No New Animal Lab

This past Saturday, I joined several hundred demonstrators at the University of Washington for the March on UW. We were protesting a proposed animal testing facility that, if built, would see a 30% increase in the number of animals tortured and killed at the university.

marching with banner

No New Animal Lab is a slogan, a campaign, and a movement to prevent thousands of animals from suffering. Their current target is Skanska, the construction company who has been awarded the project.

A recent exposé on a local news channel has sickening information about some of what goes on at the university. It’s inhumane, and it needs to stop. I’ve written before about how animal testing is never justified, and the examples at UW are exactly why.

There are psychopaths in our midst. They are researchers at the UW and they live off federal grant money, despite a history of abuse and fines by the USDA.

At a time when other schools are moving to more modern, accurate testing methods, the UW chooses to invest more money in animal testing and refuses to recognize that animal testing models are outdated.

We marched through campus, to the site of the proposed lab, and up University Avenue. After the march, a smaller–but substantial–group protested outside of the home of one of the UW Regents, a man who is pushing the lab plans through despite public opposition.

Police presence was heavy, but both events were peaceful.

The events generated a lot of media coverage, including TV, newspaper and radio. Momentum is gaining and more and more people are becoming aware.

Please visit the No New Animal Lab FB page to see how you can help.


hundreds of people march – image c/o Wendy


Global March for Elephants and Rhinos

Every 15 minutes, an elephant is killed.

Every 9 to 11 hours, a rhino is killed.

These beautiful creatures are often poached for their ivory and horns. Whether for trinkets or so-called medicine, there is no justification for their deaths.

That’s why, this Saturday, thousands of people from over 125 cities around the world are participating in the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos. The event will bring awareness to the plight of elephants and rhinos–two species whose very existence is in peril (poaching kills 35,000 elephants and over 1,000 rhinos every year).

The march will put pressure on  governments around the globe to publicly destroy their stockpiles of wildlife parts and show zero tolerance for this illegal trading. The main reason these species are in decline is because of the growing trade in tusks and horns. Here are the details for the Seattle event:

What:  Global March for Elephants and Rhinos
When:  Saturday, Oct. 4th at noon – 2 pm
Where: International Children’s Park, 700 S Lane St, Seattle, WA 98104.

Global march for elephants and rhinos

The march will be about half a mile long. Signs will be provided, but you can bring your own. For more info or to RSVP to the event, check out the event’s Facebook page.

Before the march, a lineup of speakers will inform, inspire, and entertain. Cathy Sorbo, comedian and former Seattle PI columnist, will emcee the event. Speakers include:

  • Tom Skerritt, acclaimed actor and passionate animal conservationist.
  • Wendie Wendt, Executive Director of Big Life Foundation, one of the leading organizations in the fight to stop poaching.
  • Kathleen Gobush PhD, A research scientist who worked with Save the Elephants, a key player in saving elephants in Kenya. Currently she is a Senior Project Developer with Vulcan.
  • Lisa Kane JD, a retired lawyer and author who has advocated for the welfare of captive and wild elephants locally, nationally and internationally.

My friend Scott Nelson is working with the organizers of the Seattle march to make the event a success. Scott recently founded the Endangered Species Protection Fund, a 501c3 non-profit with a focus on protecting endangered species like elephants, rhinos and tigers. The ESP Fund website had a handy march map you can use to get to the event and follow the route.

Please help bring awareness to this crisis and help stop the demand for elephant tusks and rhino horns.

The circus is in town

Last weekend, the Northwest Animal Rights Network held peaceful demonstrations in Kent, WA, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. This weekend, we’ll be doing the same thing in Everett.

kent circus

This style of circus reeks of colonialism and is a throwback to Victorian times, when swindlers like Ringling, Barnum, and Bailey first got started. P.T Barnum was a money-grubbing showman who’s known for saying “there’s a sucker born every minute.” He promoted blackface minstrel shows and got away with exploiting animals, women, minorities, little people, people with health issues, and anyone else he could make a buck off.

These days at Ringling, only the animals are allowed to suffer.

Ringling will tell you (as they do on their site) that they provide excellent care for their animals and that the animals are ambassadors for their wild counterparts. However, there’s no denying that Ringling had to pay the largest fine for animal abuse in US history ($270,000) for violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

Ringling commercial

No matter how the animals are treated, here’s one thing I stand by: Wild animals don’t belong in circuses. They’re not here for our amusement. They don’t deserve to be caged and carted around, forced to perform 11 months a year, and beaten into submission (that’s essentially how one “trains” an elephant).

Seeing an elephant balance on her hind legs teaches me nothing about how they behave in the wild. I guarantee that bears don’t want to ride bikes, and tigers never line up to jump through fiery hoops. Circuses are bad for animals, and not safe for spectators.

If the circus comes to your town, find something else to do. I can think of at least 10 ideas:

  • Spend the day riding roller coasters
  • Ride your bike, go for a hike, or fly a kite
  • Two words: Go carts!
  • Catch that blockbuster film you’ve been wanting to see
  • Visit an animal sanctuary
  • Go to the beach
  • Attend a sporting event
  • See your favorite band in concert (or check out the symphony)
  • Spend the day at a flea market or craft fair
  • Take a cooking class
  • Go kayaking (or swimming–if you fall out)

Or, go to a circus–a circus that doesn’t exploit animals! Cirque du Soleil and other acrobatic, theatrical shows are exciting and showcase very talented humans–who aren’t enslaved, and actually like what they do!

