• by Laura Goldman · Jan 25, 2012 · ANIMALS

    While Christmas shopping at a Green Earth store in Windsor, Ontario, last month, Dan MacDonald noticed products called Frog-O-Spheres — plastic tanks containing live frogs. Some of the frogs were pressed up against the plastic, while others floated lifelessly. MacDonald watched in disbelief as some kids and their father shook one of the aquariums. “Is this thing real?” the dad asked a store clerk as the frog’s limp body rolled around the tank.

    “The disrespect to this animal on every level was unbelievable,” MacDonald said. “I was outraged a place called Green Earth could demonstrate such a blatant and pathetic exploitation of a living thing.”

    MacDonald knew something had to be done, so he started a campaign on calling for Green Earth stores to stop selling the Frog-O-Spheres. “I've been an animal activist for many years, so I took it upon myself, because I was so touched and disturbed by what I saw,” he said.

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  • by Laura Goldman · Aug 15, 2011 · ANIMALS

    Late at night on Sunday, August 6, in Anaheim, Calif., as the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was loading its performing animals onto boxcars, an elephant named Sarah fell from a ramp and collapsed on the ground (video).

    Ringling is claiming that the stumble was entirely accidental — the 53-year-old elephant simply lost her footing while boarding the train and unsuccessfully trying to back down the ramp.

    But that’s not what it looked like to eyewitness Ameer Sanghvi, who told NBC LA, "They were struggling to get her on the ramp. She finally managed to get on the ramp and that's when she collapsed on her back, on the gravel with rough rocks.”

    Just last month, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) reported that the USDA had cited Ringling in June for violating the Animal Welfare Act by failing to provide proper treatment for the same elephant. Sarah has a history of having a pus-like discharge in her urine and an elevated white cell count. Per the USDA inspection report, her handlers ignored Ringling's senior veterinarian’s orders to treat the infection, which could become fatal if neglected.

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  • by Laura Goldman · Aug 11, 2011 · ANIMALS

    The Los Angeles Zoo is one of a dwindling number in the U.S. that is publicly owned and financed. But all of that may change very soon if the City Council approves a plan to privatize the zoo, a move that In Defense of Animals (IDA) opposes.

    Catherine Doyle, IDA's elephant welfare specialist, told the Los Angeles Times that privatization will result in less transparency, making the zoo "become even more secretive and insular."

    In 2009, IDA filed a grand jury complaint against the zoo over its "gross malfeasance and unethical behavior in its actions to secure approval of a $42 million elephant exhibit expansion." The controversial, 6-acre Pachyderm Forest exhibit, which opened last December, was opposed by animal rights groups that wanted the elephants to be moved to a much larger sanctuary.

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  • by Laura Goldman · Aug 03, 2011 · ANIMALS

    In “EcoQuariums” sold by Learning Express and other retailers, live African dwarf frogs spend their lives encased in 4-square-inch plastic cubes.

    Worcester Polytechnic Institute professor and animal activist John Sanbonmatsu told WCBV-TV last October, "In the wild in equatorial Africa, these animals would enjoy a rich life of sensory experiences and pleasures. But entombing them inside tiny plastic prisons is to condemn them to a lifetime of slow torture.”

    In its November 2009 undercover investigation of Wild Creations, the company that manufactures EcoQuariums, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) documented rampant abuse of the frogs. Employees grabbed the amphibians by the handful, picked them up by their fragile legs, tossed live frogs onto piles of dead ones, or dropped them on the floor and left them there to die. Weeks went by between feedings, leading some of the frogs to chew off each other’s legs.

    Not only is it a miserable existence for the frogs, but recent reports indicate the EcoQuariums are making people, mostly children, very sick. A strain of Salmonella poisoning has been traced to one of the suppliers of the African dwarf frogs.

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  • by Laura Goldman · Jul 21, 2011 · ANIMALS

    In the Rocky Show Circus, a kangaroo, decked out in gloves and trunks and restrained by a leash, is forced into a staged boxing match with a man.

    The Kissimmee, Fla.-based circus, run by exhibitor Javier Martinez, is "as educational as it is entertaining," at least according to its Myspace page. The boxing match "provides audiences with some fun-filled animal antics as well as a close-up look at one of Australia's animal oddities. ROCKY holds the title of being the only boxing kangaroo currently performing in the United States.”

    In the wild, National Geographic notes that male kangaroos sometimes "box" each other over potential female mates by leaning back on their tails and striking out with their hind legs. In the Rocky Show Circus, a kangaroo "boxes" Martinez solely for the purpose of making money for the exhibitor.

