Category Archives: animal species

A Call for Letters to the Governor and Planning

Jo Jo March 2008
On October 5th, local headlines read “$3million Dolphin Park Proposed for Providenciales” and the Turks and Caicos community responded within the week with a petition boasting 800 plus signatures and a comeback headline “PRIDE Questions Dolphin Attraction in TCI.”  Many of us believed our current legislation within the Endangered Species Act forbade the import of  Cetaceans but new reports have surfaced that these laws have been changed so that Dolphin Cove may open for business on TCI shores.    
 Jo Jo March 2008

Those that would welcome Dolphin Cove may not understand the truth about dolphins in captivity.  To begin to grasp the ethical issues one must first research how these dolphins are forced into captivity in the first place.  An  eye opening look into that industry is available through the award winning documentary film  The Cove.  I wrote this post after having seen the film myself, I never imagined such horrors.

PRIDE has written an excellent letter to the government highlighting the historic ways the Turks and Caicos Islands have served as a safe haven for dolphins for decades.  Please read the full letter here.  Yesterday I wrote my own letter to the governor:

October 31, 2012
To Governor Ric Todd,
I am writing to express my deep disappointment of the change in legislation to allow the import of animals for the purpose of human entertainment.  Months ago you took a very brave stand in this country with a push for the advancement of the Equality Bill, surely realizing that you would face controversy and opposition.  With that great stride in forward thinking and action, you have now taken a giant leap backward in amending a righteous law to an unrighteous law.  I would strongly encourage you to dedicate a few hours on researching the captive dolphin industry.   A great resource is the WDC, Whale and DolphinConservation website which posts here
“WDCS believes that the arguments against the confinement of cetaceans are so over-whelming, that any proposal to keep them captive, for whatever reason, should be rejected on animal welfare grounds alone. WDCS has a series of well-substantiated concerns about interactions between humans and dolphins in captivity. These concerns, relating to the welfare of humans as well as dolphins, apply equally to DAT. They include the welfare of the animal; the risk of aggression towards people; the potential for disease transmission from human to dolphin or vice versa; the fact that dolphins may be forced into interactions with humans and have little respite from these actions, and the fact that in so many DAT and other interaction programmes, dolphins are captured from the wild and are transported thousands of miles to suffer the effects of confinement in captivity.
Dolphins are large, strong animals, perfectly adapted to the conditions of the open ocean. Held in a confined space and subjected to forced interaction with humans, aggressive behaviour can have serious consequences. A recent study carried out by WDCS into dolphin/visitor interactions at marine parks in America records many incidents of aggressive behaviour by dolphins towards human visitors such as threats, biting and butting. This study also raises serious concerns regarding the potential for the transmission of disease between human visitors and dolphins. Inadequate regulations exist in relation to interactions between captive dolphins and members of the public. WDCS is bringing its concerns and evidence to the attention of relevant governments and other interested parties, who must address the potential consequences for both human and dolphins of these interaction programmes.”
  If you are a visual learner with a strong stomach I suggest you watch the award winning documentary “The Cove,” which will surely open your eyes to the complexities of this issue. In this country we have a fiercely dedicated environmental community.  We know we have one of the rarest ecosystems on the planet and though we are few in numbers, we know the necessary channels to pursue should our arguments fall on deaf ears locally.  We desire only positive international media attention for the good of the country but will resort to the opposite should this law not be returned to its former righteous state and the permission to the Dolphin Cove Proposal denied.
Stacie Steensland-Gaudet

  Today, I received THIS response.  I plan to drop this letter addressed to  planning today, along with another letter opposing the Leeward-dredging-proposal-up-for-consideration. I am asking everyone who cares about our environment and our “Beautiful by Nature” reputation to write their own letters to the Governor and to Planning as soon as possible.  Please sign the petition here.  Share your opinions and show your support on the facebook page No2CagedDolphinsInTurksandCaicos.  To read more about the scientific evidence on why dolphins should not be kept in captivity, see these publications on WDCS. To read the Review of the Environmental Impact Assessment for the Proposed Dolphin Park in Hanover by the Jamaica Environment Trust, please click here.

