A little bit of everything

Welcome to Aristurtle, a title lovingly ripped off from the Science of Sleep. This really is just a little bit of everything, a news digest pulled from many different sources. Generally anything that makes me want to rant tends to make it onto this blog, with very little plotting or advanced planning.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Dog Breeding Establisment Bill 2009

I was fairly shocked to find that there was a pressure group dedicated to objecting to this Bill, but there is.

"RISE" or "Rural Ireland Says Enough" are a new organization dedicated to preserving rural sports and traditions, according to their facebook page. What surprised me most is that these seem to be reasonable, sane people. I posted a comment on their page explaining my confusion at their aims, and they were kind enough to post it to a discussion board so hopefully I'll get some answers from them soon.

Whatever the answer is, however, I doubt it will persuade me that hunting and breeding animals in squalid conditions are rural sports that deserve preserving. What I would propose is maybe some moderations to the Bill, but I can't really see how this will affect rural sports in an adverse financial way.

The Bill, introduced and championed by the Green Party, will seek to regulate and register all dog breeding establishments in Ireland. Establishments will be required to register and pay a fee to the local authorities, and to submit to inspection of their premises. This seems like a fair ask to me. Animal abuse has been a severe problem in some parts of Ireland for a long time, and I'm very glad to see that the Green Party are taking steps to prevent or at least cut back on this.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Adorable, but at a pretty high price

Youtube is home to many videos, some of them funny, some of them serious, some of them cute. Type in the name of any animal and the likelihood is that someone has uploaded a video of that animal. Perhaps one of the cutest of these videos is that of the slow loris being tickled by her owners:


When I first saw this I of course fell in love with that slow loris. They're a species I don't know much about, but their seeming docile nature and beautiful wide eyes would appeal to most people.

What I did find out, after further internet searching, was that the slow loris is practically an endangered species. Their conservation status is listed as "vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. By that system, the slow loris is just one step away from endangered.

What the Russian owners of the slow loris in that video failed to mention is that it is illegal to own them as a pet in most countries, including Russia. Of course, in the later videos of their pet they insist that in their country it is perfectly legal.

The thing is, when the ownership of a certain animal as a pet is outlawed, there's usually a good reason for it. In this case, there are several good reasons. First of all, the slow loris is a strictly nocturnal animal, and therefore not suited to living with humans. You'll notice that in that video the animal is awake in what appears to be broad daylight. Secondly, because the species is so rare and endangered, it's unlikely that there will be a vet nearby that is able to treat them if they get sick.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the demand for these animals as pets leads poachers and hunters to snatch them from their natural habitat, normally as babies, to sell on the black market. They can be found in Southeast Asia, China, and Borneo among others. Since slow loris leave their young in the nest at night while they go hunting, largely unprotected, they are easy to snatch. Poachers will often carry them in uncomfortable wire cages and remove their teeth, often with pliers, to make them more suitable and harmless pets. The docile nature of the slow loris, as seen in the videos, in fact comes from their defence mechanism. When feeling threatened or frightened, they will simply relax.

All this because of a few youtube videos and cute pictures. It's enough to make me rethink my feelings anytime I see a cute exotic animal. It's tragic to think that an animal's cute aesthetic appearance can lead to its' demise.