Zoos and circuses: The wrong kind of education about animals

Asian elephants perform for the final time in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus on May 1 in Providence, R.I. (Bill Sikes/Associated Press)

Asian elephants perform for the final time in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus on May 1 in Providence, R.I.
(Bill Sikes/Associated Press)

Donaldson and Kymlicka, co-founders of the Animals in Philosophy, Politics, Law and Ethics research initiative at Queen’s University, published today an op-ed in The Globe and Mail on the issue of animals used in zoos and circuses and what it teaches us.

Growing public unease has prompted the multibillion-dollar zoo industry to rebrand zoos as institutions of “education” rather than “entertainment,” in the hope that this will make captivity seem more acceptable. But notice that this shift is more about the human experience than it is about the situation for the animals. For them, the realities of social and environmental deprivation remain, and so-called enriched zoo habitats merely gloss over the realities of rigid control, manipulation and impoverishment, whether or not animals are trained for public performance.

Click here to read the full article.

Animals in Science Policy Institute

Animals in Science Policy Institute - homepage

Great news to launch the holidays and new year!

We have an important development to report concerning animals used in scientific research, testing and education in Canada. At long last, Canada has an independent body to advocate for these animals. Last week marked the launch of the Animals in Science Policy Institute based in Vancouver, under the direction of Dr. Elisabeth Ormandy. (Our readers may remember Dr.Ormandy as a recent participant in our Hidden Costs/ Hidden Potential poster campaign. She was also a speaker at the 2014 Queen’s conference on “Thinking Outside the Cage: Towards a Non-Speciesist Paradigm for Scientific Research”. The conference report is available here.)

AiSPI envisions “a society where the public ethic, and technological advancements and global communication strategies in the scientific community have made the use of nonhuman animals in science obsolete“. The Institute’s mandate is to:

  • conduct research projects into the efficacy of non-animal alternatives
  • provide up to date resources and information about non-animal alternatives
  • collaborate with stakeholders in science and policy
  • liaise with researchers, governing bodies and other decision-makers about the importance of non-animal alternatives
  • encourage transparency and meaningful public engagement about the use of animals in research, testing and teaching in Canada

Check out AiSPI’s informative and up-to-date website. And read about their recently completed project on “Non-animal alternatives in UBC undergraduate teaching“, and their current project on “High School Dissection“.

Bravo to our Vancouver colleagues!

Mini “Organism in a Chip” is an Award-Winning New Technology

Grimm - Against Animal Testing

According to this press release, “researchers at the Dresden-based institute, working jointly with the Institute for Biotechnology at the Technical University (TU) of Berlin, engineered a new kind of solution that could render the use of animal-based experiments superfluous in medical research: a multi-organ chip that faithfully replicates complex metabolic processes in the human body with startling accuracy.” (our emphasis)

Using the compact multi-organ chip (comparable in size to a one-euro piece), and those of three separate microcircuits, researchers can study the regeneration of certain kidney cells. © Fraunhofer IWS

Using the compact multi-organ chip (comparable in size to a one-euro piece), and those of three separate microcircuits, researchers can study the regeneration of certain kidney cells.
© Fraunhofer IWS

See also the Dodo’s article on this exciting new technology.

Retirement and Adoption Program at Queen’s

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In December, Queen’s Animal Defence submitted a proposal to Queen’s University for establishing a retirement and adoption program for animals used in research at the University. There are many precedents for a program of this kind, at Guelph and other institutions. Earlier this year, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton signed into law an act requiring that publicly funded research facilities, including universities, release dogs and cats to animal rescue groups upon completion of a study, rather than killing them. Universities opposed this legislation, but the Beagle Freedom Project and the elected representatives of the State of Minnesota prevailed. Read about this story here. Now let’s make this change at Queen’s! Please sign our petition here