Monday, November 12, 2018

Tyke's Story

Tyke the Elephant

Tyke was a 20 year old female African bush elephant from Mozambique. She was with Circus International in Honolulu, Hawaii. And she is best known as the elephant who rebelled against her circus.
She was stolen from her family when she was just a baby and thrust into a life of torment and abuse for 2 decades. She was confined to a small concrete room, and beaten over and over again with a bullhook to break her spirits.
Tyke had tried to escape the circus a few times. Her first attempt was in April, 1993. She then made another attempt a few months later in July. However, both were unsuccessful and both of her warning signs - her built up rage was a sign that she was a threat to the public - were ignored.
Until finally on August 20, 1994, Tyke had enough. She entered the circus ring at Blaisdell Arena kicking around what looked like a dummy to the audience. “We thought it was part of the show.” One witness told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
However, everyone soon realized that the dummy was actually a severely injured groomer. As the audience fled for the exits, Tyke went on to attack and fatally crush her trainer who tried to intervene before fleeing the arena.
For nearly 30 minutes, Tyke ran through the streets of the Kakaako neighbourhood’s business district at rush hour. The circus promoter was also nearly trampled over when he tried to fence her in.
The confusion and fear were very clear and obvious in her eyes as she ran through the streets, crashing into cars and banging into buildings.
It was an intense foot chase between her and the Honolulu police, who eventually shot her nearly 100 times. It took almost 2 excruciating hours for her to pass on as she succumbed to nerve damage and brain haemorrhages. Tyke was left to die alone in the streets, afraid and in pain.
Ever since this tragic incident with Tyke, no elephant has performed with Circus International. And after activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals created a petition against the Moscow International Circus for performing in Honolulu with “wild animals”, a circus spokesman told Honolulu Star-Advertiser that animals will now be excluded from shows.
To do your part in putting an end to animal circuses, we urge you to avoid and stop supporting circuses that exploit animals, and instead, support circuses that do not use animals for entertainment. You can also support or volunteer with organizations that help fight for animal rights.


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Should We Be Concerned If A Species Goes Extinct?

The simple answer is, yes. It does matter if even just one species goes extinct and we should be concerned because animals and plants depend on each other, be it for food or to disperse seeds.
So if one species ceases to exist, whether predator or prey, can affect others within the complex food web. One single extinction of one species can have a global effect on local ecosystems and economies and even international markets.
The food web, also known as a food chain, is a series of relationships that occur in an ecosystem between predator and prey. A predator may also be the prey of another animal.
A species usually goes extinct when it is unable to adapt to the changes in its environment, such as the introduction of new predators, human interference, changes in climate, a disease or the availability of food resources.
Predators are most often the first animal to be threatened due to hunting or competition for resources. When predators go extinct, this means their prey will no longer feel the pressure of predation.
A trophic cascade occurs when the predators in a food web goes extinct. It is an ecological phenomenon that indirectly impacts populations of prey, causing dramatic changes and alterations in the food web and therefore the ecosystem.
The trophic cascade effect had been witnessed in certain parts of Africa where lion and leopard populations have decreased. This decline has caused olive baboons to change their behaviour patterns and there have been increased contact with nearby people. This has led to a rise in intestinal parasites in both the baboons and people.
Clemson University conservation biologist Dr. Robert Baldwin stated that, “If there are too many deer, for example, they can really change the ecosystem because they can destroy forests, and they also carry disease.”
However, predators are not the only ones who can affect the food chain. The loss of organisms that provide food for a wide variety of animals will also have an impact on the food web.
For example, in the 19th century the harelip sucker fish’s main diet is snails. When waste and other debris polluted rivers where the fish and snail lived, the snail population declined. This probably caused the fish to go extinct without their main source of food.
Relationships within a food web can be so detailed and complicated that a slight change in the ecosystem can cause a disruptive reaction.
Polar bears, for example, their main diet are seals. And seals rely on Arctic cods for food. The cod eats zooplankton, and the zooplankton eats ice algae. However, global warming have been causing sea ice to melt. When the ice melts, the ice algae will decline. This will create a chain effect that eventually reduces the polar bear populations.
Marine animals are also affected if something in the ecosystem changes. For example, if water temperatures rise, corals will not be able to survive and their numbers will decrease. Marine life forms dependent on these corals to live will also suffer, which will lead to disruptions in the food web for other marine creatures living in the ocean.
Plants also rely on animals to help disperse their seeds and ensure their survival. Some groups of birds such as fruit doves are vital for the long-distance distribution of plants from one location to the next. On the other hand, large, flightless birds as well as lizards and tortoises are important for scattering the seeds around the same location or island.
When the populations of these animals decline or go extinct, plants, and trees in particular, will be at a disadvantage as they are deprived of the crucial element needed for relocating their seeds to new areas. Thus they too, will face extinction.
Losing even a small amount of animals, enough to cause a dramatic decline in their populations, in the web of life contributes to the impact the ecosystems will face in a number of ways.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

