Tag Archives: animal rights

What Doesn’t Separate Us From Animals 5

A new study described in The New York Times found that ravens can recognize the voices of old friends after years of separation. Current Biology reports that a group of birds lived together for three years, then were separated for three years. Researchers recorded the calls of some of the separated birds towards the end of the three-year separation (during which time their calls may have changed) and played them to the other birds, who responded with friendly calls.

The birds’ friendly response demonstrated that they recognized their friends, because they responded differently to birds they didn’t like. Lead researcher Markus Böckle of the University of Vienna explained that when ravens answer calls from others they don’t like, they use deeper voices. The birds could also distinguish birds they did not know.

Ravens have friends and foes and remember them for years. Yet one more characteristic that does not distinguish humans from animals.

 Photo credit: Sergey Yeliseev

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Thai Government Said to Slaughter Elephants to Steal Their Babies

Originally published on Care2.

No place is safe for elephants in Thailand right now, including sanctuaries and rescue centers.

The trouble started with tourist centers clamoring for more baby elephants because they draw tourists, and tourists spend money.

Thailand’s government allegedly complied: officials appear to have underwritten the slaughter of adult elephants living in national parks in order to steal their babies.

Baby elephants stolen for tourism endure unthinkable suffering. “They are immobilized, beaten mercilessly, and gouged with nails for days at a time. These ritualized “training” sessions leave the elephants badly injured, traumatized, or even dead.”

The leaders of two respected elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, the Elephant Nature Park and the Wildlife Friends of Thailand, spoke out against the government-sponsored massacre, and in what looks like retaliation, the government raided their facilities, confiscated resident elephants, and threatened to confiscate more.

Help protect the elephants in Thai sanctuaries and the brave people who care for them and speak out on behalf of wild elephants by sending Thailand’s Tourism Authority a message that you will not visit Thailand until the government stops raiding elephant sanctuaries, returns confiscated animals, and takes effective action to protect wild elephants.


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New Technology is More Reliable and Ethical Than Animal Experiments

Originally published on Care2.

If you want to know how to cure diseases in humans, you want to test experimental treatments on whatever else is most similar. For years scientists have tested their hypotheses on non-human animals, like mice and rats. But extrapolating the results of medical and other scientific research from non-human animals to humans is a dubious undertaking at best. Other animals’ biologies are not the same as ours. They have similarities, often more than we like to admit, but not enough to draw reliable conclusions about the safety of medical interventions in human beings.

As reported by the American Anti-Vivisection Society, “Acetaminophen, for example, is poisonous to cats but is a therapeutic in humans; penicillin is toxic in guinea pigs but has been an invaluable tool in human medicine; morphine causes hyper-excitement in cats but has a calming effect in human patients; and oral contraceptives prolong blood-clotting times in dogs but increase a human’s risk of developing blood clots. Many more such examples exist.”

Not only are the results of animal experiments of limited use (if not downright dangerous), they are also cruel, painful and kill most of their subjects. 95% of the over 100 million animals who suffer and die in laboratories — this includes not just medical tests but food, cosmetic, chemical, and purely academic experiments — have no protection from cruelty. The federal Animal Welfare Act, which ostensibly protects animals in laboratories, doesn’t cover mice, rats, birds, and cold-blooded animals. As long as a lab-affiliated committee approves an experiment, the experimenter can do whatever he or she wants to these living, feeling creatures.

Happily, some scientists have turned their attention towards creating more effective and ethical alternatives to vivisection, like computer models and tissue cultures that have more in common with human physiology than any animal does. The Harvard Crimson reports that researchers recently developed a device that “simulates the microenvironment of the human intestine by creating a miniaturized three-dimensional scaffold that supports growth and development of a patient’s own cells—even including microbes essential for digestion and normal physiology.”

The lead researcher, Harvard University Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering Director Donald E. Ingber, said that one motive for his work is “the problem that animal testing really doesn’t accurately predict what happens in humans.” According to The Crimson, Ingber believes the new technology may allow scientists “to pursue a more comprehensive understanding of cellular pathways and medical prognoses.” It could be especially valuable for research into Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Harvard’s Assistant Director for Undergraduate Studies in Biomedical Engineering, Sujata Bhatia, said that the new device “does such a nice job of mimicking the actual environment of the intestine, it could be an amazing tool for both biomedical students and biomedical engineers.”

Ingber anticipates more devices that will improve upon and replace animal research, including technologies replicating human lungs and hearts and even the interactions among multiple organs. This is good news for animals and humans alike.



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