Too Close to Human; Like Chimps Rhesus Monkeys Are Self-Aware

This article may be redundant after reading The Abstraction of Beasts, but Science Daily website had an article recently that explored self awareness among rhesus monkeys long believed to lack the self awareness that chimpanzees have. Self-awareness puts these primates closer to human beings on the ladder of the animal kingdom. It turns out research’s favorite victim, the rhesus monkey, is also self-aware.

Just knowing this should put a pause in these researcher’s minds. We know how highly intelligent primates are, and that they know when they are indeed looking at themselves in a mirror. Yet we continue to do research on them and even when the animal becomes too old or frail, fail to at very least release the primates to sanctuaries. No wonder the primates in cages in Sagan’s essay “The Abstraction of Beasts” spit and scream at researchers as they walk by. They are like inmates at the will and mercy of humans but have done absolutely nothing wrong to warrant such a life.

A foundation called SAVE THE CHIMPS is also calling attention to the practice of just abandoning and forgetting about former research victims. Save the Chimps foundation states: “Their mission is to provide permanent sanctuary for the lifelong care of chimpanzees rescued from research laboratories, entertainment and the pet trade.”

My thought is that if we respected all life and as a country that professes so much about freedom would see that the freedom for all species to flourish in their natural environment should be a goal for the sheer preservation of all the varied species, we wouldn’t need sanctuaries like this.

It’s ironic to me that it is all right to make animals succumb to being victims of heinous research facilities, animals that do not smoke, drink, do drugs, eat horribly unhealthy, never exercise or knowingly commit dreadful crimes, but not humans even though the research is supposedly for human beings.

Like Sagan’s argument that because an animal does not speak our specific language, we automatically assume they are of lesser intellect and lesser value than we are who do smoke, drink, do drugs, eat horribly unhealthy, never exercise and knowingly commit dreadful crimes. What value do we really put on life that we would do detrimental things to ourselves and expect animals who do not do these types of things to give their lives unwillingly in order to keep us living?

We’re long overdue for stricter animal rights and a good kick in our conscience. At very least the animals that have been victimized should be released immediately into sanctuaries as some small repentance for what we’ve done and continue to do.

Email your rep and tell them you want them to move the Great Ape Act forward and pass it into law to protect this humanlike animal once and for all.


It’s World Animal Week, A Time to Rethink Animals

It’s World Animal Week this week and I thought a good way to begin was to read Carl Sagan’s “The Abstraction of Beasts” to provoke change for the way we view animals. It’s not the full text but close with most of the poignant entries about very human like qualities apes possess minus a few paragraphs dealing with brain mass vs body mass. It’s well worth reading.


BEASTS ABSTRACT NOT,” announced John Locke, expressing mankind’s prevailing opinion throughout recorded history. Bishop Berkeley had, however, a sardonic rejoinder: “If the fact that brutes abstract not be made the distinguishing property of that sort of animal, I fear a great many of those that pass for men must be reckoned into their number.” Abstract thought, at least in its more subtle varieties, is not an invariable accompaniment of everyday life for the average man. Could abstract thought be a matter not of kind but of degree? Could other animals be capable of abstract thought but more rarely or less deeply than humans?

We have the impression that other animals are not very intelligent. But have we examined the possibility of animal intelligence carefully enough, or, as in Francois Truffaut’s poignant film The Wild Child, do we simply equate the absence of our style of expression of intelligence with the absence of intelligence? In discussing communication with the animals, the French philosopher Montaigne remarked, “The defect that hinders communication between them and us, why may it not be on our part as well as theirs?”

