A dog’s life makes a difference

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1998:
BANGKOK, TAIPEI, SINGAPORE, JOHOR BARU, JAKARTA–Mai Thai left Thailand on June 13 for a better life in San Diego, but may be long remembered as the dog who bettered the lives of more than a million Bangkok strays, by persuading the city government to propose escalating a subsidized neutering program that already rates among the world’s most ambitious and effective.

With Mai Thai making headlines, Bangkok city government health advisor Supong Limtanakool told a May 30 gathering of 200 persons concerned with stray dog control that he would recommend payments of 50 baht per animal, worth about $2.00, as incentives to animal owners to get their pets spayed or neutered at any of the six low-cost city clinics.

Limtanakool thought the program could be up and running, with official approval, by late summer. This would make Bangkok the first major city in the world to actually pay residents to fix animals, recognizing potential savings in animal control and public health costs.

The San Francisco SPCA pays $5.00 per cat, Rottweiler, pit bull terrier, or homeless person’s pet brought in for neutering, which relative to the U.S. standard of living has about the same purchasing power as 50 baht, but the SF/SPCA incentive is funded strictly from private gifts.

“While Bangkok is already providing free vaccination and veterinary services,” explained Bangkok Post reporter Anchalee Kongrut Uamdao Noikorn, “the new campaign would be a full-scale operation to control the population of stray dogs,” currently estimated at about 1.3 million, among around 3.5 million sharing the city with 5.5 million humans.

At a time of belt-tightening throughout Asia, the proposed neutering bounty is expected to prove both a strong incentive and a money-saver for the city.

“Bangkok currently spends 600,000 baht a year on neutering, eight baht a day to feed and treat strays brought in by dogcatchers, and eight baht per abandoned dog brought in. More than 50,000 stray dogs a year are caught and kept in the city shelter at Din Daeng,” Anchalee Kongrut continued.

To hold costs down, stray dogs are killed if not claimed or adopted within three days. Thanks to the success of the Bangkok low-cost neutering clinics and public tolerance of free-roaming dogs, the Bangkok animal control killing ratio, at just nine per thousand human residents, is nonetheless lower than that of any U.S. cities except San Francisco (4.6), New York (5.5), San Diego (7.5), and Seattle (7.8).

But more neutering still, and fewer strays, could save Bangkok much of the cost of administering thousands of post-exposure rabies vaccinations each year, and of isolating about 10 residents a year who actually develop rabies. Across Thailand, about 14 million people per year require post-exposure rabies vaccination; 70 to 80 people per year die of rabies. Bangkok hopes to point the way toward eliminating rabies, which is still common in much of Asia.

Veterinary Practitioners Association of Thailand president Parntep Ratanakorn wants to add microchip identification to the roster of services provided to dogs at the city clinics. That would cost about 150 baht per dog. Microchipping may be seen, for the moment, as unaffordable luxury. Even the low-cost neutering and vaccination program could be  jeopardized by the ongoing economic crisis–but sympathy for homeless dogs occasioned by Mai Thai has helped to keep humane response a political priority.

Despite the fiscal crisis, Bangkok officials seem unlikely to emulate the dog control practices of northeastern Thailand, where dog-eating reportedly caught on after introduction by Vietnamese refugees. Around Tharae city, suppliers long since exhausted the local free-roaming dog population, and now buy all the dogs they can get from nearby villages.

Reported Jiraporn Wongpaithoon for Associated Press in November 1996, “dog meat costs as much as beef” in the Tharae region, and is “also used as a protein supplment for cattle, fish, and even other dogs. The hide,” Wongpaithoon wrote, “is turned into bags and drum skins, while the scrotums become gloves for golfers. Dried penises are exported to China and Taiwan, where some people believe they enhance sexual prowess when consumed.”

Before slaughter, Wongpaithoon wrote, “The dogs are starved for three days to induce submission.” Only then are they “clubbed and their throats slit,” Wongpaithoon testified.

Mina Sharpe

“For a homeless mother of four like Mai Thai,” Anchalee Kongrut wrote in the June 14 Bangkok Post, “a dog who used to survive from garbage bins, nothing could have been worse than the car accident that left her half paralyzed” in December 1997.

“The twist of Mai Thai’s fate began when 16-year-old American student Mina Sharpe,” visiting from Taiwan, “saw a local taxi driver bottle-feed a pup while walking on the street in Huan Hin, Prachup Khiri Khan. “Curious, she asked where the mother was. There, in a field nearby, lay the smelly and dying mongrel. Snuggling near her were three malnourished puppies.”

Mai Thai had suffered a broken back and severe infection, but like the taxi driver who did what he could, Sharpe believes in doing what she can.

Sharpe knows, too, that the inspiring rescue of even one animal can inspire a movement, whereas contemplation of millions all at once can discourage and deter. The taxi driver showed Sharpe a severely suffering canine family. Sharpe saw the chance to help boost humane concerns.

Investing $400 for care and boarding of Mai Thai and family at the Thonglor Veterinary Hospital in Bangkok, Sharpe found U.S. homes for the puppies, arranged for her grandmother to foster Mai Thai until she could be placed in a good permanent home, and had a special wheel constructed to enable Mai Thai to get around–temporarily, Sharpe hoped. Now in the U.S. Mai Thai is receiving physical therapy, in hopes she may walk again.

The Bangkok Post and other Thai media followed the story for months. Mai Thai became a national symbol, and Sharpe a heroine to millions of Thais who love animals.

Sharpe had a point to make–as forcefully as possible. She was appalled when after a 1997 visit to Taiwan, Humane Society of the U.S. vice president for companion animals Martha Armstrong declared that the dog surplus there can only be reduced by breaking down the influence of Buddhist reverence for life, introducing U.S.-style high-volume shelter killing. Armstrong organized workshops to teach dog-killing by means of sodium penta-barbitrol–while complaining that the drug is not even available in Taiwan at lethal strength.

Sharpe wrote to ANIMAL PEOPLE to protest. “As an American living in Taiwan for the past four years,” she explained, “and having devoted most of that time to helping strays, founding and running the no-kill Taipei Abandoned Animal Rescue Foundation,” which she began in October 1994, at age 12, two months after her arrival, “I feel there is absolutely no reason for mass killing to be practiced here. The real answer is to put money toward mass
spay/neuter programs for all strays, and toward developing proper animal shelters and humane societies.”

American actor Steven Seagal also advocated low-cost neutering during a May visit he made to Taiwan on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. But Sharpe has done much more than talk.

Working with minimal outside support, Sharpe and a few volunteer helpers have already treated 300 to 350 dogs via the Yang Ming Veterinary Hospital in Taipei, which gives them discounted treatment and free boarding for animals under care, and have set up an ambitious World Wide Web site for T-AARF: http://www.toapayoh.com/taarf/<<.

“All dogs in our program are spayed or neutered prior to being adopted,” Sharpe stipulates. “Additionally, our vet offers reduced-cost spaying and neutering to our clients, as well as free spaying/neutering to street dogs we bring in to be castrated and put back on the streets. These dogs are kept approximately a week in our kennel, during which time they are neutered, vaccinated, tagged and microchipped with our number. Should they ever be picked up, our name would be recognized, and we would get the dog back to put back out.”

The lives of Taiwanese street dogs are often far from ideal, and Sharpe recognizes that releasing the dogs is only a stop-gap–but she returns them exclusively to locales where they seem accepted. Each T-AARF-treated dog then becomes an ambassador for fighting overpopulation, neglect, and cruelty by cultivating rather than opposing the Buddhist life ethic.

Sharpe’s approach mirrors the highly successful Animal Birth Control programs in effect in many major cities of India. ABC has worked so well in Bombay, Delhi, Chennai, and Jaipur that the Animal Welfare Board of India and national government in December 1997 accepted the abolition of animal control killing by 2005 as an official goal for the nation. Neuter/release of either dogs or cats, however, runs directly contrary to the official policies of PETA and HSUS.

After PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk visited Taiwan and denounced the treatment of stray dogs during a book promotion tour, Taipei authorities reportedly proclaimed that all dogs must be microchipped, with fines of up to $600 for owners of dogs found at large.

The crackdown coincided with allegedly escalating instances of animal abuse by street gangs during initiation rites. Shen Jung-chen, director of the Animal Protection League of Taiwan, asserted that from January through May 1998 she had collected 107 eyewitness accounts of youths torturing and killing dogs and cats within the greater Taipei area. Many of the attacks were documented by local newspaper coverage.

While aware of the abuse cases, Sharpe is skeptical about the alleged imposition of microchipping, the net effect of which would likely be to reduce the number of Taiwanese willing to claim dogs. “Since this is the first I have heard of it,” Sharpe said when told about it by ANIMAL PEOPLE, “I’d say that while PETA might think a microchipping requirement now exists, it either does not, or is so little known that no one obeys it. Even if it was in effect, or came into effect, with so many dogs and so little backup, I’d expect it to have little effect on what we do.”

Sharpe’s longterm hope is to place all the dogs T-AARF handles in good homes. Currently, adoptive homes are scarce in Taiwan. Therefore, promoting the adoption of Taiwanese dogs by Americans via the T-AARF web site, Sharpe has arranged for U.S. visitors to take more than three dozen dogs back with them, for relay to the adoptors.

The U.S. interest helps to tell Taiwan that these dogs’ lives have value, and that the small, intelligent dogs who predominate in Taiwan can become coveted pets.

(Contact T-TAARF c/o 800 Chung Shan N. Rd., Sec. 6, Shihilin, Taipei, Taiwan 111, Republic of China; sharptpe@toapayoh.com<<.)

