On a recent trip to South-East Asia I made sure to spend some of my holiday taking the time to document the suffering of animals at the hands of humans. The next couple of blog posts will be dedicated to sharing some of the things I witnessed. I hope that by recording this cruelty and, where possible, sharing it with relevant NGOs I can make some difference. If anyone out there is interested in the images and videos below please get in touch and I would be happy to supply you with high-res copies and/or further information.
Todays post focuses on aquatic species used for human consumption.
The display of live sea-food (I refer to these animals as sea-food reluctantly) in restaurants is very popular in South East Asia, as it is in many parts of the world. I came across these crabs in a tank that had been bound so that their front claws were made immobile. I couldn't help but wonder how afraid they might be feeling having their one form of defence taken away from them and then being surrounded by other crabs that they might well see as a threat.
One restaurant had a huge display of live sea-food, and a man even sat proudly at the entrance for the photograph. You can clearly see how inappropriate these environments are for the animals kept in the. The large crabs in the picture below were unable to move because of the size of their tanks. I hate to think how long they might spend in these systems.
In most cases tanks did have some kind of aeration system at least, but few appeared to have anything going on in the form of filtration. The live sea-food sold at markets suffered a worse fate - especially the fish.
Fish are stocked so densely the water quality will quickly deteriorate. These fish had just been rolled back upright by the seller - healthy fish don't roll almost lifeless onto their backs.
After butchering a fish, the seller cleans her hands of blood directly into the fish water, where one fish remains and is visibly exhausted, stressed and struggling to get enough oxygen.
Lastly, a video that really sticks in my mind. I don't know how much longer this fish was left out of the water but as you will see he was clearly struggling for oxygen. His lack of any attempt to move suggests he had already been there some time and was either too exhausted or too stressed to keep fighting to find water.
Every time I go to London I notice there is an insane amount of fur around. It gets me every time. Makes my blood boil and makes me despair at mankind’s fickle nature. It’s as if all the campaigning in the 90’s never happened. Now all the fur is even intended to actually look like a dead animal – half of it looks like road kill. There is no attempt to cover it up.
I was at a car boot sale last weekend that specializes in antiques and as you might expect there was a lot of fur, taxidermy, skulls and all that stuff. It doesn’t bother me too much; part of me thinks ‘well hey, if it’s there and it’s old it’s a shame to waste it’. But then, I can see that fur is becoming fashionable and maybe it’s the ‘vintage’ rage that’s causing it.
I saw a stand selling fur hats, cuffs, trims and the like. All strewn about on a tarpaulin on the floor and it was all brand new. This stuff was £1-3 a piece. That’s how little the life of an animal is worth. Fur used to be an expensive, special item and now anyone can afford to wear an abused animal. There were so many people rooting through the stuff it made me sick to the bottom of my stomach. It even made my dad angry (and I had just, that morning, rowed with him because he had bought factory farmed bacon).
There is something about fur that just makes me so much angrier than leather or meat. Perhaps it’s the boastfulness of its cruelty. The way it so shamelessly flaunts it’s self as ‘glamorous’. Leather can be justified in the “normal” mind as a byproduct of meat; something we actually use. But fur? When was the last time anyone ate fox?
I had an idea to make up some stickers to go and stick on people wearing fur. A little reminder for them, and everyone around them, that it is cruelty at its very worst and least justifiable.
A bloodied carcass with some hard-hitting wording. I’ll have to get pondering on that one.
Now that winter has rolled back around (and fully taken its grip I might add!) I've started to spot more fur trim around again. Last year I had a couple of overwhelming moments when I felt surrounded by shoppers in fur so I figured it was about time I tried to do something about it. Sadly it was February by the time I got my act together so It's safe to say I didn't achieve much.
I had a little Idea though. I figure when people try on a jacket in a shop the first thing they do is put their hands in the pockets to get a feel for what it might be like to wear said jacket on a blustery day. As such, the pocket is the ideal place to drop a little bit of a reminder as to the origins of the fur trim on said jacket.
So please find below a little design I created for A6 'pocket-drops'. I decided not to go down the typical 'animal rights' style design - this is about engaging with the public in a way that gets them thinking and that doesn't give them any excuse to think that the message was left by some 'crazy vegan bunny hugger'. Please do feel free to download and use this flyer in any way you see fit!
I felt like doing a simple illustration with some text for today's blog entry.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this blog – I’ve had a couple of weeks of feeling a bit frustrated with the state of things. Sometimes, I start to lose faith because the people around me, who I know to be loving and caring individuals just don’t seem to care about preventing or reducing the suffering of sentient beings. It’s a funny thing, for people who care about the environment and suffering to be considered extremists. Is it extreme to want a better world with less suffering?
Anyway, I digress. Working at the supporter-facing end of an animal welfare charity means our team faces all of the bad news stories, all of the pessimism, all of the anger and frustration. It rubs off on us. Fortunately I’ve had a back and fourth with one of the campaigns’ team and it’s inspired me to put together a little selection of good news stories – mostly just to reassure myself that the world is good.
But before the reading, just for good measure - an insanely cute picture of a little monkey family having a cuddle. Why? Because why not.
That's all folks!
About 18 months ago I acquired a pair of angel fish – both rescues. They were severely bullied in their previous owners’ tanks and each found their way to me separately with badly mangled fins and sores. The two were very fond of each other and quickly bonded as a pair, laying a set of lovely little white eggs (panic set in, I rescued them, I didn’t want to be responsible for their breeding!). However, the eggs never hatched and the pair never spawned again. Angel fish will pair for life with another fish of the same gender if there is not a suitable mate available, and they will even spawn infertile eggs together if they are female.
The two lovely ladies - proudly guarding their eggs
So my two girls lived happily together for about 18 months until the smaller of the two sustained a very bad injury around her eye. It was a tear that reached about three quarters of the way around her eye socket. I have no idea how she did it – I can only assume a fight as these two did get a little temperamental with each other from time to time. It looked extremely painful but I decided to try and medicate her – she recovered from her severe injuries when I first got her, perhaps she would survive this. It was not to be; she died within 48 hours of sustaining the injury.
As soon as she died her mate plummeted into what I can only describe as depression. She sat lifeless at the top corner of the tank and took no interest in her environment for 5 days (although she did eat a little). She was a different fish. The look in her eyes was heart-breaking; she seemed hollow. You may think that sounds crazy, but anyone who has owned an angel fish or similar will know that although their eyes are relatively inexpressive – you can feel them wondering about you when you look in their eyes – you can almost feel their little minds trying to work you out. It turns out, fish are no stranger to depression. Just a short search online found many others talking about their angel fish suffering from depression – and that is just one species of fish. I’ll paste a few of the posts I found below.
On the sixth day I came home to find her bent and twisted; floating at the surface of the water. I’m not very knowledgeable about fish, but this looked like her swim bladder had packed in to me, and I do know that is bad news. I couldn’t bear to think of her sadness – all twisted up in pain and missing her mate desperately. On day 7, with her condition worsening it was time to put her out of her misery. A high dose of clove oil (a sedative to fish) and she was gone – drifted off to sleep, unresponsive within a few minutes. Her gills slowly gave up after about 30 minutes of gently upping the clove oil dose.
My fish died of heart-ache, and it’s something I won't forget any time soon.
It’s certainly something to think about next ‘Fish Friday’.
Some additional info on fish emotions and suffering:
This lovely quote was sent around the office last week at work...
“The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality."
- Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher