Sunday, May 31, 2015

Orangutan and Human bond over babies

Hey All,

I don't know if you guys are redditors or not, but I found this image posted under r/aww of a human mom and her child bonding with an orangutan with her child.

While I found that it was fascinating that the orangutan had such human like qualities, with how she was carrying the baby the same way as the human mom, how she pressed her hands against the glass, how she pointed with her fingers, and how she curiously looked at the baby, I also found it quite sad. I thought that it was cruel and unusual punishment to allow such an intelligent animal with human-like qualities to be put behind a glass "prison" simply because it is not a human. This image made me ask the same question that this class has discussed before: how much intelligence does an animal need to show in order to prove that it is intelligent enough? This image also reminded me of The Academy, which we have read in class, when the narrator described the conditions of being trapped in a cage. It also reminded me of how hard the narrator tried to be human, in order to prove its intelligence and escape its "prison."


In the 19th century, Swiss pastor Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801) popularized a science which sought to ascribe arbitrary characteristics to people based on their physical appearance. Physiognomy was used to judge others' moral values and likelihood to commit crimes based on appearance. Animals were anthropomorphized in order to (more so) racially profile people of color. For example, if someone looked pig-like, they were judged as gluttonous; if someone were more simian-looking, they were perceived as savage and brutal. This was used continually used to validate various authoritative figures’ own prejudiced and racist ideologies. Physical appearance holds no basis on someone's moral values so there was no legitimate way for scientists to assume such behaviors and ideologies about any groups of people. It's interesting to note how many anthropomorphic stereotypes we have of certain animals (such as pigs, primates, etc.) and how people have used them (and continually do so) to validate someone's character. However, in the 19th century, it was more than a judgement. People actively took force to criminalize people based on these arbitrary accusations. There were multiple sciences such as this one which were only upheld due to many scientists' own racist biases. Another prejudicial science was criminal anthropology which believed that people were born criminals. These forms of pseudoscience had real-world effects as it lead to the increasing incarceration and criminalization of people of color. It’s disgusting to see how authoritative figures used any method to try and validate their own racist behavior and calling it a “science” because they had the “ proper education” and power to do so. Physiognomy would later be used by the eugenics movement in aiding their false claim to “better” the population through methods such as forced sterilization.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Human interference with wild animals

This article is about a bear cub who can now no longer be in the wild due to human interference. It was found wandering campsites in Oregon looking for food. The bear cub looked very malnourished and confused, and they think that this is due to humans trying to feed him and interact with him. The wildlife officials say that even though baby bears are super cute, they really belong in the wild and if a human takes them in or feeds them, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the cub to be reunited with its mother. Many bear cubs each spring have to be taken to zoos because they cannot function on their own. Here's the article for more information:

Here's the link:

This made me think about the squirrels on campus and how their interactions with humans have shaped them. I don't know much about how squirrels were before they came in contact with humans, but I think it's interesting how brave they are- I've been inches away from them before they scurry away. I would think that this behavior can't be good for their chances of survival, but they're still everywhere.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Thinking like Animals

In yesterday's section we talked about "thinking like animals," and if we were able to do so what could we do to help benefit animals? In my group, we discussed a variety of animal groups and what we could possibly do to help them. But then one of my group members started to talk about the conditions at animal shelters. She volunteers at the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, and she was explaining the conditions that the animals live in. They are not horrible conditions, but they are not the best.

Since a majority of the animals that are taken in are house pets we thought it would be cool to start up a Doggy Spa. The dogs would have free space to roam around, and they would not have to be caged up in cinder block rooms with the cold floor. The dogs could have little sound-proof rooms that made them feel comfortable and safe. Ideally, it would be supported by the community because they would be helping out the animals around here. The vets, could be volunteer and the actual volunteers could be high school students looking to complete service hours, and what better way to do it than to help out your local community and animals?

Thursday, May 28, 2015


Hey all,

In section today, we talked about slaughtering animals and how it's necessary to make the process more ethical for the animal rather than taking an abolitionist stance on animal rights. While I thought that yes, the process of killing animals should definitely be more ethical, I also wanted to ask whether or not humans have the right to take on this role. What are your thoughts on the role humans play as owners and determiners of these animals lives and well being?

Pet Ownership

After reading Serpell's "People in Disguise", I've began to view pet ownership differently. Don't get me wrong, I've never really bonded with animals and perhaps this is why I can see things a bit more objectively when it comes to the human-pet relationship. Part of me feels like there's nothing wrong with owning a cat or a dog but the "People in Disguise" article certainly begs to differ. In fact, when it comes to human and their pets the relationship is mostly beneficial for the human. Of course the pets receive some benefits such as love and food but overall, the benefits are geared more so toward the humans and the harms are more associated with pets. When I saw this picture (the one above) I instantly saw this as one of the harms the human-pet relationship can turn into. This poor dog was subjected to what I deem the harsh side of anthropomorphism. Muzzles are used to keep animals quiet because humans do not like their sounds or sometimes find it annoying in their households. So, the owner of the dog above tapped and muzzled the dogs mouth closed because it was doing what comes natural to him: barking. This of course is the extreme side of the pet-human relationship. A more mild form of anthropomorphism in the human-pet relationship is the clipping of an animals claws or genitals. Many might not see this as a problem because its a means to stop their furniture from getting tattered but what about the animal? Doesn't the animal have the right to maintain what they've natural grown? I'm not saying that owning pets is bad, though honestly I don't think I could ever own another living creature, but there's definitely a fine line between what animals should be allowed to have/maintain and what humans can and can not do to them.

The Sexual Politics of Meat

I chose to write my fourth paper on the Sexual Politics of Meat, and it made me think so much about the society we live in. Before I read this paper, I had never considered the sexist undertones of meat-eating. However, while reading, instances in my own life popped into my head that related to the piece. I noticed how my dad eats meat lunch and dinner almost everyday, while my mom often opts for a salad for lunch. The older I have gotten, the less meat I eat, but I had never considered that to be a cultural reaction to male and female roles.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Project Almanac

I've found that as this quarter has passed by, i have began to notice that i am gradually noticing things that come up that correlate to the things we go over in class. Over this Memorial Day weekend, i watched the movie Project Almanac (which i recommend watching if you haven't yet). It's about a boy in high school who finds the blueprints to a time machine that is father left behind before he died when he was young. He's an intelligent guy who is hoping to attend MIT, so he ends up putting together the time machine. There is a scene in the movie where he and his friends have finally gotten the time machine to work for a short time span but only transporting a barbie doll in a toy car, however, they are curious to see if they can transition to a longer time span and whether they can begin to transport humans. His love interest is quick to want to make this transition to humans, but the rest of the characters are skeptical of doing so before they need to test it out first on other organisms such as puppies, claiming that they need to take things "step by step". This scene instantly made me think of our class and the issue of animal testing that we have been discussing.

The idea that we must test on animals comes from the fear of the unknown outcome and results. It is the fear that we will have an allergic reaction, long term effects, die, or in the case of the movie, disappear and never come back due to the mystery of time travel. It is this fear that causes us humans to put ourselves above animals and to put our lives above theirs. We are quick to think of animals as being easily attainable for our own use and pleasure because they have no say in what happens to them. There is no attachment to them or would there be a mourn over the loss of losing the animals to the possible effects that could occur from testing. It is this mentality that causes humans to refrain from thinking twice about testing on animals because it is not themselves who must endure the pain. I think it's interesting that the characters in the movie describe the process of testing on animals and humans as being a "step by step" process, as if there is an order set for testing procedures ranging from innocent animals and eventually leading to humans, if we are lucky enough to get to that point.

P.S. They never ended up testing on animals in the movie, so that's a plus!

The Video the Poultry Industry Doesn't Want You To See

Hello all,
I just recently signed a petition to fight for food education. Because of this, I get numerous emails about healthy eating and animal rights. I also wrote on Plutarch's "The Eating Of Flesh" for our laster paper, so this post seemed appropriate. I just recently got a email with a link to a video that stated: "Help Pamela Anderson End Horrific Animal Abuse"... I attached the video here. This video is hard to watch, I just want to give you a warning. It shows how poultry are treated in the food industry, and it's not fun to watch. She urges us to sign the petition against animal abuse.
For more info, check out this website. And if you're interested, I linked the video below. Also, while watching and reading, think about the most recent texts we've been reading for class. Do you see any similarities between our texts and this website (and video)?
Let's make a difference in our society, one animal at a time!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Language of Dolphins

I watched a ted talk about a team of researchers who have spent 5 months a year for 28 years in the water researching dolphins and their behavior. They found that they do very similar thing that humans do, for example they research each other's offspring, they try to dominate one another, and they make alliances with one another. They also tried to mimic the researchers noises and invited them to play dolphin games. They also have a very complex "language" that they use to communicate with each other. Although dolphins are very intelligent animals, this shows that animals are not so different than people after all. Hopefully their research will lead to better communication with animals, and then will lead to a bette human-animal relationship in general.  Here's the video.