What You Never Knew About Poaching

Poaching, to put it simply, is a deadly crime against wildlife. It refers to the illegal hunting and capturing of wild animals, in violation of local, state, federal, and international laws. Poaching is most commonly practiced in countries such as Zimbabwe and Kenya due to the wide variety of iconic wildlife there.

These wild animals are poached mainly for their valuable body parts, such as the tusks of an elephant, or the horn of a rhinoceros. It has been reported that more than fifty million different animals have been killed by hunters.
When you hear the word poaching, you will most probably think of the elephants and rhinoceros brutally killed and their tusks and horns shipped overseas illegally.
However, what many people do not know, is that there are large numbers of other animals are being poached. In fact, the most poached animal is the small, scaly pangolin.
Pangolins are small mammals most commonly found in Asia. Their entire body is covered in large scales made of keratin, the same substance our hair and nails are made of.
Pangolins are now an endangered animal - all eight species of pangolin are listed as threatened according to the IUCN Red List, with two being classified as critically endangered.
Pangolins are most commonly hunted for their scales which are used in traditional medicine and even in fashion. Scientists believe that over one million pangolins have been hunted and killed over the past decade.
The vast majority of poaching is caused by intelligent and organized groups of individuals that use high-powered technology and weapons to track and hunt animals without being detected. Such equipment includes night vision goggles, the AK-47 rifle, and grenade launchers.  
There are three different kinds of poaching. The first being known as ‘Subsistence Poaching’. This involves members of communities killing wild animals for their meat in order to provide food for their families and other members of the community. This is commonly referred to as ‘bush meat’. Animals hunted for bushmeat can include, lions, elephants, zebras, and monkeys depending on the location.
The second type of poaching is ‘Structured or Commercial Poaching’, which basically means poaching for profit. These poachers are involved in high-risk criminal activities. This includes the hunting for bushmeat for the purposes of selling it. It also includes the illegal capture of wild animals to export them overseas as exotic pets in the illegal wildlife trade. And lastly, it also involves the killing of animals to harvest their parts, such as the hunting of bears for the paws and bile, and selling them on the black market for ridiculously high prices.  
Lastly, the third type of poaching is known as ‘Chopper Poaching’. This involves poachers on low-flying helicopters or small planes tracking rhinos and other animals. Once they are at a close enough range to the animal, they will then dart them with an illegal substance which will knock the animal out. This method allows the poachers to approach and hack off whichever part of the animal they need without a fight. The illegal substance is often not fatal, however, the animal will most likely bleed to death.
“Anything that is really rare and exotic is desirable. It’s a symbol of wealth, anything seen to be delicacy is now in vogue.” - Crawford Allan, senior director of the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC at World Wildlife Fund.
At the current rate we are hunting and killing these African animals, they may be gone within the next fifty years.

Sign the petition and join the fight to protect and preserve Africa’s wildlife:

Studio Mylène is an independent illustration brand founded by Mylène Dosal, a graphic artist living in London but working remotely with all types of people. Being originally from Mexico City and half French, Mylène’s style is heavily influenced by magical realism and sweet romanticism. Her projects range from children’s book illustrations to branding and flat animation. When not working with clients, Studio Mylène focuses on supporting other female entrepreneurs and sharing stories about creativity and books. If you want to learn more about her work visit:

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Truth About Bullfighting

Let’s put an to this cruel and barbaric practice

Bullfighting is one of the most brutal and inhumane forms of animal cruelty that inflicts senseless suffering to the animal. Every year, hundreds of thousands of bulls are forced to endure a slow, agonizing death in bullrings around the world.  

Bullfighting is a custom involving matadors who perform in a bullring carrying out various manoeuvres at close range to the bull. The goal is to appear graceful and confident while domineering over the bull. The performance ends with the death of a bull by thrusting a sword into it.

However, these acts are far from graceful and elegant.

Even though many countries have already banned this practice, countries – especially in Europe –  such as France, Spain, Portugal, and Mexico are still continuing the bullfighting festivals.

Bullfighting can be traced back to the Roman times and the first bullfights were mainly on horseback. The purpose of a bullfight back then was to celebrate special occasions such as royal weddings and military victories.  

Before the Fight

Bullfighting is always an unfair fight for the bulls as bullfighters are given the advantage in the ring.

Bulls have been weakened with drugs or had sandbags dropped on their backs days before the fight. To make the bull as weak as possible and easier to be killed, wet newspapers are stuffed into his ears and cotton stuffed up his nostrils to cut off his respiration while a needle is stuck into his genitals. Vaseline is also rubbed into his eyes to impair their vision. To throw him off balance, their horns have been shaved and a strong acidic solution is rubbed onto his legs, which also prevents him from laying down.

A few days before he faces the ring, the bull will be kept in a small, dark box to disorientate him.

During the Fight

A typical bullfight consists of 3 separate “acts” and is supposed to last for a total of 20 minutes.

The event begins with the bull entering the arena where he will face the picadors. Picadors are men on horses whose motive is to exhaust the bull. They cut into his back and neck muscles using a pica – a weapon about 6 to 8 inches in length and 2 inches thick.

This attack prevents the bull from lifting his head and defend himself. Once the pica is thrust into the bull the picadors twist and gouge the weapon until a large wound appears to ensure a significant loss of blood. The bull then starts bleeding to death.

Once the picadors are finished, the assistant matadors start the next step. They enter on foot and distract the bull, darting around him while using up to 6 banderillas – sharp, brightly coloured sticks with a harpoon point on the end – and plunging them into his back. The bull may also be provoked by capes to get him to charge at them.

When the bull has become weakened from the loss of blood, the assistant matadors run around him in circles until he becomes dizzy and stops charging at them.

Lastly, a trumpet will signal the final “act” of the festival. The main matador appears and will try to end the bull’s life with his sword by severing the bull’s aorta – the largest artery in the body.

If he misses and succeeds in only bringing the animal more pain and suffering, he exchanges his sword for a dagger and will try to cut the spinal cord. If he still does not succeed in killing the bull, which is extremely rare, two things may happen. The bull may be paralyzed and dragged out of the arena to be killed without the audience witnessing it, or, the assistant matadors will rush to finish the bull off.

If the audience is pleased with the main matador’s performance, sometimes the ears and tail of the bull may be cut off and kept as trophies.

Running of the Bulls

This is a practice which involves dozens of bulls or cows who are forced to run a kilometre down the streets of Pamplona, Spain, with and in front of crowds that taunt and mock the animals along a designated route to their final destination – the bullring – to be killed.