Raiders of Noah’s Ark

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1996:

BOSTON–Quick-hit unannounced inspections of zoos in Florida and Nova Scotia won summer headlines for the World Society for the Protection of Animals, the Born Free Foundation, and Zoocheck Canada, brought action against the Steel City Petting Zoo in Cottondale, Florida, for alleged cruelty and multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act, and perhaps backfired to some extent, too, when implications that American Zoo Association-accredited facilities were also substandard were not sustained.

The inspections were the first phase of a joint WSPA/BFF Zoo Inquiry campaign, in planning since a similar series struck at inferior zoos throughout Europe in 1994. Zoo Inquiry urges the public and news media to seek either improvement or closure of bad zoos, and includes distribution of a questionaire for zoo-goers, published on August 6, six weeks after the Florida findings were disclosed.

Accounts based on a June 18 press conference WSPA and BFF held in Tampa made prominent mention that AZA-accredited sites such as Sea World Orlando and Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay were included in a tour by BFF board member John Gripper, DVM, which according to a foreword to his report authored by WSPA and BFF chief executives Andrew Dickson and Will Travers found that, “Only two of the 21 zoos he inspected were providing their animals with an environment that he felt might pass” inspection under the standards of the British Zoo Licensing Act.

However, Busch Gardens was one of the two zoos that Gripper said would pass, while the major criticism of Sea World was simply that it exhibits marine mammals in a performing-and-contact situation. Of Sea World, Gripper concluded, “Expert independent advice should be sought to determine if Sea World reaches the USDA and U.K. standards for the keeping of cetaceans.”

As critics quickly pointed out, Sea World is routinely inspected and approved by the USDA, so obviously does meet USDA standards; Gripper reprinted the USDA exhibitor regulations as an appendix to his report, indicating acquaintance with them; and as an official Zoo Inspector under the British Zoo Licensing Act since 1981, he supposedly was “expert independent advice” on the U.K. standards.

Taking a more cautious approach, the Zoo Inquiry literature released on August 6 stipulated that “accredited zoos received higher marks” from Gripper, adding that, “For the most part, AZA-accredited zoos and safari parks are meeting their animals’ needs through natural habitat enclosures with environmental enrichment.” The AZA itself is among the harshest critics of common zoo conditions, accrediting only 174 of the 1,937 USDA-licensed animal exhibition sites, and since November 1991 has virtually stopped the sale of “surplus” by member facilities to unaccredited zoos, canned hunts, and other private owners, one focus of WSPA and BFF concern. In several of the few recent documented cases, the zoos and the animals were victims of fraud.

The traffic in animals from roadside zoos, however, has never been stronger, as exotic pet fads and booming canned hunts have made selling “surplus” a lucrative sideline for operators whose breeding isn’t regulated by AZA-managed Species Survival Plans–which exist in part to prevent the births of “genetically redundant” animals.

Why Florida?

Gripper and other WSPA/BFF inspectors are eventually to visit zoos all over the U.S. and Canada. They started in Florida, the August 6 WSPA release said, because, “In a state which is a magnet for tourism, WSPA and BFF expected to find some of the best zoos America has to offer.”

Florida is in fact the long-recognized hub of the roadside zoo industry. Of the 1,937 USDA-licensed animal exhibitors, 230 are in Florida, 209 in California, 153 in Texas, 112 in Illinois, and 109 in New York. Pennsyl-vania has 74; no other state has morethan 60.

Many zoos on the WSPA/BFF tour list have been repeatedly cited by the USDA for substandard conditions, and have been targets of previous humane protests–among them the Everglades Wonder Gardens in Bonita Springs, fighting correction-or-closure orders since October 1992, and Noell’s Ark Chimp Farm, shut down for eight months in 1992-1993 due to violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

One of the two zoos Gripper found acceptable, Jungle Larry’s African Safari, drew furor in March 1991, after TV stations aired a video of handler David Tetzlaff breaking a thick stick over the head and neck of a caged leopard.

The Steel City Petting Zoo, not on the original 20-site WSPA/BFF itinerary, was added at the insistence of wildlife
rehabilitator May Lenzer, who was appalled at what she saw there in a 1995 visit. “After exhausting all the bureaucrats I could think of,” Lenzer told ANIMAL PEOPLE, “I got in touch with Roger Caras, president of the American SPCA. He referred me to ASPCA wildlife programs coordinator Kathi Travers, and my file was presented to John Walsh of WSPA in Boston. Dr. Gripper was in Florida at the time, and visited the zoo with a camera crew.”

Visiting the Steel City Petting Zoo on March 27, Gripper disclosed his findings at the June 18 press conference. Eight days later, owner Romulus Scalf, 54, was jailed in lieu of $10,000 bond for allegedly feeding live puppies to snakes.
“I mean, which is best?” Scalf reportedly asked Mike Cazalas of the Panama City News Herald a few days earlier. “Just take them out here and set them beside the highway and let cars run over them, and they lay there out on the road in the sun for hours dying? Give them to the humane society and let them bust them in the head and
throw them in an incinerator? Or give them to the snake and let the snake get a meal off of it?”

A USDA administrative complaint against Scalf for multiple alleged Animal Welfare Act violations was already pending.
However, International Primate Protection League president Shirley McGreal reported on September 17 that “a usually reliable source” had told her that “budget-juggling may result in the elimination by the Florida Freshwater Fish and Game Commission of the funds that cover all inspections of wild animals held in captivity in the state of Florida.” If it really happens, the chances of other roadside zoo proprietors being prosecuted for cruelty will be substantially smaller.

Nova Scotia

Not involved in the Florida inspections, Zoocheck Canada clashed on September 9 with just-retired Nova Scotia SPCA provincial inspector Don Marsden over Gripper’s findings at the Oaklawn Farm Zoo in Aylesford, the Upper Clements Wildlife Park in Annapolis, the Provincial Wildlife Park in Shubenacadie, and the Acres of the Golden Pheasant Bird Park in Truro. Gripper found them each substandard. Marsden told Chris Lambie of the Halifax Daily News that Ontario facilities are worse. As author of Captive Animals In Ontario, a 1987 report on five notorious zoos that might have been a model for the recent WSPA/BFF reports, Zoocheck Canada director Rob Laidlaw has been acutely aware of the shortcomings of some Ontario zoos for a decade, but doesn’t see them as in any way excusing Nova Scotia zoos.

Marsden, meanwhile, had apparent major violations of humane standards in his own resume. “Although it is opposed by Canada’s Veterinary Medical Association and the Federation of Humane Societies in Sydney,” the May/June 1996 edition of Humane News reported, reprinting an appeal for protest issued by “Nova Scotia activists” via other humane
groups, “the Nova Scotia SPCA uses electrocution to kill its unwanted dogs. The dog is restrained in a homemade metal box and an electrode is attached to its nose.” According to the report, “the Nova Scotia SPCA provincial office recently announced it has no plans to use the more humane, and more expensive, injection for euthanasia.”

Gripper’s inspections began a year behind schedule. The inspections were originally to have been done by British WSPA staffer Stephen Ormrod, a globally recognized zoo expert, and his longtime friend and colleague Sue Pressman, a U.S. wildlife consultant.

Ormrod, however, severely depressed after viewing zoo conditions in eastern Europe, killed himself in May 1995. Pressman withdrew. The project was reorganized under a steering committee including Dickson, Walsh, and Jason Black of WSPA; Will Travers, Virginia McKenna, and Gripper of BFF; Paul Irwin and Silah Smith of the Humane Society
of the U.S.; Kathi Travers (not related to Will Travers) of the American SPCA; and Carter Luke of the Massachusetts SPCA.

Controversy over how the findings were handled caused the Society of Environmental Journalists to add a session on zoo ethics to the mid-October SEJ annual conference, drafting ANIMAL PEOPLE editor Merritt Clifton to moderate. Hosted by the St. Louis Zoo, the session will include a tour of the zoo’s Species Survival Plan facilities. Questions from SEJ members will be answered by assistant zoo director William Boever, who also has background in humane work,
director of animal health and research Robert Miller, research coordinator Cheryl Asa, and Kent Robertson and Curt Ransom, director and assistant director of the Humane Society of Missouri, both of whom have extensive experience in probing exhibition-related animal cruelty.
Similar media self-scrutiny and self-education efforts are reportedly underway in Japan, where Virginia McKenna drew attention to the plight of animals at five of the 97 Japanese zoos during early September. Many substandard and abusive situations on McKenna’s itinerary had been shown on TV and in newspaper photos, Japanese reporters admitted, but not in a critical context, partly because Japanese editors try to avoid “negative” coverage of public institutions, and partly because of general lack of knowledge about the needs of animals.

One zoo getting good marks from the advocacy group inspectors is the Kabul Zoo in war-ravaged Afghanistan. Once one of Asia’s best, the Kabul Zoo lost 60 animals including a herd of elephants during the most intense fighting in 1993-1994, but still has four bears, two wolves, two wild boars, several monkeys, a handful of rare birds, and a pair of lions, maintained by keeper Aga Akbar, who lived with them during the 18 months the zoo was itself a battleground. The male lion killed a soldier during the fighting and was disfigured two days later when the soldier’s brother threw a
grenade at him. Other soldiers shared their rations with the animals. Under the circumstances, John Joseph of WSPA told Kathy Gannon of Associated Press, Akbar runs the zoo “the way we would like to see a zoo run if it weren’t in shambles. What Akbar lacks in expertise, he more than makes up for in compassion and care.”

Far East

Not all WSPA and BFF zoo inspections get publicity. Acting as Far East representative for BFF, roving as far as Europe, John Wedderburn of the Hong Kong-based humane group EarthCare visited at least a dozen zoos September 1995 and July 1996, sharing his notes with ANIMAL PEOPLE.

