Tag Archives: OSPCA

Provincial Oversights Continually Fail Animals in Ontario


horse_5.jpg.size.xxlarge.originalWritten by Heather Clemenceau

There are two types of animal cruelty across the spectrum of animal abuse.  Active cruelty is inflicted with intent to cause harm to an animal and therefore cause suffering.  On the other hand, passive cruelty is inflicted through disinterest in the well-being of animals and usually occurs over long periods of time.

Sometimes passive cruelty happens to our companion animals or sport animals via hoarding or food production.  It is all happening to sentient creatures and can no longer be considered a peripheral concern.  The American Psychiatric Association considers animal cruelty as one of the diagnostic criteria of conduct disorder. The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) defines conduct disorder as “a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age appropriate societal norms or rules are violated.” Conduct disorder is found in those who abuse animals and abuse people.

The link between animal abuse and personal violence is becoming so well established that many communities now cross-train social-service and chiefs-worldanimal-control agencies in how to recognize signs of animal abuse as possible indicators of other abusive behaviours.

In York Region (and indeed across Canada) we’ve seen the police consistently fail to take action against passive cruelty.  They seem bewildered that they are called to attend to cruelty issues that are not related to dogs and cats.  While they are justifiably concerned that the Stouffville cat-killer may turn to harming people,  they have a clear disconnect when it comes to passive cruelty.

While we’re seeing a gradual shift in mentality, activists in York Region Ontario have found that, more often than not, the perpetrators of passive abuse are looked upon with disinterest or scepticism by the authorities, from the OSPCA to the police. In the absence of the OSPCA presence on weekends, the police have consistently refused to act to protect farm animals, despite having the Criminal Code quoted directly to them – seemingly because they do not view these animals as deserving of the same care and protection because they are “products.” There are also concerns about whether police officers have sufficient specialized knowledge of animal husbandry to recognize distress, and whether the police service has enough resources to take on this extra role. In a letter responding to a complaint by me,  they seem to be admitting as much……..

Spent Hens

York Region Police respond to my complaint about police refuse to take action at Saturday livestock sales at the Stouffville Livestock Auction

York Region Police respond to my complaint about police refusal to take action at Saturday livestock sales at the Stouffville Livestock Auction.  Deeds Speak,  indeed.

Compounding the issue of identifying and acting on passive cruelty is the fact that Canada only has only a 1% animal cruelty case conviction rate, due to the absence of adequate legislation.  It`s more important that ever for the police to understand their role in interpreting the Criminal Code as it applies to animals,  since they may be called upon to act more frequently.

horses in poor conditionMPP Jack MacLaren of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario introduced The Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act, 2012 (Bill 37) in March 2012.  Fortunately,  the Bill did not survive a second reading.  This new bill would have handed over inspection rights for farm animals to members of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). This would undermine the protection of farm animals by giving the inhumane farming industry the right to maintain their own inadequate standards.  It is unconscionable to hand over the welfare of farm animals to any group that has vested interests in the agriculture industry.

Also under Bill 37, farmers would have been allowed to call in their own veterinarians to determine whether abuse exists. Veterinarians who are paid by these farmers and make a living through servicing these farmers’ animals will, in many cases, not want to cause trouble and “bite the hand that feeds them,“  so there will be little imperative to report abuse.  This is an unacceptable conflict of interest.

Inspectors would no longer have had the power of a police officer and will not be able to inspect without the permission of the land owner.  And only the police would be able to lay cocoa-dead-in-the-fieldcharges under the Provincial Offences Act or the Criminal Code of Canada.  Enforcement would be done by the OPP or local police force only after abuse has been substantiated and reported on by the inspectors.

Without OSPCA officers having the authority to intervene directly at the time they witness the offence, that enforcement branch becomes completely useless,  and animals would suffer until and unless enforcement finally arrives by the action of the police. Experience has shown us that the likelihood of police taking action to uphold Criminal Code of Canada (or any other action) on behalf of animals is poor.  While OSPCA inaction directly contributed to the death of this horse,  could we expect much more from the police,  had they been engaged in this case? Fortunately,  the bill is now dead,  otherwise,  these changes would have meant that the public would have even less transparency than under the current system,  where the OSPCA reports next to nothing and due to privacy laws,  and will not give the average citizen any details about an investigation.  Investigation results should be made public.

On this issue even OSPCA chair Rob Godfrey agrees.

Reality Check: Government Agencies Ignore Animal Welfare At Stouffville Livestock Market

Alternative Turkey Day - Photo  © by Joanne McArthur

Alternative Turkey Day – Photo © Joanne McArthur

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Live animal markets are notorious for withstanding humane pressure.  This is due to the fact that both the public and regulatory agencies consistently see the often inhumane treatment of food animals as separate and distinct from pet animals.  While few people would hesitate to contact the police if they saw a dog locked in a hot car, fowl  and rabbits are put into the trunks of cars in 40+ weather every weekend at the Stouffville Livestock Market.

One small mercy is that the summer is almost over now and the hottest days for animals are mostly behind us.  But that doesn’t mean that any government agency was able to seriously step up and take action for the birds and animals of the Market.  At a time when SPCAs are justifiably reminding us that we need to take precautions to keep our pet animals cool by not leaving them unattended in cars,  the helpless food animals (chickens,  ducks, turkeys,  exotic birds, other fowl and rabbits) at the Market are still being put into the stifling, unventilated trunks of cars and driven an unknown distance to their uncertain fates.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,  high temperature, humidity and poor ventilation create an extremely dangerous environment in a vehicle trunk.

This veterinarian sits in a parked car to test the temperature that a pet would experience.

While the trunk is not exposed to direct sunlight, it will still be unbearably hot for a confined animal – on a 95 degree day,  the trunk may be 120 degrees.  It will certainly be hotter than the passenger compartment which at least has ventilation when the windows are down,  if not air-conditioning.

While people in other cities are arrested when caught putting animals in the trunks of cars, York Region Police claim to be unaware of any criminal code violations as they pertain to putting ANY species of animal in the trunk of a car on an oppressively hot day.  I know this because myself and others have spoken to them directly about the animals at the market and Criminal Code legislation. The fact is, when the OSPCA is closed outside of business hours,  automated messages  and instructions on their websites instruct us to call the York Region Police turkey dogduring off hours.   The OSPCA has given the market instructions to provide all animals with water but most of the market vendors and management are either unwilling or incapable (probably both) of following this directive.  Even when we have seen water provided (only on the day of a protest by activists) only the animals on display have been offered water.  Animals kept in confined in plastic containers or on trailers are not offered water unless they are moved to a display cage.

Why do people look the other way when they see farm animals stuffed into the trunk of a car?  They would almost certainly object if they saw you lock your dog in the trunk,  especially on any of the hot July or August days in York Region.  And what kind of person just won’t be bothered to provide water for their animals,  especially when told by a government agency to do so?  All farm animals can and do suffer from heat stress – signs are panting,  increased salivation,  drooling or foaming,  increased respiration or laboured breathing,  lethargy,  or even unconsciousness.

We brought printouts from the  “Health of Animals” Regulations – Livestock Handling,  Transport,  Segregation…  from the Justice Laws website of the Government of Canada to our protests.  it should be obvious that these regulations are sufficient to respond to the circumstances at the Market,  where animals suffer from both the extremes of hot and cold:

141. (1) Subject to this section, no person shall load on any railway car, motor vehicle,  aircraft or vessel and no carrier shall transport animals of different species or of substantially different weight or age unless those animals are segregated.

143. (1) No person shall transport or cause to be transported any animal in a railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, crate or container if injury or undue suffering is likely to be caused to the animal by reason of

(a) inadequate construction of the railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, container or any part thereof;

(b) insecure fittings, the presence of bolt-heads, angles or other projections;

(c) the fittings or other parts of the railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel or container being inadequately padded, fenced off or otherwise obstructed;

(d) undue exposure to the weather; or

(e) inadequate ventilation.


And from the Criminal Code of Canada:

Section 446 of the Criminal Code sets out the offence of causing damage or injury to animals and birds. Everyone who by:

…wilful neglect causes damage to animals or birds that are being conveyed or everyone who is the owner or has custody or control of an animal or bird wilfully neglects or fails to provide suitable and adequate food water, shelter and care, is guilty of an offence.

A person convicted of this offence is liable to imprisonment for not more than two years if the prosecution proceeds by way of indictment. If convicted of an offence where the Crown proceeds by way of summary conviction, the person faces a maximum punishment of a fine not exceeding $5,000 or six months in jail or both.

Section 446(3) states that:

…evidence that a person failed to exercise reasonable care or supervision of an animal or bird and thereby caused injury or damage to it, is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof that the injury or damage was caused by “wilful neglect”.

In our opinion, the livestock market cannot simultaneously operate and meet all of these conditions.

According to the group Canadians For the Ethical Treatment of Farm Animals:”

“To minimize risks of heat stress, farm animals should only be transported during the cooler hours of the day. Space per animal inside transport trucks should be increased by reducing stocking densities to ensure proper air flow between animals and, in the case of pigs, to allow them to lie down. Trucks should be tarped and well ventilated. Water should be provided regularly on long journeys.

Canadian transport regulations, the Health of Animals Act, Part XII, Sections 143, (1)(d) and (e) state that “No person shall transport or cause to be transported any animal in a railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, crate or container if injury or undue suffering is likely to be caused to the animal by reason of undue exposure to the weather or inadequate ventilation.” Yet, in Canada, farm animals are routinely transported during mid-day intense heat in overcrowded, un-tarped trailers, with no forced ventilation or water, as documented by CETFA inspectors.

cetfa_heatstress-did-you-knowEven when outside temperatures are not extreme, temperatures inside a trailer can rise dramatically if it is slowed by construction, stuck in traffic or otherwise forced to sit stationary, such as during unloading or at border crossings, where no dedicated lanes exist for livestock trailers (see case documented by CETFA here). Moreover, the amount of water vapor in the air (humidity) can lower the air temperature that farm animals can withstand without becoming heat stressed. For instance, research indicates that temperatures over only 23oC (73oF) can cause stress to cattle when combined with high humidity. Various combinations of heat and humidity, along with transport conditions, thus have the potential to negatively impact farm animals and induce heat stress during the summer months.

We ask that the readers of this blog post take action when it becomes apparent that farm animals are being transported in inappropriate conditions and suffering from heat stress – please contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the government body responsible for the enforcement of farm animal transport regulations, to report your concerns. Provide details of your observations (location, time of the day, name of the transport company, and D.O.T number printed on the rig, as well as the species transported and the signs of heat stress you observe).

Remind the CFIA that livestock haulers are legally required to take reasonable steps to protect farm animals from severe weather and prevent unnecessary suffering, and urge them to enforce the regulations as they are mandated to do. Also, contact the trucking company involved and email us details of the incident.

Many dogs in heat stress situations have been helped through public involvement. As more and more people are becoming concerned about farm animals, public involvement will also be instrumental in improving the welfare of farm animals during extreme weather conditions.”

Turkeys in the trunk of a car

Turkeys in the trunk of a car

Please reach out to all regulatory groups in the following manner:

Contact information

Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

You can contact the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342 or through your local CFIA office (found in the blue pages of your telephone directory).

174 Stone Rd W
Guelph, Ontario
N1G 4S9
Tel: 226-217-8555
Fax: 226-217-8495


The Ontario SPCA operates on a complaints basis. This means that you can help animals by being aware of at-risk animals in your community and by reporting cases of suspected animal cruelty to your nearest Ontario SPCA Community, police, Crime Stoppers or police.

1-888-ONT-SPCA (668-7722) ext. 327 or email cruelty@ospca.on.ca, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), your local Ontario SPCA Branch, affiliated Humane Society or police.

York Region Police:

Toll Free Number 1-866-8POLICE or 1-866-876-5423 (non-emergencies only)
TTY 1-800-668-0398

Address all correspondence to:
York Regional Police
17250 Yonge Street
Newmarket, Ontario Canada
Email: info@yrp.ca (This email is monitored during business hours and is for non-emergencies only)

Stouffville Livestock Market – New Protest and “Letters To The Editor”

A great turnout on a very cold day....

A great turnout on a very cold day….

Written by: Heather Clemenceau

Today was our second protest against the Stouffville Livestock Market,  which re-opened for the 2013 season.  Fortunately the protest was uneventful, despite some early signs that there might be some hecklers.  At the end of our three-hour protest,  we were delighted to meet a kind gentleman who regularly rescues and rehabs some of the birds from the livestock market.  I’ve included pics of today’s rescue,  and I hope you’ll compare this to the Toronto Star video and make note of the fact that these particular birds show some sparse feathering and bloody scabs,  which is not atypical for many of the birds sold here.

Today,  I’m also taking the opportunity to respond to a couple of Letters to the Editor that appeared as follow-ups to the original article.


Re: Farmers’ market runs afoul of activists, March 16

 “I applaud Bill Fletcher and the vital part he plays in providing an option for folks who choose to take control of their food source. Heather Clemenceau appears to favour factory farmed chicken because “there is a somewhat consistent method of killing,” as if that could make up for the atrocities of a poultry factory floor.

Conscientious protest is a right to be encouraged, though in this instance the OSPCA and Canadian Food Inspection Agency did not find the alleged cruel, outdated mistreatment of animals at the Stouffville Country Market.

I would encourage Ms Clemenceau to watch the episode of CBC TV’s www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2011/02/10/cons-supermarket-superbugs.html.MarketplaceEND that investigated superbug bacteria on supermarket chicken — the same chicken that most carnivores are familiar with, the same chicken described in the article as “plastic-wrapped packet of boneless, skinless breasts from a refrigerated grocery store aisle,” the chicken that the people who buy from Bill Fletcher do not want to eat.

Researchers bought 100 samples of some of the most popular brands of chicken, labelled and photographed them and sent them off to a lab for testing. Two thirds of the results showed bacteria — not simply E. coli, salmonella or

SPCA Regulations are only one set of regulations pertaining to animals.  Criminal Code may also apply.

SPCA Regulations are only one set of regulations pertaining to animals. Criminal Code may also apply.

campylobacter often present on raw chicken, but bacteria that antibiotics cannot kill.

Some bacteria were resistant to as many as eight types of antibiotics. Canadian poultry farmers are allowed to use the full range of antibiotics including those used exclusively when treating pregnant women and children.

Unless consumers buy chicken raised without the use of antibiotics (and clearly labelled as such), they are purchasing factory-farmed chicken that has consumed a lifetime of antibiotics, given for little reason other than delivering a weightier product, faster.

Why should this concern people like Ms Clemenceau? Because the day may (some on the front lines of medicine say will) come when superbug bacteria will infect our population — vegetarian and omnivore alike — and our arsenal of antibiotics will be of no use.

And that is where Bill Fletcher and choice comes into play: by offering his beautiful birds for sale, he is helping to provide a varied system of food delivery. It seems to me that petitioning to close the livestock stalls at the Stouffville Country Market is a mistake that plays right into the hand of industrialized (and not so healthy) food.

Perhaps vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores could unite — as all are at risk of future bacterial infection without antibiotic relief — and demand that the use of antibiotics in animal feed be outlawed across Canada. This protection is already offered throughout much of Europe.

Now that is a petition that I’d sign.” Linda Muir, Toronto


When you call the OSPCA after hours, you are directed to contact the police.  Yet today,  despite police presence,  they seem unwilling to even inspect the market when provided with the regulations.

When you call the OSPCA after hours, you are directed to contact the police. Yet today, despite police presence, they seem unwilling to even inspect the market when provided with the regulations.

‘Heather Clemenceau and Nic Wilvert have the right cause, but the wrong target. Small livestock dealers at the Stouffville farmer’s market, following a centuries-old tradition of selling live animals to individuals, are not committing atrocities toward animals. Neither are the buyers.

Instead, these animal activists should be directing their energies toward improving the mega-sized, highly commercialized food system in Ontario where animal welfare is really in question. Do these do-gooders not know about the living conditions and transport of most factory farmed animals?

And the huge processing facilities where thousands of antibiotic-infused chickens are mass executed daily in a mechanized fashion? Is the “consistent method of killing” frenzied, stressed animals en masse that Clemenceau refers to in her blog, a preferred fate to the killing of individual animals by humans who end their lives quickly and humanely?

