Animal advocate communities often experience conflict when those who are vegan feel that non-vegan rescuers are betraying some species in order to help another.  The general sentiment is that it is hypocritical to serve animal products at fundraisers while trying to raise money to help companion animals.  According to their ethics, the message being conveyed is that it is okay to support factory farming while helping pets – and they view this as irony.

Rescue groups may not share or understand this philosophy because they are not familiar with what occurs on factory farms and are not vegan/vegetarian themselves; or, they cite the potential loss of donors if they transitioned to only serving plant-based meals at their events.  They may be unable to source vegan food donations and have to consider the costs of purchasing it themselves.  They risk alienating donors who are resistant, especially considering that their contributions are crucial to the ongoing existence of the rescue.

It is possible to find a happy resolution if everyone remains open minded, receptive, willing to understand the others’ perspective, and has a genuine interest in protecting all the animals in our world.

First, we must acknowledge that over 98% of all the world’s animals who suffer the worst will never see the inside of a shelter.  That’s because they’re not companion animals, yet they experience the same capacity for fear and physical suffering as do our dogs and cats.  If this compels rescuers to look at other species in a more sympathetic way, then vegans must equally consider that for a rescue group to transition away from serving animals, they need help and support from the vegan community rather than derision and criticism.   Alienating others rarely works to advantage and often causes them to stand their ground even more firmly.

Most donors who support pet rescues already possess kind hearts whether or not they’re vegan.   Informing them that in order to remain consistent with values to be kind towards animals means that fundraisers will not serve animal products might actually win their respect and help them learn something new about how we treat factory farm animals.  If serving all-vegan is too much of a challenge at first, offering limited animal products and more vegan/vegetarian options is another way to begin the transition and would help attract new (vegan) supporters.  Many shelters and other animal-care groups across the country have successfully accomplished this and now only feature plant-based fare at their events.

The vegan community can assist receptive rescues by helping them source food donations for their events, promoting, attending, and donating to these events. Often, when a few rescues begin taking the lead, the others will follow.

It is said that we will never change a heart if we cannot open it first; and we have to admit that if our goal is to help end animal suffering, then we need to put our differences and egos aside and try communicating respectfully with one another, working together to make our communities more humane.


The Yulin Dog Meat Festival, which takes place in Yulin, China every summer solstice, consists of the torture and slaughter of countless animals for the purpose of consumption.  It is believed that the more the animal suffers, the tastier the meat.


Dogs grabbed off the streets, often stolen from pet owners, and others raised specifically for this dark industry, are spared no mercy.  In fact, witnesses have attested to observing the tormentors exhibit enjoyment while meting out the torture.  During this display, perpetrated in public, children are not protected from being exposed to the horrors.


Animals destined for slaughter are crammed so tightly into cages, that many have their legs purposely broken in order to fit them all in.  They are denied food, water, vet care; and are forced to suffer through extremely harsh conditions both while held captive and when transported to their destination in cages stacked so high on the trucks, that they suffer crushed bones when crates are roughly tossed onto the ground as the workers don’t bother to exercise care or compassion when unloading.


Among the torture witnessed, animals have been crucified with nail guns and disemboweled while still alive and shrieking in agony.  Those who do not die quickly are left to slowly perish, suffering every minute of their last moments on earth.


Others are hung by ropes or meat hooks through the jaw and burned (blow torched), beaten, or butchered.  Many are boiled alive in vats of water, meant to loosen the fur.  Workers then scrape off the fur with a knife.  Commercial slaughterhouses use agitator machines filled with boiling water to spin and rip off the fur, often while the animal is still conscious.


While this practice is deemed as “tradition” or “culture” by those who support it, the global community has responded with outrage.  Chinese government officials seem to be distancing themselves while the rest of the world is denouncing this festival and demanding that the dog and cat meat trade in participating Asian countries be banned.


Farmers who derive their livelihood from the sale of dogs and cats destined for consumption are often willing to end their enterprise once they are assisted in replacing this cruelty with another form of income that does not involve harming animals.


Organizations such as Humane Society International and Soi Dog Foundation, are among many groups that are working to rescue animals, provide education to societies and businesses, and compel the Chinese government to take action.


A Los Angeles businessman, Marc Ching, has been actively traveling overseas to conduct his own mission of documenting the horrors, sharing his footage with the world, and rescuing animals.  He has additionally helped tear down one slaughterhouse with a promise to the owner that he will help him establish a noodle restaurant.  Marc’s testimony can be viewed here:


While we are horrified by the brutality, we are reminded that in the U.S. and other countries, we consume cows, pigs, and chickens in much the same manner.  They are raised in inhumane conditions, tortured and mutilated, and sent to a horrifying slaughter where many die piece by piece as they are being butchered alive.  Choosing a plant-based diet is not only humane, but healthier for humans, the planet; and certainly in the better interests of animal welfare.

Annoula WylderichYulin-Dog-Paws-Tied

The name of this popular hormone drug stands for PREgnant MARes urINe.  While that gives a pretty good idea as to its source, it doesn’t provide much detail about the harvesting process.

Premarin, used by millions of women to help alleviate symptoms of menopause, has also been associated with such side effects as:  cancer, heart attack, blood clots and stroke.  There is an even lesser known consequence, and that is the egregious harm it inflicts upon the animals from whom it is harvested.

Pregnant mares are confined to crowded stalls, for seven months, where they cannot move or lie down.  During this time, they are attached to a pulley system that collects their urine for the estrogen.  In order to extract the maximum and purest potency of estrogen, these mares are limited to only enough water to survive, placing both mother and unborn foal in danger of illness, dehydration or possible death.

Once they’ve given birth, the mothers are sent back out to pasture to be impregnated again, while their newborns go straight to feedlots, frightened and screaming for their mothers, to be fattened up in preparation for eventual slaughter.  Thus, the mothers are not even given the opportunity to spend time with their foal as it is ripped away and sent to its own unfortunate fate.  Doesn’t sound like much of a life for either, does it?

Pfizer, the company that produces the drug, ultimately sells the fattened foals to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico, where these docile animals will be butchered and their meat sold in Europe and Asia.

The transport process is harsh, as the terrified animals are whipped and prodded electrically into the trailers, with no food or water provided.  They are crammed with others in an intolerable environment that can reach 110 degrees, and where babies have succumbed to the heat.  These are perhaps the luckiest ones, as what awaits the others is pure horror.

At the slaughter plant, the frightened foals (and the older, used-up horses that are no longer profitable for Pfizer) are crowded into holding pens, where they can hear the screams from the slaughterhouse or smell the blood from those who have gone before them.

Finally, they are herded single file through a narrow entrance, as they are forced to make their way to their brutal, unspeakable demise.  They panic as they try to keep their balance while walking on a floor slick with feces, blood and urine.  One by one, they are shoved into the kill chute; each one will face one of three methods of torture

1. The hydraulic bolt gun, meant to stun the animal, rendering him unconscious but still alive. The worker must aim at a small specific area between the horse’s ears and squeeze the trigger, releasing a 4” steel  bolt into the skull.

2.Workers might use a rifle, standing only feet away, to provide an instant death. However, if the frightened animal is flailing and trying to escape, it will require multiple shots.  Horses often receive nonlethal wounds to the face and continue to suffer until the final shot is rendered that will end their terror and suffering.

3.The puntilla knife, known as the worst way for the animal to die, is used to stab the horse in the neck and spine, causing untold agony. The animal is rendered paralyzed and helpless, lying in its blood and fluids.

Once the horses can no longer resist, they are then dragged to the kill floor, where chains are attached to their hind legs and they are hoisted, upside down.  This makes it easy for workers to slit their throats in order to bleed them out, as their hearts still beat in terror.

The meat workers can then proceed to saw off hooves, legs, and heads; and skin and butcher the animals.  Not a very fitting end for a majestic animal upon whose back we built our country.

If anyone is horrified enough about this unjustice, there are actions we can take.  Women currently on Premarin can choose more natural (and safer) alternatives to this drug.

Folks can contact Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company to demand they end the torture.  Phone number:  1-800-879-3477, or go to to email them.

Contact the Dream Chaser Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation organization to learn more:

By Annoula Wylderich



Would you voluntarily commit to having holes drilled into your head, your eyelids sewn shut or chemicals pumped into your stomach (all without the benefit of pain relief)?   I assume not, yet we deem it acceptable to impose that type of suffering upon other creatures who feel pain and fear, all in the name of a “justifiable” end.

