Monday, October 5, 2009

WCN 2009! Dr. Jane Goodall Says Hello to My Students

This past Saturday I attended the 8th annual WCN Wildlife Conservation Expo in San Francisco. I saw a host of incredible speakers, all of them conservation heroes working in the field to protect various endangered species from the myriad of threats facing them in the wild. They presented their organizations’ challenges and successes through eye-opening speeches and PowerPoint presentations, and greeted attendees out in the lobby at their respective tables to answer questions and sell products to fundraise for their organizations. If you haven’t been to this event before, I highly recommend it for next year. Visit the WCN website and mark your calendars!

One of the major highlights from the day: I got to see one of my favorite conservation groups again, Painted Dog Conservation. This group does incredible work to save Zimbabwe’s remaining populations of African wild dogs, also know as painted dogs, amidst the turmoil of a country under a president who seems bent on destroying his own people. Painted Dog Conservation does as much for the people of this devastated land as it does for its dogs. Greg Rasmussen and Peter Blinston, the director and project manager of PDC, are excellent and humorous presenters, and their passion for the wildlife they protect and the children of Zimbabwe they educate is infectious and heart-warming.

Also worth mentioning: PDC has the best stickers ever. They never chip, fade, or disintegrate. I have one on my laptop, my water bottle, my car, my dresser in my bedroom, my classroom wall, and I also have one of their patches stitched into my duffle bag. This Saturday I bough ten more (the volunteer behind the counter, Renee, who works with painted dogs at a facility in Vancouver, recognized me from last year, when I bought six stickers.)

And of course, the big banana was when I got to see Dr. Jane Goodall and her assistant Mary Lewis again. Dr. Jane Goodall gave a wonderful speech, which provided for me a fresh shot of inspiration. She has an incredible way of doing that; revitalizing your passion for conservation by talking about her own, by providing stories of hope and success, and for saying the words with total conviction: “Never give up.”

After her speech, I met up with her outside, and asked her to say hello to my students on camera. She sweetly obliged, and now I can’t wait to show my class! Here she is:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It has been an absolutely crazy summer! The amount of traveling I have been doing with my wife has been extraordinary, and it has been wonderful to finally visit some new places. Oahu was of course brilliant. About a week ago we just returned from a camping trip in the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, which was quite the experience. Besides being stared at everywhere I went (not many brown folks out there), it was amazing to visit such a different type of mountainous forest, which is rain forest, as it gets over 80 inches of rain a year!

Soon I'm off again, this time to the Southwest. I'm so excited, it will be my first time to the Grand Canyon! I'm studying up before I go, trying to learn all I can about the environments I will immerse myself in, and all about the animals of the deserts I hope to come across. Studying up in this way before traveling always makes my trips so much more fulfilling. I'll take plenty of pictures!! See you all soon!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Common Myna

This little bird was all over Oahu!

They were brought over from India in 1865 to control cutworms and army worms, which were destroying the islands' sugarcane crops. But once on the island they started breeding like crazy, forcing out previously established bird populations and spreading Lantana camara, a really aggressive tropical weed that pushes out native plant communities.


Back from Oahu!

Aloha! Sorry I've been MIA, I was hoping to write write write once school was over, but I've been busier than I expected! I've been doing awesome stuff though, so no one's complaining. :)

First thing first: I went to Hawaii last week, and had an absolute blast. I stayed on the North Shore of Oahu, the surfing capital of the world, well removed from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu and Waikiki. I was able to enjoy a truly spectacular array of natural wonders. Each island is made up of incredible microclimates, al of which can be explored indefinitely! There is never enough time to enjoy and learn about Hawaii's amazing ecosystems!

One thing is undeniable about Oahu: the elements are always in motion. The ocean churns, and is constantly beating against the shores. The clouds are constantly shifting with the winds. The winds rush against the mountains on the Eastern side of the island, pushing up and cooling, condensing into rain. The rain forms rushing streams and waterfalls, eroding and carving dramatic ridges in the face of the towering mountains. The mountains themselves are rich in silica and mineral-saturated, wet earth, and so become covered in ferns trees and becomes rainforest. On the leeward side, the earth is drier, suited for agriculture. The sun shines bright and hot and supports a wealth of life. The water, warm, harbors reefs of unique and pristine beauty. Oahu is an always moving, breathing island, sheltered by the sky, surrounded by the sea, supported by the earth, bathed in rain, and is fueled by the fiery bellows from underground. It is impossible not to feel this energy while you are there, not to have an emotional response that touches your heart!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ursa Freedom Project & EcoPaparazzi

OK, a big score: My moon bear fundraising video was featured on Animal Asia's website! Sweet! Check it out HERE. It also is featured on a very cool site dedicated to helping the cause for moon bears, called the Ursa Freedom Project (of which I am now a member). I have yet to explore this site thoroughly, but the woman who runs it also invited me to join EcoPaparazzi, another networking site for those sharing a passion to act to preserve and protect the planet. Again, I have yet to explore, but they look like interesting sites. Check them out:

Hope everyone is well! Summer is finally here for me. Yesterday was my last day teaching 5th grade. It was emotional and bittersweet saying goodbye to the kids, but I am excited for what's to come. Next stop...Hawaii!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Let's Talk Wolves

OK, so I'm about to come clean with all of you. For those who don't know me, I am a huge Twilight Saga fan, and this weekend the trailer for New Moon, the second book of the series, premiered (FINALLY!) at the MTV Movie Awards. OK, so what does this have to do with wildlife? Well, there's wolves in it, for one thing!! Huge, giant, awesome, wolves! Check out the trailer. It is awesome. The movie is going to be awesome.

(The video below is widescreen, so the right third is a bit cut off. Click on the video to follow the link back to YouTube to view it in all its awesome splendor.)

Even though I am totally stoked for the movie, I feel compelled to take this opportunity to share some actual information about the wolf situation in Alaska. Many of you heard about Governor Sarah Palin's aerial wolf killing campaign, which got her a lot of attention during her time as a potential candidate for vice president. While it is touted as a means to keep up a healthy relationship amongst the wildlife of the region, as well as to protect livestock, the campaign is in truth an active measure to control the population of predators so as to maintain a healthy population of elk for human sport hunters.

Many just started hearing about this for the first time, however this practice started in 2003 under the governorship of Frank Murkowski. Huge amounts of money have been invested by hunting lobbyists since then so as to maintain this wonton slaughter. To date, the Defenders of Wildlife have recorded the number of wolves killed since 2003 at 1074, 241 having been killed this season alone.

Wolves have had a long history of oppression in this country. The only way to ensure that their future is a brighter one is by making your voice heard. Speak out for wolves and their right to exist as a part of Alaska's healthy ecosystems, just as they have for thousands of years, by sending a pre-written message, courtesy of Defenders of Wildlife, HERE.

Or, visit for more information.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I Can Breathe!

Well, I never thought I would see the day, but my grad course work is done for the year! Woo hoo! I'm still student teaching full time in the 5th grade class I've been with all semester, but my graduate courses are finito. I can breathe again. And update my blog!

I wanted to share with you something very cool--the CEO, Jill Robinson, of Animals Asia saw my Moon Bear Fundraising Movie and liked it, and today I was contacted by the US Outreach Coordinator who requested permission to post it on the website! Woo hoo! I'm so excited that it will soon be seen by more than just my immediate circle of friends and family. The whole point of that movie was to inspire others to find ways in which to organize and assist conservation organizations. This might be a way to get the word out and make that happen. So exciting!

Here is the final version:

Last awesome point of interest: If you go to Jill's Blog and scroll down a bit, you will see that the Opening of the Double Bear House and Enclosures was attended by two of my favorite women--Dr. Dame Jane Goodall and Maggie Q! I've met Jane Goodall, drove her around last year when she visited the zoo, love and look up to her, have read her books, and I look forward to seeing her this year at WCN. And...but...oh my gosh, Maggie Q! I've been watching her movies since 2004! She rocks! She kicks butt, is beautiful, and puts out consistently good, responsible, messages and energy to the public. Awesome! That must have been an amazing event.

OK, off to bed. Field trip tomorrow to Aquarium of the Bay with my students!

Protect Wildlife!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My Moon Bear Video

This here is a video that I've been working on for the past 6 months or so (it would have taken me a much shorter time if I hadn't had school in the way). Thanks to everyone that contibuted and helped me shoot the thing (I would just ask whoever was around wherever I was at the time to man the camera), and thanks to Eligh and Slug for the star power! :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Wolves to be Delisted

Wolves no longer protected in Northern Rockies

By MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press Writer – Sun May 3, 2:49 pm ET

BILLINGS, Mont. – Wolves in parts of the Northern Rockies and the Great Lakes region come off the endangered species list on Monday, opening them to public hunts in some states for the first time in decades.

Federal officials say the population of gray wolves in those areas has recovered and is large enough to survive on its own. The animals were listed as endangered in 1974, after they had been wiped out across the lower 48 states by hunting and government-sponsored poisoning.

"We've exceeded our recovery goals for nine consecutive years, and we fully expect those trends will continue," said Seth Willey, regional recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Denver.

With the delisting, state wildlife agencies will have full control over the animals. States such as Idaho and Montana plan to resume hunting the animals this fall, but no hunting has been proposed in the Great Lakes region.

Ranchers and livestock groups, particularly in the Rockies, have pushed to strip the endangered status in hopes that hunting will keep the population in check.

About 300 wolves in Wyoming will remain on the list because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected the state's plan for a "predator zone" where wolves could be shot on sight. Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal and a coalition of livestock and hunting groups have announced a lawsuit against the federal government over the decision.

Freudenthal, a Democrat, claimed "political expediency" was behind the rejection of his state's wolf plan.
Wolves were taken off the endangered list in the Northern Rockies — including Wyoming — for about five months last year. After environmentalists sued, a federal judge in Montana restored the protections and cited Wyoming's predator zone as a main reason. In the Great Lakes, the animal was off the list beginning in 2007 until a judge in Washington last September ordered them protected again.

Environmental and animal rights groups have also said they planned to sue over the delisting, claiming that there are still not enough wolves to guarantee their survival. The groups point to Idaho's plan to kill up to 100 wolves believed to have killed elk.
"We understand that hunting is part of wildlife policy in the West," said Anne Carlson with the Western Wolf Coalition. "(But) wolves should be managed like native wildlife and not as pests to be exterminated."

The delisting review began under the administration of President George W. Bush and the proposal was upheld by President Barack Obama's administration after an internal review. In a recent letter to several members of Congress, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wrote that he was "confident that science justifies the delisting of the gray wolf."

Willey said his agency projected there would be between 973 and 1302 wolves in the Northern Rockies under state management, a number well above the 300 wolves set as the original benchmark for the animal's recovery.
More than 1,300 wolves roam the mountains of Montana and Idaho and an estimated 4,000 live in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

David Icke Speaks: Animal Rights Bill

This is an incredibly well articulated statement made by author David Icke on the subject of an Animal Rights Bill. His words are just as relevant today.

White Tigers: Fact vs. Fiction

This is an excellent video, produced by the dedicated team at Big Cat Rescue in Florida, explaining in clear terms the truth behind the white tiger.

For more information on animal abuse in circuses, visit Please, don't go to the circus!

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Quick Rundown of Science and Education

I’ve always been interested in animals. Ever since I was a little kid and I had snakes and cats and rats as pets. I think most, if not all, kids have an inherent interest in animals and science because it involves the natural wonder of the planet around them. As children grow and learn, they grapple with defining who they are in large part by what relationship they share with all the other things that shape their world.

Science is taking a big hit in public education in the US right now. As the state tests here in California for example are designed more and more to evaluate only a student’s proficiency in math and literacy, more and more teachers are forced to spend an increasing amount of time on those subjects, because if their students don’t do well on the tests, the No Child Left Behind Act has ensured that the schools that those students represent will be penalized, which means less money, less funding, fewer resources, less pay for the teachers, larger classrooms, and a higher chance for student failure. So, naturally, the teachers continuously are forced to teach to the tests, and science falls by the wayside, along with art, sports, music, etc.

This situation spells disaster for our future because to deal with all of the man-made problems that face our planet, the next generation is going to need to be very scientifically aware. Finding solutions to pollution, water shortages, renewable energy needs--that’s going to take the collective efforts of a highly educated society that is conscious of what’s going on, and that consciousness needs to start at an early age. The world is changing. It’s changing because we changed it, so now we need to learn as much as we can to know how to slow those changes way down and deal with the consequences of ours and past generations’ more reckless actions.

Kids need to learn as much as they can about science, animals, and nature. Visit parks, zoos, aquariums and natural history museums in your area. There’s life in every neighborhood, you just have to know where to find it.

