LETTERS [Oct. 1994]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1994:

Free Willy or breed him?
Your September cover story success-
fully addressed some of the serious issues
regarding the captive dolphin industry.
However, I would like to point out what I see
as the potential dangers of your suggestion that
successful reintroduction of captive dolphins to
the wild, “hints that captive breeding to insure
the survival of small wild whales actually can
be done.” As a marine mammal biologist and
wildlife rehabilitator, I have objections to cap-
tive breeding programs for marine mammals,
some of which also pertain to other wild ani-
mals. First, the successful reintroductions of
captive dolphins have all been of dolphins who
were captured from the wild. Their wild
experience is likely a necessary part of suc-
cessful reintroduction and would be missing in
a captive breeding program. Second, sacrific-
ing the welfare of individual animals to pre-
serve a species appears to be a contradictory
and dangerous concept. As you discussed, the
trauma endured by dolphins in captivity can be
extensive and is often lethal. To make dol-
phins suffer in captive breeding programs so
that we could propagate their species would be
for our benefit rather than theirs. Third and
most important, if the resources now invested
in breeding a few captive individuals were to
be spent on protecting critical habitats, then
a l l of the threatened and endangered species
within those habitats could be preserved,
rather than just those humans find attractive.
––Toni G. Frohoff, President
Dolphin Data Base
Bainbridge Island, Washington
We don’t know yet if captive-born
dolphins could adapt to the wild; no one has
tried to find out. As in most endeavors, failure
will likely precede success. The inability of
some dolphins to adjust to captivity does not
mean that all dolphins “suffer in captive breed
ing programs”; successful breeding programs
tend to have low mortality, and whether their
dolphins ever suffer is unclear. Frohoff does
not explain where the money now spent on
captive breeding is going to come from, to be
spent on habitat protection, if those facilities
cease attracting paying customers to see dol
phins (and other wildlife). Finally, it is unre
alistic to expect zoos and aquariums to be able
to protect critical habitat in either politically
unstable nations or international waters,
though many already try. The New York
Zoological Society and New York Aquarium
together spend more than $6.3 million a year
in such efforts, Protecting critical habitat may
eventually be possible––but meanwhile some
species are so nearly extinct that protecting
their habitat will be pointless if they are not
bred in captivity until that time comes.
Will he make it to puberty?
I appreciated the article on cetacean
captivity in the September edition of A N I-
MAL PEOPLE. It is always valid to objec-
tively examine this issue. However, in order
to do so, I feel that certain things should be
clarified. Concerning orca life expectancy,
most scientific authorities I know of accept the
International Whaling Commission estimate of
Olesiuk, Bigg and Ellis (1990), who estimat-
ed a mean life expectancy of 29.2 years for
male orcas, and 50.2 years for females. They
estimated sexual maturity for males to occur at
15.0 years, and physical maturity at 21.0 years
with maximum estimated age trajectories for
males on the order of 50-60 years. Studies off
Vancouver Island by the Vancouver Aquarium
indicate animals of at least 60 years of age in
some pods.
In captivity, only two male orcas
have survived past the age of 20. One, Hyak,
died at about age 26; the other, Orky, died at
about 29. At least 42 orcas have died in cap-
tivity either before or at the onset of physical
maturity. At least 24 of those deaths occurred
after more than six months in captivity.
P.S.––The IWC did not pass a reso-
lution protecting the vaquita. The IWC does
not even recognize itself to have competency
over small cetaceans. It did, however, pass a
resolution congratulating the Mexican govern-
ment and nongovernmental organizations for
achieving a biosphere reserve to protect the
vaquita in the majority of its range.
––Chris Stroud
Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society
Low-Cost neutering
Re your July/August feature “Vets
talk about neutering,” we are having yet
another meeting with the Toronto City Council
soon to try to get a municipally operated neu-
tering clinic. It is 20 years since we began this
campaign, and no matter what your survey
found out about veterinarians in the U.S., it is
the veterinarians under the direction of their
association and the established humane soci-
eties who are responsible for the council turn-
ing down all proposals to date. We even had a
symposium 10 years ago, as part of a govern-
ment inquiry, where documents and witnesses
proved that veterinarians willing to work for
low-cost neutering clinics were threatened
(some verbally but many in writing) with loss
of license if they participated––one even with
deportation! My vet in this area gave me a
price of $140 Canadian for a spay yesterday,
and I had an assisted spay done in Mesa,
Arizona, for $35 U.S. (about $45 Canadian.)
––Helen Rainnie
Marmora, Ontario
I was most impressed by your
September article on roadkills and the sheer
precision that went into your work and that of
Dr. Splatt. We never had anything close to this
level of understanding (and there’s still much
to be done) before these data. What’s your bot-
tom-line conclusion now, and what are the
implications for roadbuilding policy?
