In historic step forward, nations signal strong support to end capture and export of wild African elephants to zoos

By on August 19, 2019 with 0 Comments

Delegates at the world’s largest conference on endangered species have voted to end the cruel capture and export of wild African elephants to zoos worldwide, giving these beleaguered animals, already under attack from trophy hunters and poachers, a historic win.

While this vote will need to be confirmed next week at the conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), we are excited about this initial development and hopeful that we are close to ending a cruel trade that causes immense suffering for animals. Zimbabwe has, since 2012, exported a total of 108 elephants to zoos overseas. The decision would also apply to Botswana, where, like Zimbabwe, elephants are not as strictly regulated.

On Sunday, 46 member countries of CITES agreed in a committee vote, during the body’s triennial conference in Geneva, to only allow trade of live African elephants captured in Zimbabwe and Botswana to situations in which elephants would be released into natural habitats and not held in any captive settings.

The final vote on the proposal will come next week, during the conference’s plenary session, and given this initial show of support, we are hopeful it will be finalized. Our HSI team is on the ground at the Geneva conference and hard at work to secure the final approval. This decision is also especially important for us stateside in light of recent media reports that some U.S. zoos may be importing elephants from Africa.

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International have, for a long time, spoken out against the capture and trade of wild elephants to zoos — a view shared by leading elephant experts. Our representatives are now at the Geneva conference to advocate for increased protections for a variety of imperiled species, including elephants, giraffes, sharks and leopards, and we have been pushing to support the effort from the African Elephant Coalition to save wild elephants from being caught and separated from their family groups, sent to faraway destinations, and kept in captivity.

In a disappointing turn of events, the United States was among 18 countries that opposed the proposal. Earlier this year, Americans were outraged by news that 35 baby elephants were torn from their mothers in the wild in Zimbabwe for export to zoos in China. These calves are still being housed in holding pens in Zimbabwe, and more than 108,000 people signed our petition asking the Zimbabwean government to stop these exports. The U.S. vote shows that our country’s representatives are completely out of touch with the sentiments of a majority of Americans, who do not believe that ripping baby animals from the wild and sending them to a life of captivity overseas is the right thing to do.

The U.S. vote also runs contrary to the administration’s professed priority of being a global steward to protect trafficked species: in 2017, President Trump issued an executive order enforcing federal law with respect to transnational criminal organizations and preventing international trafficking. The administration also made a $90 million commitment to protecting international species in peril, such as the African elephant.

Elephants are social and emotional creatures who form strong family bonds and suffer tremendously in captivity. These gentle giants also face horrific abuse during capture and trade, and footage of wild-caught baby elephants awaiting export from Zimbabwe show calves being beaten and kicked during capture. Some elephants have died during transit or shortly after arrival. Elephants who survive the long journey have been found living in dark, barren cells in the zoos. Contrast this with how elephants live in the wild, roaming vast ranges with family groups and larger clans.

We urge the United States and the European Union, which also spoke out against the proposal, to reconsider and reverse their decisions before the plenary vote next week. Knowing all that we do, there is no call for these two global leaders to support an industry built on brutality and the suffering of animals.

Urge countries to protect wild African elephants from cruel capture for zoos

Even as the Lion King breaks box office records, real world challenges for lions remain

By on August 15, 2019 with 0 Comments
Even as the Lion King breaks box office records, real world challenges for lions remain

The Lion King is breaking box office records worldwide, with $1.335 billion in cumulative global box office receipts, including $472.8 million in the United States, as of last weekend. More importantly, it’s delighting audiences everywhere, which is hardly surprising, given the deep appeal that animals . . . 

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HSUS, HSLF file lawsuit to compel USDA to reinstate soring rule

By on August 14, 2019 with 2 Comments
HSUS, HSLF file lawsuit  to compel USDA to reinstate soring rule

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson Just weeks after the historic passage of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 693, in the U.S. House of Representatives, we’re opening up another front in our fight against horse “soring.” Today the Humane Society of the . . . 

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A new HSUS video underscores the harms caused by trophy hunting of mountain lions

By on August 13, 2019 with 1 Comment
A new HSUS video underscores the harms caused by trophy hunting of mountain lions

A new video we’ve released blows the lid off of a dirty secret, that America’s iconic mountain lions are being killed at unsustainably high numbers for nothing more than trophies. In our video, you can learn from leading scientists about the myths behind trophy hunting . . . 

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Cruel cosmetics banned in Illinois; third U.S. state to do so after California, Nevada

By on August 13, 2019 with 0 Comments
Cruel cosmetics banned in Illinois; third U.S. state to do so after California, Nevada

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson The United States has moved one step closer to ending unnecessary cosmetics testing on animals, as Illinois becomes the third U.S. state to enact a marketing ban preventing companies from selling cosmetics that have newly been tested on animals. . . . 

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Breaking news: Oregon governor signs law ending cage confinement for egg-laying hens

By on August 12, 2019 with 0 Comments
Breaking news: Oregon governor signs law ending cage confinement for egg-laying hens

We have just secured another monumental win for hens confined in tiny cages in the egg industry. Moments ago, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed legislation championed by the HSUS to require all eggs produced or sold in her state to come from cage-free facilities. With . . . 

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Federal government finalizes changes to weaken Endangered Species Act

By on August 12, 2019 with 2 Comments
Federal government finalizes changes to weaken Endangered Species Act

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson In the past two years, our federal government has waged war against the Endangered Species Act, the bedrock law that protects endangered and threatened animal species and their habitats. Today, despite our hopes that it would take the steps . . . 

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Seeing wolves at Denali? Let’s hope it’s not too late

By on August 9, 2019 with 1 Comment
Seeing wolves at Denali? Let’s hope it’s not too late

Update: On August 13, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang denied an emergency petition from 60 Alaska residents asking the agency to close wolf hunting and trapping on lands adjacent to Denali National Park. He ruled that an emergency order to stop . . . 

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PZP Immunocontraception Conference draws wildlife managers from around the world

By on August 8, 2019 with 2 Comments
PZP Immunocontraception Conference draws wildlife managers from around the world

Today, I’ve turned the blog space over to my colleague, Stephanie Boyles Griffin, Senior Scientist in the HSUS’s Wildlife Protection Department, to relay some news about an important conference concerning non-lethal wildlife management taking place in Montana this week. The gathering is focused on advancing . . . 

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Nashville calls for an end to cruel horse soring

By on August 7, 2019 with 4 Comments
Nashville calls for an  end to cruel horse soring

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson Just weeks after the U.S. House of Representatives’ historic passage of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (H.R. 693), there’s more good news for Tennessee walking horses. The Nashville, TN Metro Council has approved a resolution supporting passage . . . 

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Get some “Humane Voices” in your head

By on August 6, 2019 with 0 Comments
Get some “Humane Voices” in your head

I talk to the media pretty regularly about issues and threats facing animals today and about all that we’re doing to help them. The reality of the media world, though, means that these discussions often get boiled down into 10-second sound bites! Happily, for those . . . 

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Over 600 cats saved from slaughter in China

By on August 5, 2019 with 2 Comments
Over 600 cats saved from slaughter in China

With so much global attention focused on the dog meat trade in a handful of Asian countries, it’s important not to overlook the fact that there is a regional cat meat trade as well. The best one could say is that it’s smaller than the . . . 

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