During these daily runs that take place every year from the 6th to the 14th of July, spectators and runners abuse the animals by hitting them with sticks or rolled-up newspapers, whacking them with ropes, and even splashing water on the cows and bulls.

All these loud, rowdy and hurtful behaviour can cause anxiety in the bulls and cows, causing them to lose their footing on the slippery road and crash into walls. This increases the risk of them fracturing or breaking bones or otherwise injure themselves.

Sign the petition here to stop supporting bullfighting: Let us all do our part to end the suffering of animals on this planet.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

What You Need to Know About Declawing Your Cat

Declawing your cat traditionally involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe of the cat, which is equivalent to cutting off a person’s first knuckle. Imagine how painful that must feel. This surgery is not only unnecessary but also a painful and permanently crippling procedure that does not benefit the cat at all.
In recent years, the process of declawing has become more popular as many cat owners believe that the procedure of declawing a cat is a simple and harmless way of getting rid of your cat’s scratching habit that may damage furniture and carpets in homes.  
But that is incorrect. Declawing a cat can lead to many serious long-term effects to your cat, which is why this cruel process is banned in 22 countries including Australia, England, and New Zealand.
Why you should not declaw your cat
What most people may not know, is that scratching is actually a normal behaviour for the cat, it is not intended to destroy your curtains or your couch, but in fact cats need to scratch in order to maintain good physical and emotional health.
Cats scratch in order to stretch their muscles and tendons in their toes, paws, legs, and shoulders, which they often do when they first wake up from a nap, or in the middle of playing when they are happy, and to release energy during times of stress.
Cats also scratch to remove the dead husks from their claws and to mark territory. Scratching leaves a virtual sign to other cats that a specific location belongs to another feline.
Not only does a cat uses its claws for scratching, but it is also their first line of defence. They use their claws to scratch when fighting with other cats or animals and to protect themselves. They also extend their claws as a warning. Without claws, they are far more vulnerable to predators and abusers.
These cats also become more aggressive as they feel so insecure without their claws. More often than not they will resort to their second line of defence which is biting as a means of self-protection.
A cat who has been declawed will also most likely refuse to relieve itself in a litterbox, even if they are house-trained. This is because the cat has wounds on its feet after being declawed. Dr. Ryane E. Englar, assistant professor and clinical education coordinator at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, states that “When cats use the litter box, they tend to dig, or at least cover up their leavings. If cat litter gets in those wounds, it hurts. So a cat may avoid going in the litter box, thinking their feet may hurt less if they go somewhere else.” The cat is highly likely to associate pain with the litter box so they might avoid it all together.
Risks of declawing your cat
Because declawing your cat is a surgical procedure, there is a high chance of your cat getting an infection after the surgery.
Declawed cats will also have to re-learn how to walk. Our toes are crucial to our balance, well it is the same for cats. Declawing is the same as cutting off their toes. Domestic cats are digitigrade, which means they walk on their toes.
So when you declaw your cat, pain in the toes will alter the way they walk, this can be temporary or permanent following the declawing. This may affect the joints in its legs, resulting in stiffness and pain in not only their legs but they hips and spine as well and may lead to your cat developing arthritis.
Back pain in cats after being declawed can be caused by lameness, or abnormal gait. It happens more commonly to heavier cats as they are not carrying their weight as they should due to their painful feet, just like how we might walk differently if we have a blister on our foot.
Declawing your cat is a very painful procedure and the pain continues even after the surgery. Pain medicine may help, but only a little. Phantom pain, which is pain that feels like it's coming from a body part that's no longer there, can last for weeks or even months.
This excruciating pain your cat has to suffer can simply be avoided if you take look into alternatives to prevent your cat from ruining your furniture. Such as doing a nail trimming. Cats are unable to do serious damage to furniture with blunt nails. Or you can get a scratching post for your cat. Most cats can be easily trained to use a scratching post instead of scratching on your furniture.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Truth About Whaling

