Skip to content

A Smattering of Things to Do

This week has brought many interesting suggestions of things Animal People can do to get the word out–whatever your word is (after all, we are not clones).

Bea informed me that Dirty Jobs, on The Discover Channel, will feature . . . .

Inside an Indiana dairy farm, Mike learns how to milk a cow and use a blow torch to clean her udders. Then, Mike gets the inside scoop on how to inseminate a cow. Finally, Mike gets an up-close look at fatherhood as he helps deliver baby calves.

I accidentally saw several minutes of the episode where Mike gleefully, and to romping, silly music, checks the sex of day old baby chickens, and tosses the males to their deaths. This is a popular show, and millions of people are now aware that male chicks are killed on Day 1 or 2 and I haven’t heard anything about egg sales plummeting as a result, so though the audience might be upset about some of what they see (and it is likely to be presented in a delightful manner), I suspect dietary and consumer habits will not change. And that’s not the intention of the show, anyway. I’d be curious to see who the advertisers are for that episode.

If you are so inclined, watch it, deconstruct it, and let me know how it all goes. Write to Mike Rowe and the producers of the show and let them know what you think (here’s a message board).

Next, I didn’t follow Pope Benedict XVI’s US trip, but I hear that 100 white doves were released at his New York and Washington DC masses. The New York Bird Club was aflutter regarding this information, particularly considering the Pope’s (alleged) love of cats is well known. There’s some confusion over whether the birds were doves or white homing pigeons, as if they were the latter it would be acceptable. There are six pages of discussion on the board, including suggestions for what you can do if this is something that offends you.

Penultimately, if you haven’t visited Water and calculated your individual water footprint, do so and then use your results in discussions with vegetarians and omnivores and anyone else interested in the environment. Do NOT use the quick calculator , as it doesn’t distinguish between
vegetarians and vegans, and your results will have an enormous dairy
component to them that you cannot control. You might want to rethink your coffee consumption and quit said habit (it takes 140 litres of water to produce 1 cup of coffee, compared to 35 litres for a cup of tea). And you’ll need to know that 1 kilogram=2.20462 pounds.

Also, there are slides that provide very useful tidbits on the home page, but Safari apparently doesn’t support them (yet doesn’t say anything about their existence), while Firefox does show them. This tells me that there might be other parts of the design that I’m not seeing with Safari.

I’m a bit confused about "Industrial goods consumption" being judged by my gross yearly income. That enormously skews my water footprint, yet I purchase far less than the average person. And to use gross income rather than net makes no sense to me. It appears that there’s a lot of judgment factored into the equation. Nevertheless, the information on the site is useful for conversations with meat and dairy eaters, as it helps them see that if they call themselves environmentalists, they might want to change what they call themselves or change their behavior.

Finally, Deanna wrote me asking for help with:

  . . . finding a way to stop the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, UT from building a proposed new polar bear exhibit. The Hogle Zoo had a polar bear several years ago that died from an intestinal blockage caused by ingesting a glove that had been thrown into his cage. I had seen that polar bear in person and it was a most depressing sight. This was Salt Lake City in the summer which is blazing hot! The poor bear was in a really small concrete and bar cage and it was just pitiful. Now they want another polar bear and are campaigning for donations for a new exhibit. They have already received a $3 million grant from a local philanthropic
organization. It will probably be several years before the exhibit has enough funding, but I would like to marshall some resources to stop it before it gets started. There are so many logical arguments against building this exhibit, not the least of which is that the money it will take to build it could be put to better use protecting the Arctic. I know it always comes down to money and power and I am not at all sure where to start. . . .

I am not choosing one animal over another to focus on. I think zoos of any kind should be abolished. The reason for my focus on this particular zoo and this particular exhibit is that it does not yet exist and has the possibility of being stopped and the possibility of educating the public about protecting the polar bears’ natural habitat if they are to be saved – not putting them in zoos in the high desert. It just seems that stopping this exhibit would be a huge step in making people sit up and take notice and realizing that zoos are not the conservation havens that their PR people try to make them out to be.

Any suggestions?

  • Does anyone have evidence that starting online petitions actually works? I just signed one against budget cuts for child welfare in Florida (they will dramatically affect funds available for foster and former foster youth), because a good friend asked me to, but I do wonder about their efficacy.
  • I suppose Deanna could start a blog or an organization dedicated to stopping this endeavor, and/or partner with the local animal welfare groups or animal rights groups.
  • Writing letters to the editor could be helpful.
  • And writing to city commissioners (that’s how it works down here–it’s all about the city commissioners).
  • Going to council meetings with a group and getting on the agenda to publicly discuss this, unless the zoo is private.
  • Contacting the Utah Zoological Society Board of Directors, which runs the zoo, is definitely a good idea.
  • If you know any big donors–or can even amass a bunch of smaller ones–who can let the zoo know that its customers aren’t happy with its plans, that could be helpful.

As I run around today I might think of others, and I’ll be in and out to publish comments if anyone has any ideas.

Thanks, as always, for reading and writing.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mary – The Discovery Channel is indeed a major profiteer of animal cruelty and exploitation, and the Dirty Jobs show is disgusting by its production of episodes featuring farm animals. This last year the Discovery Channel in Canada produced a couple of episodes in a new series "Out in the Cold" [ ] promoting the local Yukon dog mushing industry (sled dog tourism and the Yukon Quest sled dog race, both major exploiters of 'Man's best friend'). One of the episodes featured heart-wrenching scenes of injured sled dogs used in the Yukon Quest being evacuated by air from a remote check point – apparently, this footage is entertaining to some people, as is the brutal Yukon Quest race itself. The Yukon Government put an unknown wad of cash into underwriting these episodes (the Yukon Government is a big promoter of the Yukon sled dog industry and Yukon Quest).

    The Outdoor Life Network and TSN in Canada also pile on to make money off animal cruelty. OLN promotes the Idiotarod and professional rodeo, and this year the aforementioned Mike Rowe Productions is producing an episode for worldwide distribution by OLN/TSN in its "Angry Planet" series about the 2008 Yukon Quest (again with Yukon Government assistance).

    CBC's 'The Fifth Estate' (Canada's version of "60 Minutes") did a show called Cruel Camera [ ] about cruelty to animals used in entertainment, a show which I forced myself to watch. This was an update from an earlier show (both viewable from the Fifth Estate site). American Humane receives some negative attention in the latter episode for refusing to investigate with an investigation into the death of a horse during the filming of the 2005 family movie 'Flicka'.

    It is ironic that CBC National would produce this show about abuse of animals used in the entertainment industry while in its own back yard CBC North and CBC Yukon are both enthusiastic cheerleaders for all things dog mushing (Yukon Quest, Idiotarod and other local races), trapping and big game hunting. CBC is also a major disseminator of "food porn" shows promoting meat and dairy consumption.

    All for now.

    April 24, 2008
  2. Nancy Smith #

    Here's the quote I am having a problem with:"I accidentally saw several minutes of the episode where Mike gleefully, and to romping, silly music, checks the sex of day old baby chickens, and tosses the males to their deaths."

    I have seen the episode about which you wrote…several times (I'm an unapologetic fan of this show), and I can assure you that nowhere in there do they say that the males are tossed "to their deaths." They DO mention that the chicks are shipped out, within 72 hours of their hatching, to farms, etc. They mention also that the females are more expensive than the males (because the females produce eggs, thereby getting the farmer/user/customer "more bang for the buck," but never did they say or infer that the males are killed. Watch it again…or for the first time, with both eyes and listen. You will find that you are mistaken.

    What really bothers me is that neither Discovery nor Pilgrim Films (who film the show), nor Mike Rowe or Dave Barsky (Field Director) or any of the people behind the scenes would not promote an organization that participates in wanton slaughter of any living thing simply because it happened to be born with the wrong set of sexual equipment. It simply is not in the philosophy of the show or the network. These guys are genuinely credible human beings who do not believe in promoting things that do not further the mission of the show or the network. And it kinda hurts that someone who is educated, loves animals, and promotes life could so misunderstand the show. Ouch. I hope Mike doesn't read this.

    April 25, 2008
  3. Nancy,

    Once it is determined that the chicks are male, they are killed. Usually they are macerated in what is basically an industrial-sized blender. They are ground up while they are alive. Sometimes they are gassed.

    I saw only a moment of the show, and if the chicks on that show were indeed shipped–anywhere–that doesn't make me feel any better, as they'll simply be killed elsewhere.

    Furthermore, of course the show promotes organizations that participate in wanton slaughter of living BEINGS (not "things," as you put it). That's what the farming of animals IS, by definition. They create, dominate, control, exploit, mutilate, SHIP, and ultimately slaughter sentient beings unnecessarily–purely for the palate of humans who do not need to eat the flesh, menstrual secretions or milk of the animals.

    April 25, 2008
  4. Canaduck #

    I am a HUGE pigeon lover and just wanted to let you know that from my understanding, the only reason people would be concerned about the use of pigeons versus doves (by the way–two words for the same animal; the city pigeons we all know so well are also called "rock doves") is that homing pigeons can find their way home and doves cannot.

    NOT that I'm condoning the use of any animal, but I wanted to point out that (hopefully) the debate was about that.

    April 26, 2008
  5. Canaduck,

    Yes, that was part of the debate–whether they would find their way home. The other part, thankfully, was using them to begin with. And of course, for a Pope who claims to care so much about animals, that use was an odd choice (though perhaps it had nothing to do with him).

    April 26, 2008

Leave a Reply

You may use basic HTML in your comments. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS