Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Personhood and ‘Freedom’ for Sandra the Orangutan is Arbitrary and Asinine

“An orangutan held in an Argentine zoo can be freed and transferred to a sanctuary after a court recognized the ape as a "non-human person" unlawfully deprived of its freedom, local media reported on Sunday”
Hello human brains, you there?

The ‘non-human personhood’ cancer has begun, not in the United States, but that doesn’t make it any less distressing. Because many people are fools when it comes to understanding animals, and because anthropomorphism is rampant and uncontrolled (even amongst exotic pet owners, zoo keepers, and others that support captivity), apparently this was enough for people with reasonable intelligence to rule that because orangutans look like us and can accomplish a few ‘cognitive tricks’, just like scrub jays, dogs, and octopi, it needs to be granted the same rights as human beings and cannot be ‘imprisoned’. There’s just one problem, animals cannot be legally imprisoned.

Animals, unlike humans when healthy and perfectly developed, do not have any language, cannot be held responsible for their actions, and simply do not have the same cognitive complexity and aware consciousness as a human. Many people, even those who you’d think to have competent intelligence, cannot think of traits that separate humans from animals, so I’ve provided a neat little list.

The question is, will the Buenos Aires' Zoo put their foot down and stand up against the lunacy of their country’s circus courts and aggressively pursue action against this decision? Despite all the arguments surrounding the idea of ‘personhood’ for non-human animals, and despite the fact (as whined by many) that corporations are considered ‘persons’ in the United States, one irrefutable point about this situation remains true: how in the hell is Sandra considered to be ‘free’ in another zoo that probably happens to have more trees, but it is still very much confinement?

Since this unnamed ‘sanctuary’ is in Brazil, we can assume that Sandra  won’t be released into the ‘wild’, as orangs hail from South East Asia, and thank goodness for that, because releasing a captive born animal into the wilderness would be brutal and torturous. Therefore, the headlines pushing claims of ‘freedom’ are as dense as they come. To make themselves feel better about an ape in a cage perceived by deceptive human emotions as ‘depressing’, confused animal rights activists have deluded themselves and duped the public into believing the idea that a zoo with the word ‘sanctuary’ tacked on it is somehow ‘freedom’. This results in humans feeling good and the animal becoming confused and likely stressed.  

Perhaps the Buenos Aires' Zoo should change their name to Buenos Aires' Sanctuary, and that way all of their animals can be ‘free’ too.

Sandra the orangutan is likely thought by activists and others to be lonely, yet their ignorance fails to allow them to realize that the animals are naturally solitary except during reproductive activities, although in captivity, anything can happen if it’s encouraged. So therefore, with ludicrous reasoning, non-human personhood has been granted to the highly endangered primate in Argentina, but there is no sense to be had in proclaiming that it is being ‘freed’. What really seems to be imprisoned is basic logic and reasoning in the heads of the members of Argentina’s court system.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

To the Sanctuary Holding Darwin the ‘Ikea Monkey’: Pay Your Own Bills

True animal sanctuaries are an extremely important resource. They provide adequate homes for unwanted animals that have little or no options left. Such facilities might be even more important for exotic animals, particularly those with heavy special needs like primates. The Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary, run by Sherri Delaney, claims to be such a facility, but their heavy exploitation of one of their residents suggests otherwise.

Darwin the ‘Ikea monkey’, found and confiscated in the parking lot of the famous Swedish furniture-selling franchise has an owner, or at least he did, until various unjust laws led to his abduction. Darwin’s real owner is Yasmin Nakhuda, a lawyer residing in Ontario who made the mistake of obtaining the animal in a location where it isn’t legal and not properly securing Darwin in her vehicle, since he somehow was able to escape a crate and locked car. A fine would be a sufficient punishment for these actions and she should have had her pet returned to her if she was willing to move to a location where it is legal (as far as I know she has or is willing).

Sporting a tiny sheepskin coat, Darwin the Japanese macaque became an instant internet sensation, but a deeper tragedy was also in progress. Nakhuda claims she was coerced into signing the animal over to the authorities for fear of not seeing him again (not farfetched, as authorities are rarely accommodating or fair to owners of monkeys) and that Toronto Animal Services never had the legal right to refuse to give the animal back in the first place.
While monkeys are a high-maintenance pet that require a dedicated owner, first time monkey owner Nakhuda has at least demonstrated extreme perseverance in her failed battle for custody of Darwin, pouring a quarter of million dollars in legal fees into the case and enduring the emotional struggle. We have little reason to judge the quality of Nakhuda’s care and she is at least entitled to ownership of what she originally owned until the situation is deemed unsuitable (such as the case of Rocky the bobcat) or if she gives the animal up on her own volition.