Ursula Le Guin

Hello fellow bloggers,
I don't know about you all, but ever since we started reading about a lot of different authors in this class, I keep seeing their names come up in other classes and when I am out and about. For example, I keep seeing Ursula Le Guin's name come up ever since we've read her rendition of Genesis. Has this happened to anyone else?
I have a book blog where I follow a lot of other book lovers, and I just recently found this quote floating around on my news feed:

"Fantasy is probably the oldest literary device for talking about reality."
-Ursula Le Guin.

I am currently in a Children's Literature Education class where we are talking about fantasy books, so I loved finding a quote written by Ursula Le Guin talking about fantasy, when we just read a story from her that, in a way, was a sort of fantasy, which in turn is making a statement about reality. Maybe I just find this quote fascinating because I am a Literature major, but it's awesome to read well known authors that make their way into my other classes as well. It's fun to see how two different classes can merge simply by the authors we read.
I think my overall point of this blog posting is to point out that authors like Ursula Le Guin are making a name for themselves in the literary world, and have the ability to impact students through the way that they write.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

ALF and Chicken Run

As we were watching the ALF documentary in class, and the segment regarding the mass consumption of meats and the abuse within the slaughterhouses, I couldn't help but think about a childhood favorite movie of mine: Chicken Run. The movie is about a group of chickens that want to escape a slaughterhouse that is responsible for the manufacture and distribution of chicken pot pies. It is a cartoon with a lot of comedy in it, but it is definitely one of those movies that has a little bit of a hidden message underneath the plot that people ages 18 and up would understand. It highlighted the cruelty of slaughter houses, and how terrified the animals are to be there. Are the animals in slaughterhouses right now thinking something along the same lines as the chickens in this movie? Are they ready to escape? Here is the trailer to the movie, which came out in 2000.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mazes by Ursula Le Guin

I really liked Mazes by Ursula Le Guin, and found it interesting because it forces the reader to take the perspective of the dominated. I thought that this could be tied into Kurt Lewin's idea of the "minority problem,' in which he claims that it is typical for everyone to view everything in a top-down perspective and victim blame the oppressed instead of trying to see things from the oppressed point of view. In a lot of ways this piece by Le Guin forces us to rethink the typical and "normal" relationship between humans and animals, in which humans are the dominator and animals as the dominated.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

On the Video Yesterday...

I may be in the minority opinion here, but I was appalled by both sides presented in the documentary. Although I agree with the ALF's stance that animals should not be exploited or subjected to cruelty, I do not agree with the means the ALF uses to achieve their goals. The documentary glamorizes vandalism, arson, and harassment by equating their cause to the Boston Tea Party or Martin Luther King Jr.'s campaign. But what made MLK's activism so effective was that he preached nonviolence, and I do not believe that burning down buildings in the name of animal rights is anywhere near as noble as marching through Selma for the right to vote. And even if no one is physically harmed by their actions, they don't just get a free pass on being terrorists just because "it isn't as bad as flying an airplane into a building." I also find trying to counter animal violence with more violence is extremely hypocritical. After all, an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

Animals - Neon Trees Song

This song Animals by Neon Trees poses a very interesting take on the distinction between animals and people (although not the whole distinction).

Here we go again
I kinda wanna be more than friends
So take it easy on me
I'm afraid
You're never satisfied

Here we go again
We're sick like animals
We play pretend
You're just
A cannibal
And I'm afraid
I won't get out alive
No, I won't sleep tonight

Oh oh
I want some more
Oh oh
What are you waiting for?
Take a bite of my heart tonight
Oh oh
I want some more
Oh oh
What are you waiting for?
What are you waiting for?
Say goodbye to my heart tonight

This is only part of the song... However, you can see that the girl he is singing of is being referred to as the animal. So he says that the way she gives him love (as a significant other) is like an animal. He makes references like "take a bite of my heart tonight" and "What are you waiting for?" which points directly at this girl being a horrible lover... Additionally, he says "We're sick like animals, we play pretend". These few quotes among a few more basically describes animals as dumb, ferocious, and "sick?" (unable to perceive love, be tame when born wild, and unable to be taught things). This song says basically this: Animals are like this girl and this girl happens to be (metaphorically) a cannibal and truly a horrible lover. I found this take on an "animal" as compared to a girl (or humans in general) quite entertaining.

"Wallace" and the transformation of man

Musician Azealia Banks has a song titled “Wallace” on her debut album “Broke With Expensive Taste” in which she includes details of an abusive relationship. She does not get into the specifics of the relationship but delves into how her vibrant, adventurous self is being held back by her previous partner (the abuser). Wallace is a man with a Rottweiler’s head. She describes her free-spirited nature and the places she’s visited, which intimidates Wallace. Her rise to fame has made her partner become envious of her, and he does not believe he can keep up with her. As their relationship continues, she only sees the rabidness within him as he tries to control and stifle her:

“You’re a giant, I saw all your teeth. Rottweiler, let’s barter, let’s see…”
"Touring the world crazy make Rottweiler gray / Dead doggy-dog belong in the grave"

She describes his rage as embodying Wallace. The animal (Rottweiler) becomes associated with the savagery that Banks sees present in her relationship. Violence is an unfortunate pattern in most domestic relationships. The abuser usually acts out violently due to trauma experienced in childhood/adolescence which breeds insecurity, and festers if not dealt with. It is within this source of insecurity, that the abuser transforms into an animal. They can become blind with rage and hone in and attack anyone who allows this insecurity to resurface.

Accompanying the single, Banks released an interactive music video made accessible via Google Chrome. She is shown from her shoulders up, with the background consisting of kaleidoscopic movements of her body. As the viewer moves their head, Banks follows the movements. The director of the video used this technique to allow the user to be placed in Banks's previous predicament as the victim. Banks is confronting the viewer just as her abuser did. She follows their movement. It’s interesting to note how a lot of the way we perceive men, transforms them into animals; men are compared to dogs (other animals, as well) for their gluttony, inclination towards violence in stressful situations, and physical strength.

We associate savagery with animals, and when found in humans, we view it as a type of regression in one's mental capabilities. However, it is possible that savagery is another way in which we are still linked to animals, just not in the most obvious manner. Humans still have the capability to be cruel and enact abuse; what differentiates animals and humans is the type of abuse we can enact. The abuse we encounter can be verbal, emotional, or psychological, not just physical. Wallace appropriately highlights an example of a (hu)man who "transforms" once he does not feel safe; one who takes it upon himself to put down that (re: Banks) which threatens him.

The False Image of the "Axolotl"

The narration within the story appeared as if the young man was experiencing an existential crisis which he had been projecting onto the axolotl. While the narrator claimed to be experiencing a switching of consciousness between himself and the axolotl, there was a similar panicked state when he was in both bodies. This panicking appeared to be operating from the same consciousness, only in different bodies. The narrator repeatedly speaks of the immobility present within the axolotl; not only in the environment of the axolotl but an internal immobility: the inability of the axolotl to express itself, and allow its cognitive thoughts to be translated outwards. The narrator attributed the axolotl’s immobile facial expression with perpetual dread. This is how the narrator anthropomorphized the axolotl: humans generally associate stoicism with enduring pain, externally appearing to be void of emotion. The narrator believed the axolotl’s fixed face stemmed from a pain which the animal had been repressing. There is nothing suggesting what the axolotl was repressing, or if there were emotions (which could be understood on a humanistic scale) to be repressed.

It appeared that he was projecting a lot of his worry and dread (from sources unbeknownst to the reader) onto the creatures. One of my theories is that his anxieties could stem from his work: when the protagonist was in the body of the axolotl, he reassured himself that the man would “write a story about us.” The consciousness of the axolotl/man was continuously looking for an escape. Perhaps a story about the axolotl from the man would be the man's own story being told, a way to escape from his own mental chasm through written form.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

dogs love us!

when considering the animal, we think of primitive creatures incapable of emotional depth. whether animals do have the capacity to feel the emotional level that humans do is debatable, however scientists have recently looked into the bond between dog and human to discover that dogs really do love humans on a chemical level. oxycotin is a chemical responsible for feelings of love and closeness, and is released when a dog gazes into a humans' eyes. this eye contact also provokes the chemical to be released within the human body as well; thereafter both parties build off this mutual feeling of love and create an even deeper, loving bond.

i hope this bit of info was cool to all those dog lovers and owners. on a grand scale, this provides further proof that animals aren't just hollow creatures fueled by basic instincts! they experience emotions, just like humans, and should be allowed the same nurture and care that we humans give each other (:

Chimp Rights Ted Talk

This is an interesting Ted Talk that is super relevant to what we've been talking about in class. It relates to questions of what a 'person' is, are animals people? Lawyer Steven Wise describes his work of fighting to change the status of chimpanzees from 'legal things' to 'legal persons'. One question this talk left me with is would this same course of action he describes apply to other animals?