In Vienna, Austria, Wedderburn visited the Schonbrunn Palace Zoo, reputedly the world’s oldest. “The design and layout are aesthetically pleasing from a human point of view,” Wedderburn wrote, “but for the animals,” who “were all in good physical condition,” it must be “like living in shop windows.” Elephants “chained up and bobbing and swaying” were to get a new “elephant park,” then under construction.

In China, Wedderburn described the Beijing Zoo as “a beautiful park full of mature trees and miserable animals, but not
as bad as most Chinese zoos.”

He noted rapid expansion during several trips to the Guangzou Zoo, but the many new cages “are uniformly bleak with concrete walls and floors and iron bars,” he reported. “Most of the animals who were not sleeping showed distressing signs of zoochosis,” or stereotyped behavior. The zoo features circus-style performances, and is adding a dolphinarium, he continued. Offering advisory help, Wedderburn was told by senior veterinarian Chen Hong Han that they were “only interested in receiving help with new reproductive techniques.”

Wedderburn found similar conditions at the Jiaozuo Zoo and Zhengzhou Zoo in Henan province, and in Shanghai at Yeung Po Park, the Shanghai Zoo, and the newly opened Shanghai Safari Park, which at 462 acres is almost twice the size of the Bronx Zoo. Wedderburn preferred a fourth Shanghai facility, the Xi Jiao Sea Life Park, built as an aquarium but–after the fish died–converted into tennis courts and a botanical garden.

On repeated visits to the Thu Le Park Zoo in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wedderburn was horrified by bobbing and swaying elephants, the clouded leopard’s cage, which he termed “the most featureless, dank jail cell you could imagine,” and the rapid decline of a maned wolf, obtained from the Berlin Tier Park in Germany, who couldn’t take the Vietnamese heat and humidity. “I think sending this wolf to Hanoi was an absolute disgrace,” Wedderburn opined. “Berlin
should be severely censured by the World Zoo Federation.” As to the elephants, he said, “Training may be cruel and demeaning, but it’s better than having no stimulation at all.”

At the Taipei Zoo, in Taiwan, Wedderburn found “cages reasonably large compared with other Asian zoos,” except in the Nocturnal Animal House, which he termed “a house of zoochotic horrors,” where foxes, raccoons, and many exotic cats “frantically pace in cages far too small for them.”

Also in Taiwan, Wedderburn observed of the Gaoxiong Zoo: “As high security prisons go, not too bad. One of the tigers jumped up at me when I got too close and seemed to enjoy the game. An elephant took obvious delight in throwing leaves and small stones at me. The pythons were presumably happy to have live chickens sharing their cage. The chickens seemed happy, foraging for food, apparently unaware of their cell mates. The keepers seemed to have a
good attitude. One lady hosed and brushed the sea lions with obvious pleasure all around.”

Apart from the Gaoxiong Zoo staff, however, Wedderburn found that, “Conver-sations with local people showed no sign of sympathy with animals. Street scenes of food animals, pets for sale and stray dogs were very depressing. Fortunately,” he added, “I did not see any manacled orangutans,” often exhibited on street corners until recent years. “Let’s hope they are a thing of the past.”
The best zoo in Asia, according to Wedderburn, is the Singapore Zoo, where conditions are monitored by western-influenced animal rights activists led by Guna Subramaniam. Their work may increase the determination of zoo staff, many of them trained in the west, to meet high standards. “Many of the animals do not have nearly enough space, and lack their environmental needs,” Wedderburn wrote, “but the zoo is obviously making huge efforts at enrichment, hammering home all the right messages.”

Increasing involvement of U.S. zoos with their Chinese counterparts could help improve standards. So could the example of the Moscow Zoo, where according to Ron Popeski of the Reuter news agency, “Tiny cages with rusting steel bars have mostly been replaced by spacious, landscaped enclosures” for Amur tigers, Tibetan bears, and American coyotes, regarded as mythic symbols of America despite their rarity in U.S. zoos. The rebuilding, begun
just this year and still underway, has brought record crowds, despite the first-ever imposition of an admission fee, reaffirming the first precept AZA teaches of successful zookeeping: if the animals look happy, zoos prosper.

LETTERS: San Francisco SPCA wins hands down

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1995:
San Francisco SPCA wins hands down

In our continuing war against more legislation and law enforcement aimed at pet owners, we sent a recent update of our pamphlet 20 Questions to the Progressive Animal Welfare Society in Lynnwood, Washington. We had taken data from the Animal Legislation Awareness Network report entitled An Analysis of King County, WA Animal Control Ordinance 10423. We received a call from PAWS’ Lisa Wathne, who offered to send us the 1994 Annual Report of King County Animal Control, which thanks to her, we now have. The euthanasia numbers in the two reports agree.

Our conclusion from analysis of the ALAN report, which covered just one shelter in King county, was that, “There is
certainly no evidence that the tougher legislation has made significant improvement in reducing euthanasias.”

As we have been challenged by a number of people on this conclusion, we were very anxious to see if the King County report would cause us to change our stance on such matters as high license fees, door-to-door license enforcement, and public awareness campaigns to encourage licensing, all of which are central features of the celebrated King County anti-pet overpopulation ordinance.What have we found? The report claims, “Dramatic initial success allowed for the continuation of the programs…Figures for this second annual report show further improvements in all areas
targeted by Ordinance 10423.”

But the program cost, for 1994, was $243,000, and the revenue obtained by license fee increases was $200,000. The program cost much more than it brought it. And consider how many animal lives were saved. In 1993, there were 9,032 shelter euthanasias, and in 1994, only 8,738, a one-year reduction of 3.26%. But in the
same period, according to statistics ANIMAL PEOPLE published in June 1994, the national average euthanasia reduction rate was 5.88%.

Without a program, the rest of the nation reduced euthanasias at almost twice the King County pace.

And now for the shocker. King County euthanized 294 less animals, at a cost of $826.53 per life saved. Dividing total budget by adoptions, the San Francisco SPCA spends, on average, $600 per animal adopted, and kills no adoptable or treatable animals, while running 54 other programs that help reduce animal suffering throughout the city. Even if you only count the net loss from the King County program, $146 per animal saved, that could cover free neutering and licensing for 294 animals with savings of $50 per animal left over.

There are several other shelters in King County besides the county animal control shelter, and we don’t have complete shelter statistics for the whole jurisdiction, hence we are unable to compare the King County results with national norms in any meaningful way.

But we did call PAWS to verify our interpretation of the cost figures. Checking further with King County Animal Control, we were told that the first year and a half was more expensive because they had start-up costs, and there were some license tracking problems that may have inflated the figures, and they expect better results this year. The only firm conclusion we can draw is that the King County ordinance was correctly evaluated in our original statement. The new
statistics only make our evaluation more negative.

By contrast, the SF/SPCA has maintained an 18.5% annual reducation rate in euthanasias, citywide, and is against mandatory licensing. Why? Because the poor are unable to pay high license fees, and are consequently afraid to use low-cost neutering programs through which noncompliance with licensing requirements might be detected, making them vulnerable to fines that they can’t afford, either.

The following table compares the percentage of animals entering shelters who leave alive via redemption, adoption, and euthanasia, together with our estimate of maximum possible success:

National King S. F. Ultimate
% redeemed 16.6% 15.6% 10.6% 10.6%
% adopted 20.9% 17.1% 53.9% 63.9%
% euth. 62.5% 68.0% 35.6% 25.5%

We do not have shelter statistics for the whole of King County, so cannot make a comparison based on national normalized data. We do have the numbers of pets entering shelters and euthanized per year per 1,000 human residents for the U.S. as a whole, San Francisco, and Washington state, which are as follow:

National Washington San Francisco
Entries: 29.97 30.82 16.70
Euthanized: 20.38 18.49 6.18

San Francisco wins hands down in the fight to reduce euthanasias, and the San Francisco polices are directly opposite to the tough-law/blame-the-public/more-animal-control-with-door-to-door, etcetera: less legislation, not more; an end to mandatory licensing, not door-to-door enforcement; and more service, not more lobbying.

We also note that the King County neutering voucher program is a dismal failure, with only 633 vouchers redeemed (11.2%) of the 5,654 handed out. Our tiny organization in rural Butte County, California, achieves that much. This indicates to us that poor people, those the voucher program should target, are not licensing their animals because of the fees involved, and are then afraid to use the vouchers. It is not clear to the public whether the $25 King County vouchers are a rebate on the $55 unaltered license fee or are given without requiring the purchase of a license. And for all the effort of door-to-door canvasing, the King County licensing compliance rate is still officially estimated to be about 33%. That two-thirds of the pet-owning public do not support this program should send a message to elected representatives.
–Lewis R. Plumb
Promotion of Animal Welfare Society
Paradise, California
Get a clue!

I feel that higher licensing fees create an ever-smaller base of support for pet population control programs as compliance drops. A review of the Sacramento animal control budget indicated that license revenue dropped by $20,000 when the fee went up 33% in 1993. Only canvasing brought revenues back up. Yet animal control stated
that they didn’t think doubling the current unaltered licensing fee would harm license sales. I predict compliance will drop and revenue too, and animal control will do more canvasing, have increased enforcement costs, and seek a bigger budget. Am I the only person who sees that with the majority of licenses being sold at the lower altered rate, and salary plus overhead and vehicle costs for animal control officers close to $70,000 per year here, that canvasing is
not cost-effective?

The poor can’t afford to neuter or license, or reclaim their animals from animal control, which costs nearly $100 if an unaltered animal isn’t licensed, so the poor relinquish lost pets. Then animal control comes back and says, “See, we have all these unclaimed animals, which cost us money. Aren’t people awful? Let’s raise fees to force them to be responsible.” Meanwhile the poor pick up more animals from the readily available pool of free animals.

