Sea Shepherd

Monday, July 19, 2010

Be Aware of What You Wear

With so many wonderful alternatives to wool, fur, and leather, there's simply no need to use animal skins to cover your own skin. For every wool sweater, leather belt or jacket, or bit of fur trim, animals are tortured and mutilated in ways that would make any compassionate person's skin crawl. Sheep, cows, foxes, rabbits, minks, and other animals used for their fleece, fur, or skins feel pain and suffer just like the dogs and cats in our own homes, yet chunks of their flesh are hacked off, they are electrocuted, their necks are snapped, and their throats are slit open, often without any painkillers. Join kind people everywhere and shed your skins-wear only compassionate, animal-free clothing.


Alpaca wool:

Alpaca farms are a growing business in North America, though these gentle creatures naturally reside 14,000 feet up in the Andes Mountains of South America. Alpacas stand about four feet tall, grow to approximately 150 pounds and are undeniably adorable; envision Bambi with shaggy fur and a mop top.

Removed from their natural habitat and forced into confinement, alpacas face a host of health issues compounded by intolerance to moderate weather; loss of appetite due to warm temperatures often leads to fatty liver disease, and the stress of living in confinement can lead to ulcers. Alpaca are prone to parasites and respond poorly to overcrowding, travel and improper diet.

Prized for their soft, delicate fur, most Alpacas are unnaturally shorn, but many are also killed for their fur and meat. Some companies claim their products are derived from Alpacas that "died of natural causes." This is extremely unlikely.


These docile rabbits are gentle, sociable animals with long, silken hair. Though angoras are not killed for their fur, they are shorn regularly and kept in cramped cages for the duration of their eight-year life span. Since males generate only about 75% of the wool that females produce, males are considered an industry byproduct and most are routinely killed at birth. The surviving females are treated much the same as rabbits raised for meat and endure confined lives of loneliness and boredom. Rabbits require regular exercise, and angoras confined to cages can develop painful bone deformities.


A valued and expensive fiber, cashmere is the fine hair that originally came from the underbelly of the Asiatic goat. Today, cashmere is derived from 68 breeds of goats in 12 countries. Cashmere goats generate fine hair with a diameter below 19 microns (in contrast, human hair has a diameter of 75 microns). These goats are kept in conditions that vary from extensive grazing to factory farm-like conditions. In some countries, the goats are hand combed to remove the fibers; in most, the terrified animals are shorn months prior to their natural shedding, leaving the goats exposed to cold temperatures and the chance of illness and death. Cashmere goats are often ear-notched and de-horned, and males not suitable for breeding are castrated without anesthesia and sold for meat after their first fiber harvest.

There are varying qualities of cashmere: At 12-14 microns thick, pashmina, which comes from goats in Kashmir and Tibet, is classified as the finest cashmere. Shahtoosh shawls, popular fashion symbols throughout the world, come from the endangered Tibetan antelope, Chiru. Referred to as "shawls of death" by the government of India, the burgeoning worldwide demand for shahtoosh shawls is leading to the extinction of the Chiru, which is always killed for its fur. At least five animals are slaughtered to produce a single shawl.

Down and Feathers:

If you look around your home, chances are you will find items filled with down. Many jackets, vests, coats, comforters, pillows, and sleeping bags are down-filled, and manufacturers boast of its insulating qualities. They neglect to tell you that down, the very soft feathers from the breasts of geese and ducks, is either purchased as a slaughterhouse byproduct or violently plucked from live animals. The geese unlucky enough to be plucked alive are later slaughtered or force-fed to make pate de foie gras.

Feathers from ostriches, peacocks and other exotic birds frequently adorn hats, handbags and other fashion items. Contrary to what you would like to think, these feathers do not fall out naturally; the feathers are either plucked while the bird is still alive or removed after the bird is slaughtered.

Ostriches, raised for their meat, leather, eggs, and feathers, naturally roam the open plains and live upwards of 75 years. Farmed ostriches are confined to small spaces, often indoors, and slaughtered at only 12 to 14 months.


The horrors of the fur industry are far-reaching: Farmed fur animals are imprisoned in tiny wire cages, raised under brutally cold conditions (to thicken the coat) and anally-electrocuted or gassed to death. Some are skinned while they are still alive. Larger fur-bearing animals are ensnared in the wild in steel-jawed leghold traps and left to await their trapper. In a desperate attempt to flee, some animals chew off their own leg or paw to escape. Since the traps do not discriminate, up to 50% of the trapped animals, many domestic cats and dogs, are discarded as "trash animals."


Leather is more than just a byproduct of the meat industry; it's a manufactured good essential to the meat trade, so buying leather directly supports the meat industry. The animals on the leather industry hit list include cow, deer, sheep, snake, alligator, crocodile, ostrich, lizard, kangaroo, and toad. The more desirable soft and supple leathers come from baby animals-calves, lambs and even unborn calves.

The environmental implications of processing leather are devastating: The production of leather requires the use of formaldehyde, lead, zinc and cyanide-based products. Leather products are 'tanned' with chemical agents that stabilize the fibers so that the leather is no longer biodegradable. Over 95% of all leather produced in the U.S. is chrome tanned, and all wastes containing chromium are considered hazardous by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

If we care about the environment, we'll forgo leather for the wide selection of faux leather shoes, belts and coats available in most stores. And if we don't eat animals for ethical reasons, we shouldn't wear them.


Mohair comes from the white Angora goat, a small and delicate animal prized for its soft and lustrous fiber. The original Angora goats came from Asia Minor, in what is now modern Turkey. The goats were even smaller than they are today and were crossed with larger, meat-type goats to increase body size and fiber production. Very large herds of Angora goats are isolated on farms, purely for mohair production. Intolerably sensitive to cold and parasites, the goats need protection from the cold and chills for several days after their fleece is removed.


Silk comes from the caterpillars of the silk moth, which protect themselves by spinning silk strands to form a cocoon. Each worm may produce up to a mile and a half of continuous thread. When metamorphosis is complete and the moth is prepared to exit the cocoon, a naturally secreted chemical eats its way through the silk strands, freeing the moth. To retain a single, unbroken thread, the moth is killed before it is ready to emerge, typically by boiling, baking or steaming the worm alive. Nearly 1,500 pupas are killed to produce just 100 grams of silk.


The very fact that sheep are sheared for their wool is an unnatural act: Left to themselves without human interference, sheep would grow just enough wool to protect themselves from the weather. Scientific interference, however, has created wool-producing machines with an unnatural overload of wool that often encompasses half their body weight, bringing misery and death from heat exhaustion during warmer months.

At just a few weeks old, lamb's ears are punched, their tails are amputated and males are castrated with no sedative. Most wool comes from Merino sheep, bred to have excessive, wrinkly skin. More skin means more wool, but the wrinkles attract urine, moisture and flies, which lay eggs in the folds of skin, called 'flystrike.' The hatched maggots literally consume the sheep alive, sometimes eating down to the bone in the hind legs or even into the abdomen. Using no anesthetic, farmers carve out large folds of skin from the sheep's back and legs to discourage flystrike, an operation called mulesing.

Sheep are shorn before they would naturally and slowly shed their winter coats. Shearers, paid by volume, work quickly and often carelessly, frequently shearing off the flesh of terrified sheep. Once shorn, many sheep die of exposure. Aging sheep are transported long distances to slaughterhouses without food or water, and spent Australian sheep are sent to the Middle East in ships much like those used during the slave trade. The sheep who survive the trip have their throats slit in Moslem ritual slaughter.

Wool pulled from the skin of slaughtered sheep and lambs is known as 'skin wool.'


