Tag Archives: Michelle Pardo

During COVID-19 Pandemic, Our Zoos Need Our Support

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?

  1.  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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

 

Will California Be the First to Ban Fur Sales Statewide?

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?

Michelle Pardo Interviewed on The Lars Larson Show

Michelle PardoThe Lars Larson Show interviewed Duane Morris partner Michelle Pardo in a podcast interview titled, “Do Animals and Humans Have a ‘Right to Wilderness?'” Michelle discussed ALDF et al. v. United States, which she also discusses in her blog post, “Animal Activist Group Loses ‘Right to Wilderness’ Lawsuit.

To listen to Michelle’s interview, please visit The Lars Larson Show website.

Animal Activist Group Loses “Right to Wilderness” Lawsuit

by Michelle C. Pardo

If you thought animal and environmental activists had already pushed the envelope far enough in the world of federal court litigation, think again.

This week, an Oregon federal judge ruled that a group of plaintiffs – made up of animal and environmental activist organizations and individuals – do not have a constitutional “right to wilderness” and dismissed with prejudice their lawsuit which sought to force the federal government to cease policies that contributed to climate change that, in turn, harmed plaintiffs’ enjoyment of nature and wildlife.   ALDF et al. v. United States, (6:18-cv-01860-MC)(D. Oregon). Continue reading Animal Activist Group Loses “Right to Wilderness” Lawsuit

The Beef Goes On: Tofurky Challenges Arkansas Meat Labeling Law

by Michelle C. Pardo

Tofurky goes to court – again. On July 22nd, Turtle Island Foods (doing business as The Tofurky Company) filed a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of Arkansas against the Arkansas Bureau of Standards to challenge the constitutionality of an amended Arkansas law that prohibits “purveyors of plant- or cell-based meats” from using the words “meat” and related terms like “beef,” “pork,” “roast,” and “sausage.” See Ark. Code Ann. § 2-1-305. Violations of the law, which goes into effect on July 24, 2019, may be punished by civil penalty up to $1,000. Counsel for Tofurky includes animal activist group Animal Legal Defense Fund, the ACLU Foundation, and The Good Food Institute, a Washington, DC based advocacy group (whose founder previously ran vegan campaigns for PETA). All of these organizations previously teamed up with Tofurky to challenge Missouri’s amended meat advertising law. Continue reading The Beef Goes On: Tofurky Challenges Arkansas Meat Labeling Law

No Meating of the Minds: Settlement Reaches An Impasse In Missouri Meat Advertising Lawsuit

By Michelle C. Pardo

We previously blogged about the case of Turtle Island Foods d/b/a Tofurky Company, et al. v. Richardson, 2:18-cv-04173-NKL, pending in the Western District of Missouri and the parties efforts to settle the lawsuit since late 2018.  The lawsuit, brought by the plant-based food producer and the advocacy group, The Good Food Institute (Executive Director, Bruce Friedrich, was the former leader of PETA’s vegan campaigns) and represented by the animal rights group Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)and the ACLU of Missouri Foundation, filed a status report this month informing the court that “the parties do not believe that additional time will allow for resolution of the impasse.  The parties are grateful for the Court’s patience as they attempted to reach a final settlement agreement.”  The Joint Status Report also asks the court to resume the litigation that was originally filed in August of 2018, the day after the Missouri statute went into effect.

The case, which has received widespread media and industry attention, sought to challenge Missouri’s first-in-the-nation meat advertising law that prohibited companies from “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from livestock or poultry.”  Mo. Rev. Stat. § 265.494(7).  The plaintiffs allege that the statute is unconstitutional and argue that it was not enacted to address consumer confusion, but rather to protect and favor the agriculture industry.  Plaintiffs claim that the law is overly broad and that no plant or cell-based producer can determine whether their food labeling would leave them exposed to criminal prosecution.  This is despite the fact that the Director’s Office of the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) issued guidance to plant-based and cell-based producers on how to modify their labels to avoid referrals for criminal prosecution.  MDA indicated that it would not refer products with labels that contain, for example, prominent statements that the product is “plant based”, “veggie”, “lab grown” or a comparable qualifier.

Tofurky products include terms such as “burgers”, “chorizo style sausage”, “slow roasted chick’n” “hot dogs” and “ham roast”, some of which are coupled with qualifiers such as “veggie”, “plant-based” and “vegetarian”.