What are you going to do instead of going to a circus with animals?

Japan Dolphin Day

Today is Japan Dolphin Day and more than 16,000 people are joining 117 events all over the world to raise awareness of the annual dolphin hunting season that started on September 1st in Taiji, Japan.

dolphin sign

Every year, thousands of dolphins are captured and slaughtered in Taiji, by a small group of fishermen. For too long, this information was kept from the Japanese public and the rest of the world. The Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove, brought the horrors to light a few years ago.

dolphin demo

We marched from Westlake Plaza, an outdoor square in downtown Seattle, to the Japanese Consulate a few blocks away. At the consulate, we held signs for passers-by and handed out literature to raise awareness of the issue. Some people knew, others were shocked by what they learned.

dolphin slaughter protest

Dolphin meat isn’t a profitable venture, but the fishermen in Taiji can make a killing by selling live dolphins to marine parks around the world. For every performing dolphin, 17 of his friends and family are killed. Incredibly, dolphin trainers are in the boats with fishermen, picking the best candidates for marine parks. The rest are slaughtered.

protesters at Japan Dolphin Day

Dolphin meat, isn’t healthy or safe (it’s loaded with mercury and PCBs) but it’s distributed to children in the school lunch program anyway.

Japanese Consulate

The Japanese public hadn’t been aware of these atrocities until recently. Now that they know, they’re starting to do something. Brave activists from Japan and other countries are in Taiji now, protesting the slaughter. It’s especially significant that concerned Japanese are joining the efforts. Their culture doesn’t encourage speaking one’s mind, protesting in the streets, and questioning the government. But they are, and I applaud them.

Jean and Claudine

Back in Seattle, far from Taiji, we showed our support for the activists in Japan and let the Japanese government know that we do not condone this abuse of our friends of the sea.


dolphin collage

Running of the bulls

It’s time again for another blood sport bath. Every summer from July 6th to 14th, the San Fermin Festival takes place in Pamplona, Spain. It’s a festival honoring Saint Fermin, a 3rd Century Roman who converted to Christianity.

Sadly, the festival revolves around the running of the bulls. Every morning bulls are forced onto slippery cobblestone streets filled with thousands of crazed revelers. As fireworks and explosives go off, the terrified animals run through a cordoned off section that creates a chute of sorts. The route leads to a bull ring, where they will be tortured and killed.

Photo credit: Bernard bill5 at nl.wikipedia

The festival is steeped in tradition related to transporting bulls to market. Today, it attracts stupid (mostly) men, many of them tourists, who think running among terrified animals makes them macho. It’s not brave or masculine. It’s shameful.

Many Spaniards oppose this cruelty. This year, animal rights activists from PETA UK and Spain’s Anima Naturalis joined forces to demonstrate against the barbaric practice. They stood in coffins (representing the 48 bulls that will be killed during the festival) to protest.

Photo credit: RAFA RIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

The San Fermin festival attracts thousands of tourists to watch the bull runs. Bull fighting is actually on the decline but tourism keeps it alive. When travelling, stay far away from bull fights and other forms of cruelty and vote with your dollar. Spain is a beautiful country so enjoy the scenery, hospitality, dance, art, architecture, nature and beaches instead.

Benjamin Zephaniah, writer and poet, says it best: “Tourists who participate in the run or visit  Pamplona simply to watch it contribute to the carnage. Every shared tapa, every cerveza, every  booked hotel room and balcony bolsters the killing. As long as the city makes money off the event, bulls will continue to suffer and die.”

The festival isn’t really about the saint behind the name. If a raucous drink-fest is what people are looking for, there are lots of ways to do that, from dance clubs in Ibiza to music festivals. At least at La Tomatina, animals aren’t involved, although throwing tomatoes around is a waste of good food.

In a fun 21st Century take on a cruel tradition, New Orleans has their own running of the bulls festival, where roller derby skaters from the Big Easy Rollergirls league play the part of bulls. You can run down the street and get knocked over by a derby player. Drink, sing, dance and no animals get killed! In fact, part of the proceeds from the event support Animal Rescue New Orleans.

There’s always a way to keep traditions alive with new, fun versions of outdated cruel practices. Last year 12,000 participants were chased by over 350 RollerBulls!

March to close all slaughterhouses

This past Saturday, several cities around the world marched to close all slaughterhouses: Paris, Toulouse, London, Istanbul, Houston, San Diego, Zagreb, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Perth, Florence, and Toronto. My mom joined in the Toronto march.

vegan women

Compassionate protesters (my 61-year-old mom is on the right — her first demo!)

The Toronto march started at a city park, wove through the streets and ended at one of Toronto’s slaughterhouses (it’s not called Hogtown for nothing). I imagine emotions ran high at the site of the building where 6000 pigs die each weekday.