The cellophane wrapped, Styrofoam-tray mounted, chemical-laced poultry product most of us now buy in our box stores is a far cry from what our families used to purchase just a generation ago. I can’t see this as progress.

We all need to be more mindful of where our food comes from. Farmer’s markets are an excellent source of real, genuine food and need to be supported.”  Denise Sheedy, Pefferlaw


I would like to respond to Ms. Muir and Ms Sheedy’s Letters to the Editor,  published on March 23rd,  the day of the opening of the Stouffville Livestock Market for 2013.  I wish to clarify that Heather_ppat no time during my interview with the writer Rachel Mendleson did I state that I preferred CAFO farming of any animal.  What I did say was that, with the vendor disclosure that many clients were buying these birds, likely for halal or kosher slaughter, a system with controls and inspectors,  however flawed,  is better than none at all.  That does NOT have to be large scale slaughter – a licensed butcher would be much more appropriate,  as would a mobile slaughter truck.  Halal and Kosher slaughter (or other inept methods of killing) are cruel in that they do not stun the animals beforehand, so they are completely conscious when slaughtered,  which I’ve discussed in a blog post and therefore won’t address it here again.  The average person killing an animal purchased at the market will be unable to determine whether the vertebral arteries have been severed to the brain (unless of course the animal is completely and immediately decapitated).

Insofar as antibiotics are concerned, this is a separate issue that is not directly related to the issues at the market, which I’ve discussed in several blogposts:

Our meeting with Mayor Emmerson

Our first protest of the market and the resulting assaults in December 2012

First blog post discussing the conditions at the market

The livestock industry uses the majority of antibiotics sold today – and it’s quite true they are slowly losing their effectiveness in fighting bacterial infections .  I’m honestly surprised that the writer cannot make the connection between antibiotic use and the mass production of animals.  Surely the writer recognizes that the increase in overall meat consumption has been facilitated by the low cost of meat, due to the mechanization of meat processing, increased economies of scale, and antibiotic use?  Without the ability to slaughter hundreds of animals per hour, the craving for meat cannot be satisfied, especially by the small scale producer. Mechanized dis-assembly of animals occurs as a result of the demand for cheap meat, which we’ve also seen result in the horsemeat adulteration scandal in the EU.  The only way to avoid this is to stop patronizing the industry.

Any producer,  large or small can be a contributor to unethical animal handling, and yes, often the biggest culprit is factory farms.  But small scale farmers can hardly be excused because their product “may” be less adulterated.  The true pressure on small farmers are not the activists asking that blatant cruelty stop, but on farmers themselves to establish CAFOs in order to compete with the larger corporations.  These are not issues we are exploring in our protests.  Therefore, discussion of antibiotics in food has little bearing on the deplorable practice of putting animals in the trunks of cars in any climate.  Causing undue suffering such as this is in contravention of the SPCA act and Criminal Code.  Again, our issue is cruelty,  plain and simple.

These birds show a reality that is somewhat different from the video of Mr. Fletcher's establishment. Notice the small scabs. Today they were rescued by a compassion man who will rehab them.

These birds show a reality that is somewhat different from the video of Mr. Fletcher’s establishment. Notice the small scabs and blood-tinged sparse feathering. Today they were rescued by a compassionate man who will rehab them.  Also notice that he has them in a box and not an onion bag!

I do believe that the battery hens at the market, which comprise a sizable majority, are raised in battery cages, with artificial sunlight, for about 72 weeks before slaughter.  In Canada anywhere from 70-90 percent of them are raised this way.  Beyond seeing Mr. Fletcher’s video, we have no idea how the other vendors raise their birds.  Mr. Fletcher is also one of several vendors on this site and when I visited and photographed the market,  I saw no guarantees from any of them as to what meds if any, are used in their animals directly or via feed.  I saw no disclaimers that these animals were “free range,”  or any of the other semi-meaningless descriptors used for animal farms.  I have never seen any signage posted or warranties provided that these animals are organic.  Indeed, the government of Canada has very specific requirements for registering a farm as “organic.”

Ms. Sheedy decries the “Styrofoam-tray mounted, chemical-laced poultry product most of us now buy in our box stores is a far cry from what our families used to purchase just a generation ago.” What we’ve actually done in the last 100 years is trade one form of cruelty – the unregulated abattoirs,  for another – the mass dis-assembly of animals on a production line.  The way in which we view animals has changed dramatically over the last 100 years.  We experience tension and clashes in this era due to  a growing fondness of some animals and the consumption of others.  Most abattoirs 100 years ago where situated in slums characterized by extreme poverty, filth,  delinquency, and crowded conditions.  Today,  it is generally acknowledged that sentient creatures being killed are worthy of protection.  If you have a market such as this where neither OMAFRA nor the OSPCA are willing or able to direct changes, you have the same institutionalized “forgetting” that creates the conditions for cruelty hidden in a quiet country town.

We received this message via a circuitous route - thankfully the heckler did not emerge. More of an issue perhaps is why adults encourage minor children to engage with adults and encourage harassment.

Come at me ‘bro.  We received this message via a circuitous route – thankfully the heckler did not emerge. More of an issue perhaps is why adults encourage minor children to engage with adults and encourage harassment.  And harassment is not a skill that will take your kids anywhere in life.

Even in the eighteenth century , reformers argued that “public slaughterhouses” would be preferable to “private slaughterhouses” (the term referred to any structure in which animals were slaughtered for human consumption, e.g., a butcher’s shed) because they would remove the sight of animal slaughter from public places and indiscreet private slaughterhouses, they could more easily be monitored, they were generally considered to be cleaner as well.  Our argument is not so much different from that.  That is not to say that industrialization or mechanization of slaughter is somehow preferable to what could be a humane end by a licensed butcher.

In conclusion, a more relevant video embedded in the Star article would have consisted of footage of the actual conditions at the market and not at one vendor’s establishment.  I’m gratified that Mr. Fletcher’s birds are indoors and protected from the elements, but again, is he is only one of several livestock vendors that service the market with different species of animals.  While the video gives the impression that Mr. Fletcher’s establishment IS the market, the animals at the market have zero protection from the elements for at least six hours unless they remain in a trailer.  Today at the protest of the re-opening of the market for 2013, the temperature is in the negative numbers and with wind chill is it even colder.   If the protesters at the market are freezing for 3 hours, imagine how these birds must feel,  particularly the “spent” hens who have  very limited feathering.  They don’t all look like Mr. Fletcher’s birds.  Thank you to another writer responding to The Star article,  Ms. Featherby,  who “gets it.”  Please read her letter below:


“Rodger Dunlop’s “hope” that the slaughter of farmers’ market purchases is humane is inadequate. That the manager of regulatory compliance for the Ontario Agriculture Ministry “hopes” that these animals will be treated without cruelty by a public whose methods of ending an animal’s life are not monitored, nor guided by definable regulations is an unfortunate guarantee that many short lives will have horrific endings.

If witnesses are observing animals being carelessly tossed into trunks and having their little bones broken in plain view of the public, one wonders what goes on upon arrival home. Indeed, as these animals end up in the care of individuals who clearly want to do the killing themselves, it does make one question just how much kindness and dignity they are afforded in death, and why the absence of regulation continues.”  Mercedes Featherby, Toronto

What’s On Your Plate Stouffville? Livestock Advocacy Efforts Continue Into 2013…

Chickens at the Stouffville Market

Photo by Laura Templeton

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Yesterday, in anticipation of the 2013 opening of the Stouffville Livestock Market, we met with Mayor Emmerson and a representative of the Town of Stouffville.  Our intent has been to highlight the perceptions of livestock markets in general by both the local community and the world at large,  and explain that our position on the livestock handling and sale is supported by evidence and law.  We acknowledge that the Mayor does not necessarily have jurisdiction over all aspects of the market,  but nevertheless,  should be made aware of the “other side” of the story that is not being told by the market operators or necessarily the media.  The Mayor also invited members of the OSPCA,  but unfortunately they were unavailable/failed to present for the meeting.  At the same time, a Toronto Star article was published comparing/contrasting activist claims with vendor and government assertions about care and handling of the animals.

First on the agenda was to present the Mayor with the petition, which now reflected between 1,500 and 1,600 signatures from all over the world.  I also gave the Mayor a page of signatures for the Stouffville area alone.

We brought printouts from the  “Health of Animals” Regulations – Livestock Handling,  Transport,  Segregation…  from the Justice Laws website of the Government of Canada:

141. (1) Subject to this section, no person shall load on any railway car, motor vehicle,  aircraft or vessel and no carrier shall transport animals of different species or of substantially different weight or age unless those animals are segregated.”

143. (1) No person shall transport or cause to be transported any animal in a railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, crate or container if injury or undue suffering is likely to be caused to the animal by reason of

(a) inadequate construction of the railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, container or any part thereof;

(b) insecure fittings, the presence of bolt-heads, angles or other projections;

(c) the fittings or other parts of the railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel or container being inadequately padded, fenced off or otherwise obstructed;

(d) undue exposure to the weather; or

(e) inadequate ventilation.

Good to see you Bob and Anita!

And from the Criminal Code of Canada:

Section 446 of the Criminal Code sets out the offence of causing damage or injury to animals and birds. Everyone who by:

…wilful neglect causes damage to animals or birds that are being conveyed or everyone who is the owner or has custody or control of an animal or bird wilfully neglects or fails to provide suitable and adequate food water, shelter and care, is guilty of an offence.

A person convicted of this offence is liable to imprisonment for not more than two years if the prosecution proceeds by way of indictment. If convicted of an offence where the Crown proceeds by way of summary conviction, the person faces a maximum punishment of a fine not exceeding $5,000 or six months in jail or both.

Section 446(3) states that:

…evidence that a person failed to exercise reasonable care or supervision of an animal or bird and thereby caused injury or damage to it, is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof that the injury or damage was caused by “wilful neglect”.

Animal Health Regs

In our opinion, the livestock market cannot simultaneously operate and meet all of these conditions.  As identified in my previous blog on the market, animals of all species are placed in an onion bag(s) – this may consist of rabbits, chickens, quail, or ducks.  It is the market’s responsibility to segregate the animals by species.  OMAFRA handed down a decision at the Woodville auction whereby onion bags were not permissible and the animals were placed in cardboard boxes.  We verified that this was happening at the Woodville auction in January 2013.  OSPCA senior inspector Steven Toy did not only  insist that the vendors supply water to the animals,  but he also told them that they could only place one animal per onion bag,  although that wasn’t mentioned in the Toronto Star article covering our protests.  However, it seems to be that the only animals receiving any water are those on display – animals constricted in the yellow/red cages are not offered water unless they are put out on display in smaller metal cages.

While a spokesman for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency stated that “Onion bags allow the animals to be calm and breathe comfortably,” I wonder if he would arrive at the same conclusion if he saw multiple species of animal stuffed into the bag and placed into the trunk of a car?  I also spoke with a CFIA source on March 11th and asked him whether it could be construed that placing animals in the trunks of cars could be considered “undue stress” and he did agree.  Therefore,  we hold that the market or possibly its customers may also be in contravention of section 143 (1) of the “Health of Animals” regulations since animals placed in the trunks of cars, particularly on the hottest months of the year will indeed experience “undue suffering.”  This is no different that leaving a dog in a locked car without appropriate ventilation – the police would likely be called and the owner may be charged.  We discussed with the Mayor the possibility that persons storing the animals in trunks could be charged under the Criminal Code.

Wind Chill Factors

Wind Chill Factors – the effect of cold and speed on the interior temperature of a livestock trailer with open slats.

Holding a market in March and November/December is unduly cold for many of the animals, especially chickens who have lost much of their feathers and have little protection from the elements.  This is exacerbated by transporting them in trailers with open slats – the chicken cages are loaded directly against the slats, and open slats in winter  coupled with the speed of the vehicle can often bring the interior temperatures of the trailer into negative numbers.  You can see from the various blog pictures that the trailers all have open slats, and these pictures were taken in November.  It’s amazing to me that the OSPCA apparently overlooked this.  National Farm Animal Care Council codes of practice indicate that “Ventilation should be adjustable from the outside of the vehicle in response to temperature changes during a trip.”

Again, despite vendor claims to the contrary,  various protesters  have actually seen chickens being killed at the market.  Most of the activists have seen chickens get their necks snapped – how can this be construed as “taking things out of context?”  I would honestly say that a great many of the birds on sale at the market hardly look “1,000 times better” than what’s produced on factory farms,”  since many of them are spent battery hens at the end of their productive lives.

What would be the interior temperature of this trailer in November with slats open?

What would be the interior temperature of this trailer in November with slats open? Photo By Laura Templeton

Also not mentioned in the Toronto Star article was the outstanding issue whereby 3 people were assaulted at the market on December 15th.  Two people were pushed, one person’s phone was nearly knocked out of their hand, and another was physically restrained by the wrist.  We were not discouraged from filing police reports by the Mayor’s Office either.  Does anyone other than the conscientious objectors to the market believe that assault,  particularly by a man of a woman,  is a telling indicator of how some of the vendors might behave towards their animals?

Of course it’s better for the purchasers of the animals to take them to a licensed slaughterhouse, but how many purchasers do that?  If they didn’t want to

Animals of various species loaded into onion sacks.  There is significant weight to these sacks and the animals on the bottom are being crushed.

Animals of various species loaded into onion sacks. There is significant weight to these sacks and the animals on the bottom are being crushed.

slaughter animals themselves, they would likely go to their local butcher and still be able to claim they’re a “locavore.” Third-generation chicken farmer, Fletcher, as quoted in the Star article, acknowledges that the animals are being killed at home: “…..his customers, who range from immigrants accustomed to slaughtering their own meat to families seeking a source for fresh eggs.”  Religious or kosher/halal slaughter techniques are cruel and should be ended, says a scientific assessment from animal welfare advisers. The Farm Animal Welfare Council in the UK says that slitting the throats of the animals most commonly used for meat, chickens, without stunning, results in “significant pain and distress”.  Throat cutting associated with religious slaughter may fail to sever the vertebral arteries supplying the brain.

Spent Hens

“Spent” hens, now with water as a result of social media publicity.  Photo by Lynne Barrington

We came away from our meeting  having reached consensus on some issues with the Mayor.  Smoking around flammable material by vendors and customers is to be addressed with signage and inspection from the Fire department.  We were not dissuaded from filing police reports as a result of the assaults.  The Mayor agreed to asking the market to use cardboard boxes, so that the market is “on spec” with the practices being used at Woodville.  I sense that the Mayor was uncomfortable with the past practice of putting goats in the trunks of cars – I say “past practice” because we assume that they will no longer be sold at the market since per the CFIA, hoofstock is not permissible.   Mayor Emmerson also didn’t really offer any resistance when we suggested that purchasers who put animals in the trunks of cars on hot days might be subject to charges of animal cruelty either.  Is it so difficult to put an animal into the climate-controlled passenger compartment?

At this time, our protest of the market re-opening is still a go for March 23rd, despite conflicting information about the official start of the livestock market.  It will be interesting to see what policy changes “stick” with the market in 2013.  We thank the Mayor for agreeing to meet with us and will follow-up with the other agencies as discussed.

The Case For Freeing Limba


Mustic ElephantsWritten by:  Kimberly Spiegel

Reprinted with permission

This letter was originally written by Kimberly to Michael Hackenberger,  the owner of the Bowmanville Zoo.  In Defense of Animals (IDA) has accused the independent facility, which is located about 75 km east of Toronto, of imposing a “cruel sentence” on its only elephant, a 50-year-old female named Limba, whose existence the group describes as “[a] miserable, lonely life.”

Dear Mr. Hackenberger,

I’m glad that we spoke the other day. I think it’s really important to start a civil dialogue on these issues between animal rights activists and zoos. I only regret that I could not remember all the details of Limba’s case and the details of your zoo the day we spoke, but I have done much research since then and spent a couple days thinking of an appropriate follow-up response to our discussion.

First of all, it is sad people who support non-violence and love of animals would say hateful things to you. That is not constructive and gets us nowhere. According to Gary Francione, professor at Rutgers University: “The animal rights position is the ultimate rejection of violence. It is the ultimate affirmation of peace. I see the animal rights movement as the logical progression of the peace movement, which seeks to end conflict between humans. The animal rights movement ideally seeks to take that a step further and to end conflict between humans and nonhumans.” The root of the issue among animal rights people is that we don’t see animals as property and that they aren’t ours to do whatever we like with them, no matter how well-intentioned one might be. Your zoo is unique from other zoos because your primary focus seems to be the use of your animals in film, television, circuses, fairs, children’s parties, and other events. Indeed one might think from your long CV that your zoo is merely a front for your animal actor business. As quoted in your CV “Bowmanville Zoo is one of the largest suppliers of trained animals for the feature film and television industry…. Maintaining the largest stable of trained movie and television animals in Canada, the Bowmanville Zoo brings cutting edge operant conditioning techniques and behavioral modification to the animals under its stewardship.” Your CV lists 22 feature films (4 with elephants), 80 television movies and series (26 with elephants), and 58 commercial credits (23 with elephants).

It is no secret you use your animals for profit, and I understand that it may be what pays for the maintenance of the zoo and the animal’s food, but other reputable zoos do not do this. The point is we feel it is wrong to make animals behave in ways that can only be induced by “operant conditioning” and “behavior modification.”

Obviously, you are forcing animals to do things that they would never do in the wild. In addition, because of the cold winter months in Canada, Limba must be kept inside in a small barn alone for a very long period of time, which is very unnatural as elephants normally walk many miles a day with their family group, in a warm African climate. At her age, we do not believe she should be subject to regular long travel, cold weather, a small enclosure, or being forced to act in an unnatural way and she should be allowed to retire and enjoy the remaining years of her life in a sanctuary.

Limba promotes the MS Walk

Limba promotes the MS Walk

Limba’s sad state that I referred to in my first email is that at her advanced age she is still being used for circus acts and other events. It is evident from a recent video online and the Circus Mondo website that Limba is still being made to perform in Circus Mondo. I just don’t understand this desire to train animals to make them do things that are such unnatural behaviors for them, such as mount a stand and lift her legs into the air as I saw in the video. My opinion is it is merely for profit and drawing in crowds. Yet what kind of people would want to see this sort of animal exploitation I wonder. This does not teach children about elephants or why we should care about them and protect their wild habitats. It teaches them that exploitation of animals is acceptable in our society. It makes no sense that you would even use that argument about conservation of elephants and that you donate $50,000 toward their conservation, and then use your only elephant as a circus performer.

Using animals in circuses is profoundly wrong and all around the world community attitudes are demanding that animal circuses be ended. Many countries have already banned nationwide the use of wild animals in circuses: Bolivia, Peru, Israel, Signapore, Greece, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Costa Rica, and Paraguay. Dozens of other nations have also enacted local bans for certain cities or districts. North America is sadly lagging behind the rest of the world in empathy. Canada has local bans on the use of animals in circuses in 27 municipal jurisdictions including Vancouver. There is an obvious trend here, more and more people are waking up to the fact that animals do not belong in circus acts and it is only a matter of time before it is banned worldwide. The world’s most successful circus, Cirque de Soleil, was started by a street performer and musician, Guy Laliberté. It made him a multi-billionaire. And what is so special about his circus? It has no captive animals, just talented, attractive, healthy, fit, strong and artistic human beings.

And from your own country as reported in the Halifax News in April last year: “The Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources is allowing Circus Mondo to perform, but is prohibiting the performance of Limba, the circus’s Asian elephant. According to the DNR, it is inhumane to transport a lone elephant and for the second year in a row, they are not allowing Limba into the province.” Now those are people who care about her welfare and recognize that elephants belong in groups. Animal welfare specialist Dr. Paul Rees of Salford University looked at the records of 200 zoos worldwide. In 2006, 69 percent of Asian elephants and 80 percent of African elephants in the world’s zoos were still being kept in groups of four or fewer. Both British and American animal welfare groups recommend elephants are kept in larger groups of seven or more that better reflects the natural habitat in the wild. Rees said “In the wild, elephant social structure is complex and, although the average group size is around 12, they can also live in even larger extended family units. Contact with members of their own species is crucial for the animals to develop normal behaviour patterns and friendships. Small group sizes in zoos may prevent this from happening.

There is no good reason for a zoo to keep just one elephant. In an awful lot of zoos around the world elephants are unable to comply with recommendations that elephants are kept in larger groups. I am absolutely convinced this is not a good thing.” He continued to say that elephants kept in small groups can display “abnormal behaviour” such as swaying on the spot or pacing in circles that suggests the animals are unhappy. Limba is totally without contact with members of her own species. Do you think this is fair? If so I dare you to try living without any contact with your own species and then see how you feel about it. In an article published online on January 16 it stated “At the behest of CAZA, Bill Peters said the zoo is in the midst of preparing a plan to acquire “companion animals for Limba.” I’m assuming this doesn’t mean other elephants.

An article quoted you as saying when Limba was brought to the zoo there were five other elephants, and as you told me on the phone the other elephants rejected her. As someone who is so knowledgeable about elephants, I’m sure you know Asian elephant females live in matriarchial groups with other females only, so by the information of elephants that have been at your zoo, I see there is only one elephant that she could have bonded with appropriately – Lisa. As you are quoted in the article saying Limba didn’t do well in the herd, well isn’t that a possible result of mixing two elephant species together and then different genders, which all would normally be four separate groups in the wild? In addition, it is my understanding that when elephants are forced to share small spaces, they don’t always get along. San Antonio Zoo Elephant Voices co-director Dr. Joyce Poole, who has been studying elephant behavior in Africa and Asia for more than 30 years, reviewed a video of two of their elephants, Lucky and Queenie, and observed: “Lucky is being terrorized by Queenie. This kind of persistent bullying is not seen in the wild, because elephants have other activities with which to occupy themselves, and because they can remove themselves from conflict, if need be. In my

Limba is forced to give rides

Limba is forced to give rides

opinion, the primary cause of this undesirable situation is that the elephants have too little space.” Limba might very well thrive and be able to make friends at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, without the pressure of a confined space that causes conflict among elephants. I think it is very selfish of you to not give her this opportunity to see if it even will work for her.

Your view that Limba is well-treated and well-loved, as you have stated, is a total matter of perception and requires that love is defined. To me, the definition of love is that condition in which the happiness of another being is essential to your own. It means to look out for the best interests of another and to not infringe upon its free will in any way. In this case, it would mean not exploiting animals in the entertainment industry or making them do anything that is unnatural to their normal wild animal behavior. The issue is not necessarily about abuse, although we put animals in situations that can and frequently does lead to their mistreatment which is irresponsible of us and immoral. Might does not mean right, just because we can exert power over others, does not mean we should. Animal rights also stem to larger issues. We feel control, violence, and oppression of animals is a societal ill and can only be cured by their total abolition. We equate it to abolition of slavery in the US. Abolition was only ethical once all the slaves could be free. It wasn’t enough for just the northern states to be free.

Animals just do not belong stuck in our world irrespective of how well we treat them. Humans have no business continuing to bring these creatures into a world in which they simply do not fit. I don’t doubt that Limba has accepted you and your family as her family, but what choice did she have? Elephants are social, loving creatures that live in family groups and she needed someone to love and you were her only choice, but she doesn’t belong with your family, she belongs with members of her own species. It cannot be said to be free will when there is an absence of choice.

As you know, elephants that have been forced to perform in circuses have killed people, and then they must be shot and killed themselves, such as in 1994 an elephant named Tyke killed her trainer and injured 12 people at a circus performing in Honolulu, then was shot to death (shot over 100 times). Animal behavior can change unexpectedly as these animals may eventually snap from years of stress and mistreatment and hurt people. Even if your animal is treated completely humanely, people see Limba in Circus Mondo and might think it is ok to go to other circuses such as Ringling Brothers which repeatedly abuse and seriously mistreat their elephants, so you are contributing to the perpetuation of this form of entertainment that allows animals to be abused.

I was able to obtain the history of elephants kept at your zoo online. You have had 6 elephant deaths, 5 of which were wild caught for this industry.

Asian elephants:

1) Lisa 1988, euthanized 1990 due to foot problems, age 32, 2 years at your zoo
2) Tony 1995, dead 1999 cause of death unknown???, age 27 years, 4 years at your zoo
3) Ceasar 2001, dead 2006, cause of death unown??? Age 19, 5 years at your zoo
4) Vance 1988, dead 2008, euthanized due to leg problems, age 37, 20 years at your zoo

African elephants:

1) Sheba 1984, dead 2011, euthanized for unknown reasons???, age 36, 8-10 years at your zoo
2) Angus 1986, dead 2006, cause of death unknown???, age 27, 20 years at your zoo

Limba is seen here promoting the Grand Cru Culinary Wine Festival in Toronto, by handing out flowers

Limba is seen here promoting the Grand Cru Culinary Wine Festival in Toronto, by handing out flowers

I’m sure you are aware of the study of elephant lifespans from the University of Guelph published in Science in 2008 which found that wild African elephant females lived to be a median age of 56 and that Asian elephants could live to be at least 42 years (working timber elephant data, no data on wild elephants). The study also found that zoo elephants of both African and Asian species tended to die at much younger ages than either wild African elephants or working Asian elephants. The researchers said the median lifespan for elephants that died in European zoos between 1960 and 2005 was only 17 years for the African species and 19 years for the Asian animals. Stress, lack of exercise and obesity were thought to be largely responsible for the shorter lifespan of the zoo elephants. Median lifespan is 29.5 for your deceased Asian elephants and 32 for the Africans, considerably shorter than wild elephants.
Limba, age 49, arrived 1989, has outlived all your other elephants which is hopefully a sign of her being well cared for. Yet I wonder about the unlisted causes of death of 4 of your 6 elephants.

You also told me on the phone you did not believe the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee would be a better place for her because they have had a death of a keeper and because of tuberculosis that killed some of their elephants. Your elephant Tony was from the same Hawthorne herd as the others who died of TB at the Elephant Sanctuary and I wonder if he died of that also? I don’t know how long you have been director, but in 1988 Tarra was relocated from the Bowmanville Zoo to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and she is still alive and well. As for the death of the keeper by Winkie, it was known that that elephant had behavioral problems and it was certainly an unfortunate incident. But your zoo is responsible for a lion who knocked over and broke four ribs of Gitanjali Kolanad, so these things can happen when working with animals, their behavior is totally unpredictable and anyone who has ever worked with animals knows that.

Limba is likely at greater health risks from standing on hard surfaces in cold weather with little movement for long periods of time at your zoo than she ever would be at the Elephant Sanctuary. From a Seattle Times article “The Times did a first-of-its-kind analysis of 390 elephant fatalities at accredited U.S. zoos for the past 50 years. It found that most of the elephants died from injury or disease linked to conditions of their captivity, from chronic foot problems caused by standing on hard surfaces to musculoskeletal disorders from inactivity caused by being penned or chained for days and weeks at a time.” It appears two of your own elephants died from foot and leg problems, and the other 4 unreported causes of death possibly fit into one of these categories. This is truly a disgrace that most elephants die because of being in captivity. How is sentencing them to die in a prison essentially considered caring for their well being?

The median age for the Asian elephants living at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is 47 and the median age of those who have passed is 48, whereas at your zoo the median age at death of Asian elephants is 29.5, a 20 year difference which is quite significant. I believe the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee would be a better habitat for Limba because she would have much more space to roam around. Your whole zoo is only 42 acres, the Elephant Sanctuary of Tennessee is 2,700 acres. Limba would obviously have much more space for exercise, more than she has had since being stolen from the wild. Elephants in the wild are used to traveling many miles a day. I think she deserves a chance to really be an elephant and to try to get integrated with the other group of female Asian elephants at the Tennessee Elephant Sanctuary.

David Hancock who was director of Woodland Park Zoo from 1976 to 1984 said, “Elephants don’t thrive in zoos. We didn’t understand elephants very well in the 1970s or ’80s. But there is overwhelming scientific evidence today that shows the

Many people are disturbed to see elephants performing unnatural and undignified acts

Many people are disturbed to see elephants performing unnatural and undignified acts

harmful impact of captivity.” Animals are often prevented from doing most of the things that are natural and important to them, like running, foraging, choosing a partner, and being with others of their own kind. Zoos teach people that it is acceptable to interfere with animals and keep them locked up in captivity, where they are bored, cramped, lonely, deprived of all control over their lives, and far from their natural homes.

You mentioned that zoos are important for education and conservation purposes. I would argue that seeing an animal in captivity as it exhibits behaviors of stress and boredom while living in a sterile environment is much less educational than, for example, watching a National Geographic video of animals filmed in the wild. In addition, conservation efforts aren’t always successful. Benjamin Beck, former associate director of biological programs at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., found that in the last century, only 16 of 145 reintroduction programs worldwide ever actually restored any animal populations to the wild. Of those, most were carried out by government agencies, not zoos. Most zoo animals released in the wild don’t survive. This is because zoos don’t provide the right environment for a successful captive breeding project. The animals would need to live in habitats resembling their natural ones, especially in terms of climate and fauna. Zoos spend huge amounts of money on their breeding programs, even though breeding animals in captivity isn’t the best way to help in conservation.

It is at least 50 times more expensive to maintain elephants in zoos than to protect equivalent numbers of elephants in the wild. Using the money for conservation programs in the wild – by creating more protected reserves for instance – will not only allow the animals to live in their natural habitat, it also helps balance whole ecosystems. Zoos that do breed animals do so because it gains them a lot of publicity and attract huge amounts of people. David Hancock estimates that less than 3 percent of the budget of accredited zoos in the AZA goes toward conservation efforts. At the same time, they point to the billions of dollars spent every year on hi-tech exhibits and marketing efforts to lure visitors. Zoos main interest is always to make money and baby animals are their most powerful marketing tool. And even if there was a huge asset to saving endangered species from zoos, your zoo in particular does not contribute to this – so how can you defend it specifically on those grounds? Elephants in particular are not being bred for reintroduction to the wild – that will never happen because of the high infant mortality rate.

I believe you also stated Limba had higher cortisol levels while children were riding her, but cortisol is released in response to stress – so was that just a blatant lie or did I misunderstand? In case I misheard you and you actually said she had lower cortisol levels while carrying children around, it is still not a scientifically valid reason to keep her without comparable data of what her cortisol levels would be living amongst her family or other elephants that might act as a surrogate family in a more appropriate natural environment. I haven’t seen the data myself to even know the truth and I’m not inclined to just take your word for it. Right now you are her surrogate family, but she doesn’t belong in the human world. You have been quoted as saying “I’ve never made any secret of the fact if an elephant behaves inappropriately I will discipline it. It’s like spanking a child.” Can you discipline from a place of love? This is a controversial issue even among human parents who might physically or verbally discipline their children. This is quite a concern for me because the only reason you would need to discipline her is if she is trying to just be an elephant and not performing how you want her to perform. She is not a child, she is an elephant, and treating her as anything but is nonsensical and shows the lack of respect and understanding you truly have for non-human animals. You wouldn’t treat your sons like elephants would you?

Animals used in circuses are unwilling participants in a show that jeopardizes their health and mental well-being and the lives of human spectators and performers. Circuses force animals to perform tricks that have nothing to do with how these magnificent creatures behave in the wild.

Animals used in circuses are unwilling participants in a show that jeopardizes their health and mental well-being and the lives of human spectators and performers. Circuses force animals to perform tricks that have nothing to do with how these magnificent creatures behave in the wild.

You also mentioned on the phone if people have a problem with how Limba is treated that they should take it up with OSPCA or CAZA and some animal rights people in Canada have stated there are serious problems with both organizations and that they couldn’t be relied upon. It was stated that they would call the OSPCA if they were at all credible and cared about something other than money, and that they are a dysfunctional organization lacking in transparency. Some evidence that they may not be reputable is that they are a registered charity yet will not release their salary amounts to the public. Another has said that CAZA is a club that is there to create an illusion of oversight and keep people without vested interests at arm’s length and they do not enforce even minimum standards and simply overlook anyone that fails to meet them.

People who speak out for animals such as myself, do so from the perspective that animals are equal to humans in their ability to feel, to suffer, and have equal rights to freedom and the exercising of their free will. When we see that an animal is no longer able to have freedom or at least to have its unnatural state diminished, we speak out, out of compassion. I see the sacredness in all life, and I would never desire to exert power and control over another living thing. But you do. What does that say about you? Power is always veiled by ideas that are thought to be good. A whole ideology is then built around such an idea, making it a worldview that appears as striving for what is good, while in essence, you are trying to control life – both in yourself and in others. FEEL the energy of wanting to control things. Is that a loving energy? Often, that energy poses as love, as the good and the true, but power always conceals itself in this way so it is easier for people to accept. Power does not show its face openly; power seduces through thought.

I became a biologist to protect wild places for animals, it is an absolute irony to me when zoos say they are working to promote conservation all the while keeping animals out of the wild. I can maybe see the benefit of captive breeding programs to reintroduce wildlife populations in decline, but since so few have been successful it is potentially just a waste of money that could be diverted to protecting other species in the wild that have better chances. Extinctions will be inevitable. The idea of just having animals in captivity to “educate” people about them is a total fallacy.

I did not develop my love of nature and wildlife from zoos. I developed it by actually spending time in nature, by connecting with it. In my own backyard I was lucky enough to live in a rural area and have this opportunity to observe birds, frogs, salamanders, mammals, and turtles. I went canoeing, hiking, and camping as a child. I developed such a profound love for nature that I have dedicated my life to protecting it in its most natural state. I understand not all children have these opportunities when they live in urban areas, but bringing children to zoos perpetuates the myth that this promotes conservation when all it promotes is the fact that we can exert our power over “lesser beings.” They are not lesser, they are equal. I can see the value in having unreleasable, injured native animals captive for educational purposes, but not exotic animals. It is morally wrong and unjustifiable to take perfectly healthy animals from their mothers at a young age from the wild, which inevitably damages their psyche for life. Then especially to turn them into circus performers, that is abhorrent.

What is really disturbing is that wild elephants are still being captured for zoos, 6 elephant calves were just captured from the wild in Zimbabwe and may be sold to Chinese zoos. Four have already been sent to Chinese zoos recently and one has since died. This is unacceptable that this continues! Zoos do not promote conservation, they promote the exploitation and the view that an animal is property and we should be allowed to do what we want with them. They are not property, they are not somethings, they are someones. What we really want to see is an end to exotic animals in captivity and used for performing in circuses and film. There are not natural for animals and are felephantsorced into these situations by their owners which they are totally at the mercy of because animals are defined as property. Certain animals that require large amounts of space such as elephants should not be kept in zoos if the proper environment can never be provided for. There is enough evidence that elephants do not thrive in the usually too small zoo enclosures.

As we discussed, Africa has its problems with extreme poverty that leads people to poach elephants for ivory to feed their families. It is a sad state of the world when rich countries like the US and Canada spend millions of dollars on many forms of mindless entertainment and many things they don’t need instead of helping those in need in poorer countries when it might actually stop poaching. I think we can agree that there are many things about our society that need to change, but sending Limba to a sanctuary is one thing that you can actually do to make it just a little bit better, for her and for the message you will be sending to the world that she is loved and deserves to retire and enjoy for a little while a real elephant’s life. I don’t think I know more than you, but sometimes seeing things through another’s eyes is beneficial.

Start The Car! The IKEA Monkey Chronicle Gets Ugly

Monkey group in a naturalistic environment

Monkey group in a naturalistic environment

Written By:  Heather Clemenceau

The discovery of Darwin, a juvenile macaque found wandering the Toronto IKEA store parking lot in a shearling coat, has divided various groups on the internet.  As most Torontonians already know, the “IKEA Monkey” was taken from the store by Toronto Animal Services and ultimately placed at Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ontario.  Story Book takes in such lost souls—monkeys who have been commandeered for lab research or just dumped by roadside zoos. Bravo to Story Book Farm!

You’d be wrong in thinking that Darwin’s case was straightforward,  even though it’s illegal to own a non-human primate in Toronto.  It’s also generally frowned upon to  leave an exotic animal in a car in winter while shopping.  In response,  defenders of exotic animal ownership,  property rights,  and various other asshats and wingnuts have laid siege to Story Book Farm in an attempt to discredit them.   Darwin has lawyered-up, or rather his former owner Yasmin Nakhuda has launched a lawsuit as well.

Such tactics include, but are not limited to sending a petition to Brock Township councillors accusing

Darwin's jacket

Darwin’s jacket

Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary of animal cruelty.  The petition, with some 116 typed “signatures,” was hand-delivered to council members’ homes early January,  calls for municipal officials to launch a “full investigation” on the sanctuary’s operation.  It’s not known whether they actually have any evidence,  not that that would be a deterrent for some of these people.  And is anyone else bothered by the fact that the petitions were delivered to the councillor’s private HOMES?  Brock Township Mayor Terry Clayton stipulated that the “petition will have no bearing on the licensing process” for Story Book Farm.  Brad Dewar, spokesperson for the OSPCA, said that the petition had not been delivered to the association’s  office. The OSPCA can’t begin an investigation without first interviewing a witness to the alleged misconduct, he said.  “Petitions are great for identifying concerns, but from an investigation standpoint, we need eyewitnesses to come forward to engage in an investigation,” he said.  Herein lies the problem for the signers of the petition – have any of them been to the sanctuary or seen any cruelty?  Furthermore,  could a lawyer (Nakhuda) be disciplined if any statements in the petition linked to or co-signed by her were found to be blatantly false even if she did not make them herself?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Who wore it better?  Darwin or Delboy?

Who wore it better? Darwin or Delboy?

I can’t imagine what “cruelty” these detractors think is happening at Story Book.  But that’s really a rhetorical question,  since facts make strange bedfellows for them.  What would be the alternative for Darwin or any other monkey that is seized or surrendered in Ontario?  My personal belief is that NO MATTER WHERE Darwin was sent,  the exotics breeders and owners would DESCEND with malice aforethought on that sanctuary just as they have with Story Book.  When Darwin was collected from his mis-adventure in the IKEA parking lot, Toronto Animal Services temporarily housed him in a standard pet carry-all sized cage with barking dogs and other animals in the vicinity.  Without such sanctuary placements, the alternative is to warehouse “pet” monkeys,  which the majority of zoos will not accept,  or euthanize them outright.  And is it cruel for a monkey to have to wear diapers its entire life so that it can be accommodated in a household with people?

A posting on the Facebook page – “Darling Darwin Monkey” indicated that the petition had been

Who could not feel sorry for this tiny forlorn creature in a confusing parking lot?

Who could not feel sorry for this tiny forlorn creature in a confusing parking lot?

delivered to the Township, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA), and the Charities Directorate of the Canadian Revenue Agency, requesting “an investigation in several allegations of cruelty, hoarding, manipulation, lack of experience and abuse of their charitable status by the Sanctuary.”  In other words,  they’ve thrown some monkey shit up against the wall in hoping something will stick.  Do lawyers even know what evidence is  in this day and age?  But Yasmin Nakhuda is a real estate lawyer,  not exactly at the top of the legal food-chain. The Facebook page is frequented by supporters of Darwin’s former owner Nakhuda as well as animal advocates who know that Darwin is a wild animal who will exhibit behavioural changes once he reaches  sexual maturity.

Aside from these unsubstantiated claims by the supporters of exotic pet ownership, it’s apparent that none of them see any shame in supporting the exotic trade of animals such as Darwin, who was uprooted from his mother after only a few weeks,  to be bottle-fed by Yasmin while wearing diapers.  The juveniles of many monkey species live with their mothers for up to two

Darwin's temporary living accommodations after seizure by Toronto Animal Services - where he would have stayed had he not been transferred to Story Book

Darwin’s temporary living accommodations after seizure by Toronto Animal Services – where he would have stayed had he not been transferred to Story Book – does this look like suitable long-term care?

years. The precarious state of primates in the illegal pet trade bring up the issues of animal ethics, ecosystem health and many conservation issues.  When people illegally source monkeys from the animal trade they do not recognize or care that this is all it takes to support the illegal pet trade.  The “trade” threatens a great number of endangered and vulnerable species.  A monkey is not a child.  I very much sympathize with Nakhuda’s emotional position, but Darwin is a wild animal who needs the company of his own and other primate species – to claim that any monkey is better suited to living its life in diapers with humans, forced to adapt to human culture, is baseless anthropomorphization.

Apart from calling attention to the various dirty-tricks campaigns currently underway, I’m most interested throwing some shade on the belief that monkeys make good pets or that they are suddenly domesticated after one or two generations.  I’ll drop a flat “no” on both of those claims.

