By Karen Dawn, DawnWatch
Anderson Cooper can always be relied on to cover the animal impact during disasters. His show last night, Tuesday May 25, included a report in which we saw pelicans nesting, surrounded by and covered in oil. You can watch it on line.
Unfortunately Cooper also did an interview about the issue with SeaWorld board member Jack Hanna. Hanna regularly shares misinformation on talk shows -- I think now of his appearance on Larry King Live after Barbaro's death. Hanna told viewers that horses are so well cared for that few race horses have to be euthanized, when in fact an Associated Press article tells us that 704 horses died racing in the US and Canada the year immediately before Barbaro's accident. And I won't even start to comment on Hanna's recent appearances representing SeaWorld in the week after the Orca Tilikum killed his trainer (Tilikum's third kill) lest my blood start to boil.
On Anderson Cooper last night Hanna told us, "The only good thing that can come out of this" is that it happened near the Audubon Institute and the AZA and "you can go right down the coast there with SeaWorld and all these folks who have been familiar with all these oil spills. So if it had to happen anywhere, thank God these folks are there on standby."
Ah yes, thank God SeaWorld is nearby. Then Anderson Cooper asked if the oil coated pelicans can be saved and Hanna answered, "Yes, they can be saved. They can be washed with Dove -- I think it's the Dove -- I'm not sure what soap they're using. But yes, we've proven that before in the Valdez oil spill, where the zoo worked hard up there, as well as, of course, SeaWorld."
While Sea World to the rescue is a nice story that a Sea World board member might enjoy sharing, an article from Spiegel international carries the sad heading, "Gulf of Mexico Spill, Expert Recommends Killing Oil-Soaked Birds." You'll find the article on line. (My thanks go to Alexandra Paul for sharing it with us.)
No, the expert isn't callous. Silvia Gaus, a German biologist at the Wattenmeer National Park, has 20 years of experience and she worked on the environmental cleanup of the Pallas -- a wood-carrying cargo ship that spilled 90 tons of oil in the North Sea. She says: "According to serious studies, the middle-term survival rate of oil-soaked birds is under 1 percent."
The article shares:
Catching and cleaning oil-soaked birds oftentimes leads to fatal amounts of stress for the animals, Gaus says. Furthermore, forcing the birds to ingest coal solutions -- or Pepto Bismol, as animal-rescue workers are doing along the Gulf Coast -- in an attempt to prevent the poisonous effects of the oil is ineffective, Gaus says. The birds will eventually perish anyway from kidney and liver damage.
Gaus explains that is a long slow death, so she recommends euthanizating the birds quickly and painlessly, or just leaving them alone, oil soaked, in which case they will starve with less long term pain than they will endure if they are cleaned enough to attempt to get on with their lives -- plus they will be saved the terror of the capture, cleaning and force feeding. The article tells us that the World Wildlife Fund reluctantly agrees, a spokesperson saying, "Birds, those that have been covered in oil and can still be caught, can no longer be helped. . Therefore, the World Wildlife Fund is very reluctant to recommend cleaning."
The article ends with:
The Prestige spill killed 250,000 birds. Of the thousands that were cleaned, most died within a few days, and only 600 lived and were able to be released into the wild. According to a British study of the spill, the median lifespan of a bird that was cleaned and released was only seven days.
In other words, Jack Hanna was apparently, as usual, talking about something he knew nothing about. While Hanna's message was more uplifting, the public needs to know the sad truth, and hopefully the truth will bring the outrage that inspires action.
Please thank Anderson Cooper for covering the wildlife issue, but ask him to leave the commentary to the wildlife clean-up experts, not to SeaWorld spokesperson Jack Hanna who gives us misinformation. Anderson Cooper 360 takes comments online.
.... (With the author's express permission we have deleted a portion of the alert. See http://tinyurl.com/3ac54zk for the rest.) ....
Yours and the animals',
(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at DawnWatch. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts only if you do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line.)