Birds in cages crying for help

From ‘Stop bird-singing competitions’, 20 Jan 2018, ST Forum

(Tan Kim Hock): Mr Donny Ho Boon Tiong is right – keeping pet birds should be made illegal (Have animal activists forgotten about birds?; Jan 17). Although Singapore is a small island, bird lovers should have no difficulty finding places to admire the animals in their natural habitats.

The keeping of birds in small cages is very cruel. I often wonder whether they are singing or crying for help when they call out. I also wonder if there have been any studies carried out on the welfare of caged birds.

The keeping of songbirds has been a practice in Asian societies for many years. Hence, the banning of the practice will certainly face objections, initially at least.

In Singapore, bird-singing competitions are regularly held by some grassroots organisations. This practice indirectly promotes the keeping of birds in cages.

As a first step, the People’s Association should perhaps discourage such competitions.

Like fining people for burning incense during Hungry Ghost month, it would be hard to crack down on bird hobbyists, especially since ‘Bird-singing corners’ was recognised as an official SG50 icon in 2015. Yes, if you want something for a tourist to remember the Garden City by, it’s a yellow bird in a small cage.

birdsingingcorner

 

Just like we have no idea what it’s like being a bat, we can’t judge the emotional state of a bird by the ‘sweetness’ of its melody. If a bird in a cage starts pecking its face off on the cage bars, it may look to me like it wants to get the fuck out, but to a songbird contestant, it could be just part of the avian maestro’s vocal ‘training’. As a songbird I may get daily massages and premium birdseed, I may be the reigning champion of Bukit Ho Swee constituency, but for all my talents I’m stuck in this pretty cage while the noisy bastard  Asian koel is out there laying eggs and using its wings to do the stuff birds do.

One of the silliest explanations given in support of Bird Idol contests is that a bird wouldn’t be singing if it weren’t HAPPY. Which is the same flawed anthropomorphic reasoning as saying dolphins are happy being held captive entertaining their human overlords because they look like they’re smiling all the time.

Besides, even as a human, singing doesn’t mean that I’m overjoyed. It could be a cry for attention like crooning ‘Tissue Paper One Dollar’, or raging against an ex-lover through Ceelo Green’s ‘FUCK YOU’. In the case of songbirds, it could very well be their version of Queen’s ‘I Want To Break Free.’

 

 

 

 

 

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China dog circus perpetuates animal cruelty

From ‘Amid furore, organisers pull circus out of Chinese New Year show’, 9 Dec 2017, article by Victor Loh, Today

A segment of a Chinese New Year show featuring dog performances has been withdrawn following a backlash online. The show, which was branded as the “Chinese New Year Dog Circus 2018”, was scheduled to take place at Resorts World Sentosa in February 2018 to welcome the Chinese Lunar New Year.

…Ticketing operator Sistic first promoted the China-based show on its Facebook page on Friday (Dec 8) morning. By Friday night, a petition to ban the show from performing in Singapore — started by animal advocate Summer Ong — was created.

The petition — addressed to the show’s promoter HE Productions, Sistic and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) — garnered 7,237 supporters by the time it was closed on Saturday (Dec 9) afternoon.

“To be even campaigning for this is baffling because Singapore prides herself as a progressive first world nation,” Ms Ong told TODAY.

“It’s extremely disappointing to see RWS and SISTIC promoting such animal performance and animal cruelty. And we are all unsure and very appalled why RWS and Sistic gave the green light to approve this China dog circus.

“Such venue operators should never accept these shows. Accepting such acts shows they support these performances. Promoting these unethical shows thus perpetuates animal cruelty.”

Describing the practice of using animals in circus as “archaic, cruel and unethical”, the petition cited the closure of the Ringling Brothers, an American travelling circus company famous for using elephants in its performances.

If only a petition like this was as effective in getting RWS Marine Life Park to stop their dolphin shows.  In 2012, Wen Wen the dolphin died en route to Singapore before she could perform for her ‘archaic, cruel and unethical’ human audience. Today, we continue to laugh and clap to the antics of aquatic beasts in glorified colosseums, blissfully unaware of the trauma inflicted when these creatures of the oceans are air-flown in specifically for our entertainment.

We may have given the poor China canines some respite through this protest, but we still tolerate owners who dye their chow chows to look like fucking pandas. So why recruit animals for public entertainment at all, caged-bird singing included? If dogs were not meant to do the conga or ride e-scooters, then neither should songbirds be held captive by uncles 24 hours a day. Such a practice is in fact celebrated as a ‘heartland icon’ when circus animals actually spend more time outside cages than our feathered sopranos. One activity is slammed for its barbarism, while another is hyped as a ‘uniquely Singaporean’ hobby.

In 1982, an animal lover complained that Ah Meng should not be made to ‘sit in wicker chair, sipping tea, nibbling a watermelon and politely tolerating the inane chatter of several humans’. Yes, why stop at circuses when animal shows are also guilty of grilling seals into clapping, tigers into begging and elephants into tiptoeing on a trainer’s head without crushing his face to pulp? We have sequel after sequel of Planet of the Apes reminding us of our arrogance and yet we persist in training a primate to stir a cup of tea.

The ultimate act of animal cruelty that’s somehow embedded as a cultural icon and national consciousness, immune to any protest whatsoever, is Spanish bullfighting, where the ‘ringmaster’ – the matador – is a sexualised alpha-male/hero who gets to sleep with Madonna in the ‘Take a Bow’ video. Unlike dogs in a circus, a charging bull doesn’t play dead, it literally dies at the end of the show, impaled in a manner less humane than in the hands of a slaughterhouse butcher.

 

 

 

 

24 noisy chickens culled by AVA

From ‘Culling of 24 chickens in Sin Ming ruffles feathers’, 2 Feb 2017, article by Toh Ee Ming, Today

As a debate flared up yesterday over free-ranging chickens that were put down by the authorities in the Sin Ming area, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) revealed that it received 250 complaints islandwide on free-ranging chickens last year, and they were mostly about noise-related nuisances caused by the birds.

…The authority also disclosed that it put down 24 chickens that were wandering around Thomson View and Blocks 452 to 454 Sin Ming Avenue, after getting 20 complaints last year from residents there, also mainly about noise.

Responding to queries from TODAY, the AVA added that the free-ranging chickens that are sometimes seen on mainland Singapore are not red junglefowl — an endangered species — though some may resemble them.

“Free-ranging chickens can pose a potential threat to public health, especially if their population is left unchecked. There is a likelihood of an incursion of bird flu into Singapore, as bird flu is endemic in the region,” the AVA said.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GZJeplKV18

According to the AVA’s own FAQ,

It is rare for the bird flu virus to be transmitted from chickens to humans. Of all the bird flu virus strains, only the H5N1, H9N2, H7N7 and H7N9 (Shanghai 2013 strain) strains have been known to pass from chickens to humans.

Unless you’re the kind of sick pervert who sneaks up behind cockerels and sodomises them, the chances of anyone getting exposed and infected by bird flu from stray chickens is, by AVA’s own admission, rather low. So how is this poultry-cide even justified? Using this public health argument, these chickens are being put down with the same nonchalance as one does fogging to get rid of mosquitoes.

There was a time when chicken-stealing was a thing. With the demise of kampongs, having the occasional cock around serves as a nostalgic reminder of how simple life used to be. Now, with the authorities chick-hunting in response to complaints, all we have left to wake us up in the mornings is the metallic grumbling of the MRT train nearby.

So the weird neighbour with the noisy parrot that squawks ‘Fuck the PAP’ all day gets to keep his fowl-mouthed pet; while the free-as-a-bird chicken responding to nature’s call is slaughtered for being a nuisance and an indeterminate carrier of pathogens. Add one more bird to AVA’s kill-list, which also includes pigeons, but not crows (NEA) or mynahs (nobody’s business).

Thanks a lot, Sin Ming residents, now that the python in the woods has nothing to feed on, we have to be prepared to find them swimming around in our pools more often, waiting for a treat in the form of a juicy, plump baby perhaps.

Chow Chows dyed to look like pandas

From ‘Dyeing Chow Chows to look like pandas: Cute or cruel?’, 4 Feb 2016, article by Melissa Zhu, CNA

Panda Chow Chows has been up and running for only about a month, but the new business is already drawing both admiration and criticism online.  A Facebook post by owner Meng Jiang’s husband, Mr Anton Kreil, last Friday (Jan 29) was widely shared with pictures of the three Chow Chows dyed and groomed to look like pandas. The business centres around photo-shoots with the canines at the couple’s home.

By Thursday morning, the post had more than 400 comments, with most either gushing about how “adorable” or “cute” the dyed dogs were or condemning the practice as “disgusting” and “cruel”. 

…Her Chow Chows, she said, live in a 3,500 sq ft home in Sentosa, enjoy 20°C air-conditioning, are taken for walks twice a day and are fed the “best pet foods and supplements available on the market”.