There is, of course, a considerable body of anecdotal information suggesting chimpanzee intelligence. The first serious study of the behavior of simians-including their behavior in the wild-was made in Indonesia by Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer of evolution by natural selection. Wallace concluded that a baby orangutan he studied behaved “exactly like a human child in similar circumstances.” In fact, “orangutan” is a Malay phrase meaning not ape but “man of the woods.” Teuber recounted many stories told by his parents, pioneer German ethnologists who founded and operated the first research station devoted to chimpanzee behavior on Tenerife in the Canary Islands early in the second decade of this century. It was here that Wolfgang Kohler performed his famous studies of Sultan, a chimpanzee “genius” who was able to connect two rods in order to reach an otherwise inaccessible banana. On Tenerife, also, two chimpanzees were observed maltreating a chicken: One would extend some food to the fowl, encouraging it to approach; whereupon the other would thrust at it with a piece of wire it had concealed behind its back. The chicken would retreat but soon allow itself to approach once again-and be beaten once again. Here is a fine combination of behavior sometimes thought to be uniquely human: cooperation, planning a future course of action, deception and cruelty. It also reveals that chickens have a very low capacity for avoidance learning.

Until a few years ago, the most extensive attempt to communicate with chimpanzees went something like this: A newborn chimp was taken into a household with a newborn baby, and both would be raised together-twin cribs, twin bassinets, twin high chairs, twin potties, twin diaper pails, twin baby powder cans. At the end of three years, the young chimp had, of course, far outstripped the young human in manual dexterity, running, leaping, climbing and other motor skills. But while the child was happily babbling away, the chimp could say only, and with enormous difficulty, “Mama,” “Papa,” and “cup.” From this it was widely concluded that in language, reasoning and other higher mental functions, chimpanzees were only minimally competent: “Beasts abstract not.”

But in thinking over these experiments, two psychologists, Beatrice and Robert Gardner, at the University of Nevada realized that the pharynx and larynx of the chimp are not suited for human speech. Human beings exhibit a curious multiple use of the mouth for eating, breathing and communicating. In insects such as crickets, which call to one another by rubbing their legs, these three functions are performed by completely separate organ systems. Human spoken language seems to be adventitious.

But in thinking over these experiments, two psychologists, Beatrice and Robert Gardner, at the University of Nevada realized that the pharynx and larynx of the chimp are not suited for human speech. Human beings exhibit a curious multiple use of the mouth for eating, breathing and communicating. In insects such as crickets, which call to one another by rubbing their legs, these three functions are performed by completely separate organ systems. Human spoken language seems to be adventitious. The exploitation of organ systems with other functions for communication in humans is also indicative of the comparatively recent evolution of our linguistic abilities. It might be, the Gardner’s reasoned, that chimpanzees have substantial language abilities which could not be expressed because of the limitations of their anatomy. Was there any symbolic language, they asked, that could employ the strengths rather than the weaknesses of chimpanzee anatomy?

The Gardner’s hit upon a brilliant idea: Teach a chimpanzee American sign language, known by its acronym Ameslan, and sometimes as “American deaf and dumb language” (the “dumb” refers, of course, to the inability to speak and not to any failure of intelligence). It is ideally suited to the immense manual dexterity of the chimpanzee. It also may have all the crucial design features of verbal languages.

There is by now a vast library of described and filmed conversations, employing Ameslan and other gestural languages, with Washoe, Lucy, Lana and other chimpanzees studied by the Gardners and others. Not only are there chimpanzees with working vocabularies of 100 to 200 words; they are also able to distinguish among nontrivially different grammatical patterns and syntaxes. What is more, they have been remarkably inventive in the construction of new words and phrases.

On seeing for the first time a duck land quacking in a pond, Washoe gestured “waterbird,” which is the same phrase used in English and other languages, but which Washoe invented for the occasion. Having never seen a spherical fruit other than an apple, but knowing the signs for the principal colors, Lana, upon spying a technician eating an orange, signed “orange apple.” After tasting a watermelon, Lucy described it as “candy drink” or “drink fruit,” which is essentially the same word form as the English “water melon.” But after she had burned her mouth on her first radish, Lucy forever after described them as “cry hurt food.” A small doll placed unexpectedly in Washoe’s cup elicited the response “Baby in my drink.” When Washoe soiled, particularly clothing or furniture, she was taught the sign “dirty,” which she then extrapolated as a general term of abuse. A rhesus monkey that evoked her displeasure was repeatedly signed at: “Dirty monkey, dirty monkey, dirty monkey.”Occasionally Washoe would say things like “Dirty Jack, gimme drink.” Lana, in a moment of creative annoyance, called her trainer “You green shit.” Chimpanzees have invented swear words. Was-hoe also seems to have a sort of sense of humor; once, when riding on her trainer’s shoulders and, perhaps inadvertently, wetting him, she signed: “Funny, funny.”

