Jul 082016

Sea Shepherd Global’s New Patrol Vessel.

With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Sea Shepherd Global has launched its latest weapon in the battle to protect the world’s oceans; the new patrol vessel, Ocean Warrior.
After 18 months of construction by Dutch shipbuilding company, Damen, Ocean Warrior was lowered into the waters of Antalya Harbour in Turkey last Friday.

“This is a momentous day for Sea Shepherd, and for all of our supporters, and a bad day for poachers,” said CEO of Sea Shepherd Global, Captain Alex Cornelissen.

“The launch of the Ocean Warrior marks a new era for our organisation, as we now have a ship with the speed and capabilities to match the fastest poaching vessels in the world.”

Purchased thanks to the support and generosity of the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the People’s Postcode Lottery in the United Kingdom and the Svenska Postkod Stiftelsen in Sweden, Ocean Warrior is now the fifth vessel in Sea Shepherd Global’s current fleet of conservation ships, and the fifteenth in the organisation’s history.

Geert Vons, Director of Sea Shepherd Netherlands, said,

“We are extremely grateful to the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the People’s Postcode Lottery and the Svenska Postkod Stiftelsen for their generosity, which has enabled us to build the Ocean Warrior. This new vessel will provide our crews with a huge advantage on the high-seas, increasing our capacity to defend precious wildlife in our oceans.”

Ocean Warrior will make its maiden voyage this September, when the ship sails to Amsterdam under the command of Captain Cornelissen. However, details about the ship’s first official anti-poaching campaign remain under-wraps.

“We can not reveal details about the Ocean Warrior’s activities beyond Amsterdam as yet. However, we are confident that our supporters will be very pleased with a campaign announcement that we have coming up in the next few months,” said Cornelissen.

Sea Shepherd were instrumental in protecting wildlife including seals in the Gardenstown area in the past, and continue to be interested and active in North East Scotland.

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Apr 292016

Keith Marley (right) finds a home for ‘Jock’ the marmoset.

By Keith Marley.

Well done Aberdeenshire Council! Today, what little assistance you give to local charities was withdrawn. Today you implemented the changes governing charity shops which gave them a ‘discretionary’ 20% relief on their rates. Dated 20/04/16, the letter we received today informed us that as from 01/04/16 charity shops will no longer receive the discretionary 20% discretionary ‘top up’.

For the 30 charity shops in the Aberdeenshire Council area this means the council will raise an additional £32,650.00 in revenue from these good causes.

This was agreed by the Councils Policy and Resources committee last year at a meeting which also approved the previous year’s totals for expenditure and financing of £147,876,000 and £66,648,000. The same meeting which gave the nod to approve the purchase of winter salt supplies for the next 3 years totalling some £8,000,000.00.

But obviously charity shops and the charities they support have been scrutinised and obviously found to be not paying their fair share.

With 3 shops and a store The New Arc represents almost 10% of this additional revenue….or as we see it, ‘penalty’. The fact that the charity gets calls from various council departments seeking advice and practical help with wildlife and domestic pets doesn’t cost the council anything. The work placements we provide for school leavers doesn’t cost the council anything.

The assistance we give with council funded projects, back to work schemes, mental health schemes, young (and old) offenders, disadvantaged kids, college placements, school talks etc. doesn’t cost the council anything.

The fact that these 30 charity shops mainly occupy what would otherwise be long term empty buildings DOES provide money to the regional council. The fact that these shops pay the full rate for their insurance, water rates, rubbish bins, electricity just the same as any other business DOES provide income to the local economy.

The fact that some of these shops also employ staff, full time and part time DOES mean we are contributing to the local economy. The fact that these shops are in many cases a necessity for low income and unemployed families DOES make a difference.

Many of these shops run at a very low profit margin and along with the new minimum wage, provision of pension schemes and these additional costs their future may well be in doubt.

The closure of any of these charity shops means a knock on effect which will have repercussions on the charity itself meaning withdrawal of services, reduced capacity, and ultimately it is the council itself that will have to find the funds to provide the services which charities currently do for free.

False economy?

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Jan 212016

Sea Shepherd Operation Icefish2With thanks to Michelle Mossfield, Media Director, Sea Shepherd Global

Sea Shepherd’s Flagship, the Steve Irwin, has departed Fremantle, Western Australia for the Southern Ocean. The ship’s departure marks the official commencement of the organization’s 12th Southern Ocean Defense Campaign, Operation Icefish 2015-16.

Led by returning Captain, Siddharth Chakravarty, Sea Shepherd will once again defend the pristine waters of Antarctica from poachers, with the aim to shutdown illegal activities in what is the world’s last great wilderness.

