Topic: Zoos & Aquariums

  • HSUS’s Zoo Deception Takes Center Stage

    Any good con relies on wooing the conned. It also relies on the sin of omission.

    Wayne Pacelle gave a speech yesterday at the annual meeting of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The “we can work together” fluff he said was not of note, nor was the introductory 20-minute rambling defense of HSUS against criticism. What was noteworthy was what Pacelle didn’t say.

    Pacelle did not at any point endorse captivity or captive breeding—two things fundamental to zoological operations. Pacelle did not say anything that would limit his work to restrict how zoos and aquariums, including AZA members, operate. He merely spoke in broad strokes to sound like an ally, because he wants to enlist AZA in his attacks on the Zoological Association of America (ZAA), another accreditation group, and American Humane, an animal welfare group that certifies zoos and aquariums.

    Pacelle’s goal is to reduce the number of zoos, and reduce the species of animals zoos are allowed to have. He has said, “Certain animals should just not be kept in zoos.” Marine mammals, bears, elephants, apes—the list of targets is long.

    Additionally, Pacelle wants to influence the standards by which zoos operate. He attacks farmers and ranchers the same way—by passing laws making it more costly to raise animals, and by trying to monopolize the “certification” standards of what’s “humane.”

    His definition of what is “humane” is ideological, much like PETA’s—it is not a value he shares with AZA. Pacelle has admitted, “If I had my personal view perhaps” a future without pets “might take hold.” He is far outside of mainstream animal welfare.

    Nothing Pacelle said yesterday is a reversal of his and other HSUS past statements against zoos, breeding, and captivity. He may focus on ZAA when speaking to AZA members, but his designs are to restrict all zoos and aquariums.

    It was strange seeing AZA allowing Pacelle to address a group he would like to put out of business. As Winston Churchill warned, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

    Posted on 09/12/2017 at 10:45 am by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Zoos & Aquariums


  • HSUS and Other Radicals Conspire Behind Closed Doors at Detroit Zoo

    Humane Society of the United States CEO Wayne Pacelle has been playing defense. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the largest accrediting body of zoological institutions in the US, invited Pacelle to deliver a keynote address at its annual meeting next month, and the blowback has been significant. One zookeeper with 27 years’ experience  publicly slammed the invitation, saying that not a single zoo staffer he spoke with supported giving Pacelle a platform.

    Pacelle has been desperately trying to convince zoo and aquarium directors that he’s not anti-zoo (a tall task, since he is). This week, Pacelle tries to bolster his credentials by asserting he “gave a keynote at a conference hosted by the Detroit Zoo that brought together animal welfare leaders, zoo leaders, and scientists to talk about advancing animal welfare” earlier this year.

    That’s not what the event looks like to us. But it is classic Pacelle and his PR machine.

    The event was put on by the Detroit Zoo. We’ve written before about the zoo’s CEO, Ron Kagan, who was caught lying on his resume and who calls PETA an ally.

    It turns out Kagan’s event was hardly some mainstream animal welfare symposium. The event was invite-only, excluding directors, animal care, and veterinary experts of major institutions from attending.

    But who did get an invite? The participant list reveals a long roster of activists:

    • Delcianna Winders, a longtime PETA lawyer who now works at Harvard teaching “animal law.”
    • Marc Bekoff, a patron of the Captive Animals Protection Society, which is against zoos.
    • Lori Marino, an animal-rights activist who works with the Nonhuman Rights Project, which compares owning animals to enslaving humans. Animals “are persons or should be legally,” she claims.
    • David Favre, a law professor who argues, “animals can possess and exercise legal rights” and proposes modifying the legal system to help animal-rights lawyers who want a future where “all people are vegans and all commercial use of animals is gone.”
    • Adam Roberts, head of Born Free USA, an organization hostile to zoos. (Born Free was also a defendant in Ringling’s racketeering lawsuit, which it settled, with HSUS and other groups, for $25 million.)
    • Naomi Rose, a longtime HSUS employee who advocates against marine parks having marine mammals.
    • Jeff Flocken of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “IFAW’s mission and guiding principles do not align with the captive breeding programme conservation model” used by zoos, the organization notes.
    • Neil D’Cruze of World Animal Protection, the official positon of which is that “wild animals belong in the wild.”
    • Wayne Pacelle, HSUS CEO who has said “if I had my personal view” he might end pet ownership.
    • Andrew Rowan, HSUS executive.
    • Nicole Paquette, HSUS executive who has written that she wants animals liberated from zoos.

    That’s a whole lot of anti-zoo and animal-rights folks to have at a meeting to—supposedly—benefit zoos. But we don’t think that’s the bigger picture here.

    The direction this is all going in is this: The animal rights crowd will go species by species to get animals out of zoos and aquariums, and it has a few allies in the zoo world like dishonest Ron Kagan to help them out.

    For zoos, it has already started with getting rid of elephants. Kagan was one of the first to advocate for it back in 2004. From there it will go to great apes and big cats. It will mirror Pacelle’s recent comments about circuses—that even though elephants were gone, circuses “still had tigers and lions and other animals.” (Emphasis added.)

    For aquariums, it will start with marine mammals—dolphins, belugas—and go on then to fish. John Racanelli, an attendee at the Detroit meeting and head of the National Aquarium, recently announced he’s “retiring” his aquarium’s dolphins to a seaside enclosure.

    Activists only need to get rid of the “charismatic megafauna” to harm zoos. Once the large, graceful animals that captivate the public are gone, it won’t matter if there are still spiders, snakes, and prairie dogs there. Once the most interesting animals are gone, public attendance—and thus public education—will decline, and zoos will lose revenue vital to their conservation efforts. Some will close their doors.

    The species-by-species plan is in plain view for those with open eyes. The aforementioned Nonhuman Rights Project has announced its plans to go species by species to give legal “rights” to animals to, among other things, sue people. NhRP has sued in court to “liberate” chimpanzees under habeas corpus. Their stated goal is to expand it to other animals such as whales and dolphins. And HSUS just recently endorsed efforts by PETA to gain legal “personhood” for animals.

    Meanwhile, HSUS and others will maintain in the media that zoos and aquariums are harmful to animals. They will attempt to drive down public support for the institutions—and as that happens, they will push legislation to restrict how zoos and aquariums can operate.

    Of course they are also deceptively camouflaging themselves as “not anti-zoo”—per Pacelle’s statement above. However, it’s important to remember that Wayne Pacelle made false statements to a US Senate subcommittee. His entire business model at HSUS is built on deception. He’s as trustworthy as the character Littlefinger from Game of Thrones—a man always spinning silky deceits that manipulate people and further his own agenda.

    All together, the Detroit symposium shows an alliance of people with a plan to destroy zoos and aquariums as we know them; a plan that involves legal, lobbying, and PR messages. Pacelle’s next turn at bat will be before the AZA annual meeting. He will once again use his appearance to suggest his mainstream credentials as he operates behind the scenes to destroy the institutions he is addressing.

    Posted on 08/25/2017 at 12:18 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Zoos & Aquariums


  • Anti-Zoo HSUS Exec Infiltrates Zoo Community

    We wrote recently about Humane Society of the United States CEO Wayne Pacelle speaking at next month’s annual meeting of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). There are a handful of zoo and aquarium directors who have drank the PETA/HSUS Kool-Aid. But Pacelle’s invitation by executive director Dan Ashe has created significant concern among AZA members. Pacelle is on record saying he envisions a future without pets—”I don’t want to see another cat or dog born.” He and his followers are also no friends of those who keep animals in “prisons.” 

    Also troubling for the AZA is its tin ear regarding other invited speakers. We already mentioned the speaking slot (since vacated) given to HSUS staffer Jonathan Balcombe, who says, “If you apply my rule of thumb, then very few species of fishes can adequately be kept in a tank.” He claims, “Each fish is a unique individual…with a biography.” (Do they have their own resumes, too? Will A&E now profile important fish?) His mindset is one more example of the HSUS narrative that equates animals to human species.

    We also expect that another attendee will be HSUS vice president Nicole Paquette who was on a panel at last year’s annual meeting. Paquette has written against having animals in captivity and spent 10 years as a lawyer with the Animal Protection Institute. The Los Angeles Times described her as among those “who oppose keeping animals in zoos.” Paquette has written: “Imagine living in a complex family and community structure, free from human interference and exploitation. This is the life wild animals need, but that captivity denies them.

    In 2007 API merged with Born Free USA, whose policy is to eventually get rid of all zoos, to “ultimately see a day when wild animals only remain in the wild”—an echo to Paquette’s written sentiment.

