Winter 2013-14

    Issue: Winter 2013-14

    Table of Contents

    • Friends of Animals has received kind donations in memory of the following individuals:

      Barbara Pazar

      Jani Johe Webster

      Andrew Grosser

      Aristine Coker

      Cathleen Boras

      Zoe Blasko

      Kenneth Murata

      Gwen Lorber

      Ed Tomaszycki

      Lynne Kobza-Wilke

      Walter M. Wisniewski

      Russ Santo

      Michael Charles Yates

      Peter Tirpak

       

      CJ

      Halley

      Max

      Oreo

      Cody

      Huck

      Momcat

      Maggie

      Big Mike & Puppay

      Wolf Number 832F

    • CHEERS

       Cheers to actor Emily Deschanel for speaking up for veganism.  Recently on a Yahoo! TV interview, she said, “I do think [veganism is] the most humane and environmentally sound way to live.”  As for going vegan, she said it’s “perfectly healthy and doable.”  That’s the spirit!

       West Hollywood gets a Cheer for the distinction of banning fur!  The ban was approved two years ago, and went into action on September 21! It bans the sale of any fur, with fines and fees of $250 for infractions.  Cheers, West Hollywood, and congratulations on becoming America‘s first Fur-Free City!

       

      JEERS

       Friends of Animals is disappointed to send a Jeer to singer-songwriter Fiona Apple, a vegan and activist, for endorsing Chipotle’s new ‘happy meat’ animation advertisement.  Chipotle was previously heavily funded by McDonald’s, and continues to contribute significantly to animal exploitation with their restaurants.  Fiona should know better.

       

      Fur-wearer, and singer Rihanna gets another Jeer for posing in a photo with a captive slow loris, an endangered and protected primate.  After the image went viral, arrests were made of the two people who had the loris.

       

       

       

      Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Luke Scott speared a hog, and has the head on display in his team locker room.  Not only that, but he ‘decorated’ it with sunglasses and a ‘trucker hat’ that says ‘Jesus Is My Boss.’  It’s bad enough that he’s torturing animals, but his denigration of a corpse is over the top.

      “Scott has since left the Rays to play in Korea.  Hopefully Scott’s departure will assure there is not more torturing of animals in the Tampa Bay locker room. A member of the team communications staff told us that management held a meeting with players after Scott’s antics and discussed how inappropriate they were.”   

       

       

    • LETTER 1 – Moving Article About Wolves

      I love your Action Line newsletter.  Very intelligent articles, especially the two articles on wolves and bears in the Spring 2013 issue.  In my book, intelligence involves more than the head.  Jay Mallonee's article on the mismanagement of wolves spoke movingly, in all the data, about the trauma to wolves and their social structure, as well as the misguided policies that have been put into place.

      Keep up the good work. In time, compassion will prevail.  Thank-you for all you do.

      ELIZA STEWART – VIA E-MAIL

       

      LETTER 2 – Benefits of Veganic Farming

      I'm appreciated the article about the importance of organic farming in the Fall issue of Action Line.  Happily, the author also urged action on the climate change crisis.  I buy organic, in part because of the benefits to wild animals when farmers avoid using very dangerous pesticides.  As a vegan, my one problem with organic farming is that it typically uses products from the slaughterhouse – blood and bone meal.  I urge you to do an article about veganic farming and gardening, in which no animal inputs are used.  I know of at least one commercial veganic farm in New York, where I live, and Animal Place in California also does veganic farming.  These are just two which come to mind. Also, goveganic.net promotes veganic farming and gardening throughout North America.

      Linda A. DeStefano

      Via e-mail

       

      LETTER 3 – Shania Twain:  Get a Grip

      Several months ago, I started a petition on the care2.com website urging singer Shania Twain to stop exploiting live horses in her evening shows at Caesars Palace in Nevada.