The Invisible Hand

     The invisible hand states "that individuals seeking their economic self-interest actually benefit society more than they would if they tried to benefit society directly."

     The individuals in the movie we watched in this class today, who were torturing and taking advantage of animals, in their own self-interest were, in my opinion, not benefitting society but instead hurting it. However, ignoring the fact that these were atrocities, they did technically benefit us by improving the GDP and creating new goods for the market. 

     What cost should there be for the benefit of advancement, not only in the fur or cosmetic department but more importantly the medicinal department who will be able to help more humans, or slightly less with improving our economy with both jobs & salaries? Against animals? Humans?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Animals and human clothing

Saw this pic on tumblr and wanted to know what you guys thought about people placing human clothes on dogs? And other animals. Also, why do you think some people feel compelled to put unnecessary clothing on their pets? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? 

I for one think it's not the greatest thing. I mean, it seems like it's more beneficial for the human rather than the animal. It's like we're trying to make them more like something they aren't...human. When I first saw this pic, I immediately laughed and if it were two months ago, I probably would've scrolled past this pic but now I view this sort of pic differently because of this class. It's like we're constraining the animal. Anyways, I know my comments all over the place but so are my feelings with this pic.

Monday, May 18, 2015

vegetarian options at fast food places

this past weekend, my friends and i went to a flume concert and decided to make a pit stop at the nearby in n out. seeing it was like a glowing, safe haven because it's been forever since i last enjoyed an in n out burger. my friend's boyfriend mentions that they offer a vegetarian version of their burgers, which baffled me because, even though i am aware of their secret menu, it's very rare that i go to a fast food restaurant that has vegetarian options. of course, this burger is stuffed with the vegetable fixings and excludes the meat. so we debate if we can ever enjoy living a meatless life, and really we're all veracious meat eaters. but that itself made me contemplate of other fast food restaurants that could possibly offer meatless versions of their most popular, meat-filled items.
i personally work with a food group that collaborates with the owners of the boardwalk, and i found it laughable when someone requested a taco without the meat in it. i remarked "it would be like a salad in a taco shell, do you really want that?" and he quickly changed his ordered to a bean and cheese burrito. not that the vegetarian lifestyle or not being able to eat certain meats due to religion, personal beliefs, etc. is a bad thing. i wish i could enjoy a life sustained by only eating vegetables (i would be so much healthier and wouldn't feel guilty of myself when exposed to "food inc." like images). does McD's have similar options with their burgers?
like major thumbs up to in n out for doing that.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Go team go!

As i was sitting beside my family watching a sports special on ESPN this weekend, i could not help but notice how even in littlest aspects of our lives in society we give appraisal to animals. Sports teams' names are named after the symbol of Bulls, Sharks, Ravens, Cubs, Panthers, Tigers, just to amongst many others. We take on these forms to embody the strength and endurance that is the animal that the team represents, same with school mascots from grade school and so forth. I think it's interesting to note since we are constantly looking at ourselves as humans looking down towards animals, but we embody their titles for our own fulfillment when titling ourselves in games and sports. It may be because that's the go-to thing to do and we don't know any better, but i think it's interesting because it sheds some light on animals and how we view their abilities in a way that we are willing to embody them as beings who are much more stronger and powerful that us. Just a thought that i had!

Who REALLY Wins the Kentucky Derby?

Hi all,

The 141st Kentucky Derby happened a few weekends ago, and the horse American Pharaoh won. Woohoo! While the Kentucky Derby is a hub of fashion (those hats!), sport, and excitement for humans, why is it that the horse, not the jockey whipping the horse, that is declared the winner? Yes, the horse does the majority of the work, but a lot of the accolades go to the jockey. It seems to me that humans have dubbed the horses the winners of the race to try and make up for the poor treatment and borderline abuse that takes place during the race itself.

 I have included a video for those of you who are unfamiliar with horse racing to see. I'm not very familiar with horse racing, but this is something that had bothered me for a while about the sport.