Thanks to pet grooming entrepreneurs like Meng Jiang, now you no longer need to tussle with crowds to take a peek at Kai Kai and Jia Jia at River Safari. Dog-Pandas have been a thing for some time, particulary in China. One such owner claims the makeover does wonders for her sheepdog’s ‘self-confidence’. So not only do advocates of canine panda-ing spoil their pets silly with home ambient temperatures that cater to actual pandas in some Sentosa Villa, they are also dog whisperers who can read animal minds, like ‘Wow, master, great mascara job. All my dog life I’ve dreamt of looking like an endangered species!’ Maybe I should dress up my cat as Cai Shen Ye and ask these people whether they can tell if she’s having the time of her life or not, provided she doesn’t scratch my eyeballs out.

Panda dogs are just one of the bizarre mutations that owners subject their pets to for their own entertainment, though in the case of Panda Chow Chows – income. Here are some wacky creations straight out of the Island of Dr Moreau.

  1. Chickens as lobsters and sharks

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 9.32.15 AM

2. A rabbit as a hotdog

3. A Katy Perry peacock

4.. Cat as a bunny

Oh look how happy and self-confident that cat is! Nothing like a burst of candy pink than some boring grey tabby stripes eh?

It makes you wonder though, if owners who transform their pets into other beasts with dyes or put miniature human clothes on them for their walkies are doing it for the psychological well being of the animals, or just to stoke their own egos, to bask in the fawning attention, or fulfill some deep, forlorn yearning for real human children. Maybe all this animal cosplay is a manifestation of our desire to claim dominion over the birds, the bees and the fish in the sea like what the Bible tells us, to do a one-up over unfashionable Mother Nature, that I can put a blue Mohawk on my hamster and there’s nothing you, or my rodent minion, can do about it. What do you expect from a species that grows ears on innocent rats? It isn’t cruelty if it’s in the name of SCIENCE. If I attach a fake ear on a hamster, on the other hand, I’ll be called a twisted sociopath who’ll stop at nothing to throw kittens down HDB blocks.

You could argue that selective breeding itself is cruel, that dogs are not meant to look like pugs or poodles, that you’ve already committed abuse by buying a pedigree BEFORE even touching it. Pugs for example, suffer respiratory problems because we DESIGNED them that way. To look cute for US. Chow Chows are particularly susceptible to an eyelid disorder called entropion. Blacking the areas around their eyes definitely doesn’t help matters. So those who cry abuse are missing the forest for the trees. If you are a purebred owner, you’re already an accomplice to an industry that prizes cuteness over disease and deformity, whether or not you dress your dogs as cuddly bears. If you own a pug suffering from ‘stenotic nares‘ because it was born and built that way, then you have no moral authority slamming a Chow Chow for looking like a panda.

We are all guilty of decorating our pets at some point, irritating them by putting socks over their ears, Christmas hats on their heads, or making them jump into tiny boxes like Maru, assuming that they ‘enjoy’ the treatment like how a circus tiger ‘enjoys’ leaping through a ring of fire, succumbing to anthromorphic thinking. Chow Chow Pandas is just bringing that domineering nature in us to another level, assuming that those dyes are tried and tested. Still, claims like 100% ‘organic’ for chemicals don’t cut it these days. The jury is still out as to how safe this cosmetic manipulation, which does the animal no real benefit at all, actually is. Even if there are carcinogens in the dye, the animal would probably die a natural death before we even start to see the adverse effects.

Parents do the same shit to their unsuspecting babies all the time, who, like animals, haven’t the faintest idea of what’s going on. If my parents were to show me a picture of me as a baby wrapped in a taco, published on Facebook for the whole world to see for their personal gratification, I would walk right out of the house and never return. Dogs may forget if you ever made them look like damned cotton-candy coated losers in front of the bitches, but humans..never.

 

Arts group at Night Festival wants you to kill stray cats

From ‘Kill stray cats’ flyer taken out of context’, 1 Sept 2014, article in CNA

Flyers reportedly urging people to “kill stray cats”, which earned the ire of animal welfare groups and online readers over the weekend, were revealed to be taken out of context, TODAY reports. It was part of a satirical performance-exhibition against evil acts by art collective Vertical Submarine, which was commissioned by the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) for the recently concluded Singapore Night Festival.

The art collective issued a statement on its Facebook page clarifying the flyer — of which an image of a sample circulated on social media on Sunday — was taken out of context and was part of a series of flyers highlighting other similarly evil actions as part of the piece Eville.

“The flyers were not distributed to the public for the purpose of advocacy but scattered as part of the performance. We do not advocate or condone the killing of stray cats. On the contrary, we are pleased that the issue of cat abuse is highlighted,” said the group’s statement.

…The flyer on stray cats explains how “charitable elderly lonely widows” spend a total of S$6.6m on cat food and supplies, which could be spent on themselves. These were signed by a so-called Red Herring Conservation Society. The term “red herring” is an idiom referring to something that distracts or misleads people from important issues.

