Three times in just four days this week, major animal abuse industries have been forced into the open to defend themselves on national TV and radio.
First was Sunday night on CBS’s 60 Minutes, when big game hunting businesses tried to demonstrate that the reason why they’re killing beautiful, endangered animals from Africa is in order to save them.
Second was Monday night on NBC’s Rock Center, when the nation’s largest chimpanzee vivisection laboratory found itself needing to invite the cameras in as not just public opinion, but government opinion, too, turns against them.
And third was Wednesday on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show, when exotic pet dealers tried to defend their businesses, which have been coming under increasing fire over the last few months.
Hunting industry in the crosshairs
Big Texas hunting ranches are not happy about this. Nor are their trophy hunter patrons. So they decided reluctantly to invite the TV cameras in to show us what even Charly Seale, director of the Exotic Wildlife Association (EWA), called the “well kept secret” of what happens on one of these ranches.
Their defense of these canned hunts is that the antelope are going extinct in Africa, and that the money they make from the trophy hunters (often from $10,000 to $50,000 per hunt) helps preserve the herd in Texas. (Do they plan to stop the hunts at some point and take the herd back to Africa? Or what? None of this was addressed.)
But their defense of killing the animals was no match for Priscilla Feral of Friends of Animals, who cut through all the blather when she said:
“I don’t want to see them on hunting ranches. I don’t want to see them dismembered. I don’t want to see their value in body parts. I think it’s obscene. I don’t think you create a life to shoot it.”
The chimpanzee ‘library’
Next, on Monday, we met Ken (photo right) and Rosie, two chimpanzees at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio.
The chimpanzee vivisection industry is becoming something of an endangered species itself since the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently issued new recommendations that experiments on chimps be cut way back. A bill is also working its way through Congress that would outlaw experimentation on chimps altogether.
NBC reporter Lisa Meyers explained:
“Rosie and Ken are 30-year-old chimpanzees who’ve never known a day of freedom. They were born in research labs and have spent almost their entire lives being experimented on by scientists in search of cures for human diseases.
“These two chimpanzees have been infected with viruses, darted, and sedated more than 100 times, and put through dozens of sometimes painful procedures. For years, Rosie repeatedly was given a drug that caused her seizures.”
Ken and Rosie were actually retired from experimentation in New Mexico 10 years ago, but the two chimps are now back in service in Texas.
Dr. John VandeBerg, director of the primate research center, explained that the chimps are treated “with the utmost of reverence,” and have a “high quality of life.” But when asked whether these experiments will end, he said:
“I think of the chimpanzees in the same way that I think of a library. There are many books in the library that will never be used this year or next year. … But we don’t know which ones will be needed tomorrow, next year or the year after.”
Utmost of reverence? Even Lisa Meyers, who was trying to retain a detached reporter’s point of view, was shocked. “They’re not books!” she exclaimed to VandeBerg as he sat at his desk signing papers in a way that reminded you of the infamous Dr. Mengele of the Nazi concentration camps, dressed in a well-tailored suit as he signed off on experiments to be conducted on “sub-humans”.
VandeBerg’s team did the best they could to show the research institute in a positive light, but they were no match for Dr. Jane Goodall, who told NBC that it was inherently cruel to lock up chimpanzees “in a small space with no choice,” adding that “all invasive research is torture.”
Exotic pets are ‘like cars’
And then, on Wednesday on NPR, as wildlife groups and state and federal authorities scramble to contain the damage being done by thousands of Burmese pythons who have been dumped (and are breeding) in the Florida Everglades by irresponsible owners, The Diane Rehm Show invited two exotic pet dealers to make their case to the radio audience.
Zuzana Kukol of Responsible Exotic Animal Ownership demonstrated her idea of responsible exotic animal ownership by explaining that:
If we asked American citizens can choose [sic] what type of domestic pet we can have, what car to drive, what house to buy, why should exotic animals be treated any different?
A car is a luxury. Pets are a luxury. Whether they are domestic or exotic, pets are a luxury. Why shouldn’t we have a choice if we want exotic or domestic pet?
So chimps are like books if you run a vivisection laboratory, and they’re like cars if you’re an exotic pet dealer.
Andrew Wyatt of the United States Association of Reptile Keeperstried to come to the rescue by saying that his trade association has created a foundation to try to do something about the thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of Burmese pythons – nobody knows how many, who have already eaten their way through more than 99 percent of all the bobcats and raccoons in the Everglades.
Wyatt, trying to portray himself as the rescuer of animals, smugly challenged Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society of the United States, to join his effort. But he was no match for Pacelle, who shot back:
“Yes, we’re going to clean up the mess that you guys have created by blocking the laws. You’ve created so much cruelty. You’ve created such ecological havoc costing our nation millions and millions of tens of millions of dollars because of your selfish pursuit of private ownership of animals that do not belong in our homes. Lions, tigers, chimpanzees, Burmese pythons, alligators belong in the wild. … There are no good outcomes for these animals.”
Animal abusers on the run
So, yes, the animal abusers are on the run. It’s no longer just the animal protection groups who are after them; the general public is now onto them, too. And when you see them all, three times in just four day, coming on nationwide TV and radio shows to try to defend themselves and maintain their evil businesses, you know that the tide has finally begun to turn against them.
You don’t save endangered animals by killing them. You don’t serve the cause of medicine by experimenting on chimpanzees as though they were books in a library (which incidentally get treated a lot better than these animals). And you don’t serve the cause of “freedom of choice” by trafficking in exotic animals and causing an wildlife and environmental disaster.
It’s time to bring an end to all these wretched businesses, once and for all.