The march was organized with four tenets:

  • Because oppression, living conditions and slaughter cause immense suffering to animals
  • Because meat production is destroying our planet and our health
  • Because eating animal products is not necessary
  • Because sentient beings should not intentionally be mistreated or killed

The food industry is the largest contributor of animal exploitation, abuse and death but most people condone it through their dollars and their diets. The abuse goes on behind closed doors–literally. We’re not supposed to see it.

MTCAS demo

The marchers show what the meat industry tries to hide

Animals raised for food have a nightmarish existence. Confined, castrated, de-horned, debeaked, injected with hormones and antibiotics, and finally shipped to a house of horrors, where they see, hear, and smell other animals dying all around them before they too are killed.

The animal rights movement is part of a greater social justice movement. People need to speak up for injustices, and that’s exactly what they did on June 15th, all around the world. They marched to raise awareness and be a voice for the voiceless.

Robert Caine and my mom

Speaker Robert Caine and my mom met after the march

When we stop viewing animals as commodities and start seeing them as individuals with the right to live free from exploitation, it’s a no-brainer.


A memorial to slaughtered animals marked the entrance to the slaughterhouse

The best part about this cause is that the solution is right in front of us. It’s healthy and delicious and easy to do: adopt a plant-based diet.

vegan friends

The people in the march were a cross-section of society. They came from all classes, ages, genders, political leanings and beliefs. Animal abuse is something everyone can do something about.

a little protester

Compassion starts at a young age–don’t suppress it!

Each year, 60 billion land animals and 1,000 billion water animals are killed for humans. It’s staggering to think about. It’s cruel and unnecessary. By changing to a vegan diet you can save about 100 animals a year. This makes a difference. It adds up. Animals matter.

new friends

The message is simple and powerful: Go vegan!

I hope Seattle has a march next year so I can join too and speak up for those who can’t.

Protesting primate research at the UW

This past Saturday The Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN) held a demo outside the University of Washington National Primate Research Center. We organized the event to coincide with World Week for Animals in Labs.

Hidden inside this dark, unmarked building, 700 primates live and die for research, subjected to painful surgeries and traumatic procedures until they aren’t useful anymore. The Blue Building at 3000 Western Avenue downtown Seattle is the main facility for the UW National Primate Research Center, the largest of eight across the country.

About a dozen of us spent a few hours with signs and fliers and shared info with passers-by. Many people were shocked to learn that wasteful and cruel experiments were happening in their neighborhood. The beautiful Seattle sculpture park is across the street, and no one suspects cruelty is around them.

blue building

The University of Washington spends millions of taxpayer dollars conducting needless tests that haven’t resulted in any contribution to humans or animals. Harvard recently decided to close its primate research center and it’s time for UW to do the same.

The UW has even been cited with safety and cruelty violations including performing unauthorized surgeries and letting a monkey starve to death. The university breeds monkeys too and removes babies from their mothers soon after they’re born.

wwail collage - group photo by Pam Pulver

We demo to let the public know about these atrocities but we also demo to let animal abusers know their deeds aren’t going unnoticed. As I’ve written about before, animal research isn’t good science.

What can you do?

Send a polite letter requesting the UW reevaluate its policies regarding animal experimentation and commit to long-term reduction of the use of any animals for science.

Michael Young, President
301 Gerberding Hall, Box 351230
Seattle, WA 98195

The University of Washington Board of Regents
139 Gerberding Hall, Box 351264
Seattle, WA 98195-1264

If you’re a UW grad, you can also contact the alumni association and tell them that you won’t join them (or that you’ll be cancelling your membership) unless the university agrees not to use live animals in their research.

UW Alumni association Box 359508
Seattle, WA 98195-9508
206-543-0540 or 1-800-AUW-ALUM

Anti-fur protest at Nordstrom

Protesting on a busy sidewalk with a sign in my hands takes me a bit out of my comfort zone. But compared to the torture and horrendous deaths millions of fur-bearing animals face every year, what’s slight discomfort?


Last Saturday, I joined a dozen or so like-minded people at an anti-fur protest in front of the Nordstrom flagship store in Seattle. The event was organized by Action for Animals.

action for animals

I’m somewhat surprised that in 2013 there’s still a need for an anti-fur demonstration. Don’t people know better? Maybe they do, but do they care? Farmed fur animals gassed, poisoned, or genitally electrocuted. Wild-caught animals suffer for days in traps and break bones and teeth trying to free themselves.

fur is dead

Many of the passerbys nodded in agreement and some thanked us for speaking up. I didn’t see anyone in fur coats–just a faux fur vest and some trim on hoods that I hope was fake.

We protested to raise awareness. As consumers, we vote with our dollars. I’ve shopped at Nordstrom before but from now on I won’t be supporting businesses that sell fur. Luckily, there are loads of other stores that don’t sell fur, as you can see on this handy list.

Tell Nordstrom you won’t shop there either until they stop selling fur. Here’s a petition you can sign and a sample letter. As much as I want all businesses to be ethical “on their own,” it’s usually about the bottom line. If people don’t support cruelty, stores will have to change their business strategies.


Margo looks good in fur. People don’t!