LETTERS [May 2002]
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2002:
After more than a quarter of a century as a vegetarian,
then vegan, I feel a need to expand that commitment, because my
sorrow and horror about the abusive treatment, genetic altering,
and cruel confinement, transport and slaughter of farmed animals has
only intensified over the years. When meat is served in my presence,
I now feel the need to somehow symbolically honor and acknowledge the
immense suffering that animal endured.
“Where there’s meat, I don’t eat,” came to me suddenly. I
will never again eat in a room in which meat is being served.
Know-ing this has brought me some measure of inner peace. I’m not
sure it is a politically sound decision, for it is surely wise to
encourage the offering of vegetarian/vegan alternatives. Yet to eat
contentedly in the presence of meat now feels to me like a betrayal
of the animal sacrificed.
“Where there’s meat, I don’t eat” is a one-person protest,
on behalf of those whose cries of protest were never heard, never
heeded. Even more so, this is something I am doing for myself.
When meat is present, I will still sit at the table and enjoy
myself and my friends, but I can only do so knowing that by not
eating, I am symbolically and publicly acknowledging the pain I
feel on behalf of those who suffered unspeakable and enduring horrors
to become the feast.
Nature of birds
The April 2002 Animal People bird book reviews were quite
timely for spring. As reviewer Patty Finch said, those who share
their lives with birds know all too well the truth of bird
intelligence. The Human Nature of Birds, by Theodore Xenophon
Barber (St. Martin’s Press, 1973) considers this in detail.
Writes Barber: “People of the earth, awaken! Open your eyes,
look around you, and become aware of the fast-moving lives of your
neighbors, the birds. Like you they are enjoying, playing,
hurting, feeling, worrying, communicating, planning. Look
closer and see the strivings and experiences of the individual
animals near you. Wake up! Realize that you are as wonderfully
aware, as fully conscious, and as specialized as the other
creatures on the earth. Use your specialized intelligence now to
change your destructive habits, to save the earth’s flora and
fauna, including yourself, from further devastation, and to live
in harmony with deep enjoyment.”
API fires Texas Snow Monkey Sanctury founder
“ASA will not let this go”
Although the Texas Snow Monkey Sanctuary is not an accredited
member of the American Sanctuary Association, by choice of Animal
Protection Institute executive director Alan Berger, many of our
sanctuary members and board have had a favorable relationship with
ousted Texas Snow Monkey Sanctuary director Lou Griffin for many
years. As we are keenly aware of Griffin’s commitment to the welfare
of the animals, her expertise, and her qualifications, the ASA is
compelled to write to express our official objection to her
termination (as reported by ANIMAL PEOPLE in April 2002.)
Quite frankly, we find API’s action to be morally and
ethically repulsive. Griffin has given 22 years to the care of the
monkeys and the development of the sanctuary, most of the time
working without pay. Is this how API rewards staff for a lifetime of
The ASA is also concerned about the future welfare of the
monkeys residing at the Snow Monkey Sanctuary. Griffin is not only
familiar with each individual animal, but is also a leading
authority on the behavior and care of snow monkeys. Griffin has
taught primatology students from all over the U.S. and Canada.
Without Griffin directing the sanctuary, we do not see anyone there
who has either the formal training or expertise to adequately manage
the ongoing care of these animals.
It is obvious that a hidden agenda led to this action. The
ASA will not let this go unchallenged.
— for the ASA board of directors
Carol Asvestas, President
Animal Sanctuary of the U.S.
P.O. Box 690422
San Antonio, TX 78269
P.S.: Jim Boler from Houston Humane Society called me and
told me that Lilly the lioness who was formerly at Brian Werner’s
Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge, whom Werner told us had died, as
discussed on page 6 of the April 2002 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE, is
now at the Shambala Preserve in southern California, quite alive.
Boler picked her up and sent her to Shambala founder Tippi Hedren.
Lilly was spayed.
“I was duped”
As a board member of the Texas Snow Monkey Sanctuary before
it merged into the Animal Protection Institute, I take exception to
the statement made by API board president Gary Pike, quoted in the
April edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE, that API saved the sanctuary from
imminent collapse. While I will agree that API has invested large
sums of money to improve the structures and facilities at the
sanctuary, at no time prior to the merger were the animals in any
danger. Such alarmist language was sometimes used by one former
board member, Dallas attorney Robert “Skip” Trimble, but was never
true. Lou Griffin, who managed the sanctuary for 20 years prior to
the merger, and the former sanctuary board, would have never
allowed any harm to come to the monkeys. Our motive in agreeing to
the merger of the sanctuary and API was strictly that API could give
the sanctuary more financial stability. The sanctuary was in no
danger of collapse.
API executive director Alan Berger stated that API took over
“significant debts” in acquiring the Snow Monkey Sanctuary. Not so.
All debts were paid, including the mortgages for the purchase of the
land and all of the structures on it. API acquired all assets,
including the land, buildings, enclosures and equipment, for $10.