Darwin at Story Book

Darwin at Story Book

Monkeys carry Cercopithecine herpesvirus, which is transmissible to humans and stays with you for life.  This form of herpesvirus simiae can cause fatal encephalitis in people if they’ve been bitten by a monkey carrier.  You also don’t want to get bitten by a monkey under any circumstances,  because they have sharp teeth and they often attack the face or ears,  where there are lots of blood vessels located very close to the brain.  A paper co-authored by people from the CDC (Ostrowski et al, Emerging Infectious Diseases 1998) states clearly “The extremely high prevalence of B-virus along with their behavioral characteristics make the macaque species unsuitable as pets.”  PetWatch (a program of EcoHealth Alliance) ranks macaques as “Worst Choice Pet.”

The idea that humans immediately “tame” an animal born into captivity is misleading.  Wolves originally kept by humans as companions were turned into “dogs” by selectively breeding the tame animals.  Humans bred the animals that reacted well to humans, and did not breed animals that were aggressive or ran away.  What was not realized at the time was that we were assisted in turning wolves into dogs because behaviour in animals is a heritable trait, like intelligence.

Geneticist George Price, of Price’s Theorem fame, defined domestication as a process by which a

Darwin secured inside the IKEA store

Darwin secured inside the IKEA store

population of animals becomes adapted to man and the environment as a result of genetic mutation, neurochemical changes, and environmentally induced developmental changes. In long-term selection experiments designed to study the consequences of selection for the “tame” domesticated type of behaviour, Belyaev et al. (1981) studied foxes reared for their fur. The red fox (Vulpes fulva) has been raised on seminatural fur farms for over 100 years and was selected for fur traits and not behavioural traits.  The objective of this experiment was to breed animals similar in behaviour to the domestic dog. By selecting and breeding the tamest individuals, 20 years later the experiment succeeded in turning wild foxes into tame “dogs.”

While Price and Belyaev were refining the principles of conditioning on animals, ethology – the study of the way genes are modified during evolution to deal with particular environments,  was a developing science.  Konrad Lorenz and Niko Tinbergen cataloged the behaviour of many animals in their natural environments. Together they developed the ethogram. An ethogram is a complete listing of all the behaviours that an animal performs in its natural environment. It includes both innate and learned behaviours – hard-wired programs versus experience and learning.  People intent on returning Darwin to a home-based environment don’t seem to know or wish to acknowledge that even animals with large, complex brains are still governed by innate behaviour patterns.  As these studies have shown,  instantaneous pets are not created via short-term human influence,  regardless of whether dog or monkey is the subject matter.

Pip and Zeke from Jungle Friends

Pip and Zeke from Jungle Friends

Kari Bagnall, the CEO of Jungle Friends, gave testimony on the Ohio exotics Senate Bill 310.  She couldn’t come to Columbus, so it was submitted as written testimony.  Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, located on 12 acres in Gainesville, Florida. Jungle Friends is accredited by the American Sanctuary Association and The Association of Sanctuaries.   The Ohio law will ban new ownership of specific wild animals, including big cats, bears, hyenas, gray wolves, some primates, alligators and crocodiles – all animals that exotics people feel  they automatically have the right to own without restriction.  The Bill will also require owners of restricted species to obtain liability insurance or surety bonds for $200,000 to $1 million, and mandate criminal-background checks of current exotic-animal owners seeking permits.   Please read Kari Bagnall’s very compelling testimony describing the circumstances by which monkeys came to her sanctuary;  I reproduce it here with permission from Ms. Bagnall herself:

Monkey Orchid - a good substitute for an actual monkey,  diapers not required  and guaranteed not to bite....

Monkey Orchid – a good substitute for an actual monkey, diapers not required and guaranteed not to bite….

What eludes me is the “logic” involved in attacking the sanctuary, which did nothing wrong and certainly did not steal him nor let the latch on the car loose so he could escape.  For some reason, humans feel entltled to raise babies in unnatural circumstances. Darwin’s sad case has served to highlight the fact that he is not just a meme,  an IKEA monkey, but a macaque capable of living to his fullest potential in a more natural environment.  We need to educate others and create awareness of illegal pets who need to live their lives as non-human apes.

Activism Happens – Stouffville’s Dirty Little Secret – The Protest


Stouffville's Dirty Little SecretWritten by Heather Clemenceau

All Photos by Heather Clemenceau unless otherwise indicated.

The way we treat our animals is a direct reflection of our society. Animals raised for food have little protection against cruelty.  It speaks to a prejudicial attitude towards certain animals,  which is not based on a rational assessment of their ability to feel pain and sense fear,  but on our intended use for them.   As a result of these prejudicial attitudes,  the abuse of animals traditionally thought of as “farm animals” usually merits little attention, while the loudest outcry is reserved for the abuse of suburban pets.

On December 15th, we held our peaceful, planned protest of the Livestock Market in Stouffville, Ontario.  Saturday’s protesters appeared to be an eclectic mix of all ages from Toronto and both York and Durham Regions.  Some brought babies in their arms, others brought their enthusiastic dogs.

Since the initial blog postings by myself and Photojournalist Laura Templeton, we’ve heard that there have been some changes at the market.  It seems that water dispensers have made an appearance for some animals.  While this is clearly an improvement, we wonder about all the other animals in plastic cages who are not on display?  The pigs that I photographed on an earlier visit are now to be contained within plastic bags rather than exposed to airborne particles from the chicken pens.  This is clearly a win for everyone,  since all raw meat products,  whether pork,  beef,  poultry or fish – have the potential to carry bacterial pathogens,  such as Salmonella or E. coli.  No need to facilitate it either by having meat uncovered near live poultry.

MP McMeekin responds to my tweet about the market

MP McMeekin responds to my tweet about the market

While these changes are positive, I can’t help but wonder how long they will last?  Will the old, entrenched habits of the market reappear once the management and vendors think they have escaped public scrutiny?  What the management should have done years ago is take a leadership role – the sudden presence of water in some of the cages and the packaging of the dead pigs are a sign that the management knows that something is amiss,  but for whatever reason they have lacked the initiative required to put such welfare improvements in place.  A proactive management would have done this and a lot more without the presence of activists.

Additionally,  all livestock sellers who display chicks, ducklings and other live poultry should provide health-related information to owners and potential

Spent Hens

“Spent” hens, now with water as a result of social media publicity – Photo courtesy of Lynne Barrington

purchasers of these birds.  This should include information about the possibility of acquiring a Salmonella infection from contacting live poultry.  Platitudes about handwashing stations at petting zoos and washing hands when dealing with potentially risky things are nice but never enough. I wrote about this in the previous blog post about the market,  but it bears repeating,  especially since Martha Stewart of all people famously became infected with Salmonella due to cross-contamination. Both food producers and consumers themselves are billed by the Center for Disease Control as the CCP (Critical Control Point)  where contamination might occur.  And I will also add that none of these live animals can be sold or prepared for public consumption – private consumption only.

The protest was marred by some unforeseen events.  At the close of our 3 ½ our protest/vigil some of the protesters encountered physical hostility by some vendors inside the market.  You can read more about the physical altercations and the gentleman we call “The Self-Appointed Historian”  on Laura Templeton’s blog.  There is no justification for this physicality, as there is no justification for hurling homophobic slurs at the protesters either.  The real problem is the direct link between animal and human violence. It is repeatedly proven that abuse of animals is a rock-solid sign of trouble. Domestic violence and violence in schools are both two main areas in which potential problems could realistically predicted by looking into the implications behind animal and human violence. The individuals who grabbed or shoved the protesters have got some serious issues – even more so in the case of men accosting females.   While most of the sellers at the market wouldn’t start such a confrontation,  it’s unfortunate that a small minority of vendors chose to take this initiative; if one has no empathy towards animals,  it’s not exactly surprising that some express their frustrations in undesireable ways.  Ditto for the homophobic man and his homophobe-in-training child.  The “parent” has not only taught his child to hate/bully others but directly brought her into an altercation with adults and encouraged it!

In a free society, the best tool that we have in moving forward and making social change is knowledge, and by making the general public aware of these happenings; currently there is significant pressure on the management and owner of the market to end the outdated practice of selling live animals who are transported inhumanely and face a death by possibly unskilled or unpracticed hands.  The public are not aware of potential disease risks either,  and these cannot be eliminated without the cessation of live poultry sales completely.