8 million "pets" enter animal shelters every year—and that's not even counting the millions of strays who never make it to shelters—look no further than Halley. This mother dog was left to survive as best she could after her owners moved away and left her behind like an unwanted sofa on the curb.
Halley miraculously managed to survive by herself for several months until a passerby called PETA to report having seen her roaming the streets. She appeared to be nursing puppies, but neighbors who had heard the puppies crying weeks earlier hadn't heard a peep out of them in nearly a month. We feared the worst.
Our cruelty caseworker advised the passerby to set up a feeding station for Halley at a vacant home in order to discourage her from straying further away, and we got in touch with local members of Unchain Oklahoma, who set about trying to trap the skittish dog. When they arrived at the property to set up a humane box trap, they found the puppies hiding under the house.
The little ones were whisked off to a veterinarian. After several days, the volunteers managed to trap Halley, and she was spayed and reunited with her pups. The family—minus two puppies who have already been adopted—is being boarded while permanent homes can be found. (You can see more photos of them on Unchain Oklahoma's Facebook page.)
If you suspect that an animal has been abandoned or is being neglected or abused, please err on the side of compassion. Always call authorities. If you're mistaken, the worst that can happen is that you'll put a few more miles on an officer's odometer. And if the authorities don't respond, contact PETA.
One of the best things about traveling is getting to try delicious new vegan fare on the go—even if it means going off the beaten path. Take Vegan Planet, for instance—a restaurant that's so good, PETA is recognizing it with an award for Best Vegan Restaurant in Cancún.
Whether you're going to Cancún for spring break, a bit of time off from work, or "just because," be sure to drop in on Vegan Planet—one of the best vegan restaurants anywhere. If you're headed somewhere else (or even enjoying a "staycation" at home), check out PETA's restaurant guide, powered by the great folks at HappyCow.net, to find more great places to eat vegan around the globe. (And if you haven't gone vegan yet, learn how—and why you should—in three easy steps!)
Update: In March, PETA reached out to Hainan Airlines, and representatives from the airline confirmed that its policy remains firm: It still does not ship primates to laboratories. In the written statement, Hainan Airlines representatives said that they "fully agree" with PETA on this issue and that they support our "effort in the protection of animal rights."
The following was originally posted on February 24, 2012:
Exciting news! Two more air carriers, TAM and Hainan Airlines, have announced that they will no longer transport primates for use in cruel laboratory experiments! PETA and other animal protection organizations put the pressure on the airlines after it was revealed that they were recently handling shipments of monkeys to laboratories in North America.
Now we're that much closer to stopping the transport of primates for use in experiments once and for all—but we're not there yet.How You Can Help Keep Animals out of Laboratories
Please continue to tell the few remaining airlines that ship primates to laboratories—including Air France, China Eastern Airlines, and Continental Airlines—that cruelty should be grounded.
It seems like Miley Cyrus' actions for animals are never-ending. This week, she asked her fans to help get horses suffering in the horse-drawn carriage industry off New York's streets, tweeting, "NYC is just 761 signatures shy of 100,000 petition goal to #FreeTheHorsesNYC! Sign @NYCLASS petition at StopHorseAbuse.com." Miley's fans' signatures pushed the New Yorkers for Clean, Safe, and Livable Streets petition well above the 100,000 that the group needed. And Miley and her mother, Tish, gushed about their gratefulness to their Twitter followers.
Jason Mraz was likely grateful for all the help that he got from his Twitter followers, too. When he tweeted asking where to find the best vegan eats in Sydney, Australia, PETA and Jason's fans were quick to respond with some yummy suggestions.
And Miley and Jason aren't the only sexy stars whose tweets we've been eyeing this week:
We also caught a glimpse of yet another sweet quote from one of our Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity alums, Carrie Underwood. When The Guardian asked her about growing up on a cattle farm in Oklahoma, she answered, "The worst part of the year for me was when we took some off to sell, because they would cry for each other for a couple of days. That's why I don't eat meat."
Ricki Lake has been inspired to embrace plants, too. She is reportedly enjoying more vegan meals after watching Forks Over Knives. PETA sent her some love in the form of a vegetarian/vegan starter kit, Alicia Silverstone's book The Kind Diet, and our meat industry exposé "Glass Walls," narrated by Paul McCartney.
Sam Simon joined in, challenging his friend, radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge, to watch "Glass Walls" and go vegan for one week. Sam asked PETA for help, so we sent "Lettuce Lady" Lindsay Rajt, associate director of campaigns, to Tampa, Florida, to help Bubba with the transition and to appear on his show all week to talk about it. Bubba says that he's enjoying the challenge and has a newfound love for vegan biscuits with meat-free gravy and rice milk.
And while Shania makes her point to the card sharks, Kyle Chandler is helping those other sharks. Alongside his daughter, Sawyer, he attended Humane Lobby Day in Austin, Texas, in support of a proposed bill that would ban shark-finning.
To keep up with what all your favorite stars are doing for animals, follow @PETA on Twitter.
PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk put her money where her mouth is—in a very literal sense—in an eye-catching protest outside British retailer Fortnum & Mason's Piccadilly store this week.
The protest illustrated what geese endure while they are being raised for the foie gras sold in Fortnum & Mason stores. But in order to replicate fully how foie gras is produced, Ingrid would have had to be force-fed several times a day for weeks until her diseased liver had painfully swelled to up to 10 times its normal size.
The process is so cruel that it's illegal in the U.K., but Fortnum & Mason continues to sell foie gras imported from France, where a recent PETA U.K. investigation documented the confinement of geese to crowded, filthy pens and their slaughter while still conscious.
High-profile British venues, including the House of Lords, the House of Commons, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Wimbledon, Lord's Cricket Ground, and all the residences of His Royal Highness Prince Charles, refuse to serve foie gras, and retailers Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, House of Fraser, and Jenners refuse to sell it. PETA won't stop until we've added Fortnum & Mason to that list.
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