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Animal rights groups call for end to wildlife tourism, saying tourists unaware of cruelty animals face

By Andie Noonan  Updated about an hour agoSat 4 Oct 2014, 9:52am

  Elephant entertaining, animal cruelty height=467 Photo: World Animal Protection's Dr Jan Schmidt-Burbach said tourists were unwittingly contributing to the cycle of suffering. (World Animal Protection )   

Getting a photo with a tiger or riding through the Thai jungle atop a majestic elephant have become well-worn tourist tropes in Thailand.

But animal rights groups are calling for such practices to end, saying travellers are not aware of the cruelty these wild animals face in order to service the tourist trade.

World Animal Protection has begun campaigning to see an end to wildlife attractions like elephant rides, tiger temples, lion walking, swimming with dolphins and dancing macaques. 

Have you ever taken part in animal tourism? Would you reconsider taking part based on comments from animal rights groups? 

Dr Jan Schmidt-Burbach, senior veterinary advisor to World Animal Protection, said animals forced to entertain tourists can suffer extreme pain.

"The problem is, no wild animal would voluntarily accept a human riding it or making it perform for entertainment," he said.

"It comes as a surprise to most travellers when faced with what goes on."

We are confident that people, once they understand the suffering, they will make the right choices  World Animal Protection veterinary advisor, Dr Jan Schmidt-Burbach

The Thailand-based elephant expert said wild animals in captivity were trained by breaking their spirit in a process known as "the crush".

The animals are often chained up in small spaces, deprived of food and water and beaten until they learn to submit.

He said training could be particularly tough for elephants because they are large and powerful.

"For the security and safety of people around the elephants the training has to be very cruel to make sure the elephant really listens and obeys all the commands," he said.

"It all boils down to inflicting pain and stress on the animal, restraining it massively, and in between rewarding the animal by human hand so the animal realises that he can't do anything without a human helping it."

Performing elephant, animal cruelty height=467 Photo: An elephant performs tricks for tourists. Elephants are often 'broken in' by being kept in confined spaces and beaten. (World Animal Protection ) 

Dr Schmidt-Burbach said a 2010 survey found there were 1,600 elephants in 100 elephant camps in Thailand alone, along with 600 tigers and 300 macaques.

One of the difficult things, he said, is that many of the people who go to see these animals consider themselves animal lovers.

In a World Animal Protection survey of why tourists visit wildlife entertainment spots, 48 per cent said they did so because they love animals.

"We are confident that people, once they understand the suffering, they will make the right choices," he said.

"If you love wild animals and want to see them, it's best to see them in their natural habitat, through a responsible tour organiser."

He said he was concerned the ever-increasing number of tourists was also fuelling demand.

Nicola Beynon, from World Animal Protection Australia, said the group wanted to educate people.

"We know that when people go on holiday, they love to interact with wild animals," she said.

"But sadly a whole industry has grown up around that to exploit it.

"We want to make sure that people are equipped with the knowledge about what goes on behind the scenes and they know the questions to ask and then decide whether or not to participate."

October 4 is World Animal Day.
Animals Australia release shocking footage of livestock being abused in Kuwait   

But this footage, shot by Animals Australia activists on the ground in Kuwait, reveal the shocking treatment and illegal slaughter of Australian sheep in a market notorious for cruelty.
And it is far from pretty.

According to the animals group, hundreds of Australian sheep are being sold illegally from a notoriously cruel livestock market in Kuwait, which is just five minutes down the road from Meat and Livestock Australia inspectors.

Animals Australia say the shocking breach of practice is of more concern as the Festival of Sacrifice is currently taking place and it has been left up to its staff to detect and report breaches of live export regulations.

Animal abuse in Kuwait WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
THESE are the graphic and confronting images that are enough to put you off your food.
Animals Australia communication director, Lisa Chalk told that the scenes captured from this market were appalling and “again represent the worst abuses associated with the live export trade”.

Ms Chalk added this abuse took place despite Australian regulations being established in the area to prevent it happening in the first place.

The footage shows sheep being tied up, and roughly thrown onto a truck, many panting in the sweltering heat.

     Lambs to the slaughter: How can this happen? height=488   A sheep shown being dragged and roughly handled. Picture: Animals Australia Source: Supplied
Some bound sheep were even left lying on hot metal trays while others were thrown into a car boot.

“They were visibly distressed by their circumstances, panting uncontrollably and drooling,” Ms Chalk said.

“Each of them (is) now facing cruel slaughter.”

“It is outrageous that these serious breaches of regulations with shocking welfare implications were occurring without intervention or action from MLA who are based only a ‘stone’s throw away’.

“Once again Animals Australia investigators have had to take considerable risks to be able to bring these breaches to the attention of the government.”

According to Animals Australia it is the fifth time it has provided the Department of Agriculture with evidence of recurring live export breeches at the Al rai market in Kuwait.
     Sheep being thrown onto the backs of trucks. Picture: Animals Australia height=488   Sheep being thrown onto the backs of trucks. Picture: Animals Australia Source: Supplied

The most recent shipment of sheep from Australia to Kuwait arrived in September on a Livestock Shipping Services (LSS) vessel, the Maysora, according to Animals Australia.

There were three shipments prior to that, in early September and in August, from LSS and export company, Emmanuel Exports.

“It was the horrific abuse of Australian animals documented at this market in 2010 that predicated the government’s new system of live export regulation,” Ms Chalk said.

“That such abuse and disregard for regulations continues, both in Jordan and Kuwait, is directly related to the failure to take strong action against exporters for breaches.

“Not only must the exporter who failed in their legal responsibility be prosecuted, there needs to be a formal inquiry into why MLA consultants failed to report this serious situation.”

Under ESCAS rules (Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System) live export regulations require all animals to be kept within approved supply chains and only slaughtered at approved abattoirs.

The individual sale of animals in livestock markets is strictly prohibited and if rules aren’t followed, exporters can be sanctioned by the Department of Agriculture and potentially have their licence suspended.

It is the exporter’s responsibility to ensure all ESCAS requirements are met and any investigation conducted by the Department of Agriculture would cover all aspects of the alleged noncompliance.
     A map of the location showing how close MLA officials are to the market. Picture: Animals height=488   A map of the location showing how close MLA officials are to the market. Picture: Animals Australia Source: Supplied

Meat and Livestock Australia is the body responsible for monitoring live export and providing training in importing countries and are currently in Kuwait to monitor what happens during the Eid (Festival of Sacrifice).

Australian Meat and Livestock have been contacted for comment but have not returned calls from

However a spokesman for the Department of Agriculture confirmed it had received an initial report of sheep outside approved supply chains in Kuwait, but it had not received any video footage.

“The department treats all reports of noncompliance with the Export Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) seriously,” the spokesman said.

“As the regulator, the Department of Agriculture will review and assess all evidence provided about noncompliance with ESCAS.

The spokesman added the Eid Al-Adha festival, or Eid, is a high risk time for ESCAS noncompliance and one of the most important periods in the Islamic calendar as animals are slaughtered and the meat shared with family, friends and the needy.

“It is a time when the private sale of Australian livestock at locations outside the facilities in the approved supply chain are more likely,” he said.

“The department has issued an advice notice to all livestock exporters outlining their responsibility to be vigilant in delivering on their special management plans for Eid.”

The Australian Live Exporters Council have also been contacted for comment.

The reports of the latest cruelty was strongly condemned by Independent MP Andrew Wilkie who called for a complete end to the livestock trade.

The Federal member for Denison said he was just as appalled by the reports as Animals Australia activists.

“This is a notorious and unlicensed market and Australian livestock should not be there,” he told

“This is further proof that the live animal export industry is systemically cruel.”

Mr Wilkie added despite repeated exposes around the world at different places, cruel practices within the export industry continued to take place.

“This not only shows the world that it’s cruel but also that it’s not in the interests over time to send livestock overseas which is sending jobs out of Australia,” he added.

Mr Wilkie added if a direct line was drawn from Perth to Townsville it would show there were no abattoirs which slaughtered animals for export north of these cities.

He said sheep could be slaughtered out of Perth and cattle out of Darwin, potentially creating up to 3000 jobs for Australian workers.

2 hours ago October 03, 2014 3:07PM
 Livestock exporters 'disappointed' by reports of sheep leaking out of Middle East supply chain ahead of Eid al Adha

Australian exporters are investigating reports of Australian sheep leaking outside of approved supply chains in public markets in Jordan ahead of an annual slaughter festival.

"Clearly we are very disappointed," said chief executive officer of the Australian Livestock Exporters' Council (ALEC), Alison Penfold.

"We had flagged Jordan as high risk, given events last year, and certainly have made genuine efforts to secure supply chains.

"These reports clearly indicate there is an issue in the system, not condoned, approved, or supported by exporters in any shape or form, but something we have to investigate and treat where possible."

Audio: CEO of the Australian Livestock Exporters' Council Alison Penfold explains how the industry is preparing for Eid al Adha (ABC Rural)

This Saturday, October 4, Muslim people in the Middle East will begin the four-day Islamic religious festival of sacrifice, known as Eid al Adha (or Korban in South East Asia).

It's one of the most significant traditions in the Islamic calendar, involving families slaughtering animals at their homes, usually sheep or goats.

The meat from the sacrificed animal is divided into three parts. A third is given to the poor, a third is given to relatives, friends and neighbours and the final third is retained by the family.

Eid is considered a high risk period for Australian livestock exporters, who are responsible for the welfare of the animals they sell through overseas supply chains.

Under Australian law, animals can only be slaughtered in approved abattoirs in foreign markets.

Ms Penfold couldn't say how many animals are involved in the latest report and what exporter is linked.

She added that exporters have been working directly with customers and facility staff to implement livestock management systems in recent weeks.

Animals Australia, the animal rights group that reported the incident to the Department of Agriculture, has warned the industry of its plans to find any evidence it can of mistreatment of Australian livestock during the festival.

A spokesperson from Animals Australia wasn't available for an interview, but provided the following in a written statement.

"Our investigators have viewed not less than 1,000 Australian sheep for sale by livestock merchants in locations previously reported for breaches on a number of occasions.

"All are primary selling locations for the Eid (Festival of Sacrifice) for private buyers, where animals will be subjected to trussing and transport in boots for home slaughter/sacrifice - or killed onsite.

"Once again, ear tags have been removed from sheep to prevent individual identification.

"Animals Australia has reported these significant ESCAS breaches to both the Department and to ALEC in the hope that they can stem further leakage to prevent cruel treatment of more animals over the coming days.

"Animals Australia has lodged five formal complaints since June 2013 about the illegal sale of Australian sheep in Jordan, in breach of live export regulations."

 Updated about 3 hours agoThu 2 Oct 2014, 1:17pm
Duck saved in “one of the worst” cases of animal cruelty         
  • 14 hours ago October 01, 2014 6:00PM
       Lucky Duck was found tied up with fishing line inside a plastic bag along Mitchell St in height=366   Lucky Duck was found tied up with fishing line inside a plastic bag along Mitchell St in Darwin. Pictures: IVAN RACHMAN Source: Supplied
        Lucky Duck height=237   Lucky Duck Source: News Limited
JUST two days after a case of animal cruelty described by a volunteer as “one of the worst” she’d ever seen, Lucky the duck is back on his feet and getting acquainted with his new mates and a new crack at life.

He was saved by quick-thinking tenants who spotted a discarded Woolies shopping bag twitching in the gardens at an apartment complex on Mitchell St on Monday.

On further investigation, it was several bags tied together and inside was a fully grown muscovy drake bound at the legs by fishing line.

Wildcare NT volunteer Terri Wright took the call from the group and discovered Lucky on the brink of death.

“I’ve seen some pretty bad things but that was pretty bad, one of the worst,” she said.

Lucky was cloaked in flies and a putrid smell, limp and unable to stand.

Ms Wright took him to the care of Barb Backers of Colliwobble Farm, a 4ha property in Virginia housing all manner of rescued  animals including peacocks, emus, wallabies, galahs and other ducks.

Yesterday, the appropriately named Lucky was standing for the first time since his ordeal but not quite ready to move from his aviary.

“He is very, very quiet and hasn’t eaten anything yet, and he still smells.

“It’s TLC from here,” Ms Backers said.

The Northern Territory Department of Primary Industries confirmed welfare officers were investigating.

 Originally published as Very Lucky duck gets new quack at life
 Local woman convicted of animal cruelty

Sept. 30, 2014, 11:30 p.m.

The accused appeared in the Port Augusta Magistrates Court for sentencing.A Port Augusta woman has been convicted of ill treatment of an animal, after failing to provide food to her severely starved pet American Bulldog in 2013.

The accused appeared in the Port Augusta Magistrates Court for sentencing on Tuesday, September 23.

Magistrate Melanie Little sentenced the defendant to 140 hours of community service, to be completed over nine months.

She is also forbidden from acquiring or having custody of an animal for two years.

The RSPCA sought legal action against the woman after receiving reports of two dogs in poor condition at the defendant's address on May 7, 2013.

A council inspector attended the property on behalf of the RSPCA, where the woman showed the inspector the two dogs of concern.