What’s worse, the sanctuary that nabbed the famous monkey was adamant in encouraging officials to not let Nakhuda have custody (they were defendants in the case) with mostly failed arguments about how wild animals do not belong in captivity because they are nothing like so-called domesticated animals. It is increasingly common for philosophical agendas stemming from the misguided animal rights mentality to interfere with basic pet ownership rights in law.
Here’s where it gets especially upsetting.

After losing the case, Nakhuda was ordered to pay $83,000 in legal fees to the primate sanctuary, to add insult to injury. Story Book Farm, in addition to defeating Darwin’s owner, is now milking every financial drop from his fame. Now, due to “personal problems” between the owners, they are selling their sanctuary’s property and are re-locating. Their campaign, manipulatedly entitled ‘Darwin’s Dream’, is asking the public to just hand over $490,000 for a down payment on an extravagantly large animal ranch, the former Northwood Zoo in Seagrave, that clocks in at around 56 sprawling acres (22 hectares) and even has 21 additional monkeys living on the property.

“Due to a change in our human family situation, the sanctuary needs to relocate by spring of 2015. Our proposed new home has 56 acres of rolling hills with trees aplenty and ample space, with indoor and outdoor areas for all our residents. There are 2 houses on site for staff as well as a finished area perfect for a vet clinic on site. There are also twenty additional monkeys already living on the property that will be given sanctuary and likely integrated into social groups.“

Darwin’s s dream is every animal lover’s dream. I would positively love for someone to just give me a large, forested animal sanctuary (or its down payment so I could afford it), even if it came with baggage. After winning possession of a monkey from a woman desperate to even be granted the right to visit her pet, Story Book wants to have their cake, eat it, and rent out an amusement park too. They believe that because they’ve ‘rescued’ a few monkeys, they are angelic enough to deserve a partial freebee of a near million dollar property, far more than what they need for the amount of animals they possess. Even though what they have now is 100% provided by donations as well.

“We are also developing a business plan for the new site that will generate social enterprise revenue for the sanctuary, allowing us to be self-sustainable.”

It sounds like this new opportunity will not only allow the ‘volunteers’ to thrive, but also obtain substantial economic benefit with a giant facility to operate in. This is just one reason sanctuaries gain so much momentum over humble little exotic pet owners who fund their animals themselves, and typically don’t receive free financial assistance. What a great opportunity for the sanctuaries to brag about how much more large and luxurious their facilities are compared to ours!

What many ‘non-animal people’ don’t realize is that working with animals is more than a privilege, it is a luxury. I wouldn’t hesitate to do this work for free and accept ‘unwanted’ exotic animals if I had the room. And if someone would give me the animal and the room for free, I would be on cloud 9. Essentially to my brain, asking for this is like asking the public for a mansion because you’ve adopted a child.

When you acquire animals for any reason you are responsible for your own bills. If any of the monkey’s cages at Story Book are inadequate, they should stop obtaining animals, and this especially applies to animals that have financially-well off owners clawing down the door to get them back.

The only consolation is that it looks like they won’t reach their goal (they’ve accumulated around $11,000 so far), at the time of this writing, but let’s hope that some absurdly rich donator doesn’t become a Christmas angel for this greedy and entitled primate sanctuary.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dippy Exotic Pet Rant of the Day: The ASPCA

Being an avid fan of the ‘Animal Precinct’ show presented on Animal Planet, I always thought the ASPCA (American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), based in New York City, were the good guys, but lo and behold, cognitive bias and ignorance knows no bounds when it come to corrupting the minds of people with reasonable intelligence and making them say misleading to downright disturbingly stupid statements.
The ASPCA’s statement about exotic pets has always shocked me, but I’m just now finally addressing their embarrassing lack of thought when it comes to this high Google-ranking page of theirs. The opening statement gives you everything you need to know about the anti-logic of the author.

“Exotic Animals as Pets”

“Would you keep a cat in a fish bowl? Or a hamster in a horse stable? Would you feed rabbit chow to your dog, or try to train a snake to sit? Yes, these are silly—even dangerous—things to do. Unfortunately, people do something similar when they keep exotic animals as pets.”


Where to begin? What exactly is dangerous about any of those things!? Keeping a cat in a fish bowl is cruel, not dangerous. Keeping a hamster in a horse stable is stupid, not dangerous (you’ll lose that hamster). Feeding rabbit chow to a dog is also stupid, as it will lead to malnutrition if fed that in the long term, but it certainly isn’t ‘dangerous’. Training a snake to sit? Go ahead and try, they can’t really sit given they have no legs. But that’s NOT dangerous.

What was the writer thinking when they wrote this? Keeping exotic pets involves properly caring for that animal, just as keeping cats and dogs involves properly caring for those animals. You feed the animals’ appropriate nutrition based on their species-specific needs. If anything, this inane attempt to criticize exotic pets further validates that all animals, exotic or otherwise, just need the right care, and are not different from dogs and cats. Private owners are fully capable of providing the same care that zoos do.

That’s enough to make any logical person’s head spin, but there’s more. Too much more than can be addressed with one post.

“Honey bears, sugar gliders, corn snakes, green iguanas, black panthers, rosy boas, flying squirrels, bearded dragons, veiled chameleons, spotted pythons, leopard geckos, even poison dart frogs and pot-bellied pigs—these are just some of the exotic animals people sell as pets. It may be easy to buy an exotic animal, but it is not a good idea. It is bad for the animals, bad for us and bad for the environment.”

The ignorance in this sentence is astounding. First, according to this statement, the ASPCA is against all animals that can be considered ‘exotic’, not just lions and bears, but corn snakes, leopard geckos, and bearded dragons. These reptiles are, hands down, the easiest pets a person can own. They literally thrive in captivity as long as the owner has half a brain. Pot-bellied pigs are fully domesticated, so if they are exotic, so are dogs and cats (having originated from Europe and Africa). 

The word ‘black panther’ is like saying ‘black melanistic bear’; the term panther automatically denotes ‘black’ because it’s not an actual species. The foolish author is clearly unaware of basic animal knowledge (a reoccurring theme in this series) yet they’ve taken it upon themselves to declare to knowledgeable pet keepers that what they’re doing is wrong for no valid reason. They are clearly against keeping ‘weird’ animals due to simple-minded prejudice.

“And although it may be borderline legal to sell some of these animals, in many places it is illegal to buy them.”

Yes, thanks to simple-minded people like the author, this is true.

“Experts believe that it took at least five thousand years, and perhaps longer than ten thousand years, for wolves to evolve into dogs. So, there are thousands of years of difference between a wild and a domestic animal. Domesticated animals like dogs and cats don't do well without people, and wild and exotic animals don't do well with people.”

I am beyond tired of this ridiculous fallacy. Domesticated animals are not different from other animals, period. Any person with half a brain would realize that many cats and some dogs CAN do well without people and do. Cats do so well they are a prominent invasive species in a large number of countries including the U.S. ‘Wild horses’ are actually feral descendants of introduced domesticated horses. Some domesticated swine has escaped and become re-established in the environment. When I was living in a temporary house, in the backyard was a retention pond filled with thousands of goldfish, to the point that sections of the water appeared orange. These animal populations are flourishing without humans. In fact, humans are trying to rid the environment of them. To say that they don’t do well without humans is an easily refutable lie or display of the most profound cognitive bias and ignorance. With this, nothing the author says can be taken seriously.  But I will continue on anyway.

“In addition, the little we do know of the needs of exotic animals shows us that we simply cannot meet these needs in captivity. Many monkeys, birds, and wild cats, for example, all can travel several miles in a single day. A walk on a leash through the park won't cut it. Since the vast majority of people who keep exotic animals cannot meet their needs, the animals may be caged, chained, or even beaten into submission. Sometimes, people will have an animal's teeth or claws removed, so that the animal cannot harm the owner even when he does struggle.”

I’ve already established that the author is ignorant; therefore they are foolish to attempt to make claims concocted from their extremely unreasonable lack of knowledge. They are generalizing numerous species—some flourish in captivity, and a few may not. The amount of miles they travel in the wild is useless information. Hamsters actually travel miles in the wild (and they’re actually not domesticated) but the ASPCA is not against keeping them since they are traditional pets. Just like with hamsters, dogs, and cats, there will always be situations of bad owners acquiring exotic pets and giving them poor care.

“Malnutrition, stress, trauma, and behavioral disorders are common in exotics kept as pets.”

True or not, this claim is mere speculation, and once again, it is useless to say when the definition of ‘exotic pet’ is every single species not falling under the ‘traditional’ label. ‘Behavioral disorders’ in animals are typically undesirable but perfectly normal animal behavior. This is why owners of dogs and cats are confused when their pets have these ‘problems’, since they are all under the misguided belief that ‘domesticated’ animals have the ‘wildness bred out of them’.

“Here is a partial list of diseases with which exotic animals can infect humans: chlamydia, giardia, hepatitis A, rabies, ringworm, tuberculosis, measles, monkey pox, marburg virus, molloscum contagiosum, dermatophytosis, candidiasis, streptothricosis, yaba virus, campylobacteriosis, klebsiella and amebiasis; as well as infections from various nematodes, cestodes and arthropods. Although some of these diseases are not life-threatening, some are very serious, even fatal.”

The article goes on to rant about the ‘many diseases’ exotic pets can have, and I won’t quote everything. What’s missing from this information, aside from how often humans actually acquire these diseases from their exotics, is a scary list about the diseases dogs and cats can carry, and yes, they exist. This is the reason pet dogs are banned from food establishments in New York. Salmonella, while less of a threat, also can be present in dogs, as well as eggs and poultry. Pets are not the only sources of disease.

“If the bugs don't hurt us, the bites will. Exotic animals, by definition, are not domesticated. Exotic animals are unpredictable. Their behavior may change with seasons or life cycles in ways we don't understand. They rarely bond with their owners.”

Half-truths and lies. The ignorant author is once against accessing their zero knowledge about animals and the pet trade and simply assuming ‘exotic pets rarely bond with their owners’ based on the fact that they don’t have neotenic, social tendencies like domesticated dogs (and some even do). And if domesticated animals were so predictable, we wouldn’t see any fatal and near-fatal attacks from them. Or any of these so-called ‘behavioral problems’.

“To meet the demands of those who keep exotic animals as pets, dealers often have to take the animals from their native lands. This disrupts the ecosystems from which they are stolen, and can disrupt the ecosystems to which they are taken if they escape or are set loose.”

Most exotic pets are not taken from the wild to supply Americans, with the exception of the fish and coral trade, and birds to some extent, although this is fully illegal. You can find isolated examples of people smuggling animals of many different species, but that tells us little about the actual percentage of legal or illegally caught wild animals being brought into the country. Animals such as those listed by this intellectually-compromised article breed quite well in captivity, and responsible breeders abound. Aside from exceptional circumstances with a few species, there is little incentive for hunters to remove wild animals for sale in the U.S. Most are sold in their native country.

“Even the most well-meaning person can become frustrated after trying to meet to high demands and special needs of a "pet" monkey for 30 years.”

Monkeys are an extreme example of an exotic pet. The author, who originally spoke of animals such as corn snakes and flying squirrels, needs to name one of the most challenging exotics a person can get to make their generalizing, erroneous point. Most exotics do not have ‘impossible to meet needs’.  Many can be re-homed without incident, especially reptiles. Sometimes, ignorant laws induced from ignorant fear such as what is presented in this article make re-homing ‘higher maintenance’ mammalian exotics difficult, and sanctuaries that take them and complain about their lack of space will not adopt them out to the public, regardless of their qualifications.

“In the face of so few options, some people will set the animal loose—which is dangerous and illegal.”

A mostly true statement (except maybe the ‘danger’ with anything other than large, carnivorous species), however this is the case with all animals, again. Except maybe the legality part. It is not illegal to allow cats, a known invasive species, to roam outdoors, because they enjoy the luxury of being ‘traditional pets’.

“Unfortunately, the government is often only able to do too little, too late, as dealers and disreputable pet stores adapt to avoid the law. For example, in the early 1970s, the FDA banned the distribution and sale of baby red-eared slider turtles after a quarter of a million children were diagnosed with salmonella contracted from turtles. However, the sale of turtles with shells larger than four inches was not outlawed, and it is still easy to buy baby turtles illegally.”
The FDA claims this ban was successful in lowering the contraction rates of salmonella, so this is hardly an example of a ‘failed law’. This regulation was necessary; baby red eared sliders were being distributed like tootsie rolls in trick or treat bags to the ignorant public. I welcome responsible regulations once a problem has been pinpointed, not bans initiated from prejudice and fear mongering from people like the confused author of this passage and those who approved it to represent the ASPCA’s stance. The baby turtle ban is an example of that law. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dippy Exotic Pet Rant of the Day- Sooke News Mirror

This will be my first entry to a hopefully continuing series (if I can muster up the energy and tolerance) of refutations to the numerous beyond help articles that criticize the keeping of various unpopular animal species that plague the internet with ignorance. Destroying anti-pet ‘arguments’ is easy, but also exhausting with the repetition and failed attempts to get people to turn on their brains. So, I will limit myself to a point by point quoting format as I regularly do when replying in forums, to make this a less burdensome task.