Anthropomorphism in Comedy

Hi everyone,

I recently saw a video BBC put out that used voiceover on clips of animals. Granted, it's pretty funny. What I think is interesting about this video is it undermines important and unique ecological processes with humor based on human experiences. For instance, the black heron in the first clip is dubbed ver with "Nighttime... Daytime!" Hilarious, really. The heron is actually creating artificial darkness to lure its fish prey into a false sense of security. If the fish think it is night, then they know the heron will be asleep and they can swim around safely. This is a very important process in the heron and fish ecosystem, but human exceptionalism tells us that it is acceptable to discount these complex behaviors as jokes. Funny, but harmful.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

"Humane Bacon"

Good evening everyone!

I ran across this article on NPR called " 'Tales' Of Pig Intelligence, Factory Farming And Humane Bacon," and I thought I would share it with all of you.  Warning:  For those bacon lovers, this article might make you grimace the next time you take a bite out of a strip of bacon.

The article focuses mostly on journalist Barry Estabrook, author of Pig Tales: An Omnivore's Quest for Sustainable Meat, and his experience researching the lives of animals that he enjoys eating, with a focus on pigs.  He says he wanted to do this because "if you are going to eat an animal, maybe you owed it to yourself to find out as much as you could about the way the animal thought [and] its cognitive abilities."  Through his research, he learns that pigs are smart and sentient beings.  However, he also makes the point that most Americans do not know much about the lives of these great creatures before they end up on their plate.  He talks in great detail about the living conditions of pigs in large-scale operation farms and industrial slaughterhouses, most of which are gruesome.

This article does a great job in inciting thought into the reader about how the animal they are about to eat may have lived, and if there is such a thing as "humane meat," or in this case, "humane bacon."  This article definitely stirs up the controversy of animal cruelty, as well as ethics, and I invite all of you to read it.  I hope this article makes you think before asking for that side of bacon with your eggs! And no, I am not trying to convert people to vegetarianism!

I hope everyone has a great remainder of their weekend!
~ Cosme  

Friday, May 15, 2015

Axolotl Video

Axolotls are in the brink of extinction because of water pollution and introduction of non-native species in their habitats. They are endemic to lakes in Mexico, although people around the world have them as pets and many are research subjects. Currently, scientist are interested on their ability to regenerate limbs. A professor in Chicago has genetically engineered glowing axolotls (not sure why). Anyway, you can see how axolotls swim and how their gills sway in the water. BTW they have gills and lungs!

"The Role Of Science In A Push For Animal Liberation"

I found this article today and thought it was really relevant to what we talked about in Wednesday's lecture. Because of scientific advancement, we are increasingly aware of the complexity of different non-human societies and consciousness. But, as the article mentions, science is a bit of a double edged sword in that while it has lead to a greater awareness of and concern for animal welfare, it has also lead to more invasive and unethical treatment in some cases.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fish and Birds

My life as a turkey

Hello everyone, I just wanted to share this video of how this man lives among wild turkeys. I thought it to be relevant since we're talking about metamorphosis between animal to human and human to animal. In particular the stories of the Academy and the Axolotl.
This is the link.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

NEW SAVANNA: Secrets of Pink Elephants Revealed

Hi Everyone! After finishing Dumbo on Monday, I became very curious about the animal symbolism in the movie and turned to the internet to find some answers. I surprisingly could not find much on symbolism, but I found many articles on the famous 'Pink Elephants' scene. I don't know about everyone else, but that scene made absolutely no sense to me in the movie. I found another blogspot post that actually clarifies this scene pretty well. So if you were as confused or curious with that scene as I was, you should give this blog post a read!

NEW SAVANNA: Secrets of Pink Elephants Revealed:

Monday, May 11, 2015

spring dog festival!

hey guys, this is actually my first post and i assure you all that my next will have more substance in it. since this class is about animals, i thought it'd be cool to share an upcoming event that my org will be participating in this Sunday from 9AM-2PM @ Soquel High! it's a fundraiser event and there will be lots of fun activities and DOGS. so consider coming out for the day and meet some new fluffy friends (:

Brother Bear vs. Black Beauty

So reading Black Beauty reminded me of a childhood favorite movie of mine: "Brother Bear". The difference between Black Beauty and "Brother Bear" is that we are only shown the horse's perspective on life, but in "Brother Bear", Kenai, the protagonist of the movie, is a man who becomes a bear after killing one, which is a major violation of the law of nature in the movie, as the bear was his assigned spirit animal. He is then forced to live and act like a bear in his efforts to be turned back into a human, but as this is happening, he realizes that bears are not the man-eating, village destroying monsters he and all his fellow villagers believed them to be. It reminded me of Black Beauty  because it allowed the reader/viewer to attempt to understand the perspective of an animal that we just think is a mindless machine. It is a beautiful movie that makes me shed a tear every time (no shame), also Phil Collins and Tina Turner are on the soundtrack to this movie, who doesn't love Phil Collins and Tina Turner.