Millions of animals are caused unimaginable suffering in experiments that are mostly pointless and sometimes harmful to us.  Laboratories researching the latest cosmetics or government establishments focused upon developing the most state-of-the-art weapons for us to kill one another; organizations, such as March-of-Dimes, that devote millions of dollars to experiments that torture animals and are not essential to humans. . .these are some ways of justifying our capacity for moral degeneracy.

Animals are not biologically similar to humans to justify experimenting upon them for medical reasons; they don’t necessarily respond the same.  No medical model can adequately duplicate human anatomy and physiology.  Animal experimentation is inaccurate, inconclusive and misleading and can be detrimental to humans.  Cancer, one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., is still on the rise. Cosmetic and other companies that test their products on animals cannot guarantee that their products would have the same effect upon humans.  Roughly, 92% of drugs that pass preclinical testing on animals have failed in human clinical trials.  Yet, the FDA continues to permit animal testing.  Many people believe that animal experimentation is necessary for the progress of medicine; yet, there is growing concensus among professionals that it is preferable to utilize research methods that do not harm animals.  Equally signficant, they see negative consequences of using one species to provide information about another.  After years of failed experiments and with modern technology affording us excellent non-animal methods of testing and scientific research, some researchers STILL try to justify the senseless torture of animals.  What does this say about our society and its indifference towards cruelty?  It is highly disturbing that anyone can choose to inflict pain, without any sympathy or empathy, while having the means to prevent it.

I recall reading a report about one past laboratory in Port Royal, where scientists nailed dogs’ paws to boards before vivisecting them alive, without the benefit of an anesthetic.

In another New York-based research laboratory, a postdoctoral vivisector placed a rat in a small box, immobilizing his head by a vise.  He then proceeded to drill into his skull as the rat began to struggle. When the rat’s struggling increased, making it difficult to continue drilling, the vivisector stopped to inject him with an anesthetic.  Before it even took effect, he resumed drilling and the rat struggled again until after ten minutes into the vivisection, when the anesthetic took effect.  

At still another laboratory, negligent workers left a monkey in a cage as it went through a cleaning process, resulting in the monkey being scalded to death.  At this same laboratory, twelve monkeys were left in an over-heated room and consequently were cooked to death.

Stephen Lisberger of UCSF is known for his allegedly cruel treatment of monkeys for the past 25 years. He begins by slicing open their eyes so that wire coils can be placed inside.  Screws and bolts are drilled into their skulls, metal plates are inserted under their scalps and electrodes are driven into their brains. His victims are then restrained in chairs for up to eight hours a day.  He has access to non-invasive human scanning technology, but prefers to continue perpetrating his archaic methods on live beings.  If the monkeys don’t perform, they are denied fluids until the next day.  Dr. Lawrence Hansen (UCSD neuroscientist) has stated, “I’ve had many years of experience in neuroscience research, but I have never previously encountered experiments which would deliver quite so much suffering to higher primates for so comparatively little scientific gain.”

One of the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act is to ensure that animals intended for use in research facilities are provided humane care and treatment.  One would assume that pain prevention is part of “humane treatment.”  The AWA also states that it is necessary for “animal care, treatment, and practices in experimental procedures to ensure that animal pain and distress are minimized, including adequate veterinary care with the appropriate use of anesthetic, analgesic, tranquilizing drugs, or euthanasia.”  An exception is provided, however, to the use of anesthesia when scientifically necessary and “that the withholding of tranquilizers. . .or euthanasia when scientifically necessary shall continue for only the necessary period of time.”  Through this “loophole,” many of the procedures that laboratories utilize involve unrelieved pain.  Some of this is attributed to finances, time, lack of compassion, and an overflow of paperwork that workers wish to avoid.  Ironically (and tragically for the animals involved), in the AWA, the research industry succeeds in defining “animal” to exclude mice, rats and birds, who happen to make up 95 percent of all animals used in research. . .just to spare themselves the responsibility of compliance with even minimal standards of care.

Another issue is the fact that several of the top 20 animal experimentation facilities are owned by the Department of Defense.  The AWA does not presently give the USDA authority to inspect facilities owned by other branches of the federal government.  Thus, there is no oversight regarding the use of animals in labs owned by the DOF or any other federal agency.  Many of the most painful experiments are performed within military facilities, and involve the use of chemical and biological weapons.

