No matter how you look at it, this has been a particularly awful week for animals.
It began on Monday with the news that the Trump administration is trashing the Endangered Species Act. Yes, you read that right. This groundbreaking legislation has been in effect since 1973, and is credited with saving the bald eagle, grizzly bear, and humpback whale from the brink of extinction, among many other endangered animals.
Though the Trump administration cannot outright repeal the law, they can change the way it is applied. What this means is that species newly identified to be threatened, will no longer receive previous blanket protections. The Trump White House also plans to allow the federal government to assess the financial cost of protecting a species before doing so. Additionally, climate change will not be considered a factor in the plight of endangered animals.
Environmentalists and animal activists both warn the planned changes will push more species to extinction, particularly polar bears, whooping cranes, and beluga whales, who all face massive challenges due to the climate crisis. It’s seen as a win (of course) for big oil and gas who praised the administration for the changes. Please note: If you vote Republican, and particularly for Trump, please don’t say you care about animals. Got that? Good.
Thankfully, both California and Massachusetts have vowed to sue the Trump administration over the decision. Let’s hope they prevail in court.
Ravaging the Rainforest
In similarly depressing news, the government of Brazil is considering a new bill that would allow hunters to shoot endangered jaguars, parrots, and monkeys, among other threatened species in the Amazon rainforest. It is believed some 1,100 species in the Amazon are already threatened with extinction due to human activities such as deforestation.
In 2016, a similar bill was introduced in Brazil but ultimately rejected by lawmakers. Sadly, Brazil’s new insane president, Jair Bolsonaro – often compared to Trump – has already weakened environmental protections in the country and eagerly supports the bill.
If approved, this project will bring a huge setback for Brazilian biodiversity. The slaughter of animals may even take place in protected areas.Michael Santos, World Wildlife Fund – Brazil
Exposing Zoos and Aquariums
Also this week, World Animal Protection, an international animal welfare organization, released a damning report that implicated hundreds of zoos and aquariums affiliated with the World Association for Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) in mistreating animals.
Many of these awful places not only force animals to “perform,” they also allow for visitor interactions with animals – such as elephant rides and allowing people to “stroke, kiss, and cuddle with big cats.”
Out of all the zoos and aquariums associated with WAZA, 43 percent had petting experiences with wild mammals and/or reptiles, and 30 percent had performances featuring wildlife.
If you can believe it, SeaWorld is an indirect member of WAZA. That gives you an idea how much the accreditation is really worth.
No one who truly cares about animals should be going to zoos or aquariums. Period.
And finally— though it doesn’t affect as many animals as the stories above— a local news story out of Washington D.C. truly broke my heart this week.
It covered a former Navy SEAL who is training dogs to run toward the sound of gunfire so they can be used to take down active shooters. Here’s a tweet with a video that demonstrates the training.
I find so many things disturbing and sad about this. But the thing that is really fucked up is that the United States would literally rather send innocent dogs into harm’s way and tolerate the senseless murder of thousands of its citizens each year, than just pass meaningful gun reform supported by an overwhelming majority of the country. It’s truly appalling and unacceptable.
Dogs are naturally frightened of loud popping sounds, which is why fireworks terrify most dogs. I can’t even imagine the trauma of having to endure this training. It’s devastating to ponder.
Don’t Give Up
While this surely was a tough week for animals and those of us who care about them, I hope it inspires all of us to fight harder and continue speaking out for animals whenever and wherever we can. One of my friends posted this image yesterday and it was a good reminder that all of our voices make a difference. Keep going, the animals need us.