For the last seven years, I've spent a portion of the school holidays doing live shows at some of the nation's best-known zoos. The shows attract thousands, mostly families with younger kids, and most leave with big smiles on their faces. I do however every year receive a number of messages that go something like this: "You're a massive hypocrite. You claim to be a conservationist, to care about wild animals, and yet you endorse institutions that keep these noble beasts imprisoned behind bars." My stance on this criticism - for which I have a certain amount of sympathy - is rather too complex to get across in 140 characters or less, so I decided to offer a more considered response to the ethics of keeping wild animals in captivity.
Last week we were all shocked by the heartbreaking photos of Hope the dog who was found emaciated and half the weight she should have been. She was described by a vet as the thinnest dog she'd seen alive.
As the ethical fashion and food categories of the RSPCA Good Business Awards are launched today, companies are finding that being animal welfare-friendly is better for business than it has ever been.
The Gulf of St. Lawrence on Canada's Eastern seaboard is a wild, unforgiving place, subject to extreme weather and partially covered with sea ice for much of the winter. At this time of year, it's particularly important for harp seals, who haul out onto the sea ice at the end of every winter to give birth to their pups in one of nature's most remarkable events. Their mothers stay with the pups for a few short days, feeding them high fat milk, after which the adults head back to sea leaving the pups on the ice. However, the future of these seal populations is threatened. Climate change is reducing the extent to which the winter sea ice forms and the ice is melting ever earlier, meaning mothers have less ice on which to give birth. The helpless pups can die as their icy platform melts away.