By Hedge (Bechara) Hitti

6 secrets behind Live Animal Exhibitions and Zoos

A friend calls me asking me to join her for a trip to the Zoo to help educate the school kids about the animals.

Kids love seeing Animals, right?

Do you know the secrets behind live animal exhibitions?

Here are 6 secrets nobody wants you to know:

1 - Live Animal Exhibitions are bad for kids
They contribute to teaching kids cruelty. Instead of saying "Look at the beautiful Lion!" we should really say  "Look at the sad Lion!"
Unless parents are very careful. Sub standard Zoos and live Animal exhibitions can twist a kid's perception or reality.

2 - Animals are not as happy as the organizers want you to believe
A wild animal does not belong in the city. There are just too many people. Too many sounds. Stress and anxiety slowly lower the animal's immune system and eventually lead to health deterioration and sometimes death.

3 - Animals are drugged and abused
Some organizers use tranquilizers and drugs to control the animals. Others will try to irritate the animals to make them roar. The people behind Zoos and Live Animal Exhibitions will do whatever it takes to keep the show going and get your attention. Often at the expense of the animal's welfare.
"The scientific term for repetitive behaviors in captive animals is "Abnormal Repetitive Behavior" also know as ARB. This covers all the strange-looking repetitive behaviors we can recognize in captive animals, like zoo animals. These behaviors are caused by conditions like depression, boredom and psychoses. Some zoos actually give anti-depressants or tranquillizers to control the behavior problems of some of their animals."
(source: http://www.veganpeace.com/animal_cruelty/zoos.htm)

4 - Animals are killed
The animals are shipped in horrible conditions and often stolen from the wild (where most are already endangered) or purchased through questionable suppliers. Many animals die during or shortly after transportation due to neglect and inappropriate care.

5 - Wild animals can transmit diseases
What you don't know CAN hurt you.
"The 2007 discovery of a zoonotic disease in lions illustrates how little we really know about diseases that can be transferred between wild animals and people. The Norovirus described in this report, posted on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website, describes a severe hemorrhagic enteritis which can result in a vascular collapse from the intense bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract."
(source: http://bigcatrescue.org/zoonosis-diseases-that-jump-between-animals-and-humans/)

6 - Animals die prematurely in Zoos
The average lifespan of zoo elephants is about 16-18 years, while wild elephants can live 50-70 years.
Ultimately, animals do not belong in cages, or behind concrete walls. No matter how brightly a wall is painted, or how large a cage is, a zoo environment cannot compare to an animal’s wild habitat.
(source: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/10-reasons-to-skip-your-next-zoo-visit/)

Would you visit or take your kids to a Zoo or Live Animal Exhibition?

Let me know what you think?

Electric shocks use in dog training

My opinion about the use of aversion and force in dog training is no big secret. The whole concept of Bright Animals was to promote humane animal training and in home dog training as a better alternative to outdated techniques.

Far from being a personal opinion, you will find links to various articles and scientific studies that outline the problems of training animals using force at the end of this post.

More like stuff from horror movies, the tools used in traditional training are used to electrocute, pinch and choke dogs into submission. The trainer will hold a remote control in his hand and use it to deliver painful shocks to the dog's neck.

This dog is fitted with an electronic shock collar, the trainer typically holds a remote control in his hand to inflict painful corrections.
This dog is fitted with an electronic shock collar.

Electric training collars are already banned in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany and in some states in Australia however an uninformed person looking to train his dog can often fall victim of these abusive techniques. No dog lover would accept to abuse a dog, but faced with the arguments of a convinced traditional trainer one may end up falling in the trap.

Abusive trainers that refuse to evolve will often seek opportunities in places where electronic collars use is not regulated.

What are these tools?

As its name suggests, a choke chain is used to inflict pain by constricting  the neck.
As its name suggests, a choke chain is used to inflict pain by constricting the neck.

An e-collar is used to deliver painful electric stimulation to the neck area.
An e-collar is used to deliver painful electric stimulation to the neck area.

A prong collar is used to inflict pain by constricting the neck and by pinching the skin.
A prong collar is used to inflict pain by constricting the neck and by pinching the skin.

Why are these tools so bad?

I was recently interviewed by Jessy Khoury on MTV and asked to explain the difference between modern and traditional training (in Arabic).

Another video (also in Arabic) I shot a few years back shows a small behavioral assessment to test the reaction of two dogs against various stimuli. One of these dogs was sent to a farm for training, the other was not. Judge the difference in reaction for yourself. The reaction of these dogs is not only related to the training method but also to the living conditions on training farms.

Links to various studies (for those who like to read more about the subject):

"..., this study shows that even with best practice as advocated by collar manufacturers and trainers, there were differences in the behaviour of dogs that are consistent with more negative emotional states (including anxiety and aversion)" - read more


"Our results indicate that the immediate effects of training with an e-collar give rise to behavioural signs of distress in pet dogs,..." - read more


"If shock and pain are profound, it is possible to induce almost immediate long-term potentiation (LTP), the molecular changes associated with hippocampal memory that will lead to a strong aversion or phobia. The hippocampus is the primary region where fears and anxieties associated with fearful stimuli are thought to originate" - read more


More info can be found on this here.

