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Why I'm Against the Manila Ocean Park

Posted by siyerwin on Monday, November 26, 2007 at 5:58 PM

Are you not wondering why dolphin shows and and marine parks are popping up like mushrooms here in the Philippines? First we have Subic's Ocean Adventure and then last year we had the Indonesian-based traveling dolphin show at SM Mall of Asia. And now, the newest and boldest addition is the Manila Ocean Park which is said to be so high-tech, it rivals other oceanariums ever created.

The Philippines is turning out to be a good market for these businesses. In fact, Manila Ocean Park is tapping into the Filipinos' penchant for "malling" and seamlessly built a mall right on the park. Pretty darn clever if I may say so.

However, with this country's poor record in animal welfare, one wonders about how this mega-structure with billions of Pesos in funding will fare in ensuring the humane treatment of the animals in its care, especially those that do not fare well in captivity. One puzzles over how on Earth they are going to prevent the exposure of these animals to the pollutants in the waters of Manila Bay. Will the marine animals be treated differently from how Conde, the maltreated race horse, was and will the government agencies entrusted to make sure that they are be able to do their job this time?

Below is the official statement of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA-Philippines) regarding the Manila Ocean Park. The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and Earth Island Institute (EII-Philippines) share these sentiments and unite in crying out against the opening of another marine park in our country.

If you share these sentiments, I urge you to post about it in your blogs and ask your friends and family not to support the Manila Ocean Park and Ocean Adventure and any other dolphin shows that may pop up any time. Please remember that each time you pay for an entrance into these zoos, you're encouraging more businessmen to kidnap more wild animals from their natural habitats and from the freedom of the open seas and bring them into the miserable life of captivity. Please feel free to forward this to your friends through email.

------------PeTA Statement Starts Here------------

We are opposed to keeping animals in captivity in aquariums because of the suffering it causes them.

At home in the ocean, orcas and dolphins may swim up to 100 miles a day, but in captivity, most are given only 60-foot tanks. The chlorine, copper sulfate, and other harsh chemicals used to keep tanks clean causes some dolphins to go blind and makes their skin peel off. And because dolphins navigate by echolocation- -bouncing sonar waves off other objects to determine shape, density, distance, and location--the reverberations from their own sonar bouncing off the tank walls drives some dolphins insane. And marine mammals in captivity often develop ulcers from the stress of being gawked at for long periods of time each day.

In the wild, orca whales live in closely knit pods, or family units, each made up of a mother, her offspring, and their offspring. Orcas never leave their mothers, and a pod's adult males are older sons, not breeding mates. Dolphins swim together in family pods of three to 10 individuals or tribes of hundreds. Some researchers believe these mammals may be the most socially bonded beings on earth. So imagine the trauma when these intelligent animals are torn from their lifelong families and caged alone or with strangers in the artificial world of a marine park.

Capturing even one wild orca or dolphin disrupts the entire pod. Orcas and dolphins become frantic upon seeing their companions captured and may even try to save them. When Namu, a wild orca captured off the coast of Canada, was towed to the Seattle Public Aquarium in a steel cage, a group of wild orcas followed for miles. When one captive orca at Sea World--San Diego, Corky, was played an audio tape of her wild relatives, she immediately recognized their "voices" and began to tremble uncontrollably.

Marine mammals' difficulty in adapting to this alien world can be seen in their dramatically diminished life expectancies in captivity: While female orcas can live as long as 90 years in the wild, orcas taken captive survive only an average of seven to eight years. Dolphins can live up to 50 years, but more than half of all captive dolphins die within the first two years of captivity; those remaining live an average of only six years. Life in a tank is literally a death sentence.

And while aquariums claim they are educational, a true understanding and appreciation of wildlife cannot come from looking at bored, frustrated animals trapped in tanks, every aspect of their existences regulated. What many people really learn when they look at caged animals is how animals act in captivity. Aquariums also teach that it's acceptable to capture wild animals and imprison them.

We at PETA prefer to see study and learning about animals done on their terms, in their own natural environments. Animals who belong to endangered species are no happier in cages and tanks than animals who are plentiful. The ultimate salvation for those animals lies in protection of their habitats, not in a life sentence in a tank. On those occasions when animals must be kept in captivity (i.e. those who have been born into captivity or are unable to be rehabilitated) a for-profit aquarium situation is still far from ideal. Far better are non-profit sanctuaries that place the welfare of the animals above catering to the public or making a profit.

Caring people around the globe have already started to make life a little better for orcas, dolphins, and other marine mammals. Consumer boycotts have forced all of England's marine mammal exhibits to close. In Brazil, it is now illegal to use marine mammals for entertainment. Israel has prohibited the importation of dolphins for use in marine parks. Canada no longer allows beluga whales to be captured and exported. South Carolina has banned exhibits of whales and dolphins. You can make a difference by urging marine parks to rehabilitate and return captive dolphins and orcas to their families.

-PeTA-Philippines

The Story of Rex

Posted by siyerwin on Thursday, November 22, 2007 at 10:01 PM

Below is a wonderful account of Alya B. Honasan, a tireless PAWS supporter, about how she met a dog named Rex who, with a wag of his tail, teaches her a most beautiful lesson. She's looking for a good home for Rex but I'm not alone in thinking that Rex had Alya at "hello". :) Get a box of Kleenex before proceeding.

Photos and text reposted from http://bananamama.blogspot.com

----------------------------

Rex the Dog

WHAT really got me was, he wagged his tail.

I had gone to the PAWS shelter last November 1, All Saints' Day, to light a candle on Muffin's memorial plaque and check out the little asPins, maybe to find a baby sister to bring home to Banana by Christmas. Then Anna Cabrera of PAWS took me to see the Labrador that the Animal Kingdom Foundation had referred to them for rescue and I found myself growing weak in the knees once again in the face man's profound cruelty to the creatures who least deserve it.

It was supposed to be a day for the dead, and I actually thought the dog would soon be among them. Call me nuts, but I found myself in indignant tears, and immediately praying to the high heavens that whoever did this to him would one day die a slow, painful death and barbecue in hell. The dog was a smelly, patchy bag of bones with a whole torso of prominent ribs and open wounds all over his head. The skin around his feet were swollen and wrinkled like a sharpe's, but definitely not as appealing. His hair was almost gone, and he was so absolutely caked in mange, I cringed. He threw up some yellow liquid even as Anna and I watched him. And then, he turned his brown eyes to us—and wagged his tail. Not a weak, tentative wiggle, but a wag as vigorous as his weak body could muster, which wasn't bad at all. Foolish little angel, I thought. Don't you know by now that people are evil, and we can be such bad news, and that we really don't deserve you? Apparently, he hadn't heard.

I couldn't get the dog out of mind over that weekend, and made a deal with Anna that, if things were too busy at the shelter that coming Monday, then she should have him taken to Vets in Practice, and I would pay for his treatment. I mentioned the dog to my friends Ame and Joy that weekend, and they volunteered to share in the expenses, so I was further emboldened. Anna and I had a frank discussion—if he was seriously ill, and it would cost too much to save him, and the money could actually save five other dogs, then I would leave it to her to decide if he had to go.

Come Monday, November 5, Anna called me as she and Liza brought the dog to VIP. On the phone. Dr. Nielsen Donato revealed that what we thought was a chocolate lab—yes, he was that filthy—was actually black, and that he hadn't been carried, but he had actually BOUNDED up the stairs to the clinic. "He's got the spirit," Dr. Nick Carpio said. "I've seen a lot worse. This guy wants to live." And soon, we had christened the dog Rex, for resurrection. I resolved then and there that I was going to try my darnedest to give this dog a second life.

I went to see Rex that same Monday after yoga class, and he had gotten his first bath in what may have been weeks. He was skinny, but still wagging his tail and immediately burrowing his head in my hands. He went for the food bowl with serious focus. We were in business.

Over the next few days, we learned that the swollen appendages were nothing malignant, just a major tick infestation. Rex had bad mange, but no heartworm, and his organs were functioning well. It was simply malnutrition and neglect, and so far, he was fine.

