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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Targeted guinea pig farm closes


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The Hall family said they would return to traditional farming
A farm that has been breeding guinea pigs for medical research for more than 30 years is to stop after intimidation by animal rights activists.

The family-run Darley Oaks Farm in Newchurch, Staffordshire, has been hit by a six-year campaign of abuse.

The owners and people connected with the firm have received death threats.

The family said they hoped the decision would prompt the return of the body of their relative Gladys Hammond, whose remains were stolen from a churchyard.


"I just feel so angry that these animal rights activists have won"
Rod Harvey, former farm supplier.


The remains were taken from her grave in nearby Yoxall in October.

Mrs Hammond, who was buried in St Peter's churchyard seven years ago, was the mother-in-law of Christopher Hall, part-owner of the farm.

In a statement, a close relative of Mrs Hammond, who declined to be named, said there was now no reason why her body could not be returned.

"Gladys was a relative of the Halls by marriage only and had no involvement in guinea pig breeding.Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

"She was a kind, gentle country lady who loved animals. She was also friendly, generous and loving and always put her family first."

'Fantastic day'

The Hall family have been subjected to hate mail, malicious phone calls, hoax bombs and arson attacks.

A spokeswoman for David Hall and Partners confirmed that the business, where several thousand guinea pigs are reared, was to stop breeding animals for medical research.

The Hall family is now expected to concentrate on the arable side of the business.

Gladys Hammond
The family hope that the remains of Gladys Hammond will be returned

Campaigners who have legitimately picketed the farm over recent years said they would continue their protest until the guinea pig breeding operation officially closed at the end of the year.

Johnny Holmes, a spokesman for Stop the Newchurch Guinea Pigs, said: "This is the most fantastic day of my life.

"It's a victory for the animals and it's a fundamental victory for the animal rights movement."

"Ideally, I wish they would close down today and hand them over. We want those guinea pigs out."

In a statement, the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI ) expressed its best wishes to the family and said their decision was "regrettable but understandable".

Director of the ABPI Philip Wright said guinea pigs had been essential in research into respiratory disease resulting in breakthroughs in the development of new medicines.

'Not a victory'

"The activities of a few animal rights extremists have placed impossible pressure on those going about their legitimate business," he said.

"While animal rights extremists are likely to be only one factor in the final decision, it does underline the need for greater protection of those individuals and companies targeted."

David Bird, from Staffordshire Police, told BBC Radio 4 it had been impossible to give complete protection because the campaign had been so widespread.

"We have had some success in dealing with those responsible. What I would say is that this closure is not a victory for anybody," he said.

Damaged sign"Photobucket - Video and Image HostingProtesters have used graffiti to get their message across

"This campaign has done absolutely nothing to further the cause of animal rights."

Rod Harvey supplied fuel to the farm and endured four years of abuse from activists before he was forced to cease trading with the Halls.

The 63-year-old businessman said he received threatening letters, including one accusing him of being a paedophile which was then sent to a number of people he knew.

"In December 2003 a brick came through the window of my front door, hitting my foot and cutting my hand," he said.

"In view of what they (the Hall family) and their staff have had to put up with I'm not surprised that they have stopped breeding guinea pigs.


(I just wish I could've been the one with the spray paint and a shovel. Factory farming is wrong in any sense. Raising animals just for food, medical research, or any other research is wrong. They are devoid of social interaction and love. Prison without a crime.)

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Snake 'befriends' snack hamster
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Snake and hamster sharing enclosure in Japanese zoo
Aochan, the snake 'seems to enjoy' being with Gohan, the hamster
A rodent-eating snake and a hamster have developed an unusual bond at a zoo in the Japanese capital, Tokyo.

Their relationship began in October last year, when zookeepers presented the hamster to the snake as a meal.

The rat snake, however, refused to eat the rodent. The two now share a cage, and the hamster sometimes falls asleep sitting on top of his natural foe.

"I have never seen anything like it," a zookeeper at the Mutsugoro Okoku zoo told the Associated Press News agency.

The hamster was initially offered to Aochan, the two-year-old rat snake, because it was refusing to eat frozen mice.

As a joke, the zookeeper said they named the hamster Gohan - the Japanese word for meal.

"I don't think there's any danger. Aochan seems to enjoy Gohan's company very much," said zookeeper Kazuya Yamamoto.

The apparent friendship between the snake and hamster is one of many reported bonds spanning the divide between predator and prey.