API did assume responsibility for all ongoing monthly expenses of the
sanctuary, but the transaction was strictly a transfer of assets.
Prior to the merger Lou Griffin spent 20 years nurturing and
caring for these monkeys, knowing each one individually, all the
while working mostly without any compensation. I expressed my
concern for her future to both Berger and Trimble. I was assured by
both that I had no need to be concerned. In a fax dated November 16,
1999, Trimble stated, “I am not worried about Lou…having
employment. I believe that they [API] recognize [her] talents and
will keep [her] on as long as [she] wants to stay.”
Berger, in an e-mail to me dated October 6, 1999, stated:
“The risk is more on our side than on Lou’s. What if she decides to
leave? API probably needs more protection than Lou does.”
Quite obviously I was duped, as were other former sanctuary
After the merger, Trimble became a board member of API,
until his recent resignation to become board president of the Animal
Legal Defense Fund. Griffin is now prohibited from going anywhere on
This issue is not over. More will be said as this unfolds.
One more thing. Gary Pike stated that API has developed a
“professional sanctuary policy and procedure manual which is now
available to other sanctuary organizations.” This from a group which
has been in the sanctuary business a scant two years? Considering
that there are many sanctuaries which have been in existence for
20-plus years, am I the only one who finds this arrogant?
American Sanctuary Assn.
2340 Sterling Heights Dr.
Las Vegas, NV 89134
ANIMAL PEOPLE also received an e-mail from API executive
director Alan Berger expressing “disappointment” at our coverage of
the Griffin firing, but it was marked “not for publication,” did
not take issue with factual specifics, and provided no new
Animals Asia update
Thanks very much for the nice mention in the 2002 Watchdog
Report on 101 Animal Protection Charities. By way of update, we
introduced our Dr. Dog pet therapy program to Japan with Pets Alive
Japan in December 2001, and will be introducing it to India in May,
first with the lovely Chinny Krishna and the Blue Cross of India in
Chennai, and then with Compassion Unlimited Plus Action in Bangalore.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare no longer funds any
of our projects. Supporting our China Bear Rescue Project is now
entirely dependent upon our own fundraising. We expect to receive 40
more bears in August.
Also, you overstated my age by two years. I am 44 this month.
–Jill Robinson, MBE
Animals Asia Foundation
P.O. Box 82
Sai Kung Post Office
Shall I compare thee to other news media? Let me count the ways…”
I really value ANIMAL PEOPLE and am sincerely astounded at
the depth of your journalistic work, so was really taken aback at
seeing the editor of Animals’ Agenda write that while he considers
his publication to be the equivalent of the MacNeil-Lehrer Report,
he sees PETA’s Animal Times to be like Entertainment Tonight and
ANIMAL PEOPLE as being like The Jerry Springer Show. I have
absolutely no idea where anyone would get a comparison like that.
Likening you to The Wall Street Journal or The Lancet I could fathom.
But his reference just left me shaking my head.
–Tim I. Martin
Have you read the latest issue of Animals’ Agenda? They
compared ANIMAL PEOPLE to The Jerry Springer Show! Actually, I
prefer to think of you as at least 60 Minutes/Dateline/
Nightline–but you are much, much more.
We received many similar messages. Thanks to all who
wrote–but our feelings were not hurt. Our Editor laughed until he
choked on his coffee, as when a few years ago an employee of the
Humane Society of the U.S. compared us to The National Enquirer. All
that happened then is that we picked up a few more readers via the
paper that quoted the fellow.
Then came this, from a globally respected horse care expert
who has studied and taught extensively in the Middle East:
Congratulations on adding Spanish and French sections to the
Animal People web site. You are the CNN/Al-Jazeera of the animal
interests, but with more depth, like the Christian Science Monitor.
Montague, Prince Edward Island
Others compared us to everything from Baseball America to The
New York Times. The range of comparison was so broad that maybe we
should just claim to be incomparable.
CHAMP opposes exotic cat acts
The Pet Savers Foundation became aware, after the 2002
Conference on Homeless Animal Management and Policy registration
brochure was mailed, that among the CHAMP Post-Conference Events
offered to attendees at a discount was the “Carnival of Wonders Magic
Show,” the entertainment independently scheduled by the Reno Hilton
Hotel for that week, and that this show includes the use of captive
exotic cats–apparently a lion and a tiger.
The Pet Savers Found-ation stands in solidarity with
virtually the entire animal protection community in opposition to the
use of wild exotic animals in entertainment. We are acutely aware
of the suffering to animals and dangers to the public and animal
care-and-control workers resulting from the proliferation of exotic
wildlife in private hands, and of the efforts of animal sanctuaries
to cope with the longterm care and rehabilitation of exotic animals
who have been bred and sold for use in entertainment.
Our opposition to entertainment using captive exotic wildlife
and to breeding captive exotic wildlife as pets or for sale is
longstanding and unequivocal.