They biggest thing that you can do to help the planet is to reduce the amount of stuff you buy and use, reuse resources instead of throwing them away, recycle all of your renewables, and compost all your food scraps. One person can really make a positive impact by doing these four things, so just imagine what can be accomplished if everyone did them.

Remember, the power to change the world lies in your hands. Don't wait to act; our next generation is depending on you!

Mimic Octopus

Introducing the mimic octopus from the tropical seas of South East Asia. What an amazing animal!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Awesome Book: The Backyard Birdsong Guide

Last year on a trip to Costco I found an amazing book, The Backyard Birdsong Guide: A Guide to Listening by Donald Kroodsma. The book not only provides pictures and details for 75 different birds across North America, but also comes with a small little digital audio module that stores over 125 sounds provided by the Macaulay Library of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Looking through this wonderfully interactive book has enabled me to identify the calls of dozens of birds in my neighborhood and throughout California. I have found myself feeling so much more in touch with my surroundings than ever before, and in a new and exciting three-dimensional way.

As I write this I am sitting on my back porch. Day-light savings is still messing me up a bit, but today I have a day off from work and school, and I'm enjoying the slow, overcast dawn. I can tell that spring is right around the corner, not because of the weather, but because of the flood of sound coming from every direction around me. I can hear California towhees and their single Tsip notes, spotted towhees and their Zhreeeee calls, the thick caws of the resident crows, interrupted by the twists and turns of the Anna's hummingbirds' bzzbzzbzz bzzbzzbzz dynamic songs.

In my graduate class on math instruction, I've been learning how to teach Number Talks to my students, a fun way to help them develop their number sense. With regular Number Talks students begin noticing mathematically-related patterns everywhere, not just in school, and makes math a part of their everyday, problem solving mind. The Backyard Birdsong Guide has essentially had the same effect on me but by given me a better bird sense. I am conscious of them always now, and when I hear a call that I recognize, I feel as though I know a secret about my surroundings and it gives me an awesome thrill.

I feel as though I'm surrounded by an incredible slough of neighbors I was never before aware of. By noticing what is around me, by learning where some calls come from more than others, my understanding for how these incredible animals live and socialize has taken on new shape, and their lives and struggles has become that much more important to me. As I listen to the vibrat vocal stylings of the sparrows and chickadees coming from the giant oak tree next to me, I can't help but think of their struggle to compete for a mate to help them carry on their bloodline. The Great Competition for Survival. It sends my mind in far-reaching directions... Each leaf of the tree they perch and sing from competing for sunlight, each root competing for water, photosynthesis producing the oxygen I breathe in right now, the incredible cyclical balance of precious.

As I wrote that last paragraph I heard a mallard, looked up, and sure enough, saw a lone female making a broad U-turn in the sky, perhaps on her way back to the Lake. How did I know it was a female? Perhaps if she was closer I could tell by her uniform brown coloration, contrast to the males, who bear an iridescent set of royal green around their head and neck. But she was too far up in the sky for me to visually tell her sex. I knew from her calls!

I highly recommend this book to one and all, especially kids that are interested in learning more about the wildlife that surrounds them. It would perhaps be especially exciting for those that don't live in areas with a great deal of nature on a ground level, since there are birds that live nearly everywhere (we just don't think to look up or keep our ears tuned often enough to realize that they're there!). I remember being so excited as a kid to turn over a rock in the backyard and to find pill bugs and earthworms. I know that if I had this book when I was young I would have carried it around everywhere.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jessica's Story

This video was a pleasure to make. This is a fiercely scaled down snippet of the awesome interview I did with Jessica in which she recounts the story of how she got to where she is--teaching kids about animals and conservation at the Oakland Zoo.

More videos will be coming soon--including a short video documentary about my Moon Bear Holiday Fundraiser Campaign (inspired by Jessica)!

Hope you all dig this one. I think it would be especially valuable to pass along to anyone you know curious about how to get started helping animals. It takes a lot of hard work, but helping animals and working towards conservation and a better, healthier Earth is some of the most rewarding sort of hard work you can do. Enjoy!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Use Your Voice!

Another Public Service Announcement starring me!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Jessica Klieman - Public Service Announcement

Just made another video with my friend Jessica Klieman at the Oakland Zoo! Please watch and spread the link!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

WildAid's Inspirational Campaign to Decrease Demand for Wildlife Products Drives the Message Home

It has been quite the year. So much has been happening it's hard to wrap my head around it all. Grad school classes, student teaching, completing my work for the state in order to get my credential, being a supportive husband for my wife as she continues on in her first year teaching high school, and still trying to participate and lend a hand in wildlife has indeed been a roller coaster!

