Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Cruelty-Free – More Info

October 12, 2007

Found this great blog on living cruelty-free. (Meaning no animal testing, not no animal products.) ThereBunny_3 are lots of informative articles and links. It seems L-Oreal is going cruelty-free now, too. — Although they own lots of other companies, including Maybelline, which I had been purchasing because it was designated cruelty-free. Parent companies make this whole thing very confusing. This post lists companies owned by L’Oreal, all of which will apparently be eliminating animal testing on their products. It will take 5-6 years before 100% of their products will be cruelty-free, but at least it sets a benchmark in the industry.

In related (though belated) news, the US Humane Society Recently honored American scientist Rodger Curren, who is the president and co-founder of the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS). The IIVS “works to promote the development, optimization, validation and acceptance of alternative (non-animal) testing and research methods.” They work with manufacturers throughout the country to demonstrate that non-animal methods of toxicity testing can give them the results they need in an efficient manner.

I’m still looking into the pet products issue. I think I’m getting some distorted info. More later…


My Favorite Parrot – R.I.P.

October 9, 2007

I was saddened to learn recently that Alex the African Grey Parrot passed away in September. At 31 he was almost as old as I am, and I had been under the illusion that Parrots lived to the wisened old age of say, the desert tortoise or that old turtle from that short story (what is it???) where the turtle stays with that rich family through three generations. They say the oldest known tortoise lived for 188 years. (Given to a royal family soon after its birth by Captain Cook in 1777. It died in 1965. Hm…does this sound like that story I can’t quite remember??) A koi was once documented as living to the ripe old age of 226.

Not Alex. Although African Greys can live to about 50, he was found dead on Sept 6th of “natural causes”. I’m going to repost an article I wrote a few years ago on Monet’s Lilies.

From: December 05, 2003

“If he really likes you, he’ll throw up into your ear…”

In the interesting Interview With A Parrot, we meet Alex, the African Grey parrot that speaks. Sounds basic enough. But this bird displays more than simple mimicry, and more than a learned response to specific stimuli (uttering the correct syllables for each presented object – i.e. “ball”). Alex apparently speaks with intent.


He is also, reportedly, able to count, distinguish objects by color, size, material, and texture, and even make comparative judgments such as “larger” or “smaller”. So far so good. Alex is interesting, right?

There’s more. He utters such phrases as “Wanna go back,” when he wishes to return to his perch or end a particular session. And more than continuing to learn, Alex has begun to teach. Or rather, he is being used to teach. When his fellow parrots observe Alex display a correct response, they learn markedly faster than when the response is
demonstrated by a human teacher.

Alex has stumped animal behaviorists and linguists alike. In fact, he’s challenged the current tenets of the neurological of language, which veers into the sticky what-really-separates-humans-from-animals debate.

Language development was long believed to be an evolutionary achievement of the advanced primate brain. (Chimps can, apes can, monkey’s can’t.) If Alex really can communicate with language, then it’s a product of much less gray matter than we ever imagined. Alex has a brain the size of a walnut.

Researchers lecturing on the current data supporting the uniquely primate origins of language, are reported to reluctantly add, “”Except…for that damn bird.”


Toiler Cleaner is Toilet Cleaner – Why it’s easy to be an activist about animal testing.

October 6, 2007

I’m n89bunnylogo_2ot going to over-sentimentalize this.

There will be no photos of emaciated kittens or doe-eyed puppies staring out from behind grimy metal bars. I’m also not going to go into medical testing on animals and debate whether animals lives have an equal value to our own, (i.e. is testing on monkeys justified when it brings a speedy and effective treatment for crippling and fatal human diseases?) These are big questions and they deserve to be considered. However, the cruelties I’m speaking of are being performed for a much baser purpose.

I’m talking tests on paint, toothpaste, food, clothing, deodorant, cleansers, and more. The tests blind, maim, and inflict painful and fatal diseases on the animals. In some cases the animals are forced to ingest large amounts of food and other substances, in others the animals are starved. Needless to say, little attention is given to anesthetics or the animal’s comfort, let alone the preservation of the animal’s life or any thought to the animal’s emotional and psychological suffering.

Sometimes the tests determine a product’s safety or efficacy. Many times tests are simply used to obtain more information about the product in an effort to find new ways to market it.

For example, juice companies have been found cutting open dogs to damage arteries, and then forcing the animals to ingest massive quantities of juice in an effort to quickly discover if the juice can be marketed as beneficial for people with heart disease. Or not. There may be no basis for hypothesis.

Let’s say Mr. Suit in an office somewhere gets an idea, calls a testing company and asks, “Can you find out if product X is safer than product Y?” They say, “Sure,” and go about inflicting massive doses of both products on two groups of animals until they show signs of injury, which are documented, and more doses are administered for more injuries, which are documented, until finally a dose is administered that causes death, which is documented. If product X did this to a slower or smaller degree than product Y, the X company may be able to use that to their advantage in their latest marketing campaign. Mr. Suit doesn’t think about how his results are gathered. He’s doing his job. His job is marketing. He’s a single cog in a mighty wheel where none of the cogs need look too closely at this one ugly aspect of things. After all, doesn’t everyone do it?

This is particularly difficult to accept when you realize that they could acquire the sames types of information without ever using animals at all. PETA has a wealth of information on the many alternatives to animal testing on their site called Caring Consumer, including this Fact Sheet: Alternatives:Testing Without Torture.

And plenty of companies use these alternative methods without a crippling effect on their productivity or profit margin. In fact, PETA and the US Humane Society both assert that many of these alternatives are actually less expensive than animal testing. There must be a host of reasons why companies continue these cruel and outdated testing methods, not the least of which must be a reluctance to organize and pay for the initial change, and human resistance to change in the first place. If it ain’t broke…

The idea that animal testing is “standard” practice only solidifies this complacency. Until public reaction to animal testing directly compromises a company’s sales, little change can be expected. One way to do this is to raise this issue to national awareness to the point where a company’s very brand identity, and reputation is marred. This is tougher than it sounds. The web helps, but national TV and radio ads would really do the trick yet, besides corporations and politicians, who can afford them?

A grassroots attack has the greatest hope of making a dent in these cruelties. Make small changes in your buying habits and favor companies that don’t test on animals. It’s nearly impossible to do this with 100% accuracy, and for right now that doesn’t matter. Just take the information you have, and act on it whenever you can.

It’s easy enough to tell the good guys from the bad. Several organizations, including PETA, have openly asked companies about their practices in regard to animal testing and keep a scrupulously updated list of companies that reject animal testing. Online lists can be found here. Other organizations keep lists, but most defer to the PETA list as the most comprehensive and up-to-date.

It’s not hard to buy accordingly. These are just a few of the companies that are totally free of animal testing:


For example, my absolutely favorite skin care company (thankfully!) has rejected animal testing since 1987. This hasn’t effected the quality of their products and, believe me, it hasn’t dented their profit.

On the other hand, I recently discovered the Philosophy product line. My mother had ordered the whole caboodle from TV – shampoos, conditioner, moisturizer, body scrub, facial mask, bubble bath, and more… I LOVE the conditioner. Running, sweating, and swimming all summer did a real number on my hair. While I was mildly pleased that my hair had returned to its childish straw-colored hue, I wasn’t so thrilled that it took on straw-texture as well. I’d been long resisting my hair stylist’s repeated attempts to bully me into a $50 moisturizing treatment that, she says while wistfully fingering the frayed ends, my hair desperately “needs!”

Then I discovered Philosophy’s Grace conditioner and started leaving it in overnight. Voila! My hair and I were happy, and we smelled great too. When I finished the bottle I wanted to verify their stance on animal testing before buying from them. Surely these were one of the good guys. They give a percentage of the sales from featured products to charities, they promote healthy living and a generous spirit. “Believe in Miracles” is their tagline!

An internet forum told me that their site stated it didn’t test its finished products on animals, but admitted that product ingredients had been animal tested.

When I visited the they had changed their tune a bit. The FAQ “does philosophy test on animals?” is answered summarily philosophy does not test our products on
anything other than a human being.”

Hm. Okay, sounds good. I emailed Philosophy, asking why they didn’t label their products “cruelty free” and what about what they said in that forum? They responded with this:

thank you for your recent inquiry regarding animal testing. please be assured we do not test
philosophy products on anything other than human beings; however, some ingredients that are universal in the cosmetics industry have been tested on animals at some point. due to this, no cosmetics company can state that its ingredients have never been animal tested. philosophy inc. is committed to
using alternatives to animal testing to insure the safety of our products.

please know i have forwarded your suggestion to state the products are
cruelty-free to our research and product development team for further consideration!
have a great day!

kind regards,

kate g.

No cosmetics company can state that its ingredients have never been animal tested? I’m going to miss that damn conditioner.

PETA publishes a cruelty-free pocket guide that you can order to keep with you Pam
while you shop. (Although it’s unclear why this banner has Pam Anderson sensually touching her lips…)

It’s really not difficult. I no longer buy Glad trash bags. The generic products in all Pathmark grocery stores are cruelty free, and I replace many purchases with those. And even with Philosophy – there are tons of good conditioners out there. I won’t miss it that much. That’s the thing, none of these companies produce
anything singular or irreplaceable. Toilet cleaner is toiler cleaner, eyeliner is eyeliner. You may have a preference, but you have a wealth of comparable products to choose from!

Sometimes I know I don’t want to buy from a certain company – say Lysol, but I’m unclear whether any of the other companies are also testing on animals. I just buy from a small company, or a generic product. I figure if I’m at least taking sales from the large company, which may in time be swayed to change its practices, this large company may set a precedent that others can follow. Especially when animal lovers switch back to the Lysol.

This does work. Combined with activist organizations that confront corporations directly and raise awareness on a much higher level, changes get made and fewer animals suffer as a result.

Recently, PETA prompted beverage companies to drop animal testing completely. Among the converts: Welch’s, Ocean Spray, POM Wonderful, and PepsiCo. Most recently, Coca-Cola fell in line.

PART TWO to come. Pet Food Companies that test on animals!


US Humane Society – Animal Welfare

Johns Hopkins Articles on Alternative to Animal Testing

A Few Sad Pictures… (you can easily google for thousands more)