Lucy was eventually able to distinguish clearly the meanings of the phrases “Roger tickle Lucy” and “Lucy tickle Roger,” both of which activities she enjoyed with gusto. Likewise, Lana extrapolated from “Tim groom Lana” to “Lana groom Tim.” Washoe was observed “reading” a magazine-i.e., slowly turning the pages, peering intently at the pictures and making, to no one in particular, an appropriate sign, such as “cat” when viewing a photograph of a tiger, and “drink” when examining a Vermouth advertisement. Having learned the sign “open” with a door, Washoe extended the concept to a briefcase. She also attempted to converse in Ameslan with the laboratory cat, who turned out to be the only illiterate in the facility. Having acquired this marvelous method of communication, Washoe may have been surprised that the cat was not also competent in Ameslan. And when one day Jane, Lucy’s foster mother, left the laboratory, Lucy gazed after her and signed: “Cry me. Me cry.”

Boyce Rensberger is a sensitive and gifted reporter for the New York Times whose parents could neither speak nor hear, although he is in both respects normal. His first language, however, was Ameslan. He had been abroad on a European assignment for the Times for some years. On his return to the United States, one of his first domestic duties was to look into the Gardners’ experiments with Washoe. After some little time with the chimpanzee, Rensberger reported, “Suddenly I realized I was conversing with a member of another species in my native tongue.” The use of the word tongue is, of course, figurative: it is built deeply into the structure of the language (a word that also means “tongue”). In fact, Rensberger was conversing with a member of another species in his native “hand.” And it is just this transition from tongue to hand that has permitted humans to regain the ability-lost, according to Josephus, since Eden-to communicate with the animals.

In addition to Ameslan, chimpanzees and other nonhuman primates are being taught a variety of other gestural languages. At the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia, they are learning a specific computer language called (by the humans, not the chimps) “Yerkish.” The computer records all of its subjects’ conversations, even during the night when no humans are in attendance; and from its ministrations we have learned that chimpanzees prefer jazz to rock and movies about chimpanzees to movies about human beings. Lana had, by January 1976, viewed The Developmental Anatomy of the Chimpanzee 245 times. She would undoubtedly appreciate a larger film library.

The machine provides for many of Lana’s needs, but not all. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, she forlornly types out: “Please, machine, tickle Lana.”) More elaborate requests and commentaries, each requiring a creative use of a set grammatical form, have been developed subsequently.

Lana monitors her sentences on a computer display, and erases those with grammatical errors. Once, in the midst of Lana’s construction of an elaborate sentence, her trainer mischievously and repeatedly interposed, from his separate computer console, a word that made nonsense of Lana’s sentence. She gazed at her computer display, spied her trainer at his console, and composed a new sentence: “Please, Tim, leave room.” Just as Washoe and Lucy can be said to speak, Lana can be said to write.

At an early stage in the development of Washoe’s verbal abilities, Jacob Bronowski and a colleague wrote a scientific paper denying the significance of Washoe’s use of gestural language because, in the limited data available to Bronowski, Washoe neither inquired nor negated. But later observations showed that Washoe and other chimpanzees were perfectly able both to ask questions and to deny assertions put to them. And it is difficult to see any significant difference in quality between chimpanzee use of gestural language and the use of ordinary speech by children in a manner that we unhesitatingly attribute to intelligence. In reading Bronowski’s paper I cannot help but feel that a little pinch of human chauvinism has crept in, an echo of Locke’s “Beasts abstract not.” In 1949, the American anthropologist Leslie White stated unequivocally: “Human behavior is symbolic behavior; symbolic behavior is human behavior.” What would White have made of Washoe, Lucy and Lana?

[]Because adult chimpanzees are generally thought (at least by zookeepers) to be too dangerous to retain in a home or home environment, Washoe and other verbally accomplished chimpanzees have been involuntarily “retired” soon after reaching puberty. Thus we do not yet have experience with the adult language abilities of monkeys and apes. One of the most intriguing questions is whether a verbally accomplished chimpanzee mother will be able to communicate language to her offspring. It seems very likely that this should be possible and that a community of chimps initially competent in gestural language could pass down the language to subsequent generations.