What is whaling?
Whaling is the practice of hunting and killing whales by humans for multiple purposes and has been going on for over a thousand years. Throughout the centuries, whaling has become increasingly popular, especially in countries such as Iceland, Japan, and Norway.
Even though actions are being taken and bans are being placed, the number of whales in the wild has reached a critically low number due to over whaling. Even after many years of protection, 7 out of 13 whale species are either endangered or vulnerable.
Why did humans hunt whales in the past?
In the early days, whales have been hunted for many products including bones, blubber (oil), the “whalebone” (baleen), and spermaceti, which refers to the oil in the head of sperm whales used to make candles and cosmetics.
Whale oil obtained from sperm whales, right whales, and bowhead whales was especially in high demand. A single large sperm whale could yield as much as three tons of sperm oil. However, the use of whale oil declined in the mid-1800's as kerosene and other petroleum products started replacing it.
Indigenous people also hunted whales because of their meat to fulfil their basic survival needs. For thousands of years, the climate in Greenland was too cold for many people, including the Eskimos and the indigenous people to grow their own vegetables. Whale meat became the main source of food for them, being rich in niacin, iron, and protein.
Why are whales still being hunted today?
Today, modern whaling is conducted primarily for meat in commercial whaling. Whales are also being killed in a misguided effort to reduce competition for fish, and several small cetaceans like smaller whales, dolphins, and porpoise species are hunted for the use as a bait to catch fish.
However, the first claim is arguable. Fish is not the only thing that whales eat. In fact, whales eat a varied diet, including plankton, krill, and also small fishes.
Some species of toothed whale are also hunted in some communities for their teeth, which are used as currency.
Which countries still hunt whales?
Despite the ban placed by International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986 to stop commercial whaling, some countries still refuse to end their whaling operations.
Japan is one of them. Almost immediately after the whaling ban was implemented, Japan launched its scientific whaling programme, using it as a cover-up for its ongoing commercial whaling operation.
Meat from these whales, which are supposedly killed for “science”, is then sold in food markets or given away free or at low cost to schools and hospitals to encourage the consumption of whale meat.
The Japanese whaling fleet departs twice a year and they have been given a quota of the number of whales they can kill – 200 minke whales, 50 Bryde’s whales, 100 sei whales, and 10 sperm whales, – under the guise of scientific research. However, vessels were killing up to nearly a thousand minke whales and 50 fin whales each year before the International Court of Justice ruled that it was illegal.  
Like Japan, Iceland initially conducted a “scientific” whaling programme. Then in 1992, it withdrew from the IWC and later re-joined it again in 2004. Iceland included a clause in its re-entry objecting to the whaling ban.
In 2006, Iceland resumed commercial whaling, targeting minke and fin whales as well. In 2010 alone, Iceland killed 148 endangered fin whales and 60 minke whales.
Norway is another country that still allows whaling. Beginning in 1993, Norway used a loophole in the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling which allowed them to resume hunting whales, especially minke whales.
Norway sets its own quota for the number of whales they are permitted to kill for commercial reasons. This number has been increasing each year, from killing 600 mike whales in 2002 to more than a thousand today.
How do they kill the whales?
The Animal Welfare Institute believes all whaling to be inherently cruel. Even the most advanced whaling methods cannot guarantee an immediate death or ensure that targeted animals will not feel any pain or distress before they die.
Many modern whalers use harpoons fired from the bow of a whaling vessel. Harpoons have been used for at least over a thousand years to capture not only whales but large fishes as well.
Harpoons are usually fitted with penthrite grenades that will penetrate about 12 inches or one foot into the body before they explode, releasing claw-like protrusions into the flesh. The initial blast is supposed to cause enough brain damage to kill or knock the whale out for a few seconds. However, depending on where the harpoon hits the whale’s body, the whale may suffer from trauma or blood loss but not die.
Usually, when the whale survives the grenade harpoon, a high-powered rifle is used as a secondary killing method. After harpooning, the animal is hauled onto the ship using a line attached to the harpoon, with the grenade’s claws biting into the flesh of the animal. Sometimes, however, the harpoon line might break due to heavy seas or other causes and the struck whale is lost to the ocean as it bleeds to death.
For animals who have not been stunned or killed by then, we can only imagine the excruciating pain and distress they have to feel. Whaling is a cruel and unnecessary activity that must be stopped. Commercial whaling is banned, trade in whale products is forbidden and demand for whale meat is falling. Yet, every year Japan, Norway and Iceland still kill about 1,500 whales.
There is no humane way to kill a whale and they are forced to die a slow and painful death. Stop this pointless slaughter of one of the earth’s most majestic creatures.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Harsh Truth About Animal Circuses