––Patrice Greanville
National Anti-Roadkill Project
Westport, Connecticut
The coincidence of roadkill frequen
cy with moon phases suggests that driver edu
cation and strategically timed radio traffic
advisories have the most potential for quickly
and cheaply preventing roadkills.
Grand juries
There are currently several federal
grand juries which are calling witnesses [ i n
connection with alleged illegal animal rights
a c t i v i t i e s ] and sometimes jailing them for
refusing to testify. Having represented several
people before grand juries, I want to briefly
clarify the legal rights of a person who is
served with a subpoena to appear before a
grand jury:
1. An FBI or ATF agent may con-
tact you at your home or at work and ask to
talk to you. You do not have to talk to that
person, and it is usually not to your benefit to
have a conversation with that person. If you
are served with a subpoena, you do not have
to say anything to the agent who serves you.
2. You do not have the “right to
remain silent” when you appear before the
grand jury. That right is given to criminal
defendants, but not to witnesses.
3. You do have certain constitution-
al rights such as freedom of speech, associa-
tion, and the press. You also have constitu-
tional protection from unlawful search and
seizure, as well as a privilege against self-
incrimination. These rights will sometimes
(but not usually) provide a defense against tes-
4. If you believe that your phone
has been tapped, and that the tapped phone
resulted in your subpoena, before going to the
grand jury you or your attorney should make a
motion to have the government reveal whether
or not there was a tap on your phone.
5. Do not despair. You are not
alone. There are legal ways to help you. Talk
either to an attorney who is experienced in
grand jury law, or to an animal protection
organization that you trust about your rights.
There are such attorneys and such organiza-
––Lawrence E. Weiss
Attorney at Law
Santa Rosa, California
Hunters & perverts
Re the letter “Hunter claims he’s not a
pervert” in your September issue, the more the
likes of Mitchell “The Hitman” Gaither speak
out, the less needs to be said about such peo-
ple. His statement that, “To me hunting is bet-
ter and more thrilling than sex, especially
bowhunting,” confirms the adage “If you can’t
get it up, go hunting.” Maybe when Gaither
reaches maturity (if that’s possible), he’ll appre-
ciate the difference between making love to his
metal penis and making love with a human
––Lou Peluso
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Southern stereotype
I laughed while reading Mitchell
“The Hitman” Gaither’s letter in your
September issue. Here is another “sportsman”
who, because he doesn’t possess the intelli-
gence let alone the moral justification to be able
to defend his actions with words, reverts to
threats of violence. Another case of those who
can, do, and those who can’t, kill.
The part that angered me was that this
ignorant redneck perpetuates the negative
stereotype of the South. As a native Atlantan,
whose family history here dates back 200 years,
and an animal rights activist, I feel obligated to
inform people that this is n o t the way all true
Southerners are––only those who fail to realize
that the South is rising again, and they’re being
left behind.
––Jan Caldwell
Atlanta, Georgia
Sexually frustrated
This came in our mail today,
unsigned. It supports your theory that hunters
are sexually frustrated:
“I will kill every @#$%ing animal I
see. I will microwave cats, sell dogs to
Chinese restaurants, poison birds, and @#$%
sheep in the ass. Have a nice day, a–holes.”
––Mike Markarian
The Fund for Animals
Silver Spring, Maryland
Relevant quote
“The gunny’s dream about
subduing endless enemies was like a
pornographic illusion: your sexual
powers caused scores of people to suc-
cumb to you at your will. No wonder
the gunnies were so attached to ugly
guns. Asking a gunny to go back to a
less sophisticated firearm was like ask-
ing a devotee of pornography to go
from videos back to still photographs:
the level of actuality, the degree to
which the thing simulates a primal
experience, was greatly diminished.”
––Phillip Weiss,
“A hoplophobe among the gunnies,”
The New York Times Magazine,
September 12, 1994.
Table manners
Wonderful editorial on table manners! Will make copies for all my board
members. Thanks for putting into words something I’ve been trying to convey for
God knows how long.
––Shannon Lenz, president
Kalamazoo Animal Rescue
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Neutering deposit
Just a correction/clarification on your
note about Connecticut’s new spay/neuter law.
It’s true that there were a few weeks during
which we were very nervous that the deposit
requirement would kick in without the pay-
back, but that’s not going to happen.
When the law takes effect next year,
someone adopting an animal from a public
pound will put down a deposit of $45 (in addi-
tion to a standard $5 adoption fee, which
sometimes animal control officers waive). If
the adopter goes to a participating veterinarian
(there should be many) for sterilization surgery
and shots, the adopter will get back $35 of the
$45. Thus the person will pay only a net of $10
for the surgery, and rabies and distemper
shots––which can be less than the regular local
cost of just a legally required rabies shot.