I had tried to keep some distance, asking Anna to find him a foster home and assuming he would go home to the PAWS shelter after discharge. But somehow, I couldn't do it. It's an ego thing, I will admit, whatever messianic complex I have coming into self-righteous overdrive. I want to take this dog, nurse him back to health, and make him beautiful and happy again as one big, reverberating "F-CK YOU" to every damned soul who has ever hurt a dog. Maybe I can't single-handedly stop the dog meat traffic, or save every dog who's been kicked or beaten or thrown into a dog fight, or keep flaky idiots from buying cute pups and locking them away when they prove too much too handle. But like I told Anna, I have to stay a little myopic here, or my heart will keep breaking. I have to look at just this dog first, and do my bit, one dog at a time.

So, I am writing this November 18, 13 days after we took Rex to VIP and a week since I brought him home. God does keep watch; I prayed hard to Him and St. Francis, patron of the animals, to make Rex's homecoming easy. Now I have my brother's support, and some house help to walk him and feed him when I'm not home. We've built a little cage for him, and he curls up in it contentedly when we put him back in after a short poo break. Even the other dogs, Larry the alpha black Lab and Ruffa the grandmother Dalmatian, seem to have accepted him.

And my darling Banana? As I've always known, my baby has a good and kind heart. There has been no jealousy, no tantrums, no aggression. I thank God she's so secure in her love, she doesn't mind sharing Mama's attention, even for a while.
Now, Rex shoves his wet, drooling, still mangy face in my hands whenever he sees me, and rubs his body against my leg. I gave him his first mange bath outside the clinic the other day, and the sponge came away black—but I'm seeing more of his skin everyday. Most of his wounds have dried up, although I see some fresh ones when thick encrustations of skin fall away. Even his tail is skinny! But he's gotten more meat on his bones, he doesn't stink anymore, and I'm seeing patches of his thick black hair growing back. We're going back to VIP on Saturday for a check-up.

I am humbled by the joy Rex shows, even after everything he has gone through. To paraphrase Neruda, oh, how many times I have wanted to have a tail—how I envy his open spirit and his freedom from anger. Someday, I hope I can learn to forgive whoever did this to Rex, just as he apparently has. How much better would this world be if every person had a heart as big as a dog's? How perfect would it be if we could shake off bitterness like water, like a Lab does after a swim, with such vigor and determination? What a gift indeed.

My friends are already kidding me that Rex is mine. I like to think he always will be, in a way. And if nobody takes him and is willing to take care of him with the special care that this miracle dog deserves, then I AM keeping him. But I live with an 83-year-old mom, and Banana had to learn to walk gently around her so she doesn't knock her over; you know how Labradors are like small, panting freight trains when they careen towards you. If Rex stays with me, he will be walked, fed, loved, and taken care of. He will live in a kennel during the day, and when he's well enough, have the run of my garage with Larry and Ruffa for the late afternoons and evenings. But I can't bring him indoors like Banana.

Here's the deal: If you, my friend, or anybody you KNOW WELL wants him, and if you want to take him indoors and give him a really good, cushy life, then he's yours. I mean a life indoors with you and your family, occasional car trips, walks to any nearby patch of green—he's a Lab, he'll be the gentlest, most playful thing on earth, and he deserves some fun and a bigger world than the one he's had to live in.

The bad news is, they estimate him to be about 3 years old, and the fact is, this kind of malnutrition usually has some permanent damage, so there is a possibility that he may develop problems in the future, despite everything we're doing now—multivitamins, mange medicine, antibiotics, etc. The good news is, he's an extraordinary dog with a second life, and I am only going to turn him over when he's healthy and fully recovered again. But please assure me that you're committed, because you've going to have to answer to me!

So there. Just letting you know my latest canine adventure, and if there is somebody out there who really wants him and can give him a better life than I can—I pray that St. Francis leads you to each other, and I will know that my part in Rex's journey will have been fulfilled. I believe in fate; I'm still waiting to learn if I'm just a stopover, or the final destination in this dog's life. Either way, it's been a privilege. It hasn't been easy, but hey—gifts come in different packages.