[]Differences in group behavior-something that it is very tempting to call cultural differences-have been reported among chimpanzees, baboons, macaques and many other primates. For example, one group of monkeys may know how to eat bird’s eggs, while an adjacent band of precisely the same species may not. Such primates have a few dozen sounds or cries, which are used for intra-group communication, with such meanings as “Flee; here is a predator.” But the sound of the cries differs somewhat from group to group: there are regional accents.

An even more striking experiment was performed accidentally by Japanese primatologists attempting to relieve an overpopulation and hunger problem in a community of macaques on an island in south Japan. The anthropologists threw grains of wheat on a sandy beach. Now it is very difficult to separate wheat grains one by one from sand grains; such an effort might even expend more energy than eating the collected wheat would provide. But one brilliant macaque, Imo, perhaps by accident or out of pique, threw handfuls of the mixture into the water. Wheat floats; sand sinks, a fact that Imo clearly noted. Through the sifting process she was able to eat well (on a diet of soggy wheat, to be sure). While older macaques, set in their ways, ignored her, the younger monkeys appeared to grasp the importance of her discovery, and imitated it. In the next generation, the practice was more widespread; today all macaques on the island are competent at water sifting, an example of a cultural tradition among the monkeys.

Earlier studies on Takasakiyama, a mountain in northeast Kyushu inhabited by macaques, show a similar pattern in cultural evolution. Visitors to Takasakiyama threw caramels wrapped in paper to the monkeys – a common practice in Japanese zoos, but one the Takasakiyama macaques had never before encountered. In the course of play, some young monkeys discovered how to unwrap the caramels and eat them. The habit was passed on successively to their playmates, their mothers, the dominant males (who among the macaques act as babysitters for the very young) and finally to the subadult males, who were at the furthest social remove from the monkey children. The process of acculturation took more than three years. In natural primate communities, the existing nonverbal communications are so rich that there is little pressure for the development of a more elaborate gestural language. But if gestural language were necessary for chimpanzee survival, there can be little doubt that it would be transmitted culturally down through the generations.

I would expect a significant development and elaboration of language in only a few generations if all the chimps unable to communicate were to die or fail to reproduce. Basic English corresponds to about 1,000 words. Chimpanzees are already accomplished in vocabularies exceeding 10 percent of that number. Although a few years ago it would have seemed the most implausible science fiction, it does not appear to me out of the question that, after a few generations in such a verbal chimpanzee community, there might emerge the memoirs of the natural history and mental life of a chimpanzee, published in English or Japanese (with perhaps an “as told to” after the by-line).

If chimpanzees have consciousness, if they are capable of abstractions, do they not have what until now has been described as “human rights”? How smart does a chimpanzee have to be before killing him constitutes murder? What further properties must he show before religious missionaries must consider him worthy of attempts at conversion?

I recently was escorted through a large primate research laboratory by its director. We approached a long corridor lined, to the vanishing point as in a perspective drawing, with caged chimpanzees. They were one, two or three to a cage, and I am sure the accommodations were exemplary as far as such institutions (or for that matter traditional zoos) go. As we approached the nearest cage, its two inmates bared their teeth and with incredible accuracy let fly great sweeping arcs of spittle, fairly drenching the lightweight suit of the facility’s director. They then uttered a staccato of short shrieks, which echoed down the corridor to be repeated and amplified by other caged chimps, who had certainly not seen us, until the corridor fairly shook with the screeching and banging and rattling of bars. The director informed me that not only spit is apt to fly in such a situation; and at his urging we retreated.

I was powerfully reminded of those American motion pictures of the 1930s and 40s, set in some vast and dehumanized state or federal penitentiary, in which the prisoners banged their eating utensils against the bars at the appearance of the tyrannical warden. These chimps are healthy and well-fed. If they are “only” animals, if they are beasts which abstract not, then my comparison is a piece of sentimental foolishness. But chimpanzees can abstract. Like other mammals, they are capable of strong emotions. They have certainly committed no crimes. I do not claim to have the answer, but I think it is certainly worthwhile to raise the question: Why, exactly, all over the civilized world, in virtually every major city, are apes in prison?

For all we know, occasional viable crosses between humans and chimpanzees are possible. The natural experiment must have been tried very infrequently, at least recently. If such off-spring are ever produced, what will their legal status be? The cognitive abilities of chimpanzees force us, I think, to raise searching questions about the boundaries of the community of beings to which special ethical considerations are due, and can, I hope, help to extend our ethical perspectives downward through the taxa on Earth and upwards to extraterrestrial organisms, if they exist.


HR 1326 The Great Ape Protection Act Needs to Pass

I witnessed a wonderful video this weekend that I had to pass along and it comes at just the right time when the U.S. House needs to be prodded on passing HR 1326 the Great Ape Protection Act. The act means to stop invasive experiments on an animal species that is so close to human that I do not know how anyone could look at a great ape and then do something gruesome to it that they wouldn’t dare do to a human. But then again we are a cruel bunch when money/power is involved.

The purposes of the Great Ape Protection Act that includes chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans, and gibbons is to:

(1) prohibit invasive research on great apes and the use of federal funding of such research, both within and outside of the U.S.

(2) prohibit the transport of great apes for purposes of invasive research

(3) prohibit the breeding of great apes for purposes of invasive research; and

(4) require the provision of lifetime care of great apes that are owned by or under the control of the Federal Government in a suitable sanctuary through the permanent retirement of such apes.

Invasive research means “any research that may cause death, bodily injury, pain, distress, fear, injury, or trauma to a great ape–

-including the testing of any drug or intentional exposure to a substance that may be detrimental to the health or psychological well-being of a great ape;

-research that involves penetrating or cutting the body or removing body parts, restraining, tranquilizing, or anesthetizing a great ape; or

-isolation, social deprivation, or other experimental physical manipulations that may be detrimental to the health or psychological well-being of a great ape.


And the apes that are in use should be retired meaning “placed in a suitable sanctuary that will provide for the lifetime care of the great ape” never to be used for experimental purposes again.

The only legislation currently protecting these animals and it’s minimal, is the AWA or Animal Welfare Act. It’s not enough. The U.S. is the “only remaining large-scale user of chimpanzees in research in the world. An end to U.S. use of chimpanzees – and all great apes – in research will mark the first time any nonhuman species is not allowed to be used in experimentation in the United States.” That doesn’t say much for us. Great Britain banned licenses for chimp research back in 1997. Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, and Austria have banned it.

To some this sounds logical enough. Apes are too close to human to be used this way, but there are many powerful organizations that do not want the abuse to great apes in experimental facilities to end obviously. The reason is that it is a money maker, no different than raising other animals for research. We breed apes just to use them. They are transported over state lines affecting commerce/trade. So even though there are a growing number of cosponsors for this bill in the House, (145), it doesn’t mean it’s not a sure thing by any stretch when the NIH, CDC, and military get involved to oppose it. One of the worst perpetrators is our military. Our own government agencies experiment on great apes, while congress tries to pass legislation to stop it? It doesn’t sound right does it? It’s like a conflict of interest to me. By time the bill makes it to the Senate who knows how many researcher/lobbyist hands will have whittled down the protections, a disgusting display of greed over ethics and man’s inability to be empathetic to something so much like himself.

Watch this endearing video. It should become very clear why we need to pass HR 1326 and quickly.

Right now the bill is in the Energy Committee headed by Henry Waxman, with Joe Barton as its ranking member. Barton is from Texas who has more than one experimental facility using chimps. But, Alamogordo, New Mexico, is the winner for most chimps held hostage in research facilities by no other than the NIH. The U.S. Rep for NM to contact is Harry Teague. The Senators for NM are Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman.

Contact all your own reps, Harry Teague, and Senators Waxman, Barton, Udall, and Bingaman about passing the Great Ape Act. Let your voice be known. It makes a big hill of beans difference if a senator or rep shows up in committee with 1000 emails about a particular bill. At that point lobbyists do lose ground. The legislator is off the hook so to speak and will admit his hands are tied by a constituency that does not want the status quo continued. Lobbyists win by default when no one speaks up to our reps. We should all know how that works by now.