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  • by Laura Goldman · Jul 14, 2011 · ANIMALS

    Along with ye olde faire staples like jousting exhibitions, roasted turkey legs and saucy wenches, this summer’s Colorado Renaissance Festival features an “Endangered Cats Show.”

    Now, I’m no history expert, but I don’t recall that panthers and leopards figured prominently in merry olde Elizabethan England.

    Nonetheless, the festival website extols the show — which demonstrates "the dynamic Athletic Abilities of these Amazing Felines" — as “Exciting, Educational, Exotic and Enthralling!”

    “They claim it is educational and entertaining, but is the company that provides this ‘educational entertainment’ more focused on the entertainment than the education?” asks member Julie Halvorson, who created a petition asking the festival to stop using exotic animals as entertainment. As of Wednesday, her petition has nearly 1,000 signatures.

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  • by Laura Goldman · Jul 05, 2011 · ANIMALS

    Go Daddy’s Bob Parsons isn’t the only CEO who likes to blow off steam by blowing away wildlife.

    Photos published last month by Robert Hirschfeld on Smile Politely show Jimmy John Liautaud, founder and CEO of the 1,000-franchise Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches chain, posing next to fallen elephants (or, as the safari company's captions refer to them, a “78 lbs tusker” and “79 lbs tusker”).

    In another photo, Liautaud is beaming behind a dead brown bear he paid to shoot in Alaska.

    Liautaud wrote about paying to kill a buck on a canned hunt in his article “My Year of Hunting in 2009,” published two years ago in Hunting Illustrated: “This was the luckiest situation I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime … For Johnny to let this deer grow to be so old and mature, and to let me hunt him, was extremely generous.”

    There are currently more than 1,000 captive hunting facilities in the United States that are "extremely generous" to those who pay to kill their animals.

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  • by Laura Goldman · Jun 20, 2011 · ANIMALS

    As a 50-foot humpback whale headed north to Santa Barbara feeding grounds last month, its migration was cut short by the propellers of a fast-moving ship on its way to the Port of Los Angeles. The whale’s headless carcass washed up on the rocky shore of San Pedro, Calif.

    Unfortunately, this wasn’t an isolated case. While the California whale population is thriving – as I wrote last October, magnificent blue whales, once near extinction, could be seen in unprecedented numbers off the coastline – the number of fatalities caused by ships speeding through their habitat is on the rise.

    Since 2001, more than 50 whales have been killed by ships, although the number is probably much higher since, unlike Navy ships, commercial vessels are not required to report collisions. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) stated that at least six whales died last year, and in 2007, five blue whales were killed by ships traveling through California's Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

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  • by Laura Goldman · Jun 13, 2011 · ANIMALS

    Anyone who wants to ride an elephant that may have been beaten with a sharp bullhook or shocked with a nearly 1-million-volt electrical prod should head on down to the San Diego County Fair this month, and then to the Orange County Fair in July.

    Both county fairs are offering rides on elephants rented from Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT), a company that has been under fire recently after undercover videos released last month by Animal Defenders International showed owner Kari Johnson and various employees beating and shocking elephants as the animals cry out in pain.

    Bullhooks, which PETA’s Executive Vice President, Tracy Reiman, has compared to fireplace pokers, were banned earlier this month in Fulton County, Georgia. They are already outlawed in other cities and counties in Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, New York and South Carolina.

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  • by Laura Goldman · Jun 06, 2011 · ANIMALS

    sleeping lion cubIf you live in Colorado, you’re probably very familiar with American Furniture Warehouse commercials featuring owner Jake Jabs. If you haven’t seen the ads, Jabs is usually shown in one of his stores, getting cozy with chimps, lions or tigers.

    The commercials seem to be very successful in motivating viewers to buy sofas and bedroom sets. In fact, according to the company web site, American Furniture Warehouse is “one of the top retail furniture companies in the U.S.,” and the largest privately held business in Colorado.

    But could the commercials also be encouraging people to buy exotic animals as pets? member Julie Halvorson has created a petition asking Jabs to stop using exotic animals in American Furniture Warehouse ads because putting them on display is irresponsible and wrong.

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Laura Goldman
Los Angeles, CA

Laura Goldman is an award-winning writer and longtime animal advocate. After a corporate career working for "the man," she now happily works for "the dog" as a writer for She lives in the Los Angeles area with two pit bull mix pound pups.