Both orcas (commonly known as killer whales) and dolphins are members of the dolphin family Delphinidae -- orcas are the largest members. More than 500 orcas, dolphins and other members of the dolphin family are held in captivity in the United States. Before the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was passed in 1972, some 1,133 dolphins were captured in U.S. waters. Since 1961, 134 orcas have been captured worldwide for aquariums; of those only 28 are still alive, when a normal lifespan in the wild is 50 years. While the MMPA made it more difficult to capture marine mammals from the wild, aquariums can still apply for permits or import animals caught in other countries. Whether wild caught or captive born, orcas and dolphins in captivity are sentenced to a life of confinement deprived of normal social and environmental interaction.
The following are some of the myths surrounding captive marine mammals.
MYTH: The needs of orcas and dolphins are met in captivity.
Orcas and dolphins are extremely social, intelligent, and active animals. In the wild they are perpetually mentally and physically challenged by their life in the ocean and are almost always on the move. Orcas and dolphins in aquariums do not have a constantly changing aquatic environment to challenge them and their small tanks are comparable in size to human prison cells.
In the wild, dolphin populations are comprised of females and calves. Adult and sub-adult male dolphins form separate groups and form strong bonds in pairs or trios lasting up to ten years. Orcas live in maternal groups or pods consisting of family members including related adult males. No orca has yet been seen to transfer permanently from one pod to another. Studies of acoustical recordings show that each pod retains a unique dialect of vocalizations used in communication. Even after decades in captivity, orcas continue to produce the sounds of their natal pod.
In captivity these social organizations are restricted or nonexistent, as family members are traded and sold to other aquariums. In some cases calves have been removed from their mothers when they were only 6 months of age. When calves are separated from their mothers, it ensures that the normal social structure will never be developed.
MYTH: Marine mammals live longer in captivity.
Current research shows that there is no significant difference between the longevity of captive orcas and dolphins and wild orcas and dolphins. Despite the controlled environment, routine veterinary care and medications including anti-depressants, captive dolphins and orcas do not outlive their wild counterparts.
Looking at the bigger picture, the insistence on relying on mortality as a barometer of health of species is a distraction, taking attention away from the real issue of quality of life for the unfortunate animals who are forced to live in small barren enclosures for their entire lives.
MYTH: Marine parks conserve orcas and dolphins through breeding.
The marine mammals most commonly bred in captivity are not threatened or endangered species, so continued breeding in captivity exists to produce the next generation of park entertainers and to ensure continued profits. Aquariums have no intention of returning captive-bred animals to the wild. In fact, they claim that the success of such an endeavor would be unlikely and vehemently oppose release efforts.
Real conservation efforts focus on protecting habitat and the animals' place in that habitat.
MYTH: Aquarium research helps us understand and protect wild whales and dolphins.
Much of the research done at marine parks focuses around reproduction and maintaining the health of captive animals to ensure the perpetuation of profits for the industry. Results of studies conducted in captivity may not be adequately extrapolated to wild animals for several reasons:
Captive marine mammals live in small, sterile enclosures and are deprived of their natural activity level, social groups, and interactions with their natural environment.
Many captive marine mammals develop stereotypic behavior and/or aggression not known to occur in the wild.
What we have learned from captive research is that orcas and dolphins are more intelligent than previously imagined, providing more evidence that a life in captivity is inhumane.
MYTH: Marine parks provide valuable education and teach people respect for nature.
The principal education component at these parks comes from the "shows" where the animals perform tricks and stunts much like circus clowns. The education offered is often inaccurate, incomplete and misleading. Marine mammals cannot behave normally in a situation that deprives them of their natural habitat and social structure. Patrons witness and learn about abnormal animal behavior. The real message conveyed is not one of respect, but rather that it's all right to abuse nature.
MYTH: Most people feel marine parks are doing the right thing.
In a current national survey, almost all respondents indicated captive marine mammals should be kept under the most natural conditions possible, even if it meant the animals were more difficult to observe. Three-quarters of the American public further expressed a preference for marine mammals displaying natural behaviors rather than perform "tricks and stunts." Four-fifths of the national sample believed zoos and aquariums should not be permitted to display marine mammals unless major educational and/or scientific benefits resulted. Three-fifths objected to capturing wild dolphins and whales for display in zoos and aquariums. Three-quarters disapproved of keeping whales and dolphins in captivity if it resulted in significantly shortened lifespans.
A tremendous amount of money and public support was raised around the efforts to rehabilitate and release Keiko, the star of the movie Free Willy. This would not have been possible if people believed that aquariums were the right place for orcas.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Do not patronize any form of entertainment that uses animals. Tell your friends and family to boycott all aquariums that hold captive marine mammals for entertainment. Support only those aquariums involved solely in the rehabilitation and release of marine mammals, or the care of animals that cannot be released.
Support legislation to protect captive and wild marine mammals. If you witness a wild marine mammal being harassed or poached, contact the National Marine Fisheries Service. The national toll-free phone number for the enforcement division is 1-800-853-1964.
If you witness a captive marine mammal being neglected or mistreated at a marine park, contact the national headquarters of the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
"Compassionate living" is a concept based on the belief that humans have a moral responsibility to treat animals with respect, and that the interests of humans and animals should be considered equally. This means that in any decision that could potentially affect the life of an animal, that particular animal's interests should not be dismissed simply because it is inconvenient for us to consider them.
Although it may not always be easy to determine accurately the best interests of an animal, we can safely assume that animals generally prefer to live, to be free from pain and to express their natural behaviors.
The failure of humans to consider an animal's needs/interests as equal to those of humans is an expression of prejudice called speciesism. Defenders of speciesism often argue that humans are superior to other species because of their greater intelligence. Taken to its logical extreme, this argument would imply that humans with higher I.Q. scores should have more rights than humans with lower I.Q. scores. However, we have developed the sensitivity to extend basic human rights to all humans, whether or not they meet any criteria for intelligence, capacity or potential. But animals are commonly experimented on without their consent, and even killed, if it suits human purposes. This gross inequality is what we are trying to address with the concept of "animal rights."
Another common assertion is that humans are superior to animals because we possess the capacity to understand morality, as well as the ability to determine right from wrong. Since some animals may lack these same abilities, it is argued that humans are not obligated to treat them in any particular way. However, if only those who are capable of making and understanding moral judgments were to be accorded basic human rights, than infants, young children, and the severely ill or mentally challenged would be excluded. It is equally logical to affirm that, since humans are the only ones who can make moral judgments, that it is our responsibility to do so on behalf of the animals.
All animals, including humans, have the ability to experience pleasure and pain. Unfortunately, humans have tended to inflict tremendous amounts of pain and suffering on animals without any consideration of how this affects the animals themselves. By making compassionate daily choices, you can help end widespread animal abuse and exploitation.
WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO WEAR
Fur: Each year more than 40 million animals are senselessly tortured and killed to satisfy the dictates of fashion. Wild-caught fur is obtained by setting traps or snares to capture fur-bearing animals. Once an animal is caught it may remain in the trap or snare for several days starving or slowly strangling. Farm-raised fur comes from animals kept in tiny, filthy cages, deprived of adequate protection from the elements. As a result, animals develop stereotypical behavior, including pacing, head bobbing, and self-mutilation. The techniques used to kill animals on fur farms include neck snapping or "popping", electrocution with a rod shoved into the anus and gassing or smothering.
Wool: Sheep raised for wool are subjected to a lifetime of cruel treatment. Lambs' tails are chopped off and males are castrated without anesthetic. In Australia, where 80% of all wool comes from, ranchers perform an operation called "mulesing" where huge strips of skin are carved off the backs of lambs' legs. This procedure is performed to produce scarred skin that won't harbor fly larvae, so that the rancher can spend less time caring for the sheep. The shearing of sheep can be a brutal, as workers are encouraged to shear as quickly as possible. As a result, an estimated one million Australian sheep die every year from exposure. Sheep that are no longer useful for their wool are sent to crowded feedlots and then transported to the slaughterhouse.
Leather: By-products of the beef industry are defined by the parts of the cow that are not consumed by humans. These include hooves, some organs, bones, and skin. Skin (leather) accounts for about half of the by-product of the beef industry. Like meat, leather is a product made from animals that experienced the horrors of factory farming, transport and slaughter. The leather industry uses some of the most dangerous substances to prepare leather, including formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, various oils and some cyanide-based dyes.
WHAT YOU CHOOSE FOR ENTERTAINMENT
Circus: Animals used in the circus spend the majority of the year imprisoned in small cages or on chains, traveling from show to show. The training endured by circus animals is almost always based on intimidation; trainers must break the spirit of the animals in order to control them. It is not uncommon for an elephant to be tied down and beaten for several days while being trained to perform, and tigers are chained to their pedestals with ropes around their necks to choke them down.
Rodeo: Horses and cows used in rodeos are abused with electrical prods, sharp spurs and "bucking straps" that pinch their sensitive flank area. During bucking events, horses and bulls may suffer broken legs or run into the sides of the arena causing serious injury and even death. During calf-roping events, a calf may reach a running speed of 27 miles per hour before being jerked by the neck to an abrupt stop by a lasso. This event has resulted in animals' punctured lungs, internal hemorrhaging, paralysis and broken necks.
Greyhound and Horse Racing: Once greyhounds begin their racing careers, they are kept in cages for about 22-1/2 hours a day. The cages are made of wire and are barely big enough for dogs to turn around. Dogs considered too slow to race are sold to research facilities or killed (20,000-25,000 each year) - very few are adopted. More racehorses are bred than can prove profitable on the racetrack. As a result, hundreds are sent to slaughter every year.
Zoos and Aquariums: While zoos and aquariums may appear to be educational and conservation-oriented, most are designed with the needs and desires of the visitors in mind, not the needs of the animals. Many animals in zoos and aquariums exhibit abnormal behavior as a result of being deprived of their natural environments and social structures. Some zoos and aquariums do rescue some animals and work to save endangered species, but most animals in zoos were either captured from the wild or bred in captivity for the purpose of public display, not species protection. The vast majority of captive-bred animals will never be returned to the wild. When the facility breeds too many animals they become "surplus" and often are sold to laboratories, traveling shows, shooting ranches, or to private individuals unqualified to care for them.
WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO EAT
Every year billions of animals are raised and killed for human consumption. Unlike the family farms of the past, today's factory farms are high-revenue, high-production entities. On a factory farm, animals are confined to extremely small spaces, which allows farmers to concentrate on maximizing production. Because this type of overcrowding breeds disease, animals are routinely fed antibiotics and sprayed with pesticides. They are also fed growth hormones to enhance productivity. These chemicals, antibiotics and hormones are passed on to the environment, as well as to consumers of meat and dairy products.
Pork: In the United States each year more than 115 million pigs are raised on factory farms and slaughtered for human consumption. Factory-farmed pigs are raised in crowded pens which are enclosed inside huge barns. The air in these barns is filled with eye and lung burning ammonia created by urine and fecal waste collected below the floors. Breeding sows (or "animal production units") spend their lives in metal crates so small that they cannot turn around. Denied adequate space and freedom of movement, these sows often develop stereotypical behavior, repetitive movement such as head bobbing, jaw smacking, and rail biting. At the slaughterhouse, pigs are stunned (often inadequately), hung upside down before their throats are cut, and then bled to death. If workers fail to kill a pig with the knife, that pig is carried on the conveyer belt to the next station, the scalding tank, where he or she may be boiled alive.
Chicken: Every year approximately 8.785 billion chickens are raised and slaughtered for human consumption in the United States, most on factory farms. Crowded and unable to express natural behavior, chickens begin to peck excessively at each other. Rather than solve this problem by providing adequate space for the chickens, factory farmers "debeak" them, a painful procedure where the bird's sensitive upper beak is sliced off with a hot metal blade. Chickens raised for consumption have been genetically altered to grow abnormally large. As a result, many broiler chickens' bones are unable to support the weight of their muscle tissue, which causes them to hobble in pain or become crippled. At the slaughterhouse, chickens while still fully conscious are hung upside down by their feet and attached to a moving rail. Birds missed by the mechanical neck-slicing blade and boiled alive are called "redskins".
Eggs: There are more than 459 million egg-laying hens in the U.S. Of these, 97% are confined to "battery" cages - tiny wire boxes roughly 16 by 18 inches wide. Five or six birds are crammed into each cage. Battery hens are forced to produce 10 times more eggs than they would naturally. When egg production slows, factory farmers use a method called "forced molting" to shock the hens into losing their feathers, which causes them to begin a premature laying cycle. "Forced molting" involves starving the hens and denying them water for several days' time, during which many hens die. To keep hens from pecking each other in their crowded cages, factory farmers "debeak" them. Male chicks, considered by-products of laying hen production, are either tossed into plastic bags to suffocate slowly, or ground into animal feed while still alive.
Beef: About 41.8 million beef cattle are slaughtered annually in the United States. For identification purposes, cattle are either branded with hot irons or "wattled," a process in which a chunk of flesh from under the cow's neck is cut out. Raised on the range or in feed lots, cattle when large enough are crammed into metal trucks and taken to slaughter. On the way to slaughter, these cattle may travel for hours in sweltering temperatures with no access to water. Animals unable to stand due to broken legs or illness are called "downers" by the meat industry. Downers are electrically prodded or dragged with chains to the slaughterhouse, or left outside, without food or water, to die.
Milk: About half of the 10 million milking cows in the U.S. are kept in confinement on factory farms. Dairy cows are forced to produce 10-20 times the amount of milk they would naturally need for their calves. This intensive production of milk is extremely stressful, and as a result many dairy cattle "burn out" at a much younger age than their normal life expectancy, and up to 33% suffer painful udder infections. To continue milk production, a cow must bear a calf each year. Although calves elsewhere stay with their mothers for a year or more, on the dairy factory farm they are immediately removed from their mothers so that milk can be sold for human consumption. Calves are sold to the beef or veal industry or become replacements for "burned out" dairy cows.
WHAT PRODUCTS YOU CHOOSE
Despite the modern alternatives to animal testing, millions of animals suffer and die each year for the "good" of cosmetics and household products. No law in the U.S. requires cosmetic, household product, or office supply companies to test on animals, but many companies do so to protect themselves against liability. However, animal testing does not necessarily make a product safe for humans. Most animal tests were developed over 50 years ago and are significantly flawed and inferior to modern alternatives. Use your dollars to send a strong message that animal testing is outdated and unnecessary. Support only companies committed against animal testing.
Reducing waste does not mean you have to reduce what you buy, it means shopping with the environment in mind. Consider the environmental impact of each product before you buy it. Make a list of what you need before you go shopping; this will reduce impulse buying. Buy in bulk. It is cheaper and eliminates small containers and excess packaging, which accounts for 50 percent of our domestic trash. You have bought your laundry soap like this for years. Think about what else you can buy in bulk!
Avoid buying throwaways that can't be recycled. For instance, carry a camera but if you need to use a disposable camera make sure that it can be recycled when you get the film developed. Some companies that make one-time use cameras reuse and recycle up to 90 percent of the parts of their cameras when consumers send them in for developing. Installing low-flow shower heads and faucets can save a family of four 280 gallons of water per month. Seldom used items, such as appliances and party supplies, often collect dust, rust and take up valuable storage space. Consider renting or borrowing them the next time they're needed. Remember, every time you make a purchase you cast your vote to protect the environment.
Learning to reuse is easy, and after a little practice it will become second nature. Here are some great ways to reuse our precious resources. Reuse shopping bags or buy canvas bags and use them when you shop. Buy durable high quality goods for a longer life outside the landfill. Although durable goods may cost a little more at first, they will save you money and help save the environment in the long run.
Before throwing anything away, think about how each item can be reused. Be sure to use both sides of a piece of paper before recycling it. Donate clothing, furniture and appliances to charity. Hospitals and nursing homes often accept old magazines and schools reuse many items in their art and theater classes. Almost all glass, plastic and metal containers can be reused for storage in the kitchen or the garage. Think before you toss.
If you want to reduce and reuse at the same time, take a two liter pop bottle and fill it with water. Add a few stones to weigh it down, place it in the tank of your toilet, and you will have reused a pop bottle and reduced two liters of water every time you flush.
Reducing is the best way to protect the environment. However, if you can't reduce something, reuse it, and if you can't reuse it, recycle it. Recycling means collecting, processing, marketing, and ultimately using materials that were once discarded. For example, this morning's newspaper can be recycled into insulation, packing material, wrapping paper and more newspaper. Plastic pop and milk jugs are recycled into lumber that is used for making durable playground equipment and park benches.
Many different materials can be recycled. Among these are aluminum cans, glass bottles and jars, plastics, tin cans, steel cans, brass, copper, car batteries, computer paper, office paper, corugated cardboard, motor oil, scrap iron and steel and tires.
Separate aluminum, steel and tin cans from other metals. If you aren't sure whether a can is aluminum or steel, check with a magnet. A magnet will stick to steel and tin but will not stick to aluminum. Wipe or lightly rinse all cans and make sure they are dry before recycling them. Prepare newspapers by folding them into brown paper bags or bundle with string into one foot stacks. Prepare glass by rinsing and removing metal or plastic rims and lids. Sort by color: brown, green and clear. Prepare plastics by rinsing and separating by numbers. If plastic is recyclable, it will have a number on the bottom of the container. Break down corrugated cardboard boxes. Separate office paper into white, colored and glossy stacks. Be careful to remove sticky tabs and paper clips. Motor oil should be collected in no larger than five gallon containers and be free of contaminants. Tires are accepted from individuals no more than five per year.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more popularly known as drones, are becoming increasingly popular. They are employed for a variety of uses, including to monitor, observe and protect wildlife. But researchers say that steps should be taken to ensure that drone operations are not causing undue stress to animals.
The vast majority of UAV users, both biologists and hobbyists, do not want to disturb wildlife and will often seek advice from experts. However, in some cases, users may be unaware that their drone operations could be causing considerable and unnecessary disturbance.
Even though an animal might not appear to be disturbed, it could be quite stressed. For example, a bird may choose to remain near a UAV even when stressed because she is incubating an egg or protecting her hatchling. Animal responses vary depending on a variety of factors, including the species, environmental and historical context, and the type of drone and its method of operation.
Studies have shown that drones can be more efficient than traditional approaches to wildlife monitoring and can provide more precise observational data. Accordingly, there has been a considerable increase in the use of UAVs for research purposes. Scientists have now developed a code of best practices intended to help mitigate or alleviate potential disturbance to wildlife related to drone use. The goal is to ensure that UAVs can be a powerful, low-impact ecological survey tool.
In cases where the evidence is lacking, UAV users should consult with appropriate experts and proceed with an abundance of caution. Further study on the impact of UAVs is also needed.
UAV users should seek approval when appropriate and explain the anticipated benefit of using UAV technology in their situation.
Suitably trained UAV operators should comply with all relevant civil aviation rules, which may include restrictions on flying beyond visual line of sight, above a defined altitude, at night, and near people or in the vicinity of important infrastructure and prohibited areas.
UAVs should be chosen or adapted to minimize disruption, for example, by disguising UAVs as other non-threatening animals.
UAVs should be launched and recovered from a distance, and a reasonable distance from animals should be maintained at all times during UAV flights.
Behavioral and physiological stress responses should be measured whenever possible, and UAV flights should be aborted if excessive disturbance is found.
UAV specifications and flight practices should be detailed accurately and shared in full in published studies, along with any animal responses, accidents, or incidents.
By promoting an awareness of the potential for drones to impact wildlife, users can be more conscious of the potential impacts and utilize the code to ensure their UAV operations are responsible.
Researchers are now conducting studies with the goal of better understanding how different animals respond to UAVs. The results of that work will inform the development of species-specific protocols designed to mitigate or alleviate potential disturbance.
In a time of unprecedented change, drones can assist in understanding, managing, protecting and conserving our planet's biodiversity – if used responsibly and ethically.
An animal advocate is one who fights for animals to have the right to exist without the fear of being mistreated, exploited or exterminated. The welfare of animals is foremost in the mind of a genuine animal activist. Activists work to ensure that animals receive proper care, treatment and respect, and endeavor to create awareness among the public about animal exploitation and abuse issues. Animal advocates can be individuals, volunteers of an organization, or paid employees of an organization.
1. Determine Your Strengths
A good way to become an animal activist is to make a list of your strengths. Everyone is endowed with some skills; it makes sense to chose those skills that are conducive to animal rights activism. Your personal strengths can be used to make a big impact for animals.
2. Choose Your Cause
Find out as much as you can about animals and the various issues affecting them. This could include habitat destruction, deforestation, animal agriculture, urban development, illegal trafficking, neglect and various forms of animal exploitation and abuse. It is advisable to choose just one or two areas to focus on. Trying to pursue too many causes can prove diversionary and quickly burn you out.
3. Know Your Subject
Your ability to convince people is greatly affected by the amount of knowledge you possess about the subject. Watching documentaries, searching the web, reading books, and perusing articles will help you gain knowledge on your chosen issues. It also helps to compile a data bank which can lend strength to your arguments when you present facts to potential enthusiasts or donors.
4. Get Connected
Individual effort is indeed a good way to advocate animal protection and preservation. But activism is more effective when you connect with other people who also feel passionately about the subject. Meet-ups with like-minded people in your locality, or attending workshops or seminars, are productive ways to stay connected with fellow activists and potential activists. Join online groups associated with your cause.
To make headway in animal advocacy, nothing is more constructive than volunteer work. Take part in activities of organizations that espouse similar causes as yours. Getting in touch with local chapters of humane societies, SPCAs, or wildlife rehabilitation centers is a good place to start.
6. Plant A Seed
To circulate your passion for animal advocacy go on-line. The web offers instant communication to large numbers of people - not just locally, but worldwide. Construct a blog or a website, or create social media pages. Make people feel your passion for the subject. Create well-written articles on sensitive issues, or post recent news topics on the subject. This will create awareness among those who may not have been previously aware of the issue.
Most of the people you speak to about animal issues are clear about what they feel. Listen to their viewpoint and find common ground. Determine what your target audience feels about the subject and offer a little additional information to make them think more deeply about the subject.
8. Power Of The Pen
Letter and email writing can be powerful tools in promoting your cause. Write to authourities and companies at local and national levels about animal issues. Many of the addresses of such agencies, institutions and corporations can be found on the web. You can also write letters to the editor(s) of your local newspaper(s).
