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.

[AFP]

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.”

[BBC]

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.

TIME Culture

Foie Gras Freedom Is Also a Win for Free Speech

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lucydphoto—Getty Images/Flickr RF Sauteed foie gras

Nick Gillespie is the editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv.

Opponents of the delicacy shouldn't use the state to force their subjective value judgments on those who have a taste for things they find abhorrent

The overturning of California’s idiotic and repressive ban on the production and sale of foie gras is a small but important victory for “food freedom.” The only downside is that the decision is open to appeal, so it might be temporary.

The ban was passed in 2004 but only went into effect in 2012. The politicians responsible—including then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who hypocritically claimed to be probusiness and in favor of limited government—said they wanted to give producers and restaurants time to adapt to the change. But in fact the long lag time had everything to do with Golden State term limits. By the time the ban was in full force, you see, none of those responsible would still be in the legislature.

As defined by the nonprofit Keep Food Legal, food freedom is “the right to grow, raise, produce, buy, sell, cook and eat the foods of their own choosing, including everything from raw milk to trans fats, hemp to soda, and foie gras to Four Loko” (disclosure: I once served on Keep Food Legal’s board of trustees). In an age of artisanal everything and skyrocketing interest in all sorts of new and innovative cuisine, food freedom is every bit as important as rights to free speech and alternative sexuality.

Indeed, what we cook and what we eat have become as much an arena of individual expression as whom we vote for and whom we marry. Raw-milk producers still labor under draconian regulations and the threat of federal raids despite strong demand for their products by impeccably informed consumers. In a world in which caffeine-enhanced Four Loko has been prohibited, it’s a wonder that Irish coffee is still available.

In order to ban a choice of something as personal as food, government at any level should have extremely compelling reasons related to public health and safety. Simply finding something offensive is no more a warrant for prohibition than for censoring art that some find disturbing. In the case of foie gras, animal-rights activists could only express concern for the birds that are traditionally force-fed in the production of foie gras. All animals that are ultimately slaughtered for human consumption may have our sympathy and empathy. They do not, however, have rights equal to ours. The basic problem helps to explain why the California ban was written in a way that critics presciently called both constitutionally vague and impossible to enforce.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), one of the major players in the foie-gras issue, has tried over the years to assert constitutional rights for orcas. In this, PETA is joined by other activists who have done the same for chimpanzees, dolphins and other animals. None of their lawsuits have gotten far, and they are not likely to because they are nonsensical. However much humans may or may not have an ethical obligation to treat animals in a humane fashion, animals simply do not have rights in any meaningful legal sense.

Which isn’t to say people opposed to foie gras have no means of carrying the day. They can work to end the market for foie gras and other animal products through persuasion and informational campaigns. But they cannot and should not bank on using the coercive power of the state to force their subjective value judgments on the rest of us who have a taste for foie gras or other delicacies they find abhorrent.

And they should assiduously make sure that tax dollars are not going to support food they would never eat. That’s a likely point of agreement between them and libertarian defenders of the right to cook and eat what we want. A central part of the food-freedom agenda is freedom from subsidizing other people’s preferences. Keep Food Legal’s mission statement emphasizes that the group “also support[s] ending agricultural subsidies, which distort the market and help lead to problems like obesity and environmental degradation.”

Increasingly, we live in a world of wildly proliferating choices in virtually every aspect of our daily lives. Like never before, we are free to dress how we like, live where we want, marry whomever we love (or just live with them). The Internet and global trade mean we can have goods from all over the world shipped to our doors. In more and more states, we can even legally smoke pot. In such a climate, it is both folly and hubris for anyone to think he can command the world to live by his rules alone.

Gillespie is the editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv and the co-author with Matt Welch of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America

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 Companies

SeaWorld Chief Resigns After Blackfish Film Damages Firm’s Reputation

Killler Whale Calf At SeaWorld San Diego
Getty Images A baby killer whale calf nurses from its mother at SeaWorld San Diego's Shamu Stadium on Dec. 4, 2014 in San Diego

The enterprise’s share price dropped by more than 40% in 2014

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s chief executive Jim Atchison announced plans to resign this week as the company struggles to attract visitors to their parks since the release of the 2013 film Blackfish, according to the BBC.

The critically acclaimed documentary revolves around the alleged mistreatment of the amusement park’s orcas and the gruesome deaths of several of the animals’ trainers.

SeaWorld’s current board chairman David D’Alessandro is set to serve as the corporation’s interim chief executive and will help manage a reorganization that aims to save $50 million by the end of next year.

[BBC]

TIME Courts

Chimpanzees Are Not Entitled to Human Rights, New York Court Says

ICOAST-ANIMAL-ZOO
Sia Kambou—AFP/Getty Images A chimpanzee holds a lettuce at the zoo in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on June 12, 2014

The chimpanzee at issue is not entitled to a writ of habeas corpus allowing him freedom from his cage

A chimpanzee does not have legal personhood and is not entitled to human rights, a New York appeals court has decided.

The three-judge Appellate Division panel ruled unanimously on Thursday that the owner of Tommy, a chimpanzee, is not obligated to release him from what an animal-rights’ group has called unlawful detention.

The Nonhuman Rights Project had sought Tommy’s freedom from a cage in upstate New York, arguing that the animal’s living conditions, selected for him by his owner, equated to unlawful solitary confinement. The group, which planned to move Tommy to a sanctuary, did not seek to have the chimpanzee declared a human, but to obtain legal personhood, a status that would entitle him to a writ of habeas corpus and merit his release.

A trial level court had in October denied the Nonhuman Rights Project’s effort, when the group’s lawyer, Steven Wise, argued that Tommy, 26, is best compared to a human child who “can understand that he does not want to be imprisoned for his life in a cage,” but, unlike a human adult, cannot be held legally responsible for his actions. The judge, Michael Lynch, had noted that legal personhood comes with “responsibilities” and it would be unwise “to foist any responsibilities on this chimpanzee.”

In its decision, the appeals court reiterated the lower court’s findings that chimpanzees, though intelligent, are unfit take on the legal implications of personhood, ruling that, “unlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions.”

“In our view, it is this incapability to bear any legal responsibilities and societal duties that renders it inappropriate to confer upon chimpanzees the legal rights — such as the fundamental right to liberty protected by the writ of habeas corpus — that have been afforded to human beings,” reads the decision.

Tommy’s owner, Patrick Lavery, told the Guardian that he finds the Nonhuman Rights Project’s argument for his pet’s legal personhood “ridiculous.” Lavery, who has not attended any of the proceedings, called the chimpanzee’s living quarters “an excellent home” that includes a TV and in which the chimpanzee is “happy.”

The Nonhuman Rights Project did not allege that Lavery had violated any state or local laws in keeping Tommy as a pet. The appeals court concluded that if the group believes that current legal protections for animal welfare are insufficient, they should seek improved legislation on the issue, not legal personhood.

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