Animal control policies perpetuate the problem. Debating the new Sacramento licensing structure, I said that your idea of “Mobile vets at combat pay” (editorial, March 1994) is the answer. An HSUS representative said flat out that anyone who doesn’t have $50 for neutering shouldn’t keep pets. I find such an attitude extremely inhumane. I have been poor, fortunately temporarily, and I am offended that someone cannot understand that there are people who don’t have credit or a spare $50, but need the comfort that pets provide. Kim Sturla of the Fund for Animals committed what I consider a Freudian slip when she said, “We need to spay and neuter people on welfare,” tee hee hee.

I went through all the information about positive incentives versus coercion, the San Francisco Adoption Pact, cost/benefit of neuter/release, etcetera, with the animal control director, who admitted that most animal pick-ups are from poor neighborhoods. But she knew someone who was middle-class, whose cat had kittens by accident, so out the window went my statistics on frequency and probability.

As to the San Francisco Adoption Pact, she said she completely disagrees with Richard Avanzino and doesn’t believe they really have zero euthanasia of healthy animals. This is widespread, as are the beliefs that the SF/SPCA has city animal control do all the killing so that they can look good, and that it’s only because SF/SPCA has money that they can do what they do.

Get a clue! They have the money because people support an organization that demonstrates effectiveness. San Francisco has proven that proper policy and management can solve the pet overpopulation problem. I am frustrated that money is wasted, people are wrongly blamed, and animals are needlessly dying because of demonstrably bad policy.
–Margaret Anne Cleek
Sacramento, California

Easy targets: Did HSUS expose zoo links to canned hunts or just play to the grandstand?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1994:

WASHINGTON D.C.–Announcing that a three-year probe “has implicated the nation’s best-known zoos as suppliers of exotic animals to hunting ranches,” the Humane Society of the U.S. has made recent headlines across the country–but the facts fall short of the sensational charges.

HSUS alleged that 24 zoos had sold animals to so-called canned hunts. Of the 24, however, seven had already terminated links to canned hunts that were disclosed years ago by other investigators. The allegations against another 10 zoos remain unsubstantiated more than two months after they were named by the periodical HSUS Reports, despite HSUS investigator Richard Farinato’s August 24 promise to ANIMAL PEOPLE that details would be forthcoming. Several of the zoos deny making such sales; one of them, the Knoxville Zoo, had cancelled such a sale before it was completed.
Of the seven zoos that were implicated in substantiated sales to canned hunts, only two, the San Francisco Zoo and Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, were involved in either multiple transactions or the sale of more than four animals. Only a handful of sales occurred within the past two years. Only the Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville, Illinois, acknowledged awareness of having sold an animal who might be hunted.

The HSUS allegations were amplified by an August 19 U.S. Newswire statement, timed to boost the August 20 introduction of H.R. 4497, the “Captive Exotic Animal Protection Act of 1994,” by Rep. George Brown (D-California) and 15 co-sponsors. Adapted from the “Canned Hunt Prohibition Law of 1992,” which died in the last Congress, the bill would ban interstate and international traffic in exotic wildlife to stock hunting ranches–many of which are essentially shooting pens. The bill has virtually no chance of passage this late in the current Congress, which will close in mid-October, and the principal author, Rep. Don Edwards (D-California) is retiring at the close of the session.”As enablers of the canned hunting industry,” charged HSUS vice president for governmental affairs Wayne Pacelle, “the zoos are as guilty as the hunters who pay to pull the trigger.”

Returned American Zoo and Aquarium Association executive director Sydney Butler, “Mr. Pacelle knows full well that the AZA is vehemently opposed to canned hunts and holds any violations of its policy as a direct ethics code violation, which can result in the loss of accreditation and membership.” Butler said AZA would study H.R. 4497 before issuing a position on it, but indicated that he saw no reason to oppose it.


As of mid-September, AZA spokesperson Jane Ballentine told ANIMAL PEOPLE, “HSUS has not written to our Ethics Board requesting an investigation into their allegations. Many reporters have wondered why, since they are making such a huge deal out of this issue. We can’t help but have our own internal theories.”

Farinato and HSUS vice president John Grandy informed ANIMAL PEOPLE editor Merritt Clifton in April at the White Oak Conference on Zoos and Animal Protection that they were preparing an anti-zoo offensive for this fall–regardless of developments at the conference, which brought together a select group of leaders in the captive wildlife and animal protection communities. After the first day of the conference found most participants in agreement on major
issues, Grandy and Farinato privately urged Clifton to “lead the attack” the next day, claiming that for political reasons they and Pacelle had to “maintain cover” until fall. Clifton responded that his role was to report the news, not to make it, and that the HSUS strategy showed bad faith–especially after the AZA had repeatedly strengthened its ethics code prohibition on selling animals to canned hunts, over the objections of some highly influential members.

HSUS pledged to fight canned hunts as far back as April 25, 1973, when then-HSUS zoological representative Sue Pressman wrote to longtime Kansas humane activist Mona Lefebvre that the organization was engaged in “major investigative” work on the subject, with the goal of getting “some laws” passed. Pressman, still outspokenly critical of canned hunts, long since left HSUS, and now heads the Association of Sanctuaries. HSUS meanwhile produced neither major revelations nor legislation for more than 20 years, and in fact was conspicuously absent on November 19, 1991, when Congressional Friends of Animals hosted a briefing on canned hunts for fellow members of Congress. Participants included representatives from AZA (then known as the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums), Friends of Animals, American SPCA president Roger Caras, and Fund for Animals president Cleveland Amory.

In the interim the then-growing commerce between zoos and canned hunts came to light through the work of investigative reporters including Clifton, who published frequent exposes of the traffic in both U.S. and Canadian media between 1981 and 1991. AAZPA responded with increasingly strict guidelines discouraging such transactions, and in 1990 backed words with deeds by stripping Arkansas wildlife broker Earl Tatum of his accreditation, for officially undisclosed reasons, just after CBS 60 Minutes revealed that Tatum and another dealer, James Fouts, of Kansas, had sold animals from the San Diego Zoo and the Oklahoma City Zoo at auctions frequented by canned hunt proprietors. Fouts, fined $2,500 by the USDA in 1985 for illegally importing a parrot, was never accredited by AAZPA. Informed of the dealers’ canned hunt link by 60 Minutes, both zoos severed relations with Tatum and Fouts in November
1989–two months before the 60 Minutes segment aired.

Already embarrassed, the San Diego Zoo was hit again on the eve of the September 1991 AAZPA annual meeting–held in San Diego–when former San Diego Zoo elephant handler Lisa Landres, working for FoA, disclosed a 1985 deal that sent 22 animals directly to a canned hunt in Oregon. FoA also revealed several one-and-two-animal transactions between the San Diego Zoo and other alleged canned hunt suppliers–Jergen Schultz, co-owner of the
Catskill Game Farm, just south of Albany, New York, and Arizona auction dealer Pat Hoctor. Hoctor also publishes Exotic Animal News, a periodical advertising the availability of animals to an audience including canned hunt proprietors. The Oregon canned hunt was already defunct, and the San Diego Zoo no longer had any
relationship with Hoctor. It immediately ceased dealings with the Catskill Game Farm, to which it had often sold animals since 1952.

Zoos crack down

The September 1991 AAZPA meeting also came just three weeks after publication of a widely distributed and quoted Clifton expose of canned hunts and the zoo connection, crediting AAZPA for progress against canned hunts, but noting the ambivalent relationship between leading AAZPA members and major hunting ranches, several of which belong to AAZPA Species Survival Plans. Jacksonville Zoo director Dale Tuttle, a key figure in both AAZPA and SSP administration, defends hunting ranches as a way to make species conservation pay for itself.

Finally, however, the balance tipped against Tuttle. “AAZPA strongly opposes disposal of exotic wildlife to individuals
solely for the purpose of shooting,” the group resolved. “Specimens should not be sold, traded, or otherwise transferred to any organization or individual for the purpose of sport, trophy, or any other form of hunting. Such action constitutes a violation of the AAZPA Code of Professional Ethics.”

The San Diego Zoo adopted a similar policy, strengthening a 1976 ban on selling animals to nonaccredited facilities. Since November 1991 the San Diego Zoo has required every private purchaser to sign a contract stipulating that the animals will not be hunted, and that if a ranch begins to allow hunting, as the Dale Priour ranch in Texas did after obtaining two animals from the San Diego Zoo, it must return the former zoo animals and their offspring.

Further, president Douglas Myers pledged, “We will compile a list of known hunting ranches to serve as a red flag guide, giving names and addresses for us to avoid when searching for proper places to send zoo animals. We will check regularly to find out who has applied for federal permits to cull protected species. We will cross-reference that list with the list of private facilities receiving zoo animals. This will provide a starting point for double-checking on who is allowing hunts and who will not be sent zoo animals.”

Only once since 1991 has a former San Diego Zoo animal turned up at a canned hunt–a European boar acquired by Robert Naud of Brigham, Quebec. According to San Diego Zoo public relations director Jeff Jouett, the boar “was sent to a man named Ed Novak, of Cairo, New York. The animal next was sold to Mark Smith at Bradwood Farms in Reddick, Florida. Bradwood Farms evidently went through a bankruptcy/foreclosure proceeding. That’s where Naud picked up the boar, to the best of our knowledge. All of these transactions occurred prior to November 1991. Each person involved–Novak, Smith, and Naud–was promptly notified of our disgust and distress, and all business dealings with each were immediately ended. We also notified AAZPA of our findings so that other zoos may be aware of the names and reputations of the people involved.”