9. Raise Funds
Organize fund-raising activities for your cause. Dinner events, bake sales and marathons can attract hundreds of participants. Proceeds from such activities can be used for your own group, or can be donated to organizations that support your goals.
10. Be Prepared
Make sure to carry brochures, pamphlets or business cards with you wherever you go. There are numerous opportunities throughout the day to distribute educational and promotional materials that draw attention to your cause.
11. Get Noticed, Get Vocal
Getting visible is the name of the game. Catchy animal photographs and posters displayed at local events will draw people to your table or booth. Circulate literature about your activities via brochures and business cards carrying URLs of your website, blog or social media page. Arrange for lecture appointments at schools, colleges and universities. Make your presence known to local authorities and regulators. Post messages and videos on your site and social media outlets to gain wider dissemination of information on the issues you stand for.
12. Practice, Practice, Practice
Animal advocacy is like any other skill: the more you practice, the better you’ll become. Hone your skills.
Forest are great storehouses of natural life. Nearly half of our forest are now gone. We must act now to save the earth's forest. You can help by reducing, reusing, recycling & refusing to purchase paper and wood products that that are not ecologically responsible.
Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees, 4100 kilowatts of electricity, 7000 gallons of water and 90 cubic feet of landfill space.
1. Volunteer for tree-planting projects.
2. Buy firewood from "downed wood" sources
3. Purchase wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
4. Shop for FSC-certified products on the web at www.CertifiedProducts.org
5. Use only FSC-Certified products
6. Use recycled wood for remodeling and repairs
7. Avoid chlorine bleached paper
8. Buy recycled paper products and avoid products with excessive paper packaging
9. Use both sides of paper and save scraps for notes
Sea turtles, air-breathing reptiles with streamlined bodies and large flippers, are well adapted to life in the marine environment. They inhabit tropical and subtropical ocean waters throughout the world.
Of the 7 species of sea turtles, 6 are found in U.S. waters: green, hawksbill, Kemp's ridley, leatherback, loggerhead and olive ridley. The 7th species, the flatback sea turtle, is found only in Australia.
Although sea turtles live most of their lives in the ocean, adult females must return to beaches on land to lay their eggs. They often migrate long distances between foraging grounds and nesting beaches.
All marine turtles occurring in U.S. waters are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and are under the joint jurisdiction of NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Green turtles and olive ridley turtles have breeding populations that were listed separately under the ESA, and therefore, have more than one ESA status.
In 1977, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly administer the Endangered Species Act with respect to marine turtles. NOAA Fisheries has the lead responsibility for the conservation and recovery of sea turtles in the marine environment and USFWS has the lead for the conservation and recovery of sea turtles on nesting beaches.
Major threats to sea turtles in the U.S. include, but are not limited to: destruction and alteration of nesting and foraging habitats; incidental capture in commercial and recreational fisheries; entanglement in marine debris; and vessel strikes. To reduce the incidental capture of sea turtles in commercial fisheries, NOAA Fisheries has enacted regulations to restrict certain U.S. commercial fishing gears (gillnets, longlines, pound nets, and trawls) that have known, significant bycatch of sea turtles. To effectively address all threats to marine turtles, NOAA Fisheries and the USFWS have developed recovery plans to direct research and management efforts for each sea turtle species.
The tourist trade is the main reason why turtle numbers are in decline. Tourism poses the greatest threat to turtles for a number of reasons. Turtles migrate huge distances but during certain times of the year they congregate in shallow waters to breed. Females go ashore to lay clutches of up to 150 eggs. Two months later, tiny hatchlings emerge from the sand and make their way to the sea. But many of the tropical and sub-tropical beaches that turtles have used for millions of years are now inhabited by tourists.
Many females will not lay their eggs if there is too much noise or lighting from local resorts. Also, nests can be damaged by sunbathers and newly hatched turtles can become disoriented by beachfront developments and may never reach the sea. In the Mediterranean, the nesting period of the loggerhead and green turtle coincide almost exactly with the peak tourist season (May to August).
Speedboats can be deadly, especially during the mating season when turtles spend long periods of time close to the surface. Turtles are still killed for their shells, which are made into souvenirs such as combs and ashtrays.
The conservation and recovery of sea turtles requires multi-lateral cooperation and agreements to ensure the survival of these highly migratory animals. NOAA Fisheries has a broad national and international program for the conservation and recovery of marine turtles. The Office of Protected Resources works closely with 2 international environmental agreements that deal exclusively with sea turtle conservation.
Consumers have huge environmental impact. We like to blame the government or industries for the Earth's problems, but what we buy makes a big difference.
The world's workshop – China – surpassed the United States as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on Earth in 2007. But if you consider that nearly all of the products that China produces, from iPhones to tee-shirts, are exported to the rest of the world, the picture looks very different.
"If you look at China's per capita consumption-based (environmental) footprint, it is small," says Diana Ivanova, a PhD candidate at Norwegian University of Science and Technology's Industrial Ecology Programme. "They produce a lot of products but they export them. It's different if you put the responsibility for those impacts on the consumer, as opposed to the producer."
That's exactly what Ivanova and her colleagues did when they looked at the environmental impact from a consumer perspective in 43 different countries and 5 rest-of-the-world regions. Their analysis showed that consumers are responsible for more than 60 percent of the globe's greenhouse gas emissions, and up to 80 percent of the world's water use.
"We all like to put the blame on someone else, the government, or businesses," Ivanova says. "But between 60-80 percent of the impacts on the planet come from household consumption. If we change our consumption habits, this would have a drastic effect on our environmental footprint as well."
Consumers are directly responsible for 20 percent of all carbon impacts, which result from when people drive their cars and heat their homes. But even more surprising is that four-fifths of the impacts that can be attributed to consumers are not direct impacts, like the fuel we burn when we drive our cars, but are what are called secondary impacts, or the environmental effects from actually producing the goods and products that we buy.
A good example of this is water use. When you think about cutting your individual water use, you might think about using your dishwasher very efficiently, or taking shorter showers. Those aren't bad ideas on their own, but if you look deeper you'll find that much of the water use on the planet is gulped up by producing the things that you buy.
Consider beef. Producing beef requires lots of water because cows eat grains that need water to grow. But because cows are relatively inefficient in converting grains into the meat that we eat, it takes on average about 15,415 liters of water to produce one kilo of beef.
Dairy products require similarly large amounts of water to produce. When a group of Dutch researchers looked at the difference in producing a liter of soy milk with soybeans grown in Belgium compared to producing a liter of cow's milk, they found it took 297 liters of water to make the soy milk (with 62 percent of that from actually growing the soybeans) versus a global average of 1050 liters of water to produce a liter of cow's milk.
Processed foods, like that frozen pizza you bought for dinner last night, are also disproportionately high in water consumption. Making processed foods requires energy, materials and water to grow the raw materials, ship them to the processor, produce the processed food items and then package the final product.
This is particularly bad news when it comes to chocolate, which is one of the most water-intensive products we can buy. It takes a shocking 17,000 liters to produce a kilo of chocolate.
Researchers have also looked at environmental impacts on a per-capita, country-by-country basis. While the information is sometimes surprising – Luxembourg has a per capita carbon footprint that is nearly the same as the United States – it mostly follows a predictable pattern. The richer a country is, the more its inhabitants consume. The more an individual consumes, the bigger that person's impact on the planet.
But the differences between individual countries are extremely high. The countries with the highest consumption have about a 5.5 times higher environmental impact over the world average.
The United States is the overall worst performer when it comes to per capita greenhouse gas emissions, with a per capita carbon footprint of 18.6 tons CO2 equivalent, the unit used by researchers to express the sum of the impacts of different greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and sulphur hexafluoride.
The US is followed closely by Luxembourg, with 18.5 tons CO2 equivalent, and Australia, with 17.7 tons CO2 equivalent. For comparison, China's per capita carbon footprint is just 1.8 tons CO2 equivalent. Norway, at 10.3 tons CO2 equivalent per capita, is three times the global average of 3.4 tons CO2 equivalent per capita.
The results for individual countries also reflect the effects of the electricity mix, or the fuel source that countries rely on for electric power. The prevalence of nuclear or hydroelectric power in countries such as Sweden, France, Japan and Norway means that these countries have lower carbon footprints than countries with similar incomes but with more fossil fuels in their energy mix.
For this reason, a significant portion of household impacts from Sweden and France come from imports (65 and 51 percent respectively), because the products that are imported are mostly produced with fossil fuels.
The advantage of identifying the effects of individual consumer choices on the different environmental measures is that it pinpoints where consumers in different countries can cut back on their impacts.
Households have a relatively large degree of control over their consumption, but they often lack accurate and actionable information on how to improve their own environmental performance. The two best, and easy, ways to cut your environmental impact are to stop eating meat and cut back on your purchases.
Interested in making a difference for the planet and the animals that inhabit it? One of the best places to volunteer may be right near you:
an animal shelter
animal protection organization
Whether you walk dogs at your shelter, stuff envelopes for an educational mailing, clean cages or assist with a fundraising event, you can make a difference in the lives of animals.
VolunteerMatch helps good people and good causes connect. Its online service, www.volunteermatch.org, makes it easy to find a way to make a difference by location, expertise, or availability. The online network features thousands of volunteer listings. And each day, new listings are added. There’s something for everyone. Just enter your zip code and interest area, and VolunteerMatch will provide you with a list of opportunities in your community. See something that interests you? Click on it to read more. Another click contacts the organization. It's that simple.
HOW TO FIND YOUR LOCAL ANIMAL SHELTER OR RESCUE
The easiest place to start your search for your local animal shelter is online at:
You can enter your zip code and find a list of animal shelters, animal control agencies, and other animal care organizations in your community. In addition, these sites feature animals available for adoption, low-cost spay/neuter services, and volunteer opportunities.
You may also want to look in your phone book or search online. Animal shelters are called by a variety of names, so search for "animal shelter," "humane society," or "animal control." Public animal care and control agencies are often listed under the city or county health department or police department in phone books.
VOLUNTEER FOR WILDLIFE
Volunteering to participate in wildlife conservation is a great way to get involved in scientific research, promote environmental education, and gain experience working with animals.
Today, there are many volunteer opportunities available, both locally and internationally. These opportunities range from volunteering at your nearby forest preserve to traveling to a distant country to participate in a long-term research project.
To find volunteer work, research the various animal protection organizations and decide which would best suit your philosophical position, talents and capabilities.
The WAN Directory is a good starting point for research (particularly if you follow links to the websites of different organizations). You can search the WAN Directory geographically or by activity at www.worldanimal.net.
VOLUNTEER AT AN ANIMAL SANCTUARY
Volunteer to do the dirty work at an animal sanctuary. Usually, by policy, there will not be interaction with the animals, especially if the animals involved are wildlife. But there are always areas to be mucked, mowed, cleaned, repaired, landscaped, constructed, painted and inspected; food to be prepared; items to be washed; files to be organized; data to be entered; mail to be opened, email to be answered and more. Depending on your skills, you can also offer to do a youtube video, write and submit articles for publicity, do plumbing, or complete some electrical wiring. In other words, whatever your skills, a sanctuary can probably use them. Find a sanctuary through Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and American Sanctuary Association.
MORE WAYS TO HELP
Write to producers and networks of television programs in which animals are abused or ridiculed.
Write to thank producers and publishers for animal-friendly messages in print and on television.
Write letters to companies that conduct animal experiments.
Write letters to companies that use real wild and exotic animals in their commercials.
Write letters to the editor on earth and animal issues.
Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper that allows ads for fur, circuses or rodeos.
Write and call legislators to ask them to support animal-friendly legislation and thank them for past support.
Call the sponsors of upcoming entertainment events that use animals and ask them not to sponsor animal entertainment.
Encourage radio and television talk shows to discuss animal issues.
Record a pro animal/environment message on your voice mail.
Include a flyer or fact sheet with every bill you pay.
Ask your child’s teacher to stop keeping animals in the classroom.
Ask your child's school to stop requiring students to dissect animals.
Offer to walk a tethered neighbor dog and provide the dog with food, fresh water and toys.
Turn your backyard into a wildlife sanctuary.
Deal with wildlife problems humanely.
I.D. your companion animals and encourage others to do the same.
Prepare disaster kits for your companion animals.
Post flyers and fact sheets on work bulletin boards.
Donate to organizations that legitimately help animals and the environment. Expose greenwash organizations to coworkers so they can make more informed decisions regarding their donations.
Encourage coworkers to donate to organizations that do not test on animals.
Make cruelty-free and environmentally responsible investments.
Buy cruelty-free and green supplies for your office.
Use a coffee mug with a pro animal or pro earth message at work.
Take vegan dishes to office parties.
Encourage your workplace to implement dog-friendly policies.
Hold a volunteer work party to write letters, help out at an animal shelter, or make banners or signs for a demonstration.
IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Donate pro earth and animal books to your local library.
Setup a library display with a poster, flyers and appropriate books.
Donate pro earth and animal DVDs to your local video rental store.
Wear clothes and buttons with earth and animal statements.
Post and distribute WAF flyers and fact sheets around your town.
Setup an information table in a busy area of town to distribute flyers and fact sheets.
Offer to show videos and host seminars.
Take vegan meals to community functions and share the recipes.
Show your hairdresser products that aren’t tested on animals.
Encourage local pet stores to stop selling animals and to work with local animal groups to offer adoptions instead.
Organize a low cost spay and neuter event in your community.
Work to get local universities and schools to stop requiring dissection and to add vegan options to their menu.
Help feral cats in your neighborhood with Trap-Neuter-Return.
Ask for vegan options at local restaurants and grocery stores.
Suggest an earth or animal themed book for your next book club meeting.
Work to engage your place of worship with animal and environmental issues.
Register to vote.
Determine which elected officials represent you at local, state and federal levels.
Encourage local officials to find long-lasting, nonlethal solutions to conflicts with wildlife.
Attend town meetings to urge officials to support animal and environmental issues.
Work for the passage of local ordinances in your community.
Engage kids and teens with humane education activities and lesson plans.
Learn what animal and environmental legislation is now pending in Congress, and contact your federal and state legislators.
Organize a demonstration to help the earth and animals - holding posters and passing out flyers.
Promote earth and animal issues on cable-access television.
Speak at your club or church about earth and animal issues.
Host an earth and animal dinner party.
Teach a college or community education course on earth and animal issues.
Speak, or sponsor a speaker, at local schools, universities and civic clubs.
Find a local wildlife rescuer to help stop cruel trapping and killing of animals in your community.
Find free advertising space in your town for earth and animal issues.
Organize a litter cleanup in your town.
Follow World Animal Foundation on Facebook. Help spread the word about animal issues by sharing our posts, links and photos.
Include a link to WorldAnimalFoundation.org in your e-mail signature.
Add a link to WorldAnimalFoundation.org to your website, blog or social networking page.
Sign online earth and animal petitions.
Place earth and animal banners on your blog or website.
Host a fundraising party at home to raise donations for WAF.
Host a fundraising event in your community to raise donations for WAF.
Make a personal annual or monthly donation to WAF.
Donate a percentage of your online sales to WAF.
Donate a percentage of your business profits to WAF.
Make a memorial gift in honor of a friend or companion animal.
Include WAF as a beneficiary in your will.
Adopt an animal from a local animal shelter or rescue group.
Purchase eco-friendly and cruelty-free cosmetics, clothing and household products.
Provide for your animals’ future in case you can’t care for them.
Wear pro earth and pro animal t-shirts.
Display a bumper sticker on your car.
Display earth and animal stickers and magnets on yourself and your stuff.
Reduce or eliminate animal products from your diet.
The fur ads we see in magazines and commercials portray fur coats as a symbol of elegance. But these ads fail to show how the original owners of these coats met their gruesome deaths. Approximately 3.5 million furbearing animals -- raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, lynxes, opossums, nutria, beavers, muskrats, otters, and others -- are killed each year by trappers in the United States. Another 2.7 million animals are raised on fur "farms." Despite the fur industry's attempts to downplay the role of trapping in fur "production," it is estimated that more than half of all fur garments come from trapped animals.
RANCH RAISED FUR
Some people believe that animals raised in captivity on fur "ranches" do not suffer. This is not the case. Trapping and "ranching" have both similar and disparate cruelties involved, and neither is humane. "Ranched" animals, mostly minks and foxes, spend their entire lives in appalling conditions, only to be killed by painful and primitive methods.
Approximately one half of the fur coats made in the United States and Canada come from captive animals bred, born and raised on fur farms. These operations range from family-owned businesses with 50 animals to large operations with thousands of animals. But regardless of their size or location, "the manner in which minks (and other furbearers) are bred is remarkably uniform over the whole world," according to one study. As with other intensive-confinement animal farms, the methods used on fur farms are designed to maximize profits, always at the expense of the animals' welfare and comfort, and always at the expense of their lives.
In the United States there are approximately 500 fur farms. About 90% of all ranched fur bearers are minks. Foxes, rabbits and chinchillas account for most of the remainder, though fur farmers have recently diversified into lynx, bobcats, wolves, wolverines, coyotes and beavers. All of these animals live only a fraction of their natural lifespans; minks are killed at about five months of age, and foxes are killed when they are about nine months old. Breeding females live somewhat longer. The animals' short lives are filled with fear, stress, disease, parasites and other physical and psychological hardships, all for the sake of an industry that makes huge profits from its $648 million-a-year sales.
Foxes are kept in cages only 2.5 feet square, with one to four animals per cage. Minks and other species are generally kept in cages only one by three feet, again with up to four animals per cage. This extreme crowding and confinement is especially damaging to minks, who are by nature solitary animals. A large portion of ranched minks develop self-mutilating behaviors, including pelt and tail biting, and abnormalities called "stereotypes" such as pacing in ritualized patterns. Foxes kept in close confinement sometimes cannibalize each other.
Minks, foxes and chinchillas are fed meat and fish by-products so vile that they are unfit even for the pet food industry. These animals are also fed minced offal, which endangers their health because of bacterial contamination. Newly weaned kits and pups are especially vulnerable to the food poisoning this diet can cause. Water on fur farms is provided by a nipple system from which the animals can drink at will...except, of course, when the system freezes in the winter.
As with other caged and confined animals, animals on fur farms are much more susceptible to diseases than their free-roaming counterparts. Contagious diseases such as Aleutian disease, viral enteritis and pneumonia are passed from cage to cage, and sometimes kill entire populations. Bladder and urinary ailments (wet belly disease) and nursing sickness (which kills up to 80 percent of all animals it infects, if not treated in time) are common. Animals are often infested with fleas, ticks, lice, and mites, and disease-carrying flies are a particularly severe problem because they are attracted to the piles of excrement that remain under the cages for months.
Fur farm cages are typically kept in open sheds that provide little protection from wind, cold and heat. The animals' fur helps keep them warm in winter, but summer is very hard on minks because they lack the ability to cool their bodies without bathing in water. Free-roaming minks spend 60 to 70 percent of their time in water, and without it their salivation, respiration and body temperature increase greatly. When minks learn to shower themselves by pressing on their drinking water supply nipples, mink farmers have been known to modify the nipples to cut off even this meager water supply.
No humane slaughter law protects animals on fur farms, and killing methods are gruesome. Because the fur farmers care only about preserving the quality of the fur, they use slaughter methods that keep the pelts intact but which result in severe suffering for the animals still quite attached to the pelts. Small animals can be shoved up to 20 at a time into boxes, where they are poisoned with hot, unfiltered engine exhaust pumped in by hose from the fur farmer's truck. Engine exhaust is not always 100 percent lethal, and some animals "wake up" while being skinned. Larger animals, including foxes, often have clamps attached to their lips while rods are inserted into their anuses, and are then very painfully electrocuted. Other animals are poisoned with strychnine, which actually suffocates them by paralyzing their muscles in painful rigid cramps. Gassing, decompression chambers and neck snapping are other common fur farm slaughter methods.
An archaic device used for centuries, the steel-jaw leghold trap is the most commonly used trap in the U.S. by commercial and recreational fur trappers today. Triggered by a pan-tension device, the weight of an animal stepping between the jaws of the trap causes the jaws to slam shut on the victim's leg, or other body part, in a vice-like grip. Most animals react to the instant pain by frantically pulling against the trap in a desperate attempt to free themselves, enduring fractures, ripped tendons, edema, blood loss, amputations, tooth and mouth damage (from chewing and biting at the trap), and starvation. Some animals will even chew or twist their limbs off, so common that trappers have termed this occurrence as "wring-off," which for them means the loss of a marketable pelt. To the animal left crippled on three legs, "wring-off" means certain death from starvation, gangrene or attack from other predators.
On land, leghold traps are most frequently set for coyote, bobcat, fox, raccoon, skunk and other furbearing animals. However, leghold traps are inherently indiscriminate and will trap any unsuspecting animal that steps foot into the trap jaws, including companion animals, threatened and endangered species, and even humans. Trappers admit that for every "target" animal trapped, at least two other "non-target" animals, including dogs and cats, are trapped.
Aquatic leghold traps are most often set for muskrat, otter, mink and beaver. Most animals trapped in water will either try to surface to gasp for air or will drag the trap under water in an attempt to reach land. Usually they die a slow, agonizing death by drowning, which can take up to 20 minutes for some species. Death by drowning has been deemed inhumane by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
More than 80 countries have banned leghold traps, as well as several states. But most states continue to allow them, and some states still allow the use of teeth on leghold traps. An estimated 80% of the total number of trapped animals in the U.S. are taken by steel-jaw leghold traps, followed by wire snares and Conibear traps.
In November 1995, the European Union banned the use of leghold traps in all 15-member nations.
Many veterinary associations, including the World Veterinary Association and the American Animal Hospital Association, have policy statements opposing the use of leghold traps. In 1993, the Executive Board of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) declared, "The AVMA considers the steel-jaw leghold trap to be inhumane."
A national poll showed that 74% of Americans believe leghold traps should be banned.