Our first Dippy Rant comes from Sooke News Mirror in light of an unfortunate escaped serval meeting its demise after being hit by a car…a fate that befalls numerous ‘domesticated’ cats either when they escape or are negligently allowed to roam as they please. The author of this ‘piece’ isn’t listed.

"Wild animals not suitable as pets"

  • by  Editorial - Sooke News Mirror
  • posted Dec 17, 2014 at 5:00 AM

“Apparently the cat, named Samson, was hit by a truck and killed on Sunday. Which brings up the whole issue of exotic and wild pets.”

Yes, to a small-minded person suffering from cognitive bias and a preconceived, invalid mentality that harboring an animal they are not familiar with is automatically ‘cruel’, a cat that just happens to be different from ‘regular’ cats getting hit by a car as ‘regular cats’ often do will bring up the exotic pet ‘issue’.

“ These animals belong in the wild, not in someone’s home or backyard zoo.”

The typical battle cry of the confused and ignorant, who believe their word is law and no thinking beyond their useless assertion is required.

“What do they use for a litter box and how does the home smell? It’s not natural, its inhumane to keep such a large animal indoors.”

If you needed further evidence that this writer is confused, look no further. Apparently the most pressing concern on their mind is how the home smells, and whether or not the pet uses a litter box. Without even knowing what the answer to that question is, they conclude that keeping a serval must be inhumane without having the slightest clue as to what they’re talking about.

“If you have ever gone to a zoo and seen the tigers, lions of other large “cats” you would notice how they pace back and forth in the cage. They aren’t happy. They are stressed and they are out of their element”.

Now the criticism flies from keeping servals as pets to keeping big cats in zoos. Are they anti-zoo too? I can’t tell for sure. Either way, criticizing lions in zoos sheds no light on servals in the pet environment. Do servals pace as house pets? The author has no idea, nor do they have any clue about the detailed research that reveals pacing and other stereotypic behaviors are not always indicators of poor animal welfare. Surely someone ignorant to animals, science, and basic common sense is not a reliable source on whether or not a lion is 'happy' in a zoo.

The whole beauty of a wild animal is their wildness - not its captivity and that is what one does when they have a wild animal as a “pet.”

The author’s opinion on what makes an animal beautiful is a beyond useless and inane criticism.

“Keeping an exotic animal, whether its a snake, turtle or a serval cat is the biggest kind of cruelty. Raising these exotics is also akin to cruelty. Sure breeders may be ethical and animal lovers but they are still contributing to this kind of unnatural breeding for the sake of some kind of status.”

The author even thinks it's cruel to keep turtles and snakes in captivity for literally no valid reason. They state that breeders "may be ethical", but despite the importance of that quality, the fact that some human might get ‘status’ from a pet is presented as unspeakable cruelty. We all know how ‘natural’ the breeding of domesticated dogs and cats are. Presumably this author takes no issue with that.

“Wild animals raised in captivity do not lose their inherited instincts. Anyone who has a domestic cat knows this.”

Exactly how does someone with a cat know that? They have no experience with ‘wild animals’. If anything, someone with a cat probably realizes that cats also have ‘inherited instincts’ as do even dogs. They probably realize (but will deny it to criticize exotic pets due to selective cognitive bias) that their pet cats are barely unique from wildcats, particularly the African wild cat that they’ve descended from.

They key to understanding why criticizing so-called exotic pets is foolish is an understanding of the nature of animals. There is NOT a difference between the needs of domesticated and non-domesticated animals, period. 

There is only a difference in the degree of difficulty in meeting those needs that must be applied to the needs of the animal on a species-specific basis. This is all perfectly accomplishable by a good serval owner. Before criticizing things that they literally know NOTHING about aside from simplistic, erroneous, dogma, people need to think before they instruct the public with their ignorance.