Fortnightly Commentary No 62: 25th July 2014 circ. 2000 people



Dear Members and Friends,

I have a generous and financially well-off friend who had business in India and was to fly here and would I come and spend 3 days with her, all expenses paid, at the Leela Hotel in Delhi. Yes, I would! I would come right away! Booked train, did nails, bought new clothes, looked at self in mirror and said “Yes now, you scruffy mongrel, you are ready for The Leela.” I swaggered off the train at Nizamuddin, skipped my usual Cum-Sum coffee in readiness for finer brews ahead, hurried into an auto and raced to the Leela. Dear Readers, you’ve perhaps never set foot in the joint: feels French, feels like French Saigon (no I’ve never been there); feels Russian Tzar; feels Moghul Emperor; feels big, bigger than Delhi, enormous bouquets of fresh flowers built using ladders and floating in the perfumed air. Glimmering all around are chandeliers suspended from a ceiling higher than, higher than the sky. Down below tapestries soft as moss, every corner a morsel of unexpected grandeur. I stride up to the desk wearing my best I-Own-It face. “I’m checking in please.” “Your name?” “my name is blahblahblah. I am staying with your hotel guest So-and-so.” “So-and-so?” The receptionist looks deep into the crystal ball of his computer screen. “I’m sorry, we show no one by that name.” “Keep lookin’” I say, a model of tolerance. I foggily recall her maiden name. “Try such and so.” Receptionist seems to blush. “No, I’m terribly sorry. No such and so, either.” “Ooookayyy,” I say with faux confidence. “So!” more quietly. “So. So, can you direct me to your wash room please?” “oh yes madam yes”. I sit down on a tight weave silk and wool chair, and call her in America. “Ahhh, next month? August, not July?! Ohhh, silly! hahaha. No, no problem AT all. Hahaha.” I paid a fortune to get home on a tatkal booking but wow, how sweet it felt to be where I belong, surrounded by dogs and donkeys and cows, their muddy paws and foody mouths all over me, just one of the freeloaders.

Holy Cow

Down To Earth magazine has gathered a range of vital information to help us understand the crisis of antibiotics use in food. They’re called “superbugs” and this report is a “must read” for all of us to explain to others why what we’re feeding animals is killing us. Read more.

Fruits of collaboration

With IFA fast approaching, there is bubbling excitement and activity in the Jaipur federation which is playing co-host to the national conference. The local federation is keeping its foot on the throttle with the camel vigilance campaign and charted out follow up actions for the same. Pune federation meanwhile has made steady progress in getting names of member organisations included in the internship programme of Maharashtra State Fisheries and Agriculture University. Activity in Kerala is now focused on three cities- Trivandrum, Thrissur and Kochin, with respect to the KFAPO-Drools adoption programme. Kochi is leading the pack with its first adoption camp scheduled for the end of August.

Gods in Chains: Let’s Rescue the 22!
In defiance of a ban issued in 2009 which outlawed elephants in zoos, 22 elephants remain trapped and desperate to get out.

From captive to care-free, from sorrow to sanctuary, FIAPO’s Free the Last 22 campaign is dedicated to getting 22 miserable elephants out of the 9 zoos and into the relative freedom and delight of sanctuary. Read more here and help us free the last 22 elephants from the cruel conditions of zoos.

Donate and help save the last 22
India For Animals, 2014
Preparations for the conference are in full swing now. Registrations, nominations, awards, contests, speakers have become the buzzwords for the entire team. With the Clarks Care for Animals Award now open on Facebook, both participation and tension are high. In between all this humdrum, we are hopeful that IFA 2014 is truly going to be a celebration of animal protection movement in the nation.
Register for IFA

Living Free


Living Free is spreading like fire in the southern part of the country! From Chennai to Kanchipuram to Vellore to Anantpur to Tuticorin, more than 2500 people have been reached out to in the past one month and the number is growing. The campaign is also spreading in Delhi, with newer volunteers, new excitement. FIAPO team also head out to speak out for the animals and created quite a buzz in Connaught Place in New Delhi, having lots of fun and reaching out to couple of hundred people.

Come, help make the world a better place! Please email if you want to bring the movement to your part of the country!

EU has curbed antibiotic resistance by banning antibiotics

Europe’s response to the antibiotic resistance threat has been to ban the use of routine and systemic antibiotics use in poultry food. But India’s guidelines are only voluntary, and warnings go unheeded. Down To Earth provides a fascinating report on the rampant and amature abuse of antibiotics in animal farming. Read more.

First-ever Pet Travel Information and Facilitation Desk at Delhi Airport

Animal handling and clearance procedures are getting smoothed out at India’s “Pet Fly” service center for folks travelling with pets. Read more.

Anaconda Bred in Captivity 

India Express gets it wrong in suggesting the birth of a captive green anaconda at a zoo has brought cheer to “animal lovers.” Animals in confinement suffer such acute daily stress and trauma that mating and delivering young in zoos is problematic. This reporter is impervious to the animals’ perspective; it’s a good look at the media’s oblivion about those who capitalize on captives. Read more.

Debate over contraceptives to control dog population

An animal protection organisation in Jharkhand has started using contraceptives in stray dogs, though AWBI and other regulatory bodies have not approved the practice. Times of India reports. Read more.

Zoo Trading Cages Horned Owls and More…

More uninformed zoo reporting from a TOI writer who calls the entry of a four-year-old white tigress a “blessing” for the Lucknow zoo. Read more.

Violating norms, two-year-old elephant taken to Mumbai for film-shooting

The Times of India reports that AWBI has given permission for a baby elephant to be moved from Jaipur to Mumbai for film shooting, violating basic tenets of good parenting for elephants. This curious permission is reported to result in extreme trauma for elephants. Read more.

Expert Advises Mahouts to Train Elephants through Love

Magaret Whittaker, renowned animal behaviourist, spent three days with mahouts at Bannerghatta park (Pune) to encourage mahouts to win elephants over with love. Whittaker was invited by BBP and Dr Manilal Valliyate, director, veterinary affairs, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to train mahouts taking care of 15-year-old Sundar, who was rescued from a temple in Kolhapur, Maharashtra a few months ago. She also interacted with more than 20 mahouts and kavadis who take care of 14 other elephants at the park. Read more.

Horses Left to Die After Government Service

The death of a great show jumping horse, who animal lovers point out was essentially abandoned after service, and the fate of animals who are old retired public servants is sympathetically reported by TOI.  Read more.

Camel Milk Sale Still Illegal

Though some Rebari camel-herders claim camel milk has medicinal effects, its sale is illegal in India.  The Times of India suggests lifting the ban may be the only way to save the “ship of the desert” but FIAPO disagrees. Commercial production of camels’ milk subjects the species to the same risks of confinement that plague all animals bred and housed for milk production. Read more.

I have a friend who works summers in northern Canada as a forest fire scout. He lives completely apart from people; his food is helicoptered in once a month, and he has a lookout tower. But alone, he is not. His world is “peopled” by Jimmy the Squirrel, Maggie the Bear, Mrs. Mouse, and dozens of other friends who communicate rather indirectly and like to snack or snooze undisturbed. Mrs Mouse makes quick work of a single peanut but Jack’s life has stilled and settled so completely in the mountains that he is able to see Mrs Mouse in her entirety, and appreciate the excavation of the single peanut, and shrink his universe such that her small banquet seems formidable enough: he’s able to see the world, for a brief moment in time, through Mrs Mouse’s eyes. Jack’s communion with wild folk of the forest reminds me how even in the jumbly surround of a city, jungly friends are everywhere, and if we’re able to keep to our habits we’re sure to see repeat visitors often enough that we can begin to know many unique personalities. Being friends with wild animals surely must bring out the very best in animal people, because to love someone truly wild is to take him or her on his or her most personal terms, watching in stillness and admiring in silence. There is no slobbery puppy hug or kneading cat paws as our prize. Our reward is that he or she comes close enough for us to see, to say good morning with a beak scraped against a branch, or to amble as a beetle or to scramble as a rat who has spied the cat’s food, who comes and goes before we even absorb what we saw, who we saw, or remember that we are supposed to be afraid of her, for some silly reason.

Best wishes,

Erika Abrams

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