    While Paquette was at API, the organization opposed aquariums having marine mammals: “Whether wild-caught or captive-born, marine mammals in captivity are sentenced to a life of confinement deprived of normal social and environmental interaction. While Aquariums often defend the confinement of marine mammals by claiming that the displays are educational, there is no evidence to suggest that captive animals stimulate conservation efforts.”

    Wayne Pacelle has surrounded himself and supported these people and others like JP Goodwin, a former spokesperson for the FBI-designated terrorist group Animal Liberation Front. Pacelle is no better and no worse than PETA and other wacky organizations who hire the nuttiest radicals in society.

    Whatever weasel words Paquette or Pacelle use with aquariums and zoo directors, the truth is they hope every one is shut down. When Pacelle appears on stage he will be his slick non-threatening self. Like any good snake oil salesman, Pacelle knows his audience. His goal will be to assure AZA members he means them no harm (while he separately promises something different to his donors and backers). But his diplomacy in the moment should not be confused with his long-term agenda. He should have no endorsement by AZA, which naturally comes from being offered a prime speaking role at the annual conference.

    Posted on 08/10/2017 at 12:18 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: MainZoos & Aquariums


  • AZA Giving HSUS Opportunity to Plug HSUS

    The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is the largest zoo accrediting group in the United States, and is part of a worldwide network of accredited zoological institutions that contribute greatly to animal conservation and public education. The existence of zoos, however, is threatened by radical animal rights groups including HSUS and PETA, who have spread anti-zoo propaganda to children and other demographics. These groups are laying the groundwork to undermine public acceptance of zoos (which is currently very high).

    So why has the leadership of AZA provided Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, a keynote address spot at the group’s annual meeting in September? And why is it hosting another HSUS employee on a panel discussion?

    HSUS and Pacelle have an anti-zoo, PETA-like agenda. Consider the following:

    • HSUS’s official position on zoos is that it “believes that under most circumstances wild animals should ideally be permitted to exist undisturbed in their natural environments. Zoos are, however, a currently established part of our society and a fact of life.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement. In fact, HSUS is saying that ideally there would be no zoos and implying that, in the long run, there should be fewer and fewer.
    • HSUS does not endorse AZA institutions. “Even some AZA-accredited zoos contain forgotten and outdated exhibits,” says HSUS.
    • Wayne Pacelle has praised PETA, saying, “PETA has really done so much in a short time to protect animals and promote animal rights … visionary and professional leadership.”
    • Wayne Pacelle has even spoken out against pet ownership. Asked if he would envision a future without pets, he said, “If I had my personal view perhaps that might take hold. In fact, I don’t want to see another cat or dog born.” If he doesn’t like pet ownership, does anybody think he likes zoos?

    The second HSUS representative—let’s not forget him—is Jonathan Balcombe. He’s an animal liberation extremist who has compared eating meat to using the “n”-word. Recently Balcombe has focused his efforts on fish. “Each fish is a unique individual, not just with a biology, but with a biography,” Balcombe asserts. “If you apply my rule of thumb, then very few species of fishes can adequately be kept in a tank,” he says. That doesn’t sound like a fan of aquariums—another segment of the AZA membership.

    What good can come for the AZA of getting closer to people who ideally want AZA members out of existence? Some would say it’s a way for AZA to co-opt an opponent. But they’re playing with fire. HSUS’s strategy with any industry is to constantly move the goalposts while they “divide and conquer.” HSUS convinces AZA to embrace an alliance while allowing HSUS to co-opt AZA, not the other way around. It will give authority to HSUS to be the arbiter of who’s a humane zoo and who’s not, and reduce AZA’s authority on the matter.

    The bottom line is that Wayne Pacelle has a record of deception—he recently lied before a Congressional committee. HSUS’s whole business model (and the nice salary it affords Pacelle) is based off of scam—keeping small-dollar donors in the dark that HSUS is not related to local humane societies. It’s likely that Pacelle will say whatever he needs to say to sound nice to AZA and try to get in their good graces. Perhaps he’ll spin a yarn about how AZA is the best in the business, and how HSUS just wants to “help” zoos “improve.” On his terms. What he won’t be upfront about is that the ultimate improvement is to not exist at all.