In the statement, Vertical Submarine added: “As part of the Eville exhibition at the Singapore Night Festival, the flyers and other Eville exhibits explore the theme of evilness and depict several acts of evil happening in our society. Satirical didactics were used throughout the show with the intention to provoke reflection within the arch of the Eville exhibition. The flyers were one such device and this would have been clear if the exhibition had been viewed in its entirety, rather than looking at one flyer outside of its context.”

If the flyer had read ‘KILL ALL HUMANS’, it probably wouldn’t get as much attention, though that is just about the most evil thing anyone can do. ‘Satirical didactics’ is an excuse for something that wasn’t very ingenious or witty to begin with, and ended up slightly more serious than satirical, like a New Nation article about PM Lee unfriending his Indonesian counterpart on Facebook. No cats were harmed in the exhibition, of course. Though many butterflies had to die for someone else’s gruesome piece of taxidermal ‘art’ some years back.

Not sure why the Singapore Kindness Movement got involved in macabre performance art of all things, or maybe they just ran out of things to do after the departure of Singa the Lion (who also happens to be a member of the cat family). Cat abuse doesn’t need highlighting, really. We’ve read enough high-profile, grisly stories of how cats are mutilated, disembowelled or thrown 10 storeys off HDB blocks.  To hide an anti-abuse message that we’re used to experiencing on a sickeningly visceral level behind an obtuse ‘context’ isn’t helping matters at all. In fact, it even seems patronising. By resorting to headscratching ‘schlock’ tactics, the arts collective responsible did exactly what a ‘vertical submarine’ would do. Sink to a new low.

Here’s the reason why the joke isn’t funny anymore. In 1952, the government declared all out WAR on stray dogs and cats during the rabies frenzy, issuing ‘shoot to kill’ orders and screening ‘propaganda’ films to alert the public against this vermin scourge. In 2007, it was reported that the AVA kills 13,000 stray cats every year, replying to animal lovers that culling was a ‘necessary sin’. Some residents even complained to their Town Council that they were ‘afraid of cats’ and wanted them put away. If Eville intended to raise ‘awareness’ about unnecessary animal deaths, they should target the government agencies who are the real culprits behind this secret kitty genocide, rather than bring up ‘elderly lonely widows’ (or ‘crazy cat ladies’, which is also a case of lazy stereotyping).

So yes, we already know there are people killing strays out there. What’s really scary is that some are doing it as part of the job and they call the slaughter by a different name. Now let us all enjoy this clip of Maru jumping into random boxes.

HDB suggesting debarking of noisy dogs

From ‘Dog disturbances, HDB suggests debarking…’, 28 Aug 2014, article in CNA

An animal rights group has voiced “strong objections” to a Housing and Development Board (HDB) suggestion that dog owners who are unable to keep their dogs from barking should consider surgically “debarking” their pets.

The HDB notice, issued by its Ang Mo Kio Branch on Aug 22, referred to a “dog barking nuisance in the middle of the night at Blk 601, Ang Mo Kio Ave 5”. It called upon dog owners to consider one of three options: Obedience training sessions; training collars to control and modify the behavior of their pets; or debarking the dog through surgery.

There are two ways to debark a dog in the vet’s surgery. One, yank its mouth open, pull its tongue forward, grab the vocal cords with forceps and cut them off. Two, make an incision over its voice box, remove voice box and tendons. The dog may continue to bark though effectively muted, but may display ‘neurotic behaviour’. Animal lovers have been long aware of the consequences of debarking, that it would turn the dog into a dangerous ‘monster’ who bites postmen’s crotches willy-nilly without warning. Well so would you if someone de-tongued you. Or if you were forced to do it yourself with a pair of sewing scissors like that finale scene in Oldboy.

Well that’s one way to take a vow of silence

Amazingly, this barbaric practice isn’t banned anywhere in the world. It’s a subtler version of the ancient torture gadget called the ‘choke pear‘, a device which is shoved into a liar’s orifice and unscrewed open slowly leading to severe internal mutilation. If a human being can’t seem to keep it down whatever the situation, to suggest making a few snips around the voicebox would be considered cruel even under general anaesthetic. We all know a few karaoke singers around the block who desperately need to be de-‘sung’, but HDB wouldn’t dare suggest that we send these chronic screechers for ‘voice recalibration’. It would be psychological torture, because God gave us voices to sing and recite poetry under the moonlight so we can score mates and reproduce.

