Save Sylvester the Lion!
"Sylvester" the lion is on death row. He's one of just eleven African lions remaining in South Africa's Karoo National Park. But South Africa's National Park officials have announced that they are considering euthanizing the healthy, three-year-old male on the grounds that he has become a "problem animal." Sylvester's "crime" was escaping the boundaries of the park under a section of fence that had been washed-out by recent rains, likely after being driven out by Karoo's dominant male lions. He has since been safely darted and re-captured, but his fate is far form certain. SANParks has claimed that Sylvester's ability to escape the fenced-in confines of the park makes him a "threat to human life", and note that he has already killed livestock in the area. But killing a lion simply for being a lion isn't the solution. SANParks has made it clear that they no longer want Sylvester. But they could simply re-home him to a secure sanctuary instead of taking his life, or improve the fencing at the reserve to ensure that it keeps animals in during extreme weather. Please sign this petition to ask SANParks to consider non-lethal alternatives to #SaveSylvester, and live up to it's mission of "conserving nature", not killing it!
Stop Exploiting Lion and Tiger Cubs!
At Kalahari Resorts, lion and tiger cubs are dying for photos. For over 10 years, the popular U.S. resort chain has been contracting with exotic animal breeders and convicted wildlife traffickers in order to provide live lion and tiger cubs to their resorts. These cruel exhibitors breed the cubs, rip them from their mothers shortly after birth, and then bring them to the lobbies of Kalahari's Wisconsin Dells and Sandusky, Ohio locations, where they are displayed like merchandise in a tiny, closet-sized glass enclosure until someone pays to pet or take a photo with them. Because the cubs' immune systems are not fully developed, the intense stress and exposure from constant handling puts them at great risk for disease or fatality. Kalahari's barren glass "habitat" and prolonged photo sessions leave the animals unable to regulate their sleep patterns, which further damages their growth. Repeated rough handling and exposure to bright flashbulbs causes some of them to develop permanent vision and limb problems. To ensure that customers get a good photo, exhibitors physically manhandle the cubs -- some so small their eyes have barely opened -- to force them to "pose", often by stressing the cub so much that it stops resisting. Videos taken in Kalahari's lobbies show heartbreaking abuse. I'll never forget the screams of the terrified, 6-week-old tiger cub being forced to interact with paying customers at a Kalahari. When he tries to leave the photo display area, a handler grabs him by the throat and pulls him back. When guests touch him, he shrinks back in fear. He is unable to sleep, roam, play, or do anything that is natural to him. Other videos show handlers at Kalahari swinging cubs through the air, pushing on their heads, blowing in their faces, and smacking them in the nose with frisbees, plastic bags, and other objects -- all for the sake of profit. For many cubs, this is just the beginning of a lifetime of abuse. Under U.S. law, baby big cats may only come in contact with the public when they are between the ages of 8 to 12 weeks. After that 4-week window is over, the cubs are of no further use to the exhibitors. So, at just three months old, most of Kalahari's "photo cubs" are discarded into the wildlife trade. They may be sold as exotic pets, dumped at roadside zoos, or even slaughtered for their meat and hides. The exhibitors which Kalahari contracts with have long, documented histories of animal abuse and wildlife crime. The man who brings lion cubs to the Sandusky, Ohio resort has racked up many violations of the Animal Welfare Act, and there are reports that he sells lions to be butchered in the profitable exotic meat trade. Meanwhile, in Wisconsin Dells, guests can pet baby tiger cubs courtesy of a convicted animal trafficker who has sold bears to Asian medicinal markets and tigers to animal slaughter rings. During a sting operation, federal agents saw several of his old photo prop cubs being shot in trailers, hung from meat hooks, and skinned in the largest commercial slaughter of endangered tigers in the United States. Yet Kalahari continues to eagerly support and promote not only this criminal's tiger breeding business, but also his private zoo, which the resort claims is a "refuge" and "sanctuary!" By continuing to welcome these unethical exhibitors, Kalahari Resorts is directly responsible for the exploitation, dumping, and slaughter of hundreds of endangered big cats. These reprehensible displays must stop now. By signing this petition, you'll tell Kalahari that lions and tigers belong in the wild -- not in their lobbies. What's more, until these cruel displays are stopped, you'll be vacationing with a more responsible company!
Stop Selling Asian Tiger Farm Tours!