They were robbed of everything that gives their lives meaning

Elephants, tigers, lions, and other animals including horses and bears do not do circus tricks like jumping through hoops and standing on their heads because they want to, and certainly not because they enjoy it. It is because they are afraid of what they will have to face if they don’t.

Circuses such as Carson & Barnes Circus and UniverSoul Circus works hard to hide their traces of animal abuse from your eyes. Employees are told to be on their best behaviour so you will not see them abusing the animals. The abuse, happens behind the scenes, during training, transportation, and other times when you’re not watching.

Life of the animals in the circus
To force animals to perform, trainers abuse them with whips, chains, tight collars, electric prods, bullhooks - heavy steel batons with a sharp steel hook at one end – and other inhumane devices you can think of. Some trainers even go to the extent of removing the animals’ teeth and claws to make them easier to handle. Often times, these cruel actions begin when the animal is still an innocent baby.

Elephants are forcibly taken away from their mothers when they are just below a year old, bound with ropes on all four legs as well as around their necks and trunks. They are then aggressively pushed and pulled into unnatural and painful positions to learn to perform tricks.

Photos and video footages have shown trainers using bullhooks to beat elephants, sometimes until they bleed, in order to force them to perform dangerous, uncomfortable, and meaningless tricks such as standing on their head and balancing on a small pedestal.

Travelling in constant confinement
Circuses travel throughout the year, in all sorts of weather, which means that animals are confined to trailers or trucks - sometimes for days on end - where they may not have access to basic necessities such as food, water, and proper veterinary care.

Elephants are chained, and big cats and bears are locked in cramped, filthy cages, where they will eat, drink and urinate all in the same place. Even after they reach the circus venue, these animals will still remain chained and caged.

Depressed and dangerous
Sometimes, the animals may get depressed and show signs of abnormal behavioural patterns such as swaying, head bobbing, and continuous pacing. They might even come to a point where they will deliberately try to hurt themselves.

When the animals become overwhelmed with stress and frustration, they snap. There have been cases where animals have escaped from the circus and gone on rampages, crashing into buildings, attacking the public and even injuring and killing the trainers.

Usually these animals will be recaptured and forced to return to their miserable lives, however, there are some cases where the animals will be gunned down and shot to death. In 1994, a terrified elephant, Tyke, killed her trainer and injured 12 spectators before being shot almost 100 times by officers while running through the streets of Honolulu.

Animal-free circuses
As the public are becoming more aware of the animal cruelty performed in circuses, demand for cruelty-free circuses continue to grow. Many countries around the world including Columbia, Mexico, and Singapore have banned wild animal acts.

Circuses such as the Big Top out of the Box Circus in North America and Circus Center in the San Francisco Bay Area provide the audiences with fun, dazzling, and humane entertainment and audience members even get the chance to interact with the performers. 

Stop animal cruelty now
Do your part to put an end to the torture and suffering that these animals have to face. Do not attend circuses that use animals to earn money and sign petitions. If one of your local stations are promoting and supporting animal abuse in circuses, make a quick call and politely as them to stop. Every call counts.