Tuesday, February 24, 2009

No Pet Bigfoots

Not only do I respect the 'squatch, but also its cousins. Included in this family are not only humans, but the other great apes. You have probably heard about the recent tragedy of a chimpanzee attack. This event ended in the tragic death of the chimp, as well as a gruesome disfiguring of the victim, 55 year old Charla Nash of Connecticut, who lost her nose, eyes and jaw in the attack. She is now one of a group of over 100 victims of primate attacks on humans, including 29 children over the last decade.

The United States House of Representitives has taken the first steps to stop the interstate commerce in primates. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-OR. The international importation of primates for pets has been illegal since 1975, but over 30 states still deem it legal to sell primates for pet purposes. It is Rep. Blumenauer's hope that this law will discourage the keeping of primates as pets.

For the bigfooters of the world, this means that since it was already illegal to import sasquatches as pets from Canada, we will now be forced to collect pet bigfoots from our own state of residence. This is dire news for Hawaiians, the only state where no credible bigfoot sightings have been reported.

Nothing says "pet" like a full-grown primate with hands and the strength of ten men.

Enjoy the article below:

House tightens fed controls over pet primate trade

WASHINGTON (AP) — Eight days after a 200-pound chimpanzee critically mauled a woman in Connecticut, the House moved Tuesday to ban the transport of monkeys and apes across state lines for the purpose of selling them as pets.

The legislation to prohibit interstate commerce in primates also passed the House last year, but bill sponsor Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., said the "horrific chimpanzee attack" that stunned the nation last week would bring "renewed urgency" to the need to pass the bill into law.
The importation of primates for the pet trade has been outlawed since 1975, but Blumenauer said 30 states, including Connecticut, allow the keeping of the animals as pets and it is easy to purchase a primate from exotic animal dealers or over the Internet.

He said there have been at least 100 reports of attacks over the past decade, 29 involving children.

The Humane Society of the United States, which supports the legislation, said nonhuman primates can also pose serious health risks to humans, spreading diseases such as Herpes B and tuberculosis.

"There is no reason for any private citizen to keep a primate as a pet, and this trade is driven by unscrupulous dealers who sell primates across state lines for thousands of dollars," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society.

The measure passed 323-95, with several Republican opponents saying that animal control was a state, rather than federal issue, and that spending federal dollars to prevent interstate commerce would do little to stop animal attacks.

The bill, said Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, does nothing to prohibit a monkey from biting, such as in the Connecticut incident, "unless the monkey was willing to chase the woman from Connecticut over to New York State." He compared the 100 attacks over 10 years to the 100,000 people who go to the hospital every year with dog bites.

"I would respectfully suggest that having your face ripped off is not the same as just an animal bite, a nip here or scratch there," Blumenauer said. "We are dealing with animals that have the potential of inflicting serious damage and death." He estimated that up to 400 chimpanzees are kept as pets in the United States.

The 14-year-old chimp Travis, owned by 70-year old Sandra Herold of Stamford, Conn., was shot and killed after a brutal 12-minute attack on Herold's friend, Charla Nash.
Four teams of surgeons operated on Nash, 55, for more than seven hours to stabilize her before she was transferred Thursday to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. She remains under sedation while being evaluated by doctors.

The bill amends the Lacey Act, first passed in 1900 and amended several times, that stops the importation of potentially dangerous non-native species. It is similar to a law enacted in 2003 that banned interstate commerce in lions, tigers and other big cats for the pet trade.

The measure, which does not affect the purchase of animals by zoos or research centers, now goes to the Senate.

The bill is H.R. 80.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Zoos and Bigfoot

I have mixed feelings about zoos. On the one hand, they offer a unique opportunity to study and observe animals to better protect their populations. On the other hand, the similarities between zoos and jails cannot be ignored. Many of the animals don't seem to mind, or even be aware of, their own captivity. Other animals seem to be very aware of it, and some have even taken to behaviors that seem to indicate depression. I have seen gorillas in the Los Angeles Zoo vomiting into their hands, licking it up, and vomiting into their hands again. I returned more than a year later and witnessed the same behavior. I'm no zoologist, but that seems like an unhealthy behavior, both physically and emotionally.

Trying to stay focused on the positive aspects of zoos, I recently visited the Oregon Zoo in Portland, Oregon. My goal was to obtain thermal imaging video of the various primates on display for comparison to a hypothetical future thermal video of a bigfoot.

Knowing that the Oregon Zoo does not have gorillas, I was hoping to film the orangutans, of which the facility has three, a male and two females. Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for these apes, the exhibit is undergoing renovations. The orangutans are currently being held in an enclosure that is behind glass, and thermal imagers cannot see through glass.

Even though my plans were foiled by the glass walls, they did afford me a good opportunity to observe the young male orangutan, Kutai, up close. Thinking of sasquatches all the while, it struck me how wide Kutai's shoulders were, especially when a sasquatch's shoulders might be a full foot or two wider than this tropical cousin's. His hair was coarse and long, almost matted in areas, which brought to mind similar descriptions from eyewitness accounts of bigfoots.

At one point, Kutai was walking around his enclosure and approached the glass wall from where various families and I were watching. He picked up a piece of cardboard that was lying in the enclosure, and covered his face with it as he walked away from us. The crowd laughed and anthropomorphized his behavior by saying that he was playing peek-a-boo. Personally, I think he didn't like us looking at him, and I don't blame him. Certainly orangutans, shy and arguably the most intelligent of the tropical apes, like a little privacy.

My hopes of filming apes were not totally dashed that day. Even though the chimpanzees were also behind glass, probably to keep them warm in this temperate climate, the sun broke through at one point and they were allowed into their outside enclosure to enjoy the weather. That is when I obtained the following footage, which is also posted on my website, http://www.northamericanbigfoot.com/ in the "Research" section.

There were a few surprises awaiting me at various locations. While observing the polar bears (seen below with the helmet of its most recent victim), I looked down and saw giant human-like footprints on the floor. They showed no claw marks and were over 16 inches long. Unfortunately, they were a graphic depiction of the carbon footprint of industrialized nations.

Near the penguin exhibit, I ran across an interesting sculpture. It seemingly depicted a man telling stories to a young girl, surrounded by various animals native to the Pacific Northwest. The animals included wolves, bears, cougars, and a large upright ape looking over the shoulders of the man, apparently listening to the tale. Besides humans, there is only one large ape-like species in the Pacific Northwest...

One of my greatest concerns is that my bigfoot research could play a role in the eventual captivity of a sasquatch in a zoo. I have a very hard time seeing the other great apes in captivity, knowing that they are not very different than us in more ways than most people like to admit. Knowing that the world's largest currently-recognized ape, the mountain gorilla, does not survive in captivity, I have doubts that a bigfoot would fare much better.

Certainly to have any chance of success, the enclosure would have to be beyond the size and scope of most current exhibits. How could it be ensured that the sasquatch would not escape and endanger itself and others? Juveniles, as well as larger bigfoots, have been observed climbing trees and rock faces, so the enclosure probably could not be outside with an open sky. It is my opinion that the sasquatch intelligence is far greater than even that of the orangutan, and the Oregon Zoo's website comments about the challenge of making the orang enclosure "Kutai-proof". How does one make a cage "bigfoot-proof"?

Whereas I hope to one day glimpse a sasquatch in the wild, I hope that I never see one in captivity. I believe this would be morally wrong, and akin to keeping individuals from isolated and "primitive" human tribes on display. Zoos are a type of prison designed for the well-being of animal species, and less so for the individual animals themselves, though most modern zoos are a far cry from their inhumane predecessors. I hope that the long-term study of sasquatches happens on rural homesteads that experience repeat visitations by these magnificent apes.

I hope, when the time comes, humans will respect the 'squatch, and keep them out of zoos.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Everybody Loves the 'Squatch

Valentine's Day is here, so allow me to muse about the lovability of the sasquatch. Following are my top ten reasons to love the 'squatch. I'm sure your list is similar.
10. They're cute and cuddly. Think of them as huge teddy bears. Cuddling up to one of them would be an excellent way to keep warm on a cold February night, if you could get over the stench.

9. They challenge the boundary between "human" and "animal". To me, this boundary is a fuzzy grey line at best. Some folks have an urge to draw a distinct line, presumably to hold onto human unicity. That's a distinctly 19th Century viewpoint, but old paradigms die slowly.

8. They're funny. I love the campy movies and humorous depictions of the 'squatch. It usually doesn't take anything away from the real animal, and heightens the public's awareness.

7. They are really closely related to us. That sentence seems a little incestuous, but you know what I mean. We will learn a lot about our own species by studying this other one.

6. Trying to study them puts the researchers in some of the most beautiful places on the continent. There's no place I'd rather be than the 'squatchiest place I can find.

5. They play hard to get. Due to my social awkwardness, I don't particularly like this in women, but it keeps me chasing...

4. The other bigfoot investigators. The people I meet that are interested in the bigfoot thing tend to be very interesting individuals. By "interesting", I mean one (or more) of these: smart, funny, weird, eccentric, artistic, unapologetic, enthusiastic, self-assured, or blissfully unaware that they have any of the previous traits (probably the strangest trait of all).

3. Their existence (should) keep us humble. I love that these things really are out there because it shows us our own hubris. "We would know about them by now" is a frail argument often used by skeptics. This argument only shows the naivety of the skeptic. Personally, I find it refreshing to know that there are still mysteries in the world. The bigfoot mystery has been thumbing its nose at skeptics for decades.

2. They keep me learning. In order to increase the chances of me filming a sasquatch, I try to read as much as possible about primates and North American forest habitats. I love to broaden my knowledge because it helps me better appreciate the beautiful world I inhabit.

1. They're real, biological entities. Duh.

For more about my love affair with giant apes, check out http://www.northamericanbigfoot.com/ .

Happy Valentine's Day