    Posted on 07/19/2017 at 9:01 am by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Zoos & Aquariums


  • Detroit Zoo CEO Aligns with PETA and HSUS—and Against Zoos

    ronkaganLast month, Harvard’s “animal law” program hosted a two-day event on the federal Animal Welfare Act whereby activist lawyers plotted how they would change the law so that they could start a deluge of litigation against animal owners. The Harvard program is run by a former PETA lawyer and a former litigator for the Animal Legal Defense Fund (more PETA lawyers, essentially), so its agenda is exactly what you’d expect: Using the legal system to push animal liberation. But there was one speaker who, at first glance, would seem out of place: Detroit Zoo CEO Ron Kagan.

    It seems odd that a guy in charge of a zoo would show up to hobnob with radical activists who want to shut down these facilities. But after a little digging, it begins to make sense. The only mystery is why the Detroit Zoo’s board continues to keep him around.

    The first thing you should know about Ron Kagan is that he’s a known liar. Kagan was docked pay in 2007 when it emerged that he had lied about receiving a Ph.D. from Hebrew University. The Detroit City Council—the city owns the zoo’s land and animals—gave the non-doctor a public vote of no confidence. Yet despite that flap, in recent years Kagan’s pay has skyrocketed. In 2014 he earned $767,000, a jump of 162% in just 3 years, and he even gets housing on the Detroit Zoo grounds. Keep in mind that taxpayers from this recently bankrupt city are supporting the zoo in part.

    But more disturbingly, Kagan has chosen to ally himself with PETA. In a Tedx speech last year, Kagan calls PETA his “partner”:

    You’ll notice here just a small handful of partners that we work with on lots of issues. PETA is one of them. If people who work in zoos and aquariums don’t define themselves as people for the ethical treatment of animals, who would? So we don’t view them as the enemy, we view them as partners.

    PETA as a partner for zoos? PETA wants to shut down all zoos. PETA calls zoos “prisons” and claims zoos are a form of “slavery.” PETA would rather—by its own admission—see elephants killed than be cared for in a zoo, much as the group has killed 35,000 animals by its own hand. Kagan has also received a “Backbone Award” from PETA, which he boasts about in his LinkedIn profile.

    Kagan’s also been an ally of PETA’s big brother, the Humane Society of the United States—even going against the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to do it. Kagan brought HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle out to Detroit in 2011 for a symposium, and HSUS gave Kagan a slot at its Taking Action for Animals conference the following year. Detroit Zoo also signed on to a petition, alongside HSUS and other radical groups, submitted to the USDA in 2013 to ban people from taking pictures with baby tigers or bear cubs. Not a single other zoo was a petitioner—in fact, the AZA has serious concerns about the petition.

    At the Harvard law event last month, Kagan argued for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act to move from the USDA to the Department of Justice. Think about that for a second. Instead of inspections and enforcement being done by USDA staff, does Kagan think they should be done by the FBI, US Marshals, or DEA? Does he want the Hostage Rescue Team to helicopter in armed with automatic rifles if a bonobo’s cage isn’t clean? We’re being a tad facetious, but the idea that we should move animal welfare enforcement to a more militaristic branch of the federal government ought to concern everyone, to say nothing of the wisdom of diverting resources that are better spent fighting drug cartels and terrorists.

    At the end of the day, there are people who believe in zoos—that is, most of society—and a small band of radicals that wants to do away with our ability to have animals. It’s clear which side Kagan is on. The question is, will the zoo community leadership keep letting this fox in the henhouse?

    Posted on 01/03/2017 at 11:40 am by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Zoos & Aquariums


  • “Scarface” Takes on HSUS

    Mario Tabraue, likened to Scarface by federal agents, spent a dozen years in prison after raking in millions as a drug kingpin in Miami during the 1980s. Released in 2000, he’s now telling HSUS to say hello to his little friend: A lawsuit for defamation.

    Tabraue is head of the Zoological Wildlife Foundation (ZWF), a zoo giving guests close encounters with leopards, sloths, and other animals. Taubraue’s zoo is accredited by the Zoological Association of America, a group which HSUS dislikes for ideological reasons. So, HSUS started a smear campaign targeting the association, and threw in Tabraue’s criminal history to try to taint the ZAA, claiming Tabraue “used an exotic animal business as a front for his drug trafficking.”

    Taubraue says that’s false, and he filed suit against HSUS for defamation for damages totaling over $75,000. His initial suit filed last year survived a motion to dismiss, and an amended complaint was filed this month.

    We have no clue if this guy legally has a case, nor are we going to take sides given his history. What struck us here is the potential hypocrisy of HSUS complaining about his criminal past to bash a completely separate organization (the Zoological Association of America) when HSUS infamously allied with convicted dogfighting kingpin Michael Vick after Vick’s release from prison. (And HSUS also employs John Goodwin, a former spokesperson for the FBI-designated terrorist group Animal Liberation Front who has a criminal past.)

    What’s the difference? Vick’s employer, the Philadelphia Eagles granted HSUS $50,000, and later HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle said Michael Vick “would do a good job as a pet owner.” HSUS excused this by saying that Vick had reformed—but couldn’t that also be the case with Tabraue, even if his crimes were far more heinous?

    Perhaps Tabraue should’ve called up Pacelle and offered a donation and—maybe—things would have gone differently. After dishing out millions to settle a previous RICO suit, HSUS is no stranger to racketeering allegations and understands the idea of doing business. But this time, it looks like they’ll be duking this one out in court.

    Posted on 09/22/2016 at 9:05 am by HumaneWatch Team.

    Topics: Zoos & Aquariums


  • HSUS and Killing Free Willy

    HSUS recently announced a “partnership” with SeaWorld which included a promise from the theme park to phase out orca captivity. The animal rights movement as a whole has been protesting SeaWorld and their patrons for years and HSUS used this pressure to make a deal. It’s a little like the mob harassing a local business and then offering “protection” for a fee.

    Wayne and his friends at HSUS have always been good at turning corporate harassment into donation dollars. However, this isn’t HSUS’s first foray into orca advocacy. Hopefully their current SeaWorld deal will go better than when it helped kill Free Willy in 2003.

    For those who haven’t heard, here’s the story HSUS doesn’t want you to remember:

    The movie Free Willy (1993) told the story of a juvenile boy bonding with an orca in captivity. The famous shot is Willy, played by the orca Keiko (which means ‘Lucky One’ in Japanese), jumping over a barrier into freedom. The film ends with Willy reunited and frolicking with his family.

    When it came to light Keiko was in a facility in Mexico, the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation was established and accepted donations from millions of children. The project? To make Keiko’s life match the movie.

    The Free Willy-Keiko Foundation worked with a coalition of groups to prepare Keiko for the wild, the HSUS chief among them. Despite its distance from it today, the HSUS once upon a time proudly called itself “a prominent engineer of Keiko’s road to freedom.”

    Sadly, Keiko was doomed from day one. Radical animal-rights activists, on the decision-making board for the Keiko Project, reportedly wouldn’t listen to scientific experts advocating for a gradual process—they wanted liberation now. Mark Simmons, author of Killing Keiko, said these radical activists “protested animal captivity, likening it to abuse and genocide. They saw themselves as great protectors; their mission without reproach, but they were the worst offenders.”

    Foregoing an impartial and fact based approach, the project paddled full steam ahead under the command of ideological activists. Killing Keiko: The True Story of Free Willy’s Return to the Wild tells us what HSUS’s “road to freedom” led to:

    “Keiko’s strength to stay upright and near the surface drained from his body. No longer able to support himself at the surface, he dropped slowly to the darkening depths, finally coming to rest… Absolute silence surrounded him. As the cold stark deadness of night turned toward the life of day, his life emptied from his body. Once a great and mighty animal… Keiko died.”

    On December 3, 2003, then-CEO of HSUS Paul Irwin said, “The fight to free Keiko also says something about us.” Nine days later Keiko was dead.

    Will ideology trump the care that orcas receive at SeaWorld? We might be wrong, but our guess is that animal-rights activists will never learn.


    Posted on 06/03/2016 at 11:40 am by HumaneWatch Team.

    Topics: FlashbacksHistoryZoos & Aquariums


  • Thoughts on SeaWorld and HSUS

    JackassSteveOMost people have heard by now that SeaWorld is going to phase out its orca shows following years from pressure from PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, and other animal liberation activists (like Steve-O of “Jackass” fame, at right). A lot of people emailed us in disgust that SeaWorld would partner with HSUS. Having reflected on it, we have a few thoughts.

    1. You should never cave in to terrorism. You don’t stop getting beat up by giving a bully your lunch money. HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle’s inner Mafioso was on full display, warning other businesses in regards to nasty protests from activists that it’s “better to get your business model aligned and just avoid those things.” Economic terrorists understood that SeaWorld investors would eventually cave from bad publicity if sales and their short-term investment was being jeopardized. And agreeing to stop orca shows would not be enough. Public humiliation and self-flagellation are part of the price to get these people to go away.
    2. That said, SeaWorld should’ve had more defenders in the zoo/aquarium community. HSUS picked on SeaWorld as part of a divide-and-conquer strategy. Zoos and aquariums don’t have to defend everything done by a competitor, but the benefits to education and conservation of having large mammals are worth defending loudly. Or having the entire animal exhibition industry join in a SeaWorld defense rather than letting the company have to defend their “apparent” outlier status. Now, some other zoo or aquarium will provide a next target and will be negatively compared to SeaWorld which finally “saw the light”.
    3. Wayne Pacelle picks up more money? SeaWorld announced that it was spending $50 million over 5 years to carry HSUS’s water on things like lobbying campaigns against the Canadian seal hunt and shark finning. In return, SeaWorld gets the protection of HSUS’s endorsement. If you’re an animal rights activist, that has to be somewhat disappointing—much like Pacelle endorsing Michael Vick getting another dog, after Vick’s employer gave $50,000 to HSUS. But if the thing that matters most to you is money, then it’s a worthy trade.
    4. Define the game before your opponents do. This is old political wisdom. But any business should always be setting the tone of the debate. Otherwise, its opponents will—and that’s exactly what happened here (see #2 above). To its credit, SeaWorld management did try to correct the record, but in hindsight it was too little too late.

    Posted on 03/30/2016 at 11:10 am by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Zoos & Aquariums


  • “Change Agenda” Report Card: HSUS's Ambitions Flounder

    Our national mood was quite different after the 2008 elections—different enough, in fact, that HSUS confidently issued a 100-point “Change Agenda for Animals” to challenge the incoming White House and Congress to do its bidding.

    One year later, HSUS issued the Obama Administration a "B-minus" grade; (which is far better than the "D" grade HSUS itself was recently awarded by a respected charity watchdog). The B-minus was widely seen as a practical nod to the difficulties of getting anything approved by the proverbial sausage factory (sorry, Wayne) that is the U.S. Congress. 

    Two years in, the sun is setting on the 111th Congress, and on the first half of President Obama's first term. HSUS has spent millions of dollars lobbying for its agenda. How did it do?

    We went through HSUS’s 100 lobbying priorities, awarding 1 point for each HSUS success, 1/2-point for partial credit, and 0 points for failure.

    Total score? Six and one-half. Out of a hundred. (No wonder HSUS hasn't issued itself a scorecard.) 

    Here’s a sampling of the "change" that  HSUS's brought about:

    • The Truth in Fur Labeling Act (#56) requires that all fur garments (even lower-priced items with a little bit of fur trim) have labels indicating if real fur was used. It's hard to see how this would be controversial.
    • A re-worked federal law has once again banned animal "crush" videos (#46), twisted pornography in which animals are killed for the sexual gratification of the viewer. Yes, such things exist. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down HSUS's original law on free speech grounds. Assuming this new law passes constitutional muster, it's just as much a no-brainer as the flawed law it replaced.
    • There are new efforts to enforce a ban (#99) on using the U.S. Postal Service to distribute publications about dog fighting and cockfighting. Was anyone (other than HSUS front-man Michael Vick) really against this?

    If there's a pattern here, it's one of HSUS settling for low-hanging fruit. With a friendly Congress and White House, you'd think the richest animal rights group in history could get more done. Not that we're complaining, mind you. Some of HSUS's "Change Agenda" was pretty loony:

    • Do we really need the U.S. Census Bureau (#54) and the CDC (#86) to count everyone's pets?
    • Does the White House really need a permanent "Animal Liaison" (HSUS's top agenda item), a job for which Wayne Pacelle reportedly nominated himself?
    • If a disabled person finds a trained monkey makes a better service animal than a dog, who are we to say he or she can't have one (#48)?
    • What the heck is so awful about "swim with the dolphins" programs that requires "new regulations" (#13)?
    • And don't get us started about the idiotic proposed ban on "nontherapeutic" antibiotics for farm animals (#78). If HSUS wants to leave cows, pigs, and chickens far more vulnerable to disease, it should stop calling itself a "humane society."