Sea Shepherd will employ direct-action techniques to fill a law enforcement void that continues to be exploited by the Japanese whale poaching fleet and the two remaining illegal toothfish vessels, Viking and Kunlun (Taishan), which continue to threaten the survival of the fragile and wild Antarctic ecosystem.

Captain Chakravarty commented:

“The Steve Irwin will be the only proactive enforcement presence in Antarctica once again this year. The shadowlands of Antarctica are under threat and we are the only form of protection to the marine wildlife in these unregulated regions. Other than offering direct and immediate protection to the oceans, we intend to investigate and document the illegalities and work with law-enforcement agencies, once again, to aid and close out existing investigations worldwide,”

As Captain Chakravarty and the crew of the Steve Irwin depart for the Southern Ocean, Sea Shepherd has called on the governments who are responsible for upholding the laws that protect the Southern Ocean to intervene against these poaching operations.

“Sea Shepherd should not be left to defend Antarctica alone,” said Captain Alex Cornelissen, CEO of Sea Shepherd Global.

“For the last 13 years our ships and crews have shone an international spotlight on both the illegal whaling and more recently on the illegal toothfish operations. Now it’s time for governments to step-up and take serious action to address the issue of poaching in the Southern Ocean.”

Managing Director of Sea Shepherd Australia, Jeff Hansen, said,

“Sea Shepherd needs reinforcements. 76.9% of Australians want the Australian government to send a vessel to oppose the Japanese whale poaching fleet. Australia has been commended for taking Japan to the ICJ, but now the government needs to take responsibility for enforcement by sending a ship to oppose the whale poachers.”

Sea Shepherd Global:

Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations. For more information, visit: http://www.seashepherdglobal.org/

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Jan 212016

Cetacean Rescue Unit1With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

The Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit based in Gardenstown has helped area cetaceans for 19 years now; and it is in urgent need of funds.  The CRRU is dedicated to the understanding, welfare and protection of whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) and the marine environment they live in.

The CRRU is a small non-profit research organisation based in northeast Scotland working for the conservation and protection of whales, dolphins and porpoises in Scottish waters through scientific investigation, environmental education and the provision of a 24 hour veterinary service for sick, injured and stranded individuals. Conservation and protection are the CRRU’s priorities.

Conducting advanced training courses in marine wildlife rescue, the CRRU also operates the only specialist response team in Scotland for live-stranded whales and dolphins. The fully-equipped team (scientists, veterinarians and qualified volunteers) are skilled and experienced to act and advise at the scene of a stranding with first aid, veterinary treatment and re-floatation procedures as required.

More information and photos of its work can be found on its Facebook page.

Dr Kevin Robinson of the Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit is currently appealing for funds for much-needed new vessels; the existing ones are some 12 years old.  The link to donate is here: https://mydonate.bt.com/events/boatappeal/278471#

Dr Robinson said:

“Our present vessels (Ketos and Orca II) have been working tirelessly for over 12 years now, and are now on their last legs and proving too small for
working conditions and too expensive to maintain at this time. The larger, replacement boat sought by the charity will not only have the additional space needed for a larger crew and all our research, rescue and veterinary equipment, but most of all will be reliable and safe for the teams working in often inclement conditions.”

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Dec 032015

Inside Fur screen2With thanks to Flo Blackbourn.

International animal rights organisation, Animal Justice Project, is hosting a Nationwide tour of award-winning premiere documentary, Inside Fur, which takes viewers undercover inside the secretive fur industry in Norway and China.
On 8th December 2015 at 7pm the film premieres at A19, Taylor Building, University of Aberdeen.

The 57 min. documentary directed by Norwegian film director, Ola Waagen, follows the work of undercover investigator and psychologist, Frank Nervik, as he goes deep undercover to dupe fur farmers into believing he is entering the industry to farm animals for their skins.

Nervick reveals harrowing, never-seen-before footage using covert cameras in both Norway – one of the largest fur producing countries in the world – and China, the number one fur producer.

Major fur export markets include China, Russia, Canada, and the EU. Norway is a major fox fur producer, along with Finland and Poland. Skins from these countries are sold under the Saga brand through the Saga Furs auctions. The UK, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Croatia, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany and Italy are among the countries that have banned parts of or their entire fur industry, though these countries still allow imports.

The European Fur Breeders Association (EFBA) has an affiliated national fur breeder association in Norway, as well as Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

Norway’s controversial fur industry – which involves over 200 fox and mink farms – has been exposed by several leading animal protection organisations in the country, revealing numerous and severe violations of the law, as well as wounded and suffering animals. State authorities in Norway have stated that there is ‘shocking’ evidence of animal abuse.

In May 2015, the Norwegian government announced that it would slash financial support to the industry and, this month, over 7,000 Norwegians took the streets in Europe’s largest anti-fur event to call for a ban on fur farming. The Government is now considering banning fur altogether following this event and the launch of a groundbreaking report on the industry.

Fur is currently a hot topic in Britain also, and the film tour follows closely an airing of the investigatory BBC1 television program ‘Fake Britain’, which exposes well-known high street shops such as TK Maxx and House of Fraser, to be selling real mink, raccoon, raccoon-dog and weasel fur fraudulently labeled as ‘Faux’.

Animal Justice Project Spokesperson, Flo Blackbourn states:

“This film, Inside Fur, is very relevant right now, as we are entering the season in which fur trim and the occasional fur coat are increasingly seen on the high street. This film is important viewing for anyone who has an interest in animals and the fashion industry, as it exposes the truth of the fur industry and the immense cruelty involved.”

Animal Justice Project is an international organisation working in Europe and the United States to end the use of animals in laboratory research and other forms of speciesism.

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Dec 032015

deershotfeat2With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Recent figures obtained under Freedom of Information show how a controversial, unpopular cull of deer on Tullos Hill has spread to city wide persecution of roe deer. Despite claiming the cull will reduce traffic accidents involving deer the City Council refused to provide data to back its claim that deer cause a road accident every week.

The information which has been released shows that since 2011 Aberdeen City Council has spent £28,930 on shooting deer.

The City initially started the cull on Tullos Hill, the former waste tip where the City is attempting to establish a large forest.

Government reports suggest that due to the poor soil matrix it is unlikely trees will thrive on Tullos Hill. Those that do reach any height may be blown over due to the lack of deep, firm soil to support tree roots.

Aberdeen City Council pressed ahead with this scheme ignoring the huge public outcry over the deer cull and despite losing £43,800 when a previous tree planting project on the Hill failed. Deer and weeds were blamed for that failure. Today weeds tower over many of the new saplings and the City has been given a list by the Forestry Commission of numerous ways the plantation is failing.

The deer cull was as unpopular as it was deemed unnecessary. The City refused to listen to free, expert advice on how to have trees as well as deer on the Hill. Instead hired marksmen were used. Astonishingly no signs were erected to warn that high powered rifles were being used. The City promised that signs warning of ‘forestry operations in progress‘ would be replaced by signs clearly warning recreational users of Tullos Hill that shooting was taking place.

Visitors to Tullos have seen no such signs erected during these past five years. A new FOI request will try to ascertain what, if any, warning signs were produced and where they were placed.

The Roe deer, which seldom live longer than 6 or 7 years in the wild, were a popular attraction for visitors to Tullos Hill.

The City recently told its Housing & Environment Committee that a deer a week was involved in a road accident in Aberdeen. Information obtained by campaigners did not support this figure. Repeated requests for their raw data have been ignored by the City and the Chief Executive.

Campaign spokesperson Suzanne Kelly addressed the Housing Committee’s last meeting and was given an assurance that there would be no further culling until both humane alternatives and a proper count of remaining deer took place. The last SNH count came up with about 20 animals.

Across the City huge scale building projects have removed habitat from deer and other animals. Campaigners expect that there would be a spike in fatalities, not least because the City is only now agreeing to put up signs. Peter Leonard, a City official who backs the cull and tree planting scheme told Kelly in an email that once land is sold for development the fate of the deer is no longer the City’s concern.

Kelly said:

“The cavalier attitude to wasting money on a doomed scheme and to killing animals needlessly has to change. The City’s policy has been to shoot and ignore non-lethal options since Liberal Democrat Aileen Malone first pushed this scheme through when she headed the Housing Committee. At the time she actually asked residents to raise over £200,000 for fencing – or the deer would be shot. 

“The small number of people who pushed this scheme seem to me to be motivated by many factors such as political point scoring and saving face – but none of the people insisting deer must be culled or Tullos must be a forest seem motivated by the wishes of taxpayers or the needs of the animals already here. The SNH guidelines they invoke are just that – this city got along just fine without needless culling. 

“I am glad that we have assurances that there will be proper scrutiny of this expensive, wasteful, cruel policy before any more damage is done. The city’s officers relied on figures about road accidents they are unwilling to share – could this be because of inaccuracies in the reporting? 

“If there were that many accidents, and the city erected no signs, no fences, no non-lethal deterrents to these accidents, then I consider them culpable in injuries to animals and culpable for the accidents as well.”

