Friday, 30 July 2010

Fluffy Friday #8

A baby panda was born this week at a reserve in Sichuan Province, China. Eight year old Ju Xiao gave birth to twins but only nursed the first cub, the second born was taken to a nursery to be looked after.
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Thursday, 29 July 2010

VICTORY! Bull Fighting banned in Catalonia!

It is always nice to be able to share a small victory. Today I can share the great news with you that bull fighting has been banned in Catalonia (the north eastern region of Spain). Yesterday the Parliament of Catalonia's vote passed the motion to ban bull fighting by 68 votes to 55. Hopefully Catalonia is going to pave the way to outlawing this blood sport and the rest of Spain will follow.

The ban will be in force by 2012 but there is still work to do be done as each year around 11,000 bulls are killed due to the practice and we need to aim for a complete ban on bull fighting altogether.

Please spare a minute to click on this link and e-mail Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and urge him to follow Catalonia's example and put an end to bull fighting across Spain.

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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Canned lion hunting

When thinking of South Africa I always imagine animals like lions and elephants roaming freely along the plains, happily going about their business. I was shocked to hear that this isn't always the case, I received an email from HSUS today informing me of the captive breeding of lions that are bred to supply the growing demand for canned lion hunting. Canned lion hunting allows a hunter (usually wealthy and from the US or Europe, it was also marketed to people attending World Cup matches) to effortlessly turn the lion into an exotic animal trophy.

South Africa has a financial interest in protecting and conserving their delightful wildlife as each year thousands of tourists descend for a glimpse of the fascinating animals. Little do they know that thousands of lions are kept under inhumane conditions to keep the canned hunts going. The lions are kept in small enclosures and are made to depend on humans which is completely unnatural.

A few years ago the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in South Africa issued regulations to ban the canned lion hunting operations, in turn the canned hunting industry appealed to the court which has brought things to a standstill until the case is heard later on this year. The Minister, Marthinus van Schalkwyk was very outspoken against canned hunting and stated "South Africa has a long-standing reputation as a global leader on conservation issues. We cannot allow our achievements to be undermined by rogue practices such as canned lion hunting." Marthinus is now the Minister of Tourism for South Africa and has the power to impact on the canned hunting industry through his new role.

In May this year, Marthinus launched the first National Tourism Sector Strategy calling for growth in responsible tourism, unfortunately the need to eliminate canned lion hunting was not mentioned despite this practice tainting the image of South Africa. The marketing of canned hunts to tourists needs to be eliminated in order for tourism to grow in a responsible way. The strategy currently states, "Its natural environment is one of South Africa's greatest tourism resources, and therefore there is a need for the tourism industry to be actively involved in conserving and protecting our natural environment." Lions are a part of the natural environment and a big draw for tourists but lion breeding farms and canned hunting operators provide no conservation benefits.

Please click on this link and enter your details in order to contact Marthinus and let him know that he should call for the elimination of inhumane activities like canned lion hunting because in the long run it will drive tourists away from South Africa and a strategy that allows such operations to continue will ultimately undermine South Africa's tourism goals.

Article adapted from HSUS.

Edit: When completing the form over at HSUS it asks you to personalise the letter, I have added a paragraph about how the canned lion hunts has made me reconsider visiting South Africa as my tourism would be contributing to the industry.

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Friday, 23 July 2010

Fluffy Friday #7

It's an ice cream van for dogs!

[more here]
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Thursday, 22 July 2010

Why is everyone picking on Grey Squirrels?

If you have read the newspapers recently you will have come across this story about a man who was fined £1,500 under the Animal Cruelty Act for drowning a Grey Squirrel. I found it difficult to read the story and see the picture of the perpetrator proudly standing next to the water butt he used to drown the squirrel (apparently he thought it was the kindest way). So, why did he kill the squirrel? Apparently the cheeky fellow had the audacity to raid his bird feeder (is it just me or is there something kind of ironic about being kind enough to put food out for birds and then murdering a squirrel who helped himself?)

The stories circulating the press have resulted in comments such as "£1,500 for drowning a Squirrel? You wait. It'll be slugs next. Then flies" (James Delingpol, The Telegraph - who also calls the RSPCA "gloating animal rights freaks") and "Why I hate Squirrels" (Quentin Letts, The Daily Mail - apparently one bit his daughters thumb and drew blood) The newspapers seem to be outraged and are condemning the RSPCA for being too harsh on the poor man who drowned the squirrel who stole his nuts.

What worries me is the influence the press has on it's readers, for example, the story about the fox allegedly breaking in to a house and savaging two young children was splashed across the papers for days on end causing widespread hysteria. Nobody has conclusive proof that it was a fox that did this, yet a fox seen nearby was destroyed. What is the general public going to think now? Foxes and squirrels are pests and must be killed on sight?

I have had a look at the reasons people think Grey Squirrels are to be "pests" and here is what I came up with:

* They are not native to Britain but were introduced from America and have now become widespread (surely the squirrel isn't to blame for this?)
* Some people see them as nothing more than tree rats (I think they are very cute)
* They cause damage to young trees (I couldn't find out how they managed to do this)
* They raid bird tables and dig holes to hide food they have stolen (perhaps people should put a notice by bird tables telling the squirrel, rats and any other animals that the food is for BIRDS ONLY!)
* They climb or leap across from trees on to the roofs of houses and tear up insulation for their nests and chew timber and strip insulation off electric cables (I've never heard of this happening to anyone before)
* They apparently steal bird eggs as well, but if you think about it quite a few animals do this and escape being labelled a pest. Some birds even throw out another birds eggs, lay their own in place and trick the other bird into caring for their eggs!

