Letters (Jan-Feb 2012)
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2011:
My late sister Marti Kheel’s quest for answers began long ago
when as a child, the adult world caused a severing of her heart and
mind during a mass slaughter and plucking of chickens that was the
activity of the day at her summer camp. In her own words:
“In retrospect, I think that two forms of violence occurred
that day-the extreme violence directed against the chickens and the
internal violence toward my own nature and my own feelings of
connection to other animals. What happened that day is that my
initial feelings of empathy for the animals under attack became
suppressed and anaesthetized. It took me many years to start the
process of reclaiming those feelings and in essence, that has become
my life’s work-to reclaim those initial feelings of kinship with
other animals and to help others do so as well.”
Marti’s larger search was set in motion some 30 years ago
through the smaller search for a home for a kitten she found
abandoned by the side of the road. In trying to place the kitten,
she came in contact with an activist group that addressed all forms
of animal abuse, not just that of domestic animals.
Already a vegetarian, she became a vegan, an animal rights
activist, and set about studying the cultural and political factors
that supported a system in which such injustice could possibly be
In her search for answers, she weeded through all the
different philosophies of environmental ethics. All were missing the
piece that she was looking for: compassion for each creature and the
earth, neither at the expense of the other. Marti intuited that
there was an inherent fallacy in dualistic thinking. Marti inspired
an understanding that if we are truly to find healing for the earth
and all beings, we need to allow the illusion of duality to
dissipate and walk forward into a new holistic world that embraces
all life with true compassion and sensitivity.
I would like to make a gentle correction to one of your
November/December cover photo captions. Akela, the tiger you
mentioned, was a Bengal, not a Siberian. He lived at Primarily
Primates for 12 years before his death. Later his habitat housed two
circus bears who had been declawed with their paw tendons cut.
Arrell the magnificent lion, shown in the photo, was a pet who was
sent to a vet to be declawed and was never picked up. He was sent to
another sanctuary that folded and I was able to rescue him. The two
were never together.
San Antonio, Texas
(Wally Swett directed Primarily Primates for 28 years, 1978-2006.)
What are we doing for wolves and bears?
I write to you as a supporter of your work, in this time of
turmoil over the plight of wolves, especially in Idaho, Montana,
and Wyoming. After millions of dollars spent on reintroducing the
wolf to the Northwest, it has come to this: the withdrawal of
protected status for wolves. People now have the opportunity to kill
wolves with government sanction.
All this has been brought about by weak-minded, power-hungry
politicians, both Republicans and Democrats. The wolves are pawns
of people who kill them for power and money at best, and for evil at
Wolf-killing is just another example of humans doing what
they do best: killing, killing, and then more killing.
What have you done to stop this? What are you doing to stop
this? It seems that activists have all given up, can’t fight or
don’t know how to fight. It seems that all of the animal defense
groups–like you–talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. You
collect money and use it to collect more money and pay yourselves
good salaries. Like everything else in this decaying, dying U.S.A.,
you are becoming part of the problem and not the solution.
If I am wrong, put a stop to this now, and save the wolves
from selfish, power-hungry, money-hungry humans before it is too
late. Now it is the wolf in the Northwest. In New Jersey it is the
bear. In the oceans it is the shark, and in Africa, it is the
elephant. When will it stop? If you claim to be animal defenders,
then defend them.
–Michael A. Tedesco
New Rochelle, New York
Since 1991, the U.S. and state governments have spent $107
million on wolf recovery. More than 5,000 wolves were killed to
protect livestock during the 20-year effort to rebuild wolf
populations which now include about 3,000 wolves in Idaho, Montana,
Wyoming, and parts of adjacent states, and about 4,000 wolves in
Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Wolves were in 2011 removed
from Endangered Species Act protection in both regions. Idaho,
Montana, and Wyoming immediately escalated hunting and culling
wolves, now mostly in the name of protecting elk, who are in
decline in some areas through overhunting and habitat change.
Bear hunting was suspended in New Jersey for most of 40
years, but resumed after the bear population increased tenfold,
doubling in the past 10 years.
Frustration among activists who have long defended these
species is understood and shared, but the Endangered Species Act was
never meant to protect animals from cruelty or exploitation, or from
anything else except imminent extinction.
Within the limits of the Endangered Species Act, it is
difficult to imagine a strategy that activist groups are not pursuing
on behalf of wolves, bears, sharks, and elephants. Friends of
Animals and the Humane Society of the U.S., for example, are
currently legally and politically active on behalf of all four of
Protecting animals from cruelty and exploitation, however,
as opposed to just the threat of extinction, is a different and much
larger cause, which can only be advanced through the long process of
elevating human values and attitudes, by increasing compassion,
appreciation, and awareness.
May ANIMAL PEOPLE grow from strength to strength as it
performs a really needed function in today’s society.
P.O. Box 10185
Thessaloniki 541-10, Greece