Further information – FOI request – https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/cost_and_scope_of_deer_culling_f

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Nov 192015

Sid and Laura smallWith thanks to Gemma Setter, Tricker PR.

Local Not for Profit organisation Aberdeen Riding Club is seeking the support of the local community to help fund a new home for 32 horses and ponies.

The campaign is led by Sid the horse who was voted the STV and RBS Animal Hero of the Year in 2014-15.

Sid and his chums need to relocate after their fields and stables were released for development for a new housing complex in Miltimber.

Sally McCarthy Director of Aberdeen Riding Club which is home to Sid said:

“Sid is a local and national hero and I really hope that the local community will get behind the campaign to help fund a new home for Sid and his friends. Sid won the Animal Hero of the Year because of his great work for the Riding for the Disabled (RDA) and he has taught in excess of 5000 local people to ride both in the riding school and with RDA over the last twelve years.

“Aberdeen Riding Club is a Not for Profit organisation that makes riding accessible for local people – particularly those that don’t have their own horse as we have a large riding school which is often the only access non-horse owning riders get to their sport.

“We also host Riding for the Disabled, a local Hippotherapy group, train the RGU riding club and offer subsidised riding and therapeutic riding for local people that would not normally have access to this. Our main aim is to improve the lives of local people by providing them with the opportunity to benefit from a rewarding relationship with horses.”

The ethos of Aberdeen Riding Club is to make good quality, affordable riding accessible to all. The move is being necessitated because of a development of the land currently leased by Aberdeen Riding Club.

Sally McCarthy explained the impact of this:

“Development of the local area is good for business and communities and we will forever be supportive of our current landlords and their development of the land at Oldfold. We hope however that there is enough local support for us to continue to provide our much needed service. We have worked hard to source a location within the city boundaries and now we need to raise £300,000 to facilitate this move.

“The new location is in Anguston, on the edge of Peterculter and Drumoak and will be an ideal home for Sid and his friends with 115 acres of grazing. Aberdeen Riding Club has achieved planning permission for the new centre and has secured a 25 year lease on the site. Sid is one of the longest residents of Aberdeen Riding Club, and his gentle, loving nature makes him perfect for disabled riders and people learning to ride.

“He is the equine boss of the yard and loves nothing better than rolling in the sand of the outdoor arena in his spare time. Sid particularly loves carrots and mints and likes to beg for them by lifting up his front leg like a dog. He will reward anyone giving him his favourite treat with a loving nuzzle.

“Every week Sid works with 10 disabled riders and his youngest rider is only 4 years of age. He also helps with teaching people about horses and he lets himself be covered with sticky labels detailing the anatomy of horses. In his younger days he was a slightly wild horse, but now he likes to take it easy and look after his riders. He is such a trustworthy horse with disabled riders that he has become irreplaceable.

“The campaign to fund a new home for Sid and Chums begins in earnest this week and local people are invited to donate to the cause by visiting Aberdeen Riding Club webpage and pressing the donate button. More information on our fundraising efforts and what the funds will be used towards is available on our website.”

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Oct 012015

Old Susannah makes a silk purse out of a sow’s ear with some timely political definitions. By Suzanne Kelly

Dictionary‘In a Pig’s Ear’, I thought upon hearing a recent piece of political gossip; ‘Someone’s telling porkies’. The story put a look on my face akin to the look worn by Milliband  in this photo from August.

Perhaps the tail in question, no doubt circulated by some squealer or other, was actually about the MP Richard Bacon? Perhaps a politician with their nose in the trough was behind the rumour? Doubtless some sow-and-sow was hamming it up to give us all a good ribbing. Truly, I never sausage a strange series of news headlines as those that were trotted out last week.

But it was true; Jeremy Corbyn is now Labour Leader.

Think of all that hard work that Tony Blair accomplished in modernising and improving Labour. What if it were all for nowt? All that creative writing that got the dodgy dossier ‘sexed up’ (not in the David Cameron sense of course)? What if we hadn’t got rid of Sadaam Hussein? What if Tony hadn’t been the Middle East Peace Envoy and had restored the balance of power we’re seeing the benefits of now?

No, Corbyn and his crazy ideas have to go.

Aside from worrying about someone who wants people earning decent wages, who wants to home these pesky immigrants/refugees, who wants to prevent nuclear war, it was a good week. I had a few lovely drinks down at Café 52 during the warm weather; and a few drinks in BrewDog. The BrewDog Jackhammer margarita remains my favourite beer cocktail, but Krakatoa has the tiki cocktail supremacy in Aberdeen sewn up.