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Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Results to chew on

Summary of The "Hogwatch" Project at Lower Moss Wood, Cheshire, from a piece by Jill Key of Manchester Metropolitan University in The Rehabilitator newsletter; Spring 1997.

Following some earlier research by Dr Pat Morris, wildlife rehabilitators were worried that released hedgehogs may be doomed to a rapid death by starvation. Hogwatch began life in the autumn of 1992 with the aim of answering a very simple question: what happens to hedgehogs released from Lower Moss Wood in spring?

Hogwatch uses small radio-transmitters attached to the scruff of the neck to enable the hedgehog to be relocated after release. It has also begun to fit small plastic spool cases with thread to the rump of hedgehogs so that they leave a clear path of where they have been.

The idea is to keep track of the hedgehogs for as long as possible after their spring release. The transmitter locates the animal in its day nest and it is weighed, checked and its thread replenished. In the morning the spool line is mapped and the droppings are picked up. The droppings are for studying: wild hedgehog droppings were compared with those of released Hogs.

Between 1993 and 1995 a total of 22 radio-tagged hedgehogs were released. The fate of the 22 was mixed, but during the first months unfortunately most were lost track of. However three interesting discoveries have been made.

The first is that the weight loss experienced by released hedgehogs appears to be a transitory phenomenon. Typically there is a fall in weight immediately after release, followed by a rise to near or even above the pre-release weight. Day-to-day weight variations reflect time of weighing. Dr Morris found a similar trend in previous studies and suggests that the drop in weight is a result of the increased exercise a released hedgehog has. Also, obesity in released hedgehogs may improve their survival rate by cushioning them against starvation while they re-adjust.

The second is that the wood where the hedgehogs were released was not favoured by the hedgehogs. All the Hogs tracked for some time ended up living in rural villages, nesting under sheds or compost heaps, or sometimes in farm barns and outhouses. The suburban/rural garden appears to offer the hedgehog an ideal habitat, providing food and refuge. Surveys have found that wandering from release sights is common however.

The third discovery was made by Andrew Routh, the Vet. The teeth of hedgehogs pre-release tended to be in a poor state, with a lot of plaque and often gingivitis as well. Could this be due to months on a diet of soft cat food? From the limited data collected, it seemed that wild Hogs ate more beetles than released ones: perhaps because of sore gums and poor teeth in rehabilitated Hogs. Hogwatch looked at admixing an abrasive substance with cat food to keep mouths healthy. The additives that seemed most suitable were: ground egg shells, coir (non-peat compost) and monkey nuts. Whether a diet of cat food mixed with one of these keeps teeth and gums healthy remains to be seen.


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Wednesday, December 20, 2006
A Tribute to My beautiful mouse Radish
Radish was the first mouse picked out by Jeremy to give me for Valentines day. I remember the day I got him, his lovely red eyes sparkled and reminded me of little radishes, so he was given the name Radish. He was bigger then Coal mouse and Moo mouse. Moo passed away last February. Radish was left with the task of caring for the little Coal mouse. Radish doted on him and always protected Coal. He groomed him and kept him warm by always snuggling into him. Radish was self-less right to the end. On Monday night I discovered a lump on Radishes belly and things went bad fast. His breathing was labored, and his eyes were crusted over, his beautiful eyes could not be seen for the cancer was taking him over. I stayed by him leaving only to go to work. I hoped and prayed that he would pass peacefully at home. Sadly he did not.

Today at 3PM, Jeremy and I brought Radish and Coal to the emergency animal hospital. The doctor discovered several more lumps on Radishes little tummy. Antibiotics could help his eyes, but the cancer was eating him alive and he was crying. I could not let my son suffer. His cries were silenced today so his soul could fly. My baby did not deserve to feel pain. He was loving and loyal to the end and I only wish humanity could be as caring and selfless as he was. My little Radish, I hope you have found Moo and are having a blast.

Radish will be buried tomorrow next to Moo. Radishes favorite wheel will be buried with him. He will spend his first night in the afterlife with us, so as not to be afraid. I love you my little Radish and I will see you again.



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Monday, December 18, 2006
Vivisection Facts
"The philosophy behind vivisection, the sacrifice of creatures we regard as 'inferior' beings, differs little from that behind the concentration camp or the slave trader." Aga Khan (Prince Sadruddin) - 1933


A number count

As most governements do not require a complete figure of all animals used in experiments there is no exact number of animals used in experiments. Estimates variate from 20 to 70 million.

