TIME Animal Rights

Kesha: We Must Do More To Ban Poaching

Charles Sykes—Invision/AP Kesha attends the 2015 Delete Blood Cancer Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on April 16, 2015, in New York City.

Kesha is a singer and songwriter.

It's time to end this perverted excuse for entertainment.

I was heartbroken along with so many Americans who are mourning the terrible killing of the lion Cecil by a man from Minnesota. As an animal lover, I have traveled to Africa to walk amongst and view these stunning creatures in their natural habitat — taking care not to disturb them while also enjoying their presence. Lions in the wild are one of the most awe-inspiring and beautiful things I have ever experienced. Listening to a lion roar outside my tent with nothing between us other than a thin piece of mesh I felt more alive than I ever had. It is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life.

Sadly, these animals and many others face extinction from natural environments because of poachers and trophy hunters like Walter Palmer.

It angers me that U.S. law currently does not protect African lions, and these “trophies” can flow across the U.S. border in unlimited quantities from anywhere. In a way, the law legitimizes the shameful behavior of a man like Mr. Palmer. He set out to get a rush of adrenalin and a manly trophy but I believe he came away with a trophy of shame. I don’t want to verbally or physically bully Mr. Palmer because I feel like he must be a troubled man in need of help. Why else would he feel the need to pay more than $50,000 to have a team of people bait a lion into a spotlight to be shot just for fun?

These kinds of hunts are big business in Africa where if you have enough money you can kill virtually anything you want from rhinos to leopards to elephants or anything else you can think of. These animals are not killed for food. Just as Mr. Palmer did, their carcasses are often left to rot after their heads and skins are taken as trophies. It’s not a feat of bravery when it takes a team of guides to coax animals into environments where they aren’t even given a fighting chance before paying customers shoot them. It took much more bravery by the people at Oxford University when they captured Cecil alive and attached a GPS device to Cecil in order to study and help him.

What right do we have to kill animals for amusement? Poachers and trophy hunters from the U.S. and other countries are driving lions to extinction. This is the tragic reality. The U.S. must do everything it can to outlaw this perverted excuse for entertainment. As a Global Ambassador to Humane Society International I am joining with Humane Society of the United States and its international arm ­Humane Society International ­in urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to add the African lion to the endangered species list. Listing the African lion would then curtail Americans bringing their parts to U.S. soil, greatly decreasing the incentive for them to be killed in trophy hunts.

It is a tragedy that Cecil was killed, and now his cubs face a grim reality that they may not grow to adulthood. But its an even bigger tragedy if our country continues to promote this behavior by allowing Americans to legally bring the skins and heads of African lions to the U.S. as trophies.

Populations of African lions in the wild have dwindled by almost 50% in only the last three decades. Even as lion populations plummet, hunters continue to kill them, and lion trophy imports to the United States are on the rise. This has to stop. Please join HSUS and HSI in urging U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to add the African lion to the endangered species list. Trophy hunting should be banned. I hope HSUS and HSI are successful in getting lawmakers to do the right thing and help stop this madness.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Social Media

The Lion-Killing Dentist Is Getting Totally Savaged Online

The backlash after killing of a beloved animal has been fierce

Minnesota dentist Walter James Palmer may regret his encounter with Cecil the lion. Reviews are coming in fast and furious on Yelp a month after the killing and since the hunter’s identity was revealed. As Fortune reported July 28, negative reviews were being posted to River Bluff Dental’s practice in droves. Today, the reviews number nearly 7,000.

Palmer, who traveled to Zimbabwe and killed the beloved beast for a reported $50,000 fee. The lion had been part of a 13-year Oxford University study and was popular among animal lovers visiting Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Palmer, along with a group of hunters, killed Cecil with a bow and arrow.

As Fortune noted:

Until Tuesday, Palmer’s dentistry, River Bluff Dental, seems to have had few reviews. At one point late Tuesday afternoon, though, the dentistry had 25 pages of comments–totaling hundreds of posts–even as Yelp commenters noted that Yelp was deleting comments that weren’t entirely related to Palmer’s dental prowess.