My last cocktail there was a practically fluorescent purple delight, delicately flavoured with violets. As I can’t remember the name of it off hand, I’ll just have to go back and try some more of them. Nicely done Flash.

Under the Hammer has some of my artwork on show with the wonderful paintings of Neale Bothwell and some amazing prints from Graham, legendary contributor to Viz Magazine. His Black Bag, Faithful Borders Binliner’s escapades are on display and available as a limited print. Result!

But I digress. This Corbyn business has to be nipped in the bud. Here are a few timely definitions to show why there’s no room in Left Wing politics for a man who’s clearly Left Wing.

Trident: (Modern English Compound Noun) United States nuclear weaponry deployment system kindly gifted to a grateful UK and its taxpayers, keeping us safe from harm.

It was quite a political party for Labour in Brighton. According to the BBC Corbyn doesn’t like nuclear weapons:

“no way that he [Corbyn] would ever use nuclear weapons because they are “immoral”.”

Clearly someone who is so naive cannot be trusted to blow the bad guys up when it comes down to it. Now that they know that, they’ll be able to destroy the world before the West gets a chance to. Alas! We’ve simply got to win the last war, don’t we?

Some champion of the working man Corbyn proves to be – doesn’t he know lots of people work on Trident? What’s more important, making people retrain into other lines of work, or ensuring we can end the world? Keep those Trident jobs going; I hope the men and women who earn their living by ensuring our tax pounds are diverted from the NHS, welfare and education for this gangbuster guarantee of safety are as proud of what they do as I am proud of them.

Trident is a bargain at twice the price; first, we get to keep that ‘Special Relationship’ going with the USA. Makes me warm just thinking of that time Thatcher danced with Ronald Reagan. Secondly, it’s great at keeping us safe (even if those Russian jets which keep flying over England don’t realise it). Third – just think of the economic benefit.

There are over 500 civilians in Scotland employed because of Trident! Result!  What’s more important, ethics and the world’s ecological health and species survival, or economics? I don’t think I need to spell it out any more than that. Further, our defence budget is around 30 billion or so (at least that we know about), and you’ve got to keep that growing. There may be a time for beating swords into ploughshares in the future. This ain’t it.

Foreign Policy: (English Compound Noun) strategies and values applied to international diplomacy.

You’d think the guy would have learned a thing or two from Brown or Blair, but apparently not. Here’s what Corbyn has to say about foreign policy:

“I argue for a different type of foreign policy based on political and not military solutions; on genuine internationalism that recognises that all human life is precious, no matter what nationality; and solidarity with the oppressed across the globe from the subjugated Palestinians to the displaced Chagos Islanders.” http://jeremycorbyn.org.uk/priorities/peace/

Again, there is this childish idealism that the left should actually have something to do with left wing, socialist values and human rights. He should have been disabused of this idea at one of Labour’s long ago Brighton conventions. A terrorist named Walter Wolfgang (yes, I did write about him once before) was removed from the room for interrupting proceedings under the newly created Blair-framed terrorism act.

In point of fact, the ever trustworthy Jack Straw was apparently speaking at the time, telling us why we needed to bomb Iraq. For whatever reason, Wolfgang disagreed. Of course this heckler was a life-long Labour supporter, who in his advancing 80 years must have lost the plot and thought criticising Blair was still allowed. The arrest threat was dropped, but at least we taught this dangerous terrorist a good lesson.

What Corbyn needs is a profile and popularity boost, and nothing says popular like invading the Falklands or Iraq. Hope he’s got a good war up his sleeve somewhere. After all, at first we all trusted Tony ‘Things can only get Better’ Blair and his charmingly toothsome wife Cherie with her arresting smile.

Morality: (English from the Latin) relating to what is good or bad behaviour.

If you needed any further reason to distrust Jeremy, did you know he’s been DIVORCED? Just what kind of person would do something so immoral and still think they had a right to be the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister?

No, I for one am happy to stick to Right Wing, Conservative family values.

And there you have the case against Corbyn. Old Susannah is off out now to a pork roast. I hear that some of our best political leaders like pulled pork. Or something like that.

Until the next time I take pen and oink to paper, tally ho, cheerio, etc.

Next week: Definition of the phrase ‘to go the whole hog’

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Oct 012015

Douglas 1 - ©Monkey World 2015With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

The Scottish Government is being urged to use a forthcoming review of the trade and importation of exotic animals as an opportunity to ban the keeping of primates as pets. The Scottish Government is uniquely placed to take the lead on this issue following a commitment earlier this year to carry out the review of the exotic pet trade.

The calls come as the suffering of monkeys across the UK is highlighted as animal welfare charities and a veterinary association launch a campaign to end the keeping of primates as pets.

Shocking images revealing primates cooped up in cages, fed fast food and sugary drinks, deprived of companions, living in dirt and suffering from disease show some of the appalling conditions primates are being kept in behind closed doors across the UK.

 An estimated 5,000 primates are being kept as pets in the UK with around 100 of these believed to be in Scotland. Rescue groups such as Wild Futures have seen a steady increase in the number of primate welfare cases in recent years, and now receive approximately one new call every week relating to the welfare of a monkey. The fear is that this reflects a growth in primate ownership, facilitated by the ease of trading on the internet.

Marmosets, capuchins and squirrel monkeys are just some of the primates being kept as pets, destined for unnecessary suffering in an unnatural environment.

Animal protection groups OneKind, the Born Free Foundation, Captive Animals’ Protection Society, Four Paws, the RSPCA, Wild Futures and the British Veterinary Association (BVA) believe the cases of suffering they encounter on a frequent basis are just the tip of the iceberg and they have today launched a petition calling on the UK Governments to introduce regulations that will end the keeping and trading of these complex creatures as pets.

As well as petitioning the UK Government to take urgent action the group is calling on the Scottish Government to explicitly consider a ban on primates as pets as part of a review of the exotic pet trade due to be undertaken in the coming months.

Harry Huyton, Director of Scottish based animal welfare charity OneKind, said:

“OneKind has long campaigned for a ban on the keeping of primates as pets. Primates are social animals which have complex needs which, despite the best intentions of individual owners, cannot be met in a domestic environment, resulting in life-long suffering.

 “With a forthcoming review on the exotic pet trade, Scotland is well placed to take a leading role in resolving this important welfare issue. We are urging the Scottish Government to use this opportunity to consider an outright ban on the keeping of primates as pets and set a positive example to other UK administrations.”

John Blackwell, President of the BVA added:

“Some people buy primates as fashionable ‘accessories’ but these long-lived, intelligent, socially-complex animals are not like dogs or cats and are extraordinarily difficult to properly care for. Animal welfare is a priority for vets and BVA has significant concerns as to whether the welfare needs of primates can be met when kept privately as pets: we can think of no circumstances where a primate would benefit from being kept in this way.

We are urging the Government to offer the clarity members of the public need and introduce a ban on private pet-ownership of primates.”

To sign the petition to #ProtectPrimates visit www.protectprimates.org.

 Case study 1: The New Arc Centre, Aberdeenshire

 The New Arc Centre in Auchnagatt, Aberdeenshire is one the north-east’s busiest animal rescue centres. It regularly takes in primates that have been abandoned or need to be re-homed simply because their owners are unable to meet their welfare needs.

Earlier this year, three marmosets which had been living in the centre for years had a happy ending when they were found permanent homes at one of the UK’s biggest primate sanctuaries.

 One of the South American animals, Jock, had been at the centre for almost four years after being taken in from an owner in Aberdeen who kept him in a cockatiel’s cage. Jock was in poor condition and suffering from neglect after spending almost a year living in a cage totally unsuitable for a primate. He was joined by Colin and Douglas last year when their owner – though he cared deeply for them – decided he was unable to keep them on any longer.

Keith Marley who owns the New Arc said:

“The appeal of these extremely active, highly intelligent animals is understandable, however fights between them can happen over the slightest thing and a sustained attack on an owner is virtually guaranteed at some point, as the scars on my face and tendon damage to my wrist will testify.

“This often results in animals being locked up in small cages as the owners lose confidence, beginning a downward spiral of abuse and neglect.

“ Accidents happen and problems like metabolic bone disease require vets with specialised knowledge and sadly, they are few and far between.”

 Case study 2: Tam, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

Tam, a capuchin, was born in 1996 and was sold into the pet trade by a breeder when he was still an infant. Along with his brother, he was separated from his mother and family group and went to live with a human family in the Scottish Borders.

They shared an enclosure at the bottom of the garden which comprised indoor cage of 4’ x 4’ x 7’ and outside cage of 5’ x 12’ x 7’. When they reached maturity, they started to fight so they were castrated on the ill-informed advice of a vet. Unfortunately, this did not have the desired effect and another fight sadly led to the death of Tam’s brother.

Tam was then left living on his own for seven years. He was licensed under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act, but in contravention to this he was allowed to roam outside of his cage, until the Scottish Borders local authority intervened. His owners loved Tam very much, but they eventually realised that he would be better placed in a sanctuary with others of his own kind, so they contacted Wild Futures’ Monkey Sanctuary to take him on.

