Ringling Bros. Ending Elephant Acts, Moving them to Florida

Categories: Animal Planet

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via Shutterstock.com
In a major shift on how it conducts its entertainment business, Feld Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey announced on Thursday that they will remove Asian elephants from their traveling circus performances. The plan is to have Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to phase elephants out of their shows entirely by 2018.

Part of that plan includes having 13 elephants currently traveling with the three circus units will be relocated to the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant for Conservation in Florida where they'll will join the rest of the Ringling Bros. herd of more than 40 elephants.

It's a big victory for animal rights activists who have for years been fighting the company with protests and petitions to remove the elephants from performing and traveling with the show.

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Florida Greyhound Association's Claims About Decoupling Are False, Says Greyhound Advocate (UPDATED)

Categories: Animal Planet

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Photo by AngMoKio via Wikipedia Commons

Update: Reached for comment by New Times, David Bishop, who does media outreach for the Florida Greyhound Association, has responded to Theil's comments.

"The Florida Greyhound Association fully supports reporting at-track injuries and deaths, but this is more than just gathering numbers," Bishop says. "We want conditions at the tracks improved to actually prevent injuries. The Florida Legislature should do more than just gather data to make it safer for the dogs at the tracks. Grey2K's agenda is to end greyhound racing. The fact that they support decoupling proves our case that, if passed, greyhound racing will end, three thousand jobs will be lost, and 13 pari-mutuel facilities will be converted into casinos."

Original post: Last week it was announced that Grey2K, USA, with the help of The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Coral Springs Rep. Jared Moskowitz, would restart the fight to have greyhound racing decoupling in race tracks and casinos throughout the state.

But the Florida Greyhound Association has decided to fight back, claiming that decoupling would not only be costly to the state, but also increase gambling. The FGA also has said that decouplng would harm greyhounds, saying that Grey2K and other advocates have no real plan to take care of the dogs should they be released from their respective race tracks.

Carey Theil, Executive Director of Grey2K USA Worldwide, says the claims being made by the FGA are just plain false.

"The FGA has a right to fight for the continuation of dog racing," Theil says. "They do not have the right, however, to simply make things up."

See also: Fight to End Greyhound Racing in Florida is Back On


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Court to Review Lolita Case on March 24

Categories: Animal Planet

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Photo Credit: George Martinez/gmartnx.com
UPDATE: Though the 11th Circuit Court is based in Atlanta, Lolita's court case will be reviewed at 9 a.m. at the court's satellite location in Miami at the James Lawrence King Federal Justice Building in downtown.

On March 24, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal will consider the Animal Legal Defense Fund's (ALDF) lawsuit regarding the captivity of Lolita, the orca exhibited at Miami Seaquarium.

In the years leading up to the suit, numerous animal-rights activists contacted the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to express their concern that Lolita the killer whale was kept in inhumane conditions at Seaquarium.

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Florida Fish And Wildlife Wants to Give You Prizes for Catching Invasive Fish

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Photo by Jens Petersen via Wikipedia Commons
Come at me, bro.

Invasive species is something of an issue in Florida. From lion fish, to giant African land snails, to the Burmese Python -- animals that are not native to our state have managed to ensconce themselves into the ecosystem, and effectively start screwing things up.

But the Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission has come up with a plan to encourage people to help them get a sense of what non-Floridians creatures may be out there, wreaking havoc in our waters. As part of National Invasive Species Awareness Week later this month, the FWC has announced a special contest that'll get people involved in helping them with this ongoing problem.

See also: Florida's Seven Most Invasive Species


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You Can Bet on Shark Racing Starting Next Month

Categories: Animal Planet

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Mark Conlin, SWFSC Large Pelagics Program via Wikimedia Commons
Horse racing is for the weak!
Sharks are sort of a way of life 'round these parts. So it only makes sense that we start betting on them like people do horses at Gulf Stream. Except instead of going home angry and broke and cursing your horse's jockey, you're doing some good and helping some scientists learn more about sharks along the way.

