In this week’s episode, Animal People explores the implications of Donald Trump’s presidency for animal protection causes, Taiwan’s new ban on cosmetic animal testing, and why Peru is releasing half a million baby turtles into the Amazon!
Research by Kim Rogers Bartlett
Presentation & editing by Wolf Gordon Clifton
Theme music: “Praetor,” courtesy Ross Bugden, <https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQKGLOK2FqmVgVwYferltKQ>
Hello! I’m Wolf, like the animal, reporting for Animal People World News.
DONALD TRUMP ELECTED U.S. PRESIDENT
Last Tuesday, Republican Donald Trump was elected to become the 45th President of the United States. During his campaign, Trump positioned himself in opposition to animal protection issues with his video ad #Heartland4Trump, which presented hunting and fishing as traditional American values under attack by the political left, and featured cameos from celebrity hunters including rock musician Ted Nugent, Benghazi survivor Mark Geist, and his own son Donald Trump, Jr.
The Humane Society Legislative Fund, which lobbies for animal welfare legislation and rates political candidates’ positions on animal issues, called Trump “the greatest threat ever to federal policy-making and implementation of animal protection laws,” and endorsed his Democratic Party opponent Hillary Clinton for President.
Now President-Elect, Trump has appointed his sons Donald Jr. and Eric Trump to help lead his transition team. Both sons are avid trophy hunters, and have been widely criticized for their killing of animals including elephants, buffalo, leopards, and crocodiles. Many of the officials now under consideration for Trump’s cabinet have strong anti-animal records, including:
Forrest Lucas, CEO of the Lucas Oil Company, and founder of Protect the Harvest, an organization which promotes animal agriculture, hunting, and fishing, funds opposition to animal welfare campaigns, and produced the movie The Dog Lover in defense of puppy mills. Lucas is a leading candidate for the position of Secretary of the Interior, which oversees protection of wildlife, natural resources, and the environment nationwide.
Sid Miller, Texas agricultural commissioner and former state representative. While in Congress, Miller repeatedly pushed bills to legalize the slaughter of horses for export abroad. He is a lifetime member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and has opposed “Meatless Mondays” in schools as an attempt to, quote, “force a vegetarian lifestyle on our kids.” Miller is under consideration as Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture.
Myron Ebell, director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Ebell is known for denying the significance of human-driven climate change, which according to scientists is already decimating ecosystems and causing animal extinctions worldwide. Ebell may become Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, which Trump has pledged to dismantle, in addition to opposing climate change legislation and withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement.
Activists may take small comfort that Trump’s transition team also includes solicitor David Bernhardt, who has helped expand protections for threatened species under the Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection Acts; that his daughter-in-law Lara Yunaska Trump is an animal shelter volunteer and advocate for the no-kill movement; and that he has already backtracked from major campaign promises in other areas such as healthcare.
While there is little cause for optimism, the full extent of the Trump administration’s impact on animal protection remains yet to be seen.
U.S. VOTERS OPPOSE CAGES & WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING
The U.S. election did bring some good news for animals. In Massachusetts, a ballot measure to ban extreme confinement of farm animals passed by a landslide, with 78% of the vote. Taking effect in 2022, the law will ban the production and sale of eggs from caged chickens, pork from pigs raised in crates, and veal from tightly confined calves.
In Oregon, meanwhile, a measure to combat endangered wildlife trafficking passed with 70% voter support. The new law will ban the trafficking of twelve types of threatened animal, and impose felony-level fines on anyone caught buying or selling their products or parts.
PERU RELEASES BABY TURTLES SAVED FROM LOGGING
The government of Peru is releasing half a million baby turtles into the wild this month, after gathering their eggs and hatching them in captivity in order to protect them from logging. The Yellow Spotted Amazon River Turtle, or Taricaya, has been threatened by logging along riverbanks which has decimated their nests. Logging in the Peruvian Amazon has destroyed over 170,000 acres of forest in the past ten years, both for timber and to clear space for mining. Peru’s National Service of Protected Natural Areas by the State, which led the effort to protect the baby turtles, is recruiting local volunteers to help with their release, using it as an opportunity to educate and raise public awareness of the dangers facing Peru’s environment and wildlife.
ARGENTINA: JUDGE RULES CHIMPANZEE HAS LEGAL RIGHTS
Cecilia, a chimpanzee in Argentina’s Mendoza Zoo, possesses the legal right to live in her natural habitat, according to Judge Maria Alejandra Mauricio. In 2014 complaints were filed against the zoo, which had kept Cecilia alone in a concrete enclosure for years after the death of her two chimp companions. Judge Mauricio ruled that non-human creatures possess rights related to their quote, “animal essence,” stating,
“We’re not talking about the civil rights enshrined in the Civil Code, but instead the species’ own rights to development, to life in their natural habitat.”
The ruling orders that Cecilia be moved to a great ape sanctuary in Brazil, where she will live under more natural conditions with other chimpanzees for company. While the case has been lauded by activists as a legal milestone for animal rights, it is not the first time Argentinian courts have extended rights to a non-human primate. In 2014, the zoo orangutan Sandra was ruled to be a “non-human person” with the right to freedom from unlawful imprisonment. Yet two years later, Sandra still languishes in her same enclosure in Buenos Aires, with experts unable to agree whether she should be transferred to a sanctuary, released into the wild, or kept at the zoo under improved conditions.
SHOPPING MALL BEAR RETURNED TO MARINE PARK
In China, a bear kept in an infamous shopping mall is being moved to an ocean park while his enclosure is upgraded. Pizza the bear resides alone in an aquarium in Guangzhou’s Grandview Mall, where visitors routinely bang on the glass and disturb him with flash photography. Though popularly dubbed “the world’s saddest polar bear,” Pizza is actually a hybrid of polar bear and brown bear.
According to the aquarium, Pizza will be temporarily transferred to an ocean park in Qingdao, reunited with his parents while his enclosure is renovated. He will return to a space twice as large as his current one. Activists welcomed any improvements on Pizza’s behalf, but urged that he be permanently relocated rather than brought back to the mall. Says Qin Xiaona of the Capital Animal Welfare Association,
“It’s a good decision, the right decision for Pizza, but it’s not the end. … We hope that Grandview will learn from this episode and move Pizza permanently so that he never again has to endure the dreadful life in a shopping mall.”
Besides Pizza, the Zhengjia Polar Sea World in Grandview Mall contains hundreds of other animals kept under poor conditions, including walrus, belugas, wolves, Arctic foxes, swans, and groupers. The keeping of wild animals on display is a growing trend among shopping malls in China, which use them to draw visitors and remain competitive against online retailers.
CHINA TO ADOPT ANIMAL TESTING REPLACEMENT
In other Chinese news, for the first time ever the Chinese government will accept an alternative to animal testing for cosmetics sold within its borders. Until now, the Chinese government has required all cosmetic products sold to the public to be tested on animals. This requirement has also inhibited the adoption of animal testing alternatives by companies in other countries that sell to the Chinese market.
Now, scientists at the Institute for In Vitro Sciences have received word from China’s Food and Drug Administration that a non-animal test of their design will also be accepted as a valid method of screening cosmetics for public safety. The method, known as a 3T3 Phototoxicity assay, measures chemicals’ potential for harm by exposing them to light instead of administering them to animals.
TAIWAN TO END COSMETIC ANIMAL TESTING BY 2019
Finally, China’s neighbor Taiwan went a step further by passing a bill to ban cosmetic testing on animals. 69% of Taiwanese consumers supported the ban, which will take effect starting October 19th. The ban on cosmetic animal testing does contain several exceptions, allowing imports of animal-tested products from other countries, and permitting animal testing within Taiwan for ingredients suspected of posing a human health threat. Nonetheless, Joy Liou of Taiwan SPCA, who campaigned for the ban, celebrated it as a major step forward:
“We are thrilled that Taiwan has taken this positive step and voted to end cosmetics animal testing. … Today we celebrate this important victory, and tomorrow we look ahead to campaigning for a sales ban for products newly tested on animals outside of Taiwan, so that cosmetics cruelty can fully be eliminated from the Taiwanese market.”
This report covers just a few of the countless issues facing animals worldwide. More information can be found on the Animal People Forum, our online magazine and social networking site for people who care about animals. Sign up at this link, and don’t forget to like and subscribe for future episodes of Animal People World News. Together we can help create a kinder world for all living creatures! Thank you.