On arrival at the Sanctuary, each new monkey receives a thorough health check at the vets. Tam’s check-up showed signs of second degree frostbite on his toes, due to him spending a lot of time out in the cold and he was underweight with poor muscle development due to lack of exercise.

Tam now lives in a social group with access to spacious, natural enclosures and is provided with specialist care.

His former owner Linda Wood said:

“After keeping Tam 16 years it was a very hard but right decision for him by giving him up to Wild Futures monkey sanctuary in 2013 and I still contribute to his care by adopting him and visit every year, so if asked about keeping a monkey as a pet I just recommend that they adopt one.”

 Break out box of primate facts:

  • Primates need to live in social groups – in 60% of cases investigated by the RSPCA in England and Wales, these animals were being kept alone in isolation.
  • Usually sold as infants, pet primates suffer emotional damage and are deprived of essential social learning opportunities that continue to cause problems, Even if an owner tries to pair their primate up with another at a later date they may not get along and the damage has already been done.
  • The most common monkey animal welfare organisations receive calls about is the marmoset monkey, one of the smallest monkeys in the world that generally lives for around 20 years.
  • Frequently kept in a bird cage as a pet, in the wild they travel up to 0.6 of a mile every day.
  • The RSPCA has taken 22 prosecutions to court in England and Wales over the last 10 years in regards to primates. That averages at more than two per year.
  • 15 European countries have already introduced a ban on keeping primates as pets, of either all or some species. We now need the governments in the UK to follow.

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Sep 182015

Old Susannah’s feeling sheepish about recent events, and has decided not to duck the important questions surrounding recent articles about Northfield Animal Haven.  Rather than going on the lamb or spreading any bull, here are some timely definitions should anyone think she’s chicken. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryIf you’ve been reading the Voice, you may be aware of articles and comments concerning Northfield Animal Haven. Were all of its fundraising appeals transparent and accurate? Did all of the animals it purported to rescue actually exist? Not so much. Now that the dossier of Northfield’s activities has been turned over to the police, it’s time for me to turn myself in.  If Northfield were to be believed – and wny wouldn’t you? – then I have done wrong.

Here are a few related definitions to help unravel the Northfield saga.

Alias: (English noun) A false name, often used with the intent to conceal identity and/or to deceive.

Did you know that Old Susannah is actually an alias, and my name is Suzanne Kelly? Well, it’s worse than that.

“She calls herself SueKelly10 on Twitter”, tweeted Fiona Manclark.

Before you judge me too harshly for this subterfuge, please allow me to explain. ‘Sue’ is a name I’m using to try and throw people from thinking I’m Suzanne. I really am amazed that Fiona figured this out. Alas! I cannot ask her how she sleuthed this one through, she and Northfield have me blocked on Twitter and Facebook.

However, should you wish to ask for her opinions about how Suzanne Kelly has the gall to call herself ‘SueKelly10’, tweet to her at ‘Mummyalfi’. Hope this helps.

As an aside, when I first started writing for Aberdeen Voice (some 400+ pieces ago), I was going to only be known as ‘Old Susannah’ and stay anonymous. I thought that might help give me more distance from people who might not like being investigated.

Alas! While I had said to AV editors that my pen name was going to be ‘Old Susannah’, the first column came out with the heading ‘Old Susannah’s Dictionary Corner – by Suzanne Kelly’. With the cat out of the bag, the decision was pretty much made for me that I’d continue investigating and not care whether people knew my name. After all, what was the worst that could happen?…

Death Threats: (English compound plural noun) To threaten to kill someone or a group of people

In various social media locations, Northfield’s Kelly Cable and her father Eric have stated that Kelly’s had death threats. I suppose this could be from The Vegan Conspiracy (see below), militants, etc. But death threats are very serious. Cable claims these have been reported to the police. There isn’t anything funny about death threats – but it is funny that anyone should issue death threats to someone over the veracity of their interesting farming and fundraising frolics.  Or benefit fraud.

The family must be very upset by this. Death Threats are no joking matter. They are so upset at these death threats that dad Eric wrote on a Facebook Page about me and my articles that he should get an AK-47. But that’s OK, as he also wrote in brackets ‘tongue in cheek’.  He probably only meant he’d like to take me out shooting.

Threats are a tricky thing.  Old Susannah / SueKelly10/ I must work harder to understand when a death threat is a joke or when it’s sinister.