So here's the theatrical trailer for the movie (which came out in 2003), note that a phrase that is said by the narrator is to "see through another's eyes", which is what we're doing with Black Beauty.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Cruelty of Animals vs. the Holocaust

In Coetzee's book The Lives of Animals, his character Elizabeth Costello compares the treatment and slaughter of animals to the millions of lives that were lost in the Holocaust. In response to this comment, a poet, Abraham Stern, who was supposed to have dinner with her and many others, writes Costello a letter telling her off for this comparison. I agree with what Stern had to say, "If the Jews were treated like cattle, it does not follow that the cattle are treated like Jews" (50). I believe this comparison was wrongfully said. Even though there are many people who believe there may be a Holocaust among the animals right now, it does not compare to the lives lost over 70 years ago. I know this can be a very controversial topic, but I had to put on my opinion about this comparison.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Animals in Video Games

Two of my favorite video games that I played when I was younger was Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon. Animal Crossing is essentially a game where you are the only human in a town of walking, talking animals. These animals are anthropomorphized greatly, living in houses, wearing human clothes and even having cute catchphrases. In Animal Crossing there are cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, cows, squirrels, sheep and so much more. Interestingly though, insects or fish can be "caught" in the game and given to the museum (whose curator is an owl) or sold to the town store (run by a raccoon). The game is still a favorite of mine to this day, though I haven't played it in a long time. And I find that the personalities of the animals usually very much resemble how animals act in real life. The cats can be more pompous, the squirrels can be excitable, and so on.

In Harvest Moon you become a farmer and raise animals and crops. It's the ideal farm that you'd like to image your food came from, not those factory farms we hear about in the news. In Harvest Moon, you and every other character is basically vegetarian unless it comes to fish. You don't eat animals in the game (again with the exception of fish), you only use the cows for their milk and the chickens for their eggs and the sheep for their wool. It's the idyllic, pastoral farm and the game is very calming to play. You can earn money in the game by fishing, selling animal goods, selling crops or going mining. When you have enough money you can buy machines to make wool into yarn, or make milk into butter or cheese.

Both of these games were a big part of my childhood and I enjoy looking back and seeing what a large part animals played in my experience and overall enjoyment of these games. Feel free to comment on what video games you enjoy that have a large component to do with animals!

Horse Meat

A brief history of America's relationship with horse meat. We actually ate horse meat during WW1.


I had not seen Dumbo in a long time and barely remembered what happened, so I was shocked in class watching the movie. It did not seem like a childrens' movie at all. The way he was separated from his mother was heartbreaking, and there was a lot of violence towards the mother during the scene at the circus when people were making fun of Dumbo. It was also so sad that he was ostracized from both the human and animal communities. The only person who accepted him was the mouse. That could have been a storyline to try to show kids how hurtful words could be, but it still did not seem like a good movie for young kids. I have no idea how I liked that movie when I was younger.

Black Beauty

One thing I liked about Black Beauty was that it showed both sides of the horse's life. By this, I mean that it not only showed how life could be miserable with a ruthless owner, but also how it could be quite pleasant when placed with a kind owner who cared about and for his animals. I am glad they did this because yes, some people do not treat animals fairly, but others truly care about their well-being. It was more realistic this way. It also made the book less biased. While I was very sad about the way his life turned out with some of his owners, I was also comforted that some people took care of him.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

When is an animal a legal person?

I thought this would be an interesting article to share after a notecard that was read in class today asking the a similar question, should animals have legal rights?

The article is about how a Judge submitted a court order that gave two chimpanzees the writ of habeas corpus, which means that one cannot be unlawfully detained. The two chimpanzees are being held at Stony Brook University and the Nonhuman Rights Project is trying to send the chimpanzees to an animal sanctuary in Florida. The controversial part of the story is that the writ of habeas corpus is only extended to legal persons, meaning that chimps are legally people? Unfortunately, no. The judge amended it on thursday and said it was just the best way to get the university to come to the courtroom to present its case.