The 1991 AAZPA and San Diego Zoo actions severed the zoo traffic to canned hunts, for the most part, though many more older deals were disclosed during the next year by FoA, the Houston Chronicle, and the activist group Voice for Animals, based in San Antonio, Texas. Most compromised, then and now, was the San Antonio Zoo, whose board of directors, Voice for Animals reported, includes alleged hunting ranch owners David Bamberger, Rugeley Ferguson, Mrs. Jack Guenther, Buddy Jordan, Betty (Mrs. Robert) Kelso, Leon Kopecky, Red McCombs, Scott Petty Jr., and Louis Stumberg.

McCombs, VfA charged, lent his address to alleged seller of zoo animals to canned hunts Larry Johnson. Jordan, whose name resurfaced in the HSUS investigation, now denies involvement with canned hunts, but boasted in a 1989
interview with the San Francisco television news station KPIX that he made “big money” selling animals to such hunts, and was named as a supplier to canned hunts by the Houston Chronicle in 1992. He also admitted recently to Tampa Tribune reporter Nanette Woitas that while he does not sell the animals he breeds from former zoo stock
“direct to a hunting range,” he doesn’t necessarily know where they all end up. In February 1992 Jordan reportedly sold $40,000 worth of animals to the Triple 7 ranch–a canned hunt where as many as 2,500 exotic animals are killed each year.
Kelso is wife of Robert Kelso, whose Auerhahn Ranch purportedly hosts guest hunters from Safari Club International;
bought 40 hooved exotic animals from the San Antonio Zoo between 1985 and 1991; and in 1992 was discovered by the Houston Chronicle to have purchased animals from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the National Zoo, and the Philadelphia Zoo. All three zoos demanded the return of the animals upon learning of Kelso’s involvement in hunting, but seven antelope obtained from Cheyenne were already dead, four of them supposedly from causes other than hunting. The Bamberger link is most problematic for AZA. On the one hand, Bamberger runs one of the biggest and best-known hunting ranches in the U.S.; on the other, he belongs to the SSP for the Arabian oryx, managed by Tuttle.

In March 1992 the AAZPA board moved to further strengthen the anti-hunting guideline. According to an internal discussion paper summarizing the debate that ensued throughout the next year, “The word solely” rendered the September 1991 statement “meaningless as a guideline for professional behavior,” because some zoos were  claiming they sold animals to canned hunts “for money, not solely for shooting,” or “well, mostly for game viewing,” or “for
breeding, not solely for shooting.”

In May 1993, the board adopted the present ethical statement, affirming that it, “strongly opposes the sale, trade,
or transfer of animals from zoos and aquariums to organizations or individuals which allow the hunting of animals directly from or bred at zoos and aquariums.”
Achieving passage of the statement, the discussion paper indicates, required overcoming three categories of resistance. First, it noted, both zoos and the public must realize that, “The unpredictability of sex ratio, fecundity or the behavioral adequacy of prospective animal offspring means that significant surplus will be produced in any zoo or aquarium not being managed for extinction,” at least at the current level of reproductive science.

Second, the paper explained, zookeepers often suffer from the same illusions about a mythical animal-heaven on a farm somewhere that afflicts the general public: “Zoos that have sent surplus animals to a place where they might be hunted have usually done so to afford them a longer lifespan and, perhaps, the chance to reproduce. Payment for such surplus is helpful to the maintenance of long-term endangered species propagation programs–but it also encourages the false belief that zoos and aquariums create unnecessary surplus to make money. Usually unexpressed, but perhaps most important,” the paper added, “it is both difficult and disheartening for zoo and aquarium biologists who spend their lives caring for animals to have to destroy them. No matter how humane, culling has seemed an extremely poor alternative in view of the fancied benefits of disposal to a ranch.”

The paper pointed out that the reality of hunting ranches is often “the badly aimed wounding of tame animals lured by feeding bells and buckets of corn–or even the shooting of big cats in cages. AAZPA members have observed,” it added, “that few such hunting organizations can provide those who send them animals any assurance of professional animal management or humane animal care.”

Finally, the paper noted, “Only six or seven ranches currently sustain SSP animals or participate in endangered species programs. Nevertheless, the potential of their vast acreages to extend zoo efforts for vanishing ungulates must not be overlooked…Some of these ranches may permit hunting of surplus exotic ungulates as well as deer, turkeys, and other native species.”

As a concession to the Tuttle faction, the AZA ethics code accordingly “does not apply to those individuals or organizations which allow hunting of indigenous game species (but not from zoo and aquarium stocks) and established exotic species such as (but not limited to) whitetailed deer, quail, rabbits, geese, and such long-introduced species as boar, ring-necked pheasant, chukar, trout, etc.”

The Catskill Game Farm

Since the current code was adopted, only four zoos on the HSUS list–the San Francisco Zoo, Busch Gardens, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, New York–are alleged to have sold animals who may have gone to canned hunts. Of these, all but Busch Gardens sold the animals to the Catskill Game Farm.
“Catskill assured me none of our animals were sold to canned hunts,” said Seneca Park Zoo director Dan Michalowski, who quit dealing with Catskill anyway and said legal action could follow if the animals had gone to hunting ranches, inasmuch as Catskill had signed an agreement that neither the animals in question nor their offspring would ever be hunted. New York state Department of Environmental Conservation records show that of the three Seneca Park Zoo animals sold to Catskill since 1992, a 13-year-old lion was euthanized due to injuries received in a fight with another lion, a male ringtailed lemur drowned, and a female ringtailed lemur remains at Catskill.

Catskill co-owner Kathie Schulz, whose father founded the facility in 1933, said she was unaware of having sold any animals to canned hunts, despite repeated allegations of having done so, and added that HSUS will hear from her lawyer. But she later admitted that a related firm run by her husband Jurgen Schulz sells animals “to whatever the needs are of the public.”

The San Francisco Zoo also sold two nyalas to Buddy Jordan.By far the most serious HSUS allegations–other than the well-known situation involving the San Antonio Zoo–pertained to Busch Gardens, which sold animals to both Buddy Jordan and Earl Tatum, nearly four years after the latter lost his AZA accreditation. Jordan apparently bought 87 animals from Busch between 1990 and 1992. Tatum may have acquired hundreds of Busch animals over the past two decades. Both Jordan and Tatum signed the AZA’s standard agreement that animals obtained from Busch would not
be sold at auctions or be hunted, but Arkansas state veterinary records indicate that Tatum did in fact sell at least one kudu bought from Busch in 1992 to Texas hunting ranch owner Jack Moore.

As many as 4,000 hunting ranches operate in the U.S., of which about three-fourths specialize in captive bird-shooting. Of the rest, most either breed the animals killed on their premises themselves or buy animals through an extensive and fast-growing network of private breeders and exotic wildlife auctions. The foundation stock for this network did mostly come from zoos, but mostly prior to the formation of the AZA, which from its inception has worked to halt the release of animals from accredited zoos to unaccredited facilities and to promote longterm coordinated breeding strategies to reduce the numbers of surplus animals.

On Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness for Wildlife in Confinement

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1994:
by John Lukas
Director, White Oak Conservation Center, Yulee, Florida

This guest column is adapted from a cage-rattling presentation Mr. Lukas delivered to the recent White Oak conference on zoos and animal protection, hosted by the Howard Gilman Foundation.

Happiness is not a term zoo administrators and others who hold wildlife in confinement like to use. Many of us were trained to think of “happiness” as a human interpretation, linked with anthropomorphizing animals, and therefore problematic when much of what we do is oriented toward trying to get animals to behave in the manner appropriate to their own species. Nonetheless, I use the term “happiness,” because even if we have trouble suitably defining it, I believe we cannot avoid having to think about it as an essential component of animal well-being.

Well-being, by dictionary definition, is the condition of happiness, prosperity, and good health. In considering the well-being of a confined animal, we must consider both biological well-being, which encompasses the territorial, social,
nutritional, and reproductive needs of a species, and cultural well-being, which is how we as humans understand the well-being of animals in the context of our own perceptions of happiness, cleanliness, safety, and how we think animals ought to be treated.

There are five principle venues in which wild animals may be confined to protect and/or perpetuate species. Each venue includes both inherent advantages and disadvantages in our efforts to insure animal well-being, including happiness, and it is important that their functions and capabilities not be confused. A zoo, for instance, cannot become a conservation center and continue to function as a zoo. Neither should a conservation center be allowed to evolve into a zoo without making a studied choice of taking that direction. Each venue for holding wildlife has a different job to
do, and the better we understand the distinctions, the better adapted our responses will be to the problems of keeping wild animals.

In situ refers to keeping animals in their native habitat under a degree of protection that can only be insured within territorial restraints. Usually this is done within a national park or wildlife reserve. An Intensive Protection Zone is a section of native habitat, usually within government land, within which a threatened species is concentrated when it needs more protection from humans than can be provided in situ. The IPZ is defined by fences, guard posts, natural barriers, and the presence of a large, well-trained unit of wildlife guards. The IPZ connects to a larger wildlife reserve into which the animals can be moved after the threats to their survival have been controlled or eliminated.

A conservation center is an institution outside the native range of particular animals that maintains these species in semi-natural conditions, with the emphasis on scientific management to aid their survival. The overriding premise is that the needs of the animals come first. Usually, conservation centers are not open to the public. Any animal observation is strictly controlled. Nature centers exhibit native species in naturalistic surroundings to educate visitors about indigenous plants and animals. Nature centers concentrate upon topics related to ecology and human interactions with wildlife on a local level.

Zoos exhibit animals in artificial environments meant to depict each animal in a semblance of natural habitat, for both
educational and recreational objectives. Progressive zoos dedicate resources to off-exhibit breeding and research, and make each exhibit as natural and representative of the habitat of the species kept as is possible.

