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The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society announced this weekend that they’ve gotten a bunch of cross-disciplinary experts together and decided  that cetaceans have human rights.

The Declaration of Cetacean Rights, which anyone can sign, basically includes the right not to be killed, captured, abused or owned. The society, which met at the University of Helsinki (nice touch), says their rights to “life, liberty and well-being” are due after we figured out that they have more intelligence, self-awareness and culture than we previously thought. The petition gets at the idea that it’s okay to care about the fate of not just the health of a species population or ecosystem, but an individual animal.

Most westerners would go along with most of that–although the part that would ban Sea World or swim with dolphin programs might shock some. We already don’t hunt whales and changed the tuna industry to avoid dolphins (which are really just small whales). Japan still kills about 23,000 dolphins a year on purpose.  Hundreds of whales are killed each year–no one is sure how many exactly how many–mainly by Japan, Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Russia.

The controversial part, at least in my mind, is that they also “affirm that all cetaceans as persons.” I don’t think they’re persons. Individuals, sure. Anyone who’s spent time with higher functioning animals can tell you they’re individuals. They don’t need to be people to have individuality and rights. Then again, if they didn’t put a little bit of crazy talk in there, who would write about them?

Where to Go See Dolphins
Where to Go See Whales

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A rescued fox cub and a dog bred to kill foxes are becoming friends at a hotel/wildlife sanctuary in Cornwall. The Gwel an Mor had already turned wildlife rescue into an eco-attraction at its lodge. Then animal wrangler Gary Zammit heard a fox cub crying in the field. He worried his own dog would attack the cub, but instead they’ve become wrestling buddies (and UK media celebrities).
 
The fox, now called Copper, and dog  Jack now play constantly, when they’re not being featured on the BBC or the Telegraph or other outlets. Actually, it’s their pictures of rassling that have become so popular. “They just play fight there’s never any malice in it,” says Zammit. Jack is a lurcher–a kind of greyhoundish mixed breed popular in the British Isles, but obscure in the U.S.–a dog traditionally used to hunt rabbit and fox.

The story is like a real life Fox and the Hound, in which a fox cub is raised by a hunter and befriends his hound. I forget the rest of the story, but I remember crying over the book as a kid. Copper isn’t going to end up hunted; he’ll get to live at Gwel an mor, where guests are lead on wildlife walks to try to spot wild foxes and badgers.

Zammit makes a point of telling the press that the fox cub was crying there for two days. That means he didn’t just rush in and scoop it up while its mother was off hunting. He knew to wait to be sure she wasn’t coming back.

Gwel an Mor itself is interesting: they’re a luxury spa/lodge that also rescues wildlife. They have a fancy restaurant and rooms start around  $1,100 a week in the summer. It seems like it would be like going to the Cornish equivalent of a jungle lodge, with nightly safaris to see the local wildlife. “We will look for badgers, owls, deer and foxes close by to the holiday lodges. If the wild foxes don’t show up, don’t worry as you will be sure to meet our own rescued foxes, Todd and Sonny,” their website says. “We have all sorts of other rescued wildlife coming in all the time so who knows what other wonderful creatures you might meet on the wildlife experience.” 

Where to Go to See Wolves (and some other wild canids)
Where to Go See Wild Animals in Europe

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