Royal Caribbean is the 2nd largest cruise line operator on Earth, with a squeaky-clean image and unparalleled commitment to the environment. That's why I was shocked to find that Royal Caribbean, along with sister cruise line Celebrity Cruises, is selling excursions to a tiger farm in Thailand. Tourists aboard Royal Caribbean's cruises to Thailand and Vietnam have the option to sign up for shore excursion BP08, a trip to the Sri Racha Tiger Zoo in Pattaya, Thailand. According to Royal Caribbean's website, Sri Racha is "the greatest tiger zoo in the world...a fascinating zoo consisting of over 100 Bengal tigers." But in reality, this “zoo” is nothing more than a sinister tiger "factory farm" which breeds the endangered species by the hundreds, then illegally exports them to China, where they are slaughtered and used in illicit medicinal products. The owners of the zoo have been investigated by Thailand's National Intelligence subcommittee and formally charged by CITES for illegally trafficking hundreds of live tigers into China. Products made from pulverized tiger bones are even prominently sold in the zoo's gift shop. As if that weren't bad enough, the animals at the Sri Racha Zoo live relentlessly awful lives. From the moment they are born, they exist for the sole purpose of making as much money as possible for the zoo's proprieters. Immediately after birth, the tiger cubs are ripped from their mothers and thrown into tiny, rusted cages, where visitors pay to bottlefeed them. One of these cages, photographed in 2011, is pictured at the top of this page. A few cubs are chosen to be wheeled out to the zoo lobby where, for just $5 U.S., tourists may take a photo with the screaming cub on their lap. Online reviewers of the zoo claim to have seen horrific mistreatment of the cubs, including staff shaking and throwing the cubs, cubs with sores on their heads, and extremely malnourished cubs. For a little extra money, tourists may also lay on top of a full-grown adult tiger, which is attached to rocks by a chain so short the animal cannot lift its head. Elsewhere on the grounds, over 400 adult tigers are kept together in tiny, feces-filled concrete enclosures, where breeding and fighting run rampant. One recent visitor counted 31 adult tigers in a 900 square meter pen. Another claims that many of the tigers have been declawed and had their canine teeth pulled out. Horrifyingly, guests are even encouraged to shoot BB guns into the tiger enclosures in order to hit targets and release bits of meat for the cats. To squeeze every last penny from the tigers, Sri Racha also forces their animals to perform in gaudy "circus shows". A reporter from the Animal Welfare Institute who visited the zoo claims that the "Amazing Circus" show featured ..."tigers leaping through rings of fire, walking across a double tightrope, parading around the ring on hind legs, and riding around on the back of the horse. Up close, however, one could clearly see the animals' debilitation and fear. All of the animals awaited their turn to perform in a gated tunnel, keepers constantly poking them with a steel pole through the iron mesh. The animals in the show were smacked in the face with the pole fairly regularly and most seemed to have drastic weakness in their hind legs. It was a painful display to watch." It's simply apalling that such cruelty and disregard for endangered species exists in the 21st century. It's even more apalling that Royal Caribbean supports it. In fact, they profit from it, because cruise lines get a cut of the money made by the attractions they promote. The bottom line is, as long as this tour is on their itineraries, Royal Caribbean is directly complicit in fueling the illegal wildlife trade that's killing the world's last wild tigers. It's disgusting, and it's unacceptable. Urge Royal Caribbean to cut their ties with Sri Racha Tiger Zoo immediately!
State College Area School District: Reinstate Alumni Day!
The State College Area School District has recently decided that State High’s annual Alumni Day will no longer be held because of security concerns. The event, despite being a long-standing yearly tradition for the State College community, has been officially removed from SCASD’s 2013 calendars. It can be safely assumed that the reason for canceling Alumni Day is a set of new high school security guidelines, which were implemented following a recent incident involving an alumnus entering the building unauthorized to harass a current student. According to the news release, the new rules include “more limited and supervised access points” to the school, and “not permitting anyone into the buildings who should not be present.” While these common-sense protocols are laudable, banning alumni visits is an unneeded policy that will be of little benefit in strengthening the security of the school, and will ultimately undermine the sense of community that makes State High special. In light of the admission that the recent criminal behavior was only allowed to take place due to an error, and that said error has already been addressed, it does not make sense to eliminate Alumni Day in a futile attempt to remedy a problem that no longer exists. State High is a school, not a prison, and a single day of regulated visitors is not going to put students at risk.Graduating should not turn students into “individuals who should not be present”, and to suggest such is deeply insulting to current and future alumni. One man’s crime should not cause thousands of people to no longer feel welcome in their own school. We love State High, and want to foster a sense of community for all of its students and staff - past, present, and future. As such, we must demand that Alumni Day be restored as a SCASD-sponsored event as soon as possible! Upon signing this petition, an email asking for the return of Alumni Day will be sent to SCASD superintendent Dr. Robert J. O’Donnell. This ensures that our voices will be heard!