Trapping proponents argue that traps used today in the U.S. are humane, touting the "padded" leghold trap as a commonly used humane alternative to the steel jaw version. However, the only distinctive difference between the two traps is that the padded leghold trap has a thin strip of rubber attached to the trap jaws. Not only do these traps cause significant injuries to animals, but research indicates that fewer than 5% of trappers even own padded leghold traps in the U.S. Only a few states require that padded leghold traps be used, and this provision only applies to leghold traps set on land. Numerous studies have shown that padded traps can cause severe injuries to their victims.
Snares are categorized as either body/neck or foot snares. Like leghold traps, they are a primitive device, simple in design and vicious in action. They are generally made of light wire cable looped through a locking device or of small nylon cord tied so that it will tighten as the animal pulls against it. The more a snared animal struggles, the tighter the noose becomes, the tighter the noose, the greater the animal's struggle and suffering. The body snare is used primarily on coyotes and is often set where animals crawl under a fence or some other narrow passageway. The body snare is designed to kill the animal by strangulation or crushing of vital organs. However, snares do not discriminate between victims and will capture any animal around any body part.
While some small animals are thought to become unconscious in about six minutes when neck snared, larger animals can suffer for days on end. Trappers even have a term -- "jellyhead" -- that refers to the thick, bloody lymph fluid which swells the heads and necks of neck-snared canids. Snares frequently have to be replaced after each capture due to twisting and strain on the snare cable that results from animals struggling to free themselves.
Set on land and in water, snares are considered even more indiscriminate than the leghold trap. Because they are cheap and easy to set, trappers will often saturate an area with dozens of snares to catch as many animals as possible. Called "saturation snaring," this practice is common in Alaska where trappers attempt to target entire wolf packs through this reprehensible practice.
Even the Federal Provincial Committee for Humane Trapping has deemed the snare to cause too many injuries to be considered a "quick killing device."
The Conibear trap, named after its inventor Frank Conibear, consists of two metal rectangles hinged together midway on the long side to open and close like scissors. One jaw has a trigger that can be baited. The opposite jaw has a catch or "dog" that holds the trap open. Originally intended to be an "instant killing" device, the Conibear trap is designed to snap shut in a scissor-like fashion on an animal's spinal column at the base of the skull. However, because it is impossible to control the size, species and direction of the animal entering the trap, most animals do not die quickly in the Conibear trap...instead enduring prolonged suffering as the clamping force of the trap draws the jaws closer and closer together, crushing the animal's abdomen, head or other body part.
Domestic animals are frequent victims of this indiscriminate trap, especially the size 220 (7") Conibear. Numerous veterinary reports indicate that dogs and cats may be found dead or alive by their owners in these traps after suffering for days. However, because it is extremely difficult to open the trap jaws, most people are not able to free their companions in time.
Manufactured in three standard sizes, Conibear traps are frequently used in water sets to trap muskrat and beaver. In addition, they are used on land to trap raccoon, pine marten, opossum and other furbearers. Numerous research studies have shown that this trap does not kill instantly.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Every fur coat represents the intense suffering of up to several dozen animals, whether they were trapped or ranched. These cruelties will end only when the public refuses to buy or wear fur products and rejects the propaganda of trappers, ranchers and furriers whose monetary motives cause unjustifiable misery and death. Those who learn the facts about furs must help educate others, for the sake of the animals and for the sake of decency.
Have you ever wondered about a career working with animals?
From being a veterinarian or wildlife specialist to working in television and creating programs about animals, there are numerous ways you can make a difference for animals in your lifetime.
People who work with animals can have a variety of backgrounds. Usually, one requirement is a great love of animals and a concern for their well being. People who are interested in a career working with animals might take classes in biology, zoology, animal behavior, and animal health sciences in college. Certain careers, such as those working in veterinary fields, require an extensive medical education.
Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions a person can make. Your career should make you happy and reflect what you want to give back to the world. People who care for animals can choose from several different career paths.
Animal behaviorists learn and observe how animals relate to each other and to people. While an animal behaviorist may work in a variety of animal-related settings, like a zoo or an aquarium, some animal behaviorists work at animal shelters or assist companion animal guardians with animal behavior problems. In this role, the animal behaviorist helps the companion animal by helping the human companion better understand why animals do the things they do. Why does a dog jump on people? Why is the cat not using the litter box? And what can be done to change this behavior. Animal behaviorists may also help shelters identify good-natured animals that should be placed for adoption and work with other animals that might need a little more training before being placed in a good home. This job requires an extensive education in animal behavior.
Animal Care Attendants
Animal care attendants provide the actual day-to-day care for the shelter animals. They clean kennels, provide food and water to the animals, and may administer medications. It’s a very hands-on job that puts you in direct contact with animals everyday. Some shelters look for volunteers to assist with these duties. It’s a great way to get started working for shelters.
Animal Control Agency Directors
An animal control agency director runs a shelter that is funded by the city. They help animals too, providing many of the same services as a humane society. The biggest difference is that animal control agencies are concerned with public safety. They protect people from health risks and the dangers that stray and lose animals can cause to people in the community. They often represent the agency at public functions and manage the overall daily operations of the facility.
Animal Shelter Veterinarians
An animal shelter veterinarian treats sick or injured animals or provides well-care exams for the animals at the shelter. They are responsible for the individual care of all the shelter animals as well as the health and well-being of the entire shelter population. Shelter veterinarians make sure that the animals coming into the shelter don’t spread diseases to other animals in the shelter. They often spay and neuter adopted companion animals to insure they won’t contribute to the companion animal population problem. The job requires an extensive education, including veterinary school.
Adoption counselors help people find the right companion animal for their family’s lifestyle. They have to learn about the potential adopter’s needs as well as the various personalities of all the animals available for adoption. Making the right match helps ensure that an animal has found a permanent home and won’t be returned to the animal shelter. This job is good for someone who likes to work with both people and animals.
Cruelty investigators respond to complaints about people who may be hurting or neglecting their animals. They may work with an animal shelter, animal control facility, or police department handling animal cruelty investigations. Investigators can usually enforce cruelty laws by making arrests or giving citations if only a minor law is broken. Cruelty investigators are like animal detectives. They have to help law enforcement officials and prosecutors collect evidence to prepare an animal cruelty case for trial. This job usually requires training in law enforcement and investigation techniques.
Fundraising specialists help organize special events to raise money for animal shelters and organizations. Animal organizations can’t operate or care for the animals without money to support their programs and services. Animal control agencies usually receive money from the city budget, while humane societies survive on contributions from the community. Fundraising specialists are important to keep the work of the agency going. This job is great for a person who likes to organize events and enjoys working with people.
Humane educators present programs to youth and adults on various humane topics, including companion animal responsibility, bite prevention, and kindness to animals. Their role is to educate the public and affect the community’s view and behavior towards animals. These presentations are often given in schools, at business club meetings, or at the shelter. Teachers or people who have worked in classrooms and are comfortable speaking before groups often fill these jobs.
Humane officers (also known as animal care and control officers) respond to calls about animals that are sick, injured, or neglected. Humane officers must have a good understanding of animal control laws and anti-cruelty laws, since they help educate the public on the responsible care of animals. This job requires some lifting, as humane officers frequently have to transport large or injured animals to the shelter.
Humane Society Directors
A humane society director runs an animal shelter where the ultimate goal is to insure the humane care and treatment of the animals. The director supervises staff and ensures that the shelter’s programs and services are helping homeless animals. They also have to find individuals and donors to donate to the agency, since humane societies are funded entirely by private donations. This job usually requires a lot of people skills, as the director usually works more with people in the community than the animals in the shelter.
Public Relations Specialists
Public relations specialists work with the media to inform the community about the work of animal organizations as well as important issues related to the humane care and treatment of animals. They usually write press releases, newsletters, and other promotional materials to help get the word out on the agency. This is a great job for people who love to write, give media interviews, and speak to the public.
Shelter managers generally oversee all the activities associated with the daily care and maintenance of the animal shelter and shelter staff. They might handle receiving animals, making sure they are given health checks and vaccinations. Or they may work with the human clients that come into the shelter to adopt or surrender an animal. This job requires supervisory skills and an interest in working with both people and animals.
Some veterinary technicians work at animal shelters, but most work at veterinary hospitals. Their job involves direct contact with both animals and people. Mostly, they assist veterinarians in caring for injured or sick animals or providing healthy animals with well-check ups. They may handle doing lab tests or preparing the operating room for surgery. This job does not require the special education needed to become a veterinarian, but special classes or specific experience with animals can make you more qualified to handle these responsibilities.
A volunteer coordinators job is to find volunteers that want to donate time to help animal organizations. Volunteer coordinators oversee the scheduling and daily activities of these volunteers for the organization’s special events or daily operations. Often volunteers can only come for a few hours a week or month, so the coordinator has to find lots of volunteers to help cover all the available time slots. Some animal organizations have hundreds of volunteers; some have only a handful of volunteers. But most all animal organizations depend heavily on volunteers.
One final note: If you are interested in working with animals, you can begin before you are out of school by volunteering at a local humane society. Your volunteer work will give you exposure to many different species of animals while performing a great community service at the same time. Also read books on animal careers to see how your interests and concern for animals might become a lifelong career.
We can all take notice of our environment. We can learn how our planet works. We can learn how to live on it without making a mess of it. We can help to keep it magnificent for ourselves, our children and grandchildren, and other living things besides us.
You can help by growing your own vegetables and fruits. You can help by planting a tree. Your new plants and trees will help to remove the greenhouse gas CO2 from the air. If you grow some of your own food, you will also help to prevent more CO2 from entering the air from the fossil-fuel-burning trucks, planes, and ships that transport your food to you from far away.
How can I reduce my "carbon footprint"?
Your carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air because of your own energy needs. You need transportation, electricity, food, clothing, and other goods. Your choices can make a difference.
Swap old incandescent light bulbs for the new compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). They use only 25% as much electricity to give the same light. They last ten times longer.
Turn off lights, TVs, computers, when you do not need them.
Unplug! Any electronic gadget you can turn on with a remote (TV, DVD player, Nintendo, Xbox) uses power even when it is "off." Appliances with a digital clock (like a coffee maker) or a power adapter (like a laptop computer) also suck power like a sneaky vampire. Plug these kinds of things into a surge protector or power strip that has an on/off switch. Then you can shut off all the power without unplugging each gadget. There are even power strips that glow to show you how much power is going through them, and power strips you can control from your computer or iPhone.
Turn up the thermostat on the air conditioning when it's hot. Use fans if you're still hot. They use much less power.
Turn down the thermostat on the heating when it's cold. Sweaters, blankets, and socks are good for you and better for the planet.
Walk or ride your bike instead of taking a car everywhere, or carpool. Even a 2-mile car trip puts 2 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. Bikes are a great form of green transportation. Sometimes, in the big city with lots of traffic, they are even faster than cars.
Stay out of the drive thru! When you go to a fast-food place, ask your driver to park the car and let you walk inside, rather than sitting in a line of cars with the engine running and polluting.
How can I reduce my trash pile?
Use reusable grocery bags.
Recycle everything you can. If your city does not pick up recycled materials, find out who you can talk to about starting this service. You should be recycling paper, aluminum cans, cardboard, food cans, plastic, glass, newspapers, magazines, junk mail, phone books, and anything else made of paper.
Shop thrift stores.
"BYOM" (Bring Your Own Mug.)
Use less paper whenever possible. Save the trees.