      I’m extremely grateful that the Summer issue of Action Line featured useful contact information in its Cheers & Jeers section.  I truly hope that Ms. Twain comes to her senses very soon and removes the horses from her act.  In fact, a petition signer reportedly witnessed one of these animals suffer a serious injury on stage recently.  This is a totally unacceptable scenario that could have been avoided.  I’ve written several letters and posted a few comments to Facebook, yet I’m still puzzled as to why she seems unable to entertain without using live animals to pad the act.  In my view, there is clearly a huge disregard for these gentle creatures by Ms. Twain and her show’s production staff in their desire to generate profits.

      Once again, thank you so much for your efforts in this matter.  I enormously appreciate the terrific work you do to help the animals.

      David Kaliner

      Las Vegas, NV

       

      LETTER 4 – A Pleasure to Read Cover-to-Cover

      The Fall issue of Action Line is a joy.  An enlightening and entertaining read.

      Loved Nick Jans’ story about his rescue dog, Loki, and its joyous, wonderful adjustments after such a rough start in life.  Having been owned by several rescues myself, though none like Loki, I can nevertheless relate to the issues such dogs have faced in their past yet manage to overcome.

      The interview with Marine Rescuer Mike Remski is outstanding.  I had no idea that baby seals need to be tube-fed. I related to that, somewhat because as a wildlife rehabilitator, I fed innumerable baby opossums through a feeding tube.  It’s tricky, but holding an animal weighing a few ounces firmly in my hand is nothing compared to 75 lbs. of a resistant seal.  Kudos to those willing to undertake these procedures.

      Also very enlightening was Why Organic is the Way to Go.  I really didn’t know as much as I imagined.

      JANET BEASLEY – VIA E-MAIL

       

    • Among Wolves is a captivating account of the late Gordon Haber's close observations, sense of wonder and personal stories about Alaska's wolves and what he referred to as their distinct culture. 

                  Author Marybeth Holleman has written a unique, compelling book, compiling photographs, insights, political events and stories from  friends that captures the passion, curiosity and brilliance his wolf studies reflected over 43 years in Denali National Park and interior Alaska. 

                   Gordon defended wolves with tenacity, and also used science to bolster Friends of Animals' various legal challenges against Alaska's nefarious wolf control programs. In 1997, he freed a snared wolf, baited illegally outside the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.  A jury in Tok, Alaska, made up of the trappers' allies found Gordon's actions illegal; since he was under contract with Friends of Animals, we paid his preposterous $190,000 fine.

                   “Wolves are fascinating as individuals,” Gordon said, “but what I fine unique is the beautiful, interesting and advanced social structure of an intact family group.”  Fragmentation of a wolf family through hunting disrupts the animals' most prominent characteristic, he argued.

                  On Oct. 14, 2009, Gordon's research plane crashed in Denali National Park while he was monitoring the wolf groups he had long studied — research Friends of Animals had sponsored for 17 years since I met him at the 1993 Wolf Summit in Alaska convened by then-Gov. Walter Hickel. Gordon had complete control over his research priorities, and FoA benefited from using his fieldwork to educate and influence the practices and policies of how wolves were treated.

                  Gordon's photographs and writings about wolves' cooperative traditions, along with their interactions with moose, caribou, sheep and bears, make this a remarkably interesting book. Gordon changed his views over the years on what constitutes “habituated” wolf behavior. “Free-ranging adult wolves generally show little fear of other nonhuman species,” he said, and similarly little fear or wariness of humans at initial contact.  Gordon said they're generally indifferent of people in Denali, a behavior he saw as natural rather than a product of habituation.

                  While riding through Denali with Gordon on one occasion, I left his truck to jog down the road while a two-year-old wolf searched for ground squirrels just 20 feet or so away.  She regarded me as no more interesting than a piece of vegetation, yet I had the experience of a lifetime.

                  “Being fearful, not fearless, is the aberration for this species,” he said.  He warned against food conditioning, saying it was the most likely way that habituation could become a problem.

                   In answer to the age-old question about how many wolves humans should tolerate anywhere, he advised:  “The optimum number of wolves is best reached and maintained by the wolves and prey themselves. Claims that wolves destroy the very food source upon which they depend are absurd…There is no reason for us to think we must control a wolf population.”

