L.A. Unleashed

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Category: Animal Rights

Wild monkeys suffer trauma and injuries when captured for transport to breeding facilities, report says

Mauritius Monkey NAIROBI, Kenya — Wild long-tailed monkeys sustain broken limbs and other injuries when trappers catch the primates and transfer them to breeding farms on the island nation of Mauritius, said a new report released Tuesday.

Photos in the report showed handlers swinging monkeys by the tail and monkeys confined to small, rusty metal cages.

The Indian Ocean island nation has four major breeding farms and a fifth farm is to be opened soon, evidence that the trade is expanding, said the report by BUAV -- the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection -- which calls itself the world's leading organization campaigning to end animal experiments.

"Monkeys are highly social and intelligent animals with strong family ties. Their brutal capture from the wild and forced captivity in Mauritius is morally unacceptable," said the BUAV's Sarah Kite. "We call on the government of Mauritius to put an end to this brutal trade and for the USA, European Union and Israel to ban primate imports and stop perpetuating this appalling cruelty."

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North Carolina animal testing facility surrenders animals after PETA's release of undercover video

PetaVid1 A North Carolina lab has stopped doing research and is surrendering all of its animals a week after an undercover video showed what activists allege were workers cruelly treating dogs, cats and rabbits, federal regulators said Wednesday.

U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman Dave Sacks said officials are trying to find new homes for more than 200 animals that were at Professional Laboratory and Research Services Inc. He said it was the company's decision to give them up and stop research. The USDA inspected the site this week and has started a formal investigation.

The developments come after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a video of conditions at the lab. PETA contends that workers violently handled the animals and violated laws.

"I think it's imperative that all the animals go to good homes," said Kathy Guillermo, vice president of laboratory investigations at PETA. "They've suffered enough. This is a chance for them to know for the first time in their lives some joy and some peace."

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Russian circus cuts fish-swallowing, regurgitating act on tour of Australia after complaints


SYDNEY — A Russian circus touring Australia has dropped an act in which a performer swallows a live fish, then regurgitates it, after complaints that it was in poor taste and inhumane.

Great Moscow Circus general manager Greg Hall said Wednesday that the fish-gobbling part of the show was removed on Monday after the New South Wales state government informed it that the act breached animal protection laws.

The act was brought to the attention of authorities by some circus patrons who lodged official complaints about animal cruelty.

Hall said similar acts were performed in circuses around the world, but that the circus would revamp the act following the complaints and not use live fish for the Australian shows.

The New South Wales industry and investment department said it had received a complaint and ordered the circus to discontinue the act.

"Circuses operating in New South Wales must comply with prescribed standards for the welfare of animals," the department said in a statement.

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European Union strengthens its regulations on animal testing


BRUSSELS — Primates, including mankind's closest relatives -- chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos and orangutans -- have gained new protection after the European Parliament backed a clampdown on animal testing.

"The use of non-human primates should be permitted only in those biomedical areas essential for the benefit of human beings, for which no other alternative replacement methods are yet available," a new EU law said.

The strongest protection was given to the "great apes," although sustained public pressure has already ensured that none have been used in European Union research in eight years.

Less stringent measures were brought in to protect the 12,000 other smaller primates, such as macaques, used in EU labs each year.

The revision of the 25-year-old rules had originally envisaged a more complete ban on primate research, but they were heavily contested and lobbied by industry.

Researchers argued primates were indispensable for work to find cures for diseases including HIV, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, hepatitis, malaria, multiple sclerosis and tuberculosis.

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'Dancing shrimp' are off the menu at Sacramento seafood restaurant after PETA raises objections

Spot Prawns

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A Sacramento restaurant agreed to stop serving live shrimp after an animal-rights group said the practice was cruel to the shellfish.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the restaurant, Nishiki Sushi, suggested squeezing lemon juice on the shrimps' exposed flesh so they would writhe as they were eaten. The dish is commonly referred to as "dancing shrimp" and is considered a delicacy in Japan.

PETA contacted the restaurant after receiving dozens of complaints about the practice.

The animal rights group objected to the practice based on a 2007 study that explored shrimp pain from Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland.

The researchers found that prawns acted as if they had an injured paw when acid was dabbed onto an antennae, and the crustaceans also responded to numbing effects of painkillers.

"Because we received so many calls, we contacted Nishiki and told them every animal feels pain, and we have the scientific evidence to back that up," said Amanda Fortino, a campaign coordinator for PETA. "They agreed to not sell the live shrimp anymore, and we really appreciate that."

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Animal rights groups face off with scientists over fate of chimps

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Ever since the first of their number arrived in New Mexico half a century ago as test subjects in the fledgling U.S. space program, nearly 200 government-owned chimpanzees were routinely injected with viruses and used to test everything from experimental vaccines to insecticides.

They have enjoyed a decade-long respite from research at an indoor-outdoor habitat on Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo, but now the government wants to move the chimpanzees to a Texas laboratory, where they might face renewed testing.

