From WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, it's "The Animal House," connecting you with everything that concerns the animal world. I'm Sam Litizinger. Later we meet a legal scholar who heads a team of lawyers, political scientists, sociologists, psychologists, and natural scientists, all working to give non-human species legitimate judicial rights.
We'll also hear compelling words from the co-founder of a world-renowned farm animal sanctuary, and Dr. Gary Weitzman will answer questions about pets and wildlife. First, most zoos and wildlife sanctuaries receive either praise or criticism for the way their animals are treated, but as WAMU news reporter Elliot Francis discovered, one local zoo is the recipient of both.
The Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo sits on 25 rustic acres just north of Frederick, Md. To some, these animal enclosures appear more open and accessible. However, when Maryland resident Edna Josell (sp?) visited the park last month, its condition disturbed her.
It looked dilapidated. There were a lot of overgrown, you know, there's shrubs...
The temperature was near 100 during her visit, and the behavior of one animal in particular sticks in her mind.
There was an arctic wolf that was pacing, going round and round and round in his cage.
She called the conditions sad. In fact, the facility has been cited by the Department of Agriculture for violations of the Animal Welfare Act involving failure to properly maintain facilities and primary enclosures. In 1988 the zoo's license was suspended for 20 days for a similar infraction, and this past May, Catoctin paid a $12,000 fine to settle a USDA complaint of non-compliance involving veterinary care, handling, housing, and husbandry. Richard Hahn is the director of the zoo. Hahn says unannounced inspections were always welcome.
We have always accepted that as a positive influence because if they say well, you could do this better, or you could do this in another way, then we know where we need to improve.
This enclosure for a snow leopard is very overgrown, similar to one described earlier by Edna Josell. Assistant director, June Bellizzi, says there's a good reason for that.
But it's also camouflage for the animal so the animal feels comfortable in their environment.
While both Hahn and Bellizzi admit the preserve is not perfect, they insist it's far removed from the characterization of critics. In fact, in their most recent report, the UDSA writes, quote, "the violations, while serious, did not directly endanger the animals and there were no hurt, sick, or abused animals disclosed." End quote. Going forward, Bellizzi offers this advice to all zoo visitors.
Learn and understand and don't judge just because we have animals in what you perceive to be a cage. It's conservation in the smallest of steps.
I'm Elliott Francis.
Dramatic changes in farming over the past 50 years have brought widespread attention to the conditions that exist for the world's livestock populations. As a result, global efforts to protect farm animals and their habitats have become front page news. A prominent figure in livestock conservation is Jenny Brown, co-founder of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in New York. She's written a new book about her work called "The Lucky Ones." She joins us from WAMC in Albany, New York. Jenny, glad to have you with us in "The Animal House."
Thanks so much for having me on.
Tell us first about Boogie. There's always one animal that changes our lives, or if we're lucky, maybe there's more than one, but Boogie did it for you?
Yeah. And it's a little bit of a silly name, but I was ten years old when she was brought into my life. I was finally allowed to have a pet which I'd always wanted. I had been diagnosed with osteosarcoma which was a bone tumor in my leg. I ended up undergoing about two-and-a-half years of chemotherapy. My mother worked the night shift, so when I wasn't in the hospital, I was home alone during the day, and this little kitten, that I was finally able to adopt, really brought such joy to my life and opened my eyes to the sentience of animals in general.
And I was especially sensitive to suffering, given my own suffering, and the choices that were being made for me in terms of, you know, high powered chemo doses and losing my leg. I felt powerless as a child, and I sort of related to animals that way. And it wasn't until I was 18, you know, I loved cats and dogs, I even volunteered walking dogs at a shelter, but it wasn't until I was 18 that I picked up some literature which really opened my eyes to all the various ways that we use and abuse animals in our society, and I began to realize that animals had suffered in order to save my life.
It wasn't until 2002, after working in film and television on shows like "Frontline", "Nova," for the filmmaker Errol Morris that I started getting literature from an organization called Farm Sanctuary, and I looked at a graph of how we use and abuse animals across the board, and the most number of animals was clearly identified as the animals that are raised for food. And so I went to work -- I left my career in film and television and went to work for $8 an hour at another sanctuary to be around these animals and to consider starting a sanctuary of my own because the power and the uniqueness that farm animal sanctuaries have is that people come face to face with animals they only know as food.
But we're in Woodstock, New York, surrounded by the beautiful Catskill Mountains. We opened our doors in 2006, and now we're home to around 200 rescued farm animals, specifically food production animals, and we're open to the public. People can come on the weekends, they meet the animals, they take an educational tour, while they're meeting 800 pound Andy the pig, they're learning how pigs just like Andy are living and dying in today's animal agriculture.
It's a strange dichotomy that we have in our culture that we choose not to look at how we treat the animals that we eat, and they're living in miserable conditions in this day and age on giant CAFOs, which are confined animal feeding operations also known as factory farms, and they're not able to act out their natural instincts, and, you know, my hope is to inspire people through Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and through the book that people can become aware and sort of open their minds and their hearts to the plight of farm animals, and maybe stop to think that perhaps animals are here with us and not for us.
You know, I was approached to do this book because I have an artificial leg, and I never said this in my life, but my having an amputation and -- because of a 2008 New York Times piece where it featured me with my bionic-looking artificial leg, and a little goat that had to have his leg removed that had been hog-tied with wire and he came to us -- was found running around New York City, that's a whole other story, there's lots of animals that come from New York City. But honestly I can say that if it helped raise awareness, I feel like one of the lucky ones.
Jenny Brown is co-founder of the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and author of "The Lucky Ones." Thank you very much for being with us in "The Animal House."
Thanks so much for having me.
For "The Animal House," I'm Mary McCann, and this is BirdNote. Are you getting more sleep lately because the birds are quieter in the morning? By this time in September, most migratory birds have departed, taking their songful voices with them. You may have noticed that even the voices of resident birds are less apparent, like the song of a resident song sparrow.
Why the silence? During the non-breeding seasons of fall and winter, most birds don't need to sing to establish a breeding territory and attract a mate. Many songbirds though are still able to communicate with call and alarm notes. But at this time of year, their brains simply can't produce a song. Many song sparrows sing more or less often all year long. The brown streak breasted song sparrow may not be the most eye catching of our fall and winter birds, but it may be the most dependable singer. On brighter fall days and on clear cold winter mornings with a touch of sun, listen for the song sparrow's rich melodic phrases.
In a few moments, Dr. Gary Weitzman will join us with answers to your questions about pets and wildlife. First, let's get acquainted with our Animal of the Day, the cow. Among the 1.3 billion heads of cattle in the world, there's a breed that's known as the world's highest production dairy animal. Do you happen to know the name of that breed? We'll have the answer just before the end of today's program. Next week in "The Animal House," a conversation with legendary film star and animal activist Tippi Hedren.
I have been interested in animals since I was born. I call it a birth affect. Many, many people are born with a love for animals and a real desire to learn more about them and some people acquire it later in life, but it's always -- it always enhances your life.
Tippi Hedren talks about her lifelong humanitarian and political efforts to protect wild animals next week in "The Animal House."
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