She agreed to surrender one male American Bulldog, Zeus, which the inspector reported to be in a very skinny condition.

After taking the dog to a local vet for assessment, it was found to have a body condition score of just one out of nine - the worst score an animal can receive with regards to emaciation.

During sentencing, Magistrate Little said she found photos of Zeus in his emaciated condition "distressing", telling the woman there was no excuse for her actions.

"Animals in care of people must be appropriately treated," Magistrate Little said.

"As soon as you realise you can't look after it, you need to surrender it."

Magistrate Little took the woman's "strong personal factors" into consideration when delivering her sentence, which included severe depression and mental health issues.

While this is but another sad story of animal welfare neglect, in this case, there is a happy ending.

Zeus was taken in for care by the RSPCA and took 11 weeks to recover from his severe emaciation.

By July 25, 2013 he weighed 38.4 kilograms and was rated a body score of five out of nine - which is in the healthy range.

In October 2013 the two-year-old dog American Bulldog, now named Diesel, was successfully re-homed by RSPCA South Australia from their Lonsdale shelter, and is now happy and healthy living with his new family.

The RSPCA reminds the Port Augusta Community to report any acts of animal cruelty to RSPCA South Australia's 24-hour hotline on 1300 4 777 22.

Dog 'dragged behind car at speeds of up to 70kph', man faces animal cruelty charges 

Posted 1 Oct 2014, 9:03amWed 1 Oct 2014,

A man is facing animal cruelty charges after allegedly dragging a dog behind a car through the streets of Wickham in WA's Pilbara region.

Police said the dog was dragged for up to five kilometres at speeds of up to 70 kilometres per hour.

They said the 35-year-old man then took the dog to the beach and submerged it in salt water, in an attempt to treat its wounds, before taking it home and covering it in a mixture of tea tree oil and water.

His actions aggravated the animal's injuries.

The dog is being treated for severe burns to 20 per cent of its body at the Karratha Veterinary Hospital.

Its injuries are serious but not life-threatening, police said.

The man will be summonsed to appear in court.
 Roxy height=183
A woman found guilty of animal cruelty after leaving her dog in a car parked at Carousel Shopping Centre on a 38 degree December day in 2012 was sentenced at the Perth Magistrates Court today.

Adele Culverwell, 65, who lives five minutes drive from Carousel Shopping Centre lost ownership of her dog and was fined $5,000 and ordered to pay $30,000 in costs relating to the care of the dog Roxy and for legal costs.

Magistrate Huston said that it would have been "unbearably hot" for the dog. "It should have been obvious that conditions in the car were unbearable." He also went on to say that her "conduct in confining the dog was completely unacceptable." The Magistrate observed that there would be "community outrage" and that there was a need to "discourage others". Mrs Culverwell showed no remorse.

Her dog Roxy, a three year old Borzoi, will now be rehomed by RSPCA.

RSPCA Chief Inspector welcomed today's decision as a good outcome for the animal's welfare.

"Throughout the proceedings Mrs Culverwell has never shown remorse for her actions and had not ruled out doing the same thing again. It is a good outcome that we are now able to rehome Roxy to a responsible owner" said Ms Swift.

The case is believed to be the first prosecution in Western Australia for cruelly confining a dog in a hot car. It sends a warning to all dog owners about leaving dogs in hot cars during the warmer months.

"With the first hot day of spring this weekend, it is a very timely reminder to not leave your dog in the car. Not only could your dog be at great risk of harm, you may also be at risk of losing your dog and finding yourself in front of the courts" said Ms Swift.

"This message has been out there in the public domain for many years and some people are still putting their dogs at risk of serious long term health problems and even death by cooking them in hot cars."

She said that the majority of West Australians were now well aware of the message and people who left their dogs in hot cars were likely to be reported to the RSPCA, the police or to local Shire rangers.

Last summer, the RSPCA received almost 600 calls about dogs in hot cars.

RSPCA advice:
  • It is preferable not to leave dogs in a vehicle at any time of the year - even when the windows are down dogs can still overheat and die. If in doubt, leave your animals at home.
  • Even on mild days the temperature inside the vehicle rises rapidly to dangerous levels.
  • When the ambient temperature is 22°C the temperature inside a car can rise to over 47°C in a matter of minutes.
  • The high temperatures in the car combined with inadequate ventilation/air flow mean that the dog cannot thermo-regulate leaving them vulnerable to over-heating which can be fatal. Animals in these conditions can suffer an agonizing death.
For more information call:
Maree Daniels, RSPCA WA, 0417 859 600
Free-range eggs claim: Pirovic Enterprises fined for misleading, deceiving customers

By Joanna Woodburn  Updated 23 Sep 2014, 2:39pmTue 23 Sep 2014, 2:39pm

    Free range eggs shown with caged eggs. height=227 Photo: The ACCC took Pirovic Enterprises to court for claiming their eggs were free range. (AAP Image: Alan Porritt)     

A New South Wales egg producer has been fined for misleading and deceiving consumers over claims its eggs were free range.

The Federal Court has found Pirovic Enterprises incorrectly marketed its eggs as free-range because its hens were unable to move freely on open ranges.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took the company to court because of its marketing on its cartons and website.

Justice Flick told the Federal Court that Pirovic could not justify its claims because of stocking density and flock sizes in its barns.

He ordered the company to pay $300,000 and establish a trade practices compliance program.

Outside the court Verna Simpson from Humane Society International said she was not surprised by the outcome.

"I would have expected a higher fine than that, but I suppose it's because he accepted the liability," she said.

The Federal Court heard late last month that both parties reached an in-principle agreement to settle the case.

Justice Flick told the court that this played a considerable role in determining the judgement and penalty.

Pirovic issued a statement which said the adverse findings related to packaging and farming conditions that were phased out in January 2014.

The company said it had already voluntarily committed to upgrading its free-range sheds and changing its free-range farming practices before the ACCC launched the proceedings.

Pirovic said the case highlights the need for a mandatory and uniform standard for free-range egg production to provide certainty for consumers and egg producers.
Two convicted of animal cruelty after leaving dog to die in Gosnells 

Updated 19 Sep 2014, 1:24pmFri 19 Sep 2014, 1:24pm

Two men have been convicted of animal cruelty for leaving a dog to die after it had been run over and then beaten.

The dog, named Puppy, was run over on April 16 in Gosnells, south-east Perth, and left in a cardboard box by her owner to die from her injuries.

Gosnells men Justin Whitwell, 44, and Franklyn Thomas Hunt, 50, were convicted in the Armadale Magistrates Court of animal cruelty after the RSPCA investigated the incident.

The RSPCA said one witness saw Hunt pick up the dog after it had been run over.

The dog snapped at him and he threw it to the ground, bent over and began to punch it repeatedly.

Puppy's owner, Whitwell, arrived at the scene with a cardboard box, picked the dog up and then left her inside the box until she passed away the following morning.

"When investigated by an RSPCA inspector as to why Mr Hunt and Mr Whitwell didn't take Puppy to the vet for treatment, Mr Whitwell indicated that he was not able to afford it," a statement from the RSPCA said.

"Mr Hunt stated that he didn't know there was a vet open at that time of the evening."

Hunt was fined $6,000 and Whitwell $2,500 plus more than $1,600 in court costs.

Both men have been prohibited from owning a pet for 10 years.

In a statement, RSPCA chief inspector Amanda Swift said both men were irresponsible.

"Puppy was clearly suffering terribly from the impact of the vehicle," she said.

"Again we remind people, pet ownership comes with responsibilities.

"If you are unable to meet these for any reason, then please, do not get a pet.
"If you can no longer afford or care for your pet then seek out alternatives whether that be through family, friends or a rescue organisation."
Qld dog stabbed for disobedience         
  • 1 hour ago September 15, 2014 1:09PM
    A QUEENSLAND man has been charged with stabbing his pet dog in the neck because it was being disobedient.

THE 65-year-old Cairns resident faces up to seven years jail for allegedly stabbing his labrador Tangles with a small kitchen knife on Saturday night.

"His story was that the dog was being disobedient and we believe that alcohol was involved," Senior Constable Heidi Marek told AAP. "He took matters into his own hands and stabbed the dog as a result. "We'll be requesting that the dog not be returned to its owner for obvious reasons." RSPCA Queensland spokesman Michael Beatty said Tangles, a four-year-old male, was in a stable condition.

"From what I understand his injuries aren't critical," he said. His owner, who lives with a house mate, had attempted to treat his pet's wound. "It seemed that the guy did bandage the dog after he stabbed it, which is a bit weird," Mr Beatty said.

Tangles is being treated by a Cairns vet and is expected to be transferred to the RSPCA's care on Monday or Tuesday. The dog's owner has been charged with one count of serious animal cruelty and is due to face court in October.

In March, the Queensland government announced maximum seven-year jail terms for animal cruelty, which is almost double the previous penalty.
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