Felt is an extension of the wool and fur industries and is produced using a technique that compresses and hardens the wool or fur fibers into pliable material. Fur felt hats are made from a blend of tame and wild rabbits, but "better quality" fur felt hats also include some beaver hair in them. Historically, X markings were used in fur felt hats to indicate the blend of fur incorporated into the hat: The more wild fur included in the blend, the higher the X marking for the hat. Generally, 2X was the lowest rating and 100X was the highest.

Moving poem about an animal that passed

I Stood Beside Your Bed Last Night
Author Unknown.

I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep.
I could see that you were crying, you found it hard to sleep.
I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear.
"Its me, I haven't left you, I'm well, I'm fine, I'm here"
I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea.
You were thinking of the many times your hands reached down to me.
I was with you at the shops today, your arms were getting sore.
I want to take your parcels, I wished I could do more.
I was with you at my grave today, you tend it with such care.
I want to reassure you that I'm not lying there.
I walked with you towards the house as you fumbled for the key,
I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said "It's me".
You looked so very tired and then you sank into a chair,
I tried so hard to let you know that I was standing there.
Its possible for me to be so near you everyday,
to say to you with certainty "I never went away".
You sat there very quietly, then smiled, I think you knew
That in the stillness of that evening I was very close to you.
The day is over.... I smile and watch you yawning
and say, " Good Night, Sweet Dreams, God Bless,
I'll see you in the morning".
And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide
I'll rush to greet you and well stand together side by side.
I have so many things to show you, there's much for you to see.
Be patient, live your journey out; then come home and be with me.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy Birthday Dalai Lama


Tibetans around the world are celebrating the 75th birthday of the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet.

The Dalai Lama addressed a crowd of well-wishers in Dharamshala, his adopted hometown in India, where he has lived in exile since 1959.  The Buddhist monk said when looking at the pictures and posters depicting his life, he realizes his life has not been wasted. 

In neighboring Nepal, exiled Tibetans celebrated the Dalai Lama's birthday in a camp on the outskirts of the capital, Kathmandu.

News reports say police detained for questioning about 20 Tibetans in Nepal.  Officials said they would not permit anti-China demonstrations, although birthday celebrations would be allowed. 

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang refused to comment on the Dalai Lama's birthday celebrations.  

Qin told reporters at a regular daily briefing that only two dates in Tibet's history are important:  March 28, 1951, when, as he said, "Tibet was Liberated peacefully;" and May 23, 1959, when, in his words, Tibet adopted democratic reform.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.  China accuses him of inciting a separatist movement in Tibet.  He says he is not seeking independence for Tibet, just greater autonomy.  

Monday, July 5, 2010

BP Insider Admits Disaster Call Center Is A Diversion, Don't Even Take N...

Will BP Stop Burning Sea Turtles to Avoid a Lawsuit?

We’ve all been horrified by the reports of endangered sea turtles being incinerated alive in controlled burns set off by BP in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, animal conservation groups are doing something about it. Earlier this week, they filed a lawsuit against British Petroleum and the U.S. Coast Guard.
On Tuesday, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network notified BP and the Coast Guard of their intent to sue. The notice states that BP’s actions are resulting in the deaths of threatened and endangered species, in particular the Kemp's ridley sea turtle.
"While cleaning up the catastrophic oil spill is critically important, so too is doing it in a way which doesn’t destroy wildlife in a flagrantly unlawful manner," AWI President Cathy Liss said in a statement.
They asked BP and the Coast Guard to put qualified observers in the Gulf who can watch for and save endangered turtles and other wildlife. If turtles continue to die, the groups said they would file a lawsuit charging BP with violating the federal Endangered Species Act as well as the terms of its lease for Deepwater Horizon — a lease that requires BP to comply with all federal environmental laws.
Guess what? BP is apparently listening. In meetings held yesterday in New Orleans, representatives from BP, the Coast Guard, the three animal protection groups and the Animal Legal Defense Fund agreed that the Coast Guard will immediately gather a group of scientists and, with input from the animal groups, try to figure out how to best ensure that no endangered sea turtles are killed during burn containment practices.
Due to stormy weather in the Gulf, the burning will be halted until at least next Tuesday. By then, BP and the Coast Guard are supposed to let ALDF and the animal groups know if it will be possible to have scientists aboard every burn boat. If they say "no can do," the parties will go back to federal court.
Meanwhile, along with the Endangered Species Act violations, PETA rightfully believes BP should be charged with cruelty to animals. This week it called on the attorneys general of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi to file animal cruelty charges against the BP executives who allowed the deaths and injuries to happen and, due to their negligence, let it continue.
Robert Wine, a flack for BP, doesn’t understand all the hubbub. He told the Times-Picayune that the company always looks out for turtles and other wildlife before starting the burns. "The idea of animals being burned alive is appalling to us," he said.
Is it really? Then why has his company been turning away rescuers trying to save the poor creatures before the oil is set afire? What’s truly appalling to BP must be the fact that, if the lawsuit is successful, the company could be facing hefty fines for every single endangered sea turtle it has harmed or killed — up to $25,000 in civil penalties and up to $50,000 in criminal penalties, along with possible prison time. Are they really always looking out for turtles, as their P.R. guy claims ... or always looking out for themselves?
We should know the answer next Tuesday.

Veganism based on Jainism


The vegan philosophy is essentially practical - centred on being a thinking, compassionate & discriminating consumer.  Of course it is far more than that, but from a practical day-to-day point of view 'ethical consumption' is prominent.  The vegan movement as we know it is a fairly recent phenomenon.  Thirty years ago it comprised a mere handful of far-sighted pioneers, while today there are likely to be some millions of adherents in the western world.  However, the fundamental vegan ethic is actually quite ancient :  under the name 'ahimsa'  (non-violence) it is a cornerstone of the Jain religion which was founded in India thousands of years ago.  Actually, ahimsa is a much broader concept that veganism as it can be defined as non-violence in thoughts, words & deeds, in all aspects of life.
Jainism as it exists today has developed from the teachings of Lord Mahavira, a historically verified person who lived in India at the same time as Lord Buddha - around 500 BC.  Mahavira is said to be the 24th jain sage, the earlier ones reaching back to perhaps 8,000 years ago.  Over this immense period of time the jains have developed a wonderfully intricate & complete system of compassionate living.  However, jainism is little known in the west because it does not have a proselytizing tradition, and also because jain monks are wandering ascetics who do not use any form of mechanical transport - ie their only means of transport between jain communities is walking.   The principal of non-violence is perhaps best know in the west through the life of Mahatma Gandhi. 
As with hinduism & buddhism, jains believe in re-incarnation : the cycle of birth, death & re-birth, the purpose of which is the gradual perfection of the soul to the point where it can be released from the cycle to a higher state of immersion with the infinite.  In contrast to the major popular religions the path to this release is by deeds rather than belief.  Deeds attract karmic matter which attaches to the soul - good karmic matter derives from right conduct; bad karmic matter from bad / incorrect conduct.   If one lives a life of dishonesty, disrespect, anger, violence, etc., no amount of repentance at the end of that life will erase the accumulation of bad karmic matter.  For the accumulation to be removed requires further life times devoted to peaceful, ethical behaviour.
Whether you are an atheist, agnostic, or a follower of another spiritual path, you're likely to find the jain philosophy of interest if you hold vegan / vegetarian inclinations.  It's worth knowing that many of the principles that define how you might think about your life & the world, & which you have probably come to by listening to your own heart have been contemplated & codified by an dedicated community of strict vegetarians since virtually the beginnings of human civilization.
Here are some really good sources of information on jainism:
* : an excellent gateway to jain web sites
*  'Jain Spirit' magazine, published in Uk :
*  "Life Force - the world of Jainism" by Michael Tobias:  a very readable discussion of jainism from a western ecological perspective.  This book is available from Vegan Wares.  Email us for further details.