Biological and cultural well-being

Each species has specific biological needs that must be fulfilled for it to survive and reproduce. For most species these
needs are known and documented. How well they are satisfied determines the level of well-being for the species in confinement. Animals in situ enjoy the maximum degree of natural biological well-being. The natural biological envrionment declines as we bring the animals into increasing degrees of confinement. As the natural sources of biological well-being are lost, we provide substitutes to maintain biological well-being at lesser levels. For instance, we substitute hay for natural grass, prepared meat diets for carcasses, culverts for dens, and concrete pools for lakes.


Our success depends upon how well we understand the biological needs of each species and upon how adept we are at responding to these needs within the constraints imposed by the levels of confinement. Cultural well-being is defined for most people by the question, “Is the animal happy?” Because most conservation efforts are financed either directly or indirectly by the general public, the White Oak Conservation Center being one of the few major exceptions, it is in our paramount interest to be able to answer that question–convincingly–in the affirmative. If we hold animals in conditions where they appear to be unhappy, we will not hold public support for long, no matter how well the biological needs of the animals are met.
People seem to sense that an animal is happy when he or she has adequate space to live in; lives in a normal social grouping; is in habitat resembling the natural home of the species; eats food resembling the species’ natural diet; is in a clean environment; the environment is safe and secure; and the animal does not look or act bored.

An analysis of cultural well-being takes the biological needs of the animals, injects into them human ideas about happiness, and examines how well the composite of animal needs and human perception is reflected in the animal’s environment and behavior. This leads us to several troublesome contradictions. For example, most people believe an animal can never have too much space: people equate space with freedom. But when people come to view wildlife, they expect to be able to see the animals. In a national park or wildlife reserve, this contradiction is resolved by conditioning the animals to accept the presence of tourist vehicles or boats. This can be done because the animals are protected by law from human harm, and therefore they soon become used to the presence of another essentially neutral entity. Some animals even use tourist vehicles for their advantage, as evidenced by the cheetahs in the Masaii Mara, who use vehicles as elevated observation points from which to look for suitable prey. Thus, even in the most natural of confinement situations, where we attempt to minimize the effects of human intrusion, animal behavior is
influenced by our activity. Our objective is to seek the best balance for the species being conserved, including the sometimes restrictive consideration that someone has to pay for the conservation effort.

In an IPZ, and to a lesser extent in conservation centers such as White Oak, suitable space is given to each species, but with little emphasis on visibility and more emphasis on protection, since the goal is to increase and maintain a fragmented population at all costs. Poaching, disruption of behavior, and harassing the animals is strictly forbidden; at IPZ facilities for black rhinos in Zimbabwe, suspected poachers are shot on sight. Because IPZs and conservation centers are costly, with little means of directly raising revenue, they are not a realistic or even desirable placement for most wildlife despite the advantages they seem to offer to the most fragile or vulnerable species.

Zoos by contrast must provide high visibility. They exist to exhibit animals. Within this context, the space allocated to each species should nonetheless be the maximum available. This requires innovative and costly exhibits: a good zoo cannot be created (or recreated from a substandard existing facility) on the cheap, without a strong ongoing commitment to maintaining quality care. Most important, running a good zoo requires carefully selecting the species to be exhibited, making sure their allotted space is both biologically adequate and culturally perceived to be adequate. If
this cannot be done for a particular species, that species should not be kept.

At zoos, the more that appears natural in the animals’ lives, the more people will perceive that the animals are happy and prosperous. Selecting only species that can be afforded properly constructed exhibits, allowing a natural lifestyle, will go far in presenting a positive image to visitors. In addition to space, we must consider boredom. If an animal looks bored or sad or displays stereotypic behavior, the public will respond adversely. Such behavior is an unnatural response to an artificial environment. Improvement in space, habitat quality, food sources, social opportunities, and health care usually will eliminate the negative behavior. If not, most likely this individual or species should not be kept at the zoo level of confinement. Such animals or species should be kept in relatively close confinement only at conservation centers, in semi-natural habitat. In certain cases, even a conservation center may not be sufficient to insure well-being, and the animal should only be kept in situ, despite the accompanying risks. These cases, where
extinction is possible, pose perhaps the most painful moral dilemma facing the species conservation community.

Safety, security, and cleanliness are uniquely human considerations. Animals do not worry about their safety, other than in situations of immediate danger. Rather, they go about their lives concerned with living. Many mammals and birds clean and groom themselves, and some species keep their dens clean, but most are unconcerned with keeping or finding a clean home range. People worry about dirt because people understand the relationship between filth
and disease. People like cleanliness, and an animal in a clean environment makes us happy, so most people feel the animal also must be happy about it–although in fact the animal may have carefully marked his or her habitat and may be quite stressed at the removal of the markings.

Consideration for safety, security, and cleanliness reverse the order of which levels of confinement provide the best situation for animals as people see them. In situ areas provide little security or cleanliness. Natural factors such as predation, disease, starvation, and intra-species aggression, along with human poaching, hunting, and harassment, take a heavy toll. IPZs and conservation centers provide protection from some types of harm, but zoos offer the best overall security and the cleanest environment. Most causes of in situ mortality can be eliminated through the intensive care that good zoos provide. Thus zoo animals on average live much longer than wild animals.

This is both a blessing and a curse. Long-lived animals breed more offspring, if able to breed. They also must be
expensively kept well past their reproductive years and even past the years of their exhibit value. Here again, the perception of happiness depends more on quality of life than on quantity of years. Zoos must provide quality environments and care for all of their animals for their entire lives, if they are to be seen as providing well-being. Aged animals, like aged people, deserve special care. Planning for each animal’s retirement must begin while the animal is
If people see that a confined animal lives in natural surroundings, in natural social groups, eating natural-looking food
in a large area but remaining visible, and if the area is clean and safe, and if the animal does not appear bored or sad, then the animal must be happy. If wild animals are treated at all as we treat domestic livestock, people perceive cruelty.


One way to provide well-being as conditions of confinement become more artificial is to develop appropriate standards for confined living. Such standards should be developed not only by curators, zoologists, and ethologists, but also with input from philosophers and humane advocates. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, through Species Survival Plans, provides expertise in genetic and demographic management of captive populations. Overlooked is what each species needs to experience happiness.

In SSP master planning, a husbandry manual is formulated which describes certain basic standards to maintain a species in artificial environments. I have attended several SSP planning sessions, and feel it is detrimental to develop so-called minimum standards. The idea of “minimum” as “standard” is a contradiction if we define a standard as a “level of excellence generally regarded as right.” In basing standards on the status quo, which includes some deplorable facilities for certain species, the zoo community leaves itself open for justly deserved criticism. Husbandry manuals fall short because they describe what is done now, not what should be done. The standards for management of a species in captivity should stand by themselves, should be emulated, and should be goals to reach for. Let us call them optimum standards of confinement, or OSC. An OSC, if set by a multi-disciplinary commitee, should satisfy both the biological needs of a species and our cultural perception of how animals should be treated.

The decision to keep animals should be linked to a percentage of compliance with the OSC, as set by the committee. For instance, if the committee finds that 75% compliance with the OSC for species “A” is enough to insure the well-being of the species in a zoo setting, then zoos realizing that level of compliance could exhibit animals of species “A,” while continuing to strive toward complete realization of the OSC for that species. If a zoo could only achieve 60% compliance, it could not keep species “A.” Implementing OSC standards will be difficult and costly. But if we are to raise the level of care of the animals we confine purportedly for their own good, we must dedicate new resources and
new energy to developing and realizing optimum standards for confinement. Raising the standards of care of course becomes steadily more costly as the level of confinement increases. Here is where hard decisions lie ahead, for if we cannot provide the standard at a certain level of confinement, the animal should only be maintained in situations of less confinement. Until a standard can be met at each particular level of confinement, efforts should be concentrated on maintaining the species at those levels where the standards of well-being are already being met.

Coming from a conservation center background, I see thatconservation centers have more resources available with which to satisfy biological well-being for certain species than zoos. But for other species, conservation centers have significantly fewer resources than in situ programs. Every time the White Oak Conservation Center considers helping a new species, we go through our own OSC checklist to see if we really can provide for that species well-being. Believe me, sometimes the answer is no. We may have to let certain species fight for their survival in situ because
we cannot realistically satisfy their OSC at the zoo or conservation center level of confinement –although we can provide support to in situ conservation efforts. Other species may only be helped by conservation centers, which provide the best chance to prepare species for reintroduction into in situ situations.

Everyone working with confined wildlife needs to consider the well-being of individual animals while we consider the well-being of species. It is easy to justify less than desirable programs in the name of saving animals from extinction. However, as the human consciousness explores more respectful relationships with other species, the conservation community needs to be leading the way in developing a new covenant with wildlife, based upon dignity and well-being, and including attention to that elusive but important ideal of happiness.

(John Lukas, director of the White Oak Conservation Center since 1982, is also vice president of the International Rhino Foundation. He formerly served in various capacities with the Boston Zoological Society, the Okanagan Game Farm, and the New York Zoological Society, gaining direct experience at all levels of wildlife confinement.)

Behavioral enrichment

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1994:

Preventing captive animals from suffering terminal boredom has been a primary concern of zookeepers since ancient times. Excessively bored animals not only become listless and uninteresting to crowds, but also develop self-destructive behavior. For centuries–after tossing prisoners to ferocious beasts fell out of vogue–the antidote was obliging animals to earn their food by performing.

