Over the years I’ve been simultaneously mesmerised and repulsed during visits to various aquariums and ocean-themed parks around the world. The sight of a whale shark cruising past within reach is absolutely incredible. However, if you stand in the same place for a little bit longer it will cruise past again… and again… and again. I remember being overjoyed when I spotted a baby beluga whale playing with bubbles, but then I took in the size of the tank (similar to my lounge) and noticed it was devoid of any stimulus other than the bubbles. I stood there filled with sadness only to turn around and watch the whale shark make another loop.
This week People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are asking a US federal court to grant constitutional rights to five killer whales who perform at marine parks. It is an unprecedented legal action. PETA is accusing the SeaWorld parks of keeping the star-performer whales in conditions that violate the 13th Amendment ban on slavery. As it stands, the 13th Amendment does not specify that only humans can be victims.
One of the orcas in question is Tilikum. He made headlines most recently when he killed a SeaWorld trainer in February, 2010.
While I highly recommend taking the time to read Tim Zimmerman's entire article on the history of orca's in marine parks, there is one particular excerpt I'd like to share this week:
"Three young animals—two males and a female—were captured and transported to the Hafnarfjördur Marine Zoo, near Reykjavík. There they were placed in a concrete holding tank. The smaller male, who was about two years old and just shy of 11.5 feet, would remain there for almost a year, awaiting transfer to a marine park. In the pool, he could either cruise slowly in circles or lie still on the surface." The young orca would later be named Tilikum.
His drooping dorsal fin says plenty.
It will always be a much more rewarding experience to happen upon creatures that are undisturbed in their natural environments. It’s a constant battle to protect them and ensure such encounters are possible.
According to the WWF, the last Javan rhino in Vietnam has probably been killed by poachers for its horn. The remaining 40-60 wild individuals are now restricted to Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia.
Animals have been getting a helping hand this week though. One lucky (unlucky?) red-tailed hawk has been freed from the grille of the Lexus it met head-on in Texas (look at his thank you face). Also Jack the cat has been found after going missing for over seven weeks at New York’s JFK airport.
I’ve finally developed a soft spot for the Occupy Wall Street movements. Who can question the merits of a gallery of dogs sticking it to the man?
This cat is either trying to make a point too, or sitting in a traffic light because it can. I’m never too sure about the intentions of cats. Calculated… carefree…
Or it’s pretending to be a traffic light!
Halloween costumes for pets are outdoing themselves this year.
You can view the full Dog Halloween Parade gallery over here. However, so far the winning costume goes to… Tank Dog.
Dormice turned up in my inbox twice this week (only in the form of links, sigh). Tiny babies, nicknamed Hansel and Gretel, have been saved from the jaws of a cat. They’re now living in a small pumpkin “which acts as both a secure nest and a tasty snack.” Another one has been filmed having an adorable snooze.
Finally, here’s my pick for video of the week: