L.A. Unleashed

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Category: PETA

'Octomom' Nadya Suleman unveils spay and neuter sign for PETA on her front lawn

Octomom4 Nadya Suleman, the 34-year-old mother of 14 whose delivery of eight babies conceived through in vitro fertilization last year earned her the nickname "Octomom," has made good on her promise to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals by unveiling a sign promoting animal birth control in her front yard.

Facing financial difficulties that could have meant eviction from her La Habra home, Suleman agreed in March to place the sign advocating spay and neuter surgeries for dogs and cats in her yard. Around the same time, she declined an offer from an adult-film production company to appear in a porn movie.

"No porn. Just Peta. Nadya prefers animals over men," her lawyer Jeff Czech wrote by way of an explanation in an e-mail to the Associated Press.

The sign, which measures 3 feet by 4 feet, reads, "Don't let your dog or cat become an 'octomom.' Always spay or neuter. PETA." Alongside the text is an image of a cat nursing a litter of young kittens. In exchange for the advertising placement, Suleman will receive a $5,000 payment from PETA and a month's supply of vegan hot dogs and Boca burgers. Suleman has said that she typically spends $1,000 each month on groceries.

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WebClawer: Beluga whale learns to paint; 'sheep-pigs' take U.K. by storm; 'gay' dog denied entry to Australian restaurant; PETA billboard won't run

-- An artistic beluga whale named Xiao Qiang has been impressing spectators at China's Qingdao Polar Ocean World marine park with his watercolor painting skills. Xiao Qiang holds a paintbrush in his mouth, and his paintings have begun to fetch large prices. "His favorite color seems to be blue, and he's best of all at seascapes," trainer Zhang Yong said. "His people always look like seals." Well, Xiao Qiang wouldn't be the first artist whose representations of people didn't look all that human -- and while we're on the subject, who's to say he's not intending to paint seals? Working with a painting beluga sounds like fun, but it does have one drawback, Yong said: "Sometimes he deliberately paints [his trainers] instead of the paper." That Xiao Quang -- what a kidder. (Austrian Times)

-- A wildlife park in Essex, England, recently became home to some head-turning creatures: Mangalitsa pigs, commonly referred to as "sheep-pigs" because their curly coats resemble the wool of a sheep. Three of the animals -- a male named Buddy and two females named Porsche and Margot -- have taken up residence at the Tropical Wings park as part of a breeding program. The pigs originated in Austria and Hungary, where their thick coats help to keep them warm during the winter. (In the summertime, their coats protect them from sunburn.) "At first sight, people think they are sheep," Denise Cox, the wildlife park's education coordinator, said of the creatures. "It is not until they turn around and you see their faces and snouts you [realize] they are in fact pigs." (Daily Mail)

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'Golden Girls' Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Betty White help animals (in Arthur's case, posthumously)

Girls2 We didn't think anything could make us love "The Golden Girls" more than we did already, but the news that most of the show's stars are still doing their part to help animals has done just that.

Stars Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Betty White were among the first celebrities to publicly speak out against fur on television; they recorded a commercial for PETA that decried fur-wearing as cruel and advocated the donation of fur garments to the needy when "The Golden Girls" was still airing first-run episodes.

Now, nearly 20 years after the show ended -- and a year after Arthur passed away at age 86 -- the three are still working on behalf of animals.

A controversial full-page advertisement, taken out by PETA and featuring Arthur's image alongside the text "McCruelty: It's enough to make Bea Arthur roll over in her grave," made headlines when it ran in the Chicago Tribune last week. Arthur, a longtime PETA supporter, bequeathed money to the group in her will that was used, in part, to purchase the Tribune ad, PETA blogger Lindsay Pollard-Post explained.

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'Glee' star Lea Michelle speaks out against fur in a new PSA for PETA

If her vocal talent weren't reason enough to love "Glee" star Lea Michelle, the fact that she's a vocal opponent of the fur industry may endear her to animal lovers. Michelle, 23, recently filmed a public service announcement for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to raise awareness about what's wrong with fur.

"I wanted to get involved with PETA's antifur campaign because it's just how I was raised ... to believe that you should not wear fur," Michelle explains in a video interview. (You can see the full interview on PETA's blog, but we'll warn you that it contains some graphic imagery.)

Beyond caring about the animals that suffer for the production of fur, Michelle cares about other animals as well -- she doesn't eat meat and has rescued, at various times, a stray dog and several stray kittens while on the set of "Glee." (When "Found" posters for the dog didn't draw a response, a "Glee" cast member adopted him. Michelle kept two of the kittens herself.) 