With social media, networking, and the hard work of animal welfare advocates, information is being brought to the public’s attention about how animals are being treated in experimental facilities.  Many laboratories have been shut down; others have lost funding, been penalized, or have otherwise been held accountable.  But we have a long way to go and the public’s help is needed.

If we are to be the caretakers of the earth and its inhabitants, then we cannot selectively overlook, tolerate or condone abuses upon other creatures.  What is the difference between our beloved companion animals, whom we treat like family, and those who are trying to peacefully exist elsewhere?  Let us not be hypocrites and hold contradictory views towards those with whom we share the earth.  They value their lives and well being just as we value our own and that of our dog, cat or other pet.

Those wishing to look further into this topic can visit the sites of In Defense of Animals, the Anti-Vivisection Society, PCRM, HSUS, PETA and other animal welfare groups who are working towards ending animal experimentation.  Their sites will provide information about their campaigns and offer suggestions as to how you can help in various ways such as spreading the word, learning about alternative non-animal testing methods and sharing that knowledge, boycotting companies that test on animals, not supporting charities that utilize animal experimentation; and letting your university or college know that you will not donate to the alumni fund as long as they engage in animal experimentation. Together, in a unified effort, we can change the world for other species and preserve our humanity.

– Annoula Wylderich

Fish can suffer extreme cruelty as much as any other animal destined for our plates. They may be dragged for hours behind trawlers and crushed to death in nets. Commercial fishing nets, comprised of thin mesh, slice into the flesh of many fish, causing blood loss and strangling them. When they’re dragged from the ocean depths, they undergo excruciating decompression, often resulting in ruptures to their swim bladders, eyes popping out, or their stomachs being pushed through their mouths. When they’re hauled onto ships, they slowly suffocate on board.  Others experience having their throats and bellies sliced open while still conscious, or are thrown into freezers where they will suffer prolonged deaths.

According to studies, finned fishes and crustaceans (crabs and lobsters) can feel pain. Dr. Donald Broom, animal welfare adviser to the British government, has stated that, “Anatomically, physiologically, and biologically, the pain system in fish is virtually the same as in birds and mammals.” It’s a sobering thought to keep in mind next time we’re tempted to order lobster or crab, considering how they are prepared. Really, none escape suffering.

Since the commercial fishing industry has emptied the oceans of specific targeted fish, the seafood industry is consequently raising fish in contained fish farms (aquaculture), using tanks on land or cages in the ocean.  Tightly packed fish repeatedly bump into walls and each other, which in turn causes painful sores and damage to fins. Since they’re forced to live in their own waste with thousands of other fish, the tremendous amount of feces in their enclosures leads to outbreaks of disease and parasites.  To keep the fish alive in these conditions, large quantities of chemicals and antibiotics are poured into the water (guess who ultimately ends up ingesting these?). When fully grown, the fish are killed by having their stomachs cut open or they suffocate when the water in the tanks is drained away. Larger fish like tuna are killed by repeated stabbing. Many, such as catfish, are skinned alive, dying from shock.

The commercial fishing industry has wreaked havoc on the environment and caused irreversible damage.  To find out more about the suffering and environmental devastation that fish farms cause, visit

Those who eat fish for health reasons should be aware that the EPA revealed that women who ate fish twice a week had seven times the blood mercury concentrations than those of women who avoided fish. Mercury is known to cause severe health problems which include memory loss, brain damage, and damage to a developing fetus.  The PCBs, mercury, and other toxins found in fish can remain in your body for many years.

Reconsidering our food choices involves making the decision of whether or not we want to be complicit in the extreme suffering and misery of other living, feeling beings. Eating animals and their byproducts is essentially paying others to commit acts of cruelty for you for a momentary taste on the lips, at the cost of another’s life.  The question of adequate protein intake is usually raised by those who are not vegetarian/vegan.  Surprisingly, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vegetarians do not have higher levels of anemia than meat-eaters do.  The consequences of eating a high protein diet has been compared to pouring acid on your bones, due to the damage it can inflict.

