Before you start to do your gardening, check your garden for signs of hedgehogs (poo is usually a good tip-off) . If you have any indication that your garden may be a home for hedgehogs, be very careful when using a strimmer, mower or other power tools. Hedgehogs are nocturnal and will sleep during the day. They usually bed down under long grass or undergrowth. Check the area you are planning to mow or cut back with your hand first - the sound of the power tool will only make the hedgehog curl up into a ball to try to protect himself - he will not run away from the area. If you find an injured hedgehog, many companion animal vets are able to offer treatment. If your vet is not familiar with hedgehogs, this guidemay help.
2. Speak up for unneutered cats Kittens are cute. We know this. But what is not cute is the overwhelming number of kittens that are born every spring and summer in what many rescue groups refer to as "kitten season". Shelters all around the world are inundated with kittens every year and whilst many of them are adopted into loving homes, many more are left to survive on the street and eventually give birth to kittens of their own. According to Cats Protection, just one unneutered cat can produce 18 kittens per year. This month, stand up for cats by speaking to friends and family with cats to make sure they have neutered their cats (both male and female). If someone cannot afford the procedure, please contact us. We can help.
3. Research animal-related summer holiday activities Headed on a summer holiday? Now is the time to do your research on any animal experiences that may be offered at your destination and decide as a family if you feel comfortable supporting experiences that may cause animal suffering. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Elephants A wild elephant will not allow a human to mount his back and ride him around the jungle. Similar to the way a wild horse is "broken", a wild elephant must also be broken - and to do this successfully, it has to start when the elephant is a baby. They are removed from their mothers and herds in the wild and tortured into submission. The process is called Phajaan, or “the crush”. A video is available if you want to see what this entails (although we don't suggest watching it).
Many organisations offering elephant rides in Asia have caught onto the bad press and will often market themselves as "responsible" and treat the animals with great compassion. This does not excuse the abuse the elephant endured during the Phajaan nor does it make up for the long term health issues experienced by many riding elephants. Despite their massive size, an elephant's spine is not made to support the weight of humans.
BUT... there is a good news for Thailand-bound elephant lovers - you can visit the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai; a natural sanctuary for elephants, buffalo, dogs, cats, birds and many other rescued animals.
Dolphins Whilst it may seem like a more natural experience because you're in the ocean, dolphins used for swimming experiences are very much captive. They are housed in enclosures less than one percent the size of their natural habitat range which are far too shallow. They are either bred in captivity or captured in the wild using nets. Captive dolphins are kept constantly hungry as part of their training and to ensure they perform.
One former dolphin trainer told The Dodo that the dolphins he worked with suffered psychosis and even suggested that mothers would prevent their new babies from surfacing for air becuase "they didn't want their babies to live in captivity".
What about swimming with wild dolphins? International Wildlife Law reports "there is a growing body of research that states that even swimming with free-roaming dolphins has negative effects on their well-being. This is due largely to the fact that many of these dolphins become dependent on human sources of food, and because the large numbers of tourists that come at once can be a stressful encounter."
Primates Primates are often used as street entertainment and photo props. Much like elephants, in order for monkeys to be tame enough to be passed around from person to person for photo after photo, they must be taken from their mothers at a very young age. Their "training" involves enduring several months with heavy chains placed around their necks whilst they are attached to a ceiling, forcing their bodies to adopt a straight posture. When they are not out in public the monkeys are kept in boxes, often alone, which is especially distressing for such social animals. Heatstroke and death from dehydration is not uncommon.
Monkeys used for photo props are often kept heavily sedated so that they are more amiable to the handling and are subject to tooth removal if their teeth could appear menacing.
Remember: where you spend your money matters - revisit high school economics when you learned about supply and demand. If there is no demand for baby monkeys wearing clothes for tourists to cuddle and snap a photo, there will be no baby monkeys wearing clothes doped up on sedatives kept in cramped cages and discarded when they are no longer baby monkey.