Michelle's antifur PSA alongside rescue dog Sailor was apparently sweet enough to melt even the snarkiest heart: In a post on his frequently catty celebrity gossip blog, Perez Hilton merely wrote "What a cute pup!" before giving a brief summary of the video.

RELATED:
California Assembly votes to close loophole on fur labeling
Guess it wasn't faux: Celebrity fur-wearer Catherine Zeta-Jones tops PETA's Worst-Dressed List

-- Lindsay Barnett

WebClawer: Alpaca goes surfing; would-be Totos try out for 'Wizard of Oz' musical; PETA wants mothers to breastfeed to help cows; can animals commit suicide?

-- Bizarre new trend: Surfing with animals. Okay, we will accept that some dogs seem to actually enjoy the sport -- but what of other species that are seemingly less suited to surfing? Like, say, an alpaca? Peruvian surfer Domingo Pianezzi recently made headlines when he surfed a beach near Lima with an alpaca named Pisco. (Apparently some locals reacted positively to the stunt, but others argued that Pianezzi had acted cruelly by making an alpaca -- a mountain-dwelling species related to camels and llamas -- enter the water.) But this wasn't the first time Pianezzi had surfed with an unusual animal, and he's not the first to have done so. "I've surfed with a dog, a parrot, a hamster and a cat, but when I was at a competition in Australia I saw people surfing with kangaroos and koalas," he told an interviewer. "So I thought that, as a Peruvian, it would be interesting to surf with a unique animal that represents Peru." (Reuters)

-- Musical theater composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and talk show host Graham Norton have teamed up for a BBC reality-TV show in which the pair and a panel of judges will cast the role of Dorothy for an upcoming West End production of "The Wizard of Oz." The show also aims to find a talented animal actor to play another iconic Oz role: Toto. About 400 would-be Totos arrived Tuesday for a rigorous two-day audition in the English county of Warwickshire. Among the tasks they had to complete to be considered for the part: Walking on a leash for about 15 minutes. (Doesn't sound so hard, but dogs who stopped walking, barked or jumped up were immediately eliminated from the competition.) Forty were asked back for the second day of auditions, and the top 10 will appear on the BBC show this Saturday. According to instructions provided to the animals' owners, "the Toto panel are looking for a true star. The winning doggy will have bags of personality and not be afraid to show it off." In other words, a latter-day Skippy. (Telegraph)

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Just how responsible is PETA for a decline in fur sales?

Mathews In the 30 years since People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was founded (by its current president, Ingrid Newkirk, and Alex Pacheco, who is no longer affiliated with the group), it has become the largest organization of its kind and its name has become virtually synonymous with the animal-rights movement.

That level of ubiquity and the controversial nature of many of PETA's programs and strategies have made the group a lightning rod for many who oppose its stances.

The group has claimed at least part of the credit for a number of changes in the way animals are treated over the last 30 years; perhaps it's most famous for its anti-fur campaign. Without a doubt, PETA has been instrumental in increasing many people's awareness of the unpleasantness of the fur industry, with particular emphasis on so-called "fur farms" where animals like minks, chinchillas, raccoons and foxes are raised solely to be killed for their pelts.

Its advertising campaigns, specifically the celebrity-centric "I'd Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur" variety, are certainly eye-grabbing. But are they, and are other PETA strategies like the production of its sometimes-graphic FurIsDead.com website, really responsible for turning the tide against fur?

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Mike Tyson's Animal Planet show about pigeon racing amounts to animal cruelty, says PETA

Mike Tyson

Earlier this month, Animal Planet announced plans to begin filming a new show, tentatively called "Taking on Tyson," in which boxing champion Mike Tyson will showcase his new and unorthodox hobby: pigeon racing.

Tyson is apparently a longtime pigeon fancier -- according to the network, his first fight as a child was waged in defense of his pet birds -- but has never before participated in a competitive pigeon-racing event. "Taking on Tyson" will follow the world's most famous ear-biter as he takes on a new, presumably less violent, sport.

Tyson, who refers to the show as "monumental," professes to have a deep affection for the birds he'll be racing. "I feel a great pride acting as an official representative for all the pigeon fanciers out there," he said in a statement. "I want people to see why we love these birds."