That approach too has fallen from favor, as zoos have moved toward naturalistic exhibits in an emphasis upon showing animals acting as they would in the wild. But even the best naturalistic settings are too small to offer intelligent species much variety in stimulus. Thus behavioral enrichment programs are again borrowing from the past. Since 1991, Los Angeles zoo volunteers have been making animals earn their meals again: primates must find whole fruit and oatmeal hidden beneath hay and in nooks and crannies of their quarters, polar bears must extricate fish from floating blocks of ice, and hippos forage for greenery dumped into their wading pond, instead of being piled at the side. At the Toledo Zoo meanwhile, head veterinarian Timothy Reichard notes improved health and behavior in animals who have been taught to do various tricks to facilitate frequent physical examinations. The training program, now two years old, seems to stimulate the animals’ interest in their surroundings. Reichard’s staff began by training great apes, including chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas; went to monkeys when that succeeded; and have since progressed to training
elephants, bears, sea lions, red pandas, a zebra, and a giraffe. About 40 other zoos have requested details of the Toledo Zoo techniques.

The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle plans to open a $7.7 million “Northern Trail” exhibit this fall that will combine the naturalistic and behavioral enrichment approaches. The plans call for mountain goats to lick water from rocks moistened by hidden pipes, while bears are to fish live salmon from an artificial stream and harvest salmonberries from bushes cultivated in their cages. The latter idea may prove problematic; attempts at including actual fruit-and-flower-producing shrubbery in naturalistic exhibits elsewhere have historically failed because zoo animals tend to destroy the plants out of boredom.

Zoo Euthanasia: The Steve Graham legacy

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1994:

Zoo Euthanasia: The Steve Graham legacy
Detroit Zoo director saw surplus crunch coming

DETROIT, Michigan–No one ever more directly addressed the question of what to do with surplus zoo animals than former Detroit Zoo executive director Steve Graham–and no one has ever been more vilified for it. The target of frequent exposes, letter campaigns led by the Fund for Animals, almost continuous picketing by as many as 150 people at a time throughout his nine-year tenure, and several staff revolts, Graham finally quit in February 1991 following a head-on clash with the Detroit City Council, whose auditor, Roger Short, warned him on July 2, 1990, that euthanizing costly animals without council permission amounted to unauthorized destruction of city property. Graham performed several controversial euthanasias anyway, and in August 1990 poured gasoline on his own figurative funeral pyre by calling his mostly Afro-American staff “monkeys”–in a city whose population is 76% Afro-American, whose Afro-American mayor, Coleman Young, had been his most visible defender.

Graham was no diplomat, although in his first few years in Detroit he tried, authoring numerous long and essentially friendly letters to his most ardent critics, trying to explain his many controversial actions. Some never forgave Graham for taking plastic toys away from the primates and elephants during exhibition hours, because he wanted the public to see animals acting as they would in the wild. (The toys were returned at night.)

Others blistered Graham for trying to increase the zoo animals’ freedom of movement during the winter by leaving them outdoors with the onset of cold weather, to grow longer fur and become accustomed to the changing conditions. The weather changed faster than some tropical species could adapt. Frozen capybaras were found every winter from 1986 through 1988. Other animals purportedly killed or injured by cold weather included kangaroos, swans, and pelicans. “We have found animals dead in a frozen condition on mornings after a cold night,” Graham admitted, “but an animal who dies on a cold night from whatever cause will freeze by morning. When such animals are necropsied, we find that some other problem caused the death…Other members of their groups did not ‘freeze to death’, so that should be an indication that there was something physiologically wrong with those who did die.” Eventually Graham cut the winter-related death toll to near zero by changing breeding schedules so that tropical animals didn’t give birth during the winter months.

The April 1990 drowning of a chimpanzee in a protective moat brought more outrage. Graham had used the last 10 of a once large herd of wild but common African sheep called aoudads in a terminal nutrition study, fed the remains to the zoo’s carnivores, and added their climbing rock to a new naturalistic chimp area. He kept the moat, over objections from the International Primate Protection League, because of concern for liability if a chimp ever escaped. The use of the aoudads brought up another complaint. Graham had introduced a farm exhibit. After each zoo season, cows and pigs were slaughtered to feed carnivorous animals. Zoogoers objected to the slaughter of animals who had been given names and been petted all summer by children. Graham responded with an edict that no animal at the zoo should be named, to discourage emotional identification with animals by either public or staff.

Introduced culling by euthanasia

Graham caught the most flak, however, for insisting that surplus animals should be humanely euthanized if they could not be sent to other zoos accredited by the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums. From day one, he bucked prevailing practice by refusing to sell animals to dealers, roadside zoos, and canned hunts, which he called “shooting galleries–out of the question for reputable zoos.” In 1982 Graham sold 30 crab-eating macaques to biomedical researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, and he advertised five Japanese macaques in a research newsletter in 1987, but he eventually became critical of the use of zoo animals in laboratories, as well. “Even if an animal is placed in a behavioral, non-invasive research study,” Graham wrote in 1991, “most research projects are measured in months or at most a few years. What then happens to an animal such as a primate, who
can live up to 50 years?” And sanctuaries, Graham barked, are just no-kill shelters for wildlife, pointlessly keeping geriatric beasts far beyond their natural lifespans in crowded conditions more unnatural than those of zoos.

Revamping the Detroit Zoo surplus animal policy topped Graham’s job description when he was hired in 1982. His predecessor, Gunther Voss, quit after being accused of taking kickbacks from animal dealers who allegedly used the zoo as a wildlife warehouse. Graham brought to Detroit a background uniquely combining zoo experience with humane work. He had previously managed two other zoos–and been president of the Antietam Humane Society, in  Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.

“We had a contract with a veterinarian to euthanize,” Graham told Ann Sweeney of the Detroit News. “I went over there one day and found a 10-year-old kid killing the puppies and kittens. I fired the vet, and for three months, I did it myself, humanely.”

Graham learned to euthanize mothers with newborn litters by lethally injecting the mother first, then injecting each of the babies as they still clung comfortably to their mother’s warm body. As a humane society director, Graham was an outspoken advocate of the needle instead of the gas chambers and decompression chambers that were then the norm for euthanasia. Nearly 20 years later, the crusty Graham still came close to tears when recounting his euthanasia experience. But he came away from it believing humane euthanasia could be a viable and essential option for reducing zoo surplus.
Graham’s first public act at the Detroit Zoo was to euthanize three popular but aging Siberian tigers whose genetic history was too uncertain to permit their use as breeding stock. A zoo patron unsuccessfully sued him over that action. When Graham euthanized two healthy Siberian tigers in 1988 and 1989, also because they were unsuitable for breeding, the USDA reviewed the Detroit Zoo’s permit to keep endangered species. Meanwhile, Graham thinned the aoudad collection, numbering 76 when he arrived, who so densely populated their quarters that newborns were repeatedly trampled to death. He euthanized other animals as well: 282 in all during his tenure, 29% of all the animals who were removed from the collection for any reason. Among the euthanized animals, 165 were common hooved stock, whom most zoos quietly cull each winter to feed carnivores. Most of the rest were put down due to old age and/or poor health, but after the first tiger euthanasias, Graham was tagged needle-happy.

Cut zoo death rate in half

Hardly anyone ever noticed that in the nine years Graham ran the Detroit Zoo, only 2,032 animals died of any cause, compared with 4,038 deaths during the preceding decade–even as the zoo population rose from 1,432 animals at Graham’s arrival to 2,700 at his departure. He cut annual mammal mortality from 34% to 14%, cut bird mortality from 15% to 3%, and cut reptile and amphibian mortality from 40% to 1%. The difference came largely because Graham  culled the oldest animals, keeping as young and vigorous a collection as possible.

This in turn led to the accusation, voiced by Doris Dixon of the Fund, that, “Graham wants mommy, daddy, baby for his  exhibits,” and therefore bred animals needlessly. Instead of denying it, Graham rambled to reporters about the “considerable educational experience” for zoogoers in seeing “the mother-infant bond.” He rarely sterilized Detroit Zoo animals, instead relying upon sexual segregation for birth control, because he wanted the collection to be a repository of genetic diversity.

As far back as 1976, Graham warned fellow zookeepers that, “Surplus animals are the greatest problem facing zoos today.” While Margaret Shivener of Defenders of Animal Rights charged Graham with “irresponsible overbreeding,” Graham and Robert Wagner, then executive director of the New York Zoological Society, pushed AAZPA to adopt policies to discourage breeding except to preserve endangered species, provide collection replacements, and feed
carnivores their natural diets.

In 1987 Graham and Wagner were instrumental in getting AAZPA to adopt a code of ethics pertaining to the disposition of surplus animals that is now the primary instrument of gradually cutting off the supply of zoo-born wildlife to roadside zoos, canned hunts, and auctions. Graham was villified for that, as well, losing several close elections when he ran for AAZPA office and incurring public opposition from the San Diego Zoological Society and former Columbus Zoo director Jack Hanna, whose popular anti-euthanasia policies were achieved by releasing animals to facilities Graham considered substandard.

“It hurts all of us when he talks about euthanizing animals,” Hanna complained. “He’s saying euthanasia is the way to go. How can he say that when we are bending over backward in most zoos to explain to people that we want their public money to preserve endangered species?”

It was a familiar argument to Graham, who had already dealt with the unhappy paradox of euthanasia when obliged to kill dogs and cats at the Antietam Humane Society. Graham never liked euthanasia. He just liked the alternatives less.

AAZPA crackdown comes too late, opening Pandora’s box

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1994:

AAZPA crackdown comes too late, opening Pandora’s box
Zoo surplus stocks canned hunts, roadside exhibits, private breeders

HOOSICK FALLS, New York–The young Himalayan snow leopard paces the corn crib cage, situated at the edge of a woodlot. As roadside zoos go, his home at the Flag Acres Zoo is fairly good–comparable, even, to some accredited zoos of 30 years ago. But it isn’t where one would expect to find an apparent prime example of a highly endangered species. In fact, the snow leopard is genetically redundant “surplus,” neutered and loaned to Flag Acres by the Seneca Park Zoo of Rochester, New York–a facility accredited by the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums. According to Seneca Park Zoo director Dan Michalowski, the snow leopard was removed from
the captive gene pool to reduce the risk of inbreeding. A conditional loan to Flag Acres seemed preferable to euthanasia. The Seneca Park Zoo may reclaim him if at any time he appears ill-treated. The deal is a model of the AAZPA-recommended protocol for the disposition of surplus animals.