If you care email:

Goto these links to sign petitions for the Great Ape Act. There will be more popping up soon from other organizations.


Half of All Primates Face Extinction

There is a world hunger crisis. In comparison, we have no idea how bad this hunger crisis is. It’s so bad half of all primates are on the path to extinction due to habitat loss, and because they are being eaten.

There is no limit as to what people will seek as a protein source, and the proof is in the fact that the animals most close to people in their DNA makeup are being eaten along with just about anything else.

An article on stated that “634 different types of primates are in danger of going extinct.” We know tropical deforestation typically from the encroachment of humans is one reason, “but now it appears that hunting is just as serious a threat in some areas, even where the habitat is still quite intact. In many places, primates are quite literally being eaten to extinction.”

Asian animals are in exceptional danger where “populations of gibbons, leaf monkeys, langurs and other species have dwindled due to rampant habitat loss exacerbated by hunting for food and to supply the wildlife trade in traditional Chinese medicine and pets.” This last part is what gets me. It’s like the Japanese herding and hunting dolphins as a “tradition.” They don’t seem to comprehend that extinct means they will no longer have the means to continue these traditions anymore. And guess what? Life will go on.

Our side of the world needs to realize there is another side that is starving. And in that starvation, some of the world’s most intelligent, beautiful exotic animals are being eaten into extinction too. And yet, there are those that still don’t think man greatly affects our world and everything in it.


So Where Do We Stand on the Environment for 2008?

I just got through reading some current worldwide environmental news and have to say, we don’t seem to have a clear-cut view of anything. What we profess, what we say, and what we actually do is all contrary. First, I saw the Pope give his blessing and speak on behalf of peace and the environment over the Christmas season to over one billion Catholics. And the World Council of Churches that represents 560 million Christians worldwide is calling concerns over global warming a matter of faith. The WCC has had a program about climate change since 1992 and books about ecotheology (I’m interested). Dr. Samuel Kobia the Secy. General of the WCC stipulates that Christians are well aware that dominion over all living things was given to us. He said that meant, “We were entrusted with the care of the rest of God’s creation.” The emphasis is on the word “CARE” here.

Care doesn’t come under savagely taking a machete to an orangutan trying to defend it’s young, or hooking a live dolphin in the side and sending it to be stripped of skin before it’s even dead, while the resulting meat is basically poison from ingesting too many pollutants, or shooting 6 elephants dead for stepping into a coffee field that is supposed to be their sanctuary. We should actively try to get this stopped, but our demands for things like lumber and coffee encourage it. Oh and don’t forget about native animals and the latest Internet hunting websites that have yet to be banned in over 20 states.

There was the news about a zoo tiger that got loose and killed one man, and maimed two others before it was shot dead. The media wanted to know and put this question out to the public if it is wise to keep caged and wild animals? 145,000,000 people visit zoos every year without incident. If we didn’t have zoos the likelihood of seeing a live polar bear, tiger, elephant, orangutan, gorilla, condor, panda…etc., would more than likely be nil. I have to wonder about the media here. Do they operate with any type of perspective about things, or just pounce on a bit of fantastic news with so much fervor it gets skewed out of proportion and normalcy? People are maimed in cars every day and no one says: “Gee, should we really be driving?”


We’ve heard about individual states taking their own course of action for the environment with many implementing their own environmental laws especially since the Supreme Court decided that the EPA is supposed to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases according to the Clean Air Act but has not done so. So what do I read? The Bush administration: “Thursday announced that it will block efforts by California, Maryland, and 15 other states to cut emissions of global warming gases from cars and trucks.” Now that is an example of talking out of two sides of one’s mouth isn’t it? Aren’t we supposed to be forging ahead with alternative energy anyway?


This administration got elected based on a big moral majority.Do we or do we not celebrate animals? I hope we understand the world is in our care. We simply can’t keep spreading and demanding, taking up room where other things live. We end up killing the very same animals we ooh and ah over at the zoo.We love cartoon movies with animals, little talking pigs, Flipper, the Lion King. We are supposed to teach our children to be kinds to animals. But when animals act out in their normal manner we talk about dispensing with them right away, like the zoo issue. We sacrifice living breathing creatures in our own species chain over things we need for our big houses or our big lifestyle. And we elect our president/vice president based on morality when this latest threat to block states trying to do right by the environment proves the opposite. So where do we stand between what we believe, what we say, and what we actually do about our world and everything in it because I can’t tell?


By the way, a current gallop poll has President Bush as the number one pick among the most admired men and women of 2007. Is that not the icing on the cookie for contradictions as far as you’ve read them here?


PEACE to Every Living Thing on Earth

On Christmas Eve I think it’s important to remember where the Christ Child was born, AMONG THE ANIMALS in a manger. Every nativity scene is one with animals. A manger in those dayswas: “a feed trough found in a stable. In Bible times mangers were made from clay mixed with straw or from stones held together with mud; sometimes they were carved in natural outcroppings of rock,” There is an actualpicturetaken of a manger at Megiddo used in the stables of King Ahab on the linked website.

So the King of Kings was placed in the feed trough of the animals of a stable.This is a quite a statementabout the beasts of the earth,that theywereworthy of such an event. This Christmas take the time to reflect not only on mankind, but peace for the earth and all of the living things that are in jeopardy of extinction.The “beasts”as in animals of the earth are written about in the old and new testament over 200 times. Their importance is undeniable. Weweren’t meant to live in a world without animals, especially those that have been here for centuries that are now in danger.



Japanese Whale Hunting for No Good Reason

A few blogs ago I wrote about setting an example as far as being humane to animals before we point fingers at other countries that dolphin hunt, seal hunt, whale hunt, and kill tigers, elephants, and apes. Someone retorted about other countries, which was exactly what I made a point about NOT doing. After all, isn’t that one of the first things we teach siblings, not to point fingers elsewhere?

Anyway after the same commenter digressed to this being the best country in the world, the idea of being a good example was kind of lost in conversation. But it is important, and I am resurrecting the notion. Being good examples for all types of humanitarian efforts would give us much better leverage for persuading other governments to give up inhumane hunts like the renewed Japanese whale hunt.

An example of what I am talking about jumped off the “Verbatim” page of Time Magazine’s December 3rd issue. This Japanese whale-meat butcher in the whaling port of Shimonoseki, the home of Japan’s largest whaling expedition in decades, remarked about the inhumanity of it all: ‘”How is eating whale different from eating pigs or cows?”‘ See my point?

We’ll never get anywhere asking other countries not to seal, whale, or dolphin hunt when we slaughter and treat animals inhumanely ourselves. It looks like pollution may halt hunts like these before conscience even comes into play. The Japanese plan on hunting 50 endangered pin whales and 50 threatened humpback whales, along with others, totaling 1000. Trouble is, just like the dolphin meat from the barbaric Japanese dolphin hunt, the whale meat is more than likely poison, tainted by chemical toxins. Many of the larger species of fish and mammals in the ocean are contaminated. A current study by: “Norwegian scientists found that killer whales – or orcas, as they are sometimes known – have overtaken polar bears at the head of the toxic table” according to a BBC article. It said: “No other arctic mammals have ingested such a high concentration of hazardous man-made chemicals.” I was a little amazed at what was found in the blubber, traces of pesticide, flame retardant, and PCB’s. The WWF or World Wildlife Foundation says, “The Arctic has become a chemical sink.”

But are the Japanese worried? Why should they be? An opinion poll done last year by the Nippon Research Centre found that 95% percent of Japanese never or rarely ate whale meat. So why the hunt? Like I stated in another blog, this hunt is being done under the guise of research. The odd thing is another study found that, “65% of Japanese students agreed with the view that scientific research on whales should only use non-lethal methods.”

All the bad international press about this whale hunt embarrasses Japan’s leadership. Japanese don’t eat the meat. A majority of Japanese college students do not advocate the killing of a species in order to study it. And the meat is more than likely poisoned. But the hunt goes on? Sounds like other countries have the same problem as we do where a majority of voices go unheard, and unheeded.