There are less invasive ways to make any yapping dog shut the hell up without taking the ‘dog-ness’ out of him. Give him something to chomp and latch on. Like the groin of some HDB officer on his dog-silencing prowls for example. Or pay hundreds of dollars to get on stage live with Cesar Milan when he comes to town, whose dog sorcerer magic can turn your boisterous, extrovert dog into a hushed, plaintive squeaker which just a single, penetrating stare. If dogshit became a rampant problem, we have it in our human ingenuity to surgically remodel a dog’s anus, creating an artificial defecatory delay so that we can catch its poo in time and avoid the nasty business of picking the yucky thing up from the ground.

HDB comes across in their notice as treating a dog’s voicebox as a switch to turn on and off, like an annoying leaky tap that a plumber can fix. In 1985, they even considered a blanket ban of dogs in general from homes because of complaints by residents. But it’s not always the Board endorsing the torture of innocent creatures. Some owners resort to turning their Wolverine cats into Hello Kittys by ‘declawing’, which involves some form of amputation of the feline’s digits so that their human babies don’t get disfigured by moody cats. All you World War POWs got off easy by just having your fingernails yanked out one by one. In agriculture, calves are dehorned by a searing hot iron so that they won’t gore farmers or other animals. Or remind people too much of Satan.

Let’s hope our MND Minister and well known Buddhist animal lover Khaw Boon Wan puts his money where his bark is and stop this debarking nonsense once and for all. As for those who complained about the dog nuisance, maybe this clip will change your mind about dog barks.

14 year old student throwing cat down 10 storeys

From ‘Cat thrown down 10 storeys; suspect is a teen’, 1 May 2013, article by David Ee, ST

A cat survived a 10-storey fall from a Nee Soon Housing Board block on Sunday. The animal is currently in a stable condition at Mount Pleasant Animal Hospital, but may have to undergo surgery for a fractured front paw, said the Cat Welfare Society (CWS) which is monitoring the case. The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said it is investigating the case. The Straits Times understands that the suspected culprit is a 14-year-old student studying in the area.

This is the first publicised case of animal abuse since the National Development Ministry accepted an expert panel’s recommendations to strengthen animal welfare last Friday. Among the recommendations are harsher penalties where convicted animal abusers face a fine of up to $50,000 and/or a three-year jail term.

…Cases of cruelty to animals have risen in recent years, with a total of 1,426 reported cases in 2011, up from 1,162 in 2007.

A study conducted on cats thrown off buildings in New York suggests that cats flung from higher than 7 storeys had less injuries than those than fell from lower floors. Although this ‘miracle’ that has attributed to the 9 lives myth is due to the feline having more time to perform its ‘righting reflex’, what’s more disturbing is that tossing cats out of buildings is common enough for scientists to generate sufficient data to study this phenomenon.  In 2011, a British cat plummeted more than 12 storeys after being thrown by ‘yobs’, suffering nothing but a broken tooth. She was henceforth named ‘Everest’. In Singapore, a cat that survives a 10-storey plunge will probably be named ‘Lucky’, just like 80% of all cats, dogs and hamsters reared as pets in Singapore.

Last year, a $1K reward was put up to find the person responsible for throwing and killing Cheeky, a black and white cat in Ang Mo Kio. This was later raised to $6k by an anonymous donor. Yet, in most cases of animal abuse, the killer usually goes scot-free, with or without a bounty on his head. Behead a cat, or toss an entire box of kittens down your flat and you have a good chance of escaping jail-time unless you’re dumb enough to record your stunt on your mobile phone. Spray paint ‘Democracy’ on a war memorial, on the other hand, and the police will run extensive investigations day and night to haul your vandal ass into court within 3 days, that even without anyone paying you a single cent for clues.

Why the lack or urgency in catching animal abusers then. Isn’t mutilating an animal a more ‘deplorable’ act than defacing a wall? Do we need to have a bounty hunter system just to entice people into bringing perpetrators of such gruesome crimes to justice? But the real question here that no one can answer is WHY is this even HAPPENING. A booming economy and a prosperous nation without wisdom, humanity or compassion, and having to create the illusion of that so-called humanity through ‘the arts’ and severe penalties, is a failed society, one driven by the basest of impulses, whereby an educated adolescent may excel academically but is nothing but a heartless wretch inside. No, it’s not just a kid with a sick agenda and very itchy fingers that needs help. It’s all of US.

Community work or probation may not be the ideal punishment here. This kid could still fantasise about running kittens through a paper shredder. Cruelty against animals calls for brutal conditioning. Strap the bugger down and have a bunch of vengeful cats use his legs as a scratching post, to an endless loop of copulation induced meowing for 48 hours. Rest assured he won’t be going anywhere near a cat, not even an adorable video of Lil Bub, without first foaming at the mouth.