Swiss Voters to Decide on Whether to Allow Factory Farming to Continue in ‘Milestone’ Moment

By Eoin Higgins | Common Dreams

Voters in Switzerland will soon have their say on whether or not the country continues to allow factory farming thanks to an initiative by animal rights campaigners that delivered that country’s Parliament on Monday over 100,000 signatures to force a referendum on the matter.

“A milestone for the Swiss environmental and animal protection movement,” tweeted animal rights campaigner Philipp Ryf.

The campaign was the result of work by a broad coalition of groups, including Swiss animal rights group Sentience Politics, Greenpeace, the Franz Weber Foundation, and many others. The push for the referendum began in June of 2018, citing climate change and animal cruelty as motivating factors.

“Fifty percent of all piglets raised in Switzerland are slaughtered without ever seeing the sky,” said Sentience Politics’ Meret Schneider.

On September 16, the campaign submitted more than enough signatures for the measure to appear on the upcoming ballot.

Campaigners celebrated on social media and shared pictures of the petition delivery.

The Swiss Parliament will discuss the proposal before setting a date for the vote, according to SwissInfo.

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Canada Just Officially Banned Dolphin and Whale Captivity

By Elias Marat | The Mind Unleashed

(TMU) — In a big win for animal rights advocates, Canada will no longer allow whales, dolphins, and porpoises to be bred and held in captivity for the purpose of entertainment.

The Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, which was passed by Canada’s parliament on Monday, will ensure that cetaceans—or aquatic mammals—will no longer be subject to the trauma of confinement in aquatic entertainment parks, which animal rights activists have blasted as amounting to a system of animal cruelty.

The new law also prevents marine animals from being subject to captive breeding, the import-export market, live captures, and also outlaws the possession of reproductive matter.

However, the bill does include some notable exceptions while allowing for marine mammals who are already held to remain in captivity, including those who were rescued, are being rehabilitated from injuries, or are the subjects of limited scientific research. Aquariums, parks, and zoos will be allowed to keep their captive performing cetaceans but can no longer replace them.

The bill, which was tabled by former Sen. Wilfred Moore of Nova Scotia in 2010, hailed the passage of the law in a statement from the Humane Society International/Canada. The former Liberal Party senator said:

“We have a moral obligation to phase out the capture and retention of animals for profit and entertainment. Canadians are calling upon us to do better—and we have listened.”

Animal rights defenders and marine scientists have also celebrated news of the bill’s passage, which they have endorsed through tweets under the hashtags #EmptyTheTanks and #FreeWilly.

Experts have argued that whales and dolphins face tremendous psychological and physical suffering while in captivity, including chronic health problems, abnormal behavior, prolonged isolation and extreme boredom, and high infant mortality.

The move brings Canada up to speed with a growing list of countries seeking an end to cetacean captivity. HSI/Canada executive director Rebecca Aldworth described the passage of the bill as a “watershed moment” in the protection of the sea creatures as a well as a victory for the people of Canada who want “a more humane country,” explaining:

“Whales and dolphins don’t belong in tanks, and the inherent suffering these highly social and intelligent animals endure in intensive confinement can no longer be tolerated.”

The two main facilities impacted by the law are Marineland in Niagara Falls and the Vancouver Aquarium. According to CBC, Marineland holds about 61 cetaceans in captivity, including “55 beluga whales, five bottlenose dolphins, and one orca.”

While the park initially opposed the ban, Marineland conceded Monday in a statement that its operations have evolved since the park was founded in the 1960s and it would comply with the new legislation.

The Vancouver Aquarium had already bent to public opposition last year with its pledge to no longer hold cetaceans for entertainment purposes. At the time, only one dolphin was being held at the facility.


In a statement released Monday, Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon said:

“The public told us they believed the continuing importation and display of these intelligent and sociable mammals was unethical and incompatible with evolving public opinion and we amended our bylaws accordingly.”

In 2016, U.S.-based SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment announced an end to breeding captive killer whales and pledged to shift its focus to marine mammal rescue operations instead. The company has SeaWorld Parks in California, Florida, and Texas.

Almost 60 orcas are held in captivity worldwide at various parks and aquariums, with about a third of those orcas living in the U.S.—and all but one are captives at SeaWorld Parks in Orlando, San Diego, and San Antonio, National Geographic reports.

Despite the company’s pledges, its main attractions include dolphin shows. The company’s vice president of animal health and welfare, Hendrik Nollens, has defended the shows, claiming that dolphins “are faster than us. They are stronger than us.” Nollens added:

“They are in charge. They choose … They decide whether to do the interaction or not.”

However, Canadian marine scientist Hal Whitehead, who backed the new law, argues:

“The living conditions for captive marine mammals cannot compare to their natural ocean environments in size, nor in quality.”

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Polar Bear Dies of a “Broken Heart” After SeaWorld Ships Off Her Best Friend of 20 Years

Credit: SeaWorld San Diego

Brianna Acuesta | True Activist

SeaWorld San Diego announced Tuesday that its 21-year-old female polar bear, Szenja, died unexpectedly from unknown causes after a week of lethargy and a loss of appetite. Though the official cause of death is unknown, PETA was quick to jump in and state that Szenja died of a broken heart because her lifelong best friend had recently been shipped away.

Though this is anthropomorphic thinking, there does seem to be some merit in the idea that suddenly losing your best friend of 20 years with no explanation and no information about when she’ll be back could be absolutely heart-wrenching. Szenja was born in captivity and had developed a deep relationship with Snowflake, the other polar bear, before Snowflake was sent to Pittsburgh to participate in a breeding program. 