But some other prominent bird lovers are less than thrilled at the prospect of the show and the increased visibility it will lend to pigeon racing, a sport they say is inherently cruel to birds.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals responded to Animal Planet's announcement by firing off a letter to the Brooklyn district attorney's office -- "Taking on Tyson" is to be filmed in New York -- asking for an investigation into its production.

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'Octomom' Nadya Suleman accepts PETA's offer to place spay/neuter ad on her front lawn

PETA's Octomom ad

Can you say "strange bedfellows"? Octuplets mother Nadya Suleman, whose financial troubles have been well-documented, has accepted an offer from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: $5,000 and a month's supply of vegan hot dogs and hamburger patties for her family of 15 in exchange for allowing the animal-rights group to place an ad on her lawn.

The ad -- which, in light of Suleman's status as a paparazzi magnet, is likely to attract a lot of eyeballs -- makes light of the mother of 14's "Octomom" nickname. "Don't let your dog or cat become an 'octomom'," it reads, "Always spay or neuter. PETA." Pictured beside the text is a mother cat nursing a litter of young kittens.

Suleman's La Habra home was purchased by means of a deal in which owner Amer Haddadin agreed to carry the $450,000 loan for a year until her father could gather the money for a down payment, according to our sister blog L.A. Now. But Haddadin says that the family has fallen behind in their payments and that evicting Suleman and her children is a possibility.

PETA's Michelle Cho wrote to Suleman to propose the advertising deal, noting in her letter that "[taking] us up on our offer is a win-win situation. It would help you and your children to keep your home and also reduce the number of homeless dogs and cats."

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WebClawer: Rock 'n' roll finches bring their music to London; complaint about PETA U.K.'s Hitler-themed ad dismissed; dachshund Spork gets a reprieve

-- French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot enlisted a flock of zebra finches for his upcoming exhibition at London's Barbican concert hall and art gallery. But these aren't just any zebra finches -- they're rock 'n' roll zebra finches. Boursier-Mougenot created a walk-through aviary for the musical birds, complete with a Gibson Les Paul guitar for a perch and cymbals doubling as water and food bowls. "If you want to understand a creature then you have to interact with it," Boursier-Mougenot said of the aviary project. "Here, I am not using the birds, I am collaborating with them." The birds were obtained from a company that supplies animal actors for the entertainment industry. Not exactly what Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-honored singer-songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen had in mind when he wrote "Bird on a Wire," we suppose, but the prospect of animals creating music is an intriguing one, nonetheless. The exhibition runs through late May. (The Guardian)

-- A new study shows what any owner of multiple dogs already knew: Dogs gain specific information from one another's growls, despite the fact that the sounds may be indistinguishable to human ears. Researchers first recorded the growls of 20 adult dogs in each of three unique situations: When guarding a bone, when approached by a threatening stranger and during play. They then used a computer program to analyze the sounds and discovered that the play growls tended to be shorter and more high-pitched than those the dogs made when they were guarding food or when they felt threatened. Then came the second part of the twofold study: Playing back the recorded growls to live dogs in a research setting. Forty-one adult pet dogs from Austria and Hungary were each offered a meaty bone as the researchers played the recorded growls. The team observed that the dogs jumped when they heard the recorded "guarding" growls, but didn't when the play growls or threatened growls were played. (Discovery News)

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Lima, zebra that escaped Ringling Bros. circus in Atlanta, is euthanized

Zebra

The escaped circus zebra that led his trainers and Atlanta police on a 40-minute chase and impeded traffic before finally being recaptured last month has been euthanized as a result of injuries he sustained during the incident.

Lima, a 12-year-old male who traveled with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, suffered cuts on his hooves during his dash through Atlanta, Ringling spokesperson Crystal Drake said shortly after he was caught. But his injuries weren't initially thought to be severe, according to statements Drake made to reporters. She described Lima as being "in good shape," even speculating that he would probably appear again in the circus with no interruption to his performing schedule.

Although reports from Atlanta didn't immediately classify Lima's injuries as life-threatening, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals quickly registered its outrage, calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to remove zebras from Ringling's traveling shows in light of Lima's incident as well as previous incidents in which multiple zebras escaped from the circus. PETA also noted a February incident in which one of Ringling's elephants, apparently startled backstage at a circus show in South Carolina, crashed through a prop door and into the performance area.

But despite early reports suggesting Lima's injuries were minor, he was quickly sent for treatment to a veterinary hospital at the University of Georgia. Even after he was taken to the university veterinary center, Drake told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the zebra was "fine."

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