These are the numbers for the animals that where counted:
warm-blooded vertebrate animals used in science a year in the US is 28 million (where 18 million are killed for research).
In Canada this is 1.66 million, in the Netherlands 0.73 million.

The vast majority of the animals used (around 90%) are rats and mice specifically bred for the purpose of laboratory research.

Because rodents are not protected under current provisions of the Animal Welfare Act, specific accounting of the numbers that are used are not required by law. As a result, there is no way to know conclusively just how many millions suffer and die each year in publicly and privately funded research. Long ago, rodents became favored "laboratory" animals, not because there were compelling scientific reasons to do so, but rather for reasons of space, economy and convenience. Rodents are small animals, and more of them can be housed in a laboratory than larger animals, such as cats, dogs or monkeys. They also breed faster, and are less expensive to purchase and maintain.

About Vivisecton


Vivisection is the practice of cutting into or using invasive techniques on live animals.
The term is derived from the Latin word vivus, which means alive.
Vivisection is commonly called animal experimentation and includes the use of animals for research, product testing and in education.

Animal testing is the process in which animals are used to test the safety of cosmetics, personal care and household products.
In this form of testing, animals are forced to ingest harmful substances, or have those substances placed on their exposed skin or in their eyes.
Animal testing is conducted by companies (and by laboratories hired by those companies) on both ingredients and final products.

Alternatives to vivisection

Because of advancements in modern technology, there are safe and reliable (often more reliable, quicker and cost-effective) methods of testing products that do not need to experiment on animals while assuring the safety and well-being of the public.

Examples of alternatives are computer and mathematical models to the use of human volunteers. In vitro tests include ones that use cell or tissue cultures, such as artificial test skin derived from human foreskin. Chemical tests include the Neutral Red Bioassay that uses a neutral red, water-soluble dye that is added to normal skin cells in a tissue culture plate, and a computer measurement of the level of uptake of the dye by the cells is used to indicate the relative toxicity.


For further research please visit these sites:

http://www.navs.org/site/PageServer?pagename=index (National Anti-Vivisection Society)

http://www.aavs.org/home.html (American Anti-Vivisection Society)

http://www.neavs.org/ (New England Anti-Vivisection Society)

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Friday, December 15, 2006
Global warming claims another Hedgehog
I am tired of the inability of this government and others to seriously address the issue of global warming. It is not until it affects the human species that anything major will be conducted. In the meantime our beautiful hedgehog neighbors in the UK are added to the list of causalities consumed by humans decadence. I sometimes feel the human race is like a plague destined to wipe out all the world.

The hedgehogs that could find themselves in trouble this winter are known as autumn juveniles, ones that are old enough to be away from their mothers but too small to hibernate.

The season for these youngsters can start as early as September and is busiest through until the end of November but the present warmer conditions can confuse hedgehogs into thinking its still breeding time and too early to hibernate.

As a result young hedgehogs could suddenly face winter temperatures but not be in strong enough condition to last through hibernation.

Concern is now mounting about the effects of climate change amongst the members of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, dedicated to helping and caring for these native UK animals or to give them their official latin name, Erinaceus europaeus.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006
Fight at the local pet store
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Gerber helping mom go to war against the desensitized youth.

Well the other day was quite an adventure and another rude awakening to humanities cruelty. Me and my husband were at a pet store, close to our home, hoping to see the new batch of baby mice born. We were gazing at them and watching them play, when behind us I tuned into the conversation of a group of kids. They were purchasing an Egyptian Spiny Mouse. Now that would normally not be a bad thing but it was what they were planning to do with it that sent me over the edge. The boys were exclaiming loudly about their plan to use the mouse in a practical joke in order to scare one of their friends. They planned to throw it out after they were done and no one else around me said anything to them about the moral evil they were committing. "Here I come to save the day!!" I thought. So I picked a fight with one of the guys not really realizing the height difference between us. I was a little outmatched but I screamed and howled at the group about life and the preciousness of every little creature. I tried my best to help their desensitized little brains into realizing these tiny animals would feel fear, could cry and be sad. My husband dragged me from the store and I am not sure if I had any affect on the a$$ holes, but I knew then, most people really don't care. Those little babies are nothing more then objects, not living and breathing. I am going to change that, even if I have to fight every punk in this dragged down city.



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