                  A mutual friend, Barbara Brease, mentioned the story Gordon told her about a wolf whose mate was killed in Alaska's predator control program.  “That wolf took his mate's carcass and buried it, then lay down on top of it for ten days. (Gordon) was upset about it but also more moved than ever to help others understand the unique social relationships these wolves had, and what made them such a complex species,” she said.

                   “Just like wolves,” the author concluded, “we humans accomplish things only in community.”

      Among Wolves: Gordon Haber's Insights into Alaska's Most Misunderstood Animal

      by Dr. Gordon Haber and Marybeth Holleman: 284 pages
      October 2013, University of Alaska Press Paper $29.95
      Available through Amazon.com

       

    • THE IMPACT OF CGI ON THE ANIMAL ACTING INDUSTRY 

      Those familiar with the 1993 movie Jurassic Park will likely be able to recall the iconic scene of ripples forming in a glass of water, indicating the thundering approach of an angry dinosaur.

      For its time, Jurassic Park was a revolutionary example of what was technologically possible in filmmaking and sent ripples of its own through the entertainment industry.  The ability to turn the seemingly impossible into a believable reality using computer-generated imagery (CGI) was an exciting and groundbreaking idea that immediately took off.

      Two decades later, great strides have been made in terms of technology available to filmmakers, and CGI has been arguably the biggest game changer so far.1

      This is particularly relevant when viewed from an animal rights standpoint, as it means filmmakers are now able to limit the number of live animal actors they use and instead hire more graphic designers…all while still achieving a sense of realism in their production.       

      The methods animators use are much more agreeable and humane than those employed by animal trainers on non-human actors.  Instead of forcing a chimpanzee into submission using cruel training tactics, it is now possible for animators to observe a video of a chimpanzee in the wild, process the image, and create a 3-D computerized version of a chimp instead.2

      Although most of the discussion surrounding CGI focuses on aesthetics, there is also an interesting ethical issue to consider involving the effects of CGI on the animal acting industry.

      For years, film companies that aim to use animal actors in their productions have had to seek a stamp of “approval” from the American Humane Association, delivered in the form of a single sentence applied to the production’s end credits:  “No animals were harmed in the making of this film.”

      The truth behind that sentence is open to interpretation, however, and there have been countless incidents involving harm coming to the animal actors the association supposedly protects.  Examples include three horses that were euthanized after injuries on the set of HBO’s series Luck,3over a dozen animals dying between takes on the set of The Hobbit,4and the cruel treatment of an elephant who starred in Water for Elephants.5

      The guidelines the association gives to studios are, at best, merely ineffectual suggestions about the welfare of animal actors. In some instances, when they are not enforced, it leads to animal abuse and occasionally instances of death.

      Nothing sounds very humane about that.

      But what if the sentence “no animals were harmed in the making of this film” was changed to “no animals were used in the making of this film?”  With CGI technology, that is becoming increasingly plausible.

                  An excellent example of the usage of CGI in cinema today can be found in the 2012 movie, “Life of Pi,” which tells the story of a boy stranded at sea along with a Bengal tiger.   

      Sticking a real Bengal tiger and a teenage boy in a lifeboat would have been a precarious situation.  Thanks to computer-generated images, however, the moviemakers were able to create that illusion and present it as startlingly realistic.        

      Although “Life of Pi” did not abstain completely from live animal actors, a very large part of the film was created using digital effects.  Bill Westenhofer, the film’s visual effects supervisor, told The New York Times that four live tigers were used in the production.  He explains, “We used them for single shots, where it was just the tiger in the frame, and they’re doing something that didn’t have to be all that specific in the action that we were after.”6

      What makes this different from typical animal actor usage is that the tigers were not forced to act in a specific way and were instead used as reference points for creating realistic animations.

      It is that distinction that is key to understanding the potential of CGI to eventually eliminate the animal actor industry.

      CGI is about watching an animal and observing the way it acts naturally.  It’s about studying the animal’s bone structure, muscles, and mannerisms.  It’s about paying attention to seemingly insignificant characteristics and details in order to create the most lifelike replica possible.

       It is, in essence, the complete opposite of the way the animal acting industry operates.

      While not only being a game changer for the entertainment industry, CGI also could be a life-changer for animals everywhere.

       

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