I often think, "I really should write about this in my blog today," but homework inevitably takes over. Well, I recently went to a lecture and learned of an organization about which I have to share, for which my conscience would scream at me if I didn't make every effort to spread the word about their work.

WildAid's mission: "To end the illegal wildlife trade within our lifetimes. To achieve this WildAid uniquely focuses on raising awareness to reduce the demand for threatened and endangered species products and to increase public support for wildlife conservation."

In order to do this, WildAid looked at big business that had success in the art of persuading people to buy, and used the same strategies to deliver their message to stop the buying of wildlife products. As Peter Knights, WildAid's executive director states in their showreel, "The message had to be attractive, concise, and entertaining. We needed to be as good at delivering our message as the world's best business, and we had to do it on a shoestring budget. Delivery, quality, repetition, and saturation. These are the four components that drive every successful campaign."

Their amazing success has been noted statistically in many areas of Asia. After totally bombarding Asia's population with their message (namely in China during the 2008 Beijing Olympics), delivered through video and traditional billboards, taxicab and airplane video screens, and traveling exhibits, WildAid successfully brought down the demand for shark fin soup in many areas, enough so that they were sued by a Thai company for negatively affecting their business (this actually turned out to be wonderful publicity for WildAid).

I remember being hooked to the internet and TV during the Beijing Olympics. I am an Olympics nut, and I remember seeing WildAid's adds with my favorite celebrities: Jackie Chan, Amitabh Bachan, Maurice Green, Amanda Beard, Harrison Ford, Yao Ming, Ganguly and Tendulkar from the Indian cricket team, and others. As soon as I found out more about their organization, I learned that all the star power behind WildAid's campaign was pro bono; these stars had agreed to do their part to help stop the illegal wildlife trade out of goodness of their own hearts, as had the film crews and producers who helped lend their time, equipment, and talents to make the videos.

WildAid has had an overwhelming number of successes in getting the word out. But the most important thing to remember is that you can help. About 20 of their videos are on YouTube. Please help spread the word by posting their videos wherever you can. Post them on facebook or myspace. Email them to your friends and family. Link to them on your blogs and websites. Their message is a great one, and helping them get an even wider audience takes such a small amount of time. Please take action!

Please visit their website: You can find all their videos and a ton of information, sign a pledge, shop their store, and much more. They also have their showreel, which maps out exactly what they do and how they do it, here:

Here are a few of their videos. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Interior Crocodile Alligator

I really don't know what to say about this except that the montage is awesome... Freshwater crocodiles never looked so cool. :D

Friday, January 23, 2009

Severe Budget Cuts Proposed to the WCS

Governor David Paterson of New York recently offered one solution to help with the slumping economy: to cut funding for the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium, both managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, by 55% this year and totally eliminating support by 2010.

Needless to say, this is a disastrous blow to an organization that got its start in 1895, and since then has contributed to major successes in the conservation of various species. The WCS not only manages one of the most reputable zoos in the country, but also leads conservation projects around the world and provides funding for other hard-working organizations (such as the Virunga National Park Rangers protecting mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo).

These proposed budget cuts will be devastating to the animals, to the employees, to the education of the public in regards to the environment and wildlife issues, to scientific research, and to the future of many conservation projects. In a time when the world is in more need of aid and care than ever before, this is one of the worst things that could happen to an organization that supports the cause.

Please visit the WCS's website, and click on the links to find out more, and find out what petitions you can sign. Write a letter to Gov. Paterson. It shouldn't take you more than ten minutes. Show that not just New Yorkers but Americans from every state care about the survival of the WCS and the animals under their care.

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Species Found off the Coast of Australia!

I'm copy and pasting this article from I get so stoked whenever new species are found; it reminds us exactly how much about our planet we still don't know and reminds us to tread lightly! Please read!

Scientists find new creatures of Australian deep

SYDNEY (AFP) – Scientists said Sunday they had uncovered new marine animals in their search of previously unexplored Australian waters, along with a bizarre carnivorous sea squirt and ocean-dwelling spiders.

A joint US-Australian team spent a month in deep waters off the coast of the southern island of Tasmania to "search for life deeper than any previous voyage in Australian waters," lead researcher Ron Thresher said.