Here's the full article:

This got me thinking about if animals should have human rights under the law. The first thing I thought of was the scene from the show Monk with the chimp in the interrogation room. I know that's a far from accurate representation of animals having rights, but I think there may be a point to it. Animals don't communicate or think the same way we do, so it wouldn't be close to impossible to punish them justly for their wrong doings. However, I believe they should have protection from inhumane animal testing and also from zoos, which is an entirely different debate.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Artist Performance Raises Awareness to Animal Testing in Cosmetics

Lush Cosmetics is known for its natural ingredients that do not commission testing products on animal or humans.  In order to further promote their fight against animal testing, Jacqueline Traide put on a disturbing performance that gives its viewers a wake up call they won't forget.  In her performance she plays the role of an animal and is treated as one would be that is undergoing cosmetic testing.  I found this video hard to watch as imagining this happening to helpless animals makes me cringe.  The harsh realities of animal testing need to be exposed to the public and I believe if more of these performances were seen in more locations it would make a significant difference.

  If you would like to learn more about the fight against animal testing please visit for more information.

Animals as Beings

I found this article from The Boston Globe and thought it was interesting. The author states that at one time animals were suspected to have thoughts and feelings, they were even committed for crimes. Since then though, times have changed and people feel like that statement has become false. Humans also stopped using words like "who" and "whom" to describe an animal, instead words like "it" are more common. Animals, I believe, are smarter than most people think. The author gives a great example with a lioness she had an experience with. I believe animals have feelings and thoughts and can control those thoughts and feelings as well.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Animals Rights

Today's lecture got me thinking about the documentary 'Blackfish'. If you haven't seen it I highly recommend watching it. (For those of you who uncomfortable with watching films about animal mistreatment this is not the worst in the world. It's much easier to stomach than something like Food Inc. but it comes with the territory.) The documentary confronts issues of animals mistreatment, abuse, and the consequences of captivity. Specifically, it focuses on Killer Whales and Sea World. I'm not sure if any of you have noticed but Sea World has been facing a lot of backlash recently around their treatment of animals, some of which I think stemmed from the film's critiques. Here's a link to the trailer, the full documentary should be on Netflix but I haven't checked recently to see if it's still there.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A must see

Water Cooler

Does anyone remember the goldfish and water cooler commercial? There was a water cooler with a large amount of goldfish in it and the water was slowly being poured out and the fish were all swimming toward the bottom?

Animals and Robotics

I was doing some research about animals and robotics and discovered that NYU created a robotic fish and placed it into an environment with real fish. They real fish not only accepted the robotic one but the robotic fish became the leader of the group! What do you guys think about that?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Feminism and Animal Rights

The more this class progresses, the more I have found ties between feminism and animal rights. Women, like animals, are treated as subsidiaries by men. They are demeaned to be lesser, and are often portrayed as objects, only there for a man's gaze and consumption (whether it be physical or sexual consumption). Both women and animals are subject to that penetrating male gaze and made subsequently into objects, only there for a male's visceral pleasure.

I found this video online (linked below) which I think highlights how the media treats women and how women are objectified. In the following video, How the Media Failed Women in 2013, it includes elements such as a severed female torso being used to advertise a video game, the women's breasts clearly the highlight of the ad. This video also includes a Carl's Junior advertisement, again bringing about the parallels between women and animals and women and meat.

Do animals have morals?

This is one of my favorite TED talks. It not only shows  how intelligent animals are, but that they express 'human emotions.' They display behaviors such as cooperation, reciprocity, empathy, and cooperation.

Cosmetic Animal Testing

I have always been aware of the terrible practice of animal testing, but only after reading this article that I realized some countries actually have laws making cosmetics have to be tested on animals to be certified. I think this is absolutely ridiculous and sad that a government would MAKE animals be tested on. Also the amount of companies that do test on animals is absolutely absurd.

Animal Intelligence

I have attached the video "Smart Pigs vs Kids- Extraordinary Animals- Series 2- Earth" and it is a study based on the intelligence of a six week old pig. The pig is being tested on whether or not it can determine how to find a bowl of food that can only be seen through the reflection of a mirror. It only took the pig a few hours to finally figure out that to get to the bowl of food, it needed to walk around a barrier to the other side to get the food.

Another pig was tested by seeing how long it would take in order for it to score a soccer ball into a goal. It did so very easily compared to the children who were tested. The pig was 18 months old and performed the task with relative ease, while the 2 and 3-year-old children could not succeed in doing the task.

I thought that these tests that the scientists were performing on the piglets and children were related to the Descartes and Montaigne discussion we had in Section today. The pigs are being tested on their levels of intelligence and being compared to the children. I believe that in this study, the pigs are being posed more to side with Montaigne's view because they are being argued to have very high levels of intelligence for being so young.