People used to blame Grey Squirrels for the decline in the Red Squirrel population but the furore around this died down as both species lived together in harmony for around 20 years before the Reds started to die out. It seems that the Greys are simply stronger and able to adapt more which has given them the upper hand. Reds are still around and seem to fare better in the conifer woods of Scotland. Unfortunately the newspapers are once again alleging that Grey Squirrels are once again to blame for this, which is completely inaccurate.

If you see a squirrel please don't view it as a pest, watch it twitch its nose and scuttle up a nearby tree. Watch how it delicately holds a nut in its hands and nibble it whilst nervously looking around for nearby threats. Surely it has as much right to go about its daily life as any other wild animal? If one should help itself to your bird food against your will, knock on the window to scare it off - don't drown it.

More about squirrels.

If you agree or disagree please let me know, I would love to hear your opinions.
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Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Save the Tiger!

Did you know that there are around just 3,200 tigers in the wild at the moment? This is an incredibly small number and unfortunately it is decreasing. Tiger habitat is being lost rapidly and poaching has increased in recent months.

We can do something about this and there is still hope for tigers. They need protection, space and food in order for number to increase.

In 57 days the Tiger Summit is being held in St Petersburg, Russia and the World Wildlife Fund need our help to get as many signatures on their petition in time for this deadline to give tigers a chance.

Action stations!

1. Please sign the petition
2. Then tell your friends
3. Then use Facebook, Twitter, My Space to show your support for the campaign (there is even a nice badge for you to display on your Facebook/Twitter profile photo showing your support)

Read more about WWF's campaign to save the tiger.

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Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Do one thing for birds this summer

Each month I receive a newsletter from BBC Breathing Places and this month my attention was drawn to an article about helping birds find water during the hot summer months (if we are lucky enough to have a hot summer).

Birds tend to eat dry meals (like seeds) so desperately need water to wash their food down. Most small birds need to drink at least twice a day as well as using water to bathe and preen to keep feathers in good condition.

Why not provide a safe place in your garden (if you have one) for birds to have a drink and a bath? You can make one yourself using a water tight shallow container, if you put pebbles in the bottom it will stop the birds from slipping and help to vary the depth of the water a bit. For safety maybe add a little ramp to help the birds get in and out.

You can also buy a bird bath to put on the ground or hang off the wall, birds will be wary of bright colours so if you do this then choose natural colours. If you buy a bird bath to stand on the ground then it is best to make sure it is up high on a pedestal to ensure birds keep safe from prowling cats (Rusty included, she is obsessed with birds). A hanging bird bath would be even better.

When you put your bird bath outside make sure it is in a shady place, close to the trees, to stop the sun evaporating the water quickly and also make sure the bird can have a 360 degree view whilst on the bath to check for predators. A tip for deterring cats is to plant some prickly shrubs near the bath as that would make an uncomfortable place for cats to lie in wait. Remember to keep the bath topped up with clean, fresh water and if you can give it a clean every few weeks with boiling water.

In the winter time it is an idea to put something like a small ball in the bath to stop the water icing over.

If you don't have a garden but have a balcony instead you can buy a hanging bird bath and use a bracket to secure it. If you don't have the funds a seed tray, or a plant pot saucer will work too. Remember to add a ramp to help the birds get in and out.

Picture and information taken from BBC Breathing Places
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Wednesday, 14 July 2010


The world has homed in on Spain for the past few weeks in the lead up to the World Cup Final which they won, I myself was in Spain last week (well, Tenerife) so it seems fitting to focus on Spain and to talk to you today about the Spanish equivilent of fox hunting - bullfighting. I noticed a lot of the souveniers over in Spain featured the silouhette of a bull and it made me think about bullfighting and how cruel and unecessary it is.

It amazes me how a human being would want to fight with a huge, horn weilding bull but apparently before entering the ring the bull may be subjected to a range of things such as being given laxatives and suffer beating to the kidneys to weaken him , fed anti inflammatory drugs to mask any injuries. Sometimes muscles in the neck are cut to prevent him lifting his head and also several inches of his horn maybe cut off impairing his coordination and ability to judge distances. Eyes are even smeared with petroleum jelly to blur vision. Not a fair fight at all.

I have found out more but it really is disturbing and in fact so stomach churning that many spectators leave before the end. Even buying a ticket to a bull fight fuels the industry so if you are in Spain then please don't go and watch a bullfight.

What can we do to help bulls? Sign this petition from Peta which asks the Spanish Prime Minister to completely ban bull fighting. If you have time edit the message and tell the Prime Minister how you feel about this.

Edit: When you sign the petition and hit submit it takes you directly to a donation page (this is optional) with some images you may find disturbing.
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Friday, 2 July 2010

Fluffy Friday #6

It's about time the lovely Rusty featured on Fluffy Friday. I have taken lots of photos of her performing cat yoga in the sunshine so thought I would share them with you :)

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Thursday, 1 July 2010

Give Staffies a chance!

With all the bad press over Staffordshire Bull Terriers it can make people form a negative opinion, challenge your misconceptions.
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