What they found were not only species new to science -- including previously undescribed soft corals -- but fresh indications of global warming's threat to the country's unique marine life.

"Our sampling documented the deepest known Australian fauna, including a bizarre carnivorous sea squirt, sea spiders and giant sponges, and previously unknown marine communities dominated by gooseneck barnacles and millions of round, purple-spotted sea anemones," Thresher said.

Using a submersible car-sized robot named Jason, the team explored a rift in the earth's crust known as the Tasman Fracture Zone, a sheer two kilometre (1.24 mile) drop to 4,000 metres (13,200 feet) below the ocean's surface.

Blogging on board the ship, researcher Adam Subhas said the team witnessed some "cool biology" as they descended the fracture, including the sea squirt, which he described as "basically an underwater Venus fly trap, but much bigger."

The sea squirt, also known as an ascidian, stands 50 centimetres tall on the sea floor at a depth of just over 4,000 metres. It traps prey in its funnel-like front section if they touch it when they swim past.

"The geology was fascinating too -- the sediment was incredibly fine and lightly packed; it made me think of powder snow," Subhas wrote.

Fossil coral fields were found, dating back more than 10,000 years. Thresher said samples taken would provide ancient climate data for use in global warming projections.

"Modern-day deep-water coral reefs were also found, however, there is strong evidence that this reef system is dying, with most reef-forming coral deeper than 1,300 metres newly dead," he said.

Though close analysis of samples was still required, Thresher said modelling suggested ocean acidification could be responsible.

"If our analysis identifies this phenomenon as the cause of the reef system's demise, then the impact we are seeing now below 1,300 metres might extend to the shallower portions of the deep-reefs over the next 50 years, threatening this entire community," he said.

Rising sea temperatures are blamed on global warming caused by the build-up in the atmosphere of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide -- which is also blamed for higher acidity in sea water.

A UN report warned in 2007 that Australia's Great Barrier Reef, described as the world's largest living organism, could be killed by climate change within decades.

The World Heritage site and major tourist attraction, stretching over more than 345,000 square kilometres (133,000 square miles) off Australia's east coast, could become "functionally extinct", the report said.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Conservation in Action: Budongo Forest

Here is a new video that I made of my old coworker from the Oakland Zoo, Sarah Cramer. In it she talks about her visit with the Budongo Conservation Field Station in Uganda where she got an exclusive lesson on how snares are used by poachers and their effects on the forest's resident wildlife. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Food for Thought

I just began reading Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo, by Lawrence Anthony, when I came across this passage that I felt compelled to share:

"I knew noting about Iraq and the politics of war. But what I did know was that in all human hostilities animals have suffered horrifically and often anonymously. Unable to flee or defend or feed themselves, they either were slaughtered wholesale in the initial assaults or died agonizingly from thirst and hunger later, locked and desperate in their cages. Or worse, they were callously shot by blood-crazed soldiers just for the hell of it.

"It happened when the Iraqis invaded Kuwait; it had happened in Kosovo; it had happened in Afghanistan.

"In fact, the awful images of the Kabul Zoo crippled in the aftermath of the Afghan Taliban war still haunt me. When the American forces liberated the city from the Taliban, they found the last remaining lion, Marjan, alone in his filthy cage. Starving and dehydrated, he had shrapnel embedded in his neck and jaw and was half-blind from a grenade attack and riddled with mange and lice. It was too late to save him."

This of course hits home with me.

All animals affected by war are victims. Including those that are trained to aid in the violence.

"An Israeli army dog attacks a Palestinian woman as soldiers carry out an army raid in the West Bank village of Obadiya, near the Biblical town of Bethlehem, 21 March 2007. According to eye witnesses the dog saw the woman from across a field and ran towards her, as Israeli soldiers tried to control the canine. The Israeli military carried out several raids into the Israeli occupied Palestinian West Bank, arresting Palestinians and killing one man in the northern city of Nablus." (Courtesy of Ghetty Images)

"A U.S. soldier holds a dog in front an Iraqi detainee at Abu Ghraib prison on
the outskirts of Baghdad in this undated photo." (AP/The Washington Post)

"An unmuzzled dog frightens a detainee at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Two military dog handlers told investigators that intelligence personnel ordered them to use dogs to intimidate prisoners." (AP/The Washington Post)

Food for thought.