Drink tap water—filtered—instead of bottled water. Carry your drinking water in a reusable bottle. Plastic water bottles are an environmental disaster.
Use fewer containers. Buy the product that uses less packaging material. Even if you recycle packaging materials, it takes energy to create them in the first place and energy to remake them into something else.
Do I need to save water too?
People and animals in many parts of the world do not have clean, safe water to drink. As many more regions are hit by drought, this problem will become even more serious. The sooner we start conserving water, the better off we all will be. Be aware of how much water you use.
Imagine you live in a recreational vehicle (RV), and your water tank holds only 50 gallons. Every time you turn on the water, the noisy electric water pump has to turn on too, sucking up your RV's battery power. Would you keep the water running while you brush your teeth? Would you spend 15 minutes in the shower using up all the water in the tank and depleting the battery? Would you plant a thirsty lawn in front of your RV if you were parked in the desert?
How can I make a real difference?
Go vegan. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution. It is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation industry. Factory farms are a primary driver of topsoil erosion, rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss and ocean dead zones. Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water and causes immense animal suffering.
More than 205,000 new drugs are marketed worldwide every year, most after undergoing the most archaic and unreliable testing methods still in use: animal studies. The current system of drug testing places consumers in a dangerous predicament. According to the General Accounting Office, more than half of the prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between 1976 and 1985 caused serious side effects that later caused the drugs to be either relabeled or removed from the market. Drugs approved for children were twice as likely to have serious post-approval risks as other medications.
Many physicians and researchers publicly speak out against these outdated studies. They point out that unreliable animal tests not only allow dangerous drugs to be marketed to the public, but may also prevent potentially useful ones from being made available. Penicillin would not be in use today if it had been tested on guinea pigs--common laboratory subjects--because penicillin kills guinea pigs. Likewise, aspirin kills cats, while morphine, a depressant to humans, is a stimulant to cats, goats, and horses.
Human reactions to drugs cannot be predicted by tests on animals because different species (and even individuals within the same species) react differently to drugs. Britain's health department estimates that only one in four toxic side effects that occur in animals actually occur in humans. Practolol, a drug for heart disorders that "passed" animal tests, causes blindness in humans and was pulled off the market. Arsenic, which is toxic and carcinogenic to humans, has not caused cancer in other species. Chlomiphene decreases fertility in animals but induces human ovulation. The anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone breaks down nine times faster in humans than in rhesus monkeys.
Diethylstilbestrol (DES), an animal-tested drug that prevents miscarriages, caused cancer and birth defects in humans before its use was restricted. Many arthritis drugs that passed animal tests, including Feldene, and Flosint, have been pulled from the market because they caused severe reactions or even death in human beings.
Experimenters involved in a 1993 test of a hepatitis drug that led to five deaths were exonerated by a panel from the Institute of Medicine, which directly conflicts with the findings of the FDA. During the trials of fiauluridine (FIAU), the FDA contended that the scientists and their sponsors had committed numerous violations of federal rules governing clinical trials, including not spotting and reporting adverse reactions quickly enough. Dr. Morton Swartz, chairman of the Institute of Medicine committee, and a professor at Harvard Medical School said, "[F]indings from previous animal . . . tests using different doses and lengths of time didn't expose this drug's life-threatening side effects."
Experimenters using animals are less apt to notice symptoms like emotional changes, dizziness, nausea, and other important but less obvious conditions. Animals are unable to tell experimenters how they feel, information that is necessary to help determine whether a drug can be tolerated by human patients.
The British journal Nature reports that 520 of 800 chemicals (65 percent) tested on rats and mice caused cancer in the animals but not in humans. The same report illustrated different results between rats and mice used to test the same substance. It costs about $2 million to test a single chemical on rats and mice. Billions more are spent regulating the use and disposal of chemicals "proved" to be dangerous in animal tests -- chemicals which may actually present little or no risk to humans.
Unfavorable animal test results do not prevent a drug from being marketed for human use. So much evidence has accumulated about differences in the effects chemicals have on animals and humans, that government and industry officials often do not act on findings from animal studies. The acne drug Accutane was marketed despite the fact that it caused birth defects in rats. A small warning label was placed on the prescription. In this case, the animal tests did reflect human reactions, and now hundreds of children have been born with birth defects caused by Accutane.
Drug companies are in business to make money. That is done by marketing large numbers of drugs, many of which are copies of drugs already on the shelves. A report by Health Action International found that "out of 546 products on the market for coughs and colds in five areas of the world, 456 are irrational combinations. Three-quarters of the 356 analgesics on the market should not be recommended for use because they are dangerous, ineffective, irrational, or needlessly expensive." Of the millions of drugs on the market, only 200 are considered essential by the World Health Organization. According to the FDA, 84% of the new drugs produced by the 25 biggest drug companies had little or no potential for improving patient care. Only 3% were considered significant advances.
As long as the pharmaceutical industry cranks out thousands of new drugs every year, the public must push for the implementation of reliable, non-animal testing methods to ensure the safety of these drugs. Sophisticated non-animal testing methods exist. According to Dallas Pratt, M.D., "[M]any systems using either animal or human cell or organ cultures, as well as plant materials and microorganisms, have been created with emphasis on those which are rapid, inexpensive, and can discriminate between those chemicals whose properties represent a high toxicity risk and those which are relatively innocuous." Highly complex mathematical and computer models can be used to further define the specific problems a product may cause in human use.
Despite the inaccuracies of animal tests, and the many cases of dangerous drugs having to be withdrawn from the market after passing animal tests with flying colors, the FDA continues to require animal studies before a drug can be marketed in the United States.
Today we have the knowledge to prevent much illness and human suffering, often by avoiding the hormone and chemical-laden meat and dairy-based diet common in the United States, by regulating against pollutants and dangerous pesticides, and by avoiding tobacco and other known carcinogens. As John A. McDougall, M.D., points out, "The present modes of treatment fail to result in a cure or even significant improvement in most cases because they fail to deal with the cause. The harmful components of [a meat-based] diet and lifestyle ... promote disease and thus the disease progresses unchecked. Present modes of therapy are intended to cover up symptoms and signs rather than relieve the cause of disease."
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Concerned people should write to their congressional representatives and demand an end to wasteful and inaccurate animal studies in favor of human-based research and treatments that actually help people. The National Institutes of Health, the world's largest funder of research, must be pushed to fund more preventive programs and human-based research. Meanwhile, avoid purchasing any drug unless absolutely necessary. Remember, the manufacture and sale of pharmaceuticals is big business. If you must take a drug, ask your doctor what clinical studies, not animal tests, reveal about the drug.
While some claim the manatee is ugly, with ‘a face only a mother could love,’ most people seem drawn to this fascinating marine creature. Whether it’s their sad, puppy-like demeanor, or their sluggish, gentle manner, something about manatees is awfully endearing.
The manatee, or sea cow, is an aquatic mammal. With a round cylindrical body, they can measure from 8 to 13 feet from tail to head. Weights can vary from 450 lbs for the smallest species to 1,300 lbs for the larger ones. Some can even grow up to 3,000 lbs.
Primarily herbivorous, manatees spend up to eight hours each day quietly grazing on seagrasses and other aquatic plants, though they will occasionally feed on fish.
Manatees surface for air about once every five minutes, but can remain submerged for up to twenty minutes when they are resting. Their lungs are positioned along the backbone, which helps with buoyancy control. They swim by waving their wide paddle tails up and down, and because they do not possess the neck vertebra that most other mammals have, they must turn their entire bodies to look around.
Manatees can hear quite well, at least at high frequencies. This is likely an adaptation to shallow water living, where low frequency sounds aren’t transmitted well because of physical barriers. Their inability to hear the low frequency churning of an approaching boat might explain why manatees are susceptible to injury by boat propellers, a top reason for the decline in their populations.
West Indian Manatee
West Indian manatees are the largest of the three main manatee species. They are gray in color, have a whale-like body, and a tail that is shaped like a paddle. This species of manatee is mostly found in the waters of the Caribbean Sea and south-eastern fringes of the US, especially the coastal areas of Florida and Georgia where they prefer to wade in warm shallow waters. They also occur in Texas, Mexico, Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the Caribbean. This species takes in a daily diet of sea weeds and plants, up to 10-15 percent of their body weight.
West Indian manatees were listed as endangered in 1967 concurrent with the creation of the Endangered Species Conservation Act, an act that pre-dated the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973. Accidental collisions with boats are the primary cause of death for these shallow water-inhabiting animals, followed by low reproductive rates and a decline in suitable habitat. Another important threat is loss of reliable warm water habitats that allow manatees to survive the cold in winter. Natural springs are threatened by increased demands for water supply. Deregulation of the power industry may also result in less reliable man-made sources of warm water. Seagrass and other aquatic foods that manatees depend on are affected by water pollution, and sometimes direct destruction.
The Amazonian manatee can reach up to 9 feet in length and weigh up to 500 lbs. It is the smallest of the tree species. This species of manatee is basically a fresh water creature found in the upper reaches of the Amazon river and its tributaries that span the countries of Brazil, Guyana, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Water lettuce and hyacinth are their main diet, requiring 8 percent of their body weight daily. They have a flat and elongated rear and a hippo-like snout, both characteristics that make the Amazonian manatee an unusual looking animal.
Although hunting of the Amazon manatee was banned in 1974, there seems to be no end to the poaching of the animal. It's still being hunted down for its meat and oil. Massive deforestation of the Amazon basin, and mining for gold, has led to the habitat of the manatee considerably shrinking over the decades. Once found all over the huge Amazon basin area, it is a rare sight nowadays – leading conservationists to believe that it could become extinct.
West African Manatee
Of all the three species of manatee, the West African is the one few people have heard of. They dwell all along the coastline of West Africa, especially in the shallow and warm waters of estuaries and lagoons flowing into the Atlantic. The country-wise distribution of their habitat is Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Sierra Leone. The preferred daily diet of this species is the leaves of the low overhanging trees of the extensive mangrove forests abounding the mouth-waters of the massive Niger river and Congo river deltas.
For the West African manatee, the threats are similar to its Amazonian cousin in the sense that its meat fetches a considerable price in the markets. In many places it is openly displayed for sale. It is also poached for sale to zoos and aquariums of private collectors. Rapid agricultural and urban expansion, massive and unhindered exploration for oil in Nigerian delta waters, and extreme congestion of vessels and boats in shallow waters are serious threats to the habitat of the African manatee. Fishing equipment, such as large nets, are also a threat. Manatees trapped inside them are killed by the fishermen before they can cause considerable damage to the nets. Natural occurrences, like shifting tides and eddies, are also threats as manatees are shallow-water creatures. Like the Amazonian manatee, their numbers are dwindling.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) enforces controls on the export of the West African manatee. Hunting of the animal is now banned in almost all the countries of its habitat. In countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal, conservation programs have seen areas being demarcated as protected zones for the manatees. Conservation organizations are also making an effort to educate the populace in these regions about the manatee.
Fight For Survival
Manatee conservation and recovery involves many partners from government and industry, as well as many citizens. Great strides have been made in the protection and recovery of the manatee. Numerous manatee speed zones have been established. Many sick and injured manatees are rescued every year. These animals are often rehabilitated and returned to the wild. Recommendations and actions to prevent manatee deaths related to water-control structures and navigation locks have included modification of gate openings and installation of pressure sensitive and acoustic devices on some of the most deadly locks. All efforts to reduce water pollution help to maintain and restore aquatic vegetation. Extensive manatee conservation education work has been conducted by federal, state and private entities.