––Julie Lewin, State Representative
The Fund for Animals
West Hartford, Connecticut
High salaries
Like an actor coming out on cue, an
article in the September issue of ANIMAL
PEOPLE proved the point of my letter: ridicu-
lously high salaries for humane officials are at
the expense of the animals. According to this
article, the executive director of the Los
Angeles SPCA is paid $110,000 per year. She
admits that while the LASPCA used to have 10
cruelty investigators, it now has only five. She
says she hopes to add one. If she were paid just
a living wage, the rest of her salary could go
toward hiring more investigators.
High salaried animal protection exec-
utives claim they are worth it? Rubbish! If
humanitarians were paid according to their
worth, Mother Theresa might be the highest
paid of all, but she serves out of love.
Another specious argument is that
you can’t get a good executive without offering
a high salary. Recently a local orchestra was
about to go under, due to lack of funds. The
director was earning $100,000 a year. He was
replaced by a director who is working for less
than half that amount. She set about raising
money to save the orchestra, and brought in
$600,000––$100,000 above the goal she had
set. If professional humanitarians don’t care as
much for animals as an orchestra director does
for music, he/she should learn that “love”
comes before “lucre” in the dictionary, and it
should in their lives as well.
––Greta Bunting
St. Petersburg, Florida
We’re at work on our fifth annual
resume of the budgets, assets, and salaries
paid by the leading animal protection groups,
to be published in our December edition.
Premarin substitutes
In your article on Premarin you
named three alternative products, but neglected
to mention two others: Ortho-Est, by Ortho
Labs, and Estratab, by Reid-Rowell.
Additional choices allow price variables for
those who don’t have prescription insurance.
––Beverly Whalen
Eastlake, Ohio
Canine memorials
I am interested in locating canine
memorials––public, not cemetery head-
stones––along with information about
them and photographs. I have a book
being published by Brassey (1995) titled
War Dogs: The History of Dogs in the
U.S. Military. I also have a piece in the
next issue of Good Dog! about parachuting
K-9s. My current project, besides docu-
menting canine memorials, is a book
detailing K-9 operations in Vietnam (1962-
1973). I can reimburse for photographs.,
––Mike Lemish
14 Baker Way
Westboro, MA 01581
Circus elephant
I have just watched the TV news
showing the shooting and killing of that
magnificent African elephant who killed a
trainer on August 20 at the Circus
International show in Honolulu. Elephants
are often abused during training, and it is a
wonder that more of them don’t rebel.
The last time a circus animal went
mad and had to be killed in front of the audi-
ence, which included many children, there
was a great deal of hue and cry about why
the circus people were not prepared with
tranquilizer darts. I thought some sort of law
was passed then, that for the protection of
the audience the circuses must have tranquil-
izer darts. Mothers were concerned not only
for their children’s safety, but also for their
emotional disturbance at seeing the animal
killed instead of tranqulized. As I recall, that
animal was suffering from stomach ulcers,
evidently from having to live such an unnat-
ural life, performing and giving rides.
About the trainer
I have been involved in elephant
care for the past 14 years. During that time
I had the opportunity to work with Allen
Campbell, the trainer who was killed in the
Honolulu incident. Allen was killed saving
the life of an apprentice trainer who was the
nitial target of the elephant’s aggression.
Allen’s death insured the death of the ele-
phant, Tyke, because no one else could
handle her. In my opinion, Allen did much
to improve the conditions for captive ele-
phants in this country. He spent much of his
career acting as a consultant to zoos and pri-
vate owners of elephants, schooling those
less experienced in elephant training and
husbandry. The welfare of his elephants
was always first in Allen’s mind, and he
tried to instill this professional ethic into
everyone he worked with. Allen was both
my friend and teacher. His death is a great
personal loss for me, and a professional loss
for all of us involved in the daily care of ele-
––Jim Pugh
Port of Houston Authority
Houston, Texas
Apprentice trainer William Beck-
with, 20, apparently walked too closely
behind the elephant, who had a history of
being skittish about having people behind
her, possibly related to earlier handling.
She was sold by at least one circus within
the preceding year as unsuitable for crowd
situations. Unfortunately, violent handling
is still common. On September 18, noted
circus elephant trainer Bela Tabak, 50,
was charged with misdemeanor cruelty in
Lebanon, Oregon, and was released on
$500 bail, after videotape shot by Lebanon
resident Cathy Beemer, 41, showed him
jabbing a baby elephant’s leg with an ele
phant hook. The jab drew blood. Tabak
claimed the action was necessary to control
the elephant, a 15-month-old male.
Due to a transcription error during a telephone interview, we reported in
our September issue that 84% of the animals received by the Hennepin County
Humane Society in Minneapolis in 1992 were animal control pickups. Actually,
84% were owner-surrendered; HCHS doesn’t handle animal control. The point
remains that HCHS achieves a very high adoption rate while handling a high vol-
ume of animals who would not usually be considered great prospects for adoption.
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