AWI Quarterly » 2015 Spring

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Spring 2015 AWI Quarterly - Cover, Photo by Mike Suarez
Spring 2015 Volume 64 Number 2
AWI is dedicated to improving the care, housing and handling of animals in research facilities. From our earliest days, we have encouraged laboratory personnel to provide animals with comfortable housing and the opportunity to engage in species-typical behaviors, while sparing them needless suffering.
In many cities, horse-drawn carriages are seen as tourist attractions, taking visitors on tours of city streets and evoking nostalgic images of days gone by. Yet, underlying these quaint notions is the reality for the horses: daily exposure to noise and pollution, heavy traffic, hard pavement, long work days, constant heavy loads, and lack of access to pasture. All of these are directly detrimental to horses’ welfare.
Millions of animals are exported from the United States annually—over 7.5 million animals in January 2015 alone. Most are shipped in aircrafts, but many are transported overseas in ocean vessels. These trips may last weeks and animals can suffer greatly from inadequate ventilation, loud noises, motion sickness, and heat stress—all of which increase susceptibility to illness and disease.
The animal agriculture industry is responsible for an estimated 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. A significant portion of environmental degradation from animal agriculture can be attributed to factory farms, where waste—whether it is excrement, antibiotics, or fertilizer—is discharged at higher volumes.
Compass Group, Sodexo, and Aramark, three of the largest food service companies, announced a commitment to purchase liquid eggs from cage-free hens for US sales.
Approximately 305 million egg-laying hens live in the United States at any given time. Between 90 and 95 percent of these birds are packed into tiny, barren wire cages that are stacked in rows, one on top of the other. The egg industry’s trade association, United Egg Producers, only asks producers to give each bird 67 square inches of space—that is considerably smaller than the page on which this article appears in print.
As reported in the Winter 2015 Quarterly, USDA’s Meat Animal Research Center (MARC), in Clay Center, Nebraska, has come under intense scrutiny after a January 19 article in The New York Times described indefensible acts that have taken place at MARC over the past several decades.
In May 1999, whalers from the Makah Tribe in northwestern Washington state killed a gray whale—something they had not done since the 1920s. Even the few tribal elders who could remember the last kill did not know how to butcher the animal, so an Alaskan whaler was called in to demonstrate. They were able to obtain only a fraction of the meat and blubber before the carcass was left to rot on the beach.
We pour a lot of plastic into the world’s oceans—directly and through the myriad waterways that spill into the seas. A pioneering study published in Science in February estimated that, in 2010 alone, we dumped nearly 9 million tons of plastic into the deep—so much that if we were to spread it out along the shores, we could cover every foot of the planet’s coastlines with five full grocery bags of the stuff.
Dr. Naomi Rose of AWI attended the launch of a new coalition called Dolphinaria-Free Europe (DFE), on March 4, at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. Comprised of more than a dozen nonprofit animal charities, DFE seeks to end the display of captive whales and dolphins in the European Union, through science, public outreach, policy change, and the establishment of retirement sanctuaries.
A federal judge ruled on March 31 that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) acted illegally in approving US Navy testing and training activities that threaten widespread harm to marine life in a vast region of the Pacific Ocean. The ruling stems from a December 2013 lawsuit brought by Earthjustice on behalf of AWI, the Conservation Council for Hawai‘i, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Ocean Mammal Institute (see Winter 2014 AWI Quarterly).
In March of this year, as noted on page 2, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) on the Makah Tribe’s proposed hunt of gray whales—the first step toward issuing a waiver under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to allow the hunt under US law. In its comments to NMFS, AWI asserts that the DEIS is inadequate, and that the MMPA waiver should not be granted.
On April 18, Dr. Naomi Rose gave a talk on captive orcas at TedX Bend in Oregon. She focused on the idea that family is everything to orcas and that captivity destroys their family-oriented social structure. What follows is based on her presentation.
On March 5, 2015, Feld Entertainment, Inc., the world’s largest live family entertainment company and owner of the largest number of Asian elephants in North America, announced it would end elephant performances in its Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus by 2018. The news spread like wildfire and caught the attention of local and major news outlets across the country.