Parc Safari, Animals, and Ethical Eating

For my niece Valerie, one of many animal lovers in the family, it was her birthday wish to celebrate at Parc Safari (also on the Circuit du Paysan, near Hemmingford, Quebec)  The entire family loaded into the SUV for another slobber soaked expedition!  Parc Safari is a cross between a safari and a zoo in that many of the animals roam freely within the parc but they are fed and cared for by the staff.

 We went once before a few years ago and I wasn’t sure how I felt about the experience.  I have inner battles every time I visit these types of places, such as the Elephant Village refuge in luang-prabang on our trip to SoutEast Asia.  On the one hand I absolutely enjoy being able to get that close to species; observing their behaviors, admiring their unique characteristics, and interacting.  On the other hand, I am bothered by inner thoughts and questions about whether these animals are being well cared for, what quality of life they lead, and are they being exploited for human entertainment.

 According to Parc Safari’s mission statement their goal is to:
“Protect and preserve endangered species as well as educate our visitors about them, while creating a unique City of recreation, fun and environmental awareness for the whole family.”

The Parc celebrated it’s 40th anniversary this summer, and highlighted some of the many changes that have taken place since 1972 when the lions and tigers roamed free and the baboons had a blast ripping off visitors car antenna’s.

The Parc now holds 500 plus animals of 75 different species. The Friends of Parc Safari Foundation was “founded in order to assure the durability of Parc Safari’s zoological vocation.
The Friends of Parc Safari Foundation oversees all the zoological activities of Parc Safari since December 2002.  The principal mandate of the Foundation is to renew the zoological infrastructures and to collaborate in the preservation of species that are threatened with extinction.”

I am absolutely all for preserving animals from facing extinction, as some of these species are.  And I can rationalise how feeding the grazing animals may be a good thing. Many will unhesitatingly come up to the cars for a nibble of carrot, apple, other vegetable or feed. Others are more leery and will only go for what is dropped or thrown to the ground.

These fiery haired favorites have nearly insatiable appetites and seem to love attention and petting.

The buffalo are less attention seeking, very few separate from the herds to seek food from the cars.  Only a portion of the parc is now traversed by car, the other portion is traversed by foot, where one would find the bears, wolves, hyenas, lions, tigers, foxes, and primates .

The bears are apparently retired circus bears and you can see them still putting their disciplined skills on display, which might be amusing to some but rather heartbreaking in my opinion.
The big cats are fed large steaks of raw meat which are thrown at them from wardens.  It is a pretty pathetic match of cat and mouse, they barely need to move a muscle to catch their prey.  These are perhaps some of the saddest sights within the parc in my eyes. Such beautiful, regal creatures confined to meters versus the miles and miles they would enjoy in the wild.  Then again, no poachers are allowed in Parc Safari!
The primates never cease to amaze me in their exhibit of behaviors so like our own, the way they communicate and nurture their young.

 I captured these two bears looking at one another during their nap, then the one reached out and stroked the others arm and they stayed that way, touching fondly for several minutes.  I’m sure all of these animals would display behaviors of affection, of pain, of societal structure if observed attentively enough.

Over twelve million people have visited Parc Safari over the years to experience moments like these.  Millions of people all over the globe, of various cultures and beliefs, young and old, share a love, a fascination, or a curiosity of animals.  I think it is part of our nature for most of us to try to protect and preserve animals. Many of us certainly protect and preserve our pets and have no doubt in our minds of their intelligence, of their ability to feel pain, of their complex personalities and relationships. The vast exception of this rule is for those poor unfortunate animals that are frequently found on our plates.  October 1st is world vegetarian day, I urge every single person who buys meat and who eats meat, to take a hard look at what really happens from From-farm-to-fridge.