Me.Find.Home is still alive and licking! :)

Posted by siyerwin on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 at 11:58 PM

Ahem. Let me clear my throat first. Meow. Ok, it's clear.

Hello, World! It's me your friendly neighborhood Pinoy animal adoption blog sounding off!

At last, I'm officially ending another months long hibernation from blogging duties. What's the reason for the brief hiatus? Well, let's just say that I got caught up living my other lives (yes I'm living the feline lifestyle) and spent too much of my creative sap into them, leaving little or none for volunteer work. Yes, that's just the truth of it. Most of my time was spent on other things that may be of more or less or equal importance, my least favorite of which is that demanding day job (ack!).

But enough of the excuses and let me get on with it while the words flow.

As my cat Prada would say "meowow", which, translated to human-speak, means "What's up, Doc?", I will try to give you a rundown of what has happened during the last four months I went on the sideline of volunteer work (at least those that made their way to my memory bank and there stayed):

  1. Cats' Lair and Me.Find.Home launched an off line fund raising campaign by coming up with a postcard set of images from this blog. I so regret not being able to post here about it as it might have helped me sell more. 100% of the funds raised went to the needs of the homeless kitties at PARC.
  2. Successful adoptions kept on happening thanks to the hard work of other volunteers and PAWS directors and staff! I kept getting whiffs of good news through email and through the ubiquitous SMS about this and that dog getting adopted. Though I seem to remember no news about the cats and that's the bad side of the news. I went to babybranny's multiply photo album and found this:
    Yikes, the cats way outnumber the dogs!!! So do the cats win?!!! Definitely not. The cats lose big time. Homeless kitties alert!!!
  3. A slew of PAWS big events, Animal Blessing, Dine with PAWS, Scaredy Cats and Dogs happened as planned thanks to the brave and tireless efforts of the PAWS' active volunteers and directors. Accounts and pictures of the events may be found at the PAWS website and at babybranny's multiply site. PAWS has also launched its Memorial Wall where you can reserve a memorial tile to remember your beloved animal companions that have passed on. If you want to know more about the PAWS Memorial Wall, please get in touch with PAWS at 4751688 or email them at philpaws [at] yahoo [dot] com.
  4. Some bigwigs from abroad are bringing in an oceanarium into our, um, shores (no pun intended). Hype is being built up for this supposedly huge thing for marine life education and tourism in our country. PAWS and its friends in the animal welfare advocacy are crying out against this project which is expected to take its toll on poor marine animals quietly living their lives in the wild. If you want to learn more about marine animals, watch Animal Planet or National Geographic Channel. You'll learn more from those cable channels than you ever will from any zoo with big fancy glass cages to boot. Wild Marine animals inside aquariums are homeless animals!!!
  5. Homeless chickens at the shelter!!! I don't have the full story on this one yet but I had to put it here because of it's smile factor. This kind of thing doesn't doesn't happen everyday (at least not at PARC). The chickens have been adopted by the way. Not by Jollibee or KFC but by vegetarian who's going to bring them home to the farm all the way to Palawan.
  6. More shelter updates, stories of rescues and adoptions and images at babybranny's site. Thanks, Liza for keeping your site updated! :)
That's it for now. But before I end the post, an adoption pitch for two of my PARC buddies, Emil and 1-2-3. I've blogged about them here and here. Please help us find a suitable home for these wonderful animals. 1-2-3 has got to be the longest-staying animal at the shelter. And Emil is too nice of a dog to get stuck in an animal shelter.

One thing that keeps on inspiring this blogger is the help other blogs have been giving the homeless animals. Bloggers stumbling on this site are generously providing links and they keep at it even when the site is inactive.

Links help us reach more people who might be able to help us bring the homeless home!!!

Thank you very much from the bottom of my cat's cute little beating heart.

Join the Blog Brigade for the Homeless Animals!

Blogging about shelter cats and dogs and providing links with each other will give the homeless animals better chances at getting adopted. Let's link up and watch the web work its magic. - Click -

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