The arrangement for the Carnival of Wonders Magic Show to be
offered as a CHAMP Post-Conference event was a dreadful oversight on
the part of the conference organizers.
Upon becoming aware that the Carnival of Wonders Magic Show
includes illusions using exotic animals, The Pet Savers Foundation
immediately cancelled it as a post-conference event, and we deeply
apologize to all recipients of the 2002 Confer-ence on Homeless
Animal Manage-ment and Policy registration brochure for having
inadvertently included it.
As always, the CHAMP conference will include speakers who
will address the many reasons why exotic wild animals should not be
bred and sold by the public, and will discuss how we all can help
to prevent this ongoing animal tragedy.
750 Port Washington Blvd.
Port Washington, NY 11050
African wild dogs
I wish to comment on a portion of your April article about
African wildlife that pertained to the plight of the Cape hunting
dog, Lyaon pictus.
For decades before the current African human population
explosion, many attempts were made by hunters (Bwana moron) to
annihilate this wild canid. The usual spurious excuse was an
objection to the manner in which the dogs captured and killed their
prey. The hunters did not poll the prey species as to whether it
mattered to them if they were gut-shot by Bwana moron or pulled down
by the wild dogs, who incidentally evolved in Africa.
Even by the 1970s, the wild dogs’ range had dwindled
markedly. Distemper introduced by the sickly and poorly fed mongrel
dogs of nomadic tribes then brought another threat. More recently,
African lions suffered a severe die-off from a strain of canine
distemper that was traced to the dogs of the nomads. This outbreak
was eventually controlled by vaccination, but no such efforts were
made to help the wild dogs.
The Cape hunting dog is a longlegged sight hunter, which
occupies an ecological niche similar to that of the wolf. The
majority of their prey appear to be Thomson’s gazelle in some
regions, and juvenile wildebeest in more southerly regions, where
the dogs appear to be marginally larger.
If there is any veracity to the reports of two boys in Gitega
becoming prey to an isolated pack of famished wild dogs, that would
appear to be exceptional behavior indeed, and I would consider it in
the same light that I would if the boys had died of some infection
caused by ritual mutilation for adornment or tribal identification.
Another severely endangered wild African canid is the Simien
jackal, or Abyssinian wolf. This attractive wild canid, unlike
true wolves, does not hunt large prey, but depends upon rodents in
the Bale Mountains ecosystem. Innoc-uous to humans, this animal is
threatened by human incursion into its habitat, and also by
interbreeding with Ethiopian domestic dogs. In addition, dog
attacks on sheep and goats are sometimes misattributed to the Simien
–Marvin J. Sheffield, DVM
Wild Canid Research Group
651 Sinex Avenue
Pacific Grove, CA 93950
Efforts to save the Simien jackal, or Abyssinian wolf, also
called the Ethiopian wolf, and to institute vaccination and
sterilization of domestic dogs in the vicinity of Bale Mountains
National Park, Ethiopia, have been discussed in several recent
ANIMAL PEOPLE features, including the May 2001 guest column “The
dogs of Bale,” by Bale Mountains National Park employee Efrem
Legesse. With ANIMAL PEOPLE assistance, Legesse, Ethiopian wolf
conservation program educator Zegeye Zibret, and Bale Mountains
National Park warden Hana Kifle subsequently incorporated the
Homeless Animals Protection Society, the first humane organization
indigenous to Ethiopia. HAPS may be contacted c/o P.O. Box 2495,
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; 76-15-04; <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
I can appreciate Torben Platt’s protection of poisonous
snakes (Letters, April), but I cannot say that I would try to move
a rattlesnake out of harm’s way. Perhaps Mr. Platt has never lost a
pet to a poisonous snake, but I have had two dogs bitten by
poisonous snakes. One died and the other lost a leg, even though he
was given a series of extremely expensive anti-venom injections.
I have known people bitten by poisonous snakes. They
survived due to anti-venom shots, but the pain was excruciating.
Snake bites can cause nerve damage and scar human epidermal regions
I live in the rural South, where rattlesnakes, water
moccasins and copperheads are abundant. Water moccasins are
especially aggressive. I stumbled across one on my property and it
did not hiss or attempt to escape, just chased me across the yard as
fast as my feet could fly.
My dogs are confined by fences. When a poisonous snake
slithers into the yard, a dog is naturally going to investigate.
The yard is my dog’s turf, not the snake’s. The snake is an
interloper who possesses a lethal weapon.
There are many good snakes in my area, such as king snakes,
but I draw the line at tolerating snakes who might kill my pets or me
just because we got too close.
I picked up and read your April article on the American
Legislative Exchange Council just after I heard an extended story on
National Public Radio about how ALEC promotes get-tough-on-crime
legislation. The story heavily emphasized the memberships in ALEC of
the Corrections Corporation of America and other companies which
profit from the permanent expansion of the incarcerated population.
The bottom line seems to be that ALEC is an effective tool,
of which most Americans are unaware, for broadly advancing the
conservative agenda at the state level.
South Dartmouth, Massachusetts