No more wigeon, swan hunting in Dutch province


This video from Lancashire in England is called WigeonsAnas penelope.

The Dutch province Groningen, in the northern Netherlands, has decided that there will be no more mute swan and wigeon hunting.

Zoo bird’s house arrest for four-letter words


This video from Pakistan says about itself:

Filmed this singing Common Myna (Acridotheres Tristis) on the window of my flat at Karachi Federal B Area. Commo Myna are native to Iran, Pakistan, India, Srilanka, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, China & some other adjsent countries.

From ANI news agency:

Myna bird placed under house arrest at zoo for shouting ‘f you’ at visitors

Wednesday 19th December, 2012

A myna bird has been put in solitary confinement at a zoo after shouting ‘f you’ at visitors.

The bird had been trained to welcome people to Jiufeng Forest Zoo in Wuhan, central China, but keepers were shocked to hear it hurling abuses at tourists in recent weeks.

Staff believe the bird picked up the rude words from visitors and signs have now been put up warning zoo-goers about teaching mynas bad language, the Daily Mail reported.

A sign erected at the zoo read: “Please do not use foul language to get a rise out of the Myna.”

The common myna bird has been isolated to stop the other birds from copying the rude words.

Keepers say they will withhold food from the common myna bird when it swears and play tapes of polite words to change its bad habits.

Caretaker Li Yun said he had heard some tourists try to teach the birds such language.

He told China’s Global Times: “The bird has a good memory. It’s possible that some visitor taught it how to say these things.

“He said the birds are ‘good mimics’ and quick learners,” he added.

British war department’s cruel animal experiments


This video from Britain says about itself:

May 17, 2012

During 2004, two UK television documentaries were produced which investigated the past activities of the UK Government’s Biological Warfare facility at Porton Down, Wiltshire.

The programmes revealed that scientists from Porton Down had used the UK as a vast outdoor laboratory during the Cold War. From 1950 to 1975, Porton scientists had clandestinely sprayed massive amounts of live bacteria (Serratia marcescens, E. coli MRE162 and Bacillus subtilis) and several tons of chemical compounds (such as Zinc Cadmium sulphide) over large parts of the UK.

The first programme shows – how Royal Enfield workers in an underground factory at Westwood Quarry were repeatedly exposed to an opportunistic pathogen in the early 1950s; how members of the public travelling on a regular railway train on the Salisbury-Exeter line were sprayed with live bacteria by Porton scientists while travelling through a tunnel; how the city of Salisbury was ‘attacked’ during August of 1960 with large amounts of a cadmium compound: and how Porton sceintists conducted the large, and now infamous, series of experiments – known as the Lyme Bay Trials.

The latter experiments exposed millions of UK residents to massive aerosols of live bacteria (E.coli and Bacillus subtilis) during the years 1963-1975. The huge bacterial clouds were sprayed from an Admiralty ship – ETV ICEWHALE – and were carried onshore by the wind and sampled by Porton scientists up to 50 miles inland. Athough this research was meant to be of a defensive nature, the official Porton film of these experiments stated: “Whilst these trials were designed for specific research purposes, they demonstrated, in a striking way, the feasibility of small-scale biological warfare. An appreciable dose of viable bacteria was achieved over an area greater than 1,000 square miles, by the release of only 120 gallons of suspension”.

From the (Conservative) Daily Telegraph in Britain, about the British Department of War … oops-a-daisy … ‘defence’:

Rise in animal experiments at defence laboratory

Almost 10,000 experiments were conducted on animals, including monkeys and pigs, at the Porton Down military research base last year, it has been revealed.

By Telegraph reporters

3:35PM GMT 18 Dec 2012

The number of animal tests carried out at the top-secret facility in Wiltshire increased by 300 since 2010 and by more than 1,000 since 2009.

Currently 21 licensed animal procedures are under way at Porton Down Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).

Most of these fall into the “substantial” severity category which may cause “significant or prolonged animal suffering”.

Six of the projects cover work funded directly by US defence agencies.

The details were disclosed in a series of written answers from junior defence minister Philip Dunne.

He was responding to parliamentary questions tabled by Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock, the member for Portsmouth South.

Mr Hancock said he was shocked by the statistics which, until now, were never made generally public.

Last month the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection highlighted “disturbing and cruel” experiments at Porton Down, said to include live pigs being blasted with explosives and forced to inhale mustard gas, monkeys being infected with anthrax and guinea pigs being killed with nerve agent.

Mr Dunne, the minister responsible for defence science and technology, listed the number of animal procedures undertaken at DSTL Porton Down over the last three years.

The figure has risen from 8,452 in 2009 to 9,582 in 2010 and 9,882 last year, he revealed.

The animals involved were pigs, rabbits, monkeys and rodents.

All scientific experiments on animals, including those at Porton Down, have to be licensed by the Home Office under the proviso that suffering is minimised as much as possible.

