by Michelle C. Pardo
The COVID pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our daily lives. While the media has been rightly focused on the overwhelming effect on our health care system and impacts on hourly and tipped workers and small businesses, coverage of our country’s zoological institutions during this worldwide crisis has been largely absent. But the impact on zoological facilities across our country is real and profound. The loss of revenue from ticket and concession sales, special events, and donations will likely hamper zoo operations for the foreseeable future. Cash-strapped Americans may have less available funds to donate to non-profit organizations. But zoological institutions may have much more difficulty cutting costs and limiting operations than other types of businesses and face a much more severe financial impact from the pandemic.
Unlike businesses that can order all employees to work from home and shut their doors, zoos, aquariums, marine mammal and wildlife parks have much more complex operational challenges. First and foremost, even during a pandemic, our zoological facilities must continue to provide their animals with daily care, including husbandry, veterinary care, and enrichment. That means that animal caregivers, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, zoo management and personnel cannot just shelter in place at home and wait out the pandemic. Maintaining zoo operations requires a healthy staff that can come to work, even if children and family members are home from school or sick. Zoos are also struggling with supply chain issues. The amount of food, products and supplies that zoos require to maintain their animal collection is staggering, and the impact on deliveries and product availability will likely continue to be a pressing issue.
Some zoos are turning to creative measures to engage with the public in a “virtual” way. From posting animal videos on social media, to animal sponsorship (“adopting” an animal), these methods attempt to link the public with animals during this time of crisis and create avenues for sponsorship and donations.
What can we do to support our zoos, aquariums, marine mammal and wildlife parks during this difficult time?
- Consider a donation, no matter how small. Non-profit zoos have platforms to “donate” that are accessible online. Visit their websites and search for the “donate” options. Donations need not be sizeable — there is great power in $10 donations if thousands of people are making them. For-profit zoological institutions often have non-profit partners that fund important animal rescue, conservation and research programs. These programs need your help as well.
- Become a member. Zoo memberships which often have additional perks like discounts at gift shops and concessions or free parking and access to VIP events. Membership fees greatly assist with zoo operating expenses and zoos will be even more dependent on these funds during and post-pandemic.
- Make plans to visit! When life returns to normal — and it will — make plans to visit your local zoos, aquariums, and marine mammal parks either as a daily visitor or attending special events. Many zoological institutions offer creative and exciting programs — such as summer camps, special access and VIP programs, food and wine experiences and family sleepovers. These are great ways to learn about a myriad of species and support our zoological institutions’ bottom line.
- Corporate sponsorship and donations. Corporate sponsorship and in-kind donations are important to zoological institutions, even in normal operating times. While many businesses may be suffering from loss of revenue, for those that get back on their feet and want to make meaningful contributions, reach out to zoological institutions and consider a sponsorship or donation of necessary products. Zoos patrons and visitors will appreciate your generosity.
And, if you know someone who works with animals — from caregivers, to veterinary staff, to those who maintain their food supply and habitats, thank them for what they are doing and pledge your support. We are, after all, in this together!
by Jessica Linse
Beginning January 1, 2020, California, Illinois, and Nevada became the first states to ban the sale of cosmetic products and ingredients that have been tested on animals.
On September 28, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act (SB 1259), which became the first state law to prohibit the sale of any cosmetic or ingredient tested on animals. Continue reading CA, IL, NV Ban Animal-Tested Cosmetics
by Michelle C. Pardo
This week, Congressmen Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) introduced the Petfax Act (H.R. 5715), legislation designed to bring more transparency to the condition of pets being sold by sellers and breeders.
The term “Petfax,” which appears to be a take on the trademarked name and service “Carfax” that aids automobile buyers in providing a vehicle’s history, such as ownership, accidents, and repairs, is described as mandating “honesty and transparency in the commercial sale of dogs and cats.” The legislation is the third in a series of “anti-puppy mill” bills introduced in this Congress. The divisive term “puppy mill” has been used as to refer to dogs bred in large-scale, commercial dog breeding operations. Continue reading Federal Legislation Requiring “Petfax” Aims to Improve Pet Buying Process
by Michelle C. Pardo
Back in 2015, the case of Juliana v. U.S., brought by 21 young people and various environmental groups in federal court in Oregon, grabbed many headlines. The issue: plaintiffs alleged that the U.S. government was violating their constitutional rights by contributing to climate change, despite knowing of its significant and catastrophic consequences. The lawsuit highlighted the impact of fossil fuels on the Earth’s climate and alleged that the federal government has long understood the risk of fossil fuel use and increasing carbon emissions, and has deprived plaintiffs of the right to “a climate system capable of sustaining human life.” Frustrated with the lack of action from the political process, this group of young plaintiffs, with a hefty backing of environmental activists, tried to get the federal courts to take action. The relief requested: a court order to compel the government to end fossil-fuel subsidies and adopt policies that would reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Continue reading Ninth Circuit Rejects Kids’ Climate Case
