Vivienne Eggers

Writing Thesis on Gaia Peace Philosophies Intl Law & Global Gov , Founder Gaia Life Way Intl Peace Institute

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Should Beno the American Black Bear Go Home with Barrack Obama? International Laws to protect animal rights on loan or sold overseas.

Today I read the Jakarta Post Bali Edition and page 5 headlines "More animals at Surabaya Zoo on the brink of death" and a heart wrenching photo of an American Black bear named Beno sitting covered in tumours in a quarantine due to neglect.

Currently the zoo has 14 critically ill animals including Bawean deer, honey bear, Sumatran tiger, Koala bear and two camels. Almost 1000 animals have died at the zoo since 2008 - many reported to be ill from neglect and malnourishment. It is reported the zoo is in such state due to management issues and disputes.

This raises the issue of international protection and universal 'rights' of animals - and possible duties of international stakeholders when buying or supplying zoo or park animals from countries who do not have a strong domestic policy around the protection of cruelty to animals.

For example - should America and Australia provide bears to the zoo without ensuring the animals welfare? Should they (and international community) intervene and be legally able to enforce protections and remedies for the care of at the least the animals they have supplied?

This might best be served through developing international animal rights law (which is currently deficit) in alignment with international environmental law and with universal human rights.

Alternatively solutions achievable immediately - may be contractual agreements at the time of supply that build in protection and enforcement of the welfare of the animals.

Would this seem a reasonable extension of duty of care of first world domestic laws on animal protection?

Another issue is the purchase of animals from other countries and obligations by international community. E.g. the purchase of dolphins for theme parks from Japan after they mass slaughter (film The Cove). Is international law in the form of universal animal rights, the most feasible form of protecting animals who may form supply chain from or to countries deficit in domestic animal rights law

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    Nov 30 2011: You pose a very difficult question. I believe that these animals should not go into a domestic area such as a house unless it meets many regulations and check ups by a trusted doctor to ensure that the animal is being taken care of. Otherwise, if animals are in a domestic area, they often hurt not only the humans but themselves. Animals do not belong in a home but there is no where else for them to go. So, the only real alternative is a zoo which has many problems of its own.
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    Nov 20 2011: That is a great sentiment Stephen. And I am so happy that someone cared enough about the plight of Beno the Bear to make a response. In the case of the zoo being located in a place that has low accessibility to people that would care - I feel we need to canvas our own countries who already have a high level of legal and voter expectation around the treatment of animals - to ensure that commercial sellers or lenders (or first world zoos, breeders etc) put in place clear contractual obligations. The reason I come back to law - is not just my background - it is that there becomes also a level of international diplomacy and barriers to overcome when transborder issues of animal cruelty arise. Under UN recognition of state sovereignty - we don't meddle in the affairs of other countries (supposedly) although often this happens to broker a trade deal such as China joining the WTO had to sign onto TRIPS intellectual property protections and enforcement agreement.

    I am well aware that President of Indonesia - has done a great deal to up human rights AND environmental and animal protection in the past decade as he has worked with IMF and international community to repair economy. What often happens in situations like this - is the media portrays it and public sentiment swings away from Indonesia having poor animal welfare rights. However this is not a true representation - because the issue is not at high level government - but a cultural problem. That is why I feel the onus of responsibility should be shared with countries that the culture is already practising animal rights sensitivity. If we obligate contractual agreements to overseas supplies of animals to zoos or any kind of holding - we can then hold the offending zoo management accountable under international trade law (contract) or other relevant convention such as Vienna sales - (although this latter would be scant in any kind of afforded protection) or at least use overriding jurisdiction law. Prevention
  • Nov 19 2011: Law, international or country, may be part of the equation but in the final analysis people must care. Start the revolution outside the gates to the zoo in this case. That revolution is people learning to care. Without that there will never be laws to protect them.
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    Nov 16 2011: Personally I would like to at least see these animals relocated to Bali or another zoo (and will make inquiries).