Procedures are graded according to the severity of harm or suffering they inflict.

Of the 21 “active” projects at Porton Down, four are “unclassified”, three are “mild”, six are “moderate” and eight are categorised as “substantial”, said Mr Dunne.

A moderate procedure may cause animals a “noticeable degree of pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm”, according to the Home Office definition. Substantial severity “may cause a major departure from the animal’s usual state of health or well-being with significant or prolonged animal suffering”.

Mr Hancock said: “I was shocked to learn that almost 10,000 animal experiments are taking place at Porton Down every year, including ones inflicting substantial levels of suffering.

“The details were not included in the annual statistics published by the Home Office and many people will be totally unaware that this suffering is occurring.

“It is important that the Ministry of Defence routinely gives more information on its use of animals so the public can be fully informed.”

BUAV chief executive Michelle Thew said: “It is alarming that almost 10,000 animal experiments for military purposes took place in 2011 and that many animals were subjected to the most extreme suffering categorised by the Government.

“Some of the animal research conducted at Porton Down was even funded by the US defence agencies.

“The BUAV is calling for an end to the use of animals, including monkeys and pigs in these gruesome experiments. We need to ensure the safety of soldiers and civilians but the answer does not lay in blowing up or exposing animals to lethal chemical warfare and nerve agents.”

A REPORT published by the Ministry of Defence admitted that some trials of chemical agents on human volunteers at Porton Down from the 1940s to the 1970s involved “serious departures” from ethical standards: here.

Robin with white Father Christmas ‘beard’


From Wildlife Extra:

Leucistic robin has ‘Santa beard’

This remarkable bird has been reported to the British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) Abnormal Plumage Survey. Photo copyright Ian Wilson/BTO

‘Santa Robin’ is timely leucistic bird

December 2012. This remarkable bird has been reported to the British Trust for Ornithology‘s (BTO) Abnormal Plumage Survey.

The timely ‘Santa Robin‘, which was seen by Ian Wilson in Derbyshire, is a leucistic bird. This inherited disorder causes parts of a bird’s plumage not to have their normal colour and to appear white, often affecting areas around the face and on the wings.

Most common in blackbirds

It’s not just Robins that are being spotted through the BTO Abnormal Plumage Survey. In total, over 1,500 birds across more than 35 species – ranging from Blue Tit and Chaffinch to Buzzard and Coot – have already been recorded in the UK’s gardens. Blackbirds with unusual white feathers have been logged most often, with members of the crow family, including Jackdaw, Carrion Crow and Rook, also featuring highly.

Leucism (or Leukism)

Leucism is a very unusual condition whereby the pigmentation cells in an animal or bird fail to develop properly. This can result in unusual white patches appearing on the animal, or, more rarely, completely white creatures.

Click here to see our gallery of albino and leucistic animals and birds.

Most unusual

Some of the more extraordinary sights have been black-headed Blue Tits, red-tinted House Sparrows and a Goldfinch with an orange instead of a red face. On some occasions, people have been so puzzled that they have had to write ‘species unknown’. There is much more to find out about birds with abnormal-coloured plumage and the BTO wants householders to share what they see.

Tim Harrison, BTO Abnormal Plumage Survey coordinator, commented: “The red breast of a Robin doesn’t just make it look pretty – it plays an important role in its life. Unlike most other garden birds, Robins defend their territories throughout the year and display using their breast to warn rivals to ‘keep out’. It is possible that a white ‘beard’ could affect this communication.”

Leucism

Hein van Grouw, Curator at the Natural History Museum, added: “The most common form of leucism in birds only affects the body parts farthest away from the pigment cell’s origin in the embryonic spinal cord – i.e. the face, wingtips, feet and belly. This Robin shows a moderate form of the condition and so only the chin and a few outer flight feathers are affected.”

Tim concluded: “With the help of the public, the BTO Abnormal Plumage Survey is charting odd-looking garden birds up and down the country, with records extending from Shetland to the Scilly Isles. Please keep your eyes peeled and let the BTO know what strange birds you see.”

Abnormal Plumage Survey

The charity is calling for more householders to look out for strange-looking birds in their gardens this winter. To take part in the Abnormal Plumage Survey, visit www.bto.org/gbw or telephone 01842-750050 for a paper recording form.

British secret courts unjust for soldiers


This video from Britain is called David Cameron wants more secret court ‘justice’.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Secret trials to hit troops

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Ken Clarke admitted today that the coalition’s plans for secret trials could be used to cover up cases where soldiers’ families sue the government for negligence.

Legal charity Reprieve executive director Clare Algar said: “Parliament must vote against plans for secret courts or risk putting government above the law.”

Reas more on this here.

Secret trials ‘straight out of Kafka’: here.

Secret trials to cover up Britain’s role in torture: here.