by Michelle C. Pardo
We previously blogged about the animal rights’ movement’s attempts to convince various U.S. courts to allow animals the same rights as people in the court system. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal’s (PETA’s) failed “monkey selfie” case, an effort to convince a federal court to rule that the crested macaque had standing under the Copyright Act, was not only dismissed, but earned PETA a sharp rebuke from the Ninth Circuit, when the court determined that the activist group seemingly employed Naruto the monkey as “an unwitting pawn it its ideological goals.” Now PETA has taken its “animal personhood” crusade internationally. Continue reading This Little Piggy Went to Court
By Michelle C. Pardo
We previously blogged about the case of Turtle Island Foods, et al. v. Mark Richardson, 2:18-cv-04173, pending in federal court in the Western District of Missouri. Turtle Island Foods, doing business as The Tofurky Company (“Tofurky”) which produces plant-based products, together with The Good Food Institute (an organization founded in part by Bruce Friedrich, former director of PETA’s vegan campaigns), sued Missouri prosecutors over its 2018 amended meat advertising law. The law requires that in order for a product to be labeled as “meat” it must come from “any edible portion of livestock, poultry, or captive cervid carcass or part thereof.” Mo. Rev. Stat. § 265.300(7). Under the amended law, plant based products, such as Tofurky’s veggie burgers or sausage, would be deemed to be misleading unless the labels contain an appropriate qualifier such as “plant-based,” “veggie,” “lab grown,” or “lab created.” Lab-grown or cultured meat products (also referred to as “clean meat”) is a new technology in which meat is grown from in vitro animal cell culture instead of from slaughtered animals. These products have not yet debuted in the marketplace. Continue reading Court Rejects Tofurky’s Request for Preliminary Injunction to Halt Enforcement of Missouri’s Meat Advertising Law
by Michelle C. Pardo
We previously blogged about an Endangered Species Act (ESA) lawsuit which pitted an animal rights activist against the Buttonwood Park Zoo (owned and operated by the City of New Bedford, Massachusetts). The zoo’s two elephants, Emily and Ruth, approximately 55 and 61 years old, respectively, have spent the greater part of their lives at Buttonwood Park. In 2017, longtime zoo patron Joyce Rowley, an animal rights activist who runs Friends of Ruth & Emily, an organization “dedicated to retiring Asian elephants Ruth and Emily from Buttonwood Park Zoo,” brought a lawsuit in Massachusetts federal court against the zoo. Rowley claimed that the zoo was committing an illegal “take” of the elephants when it failed to provide them with, among other things, adequate veterinary care and socialization, including a failure to protect one of the elephants from its more aggressive elephant companion. Her requested relief included confiscation of the elephants and relocating them to an elephant “sanctuary.” Continue reading Buttonwood Park Zoo Defeats Endangered Species Act Lawsuit
by Michelle C. Pardo
The California legislature has passed a bill to ban the sale of new fur products anywhere within the state. The bill would make it unlawful to “sell, offer for sale, display for sale, trade, or otherwise distribute for monetary or nonmonetary consideration a fur product, as defined, in the state.” AB 44 (as amended). Should Governor Gavin Newsom sign AB44, California would be the first state in the nation to enact such legislation. Los Angeles, San Francisco, West Hollywood and Berkeley already have fur bans in place. Illegal items would include fur from undomesticated animals, including mink, rabbit and coyote. The legislation excludes certain products, such as pelts or skins preserved through taxidermy, animal skin that is to be converted into leather, and fur products used for religious or traditional Native American tribal, cultural or spiritual purposes. The bill carries civil penalties. Continue reading Will California Be the First to Ban Fur Sales Statewide?
By: Michelle C. Pardo
Known for its “Dairy Done Right” marketing campaign, Tillamook County Creamery Association (“Tillamook”), which produces dairy products like cheese, yogurt, ice cream and butter, is the latest target of a consumer fraud lawsuit filed this week in Oregon state court (Multnomah County). Animal rights group Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is co-counsel to four Oregon residents and a class of similarly situated consumers who claim Tillamook uses deceptive representations when advertising and marketing its dairy products, which is likely to confuse or mislead customers. Continue reading Goodbye Big Food, Hello Lawsuit: Animal Rights Group Files Case Over Dairy Product Marketing
by Michelle C. Pardo
The leader and co-founder of West-coast based animal activist group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), Wayne Hsiung, announced yesterday that he will be stepping down from his leadership position at DxE and explained to his followers “why that’s a good thing.” DxE had become known for its “open rescues” — essentially stealing farm animals in order to “liberate” them — and mass arrests of the activist participants. In these raids, activists openly enter farms, usually at night, and “rescue” animals. They often videotape the incident and release it to various media forums. DxE’s “Organizer’s Handbook” states that the activists involved do not hide their identities so as to avoid being compared to “criminals, vandals and terrorists.” DxE has also favored storming into restaurants and yelling at patrons about eating meat and entering grocery stores and climbing into food cases to protest. One particular disgusting protest involved a DxE activist covering herself in feces at a San Francisco grocery store to protest that eggs come from laying hens that allegedly sit in their own waste. Many of DxE’s members have boldly embraced these extremist techniques even if they involve criminal activity, such as trespassing or stealing. Former leader Hsiung has asked fellow activists before such raids if they are “comfortable” with the possibility of doing jail time. Continue reading Animal Activist Leader Steps Down In Advance of Multiple Criminal Trials