    HSUS, obviously, has much grander ambitions than just taking on animal fighting, which is a good use of resources(when it's not busy coddling the offenders). The group wants to change federal policies to attack livestock farms, gradually take lab rats out of cancer research centers, and tighten restrictions on zoos and circuses until they are all forced to do without, well … animals. And HSUS has hoped for at least 30 years to win animals their legal "rights," an endgame which (practically speaking) includes giving animals the right to sue people. One of HSUS's 30+ in-house lawyers, of course, will "speak for the voiceless" in court.

    Much of HSUS's long-term vision is explicitly left out of its 100-point wish list. There has to be a reason for HSUS (or any pushy lobby group) to keep raising money, even if all its wishes were magically granted.

    At its current success rate, HSUS will need another 14 years or so to get its 100-point agenda passed. But that assumes, of course, that both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government remain as animal-rights-friendly as they have been in the past two years. We think Wayne Pacelle and Michael Markarian are pacing themselves, like any good politician would.

    If you deliver on all your promises, after all, what's left to fundraise on? 

    Posted on 12/31/2010 at 12:07 am by HumaneWatch Team.

    Topics: Animal AgricultureAnimal FightingCircusesFundraising & MoneyFur & FashionGov't, Lobbying, PoliticsWildlifeZoos & Aquariums


  • Green Is the New (Old?) Pacelle

    Let’s take a walk back to the ’80s. No, mullets and M.C. Hammer parachute pants aren't coming back into style. We're going to take a look at Humane Society of the United States CEO Wayne Pacelle’s entry into animal-rights politics 23 years ago.

    In 1987, Pacelle was fresh out of college and quite the busy bee in the animal rights world. In September of that year he joined the aggressive Animals’ Agenda magazine as an Associate Editor. Two months later, he ran for Alderman in New Haven, Connecticut. (He lost.)

    What’s interesting, though is that Pacelle ran as a member of the Green Party. (We’ve written before—see here, here, here, and here—about the longstanding alliance between the environmental and animal rights movements, so that’s no surprise.)

    And what the Greens stood for in the late ’80s provides a unique window into what Pacelle hoped to gain—and still does—by becoming a political animal.

    In July 1987 when Green Party activists met in Amherst, Masachussets to discuss a national party platform, a group of animal “liberationists” offered a 12-point plan called “Ethical Treatment of Animals.” 

    Here’s the more interesting half of what they wanted (emphasis added):

    1. We are firmly committed to the eventual abolition by law of animal research
    3. We encourage vegetarianism for ethical, ecological, and health reasons …
    4. Steps should be taken to begin phasing out intensive confinement systems of livestock production …
    8. Hunting, trapping, and fishing for sport should be prohibited …
    10. We strongly discourage any further breeding of companion animals
    11. We call for an end to the use of animals in entertainment and sports such as … rodeos, circuses …  [and] quasi-educational institutions such as zoos and aquariums

    Ultimately, most of these policies made it into the Green Party platform in one form or another. The official latest version, approved in April 2010, reads like the combined Christmas wish-lists of HSUS and PETA.

    The 1987 proposals were just what you’d expect from animal liberationists writing a platform for a third-party organization. They wanted to abolish large-scale animal agriculture, spread vegetarianism, shut down zoos, end life-saving medical research that used animals, and even discourage more animals from being born (which sounds eerily familiar).

    We don’t know if Wayne Pacelle was at the 1987 Green Party meeting, but Amherst isn’t far from New Haven. And the 12-point plank was printed in Animals’ Agenda in November 1987—two months after Pacelle joined the magazine’s editorial staff, and the same month he ran (as a Green) for New Haven Alderman.

    It seems fair to conclude that Wayne Pacelle, already a hardened animal rights activist whose star was on the rise in “the movement,” subscribed to these 12 points. And behind the PR mask, the careful wordsmithing, and the issue-dodging in Pacelle’s repertoire, we think he still does.

    Hat tip: National Animal Interest Alliance, for archiving the Green Party’s 1987 animal liberation platform

    Posted on 12/24/2010 at 12:56 am by HumaneWatch Team.

    Topics: Animal AgricultureCircusesGov't, Lobbying, PoliticsHunting & FishingMedical ResearchRodeosZoos & Aquariums