While the snow leopard’s life is far from ideal, he is lucky. Despite AAZPA efforts to curtail the traffic, zoo-bred animals still turn up shockingly often not only at roadside zoos, but also as living targets in canned hunts, as auction merchandise, in the exotic pet trade, in biomedical research laboratories, and increasingly often as drop-offs at private sanctuaries, humane societies, and sometimes even back at accredited zoos. Even more often, sanctuaries, shelters, and accredited zoos find themselves  dealing with the offspring of former zoo animals, who have typically been bred in disregard of ancestry by self-proclaimed private species preservationists who also, just by the way, hope to turn a fast buck. When there proves to be little or no market for the animals, and they grow too big to be pets, the owners begin calling around, trying to give them away. Overwhelmed zoo directors–including Michalowski–now include a prerecorded message to would-be animal donors on their answering machines.

Many zoo officials admit that their surplus, whether yesterday’s or today’s, is the origin of an exotic animal population explosion that includes speculative booms–and busts–involving creatures from ostriches (see January/February 1994) to big cats, wolf hybrids, llamas, and potbellied pigs. There’s just the question of how to deal with it, amid a climate of opposition to euthanasia and acrimony over the alternatives.The solution to the zoo surplus end of the problem favored by those who see zoos as animal prisons would be to simply stop breeding. Indeed, not so long ago most zoo surplus was the product of either accidental or deliberate overbreeding. Some zoos like to keep baby animals on display; knowledge of wildlife birth control was limited; and until public consciousness was raised by the animal rights movement, few people objected to the sale of surplus animals to wherever. As recently as the mid-1980s, some accredited zoos even made a regular practice of breeding surplus animals for sale to the exotic pet trade and/or biomedical research.

Ingenuous failures

Though deliberate breeding for sale is officially history at accredited zoos now, ingenuous failures of management still occur, still producing crowd-pleasing babies and a surplus with few if any acceptable markets. “We weren’t able to get the males and females separated in time, and, well, nature does take its course,” interim Detroit Zoo director Khadejah Shelby explained to Robin Fornoff of the Detroit Free Press in August 1991, touting the arrival of 40 infants of various species about eight months after she succeeded former director Steve Graham. Shelby won high marks for public relations, but when she announced the zoo would no longer euthanize surplus and would relax transfer policies, captive breeding program directors cringed. They’re the ones who manage the AAZPA-accredited Species Survival Plans, and other less formal breeding protocols, whose dual purpose is to replenish zoo wildlife populations without resorting to raids on the wild, and to perpetuate species which have often been virtually extirpated from the wild–sometimes by hunting and poaching, sometimes by habitat destruction, and sometimes by the collecting excesses of past generations of zookeepers. The hardest task before SSP administrators isn’t getting animals who only rarely and reluctantly mate in zoos to breed. Rather, it’s winning public acceptance of the constraints of economic necessity when it comes to removing creatures of overrepresented pedigree from the captive gene pool.

With the capture of endangered species from the wild approaching a virtual halt, and cage space scarce, zoos have little practical reason to keep individuals who don’t help maintain an often precarious genetic diversity. Nor can surplus animals be returned to their native habitat when they haven’t been acclimated to survive in wild conditions–or when the habitat no longer exists.Ripped incessantly by activists and even some AAZPA Species Survival Plan coordinators for euthanizing surplus, Graham repeatedly pointed out that any time an SSP declares a particular animal to be redundant, based upon an ongoing review of stud books, it is condemning that animal to death or misery.

“A place does not exist in any legitimate accredited zoo in the U.S. for an animal who is listed as surplus by a Species Survival Plan,” he argued. “These are pariahs.” In a 1991 guest column for the San Diego Union, Graham outlined the many undesireable dispositions of surplus animals by zoos that don’t euthanize, and charged AAZPA with evading the issue. “This topic came to the forefront in 1976,” he recalled, “when William Conway, director of the Bronz Zoo, indicated at an AAZPA national conference that there can be no biologically sound breeding programs without surplus
animals, and therefore euthanasia must be addressed. The membership voted to table the issue, and although various committees were formed and later disbanded over the years, very little progress has been made.”

The amount of surplus created by the adoption of Species Survival Plans seems to be coming down, as coordinated breeding protocols gradually reduce inbreeding and redundancy. Advances in reproductive technology and understanding of wildlife genetics have also helped: fewer animals need be bred now than 15 years ago to insure the survival of particular bloodlines. Intentional overbreeding today mostly involves hooved stock, and is done to give predators their native diets, which keeps them healthier than a diet of slaughterhouse offal does.But the zoo surplus problem is still far from solved. Noted for successful captive breeding, the San Diego Zoo alone moves 1,200 surplus animals per year–and has been embarrassed six times in five years when surplus animals turned up in inappropriate circumstances.

In April 1989, a fisher, a sloth bear, and two palm civets died aboard an overheated truck en route to an unaccredited zoo in Massachusetts; also in 1989, the zoo sold 15 whitetailed deer, three sheep, and a kangaroo to canned hunts in New York and Pennsylvania. In 1990 two Sika deer were sold to a Texas canned hunt–and although the zoo told AAZPA they had been retrieved, the San Diego Union found they were still there five months later.

Quebec canned hunt proprietor Robert Naud bought a boar from the San Diego Zoo in 1991. Then, in 1992, Friends of Animals revealed a routine traffic between the San Diego Zoo and animal dealer Larry Johnson, whose major client is Red McCombs, of Johnson City, Texas. McCombs both runs a canned hunt and breeds exotic animals for sale at auctions that mainly serve other canned hunts.

The San Diego Zoo surplus problems have been well documented by former San Diego Zoo elephant handler Lisa Landres, who took extensive contacts and inside information with her to first the Humane Society of the U.S. and then FoA after she exposed the abuse of an elephant in 1988 and was subsequently pressured into resignation. But similar cases emerging during the early 1990s have involved many other AAZPA institutions. Peace activists in Syracuse in mid-1991 discovered a six-year-old gibbon from the local zoo had been loaned to the State University of New York at Stony Brook for non-invasive research–and housing in a facility that while meeting laboratory standards, was far short of zoo standards. In November 1991, Lota, a 42-year-old elephant belonging to the Milwaukee Zoo, was found at an Illinois elephant ride concession. (She has since been moved to a sanctuary.) In April 1992 the Philadelphia Zoo was
forced by public outrage to remove a giraffe from a Texas canned hunt, where he was on loan for breeding. The National Zoo of Washington D.C. and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo of Colorado also had loaned animals to the canned hunt, also to be bred. Four of the six Cheyenne Mountain Zoo animals soon died–one in transit, one from drowning, and two from a lightning strike.

There were no such high-profile cases in 1993, nor have any become public thus far into 1994. But this doesn’t necessarily mean the traffic has stopped. And even if AAZPA has finally slammed the door, there is still the problem of proliferating exotics bred from former zoo animals, who were usually sold because they weren’t suitable for breeding. Already excessively inbred, the offspring of the former zoo stock is now so much more inbred that some biologists
grimly describe the private exotic breeding business as a sort of uncontrolled experiment in how much inbreeding a species can suffer.
Ironically, the current drive to stop the sale of exotics to dubious destinations is accelerating the private breeding, because the past availability of exotic wildlife from zoos helped create the canned hunt, roadside zoo, and exotic pet markets in the first place. The markets are largely speculative; most customers are mainly interested in becoming breeders, building breeder pyramids that enrich those who get in and out first. But a lack of end markets rarely breaks a pyramid before all the suckers are bankrupt, and meanwhile a diminishing supply of zoo animals is driving auction
prices up.

Short of trying to buy up all the animals for euthanasia, which would further drive up prices and encourage more reckless breeding, or obtaining laws mandating sterilization of exotics in private hands (which wouldn’t have a hope of passage in Texas, Missouri, and Arkansas, the states most hospitable to private exotic breeding), there isn’t much that zoos or anyone else can do about it now beyond public education. Only when people stop buying exotic pets, patronizing canned hunts, pretending to be restoring endangered species, and speculating in “alternative livestock” will
the reckless breeding cease. Anxious to avoid unpopular euthanasias, partly because of pressure from animal rights activists, the zoo community opened a Pandora’s box.

Supreme Court did not okay animal sacrifice

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1993:
by Gary L. Francione and Anna E. Charlton
Animal Rights Law Center
On June 11, 1993, the Supreme Court issued its decision  concerning animal sacrifice in Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah. The next day, most major newspapers carried headlines proclaiming that the Court had held that animal sacrifice is protected by the First Amendment freedom of religion clause. Typical of those proclamations was the one splashed across the entire front cover of New York Newsday: “Top Court OKs Animal Sacrifice.” Reading the comments of major humane organizations in reaction to the decision, including those such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals which have the police power to stop the infliction of cruelty on animals, we have been distressed to realize that the decision has been read far too broadly, and that
there is the mistaken impression that humane officers are now powerless to stop the brutalities of animal sacrifice. The Court’s opinion in Lukumi was somewhat convoluted and was confused by current disagreement among Justices concerning how the constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of religion should be interpreted. In light of these misunderstandings, we have offered the resources of the Animal Rights Law Center to assist municipalities and concerned individuals to assess their options for working to protect animals from sacrifice.

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