Saturday, October 27, 2012

Captive Whale Tried To Talk Like Humans

Story by Kristina Chew. NOC was the name of a white whale caught off the Pacific coast of Canada in 1977. Until his death five years ago, NOC lived in an open-air tank at the US National Marine Mammal Foundation in San Diego, along with a group of dolphins; he also socialized with two female white whales. In 1984, NOC started talking with a human voice.

You can hear NOC speaking via the Guardian and the Independent.

Before realizing that NOC was talking, the scientists thought they heard the sound of people chatting as if at a distance and “just out of range for our understanding,” from a tank that held whales and dolphins. As noted in Current Biology (pdf), the scientists heard these “conversations” several times before tracing them to NOC:

The whale was exposed to speech not only from humans at the surface — it was present at times when divers used surface-to-diver communication equipment… The whale was recognized as the source of the speech-like sounds when a diver surfaced outside this whale’s enclosure and asked “Who told me to get out?” Our observations led us to conclude the “out” which was repeated several times came from NOC.

NOC was seeking to mimic human voices, the scientists say. They recorded NOC’s sounds both when he was underwater and when he surfaced for the next several years.

An acoustic analysis revealed that NOC’s human voice was several octaves below typical whale sounds which include echolocation clicks and whistles (that are actually fast vibrations). The scientists “trained” NOC to speak when they requested him to do so. They also figured out how he produced human sounds, by adjusting the pressure and blowing air through his nose rather than through his larynx as humans do.

After four years, when NOC reached his maturity, he stopped making the human sounds, perhaps because he lost either the interest or the ability. He did remain “quite vocal,” the scientists say, producing echolocation pulses and also “various pulse burst sounds previously described as ‘squawks, rasps, yelps or barks.’”

What was so remarkable about NOC’s sounds was that he made them spontaneously, without any human instigation. The scientists note other examples of white whales producing sounds resembling human speech,

The first to study white whale (Delphinapterus leucas) sounds in the wild, Schevill and Lawrence [3] wrote that “occasionally the calls would suggest a crowd of children shouting in the distance”. Fish and Mowbary [4] described sound types and reviewed past descriptions of sounds from this vociferous species. At Vancouver Aquarium, Canada, keepers suggested that a white whale about 15 years of age, uttered his name “Lagosi”. Other utterances were not perceptible, being described as “garbled human voice, or Russian, or similar to Chinese” by R.L. Eaton in a self-published account in 1979.

I’ve listened to the recordings quite a few times: it is uncanny, wondrous and poignant to hear the voice of NOC.

In his many years living among humans, was NOC trying to “make contact”? What motivated him to start, and to stop, talking in a human voice — did he conclude that the effort to speak the way humans did was not worth it?

When NOC said, as the diver reported, “out,” was he trying to tell the scientists what he wanted? Article courtesy of - -

Petition Target: NOAA Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Fisheries Russel Smith - Sponsored by:

When you're upwards of 15 feet long and accustomed to living in the ocean, a tank for a home just isn't going to cut it.

Unfortunately, 18 beluga whales originally from the waters of Sakhalin Island await that very fate. They currently reside in a Russian tank while Georgia Aquarium seeks permission to place them in park attractions, where they would interact with untrained humans.

The Georgia Aquarium has said that the marine parks need the belugas for education, research, and breeding to enhance diversity within the endangered species.

But capturing beluga whales destroys their family groups. These particular belugas normally migrate and dive up to 1,000 feet below sea level to find food. Tanks just do not allow them to live normally.

Friday, Oct. 19th marks the first hearing for this permit, which will eventually be decided on next year.

Tell NAOO to turn down the permit that would allow for the import of beluga whales!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Please help save Bill and Lou from their death sentence ...

Bill and Lou are still set for slaughter by the end of October!! To help save their lives please consider sharing this information, signing the petitions (links below) and sending emails to the people listed below. We still may be able to save their lives, and send them to the Vine Sanctuary who want to provide a safe loving home for the rest of their lives, with one last push. (A link to a recent article by the New York Times, a small excerpt from the article, and my comments regarding various GMC-related quotes are listed below the video clip.)

Bill and Lou worked tirelessly for ten years, helping the farm maintain its sustainable goals, but now, despite thousands of people signing a petition to save them from slaughter, the Green Mountain College has sentenced their long term farm workers, who happen to be oxen, to death.

For years, Bill and Lou were a near daily sight out in the fields at Green Mountain College. Bill and Lou's big brown eyes, their curving horns and gentle, but massive girth have made them minor celebrities on campus and beyond. Many say that's what makes it so hard to believe that the college wants to slaughter and eat them. Miriam Jones is co-founder of Vine, an animal sanctuary in Springfield. "These two individuals have become veritable mascots for the school," she says. "They are the profile picture on the farm's Facebook page. They are known by name." She says "this is why the outcry has been so significant all over."
Vine offered to transport Bill and Lou for free to their farm to live with other rescued animals. Vine's Pattrice Jones, says they were stunned when the college said no and cited sustainability as one of its reasons. "We do not believe that the way to conserve resources is to kill the elderly and disabled," she says; "to prevent them from using up resources because they're not useful anymore. We just find that ethically repugnant."

SAVE BILL and LOU from slaughter **... PROTEST planned for Friday Oct 26th..please share!! Posted by Jayne Cvetanoski (cause leader)
Friday, October 26, 2012
12:00pm until 3:00pm
Demo: Corner of College and Main Street in front of Brennan Circle on sidewalk.
Wear: dress comfortably and dress warm
Signs: Bring your own favorite or signs will be available
Contact: Jennifer Wolf @

This protest is for Bill and Lou. Whatever your motivation is,
ALL are welcome who support Bill and Lou not being sent to slaughter! The whole world is watching!

NOTE: if you can't attend the actual protest...then.....PLEASE PLEASE share this event to as many people on facebook that you can!

BILL and LOU are gentle sweet boys that don't deserve the cruelty that the GMC ( GREEN MOUNTAIN COLLEGE ) want to inflict upon them by sending them to slaughter, then feeding them to the schools students in their Cafeteria! Sounds like a family who decide they want to be sustainable by eating their pet dog or cat!! When we have a choice between "sustainability" and compassion, compassion should win every time.
VINE Sanctuary in Vermont have offered the boys are new loving home, so why doesn't GMC not let them go? Are they just trying to prove a point at the expense of their compassion and humanity?

List of petitions:

Media Links:

Please send polite comments/e-mail to:
Kenneth Mulder
Farm Manager, Research Associate and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies,

Green Mountain College

Bill Throop
Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Green Mountain College

----> You can send the school an e-mail here:


If we are going to have a chance to save Bill and Lou, it is critical right now to KEEP UP THE PRESSURE. Contact media, contact the Town of Poultney, VT, US, contact Green Mountain College, contact the Board of Trustees of the school, call and write and email and make it clear that even if they slaughter these too innocent, hard-working beings, we will NOT forget."

Leave Mr. Throop & Mulder a polite comment and urge them to change their mind AND send them polite e-mails as well:

"They (Bill and Lou) would plow and cultivate, and spread their manure and the manure of other animals," said Ben Dube, a research assistant.
The oxen are part of the farm's plan to be fossil-free. Instead of tractors, Bill and Lou do the work. But this summer, Lou suffered an injury and can barely walk. And Bill can't pull the plow alone. "Doing any work with them is a question. Even putting them in the yoke and not pulling anything," Dube said. The school already bought replacements, but kept Bill and Lou as pets until they could collaborate with the students, who were on summer break, about Bill and Lou's fate.
"Because it is an educational, sustainable farm, we think we've got to help students understand how to make farms work ecologically, socially and economically," said Bill Throop, the provost at Green Mountain College.

The consensus: to slaughter Bill and Lou for meat. This would save the school from purchasing meat from a factory for at least a month.

(GMP Publisher: Sustainability is an admirable goal, but in this case, it is at the sacrifice of our humanity and compassion, and not a worthy choice. These animals have helped to make the farm sustainable for ten years. Haven't Bill and Lou earned their lives and a little respect?)

VINE Sanctuary is ready to take these animals in for a peaceful life after all their contribution to their human owners. And despite many voices from around the world calling for the release of Bill and Lou to the sanctuary, the college authorities have remained determined to send the two retiring oxen to slaughter.
Indeed this heartless decision makes no sense because no one is starving at the college hall and these hard workers who shared the workload of their human companions on their back now deserve to live their natural life, whatever of it is left, in peace.

Please help and send a heartfelt, courteous email to the following people:
Bill Throop Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs:

Kenneth Mulder Farm Manager, Research Associate & Adjunct Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies:

Below is an excerpt from a recent article about Bill and Lou from the New York Times here (With comments like the ones below, you have to wonderful how evolved, or indeed, how compassionate and ethical, some people of this world are? So when someone has outlived their usefulness at GMC, do they recycle their body parts? Maybe the retiring professors at GMC should be a little nervous! Soylent Green burgers anyone?!)