The West Indian manatees are now doing comparatively better than their Amazonian and African counterparts. However, there is much left to be done to secure their future. This will require the cooperation and support of everyone: government, orgainzations, the private sector and boaters.
Rotors of fast-moving water crafts once took many lives each year. Thanks to awareness and dissemination of information concerning the safety of the sea mammals, such mishaps have been reduced considerably. But areas where watercraft-related injury and mortality continue to occur have almost no protective measures for manatees.
Warm water wintering sites need to be secured. Important spring flows must be maintained. We must ensure that aquatic vegetation is adequate to support a recovered population.
Red tide, a natural occurrence in the Gulf of Mexico, is another threat to the manatee. Exposure to toxic algal bloom created by the red tide can be lethal to manatees. Scientists are investigating links between the run-off of wastes into the sea and the red tide phenomena.
The great news for these likeable creatures and their enthusiasts is that their count has increased five-fold within a decade and half. In 1991, a count of the West Indian manatees around Florida found just 1,267 inhabiting the area. The number has increased to an astonishing 6,250. The West Indian species is finally out of the list of endangered animals.
Although the struggle will be uphill, one can only hope that similar efforts are made to wean away the Amazonian and West African manatee from the path of extinction and put them in one that leads to multiplication of their numbers.
Deciding to recycle items is just the first step, you also want to make sure the items are recycled correctly. Below you will find common recyclables and the best options to recycle them.
Paper makes up nearly 30 percent of all wastes Americans throw away each year, more than any other material. Americans recycle over 60 percent of the paper they use. This recovered paper is used to make new paper products, saving trees and other natural resources. Most community or office recycling programs accept paper and paper products. Check what your community or office program accepts before you put it in the bin. When you go shopping, look for products that are made from recycled paper.
Some batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel; therefore, many communities do not allow them to be thrown away with your regular trash. Recycling is always the best option for disposing of used batteries.
Lead-Acid Car Batteries can be returned to almost any store that sells car batteries. The lead and plastics from the batteries can then be recycled and used to manufacture new products. About 99 percent of lead-acid car batteries are recycled.
Dry-Cell Batteries are used in a variety of electronics and include alkaline and carbon zinc (9-volt, D, C, AA, AAA), mercuric-oxide (button, some cylindrical and rectangular), silver-oxide and zinc-air (button), and lithium (9-volt, C, AA, coin, button, rechargeable) batteries. Look for in-store recycling bins or community collection events to dispose of these batteries.
Americans generate over 30 million tons of plastics each year, about 13 percent of the waste stream. Only about nine percent of plastics are recycled. Some types of plastics are recycled much more than others. Most community recycling programs accept some, but not all, types of plastics. Look for products made from recycled plastic materials.
What do the symbols mean on the bottom of plastic bottles and containers? These symbols were created by plastic manufacturers to help people identify the kind of plastic resin used to make the container. This can help you determine if the container can be accepted by your local recycling program. The resin number is contained in a triangle, which looks very similar to the recycling symbol, but this does not necessarily mean it can be collected for recycling in your community.
1 - PET - Polyethylene Terephthalate
2 - HDPE - High-density Polyethylene
3 - Vinyl
4 - LDPE - Low-density Polyethylene
5 - PP - Polypropylene
6 - PS - Polystyrene
7 - Other - Mixed Plastics
Glass, especially glass food and beverage containers, can be recycled over and over again. Americans generate over 11 million tons of glass each year, about 27 percent of which is recovered for recycling. Making new glass from recycled glass is typically cheaper than using raw materials. Most curbside community recycling programs accept different glass colors and types mixed together, and then glass is sorted at the recovery facility. Check with your local program to see if you need to separate your glass or if it can be mixed together.
Never dump your used motor oil down the drain — the used oil from one oil change can contaminate one million gallons of fresh water. By recycling your used oil you not only help keep our water supply clean, but help reduce dependence on foreign oil. It takes 42 gallons of crude oil, but only one gallon of used oil, to produce 2.5 quarts of new motor oil. Many garages and auto-supply stores that sell motor oil also accept oil for recycling.
Household Hazardous Waste Recycling
Leftover household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive ingredients are considered to be household hazardous waste (HHW). Products such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides that contain potentially hazardous ingredients require special care when you dispose of them. HHW may be dangerous to people or bad for the environment if poured down the drain, dumped on the ground, or thrown out with regular trash.
What you can do:
- Try to reduce your purchases of these products and look for alternative, non-hazardous products.
- When you do need to dispose of these products, look for special collection events in your community or permanent collection centers. Sometimes businesses that sell these products will also accept them for recycling.
- If you have to dispose of HHW, first check with your local waste management agency to see what rules apply in your community.
Disease-carrying pests such as rodents may live in tire piles. Tire piles can also catch on fire. Most garages are required to accept and recycle your used tires when you have new ones installed. You may be able to return used tires to either a tire retailer or a local recycling facility that accepts tires. Some communities will hold collection events for used tires.
There's little doubt anymore that vegetarianism is going mainstream. Millions of people are vegetarians, and thousands more make the switch to a meat-free diet every week. Many others have greatly reduced the amount of animal products they eat.
Many people eliminate animal foods from their diet because of health concerns. In study after study, the consumption of animal foods has been linked with heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and other illnesses. One reason may be because animals are routinely given growth hormones, antibiotics, and even pesticides, which remain in their flesh and are passed on to meat-eaters.
Other people become vegetarians out of concern for animal welfare. On today's factory farms, animals often spend their entire lives confined to cages or stalls barely larger than their own bodies. Death for these animals doesn't always come quickly or painlessly. Billions of animals are killed for food in the United States alone.
Reducing health risks and eliminating animal suffering are just two reasons to go vegetarian; adopting a plant-based diet can also help protect the environment and feed the hungry. Factory farms produce billions of tons of animal waste. The waste produced in a single year would fill 6.7 million train box cars, enough to circle the Earth 12 1/2 times. Unfortunately much of this waste ends up in our rivers and streams, polluting waterways more than all industrial sources combined.
Raising animals for food is also taking its toll on the world's forests. Since 1960, more than one-quarter of the rain forests in Central America have been destroyed to create cattle pastures. Of the Amazonian rain forest cleared in South America, more than 38 percent has been used for ranching. Rain forests are vital to the survival of the planet because they are the Earth's primary source of oxygen. And scientists are increasingly exploring the use of rain-forest plants in medications to treat and cure human diseases.
Veganism takes vegetarianism beyond the diet. A vegan (pronounced Vee-g'n) is someone who tries to live without exploiting animals, for the benefit of animals, people and the planet. A vegan does not eat any animal food products, avoids wearing animal-derived products and does not purchase toiletries, cosmetics and cleaning products that have been tested on animals or contain animal based ingredients. They also refrain form supporting animal entertainment and other industries that exploit animals. Instead, vegans choose from thousands of animal-free foods, products and entertainment.
Veganism is a philosophy, not a diet. This philosophy is the belief in the right of all sentient beings to be treated with respect, not as property, and to be allowed to live their lives.
A balanced vegan diet (also referred to as a ‘plant-based diet’) meets many current healthy eating recommendations such as eating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains and consuming less cholesterol and saturated fat. Balanced vegan diets are often rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber and can decrease the chances of suffering from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Well-planned plant-based diets are suitable for all age groups and stages of life.
Many people become vegan through concern of the way farmed animals are treated. Some object to the unnecessary ‘use’ and killing of animals – unnecessary as we do not need animal products in order to feed or clothe ourselves. Public awareness of the conditions of factory-farmed animals is gradually increasing and it is becoming more and more difficult to claim not to have at least some knowledge of the treatment they endure. Sentient, intelligent animals are often kept in cramped and filthy conditions where they cannot move around or perform their natural behaviors. At the same time, many suffer serious health problems and even death because they are selectively bred to grow or produce milk or eggs at a far greater rate than their bodies are capable of coping with.
Regardless of how they were raised, all animals farmed for food meet the same fate at the slaughterhouse. This includes the millions of calves and male chicks who are killed every year as ‘waste products’ of milk and egg production and the animals farmed for their milk and eggs who are killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan. Choosing a vegan diet is a daily demonstration of compassion for all these creatures.
Vegans also help the planet. Plant-based diets only require around one third of the land and water needed to produce a typical Western diet. Farmed animals consume much more protein, water and calories than they produce, so far greater quantities of crops and water are needed to produce animal ‘products’ to feed humans than are needed to feed people direct on a plant-based diet. With water and land becoming scarcer globally, world hunger increasing and the planet’s population rising, it is much more sustainable to eat plant foods direct than use up precious resources feeding farmed animals. Farming animals and growing their feed also contributes to other environmental problems such as deforestation, water pollution and land degradation.
Choosing to live a life free from animal products means choosing a path that is kinder to people, animals and the environment.
VEGANS & PROTEIN
Can the vegan (strict vegetarian) diet provide protein adequate for sound human health? This question continues to be asked despite the fact that a "yes" answer was given some three decades ago in a study reported by Hardinge and Stare. The question stays with us largely because animal products (meat, milk, cheese, and eggs) have been promoted (usually by the industries that produce and sell them) as the best source of protein. This dietary assumption is wrong and can even be harmful, as a quick study of the facts about vegetable protein and nutrition shows.
Protein is essential to human health. In fact, our bodies -- hair, muscles, fingernails, and so on -- are made up mostly of protein. As suggested by the differences between our muscles and our fingernails, not all proteins are alike. This is because differing combinations of any number of 22 known amino acids may constitute a protein. (In much the same way that the 26 letters of our alphabet serve to form different words, the 22 amino acids serve to form different proteins.)
Amino acids are a fundamental part of our diet. While most of the 22 can be manufactured in one way or another by the human body, eight (or, for some people, 10) cannot. These "essential amino acids" can easily be provided by a balanced vegan diet.
Non-animal foods can easily provide us with the necessary protein. Despite the claims of the meat and dairy industries, only 2.5-10 percent of the total calories consumed by the average human being needs to be in the form of protein. The rule of thumb used by the National Academy of Sciences Food and Nutrition Board is .57 grams of protein for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. People under special circumstances (such as pregnant women) are advised to get a little more. Vegans should not worry about getting enough protein; if you eat a reasonably varied diet and ingest sufficient calories, you will undoubtedly get enough protein.
Eating too much protein can result in osteoporosis and kidney stones. Meat and dairy products raise the acid level in human blood, causing calcium to be excreted from the bones to restore the body's natural pH balance. This calcium depletion results in osteoporosis, or weakening of the bones. The excreted calcium ends up in the kidneys, where it often forms painful stones. Kidney disease is far more common in meat-eaters than in vegans, and excessive protein consumption has also been linked to cancer of the colon, breast, prostate, and pancreas. By replacing animal protein with vegetable protein, you can improve your health while enjoying a wide variety of delicious foods.
