End The Global Wildlife Trade: for World Elephant Day, and at the Greater Vancouver Zoo

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This episode pays honour to World Elephant Day, which takes place annually on August 12th. It also honours the memory of Oakleaf the moose, who was “euthanized” at the Greater Vancouver Zoo on July 22nd, 2020.

Animals in captivity are on our minds these days, especially with regards to how they are faring during a pandemic time when tourists aren’t travelling and thus not “buying tickets” as much. Animal entertainment facilities have been up and down as well with sweeping closures and some re-openings of their parks taking place around the world. 

To begin the show, our co-host Sinéad speaks about her time volunteering at the Vancouver Aquarium, because she loved animals, and reveals what this experience actually taught her about wild animals kept in captivity.

David Isbister, No More Dead Captives, on the Death of Oakleaf and other residents at the Greater Vancouver Zoo

David Isbister speaking to the media at the protest at the GV Zoo on July 26th, 2020.

For our first interview, we have our local activist and anti Greater Vancouver Zoo campaigner David Isbister with us on the show.  As a long-time animal advocate, an investigator for the animals, and formerly an insider working in the exotic pet trade for 7 years, David uses his experience to campaign for the freedoms of animals kept in captivity, such as at the Greater Vancouver Zoo. In 2017, David was largely instrumental in moving forward the Vancouver Park Board law to pass that effectively banned the captivity of whales and dolphins at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Oakleaf, a few days before being “euthanized”.

In light of the recent death of the poor emaciated moose at the Greater Vancouver Zoo named Oakleaf, David joins Animal Voices to give us an update on the status of the animal welfare at the zoo, sharing knowledge from whistle blowers that have otherwise kept this information in the dark. We re-visit the realities of what goes on behind the fences of the tourist attraction of the Greater Vancouver Zoo, especially now in this pandemic time of low ticket sales.

We also speak once again about the organization CAZA (Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums), and how cheaply it gives “accreditations” to its own facilities.

The BCSPCA has now said (in light of the photographic evidence presented) that they will be doing an investigation of the zoo, but will this have the power to really make better change for the animals? It hasn’t in the past.

David also shares his thoughts about the whole underlying issues that have not even been raised in the mainstream media on zoo and aquarium issues in Canada: that is, on how oppression and this plenitude of animal suffering gets all wrapped up in the way we treat animals for our use in the world in general.

To join the animal advocates with the local group “No More Dead Captives“, LIKE the Facebook page to find out about upcoming actions and more information. Also, if you are affiliated with the GV Zoo and have credible information that you can provide on the welfare (or lack of) of the animals, please contact David at the Facebook page. The reward for sound, credible information so far is $1,000!

Melissa Matlow, Campaign Director, World Animal Protection, on Ending the Global Wildlife Trade

The “training” of the performing elephants in countries such as Thailand involves forceable methods such as using the bullhook, chains, and frequent exposure to stressful situations. Photo courtesy of World Animal Protection.

For our feature interview, to honour World Elephant Day, which takes place on August 12th every year, we have Melissa Matlow on the show. She is the Campaign Director of the non-profit organization World Animal Protection, formerly known as WSPA.

World Animal Protection’s mission is to end the needless suffering of animals by influencing decision-makers to put animals on the global agenda, and by inspiring people to change animals’ lives for the better.

In addition to discussing elephants used globally in entertainment, Melissa also tells us about World Animal Protection’s campaign to call on Canada and other G20 countries to commit to a ban on the global wildlife trade.

Sign World Animal Protection’s petition HERE to call upon the Canadian government and other G20 nations to ban the global wildlife trade. It can be done, and it starts here.

In this interview, Melissa also tells us about the cruelty at human hands that baby elephants go through when they are put through the “crush” process of being taken away from their mothers as newborns. They are then tortured to have their spirits broken down so that they will lead a life of submissiveness to their captors, who use them to do tricks for tourists and give tourists rides on their backs. This all occurs while being controlled by chains on their legs and cruel prodding tools such as the forceful metal bull hooks.

The elephant keepers, called mahouts, are also exploited in the elephant tourism industry. These keepers stay with the baby elephants during the whole “upbringing” and training process in these substandard conditions, since baby elephants need the constant care that is otherwise omitted by their mothers’ absence. They are given low pay, minimal training and experience a high risk of injury. This is an issue of human exploitation as well.

Please share this video with people you know who might be considering elephant tourism. And know how to find credible, real elephant sanctuaries to visit that treat both the elephants and their mahmouts well. (which is explained in this interview.) #EndWildlifeTrade

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