Elephants likely to be protected in NY

There is a bipartisan effort in New York to ban elephant entertainment. It passed the legislature and is now on the Governor’s desk for review.

Thanks to efforts by Pace University students to educate their representatives about animal cruelty, New York may become the first state to protect elephants by law.

From USA Today:

The bill, called the “Elephant Protection Act,” allows the state Department of Agriculture and Markets to assess a fine of up $1,000 for every violation of the law when an elephant is used for performances.

The bill doesn’t apply to accredited zoos, aquariums or wildlife sanctuaries.

Cuomo’s office said it is reviewing the bill. If signed, the law would take effect within two years.

Welcoming orphaned elephant

Video: youtube, elephantnews

The Elephant Nature Park in Thailand is a special place.  They rescue elephants and rehabilitate them from landmine accidents, abusive circus acts, and body-breaking logging work.  The elephant then can live out his or her life in retirement.

Tourists are allowed to observe the elephants, and even can feed or bathe them (the staff are careful to choose elephants who are willing participants).   This park was where I got to meet a variety of elephants during my trip to Thailand in June 2015.

Therefore, I try to keep up with news online about the Elephant Nature Park.  This video of an orphaned elephant being welcomed by the herd made world news this week, and for good reason.  It’s so heartwarming to watch good news!

With summer here (a short season in my city), I will be posting on the blog less – likely once a week – as I will be trying to spend as much time outside during my free time as possible!



Proposed budget would hurt wild horses


(Photo: every week in the spring I do volunteer work with children and domesticated horses)

Wild horses are a symbol of the “Wild West”, often seen as emblematic of the American spirit.  Yet, they have been controversial for decades.  Ranchers have longed bemoaned the wild horses’ presence, and complain that protections for the animals have created problems of overpopulation.  The new budget proposal seems particularly cruel to the horses, however, as it would allow horses to be sold overseas for slaughter.  This would reverse protections both Democrat and Republican Presidents have championed for over forty years.

From CNBC:

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal calls for saving $10 million next year by selling wild horses captured throughout the West without the current requirement that buyers guarantee the animals won’t be resold for slaughter.

Wild horse advocates say the change would gut nearly a half-century of protection for wild horses — an icon of the American West — and could send thousands of free-roaming mustangs to foreign slaughterhouses for processing as food.

My volunteer work

IMG_5013Since I do not live in Thailand, my elephant volunteer experience was a one day event.  But, I am lucky enough to work with large, friendly, intelligent animals here at home.

There is a horse therapy farm about twenty minutes away by car that does amazing work.  The horses are all rescues, and they take disabled children for rides on trails.  This is my fourth year volunteering.

My volunteer job is varied.  First, I get to work with the horses – grooming, tacking, and taking them for some exercise prior to their work with the children.  Then, I help the children get comfortable around the horses, and help them get in the saddle.  I then serve as a sidewalker or horse leader on the trail.  Finally, I have some messy chores to do like helping clean up the stalls.


Each horse has a sad background story, so it’s heartwarming to see how both horse and rider benefit in this program.

My selfishly favorite part is at the end of the season I get offered a riding lesson of my own.



Photos show three of the horses (there are seven at the farm).  The last photo is of me riding my favorite!



Wands for Wildlife

I was at the zoo today, and they are always happy to accept used and cleaned blankets for the animals.  I went online to see what other animal organizations ask for things we may be “spring cleaning” and found a very cute video of ducks getting brushed by old mascara wands to remove dirt, larvae, and insects from fur and feathers.

Wands for Wildlife  recycles old mascara wands to clean small animals.  Send them their requested written form and old (cleaned) mascara wands.  The address is: Appalachain Wild, P.O. Box 1211, Skyland, NC 28776.

Video: YouTube, Appalachain Wild

From their website:

“Appalachian Wildlife Refuge was incorporated on October 23, 2014. The ALL VOLUNTEER organization was formed by a group of licensed rehabilitators, nonprofit professionals, environmental educators, and other concerned citizens, in response to the increasing numbers of wildlife requiring assistance and the need for more people trained and funded to help them in Western North Carolina.”

They have helped over 1700 animals.

Hannover Zoo elephant abuse

Allegations against the Hannover Zoo are horrifying, and quite damning, with video evidence of handlers abusing young elephants.  National Geographic reports that PETA videos show handlers using bull hooks to “train” the elephants.  Complaints about the zoo go back to 2004, but the new videos have sparked an investigation by the European Association of Zoos & Aquaria.  Elephant Aid International has viewed the footage and believes it to be authentic.

For many years, the Hannover Zoo was one of the very few left that had its animals perform for visitors.  The zoo says they have stopped the entertainment shows, but clearly they have not stopped the harsh circus-like treatment of their elephant population.


Another TB diagnosis at zoo

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Packy, an Oregon Zoo elephant that had TB and had to be euthanized at age 55.

Unfortunately, now Shine, a younger elephant, has the same disease.  Fortunately, vets caught the illness early and believe she will be treated successfully.  She will be put in isolation to try to prevent the spread of TB.

The Oregon Zoo already has dealt with previous cases of TB in elephants Rama and Tusko.

It is troubling to see how they have been unable to contain TB.  After Shine’s diagnosis all of the zoo’s elephants will be tested.

Zoo elephants tend to live shorter lives than wild elephants.  There are various theories as to why this occurs (such as a lack of exercise, less variety of food/nutrients, or smaller herds), but I think these Oregon Zoo cases show another problem with captivity – the small, shared spaces provide an easier way for viruses to spread.


Photo: taken at the Elephant Nature Park