Many of the reviews aren’t for the faint of heart. Here’s a round-up of some of the most damning as of July 29:

– “Here’s what I look for in a healthcare professional: a disgusting and thorough lack of compassion, sociopathic tendencies, a vile propensity for torture of the innocent, a bombastic self-importance, a demented and narcissistic sense of fun, a self-serving and egocentric disposition, a knack for betraying others’ trust, a history of lying to officials, a criminal record, and most of all a smug mug. I found all that in Dr. Walter Palmer at River Bluff Dental!”

– “Went in for a clean up. Left without a head,” wrote another, referring to the animal’s reported beheading.

“This dentist enjoys killing innocent, protected and endangered wildlife as a hobby. By continuing to visit this dentist you [are] endorsing horrific behavior!!! I am angry, disgusted and sad. I hope this man is hunted at the same capacity as he has hunted these innocent animals!!!!” wrote a third.

Palmer has defined himself despite the torrent of comment online. “I hired several professional guides, and they secured all proper permits,” Palmer said in a recent interview. “To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled. I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt,” he added. “I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”

TIME Nepal

Half a Million Animals Saved as Nepal Nixes the World’s Largest Slaughter Festival

Roberto Schmidt—AFP/Getty Images Butchers raise their blades at a temple before the first animal sacrifices by priests are conducted for the Gadhimai festival in the village of Bariyapur, Nepal, on Nov. 28, 2014

Experts say around 500,000 goats, chickens and buffalos were decapitated at Gadhimai in 2009

Nepal’s Gadhimai Temple Trust, which oversees the world’s biggest animal sacrifice every five years, announced Tuesday that no slaughter would take place at this year’s festival.

The announcement comes on the heels of an international movement against the event, which led the Indian Supreme Court to prohibit animals from being shipped or shepherded across the border to be killed as offerings.

“With your help, we can ensure the festival in 2019 is free from bloodshed,” chairman of the temple trust Ram Chandra Shah said in a statement announcing the ban. “Moreover, we can ensure Gadhimai 2019 is a momentous celebration of life.”

Gauri Maulekhi, consultant for Humane Society International/India (HSI) and trustee for People for Animals Uttarakhand, who was among the petitioners in the Supreme Court case, called the move a “tremendous victory for compassion” but acknowledged that the hardest task is still to come. Maulekhi said the HSI would spend the three and a half years until the next festival in 2019 educating would-be celebrants in the Indian states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal about the temple’s decision.

HSI estimates that more than 500,000 goats, chickens and buffalos, along with other animals, were decapitated at Gadhimai in 2009. The festival, which dates back about 265 years and which some say has even more ancient roots, is based on a dream founder Bhagwan Chowdhary had featuring Gadhimai, the Hindu goddess of power. In the dream, Gadhimai demanded a sacrifice after freeing Chowdhary from prison, promising power and prosperity in return. Chowdhary prepared an animal offering, establishing a legacy of tradition and blood that would last nearly three centuries.

TIME China

This Woman Saved 100 Dogs From Being Eaten at a Controversial Festival in China

Left: Animal lover Yang Xiaoyun uses a mobile phone next to a cage conatining dogs that she bought from dog vendors to rescue them from dog meat dealers at a temporary shelter ahead of a local dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Province, June 21, 2015.
Kim Kyung Hoon—Reuters Animal lover Yang Xiaoyun, left, uses a mobile phone next to a cage containing dogs that she bought from dog vendors to rescue them from dog-meat dealers ahead of a dog-meat festival in the Chinese city of Yulin, Guangxi province, on June 21, 2015

A social-media campaign has rallied around #StopYulin2015

A woman in China reportedly paid over $1,000 Saturday to save 100 dogs from being killed and eaten during a dog-meat festival in the southern city of Yulin.

The festival, which occurs annually during the summer solstice, has faced increasing backlash from activists who say the event is cruel, reports Agence France-Presse.

Yang Xiaoyun, 65, was seen in photographs browsing through a market where dogs were kept in cages, before paying about $1,100 to rescue scores of canines.

In the past, animal-rights activists have traveled to Yulin to demonstrate against the festival and have been known to buy dogs to save them from being eaten.

According to Hong Kong–based charity Animals Asia, the majority of dog meat in China comes from stolen pets and strays.

The group says many of the dogs are treated inhumanely, kept in tiny cages and poisoned or beaten to death. Nevertheless, eating dogs is legal in the country.

This year, animal lovers including British comedian Ricky Gervais are decrying the festival under the hashtag #StopYulin2015.


Warning: Some viewers may find the contents of the video distressing.

TIME Animal Rights

Foster Farms Suspends Five Employees After Graphic Video Uncovers Animal Abuse

Warning: The video contains graphic content, which some viewers may find disturbing

Poultry producer Foster Farms suspended five employees Wednesday after an undercover video appeared to show inhumane treatment of chickens at the company’s Fresno slaughterhouse.

The Fresno County Sherriff’s Office has opened a criminal investigation after animal-rights group Mercy for Animals released graphic footage showing workers throwing, punching and plucking live birds and slamming boxes of chicks onto the ground, reports the Los Angeles Times. The footage shows some birds unable to move after being thrown around.

The video also appears to show, according to the rights group, the bodies of chickens that were scalded alive in the plucking tank after missing the slaughter knife. TIME has not been able to independently verify the footage.

Foster Farms said it was complying with the police investigation and is “reinforcing animal-welfare training companywide.”

Mercy for Animals says it conducted the undercover investigation in March and April at a Foster Farms slaughterhouse and at a company plant where chicks are raised.

The organization found “an ongoing pattern of criminal animal cruelty that was permitted to go unchecked and uncorrected by Foster Farms management.”

The investigation comes amid a campaign by Mercy for Animals against the American Humane Association (AHA), which has certified some Foster Farms chicken. The rights group alleges the association’s standards fail to protect animals from cruelty.

AHA spokesperson Mark Stubis said, “In the three years that we’ve been working with them, they have never failed an audit. This is an extremely rare situation for us.”

TIME animals

Top School to End Dissection Class After Students Make Dead Cats ‘Dance’ in Video

Warning: Some viewers may find the content of the video disturbing

An Oklahoma school has found itself in hot water after a video surfaced online featuring several of its students performing a choreographed “dance” with dead cats to a popular jingle.

The cats were the subjects of a biology class on feline dissection at the prestigious Harding Charter Preparatory High School, reports CBS News.

After drawing criticism from animal-rights group People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the school said Thursday that it would end that particular class.

In the video, nine students can be seen using the dead cats as grisly puppets while making them dance to the Meow Mix cat-food commercial jingle. According to CBS, the video was made in 2013 and the teacher responsible for the students has been disciplined.

The school’s assistant principal Mylo Miller said teachers were trying to find a replacement anatomy class and said they hadn’t ruled out dissecting a different animal.

“I think it was students who made a mistake and hopefully they’ll learn from it,” Harding Charter’s principal Justin Hunt told KWTV when the incident first came to light last month.

[CBS News]

TIME Denmark

Danish Radio Host Criticized for Killing Rabbit on Air During Animal Rights Debate

The host said he hit the rabbit over the head with a bicycle pump

A radio station in Denmark was heavily criticized Tuesday after one of its hosts killed a rabbit live on air in a debate about animal rights before later cooking it.

Radio24syv presenter Asger Juhl said he killed 9-month-old Allan by hitting him over the head with a bicycle pump.

The incident, which took place in a studio, was broadcast live on air.

The station explained on its Facebook page that Juhl intended to “stir a debate about the hypocrisy when it comes to perceptions of cruelty towards animals.”

It posted a video that it said showed the rabbit being cooked…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Britain

Harry Potter Owls Mistreated, Animal Cruelty Group Says

PETA has accused 'The Making of Harry Potter' tour of mis-treating owls

The successful Warner Bros studio tour of ‘The Making of Harry Potter’ has come under fire for its treatment of animals.

The Harry Potter attraction at Warner Bros Studio Tour London opened in 2012 and allows fans to tour the sets, sample Butterbeer and meet animals from the franchise, including Harry’s owl.

Animal rights group PETA has accused the tour of mistreating the owls that appear on the tour. After secretly filming the tour, PETA has accused the tour operators of keeping the “distressed birds… tethered in tiny cages for hours and forced to perform tricks.”

“Confining frightened owls to tiny cages where they can only chew at their tethers in frustration goes against every message of respect and kindness that J.K. Rowling’s wonderful books taught us,” PETA director Mimi Bekhechi told the BBC.

Warner Bros Studio Tour London told the BBC, “It is essential the welfare of the birds… is of the highest standard.” They also said that they had asked the company that owns the birds, Birds and Animals, to “review this matter.”

Meanwhile a spokesperson for Birds and Animals told the BBC, “The owls are always given regular breaks and closely monitored by a vet. Now that we have had the opportunity to see the footage, we have instigated a review of the issues raised.” They added: “We will take appropriate action to ensure that the birds and animals always receive the very best care.”


TIME China

Joaquin Phoenix Speaks Out Against China’s Brutal Dog-Leather Industry in New Video

Actor Joaquin Phoenix attends 'Vizio Di Forma - Inherent Vice' photocall at Hotel De Russie on January 26, 2015 in Rome, Italy.
Elisabetta A. Villa—Getty Images Actor Joaquin Phoenix attends 'Vizio Di Forma - Inherent Vice' photocall at Hotel De Russie on January 26, 2015 in Rome, Italy.

It's "one of the worst things" the actor has ever seen

Hollywood star and longtime vegan Joaquin Phoenix has taken a stand against China’s dog-leather industry in a new video campaign by animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The sickening footage claims to show workers at a slaughterhouse in northeast China’s Hebei province beating dogs to death with a stick before having their throats slit and their skin ripped from their bodies.

Some are supposedly still alive when they are skinned.

In the clip, the Inherent Vice actor says it was “one of the worst things I’ve ever seen.”

The footage, originally released in December, is from a yearlong investigation conducted by PETA’s Asia department into China’s dog-leather industry.

The facility in the clip told PETA they bludgeoned 100 to 200 dogs every day and when the film was shot they had 300 dogs in the compound waiting to be killed.

Dog leather, which is cheaper to produce than material from cows or sheep, can be made into gloves, coat trims and other accessories, and is exported all over the globe.

China is the world largest leather producer, with exports this year slated to top $270 billion, but there are no penalties against abusing animals killed for their skin.

PETA claims the leather from such factories could end up in shops on U.S. or European high streets because, unless the skin is DNA tested, you won’t know where or what animal, it came from.

“If you buy leather gloves, belts or shoes, remember,” says Phoenix, who has appeared in several other PETA campaigns, “there’s no easy way to tell whose skin you’re really in.”

Warning: The video contains extremely graphic footage which viewers may find distressing.


MONEY Food & Drink

Vegan Meatballs on IKEA Menus Soon

Meatball dish of a Ikea food store inside their furniture store.
Maxim Shipenkov—EPA

The vegan twist on the Swedish meatball will be sold in IKEA stores starting in April. It'll join new vegan and vegetarian options from Chipotle and White Castle, among others.

Behold the power of the veggie and animal lover lobby! The movement can claim two big victories this week. First, a planned GoDaddy Super Bowl ad was pulled after the “humorous” commercial—about a puppy that’s lost, then sold online—was widely criticized for being offensive.

“As someone who feels incredibly strong about animal rights, I am extremely offended by this commercial,” reads a Change.org petition that pleaded with GoDaddy to drop the commercial and attracted 40,000 online signatures in one day. “Go Daddy is encouraging private breeding/puppy mills while shelter animals wait patiently for their forever homes or worse—to be euthanized. They are also encouraging purchasing an animal online; the animal could be sold to someone who runs a fighting ring, someone who abuses animals, or to someone who cannot adequately care for the animal.”

Then, on Wednesday, PETA (hat tip: Grubstreet) patted itself on the back for what was apparently the successful pressuring of IKEA into adding vegan meatballs to the menu. Last spring, it was reported that IKEA was developing vegetarian meatballs, but now it looks like the meatballs will be fully vegan—using no animal products whatsoever. They’re expected to be available at IKEA stores this April.

Meanwhile, large quick-serve restaurant chains have also been expanding vegetarian and vegan options. White Castle rolled out veggie sliders a few weeks ago, while Chipotle pumped up sales of its new sofritas vegan burrito with a special giveaway promotion on Monday. The deal, which promised a free burrito in the future with the purchase of a sofritas burrito on Monday, sold out in some Chipotle locations.

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