“It’s about sustainability, and I’ve been a vegetarian for three years, but I’m excited to eat Bill and Lou,” said Lisa Wilson, a senior. “I eat meat when I know where it comes from.” (GMP Publisher: Obviously this student doesn't know that an oxen is not a vegetable? That doesn't sound they are teaching them the difference at GMC? This girl certainly doesn't understand that she is NOT a vegetarian if she is excited to eat meat!)

Andrew Kohler, a senior, took a course in which he learned how to drive the oxen team.

“They start listening to you, and they become your friend,” Mr. Kohler said. “I feel honored to eat them.” (GMP Publisher: I'm sure the honour would NOT be mutual here. I wonder if Mr. Kohler eats ALL his friends?! Maybe anyone considering befriending him on facebook should rethink the idea?)

Voicing a rare opinion on campus, Lilly Byers, a junior from Albany, joined a group of about 20 protesters who gathered near campus on Friday and faced down a counterprotest of her fellow students. (GMP Publisher: Good for you Lilly!! You go girl!!)

“I come from a family of dairy farmers,” Ms. Byers said. “When you’ve worked an animal this long, they usually go into retirement, so I come to it from that perspective.”

Meanwhile, Emerald Hardiman, a freshman, confronted the protesters.

“Why aren’t you at factory farms right now?” Ms. Hardiman said. “They’re going to taste delicious!” (GMP Publisher: Factory farming is certainly hideous, however Ms Hardiman's statement is also hideous! If poor Bill and Lou are indeed killed, maybe a healthy dose of ongoing indigestion may be a suitable karmic payback, Ms Hardiman?)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

104 Rescued Bears Forced Out of Sanctuary and Back into Cages!!

By Jill Robinson, Founder of Animals Asia - We’ve had some shocking news. After working so hard over so many years to build a world-class sanctuary for the bears rescued from Vietnam’s bile farms, we are being asked to leave.

On Friday October 5, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) informed Animals Asia that the Ministry of Defence had issued an order to evict the entire sanctuary operation and its 104 rescued bears. There is no justification for this.

It’s believed the park director, Do Dinh Tien, lobbied the Ministry of Defence to evict Animals Asia, so he can hand the land to Truong Giang Tam Dao Joint Stock Company, of which his daughter is part owner. The company intends to build commercial property including a tourist park and hotels.

The closure would see 104 bears that have been rescued from the bile industry evicted, 77 local Vietnamese staff made unemployed, and financial losses to Animals Asia of more than $2 million.

After years of trauma from being locked up in small cages and milked for their bile, our bears are now enjoying dens, enclosures and friends to play with. These bears will be forced to return to cages to be relocated. This will have a major negative impact on their mental and physical well-being. It is likely to take at least two years to establish a new center with outdoor enclosures. (The bear named Grace pictured above is also blind.)

We’re fighting this eviction notice every step of the way, appealing directly to the Vietnamese authorities, enlisting help from the international community, the media and other NGOs. But most of all we need your help.

Three Ways To Help Now:

Please write to the Prime Minister of Vietnam, and appeal to him to allow Animals Asia’s Vietnam bear sanctuary, which he previously approved and endorsed, to continue operations, and expand, in line with the government’s original agreement.

Step 1. Email Prime Minister Mr Nguyen Tan Dung at Below is sample text for your email:

Dear Honourable Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng,

I write to express my concern that Animals Asia’s world-class bear sanctuary is to be evicted from Tam Dao National Park by the Ministry of Defence.

The eviction is in direct violation of the Vietnam government’s agreement with Animals Asia, to develop a rescue centre on 12 hectares of the park that would permanently rehabilitate and house 200 endangered bears rescued from the illegal bear bile industry. The closure would see 104 rescued bears evicted, 77 Vietnamese staff made unemployed, and financial losses to Animals Asia of more than US$2 million.

Please overturn the decision to evict Animals Asia and honour your government’s agreement.

Step 2: Share this article on Facebook and Twitter

Step 3: Sign the Petition Below

Read more:

Considering a "humane" Christmas?

Christmas is a time of celebrations which means food, lots of food, most of which is derived from the suffering and death of animals. The following article focuses on this particular topic of animal welfare and human choice.

CCTV for All Abattoirs in Australia
With Christmas on the horizon, we will be doing lots of posts on Supermarket Facebook pages to encourage shoppers to avoid pork for Christmas (and always). The misery pigs endure for humans to eat roast pork and bacon just isn't worth it. Will you help support our posts when we need you to?