Clearly the threats to Kelly are very real.  In fact, I am quite convinced the death threats are as genuine as the rescue appeal for the six Shetland ponies she recently removed from Go Fund Me. For some reason, some people found the appeal a tad misleading.  It was illustrated with a photo of a cute pony  – rescued years ago in Wales.  The owner of the six ponies has never come forward, we’ve no idea where they are or what they look like.  But because Cable says so, we know that only she was going to be allowed to save them.  Otherwise they would be turned into meat. Kind of like the lambs on the other side of the Cable business, but I digress.

By the way, it’s important to remember that everything that happens because of my exposing Kelly Cable’s methods of operation is my fault and not hers.  I should have just let her continue to rescue animals (though I suspect some are probably more suited to rehoming in a Farmville game than on a real farm). I could have let her take donations, such as the £150 she got from a pensioner.  This generous person wrote in a comment that they couldn’t really afford their donation, but they didn’t want the animals to suffer.   What nefarious knaves would be making death threats? I have a theory…

The Vegan Conspiracy: (extremely modern English compound noun) Shadowy organisation that is trying to get people to stop eating animals

I am supposed to confess that my interest in Northfield’s inventive fundraising is due to my being part of The Vegan Conspiracy. This is mentioned here or there on Facebook by Northfield supporters.  I have a vegan agenda and I have cohorts.  As secret as our cabal is, I’m sure the boys won’t mind me telling you a bit more about our little initiative, The Vegan Conspiracy.

Every full moon, a bunch of hemp-clothing clad, tofu-eating, unshaven, unwashed pagans gather at Torry Battery to advance our inevitable world domination.

The nefarious agenda is to get people to realise that fluffy chicks, fleecy lambs, adorable calves should be petted, loved, given space and not shredded alive and un-anaesthetised on birth for being male (chicks), locked in pens so they can’t move (most other critters), or kept pregnant only to have calves snatched away and be re-impregnated again and again until worn out so we can have milk on our cornflakes.

After we paint ourselves in dayglow paint and dance to Morrissey, we strategise how to get people to be more compassionate and switch from meat and dairy to alternatives.

Alas! as I’m only a vegetarian, I don’t get more than associate membership. But I’m working on it, and one day will be a fully fledged Vegan.  Possibly.

Karma:  (Sanskrit noun) Fate

Happily Northfield’s owners have many friends around them in this difficult time.  Many of these are wishing that karma will get me / comment that ‘ karma’s a bitch’ and so on.  Needless to say, I am quaking in my boots at the idea. How will I be punished for what I’ve done?

It would be foolish of course to suggest that perhaps karma has paid a visit to New Pitsligo, and has started giving what is owed.

Alcoholism: (Modern English noun) A disease; those suffering from it are best ridiculed, outed and mocked

Fiona Manclark has let the world know I’m an alcoholic – so she says – and she and her witnesses have the proof.  These people claim I am often seen ‘falling out’ of  BrewDog.

I’ve a few friends who have this disease; and mocking the afflicted is always a great reminder to them of their weakness.

Some illnesses are quite serious.  Fiona, who has delighted in tweeting and posting about my alleged alcoholism, has now resigned from involvement with Northfield on ill health grounds.  I wish her a speedy recovery.

Also ill, but with nothing funny at all, is Kelly.  She’s let us know her  brain tumour is giving her problems again.  My sympathies.

As with death threats, Old Susannah is not sure which illnesses are to be mocked and which are to be sympathised with.  But I’m working on it.  Clearly alcoholism falls into the mocking category for Ms Manclark.

My lawyer and the entire staff of BrewDog don’t believe I’m an ‘alkie’ and that I should do something about these claims of Fiona’s but that’s a matter for another day.  I’m sure her repeated posts, comments and tweets about my being an alcoholic (and liar  AND keyboard warrior to my shame) were just meant to help me recover from a debilitating disease.  Otherwise, her behaviour might be misconstrued as a brutish, libelous,  ill-thought through attempt at intimidation.

Intimidation: (English noun) The attempt to subdue, silence, cow another person

Eric Cable, likewise, doesn’t want to intimidate me. When he posts on Facebook remarks to the effect he’s found interesting things on the internet, I tremble.  He probably just means he’s found cute looking pony photos to save for future reference or something. I know it’s not about me, but my heart still skips a beat nonetheless.  What if he found something out about me?

Could it be that time I jumped in the Trevi fountain fully clothed? There’s the time I streaked through the Queen of the South v Hearts game last February.  What if he found out that I was Cancer with Leo rising? Does he have the video from that incident with the ACSEF members, the double-sided tape, and AFC’s changing rooms?

We will soon find out. But until then, and probably even after then, I’ll keep doing what I do.

Tally ho!

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