For those concerned about getting adequate protein, there is some protein in just about every food; in any case, the necessary protein requirement guidelines previously established have been cited as being too high.  Numerous nutritional experts have advocated that a vegan diet is the choice of eating for good health, weight maintenance and disease prevention.  If you want to cut down or eliminate animals/fish from your diet, Vegan Outreach and Peta offer plenty of great information and guidance as well as additional referrals to other information sources. You can also contact Physicians for Responsible Medicine ( to request “The Protein Myth” article.

Another compelling reason to examine what we choose to eat is the factory farming contribution to global problems that will impact the future of the earth and its inhabitants. Let’s consider the rising temperatures and sea levels, the melting icecaps and glaciers, the shifting weather patterns and ocean currents.  Climate change is the most serious challenge facing us today.  It’s undeniable if you look around at what has been transpiring all over the world, these last number of years.  The livestock sector is a MAJOR player and is responsible for higher gas emissions than even the transport industry.

To quote my friend, esteemed Professor Tom Regan, “In a democracy like ours, the will of the majority (usually) is where the power is.  That’s our challenge: to make animal rights the perspective of the majority.  All of us — you and I — will be needed to make this happen.”  And by doing so, we are taking control of our own health, our environment and the future of our families.  WE must take the responsibility for our welfare, our earth and the creatures who live among us and who value their lives as much as we value our own.  I propose that we build upon the movement towards a more compassionate society by encouraging a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle.  The rewards are many.

– Annoula Wylderich


“How smart does a chimp have to be before killing him constitutes murder?” – Carl Sagan

I have had an affinity and fascination for non-human primates from the time I was a little girl visiting the zoo, and a baby chimp came to the window of his enclosure where I was standing; he planted his lips on the glass near my face to deliver a big, sloppy kiss. He won my heart, of course. While back then, I never considered how these sociable creatures might be faring in their captive surroundings, today I know better. Thus, I don’t support zoos, circuses or any other form of entertainment that exploits animals.

Unfortunately, the exploitation goes much further. . .into the dark world of non-human primate use for experimentation. During my research, I read about countless facilities where negligence was routine, resulting in injury and death. I read about horrible invasive procedures that truly served no purpose other than to inflict anxiety, pain, terror, and ongoing psychological and physical harm to the victims, many of whom lost their lives in these torture chambers. Before I describe some of the conditions and treatment of these hapless primates, I’d like to share what I learned about them when they are in their natural habitats.

According to Save the Chimps sanctuary in Ft. Pierce, Florida, chimpanzees are considered our closest relation because we share all but 1.4% of our DNA. They are extremely social beings and capable of experiencing pleasure, joy, boredom, anger, grief, sorrow, fear, and depression much as we do. They comfort one another and express themselves by kissing and embracing. Sadly, they have become an endangered species whose population is rapidly decreasing.

Chimps, along with other primates (monkeys, orangutans) are often stolen from their mothers when young and sold for entertainment or to private owners. . .until they become too big, strong, old or unmanageable. Consequently, many end up living the remainder of their lives in isolation and neglect, if they are not fortunate enough to be turned over to a proper sanctuary. Others are sold to research facilities where a horrible fate awaits them. Chimps in captivity can live an average of fifty years – that’s fifty years of pain and suffering, if the invasive procedures don’t kill them sooner and release them from their hellish lives.

Chimpanzees who are languishing inside research labs, suffer emotional and physical trauma. Ironically, the U.S. is the only industrialized nation still utilizing them as research subjects, even though technology has replaced the need for animal testing. Yes, you read correctly. Our progressive country is still caught up in archaic and inhumane testing on live subjects.

Following are just a few documented incidents that have occurred in research facilities:

In 2008, thirty monkeys were cooked alive at Charles River Laboratories after a worker left the heater on. Two others were near death and had to be euthanised;

One year later, at a research lab (run by the same company), a monkey was scalded to death after it was sent through a washer while still in its cage;

Among ivy league universities across the country, notable violations have included primates being forced to go without water for more than 24 hours; baboons were burned and blistered when heating pads were accidentally substituted for warm water units; an investigator noticed that a primate was so thin that his pelvic bones showed and no one had bothered to notify the attending vet of his condition.

Though the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) offers some protection for the well being of primates in research, the USDA has not consistently followed through on requests for investigations into research animal deaths. It’s troubling to note that of the 26 registered U.S. importers of non-human primates (this group includes universities, zoos and private labs), one of its leading importers is a company that is also one of the biggest violators of the AWA.

In 2000, undercover video taken by an investigator with In Defense of Animals (IDA) at the Oregon National Primate Research Center showed monkeys in various stages of distress, crawling around in their own filth. Some had bitten off their own flesh; others were despondent or had gone crazy. Still others were shown strapped down and subjected to painful experiments (torture). (see or contact for a copy of the video). Check out

In information obtained from the University of California San Diego, the USDA, and the website of UCSD researcher Stephen Lisberger, one can read about the 25-year history of invasive surgical procedures that involve the use of primates. In these sick procedures, their eyes are sliced open and wire coils placed inside. Screws are drilled into their skulls which later help bolt the victims by their heads to restraining chairs, where they are forced to sit for up to 8 hours daily. If they don’t perform, they are denied fluids. After this procedure, the animal cannot sit or stand for several days and must be fed food and drink by hand. These experiments can last for 3 years or longer for some of the victims.

Experiments such as these are costing taxpayers millions of dollars annually and only serve to cause extreme suffering to higher primates for very little scientific gain. Do you really want to see your money wasted on this cruelty, while it’s main purpose serves to subsidize the researchers who insist on utilizing archaic testing methods? I can think of more important and less cruel ways that I’d like to see my government spend my money.

Not long ago, a “Special Report” on chimp experimentation by McClatchy Newspapers investigative reporter Chris Adams was featured in papers and blogs nationwide. This three-part series, accompanied by video, pictures and graphics, exposes worldwide the mental and physical anguish that chimps are forced to endure in labs. You can view this report at This report, based on a lawsuit by IDA against National Institutes of Health (NIH), reviewed the medical records of chimps at the Alamogordo Primate Facility in NM. The shocking expose reveals a look behind the closed doors – and clearly shows why NIH fought to prevent the release of these records.

While many people might believe that animal testing is necessary, this belief is challenged by a growing number of physicians and scientists who see the negative consequences of using one species to provide information about another species – even one as close to humans as primates. Often, the result of animal experimentation is harmful to humans or misleading. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (, scientists note problems with translating data from animal experimentation to human conditions. Additionally, more sophisticated technology that doesn’t use animals, accompanied by growing concern about animals’ capacity for pain and suffering, is prompting many scientists to choose alternatives to animal testing.

Animal experimentation is archaic especially in light of all the technological advancements in the biological sciences. Far more advancement could be made in medicine if funding for animal testing was redirected to physicians for clinical research.

Thanks to the hard work of animal welfare groups and the media, the spotlight continues to be focused upon the blatant exploitation of chimps and other primates in research, entertainment, and the pet trade. Sanctuaries such as Save the Chimps offer permanent homes to rescued chimpanzees so that they can live out the remainder of their lives in peace. From living in cramped, filthy, windowless isolation and being subjected to abuse, painful and invasive procedures, neglect and suffering. . .these creatures can experience the joy of socializing among their group, feeling the grass beneath their feet, the sun on their backs, playtime and love at the hands of humans (for the first time in most of their lives). This takes place in a natural island habitat that was created specifically for them. To learn more about Save the Chimps and how you can help make life better for their residents or even adopt one, go to Their wish list includes, peanut butter, jelly, toddler toys, fleece blankets, powdered Gatorade, laundry soap, to name a few items.  Check their site for a complete list.  One year, I sent them a box of sunglasses when I learned that the chimps loved to wear them (you can picture the visual). Your support helps allow these sweet creatures to live out the rest of their lives in comfort – something they so well deserve after the hell that humans have put them through.

Every one of us can do something, keeping in mind that there is power in numbers. Don’t wait for the other person to take action. YOU are that other person. For starters, don’t send money to charities that support animal experimentation. If the college or university from which you graduated engages in animal testing, let them know why you will no longer donate to the alumni fund.

Boycott companies that conduct testing on animals.

Contact IDA, PCRM or the Doris Day Animal League ( to lend your support to their campaigns and demonstrations targeting animal experimentation.