ALDF, an animal rights organization representing plaintiffs, has stated that the law “stifles innovation” from cell-based producers.  Cell-based or lab-grown meat has been touted as an industry game-changer in overhauling the way in which animal protein products are developed and provided to consumers, though none are commercially available yet.  Ironically, Washington, DC-based plaintiff, The Good Food Institute, has stated that the Missouri law is unnecessary because “misbranding is already prohibited by federal law.”  But animal and environmental activist groups have frequently litigated consumer fraud lawsuits against animal protein producers, despite the fact that the producers’ labels and advertising have complied with federal law, rejecting arguments that federal preemption invalidates their lawsuits.

The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President Mike Deering has disagreed with the animal activist group and plaintiffs’ position:

The legislation does not stifle technology, but it ensures the integrity of our meat supply and reduces consumer confusion. . . The use of traditional nomenclature on alternative products is confusing to consumers and weakens the value of products derived from actual livestock production.”

Two months after the complaint was filed, the plaintiffs filed a preliminary injunction, alleging that they face irreparable harm absent preliminary injunctive relief. Tofurky’s harm, plaintiffs allege, is the conundrum the amended statute presents: risk criminal prosecution or change the way Tofurky does business by creating specialized marketing and packaging for the state of Missouri or refraining from selling products in Missouri entirely, both of which create additional cost and potential market disadvantages.

The parties had commenced settlement negotiations in late 2018 and had been providing the court with monthly status updates about their progress.  The court has not yet issued a scheduling or other order resuming deadlines in the case.

 

 

Animals and Politics: Traveling Exotic Animal Ban Reintroduced

by Michelle C. Pardo

On May 21, 2019 Representatives Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA), a bill that would amend the federal Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the use of exotic and wild animals, including lions, tigers and elephants, in traveling performances.  The bill had previously been introduced in 2017. Continue reading Animals and Politics: Traveling Exotic Animal Ban Reintroduced

Is Vegan Leather Eco-Friendly?

by Michelle C. Pardo

While shopping for shoes or handbags, you may have seen an increasingly available species of product made from “vegan leather”.  As you can imagine, vegan leather, also known as synthetic leather, is not derived from animals, and it can be made from a variety of materials, including cork, waxed or glazed cotton, paper, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane. It has been touted as an ethical and environmentally conscious buying decision. However, assuming that these materials are making the most environmentally-friendly choice may not be accurate. Continue reading Is Vegan Leather Eco-Friendly?

California Cracks Down on Impulse Purchases of Easter Bunnies

by Michelle C. Pardo

Yes, it’s a thing.  Across the country, “impulse buys” of bunnies during Easter time result in thousands of rabbits being abandoned or brought to animal shelters when the novelty of the cuddly pet wears off.  In October of 2017, California banned the sale of commercially-bred dogs, cats and rabbits at pet stores.  Potential owners instead have to acquire these animals from animal shelters or rescue organizations or buy them directly from a breeder unless the pet store sells rescued animals.  Continue reading California Cracks Down on Impulse Purchases of Easter Bunnies

The Case of the Austin Blind Salamander

By Michelle Pardo

Question: What do you get when you cross an Austin Blind salamander, a Barton Springs salamander, a golden-cheeked warbler, and a Texas highway project?

Answer: An Endangered Species lawsuit.

On February 28, 2019, environmental advocacy group Save Our Springs (SOS) and frequent litigator Center for Biological Diversity (Center) sent a 60-Day Notice of Intent to Sue letter to the Texas Department of Transportation (TexDOT), the US Department of Interior and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit pursuant to the  Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The ESA is a federal law that prohibits the “taking” of threatened and endangered species, 16 USC § 1538; “take” has means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, would, kill, trap, capture or collect (or attempt such conduct).

The environmental groups claim that the construction of the MoPac Intersections Project, a federally-funded highway project for which the TexDOT is the lead agency, risks an illegal “take” of three endangered species. According to the city of Austin’s official government website, the Austin Blind Salamander gets its name because it does not have “image-forming eyes”, a result of living in its dark, underground habitat in the waters of Barton Springs. The aptly-named Barton Springs salamander shares this same habitat. The other critter named in the potential lawsuit – the golden-cheeked warbler – was one of the eight endangered species protected by the first major urban habitat plan in the country. The groups claim that tree removal due to construction impacts the warbler’s nesting and foraging behaviors. Continue reading The Case of the Austin Blind Salamander