The plan has animal welfare groups and elected officials squaring off against federal scientists at a time when Congress is considering legislation that could shut down federal chimpanzee testing altogether.

Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives, sharing between 94% and 98% of our DNA, which is why some scientists see them as ideal research subjects. The similarity extends to their cognitive abilities. Chimps are intelligent and self-aware, even able to plan future actions.

"These animals have been put through the wringer and they deserve to be retired," says Kathleen Conlee, a program manager with the Humane Society of the United States, who has worked in a primate breeding facility and a great ape sanctuary. "The Humane Society doesn't think a laboratory environment can ever meet the psychological needs of a chimpanzee."

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Animal Liberation Front claims responsibility for Greek fur farm break-ins that set loose 50,000 minks

Minks ATHENS, Greece — An international animal rights activist group has claimed responsibility for releasing more than 50,000 minks from two fur farms in northern Greece.

In an online statement, the Animal Liberation Front says it carried out the attacks last week near the towns of Kastoria and Siatista, in the heart of Greece's fur region.

Thursday's statement said the break-ins were meant to hit the industry "and especially the disgusting 'fur towns' of Siatista and Kastoria, plagued with hundreds of fur stores."

Greece's National Fur Breeders' Assn. said most of the animals released into the local ecosystem were likely to die in the heat. It said the cost to the farm owners could exceed €1 million ($1.28 million).

Guess it wasn't faux: Celebrity fur-wearer Catherine Zeta-Jones tops PETA's Worst-Dressed List
'Glee' star Lea Michelle speaks out against fur in a new PSA for PETA

-- Associated Press

Photo: Minks are seen on the side of a road in Hiliodendro, near the northern Greek city of Kastoria, on  Aug. 30. Credit: Nikolas Giakoumidis / Associated Press

50,000 minks on the loose after weekend break-ins at Greek fur farms


THESSALONIKI, Greece — Police say break-ins at two fur farms have set more than 50,000 minks on the loose in northern Greece.

A statement from local police says the break-ins occurred Friday and Saturday near the city of Kastoria, which is the center of Greece's fur industry.

Regional TV channels showed farm employees chasing the animals with fishing nets on Monday.

The National Fur Breeders' Assn. says most of the released animals are likely to die in the late August heat. It says the cost to the farm owners could exceed $1.27 million.

No group has claimed responsibility for the incident. But an animal rights group, calling itself the "Hawks of Reprisal," said it was responsible for a similar break-in last year.

'Skin Trade,' anti-fur documentary, has its L.A. premiere
'Glee' star Lea Michelle speaks out against fur in a new PSA for PETA

-- Associated Press

Photo: A mink is seen on the side of a road in Hiliodendro, near the northern Greek city of Kastoria, on  Aug. 30. Credit: Nikolas Giakoumidis / Associated Press

OSHA fines SeaWorld for worker safety issues following orca trainer's death


Months after SeaWorld Orlando marine mammal trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed in an incident involving a 12,000-pound orca named Tilikum, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced that it has cited SeaWorld for workplace safety violations.

According to OSHA, it found three specific violations in SeaWorld's conduct, most notably one it classified as a "willful" violation for "exposing [SeaWorld] employees to struck-by and drowning hazards when interacting with killer whales. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

OSHA also noted two lesser violations, one "serious citation" for "failing to install a stairway railing system on the front side, left bridge of the 'Believe' stage in Shamu Stadium" and one "other-than-serious citation" for the Orlando, Fla., park's failure to place weatherproof enclosures over outdoor electrical outlets in the stadium. The agency fined SeaWorld $75,000 in total for the three violations.

SeaWorld quickly issued a statement calling the OSHA findings "unfounded" and announcing the company's plans to contest the citation. "OSHA's allegations in this citation are unsupported by any evidence or precedent and reflect a fundamental lack of understanding of the safety requirements associated with marine mammal care," the statement continued.

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Dodge removes Suzie the chimp from its Tent Event commercial [video]

A few weeks ago Unleashed broke the story about the curious case of a Dodge tent event commercial starring Suzie, the young chimpanzee, which was pulled after the car manufacturer received complaints from animal activists about their use of such an animal to hawk cars and trucks.

"Most top ad agencies in the country won’t even consider producing an ad featuring a great ape these days given the well-documented abuse that young chimpanzees and orangutans suffer in the entertainment industry," PETA's primatologist, Julia Gallucci, told The Times.

Dodge acknowleged that they heard and understood the complaints, and promised to change the commercial to appease the outraged groups. "The ad was an innocent act only trying to be humorous," Kristin Starnes, head of Dodge car brand communications, wrote us in an e-mail. "In no way did the brand intend to promote any questionable practices. With the planned modification, we are simply taking some sound advice and altering direction in respect of PETA's initiatives."

So how would they modify a tv commercial? To refresh your memory, here is the original spot:

After the jump see how Dodge changed the ad to remove Suzie.

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