Nova Southeastern University, the Guy Harvey Research Institute, and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation are putting on a shark race next month, and they're inviting you to place your bets.

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Lolita the Orca's Freedom Facing Several Challenges

Categories: Animal Planet

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Photo by George Martinez
Protesters march for Lolita at Virginia Key Beach Park.
Earlier this month, the federal government classified Lolita the orca as endangered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), sending ripples across animal activists and whale lovers the world over. This meant that the orca, who has been captive and performing twice a day at the Miami Seaquarium since 1970, was one step away from her freedom.

But it's not quite that simple. Several factors could derail those plans.

The moving of Lolita offers several challenges, starting with the Seaquarium. And while advocates are pressuring the park to set the orca free, NOAA would have to declare Lolita a candidate for release, something that may prove tough.

See also: Lolita the Orca Classified as Endangered; Groups May Now Sue to Force Her Release


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Fight to End Greyhound Racing in Florida is Back On

Categories: Animal Planet

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via Wikimedia Commons
After falling painfully short of passing a bill that could have ended greyhound racing in Florida last year, advocates for the racing dogs have come back for another round, this time armed with a new study that reminds everyone of the cruelty these animals endure when forced to race.

Grey2K USA along with The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) (ASPCA) released the first-ever national report on greyhound racing in the U.S.

Florida remains one of seven states that still has greyhound racing, including Broward County's Mardi Gras Casino. Florida law states that gambling is allowed only at facilities that offer racing. So tracks keep greyhound racing so they can offer lucrative slots and poker, even though the tracks lose money on dog racing, and injuries are common. Decoupling would allow gambling without the dog races.

See also: Florida Greyhound Deaths: 131 Dogs Killed Last Year at State Tracks

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Animal Rights Activists: "Miami Seaquarium Needs to Be Torn Down"

Categories: Animal Planet

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George Martinez/gmartnx.com

The Miami Seaquarium, one of the nation's oldest marine mammal parks, is bracing for a hurricane. A tirade of condemnation is now raining down from thousands of animal rights' activists who want the iconic Florida landmark shut down. They believe the park is exploiting captive animal performers -- some of them endangered -- in less-than-adequate conditions for profit.

See also: March For Lolita at Virginia Key Beach Park (Photos)


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Lolita the Orca Classified as Endangered; Groups May Now Sue to Force Her Release

Categories: Animal Planet

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George Martinez/gmartnx.com
The Magic City's biggest star, Lolita the orca at the Miami Seaquarium, has been entertaining crowds of tourists and locals with her incredible splash for more than 40 years. Today, Lolita, one of the oldest living orcas in captivity, has come one step closer to swimming out of the limelight and -- maybe -- into the open ocean, because NOAA Fisheries has just declared her as endangered.

Since 2005, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) specified that its protections of Southern Resident killer whales (which Lolita is a part of) did not apply to killer whales that were captive. However, in 2013, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) submitted a strongly worded petition in unison with the Orca Network and the Animal Legal Defense Fund to NOAA Fisheries, urging that the government agency amend its listing of Southern Resident killer whales, of which there are less than 80 in the world, to include Lolita.

See also: March For Lolita at Virginia Key Beach Park (Photos)


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Black Bear Hunting Might Be Allowed in Florida

Categories: Animal Planet

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FWC via wikimedia commons
Black bears make the news in Florida often, mostly because our residential areas are built around where they live and garbage cans smell like food. Whether it be something funny like a bear taking a nap in someone's lanai or something not-so-funny, like a black bear attacking someone, the animals have been known to have human interaction far more frequently than most would wish.

So what's the solution? Well, if the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission votes a certain way, it's to allow people to hunt for the black bears.

On Wednesday, the FWC will be discussing and voting on black bear management policies, such as no-feeding rules and mandatory use of bear-proof garbage cans. But another solution on the docket will be whether to allow for bear hunts.

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