Credit: Cromely/Flickr

Prior to the decision to ship Snowflake across the country, ecision to ship Snowflake across the country, PETA and animal rights advocates had signed and circulated a petition calling for a reconsideration of the move because of how close the two bears were. Though polar bears are solitary in the wild, the circumstances for this pair was different in captivity.

“Snowflake and Szenja have already been deprived of everything that’s natural and important to them,” Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, wrote in a letter to SeaWorld. “Please do not add to their suffering and sentence more polar bears to a dismal fate by moving forward with this ill-conceived plan.”

Credit: Viral Feels

When SeaWorld went through with the move at the end of February, Szenja lost her appetite and experienced a loss of energy in the days following the removal of her only friend. Though this was a warning of what was to come, SeaWorld staff say that they are still shocked from her death and will perform a necropsy to determine what her true cause of death was.

“Szenja died of a broken heart, PETA believes. After losing her companion of 20 years when SeaWorld shipped Snowflake to the Pittsburgh Zoo in order to breed more miserable polar bears, Szenja did what anyone would do when they lose all hope, she gave up,” said PETA vice president Tracy Remain in a statement.

In the wild, polar bears can live up until they are about 20, but in captivity they can live until their late 20s to mid 30s. The oldest captive polar bear on record lived to be 43. SeaWorld has pointed to Szenja’s age as a factor in her death, but some animal rights activists have said that she was still too young to die of old age, and that she didn’t exhibit symptoms of her age until Snowflake left.

Credit: Cromely/Flickr

SeaWorld has expressed their grief over this unexpected loss, and that her legacy as an arctic ambassador for the plight of polar bears and other arctic animals suffering from climate change, habitat loss, poaching, and pollution.

“Szenja was a beloved member of our animal family, so this is a very difficult day for all of us,” said Al Garver, SeaWorld San Diego’s vice president of zoological operations. “Szenja not only touched the hearts of those who have cared for her over the last two decades, but also the millions of guests who had the chance to see her in person. We’re proud to have been a part of her life and to know that she inspired people from around the world to want to protect polar bears in the wild.”

True Activist / Report a typo

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Will Potter: The Shocking Move to Criminalize Nonviolent Protest

Investigative journalist Will Potter shares his personal experiences and insights about the government’s use of power to silence truth and suppress dissent (including nonviolent protests) regarding what some large corporations are doing to harm the environment, animals, whales, and more.  Full transcript below:

Less than a year after September 11th and I was at the Chicago Tribune writing about shootings and murders, and it was leaving me feeling pretty dark and depressed. I’d done some activism in college, so I decided to help a local group hang door knockers against animal testing. I thought it would be a safe way to do something positive.

But of course, I have the absolute worst luck ever and we were all arrested. The police took this blurry photo of me holding leaflets as evidence.

My charges were dismissed. But a few weeks later, two FBI agents knocked on my door and they told me that unless I help them by spying on protest groups they would put me on a domestic terrorist list.

I love to tell you that I didn’t flinch, but I was terrified. And when my fears subsided I became obsessed with finding out how this happened: how animal rights and environmental activists who have never injured anyone could become the FBI’s number one domestic terrorism threat.

A few years later I was invited to testify before Congress about my reporting and I told lawmakers that while everybody’s talking about going green, some people are risking their lives to defend forests, and to stop oil pipelines. They are physically putting their bodies on the line between the whaler’s harpoons and the whales.

These are everyday people like these protesters in Italy who spontaneously climbed over barbed wire fences to rescue beagles from animal testing.   And these movements have been incredibly effective and popular. So in 1985, their opponents made up a new word, eco-terrorist, to shift how we view them. They just made it up.

Now these companies have backed new laws like the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which turns activism in to terrorism if it causes a loss of profits. Now, most people never even heard about this law including members of congress. Less than one percent were in the room when it passed the House. The rest were outside at the new memorial. They were praising Dr. King as his style of activism was branded as terrorism if done in the name of animals or the environment

Supporters say laws like this are needed for the extremists: vandals, the arsonists, and the radicals. But, right now companies like TransCanada are briefing police in presentations like this one about how to prosecute nonviolent protesters as terrorists.

The FBI’s training documents on eco-terrorism are not about violence – they’re about public relations.

Today, in multiple countries, corporations are pushing new laws that make it illegal to photograph animal cruelty on their farms. The latest was in Idaho just two weeks ago. And today we released a lawsuit challenging it as unconstitutional and a threat to journalism.

The first to these “Ag-Gag” prosecutions, as they’re called, was a young woman named Amy Meyer. Amy saw a sick cow being moved by a bulldozer outside of a slaughterhouse as she was on the public street. And Amy did what any of us would: she filmed it. When I found out about her story, I wrote about it. And within 24 hours, it created such an uproar that the prosecutors just dropped all the charges.

But apparently even exposing stuff like that is a threat. Through the Freedom of Information Act, I learned that the counter terrorism unit has been monitoring my articles and speeches like this one. They even included this nice little write-up on my book. They described it as “compelling and well-written.” Blurb on the next book, right?

The point of all this is to make us afraid. But, as a journalist, I have an unwavering faith in the power of education. Our best weapon is sunlight. Dostoevsky wrote that the whole work of man is to prove he is a man and not a piano key.

Over and over throughout history, people in power have used fear to silence the truth and to silence dissent. It’s time we strike a new note.

Thank you.