 In conclusion

A dog should not obey out of fear. And training is not an excuse for a dog to get abused. Modern animal training is here to stay and it helps you create a profound bond with your dog. People involved with humane dog training smile more while working with their dogs and do not have the nasty habit of jerking the leash to force their dogs to listen.

Training should be fun for both human and dog alike.

To end this post on a positive note (Bright Animals students will smile), here is a video of Nana, a dog trained purely using positive methods and that shows how fun and powerful the method really is.

Have fun and happy training!

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How the Animal Welfare Law in Lebanon can go wrong

The Animal Welfare Law will see the light. It will be a stellar achievement for Animals Lebanon and the thousand of great people that support their work. But what will really change once this law is finally be enacted?

Looking at the way we are selectively applying other laws, chances are nothing will change unless we, as a society change as well.

For a law to work in Lebanon, it has to be convenient for everybody. Let's take a moment to look at existing laws in our society that should be applied and are not.

The hunting ban is an example. Every other hunter will tell you the law should not apply to him because he only kills migrating birds, if he shoots something else, it is only because on that day particular day, he was frustrated. The hunting ban is there, but billboards advertising shotguns and glorifying hunting are never taken down.

Endangered storks are some of the animals routinely killed despite the hunting ban.
Endangered storks are some of the animals routinely killed despite the hunting ban.

 

The traffic laws are there. We always stop at red lights unless we are in a hurry.

Indoors smoking ban, is now just a joke. People supposed to care the most about it are breaking it.

I recently declined an invitation to a fund raiser organized at a venue that breaks the indoors smoking ban. The hypocrisy lies in the fact that the fund raiser was organized by a group of people raising money to care for the environment.

Laws change nothing if not respected.

The Animal Welfare Law will not please eveybdoy. Hoarders will not like it and they will come up with their excuses to break it. Abusers come up with excuses to break it and some will even believe the law is wrong.

Fact is, not all laws are perfect. Many laws need improvement but for society to function laws must be respected until they are changed.

I can barely wait to see the Animal Welfare Law enacted. It took years of work and could save countless animals. It would also instill some much needed humanity into our angry society.

Each time we break a law we do not like it, we set the stage for someone to break another law that we might particularly care about.
Every time someone comes up with an excuse to drive through a red light, a bad example about respecting laws is set.
Every cigarette lit indoors is another nail in the coffin of the law.

Animal welfare does not depend only on set of laws, it depends on the small things that each of us does on a day to day basis.

So please support the law, the best you can.

To learn more about Animal Lebanon's campaign.
http://www.animalslebanon.org/law/campaign

The Hamster Cage on the Night Before Christmas.

If you do not believe in chance, this story will probably change your mind.

Coming back from his work the night before Christmas eve, Chadi, an animal lover, decided to take a different road. As he was driving, he caught sight of a dirty cage with some sort of creature moving inside it.

This is the cage where chance was found. A stinky fur ball in a tiny cage.
Chance in the hamster cage where she was found.

On the sidewalk, right in front a pet shop this neglected dog was left suffering. He stopped and tried speaking to the shop owner. He was told that the animal got loose a few days back and got hit by a car. She was now destined for breeding. It was also time to close the shop and the conversation was quickly coming to an end.

In a country like Lebanon where animal welfare laws virtually do not exist the only chance of rescue lied in the man willingly surrendering the dog. But the conversation was just not going well.

Suddenly, there was a lot of noise. Coincidentally, the police happened to be raiding an apartment  in a building right next to the pet shop. So suddenly Chadi and the shop owner were both blocked inside the shop while the police finished their work for the next hour and a half. Plenty of time to talk to the owner.

IMG-20141231-WA0008
First time out of the cage.

 

The dog was named chance.  And after a visit to the vet, she was diagnosed with a broken shoulder and leg. She was also infested in fleas and had worms in her stools.

Chance is currently recovering and looking for a foster home and an adoptive family.  She has been treated for fleas, groomed and dewormed.

Had Chadi not changed his route and had the police raid not taken place, she would probably still be in the cage where she was found.

Please help Chance by spreading the word about her case. She is in need of a permanent home to call her own. For more information, please contact her rescuer (Chadi) at the following numbers: 79 187322 (from Lebanon) or 0096179187322 (internationally).


 

Chance (to the left) With Chadi, her rescuer and his dogs.
Chance (to the left) With Chadi, her rescuer and his dogs.

 

Chadi is an animal lover and is also the founder of the group Parrot Club of Lebanon, he also owns a small show in the Furn El Chebbak area called Bridville2 where you can find all sorts of quality items and accessories for your birds.