Extinction of chimpanzees has been predicted in as few as 10 years. We can all help prevent this. With your involvement, you can help change the fate of suffering primates, prevent further suffering, end the wasteful spending of your tax dollars on animal testing; and ensure that future generations can enjoy these beautiful creatures instead of just reading about them.

– Annoula Wylderich!/groups/512065965475990/


Most of us grew up looking forward to attending the circus, blissfully unaware of the horrors that animals suffer in the entertainment industry.  This area of animal exploitation is not depicted accurately, in most instances.  The realities have been well hidden from the public until animal welfare groups began conducting undercover investigations and sharing their findings. A few examples from investigative reports and video footage reveal the following:

The plight of Stoney, an elephant born in a zoo and subsequently dumped to a circus when he was only 3 years old.  He worked for the next 21 years, until the day he was forced to do a leg stand while warming up at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.  Stoney pulled a ham-string in his left rear leg, which is a crucial injury to an elephant.  He was unable to walk and in extreme pain.  His trainer and hotel officials placed the screaming elephant into a hotel dumpster, dragged it into a maintenance shed behind the hotel. . .and left him standing in a mechanical device (a “crush”), isolated, for almost a year.  Stoney lived in a buildup of feces and flies, received no fresh produce or other supplements and very little, if any, physical therapy.  Ultimately, following negative publicity and pressure from animal advocates, it was decided to move Stoney to a sanctuary.  As they tried to get him out of the device that had been holding him up, he fell, screaming in agony.  After his year of existing in miserable, lonely conditions, and suffering even more pain during the attempt to move him, he died, trying to reach out to his trainer one last time.

Ricardo, an 8-month-old baby elephant was killed by Ringling after he broke both legs following a fall from a circus pedestal.  His injuries were compounded by the bone disease from which he was suffering (attributed to malnourishment).  Ricardo’s mother was only 7 years old when she was used for breeding, much too young.  During labor, she was chained by three legs to a cold, hard cement floor.  After Ricardo was born, she tried reaching her trunk out to touch him; however, the staff had already pulled him away from her reach.

A young Bengal tiger was shot five times by his angry trainer; a sick baby elephant was forced into the ring repeatedly against veterinary orders, until he died when the show was over; a healthy 2-year-old lion died during transport in a stifling boxcar.

Animal circuses are deadly, miserable places for all the animals forced to spend their lives performing unnatural acts to entertain audiences.  They are kept in cramped, sweltering, poorly ventilated boxcars or trailers during travel; beaten, neglected or killed.  These animals are frightened into submission by the use of whips, sticks, bullhooks (heavy clubs with sharp metal hooks at the tip), and fists.  They are routinely beaten and forced into confusing, frightening and painful stunts.  How often do we see elephants performing headstands in the wild?  Does this sound like wholesome family entertainment?

Baby elephants are torn away from their mothers, tied hammock-style between two trees or posts; or chained to the ground for most of the time (up to 20 hours a day) in order to break them and make them submissive.  They can be heard crying out for their mothers, while being denied the right to play and do what is natural to them.

Ringling and other circuses sometimes try to sneak into town after nightfall, undetected, so as to avoid having anyone witness the abusive treatment of their animals.  They hired a former deputy director of the CIA to disrupt advocacy group efforts to expose their shameful abuse of animals. 

Former employees have confirmed the horrors that the circus has worked hard to hide.  These individuals left because they could no longer tolerate the horrible abuse inflicted upon the animals.  In their signed statements, they describe an incident in which an elephant refused a command; the trainer savagely beat her with a bullhook, hooking her behind the ear, on her back, on the leg. . .and at one point, swinging the club as hard as he could, embedding the sharp point inside the elephant’s ear canal, and pulling on the handle using both hands and all his bodyweight.  The elephant, crying out in agony, was left bleeding profusely from severe wounds.

Many hardworking animal welfare organizations such as In Defense of Animals. PAWS, PETA and The Humane Society of the United States work tirelessly to amass evidence, which is used to open investigations leading to fines, citations, forced compliance of the Animal Welfare Act, and the removal of some animals. Smaller circuses have been forced to shut down.

We can all help by refusing to patronize entertainment venues that are based upon the use of animals.  Additionally, investigations require ongoing funding; instead of paying circuses, consider contributing that money to one of the organizations above.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

By Annoula Wylderich