While just about every vegetarian food contains some protein, the soybean deserves special mention, for it contains all eight essential amino acids and surpasses all other food plants in the amount of protein it can deliver to the human system. In this regard it is nearly equal to meat. The human body uses about 70 percent of the protein found in meat and 60 to 65 percent of that found in soybeans. The many different and delicious soy products (tempeh, soy "hot dogs," "burgers," Tofutti brand "ice cream," and tofu) available in health and grocery stores suggest that the soybean, in its many forms, can accommodate a wide range of tastes.
Other rich sources of non-animal protein include legumes, nuts, seeds, food yeasts and freshwater algae. Although food yeasts ("nutritional yeast" and "brewer's yeast") do not lend themselves to forming the center of one's diet, they are extremely nutritious additions to most menus (in soups, gravies, breads, casseroles, and dips). Most yeasts are 50 percent protein (while most meats are only 25 percent). Freshwater algae contains a phenomenal percentage of protein. One type is the deep green spirulina, a food that is 70 percent protein. It is available in tablets, powders, and even candy bars.
Protein deficiency need not be a concern for vegans. If we ate nothing but wheat, oatmeal, or potatoes, we would easily have more than enough protein. Eating nothing but cabbage would provide more than twice as much protein as anyone would need! Of course, an actual vegan would never want to be limited to just one food. The vegan diet can (and should) be full of a wide variety of delicious foods.
Most people have been taught that children must eat animal flesh and dairy products to grow up strong and healthy. The truth is that children raised as vegans, who consume no animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy, can derive all the nutrients essential for optimum growth from plant-based sources.
Consider this: Many children raised on the "traditional" American diet of cholesterol and saturated fat-laden hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza are already showing symptoms of heart disease -- the number one killer of adults -- by the time they reach first grade. One epidemiological study found significant levels of cholesterol and fat in the arteries of most children under the age of five. Children raised as vegans can be protected from this condition. They are less likely to suffer from childhood illnesses such as asthma, iron-deficiency anemia and diabetes, and will be less prone to ear infections and colic.
A vegan diet has other benefits, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 20,000 E. coli infections from meat every year in the United States. A vegan diet protects children from the pesticides, hormones and antibiotics that are fed to animals in huge amounts and concentrate in animals' fatty tissue and milk.
Nutritionists and physicians have learned that plant products are good sources of protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin D because they can be easily absorbed by the body and don't contain artery-clogging fat.
Protein--Contrary to popular opinion, the real concern about protein is that we will feed our children too much, not too little. Excess animal protein actually promotes the growth of tumors--and most people on a meat-based diet consume three to 10 times more protein than their bodies need! Children can get all the protein their bodies need from whole grains in the form of oats, brown rice, and pasta; from nuts and seeds, including spreads such as tahini and peanut butter; and legumes, including tofu, lentils, and beans.
Iron--Few parents know that some babies' intestines bleed after drinking cow's milk. This increases their risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia since the blood they're losing contains iron. Breast-fed infants under the age of one year get sufficient iron from mother's milk (and are less prone to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Formula-fed babies should be fed a soy-based formula with added iron to minimize the risk of intestinal bleeding. Iron-rich foods such as raisins, almonds, dried apricots, blackstrap molasses and fortified grain cereals will meet the needs of toddlers and children 12 months and older. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, so foods rich in both, such as green, leafy vegetables are particularly valuable.
Calcium--Drinking cow's milk is one of the least effective ways to strengthen bones. Too much protein, such as the animal protein fed to children in dairy products, actually causes the body to lose calcium. In countries where calcium intake is low but where protein intake is also very low, osteoporosis is almost non-existent. Cornbread, broccoli, kale, tofu, dried figs, tahini, great northern beans and fortified orange juice and soy milk are all excellent sources of calcium. As with iron, vitamin C will help your child's system absorb calcium efficiently.
Vitamin D--This is not really a "vitamin" but a hormone our bodies manufacture when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Cow's milk does not naturally contain vitamin D; it's added later. Vitamin D-enriched soy milk provides this nutrient without the added animal fat. A child who spends as little as 15 minutes a day playing in the sunshine, with arms and face exposed, will get sufficient vitamin D.
Vitamin B-12--This essential vitamin once occurred naturally on the surfaces of potatoes, beets, and other root vegetables, but the move away from natural fertilizers has caused it to disappear from our soil. Any commercially available multivitamin will assure adequate B-12 for your child. B-12 is also found in nutritional yeast (not to be confused with brewer's or active dry yeast) and many fortified cereals.
Dangers of Dairy Products
Children do not need dairy products to grow up strong and healthy. The director of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Frank Oski, says, "There's no reason to drink cow's milk at any time. It was designed for calves, it was not designed for humans, and we should all stop drinking it today, this afternoon." Dr. Benjamin Spock agrees that although milk is the ideal food for baby cows, it can be dangerous for human infants: "I want to pass the word to parents that cow's milk . . . has definite faults for some babies. It causes allergies, indigestion, and contributes to some cases of childhood diabetes."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants under one year of age not be fed whole cow's milk. Dairy products are the leading cause of food allergies. In addition, more than two-thirds of Native Americans and people from Asian and Mexican ancestry and as many as 15 percent of Caucasians are lactose intolerant and suffer symptoms such as bloating, gas, cramps, vomiting, headaches, rashes or asthma. Many people become lactose intolerant after age four. For these people, animal proteins seep into the immune system and can result in chronic runny noses, sore throats, hoarseness, bronchitis and recurring ear infections.
Milk is suspected of triggering juvenile diabetes, a disease that causes blindness and other serious effects. Some children's bodies see cow's milk protein as a foreign substance and produce high levels of antibodies to fend off this "invader." These antibodies also destroy the cells which produce insulin in the pancreas, leading to diabetes.
An estimated 20 percent of U.S. dairy cows are infected with leukemia viruses that are resistant to killing by pasteurization. These viruses have been found in supermarket supplies of milk and dairy products. It may not be merely coincidence that the highest rates of leukemia are found in children ages 3-13, who consume the most dairy products.
Over 87,000 man-made chemicals are currently in use. Virtually all have not been tested for threats to wildlife and humans.
Wildlife populations are constantly confronted with a massive array of pollutants released into the environment. In the last 80 years, the world chemical output has grown 500-fold, contaminating entire landscapes, accumulating in bodies of animals and plants, and altering and disrupting the DNA of wildlife in those places.
You can help save the planet and its animals by reducing your use of toxic chemicals.
Buy products that say "biodegradable" and "non-toxic" on the label
Use natural alternative to pestisides
Don't use chlorine bleach
Avoid products with EDTA, NTA, phosphates, sodium hypochlorite or chlorine bleach
Use rechargeable or mercury-free batteries
Plant disease and pest-resistant plants in your garden
Use environmentally friendly cleaning and hygiene products
Use compost and mulch to improve your soil instead of pesticides and fertilizers
Use only lawn companies that use ecologically sound Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Every year, millions of animals suffer and die in painful tests to determine the "safety" of cosmetics and household products. Substances ranging from eye shadow and soap to furniture polish and oven cleaner are tested on rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, dogs, and other animals, despite the fact that test results do not help prevent or treat human illness or injury.
In eye irritancy tests, a liquid, flake, granule, or powdered substance is dropped into the eyes of a group of albino rabbits. The animals are often immobilized in stocks from which only their heads protrude. They usually receive no anesthesia during the tests. After placing the substance in the rabbits' eyes, laboratory technicians record the damage to the eye tissue at specific intervals over an average period of 72 hours, with tests sometimes lasting 7 to 18 days. Reactions to the substances include swollen eyelids, inflamed irises, ulceration, bleeding, massive deterioration, and blindness. During the tests, the rabbits' eyelids are held open with clips. Many animals break their necks as they struggle to escape. The results of eye irritancy tests are questionable, as they vary from laboratory to laboratory-and even from rabbit to rabbit.
Acute toxicity tests, commonly called lethal dose or poisoning tests, determine the amount of a substance that will kill a percentage, even up to 100 percent, of a group of test animals. In these tests, a substance is forced by tube into the animals' stomachs or through holes cut into their throats. It may also be injected under the skin, into a vein, or into the lining of the abdomen; mixed into lab chow; inhaled through a gas mask; or introduced into the eyes, rectum, or vagina. Experimenters observe the animals' reactions, which can include convulsions, labored breathing, diarrhea, constipation, emaciation, skin eruptions, abnormal posture, and bleeding from the eyes, nose, or mouth.
The widely used lethal dose 50 (LD50) test was developed in 1927. The LD50 testing period continues until at least 50 percent of the animals die, usually in two to four weeks. Like eye irritancy tests, lethal dose tests are unreliable at best. Says Microbiological Associates' Rodger D. Curren, researchers looking for non-animal alternatives must prove that these in vitro models perform "at least as well as animal tests. But as we conduct these validation exercises, it's become more apparent that the animal tests themselves are highly variable." The European Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods' Dr. Michael Ball puts it more strongly: "The scientific basis" for animal safety tests is "weak."
No law requires animal testing for cosmetics and household products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires only that each ingredient in a cosmetics product be "adequately substantiated for safety" prior to marketing or that the product carry a warning label indicating that its safety has not been determined. The FDA does not have the authority to require any particular product test. Likewise, household products, which are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the agency that administers the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), do not have to be tested on animals. A summary of the CPSC's animal-testing policy, printed in the Federal Register, states, "[I]t is important to keep in mind that neither the FHSA nor the Commission's regulations require any firm to perform animal tests. The statute and its implementing regulations only require that a product be labeled to reflect the hazards associated with that product."
Testing methods, therefore, are determined by manufacturers. The very unreliability of animal tests may make them appealing to some companies, since these tests allow manufacturers to put virtually any product on the market. Companies can also use the fact that their products were tested to help defend themselves against consumer lawsuits. Others believe that testing on animals helps them compete in the marketplace. Consumers demand products with exciting new ingredients, such as alpha-hydroxy acids, and animal tests are often considered the easiest and cheapest way to "prove" that new ingredients are "safe."
Such arguments carry little weight with the more than 500 manufacturers of cosmetics and household products that have shunned animal tests. These companies take advantage of the many alternatives available today, including cell cultures, tissue cultures, corneas from eye banks, and sophisticated computer and mathematical models. Companies can also formulate products using ingredients already determined to be safe by the FDA. Most cruelty-free companies use a combination of methods to ensure safety, such as maintaining extensive databases of ingredient and formula information and employing in vitro tests and human clinical studies.
Caring consumers also play a vital role in eliminating cruel test methods. Spurred by public outrage, the European Union (EU) banned cosmetics tests on animals. In the United States, a survey by the American Medical Association found that 75 percent of Americans are against using animals to test cosmetics. Hundreds of companies have responded by switching to animal-friendly test methods. To help consumers identify products that are truly cruelty-free, a coalition of national animal protection groups has developed the Corporate Standard of Compassion for Animals, which clarifies the non-animal-testing terminology and procedures used by manufacturers and makes available a cruelty-free logo for companies that are in compliance with the standard. Shoppers can support this initiative by purchasing products that comply with the corporate standard and boycotting those that don't and by asking local stores to carry cruelty-free items.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Everyone seeking to stop animal tests should urge government regulatory agencies and trade associations to accept non-animal test methods immediately. Never buy cosmetics and household products tested on animals.