Saturday November 18, 2017
Home World Activists Dem...

Activists Demand Freedom for World’s Saddest Polar Bear named Pizza in China

The latest petition by local activists argues that Pizza, along with many other animals, such as arctic foxes and beluga whales, are living in a limited space and completely synthetic condition

1
88
A polar bear is seen in an aquarium at the Grandview mall in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China, July 27, 2016. VOA

Guangzhou, October 20, 2016: The international campaign to free what is dubbed the world’s saddest polar bear, Pizza, is turning a new chapter.

Some 50 animal welfare groups across China have joined forces to call on local authorities to relocate the creature, which has been kept in captivity since January at a shopping mall in Guangzhou, southern Guangdong province.

The animal groups are slated to present their petition letter to Zhu Xiaodan, Governor of Guangdong province, early next week, urging local authorities to intervene as Pizza is said to have showed visible signs of mental decline.

NewsGram brings to you current foreign news from all over the world.

But the aquarium’s curator has refused to back down, insisting the accusations from animal groups at home and abroad are groundless.

The latest petition by local activists argues that Pizza, along with many other animals, such as arctic foxes and beluga whales, are living in a limited space and completely synthetic condition.

Representational image. VOA
Representational image. VOA

Poor living conditions

The animals have also fallen victim to annoyances such as people tapping on their windows and the blinding flash of cameras or selfies by visitors to Grandview Aquarium, which is located inside the shopping center.

“Because [such recreational facilities including Grandview] aren’t professional zoos, they often provide very poor living conditions [for animals in captivity]. Plus, they are often located in places where there are intense streams of visitors. So, from the aspect of animal welfare, that imposes a grave negative impact on the animals,” said Qin Xiaona, founder of Beijing-based Capital Animal Welfare Association (CAWA).

Qin’s association and the Dalian-based Vshine Animal Protection Association took the lead in the local petition, originally initiated by the London-based Humane Society International (HSI)– one of many international animal groups that are demanding freedom for the arctic bear and calling on the Chinese public not to visit the aquarium or shut it down.

They hope to enter negotiations with Grandview to find new homes for Pizza and many of the other animals, whose needs they say are extremely difficult to meet in a shopping mall environment.

NewsGram brings to you top news around the world today.

“As animal rights groups, we keep an eye on animal welfare and environmental protection. We hope that no wildlife animals leave their natural habitat or are kept in facilities such as aquariums or zoos, which are inappropriate for their survival. Such commercial activities of using animals in entertainment should be completely banned,” Qin added.

A polar bear is seen in an aquarium at the Grandview mall in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China, July 27, 2016.VOA
A polar bear is seen in an aquarium at the Grandview mall in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China, July 27, 2016.VOA

Controversy

Back in March, the animal welfare group Animals Asia posted a video showing a dispirited Pizza lying-down and exhibiting possible signs of distress, including teary eyes and twitching mouth. Viewers worldwide were heartbroken.

Since then, an online petition initiated by Animal Asia has garnered more than 680,000 signatures in support of the group’s call to free Pizza and close the aquarium.

Last month, the UK’s Yorkshire Wildlife Park offered to house Pizza in its specially-designed polar bear habitat – an enclosure that includes 10 acres of land and two lakes for its community of polar bears.

Pressure groups called the offer an opportunity for Grandview to right its wrong.

But the aquarium has flatly rejected the offer.

Artificially-bred

In spite of the bad publicity, Pizza remains on display in an enclosure of less than 66 spare meters.

In a written reply to VOA, Grandview argues that Pizza is an artificially-bred polar bear, which left its mother at the age of 2 and has long lost its ability to brave in the wild.

“It is only objective to look at both animal welfare and their social function… we also shoulder social responsibilities to popularize science and promote biodiversity,” the curator wrote in an email reply in response to the Free Pizza campaign.

Grandview insisted it has put the health of Pizza and other captive animals on top priority with a team of 130 professionals tending to the animals’ daily needs and performing regular physical checkups.

Check out NewsGram for latest international news updates.

“Our star animal Pizza has been healthy as all indicators from his recent physical exam fall with the normal range,” the statement added.

On top of nutritious and well-balanced diets, the aquarium has also stepped up efforts to create mentally- and physically-enriching activities, such as hiding food in the snow or frozen ice bricks so as to stimulate natural behaviors in Pizza, according to a promo video provided by Grandview.

In its own defense, Grandview said it is in polar bears’ natural behaviors that they spend “66 percent of their time in an idle status, another 29 percent in walking or swimming and eating in the remaining time.”

The aquarium added that its operation is fully legal after having secured a permit from the country’s ministry of agriculture.

Mental decline

But pressure groups remain convinced Grandview falls short of facilitating a zoo setting that is close to polar bear’s natural habitat.

And they say it’s a worrying sign that Pizza has exhibited classic signs of mental decline, such as head-swaying or repetitive movements.

“Once you’ve got an animal displaying those kinds of very typical behaviors, the clock is ticking really,” said Wendy Higgins of HSI.

“My warning to the mall would be that, at some point, in the near future, they are going to have a really obviously visibly mentally-disturbed polar bear on their hands. It would be embarrassing for them to have him on display,” she added.

Higgins said that she personally finds it repelling to put wild animals on display to stimulate sales of iPhones or sneakers. (VOA)

Next Story

Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

0
86
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

ALSO READ: Flashback to Terror: 1993 Mumbai Blasts Judgement to Hail on June 27 After 24 Years

Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)

Next Story

India’s Textile and Fashion Heritage now part of Google project

Google's project 'We Wear Culture' is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India and its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago

0
97
we wear culture
Google's new art project 'We wear Culture' digitizes fashion, Wikimedia
  • Google’s project ‘We Wear Culture’ is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India
  • It intends to trace the story and importance of Indian textiles from ancient sculptures
  • Its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago

June 15, 2017: To a certain extent, a culture is defined by what is worn by its people. In a country as diverse as India, vast and varied spectrum of cultures and clothes is one of the specialties. Google’s latest virtual exhibition project now provides us the opportunity to explore and know more about it.

Google’s project ‘We Wear Culture’ is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India and its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago, from the ancient Silk Road to the unmatched elegance of the Indian Saree,  from the courtly fashion of Versailles, to the Victorian ballgowns with intricate thread work.

According to Amit Sood, director of Google Arts and Culture,”We invite everyone to browse the exhibition on their phones or laptops and learn about the stories behind what you wear. You might be surprised to find out that your Saree, jeans or the black dress in your wardrobe have a centuries-old story. What you wear is true culture and more often than not a piece of art.”

Culture is defined by what is worn by its people. Click To Tweet

The company also mentioned that noteworthy collections from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) and varied weaves from across India, from Gharchola to Patola to Temple to Ikat sarees will be included in the online project, as it intends to trace the story and importance of Indian textiles from ancient sculptures.

ALSO READ: New Google Project Digitizes World’s Top Fashion Archives.

According to PTI reports, the world fashion exhibit also includes designs from north-eastern India including the weaves of tribes such as the Nagas, Meitis. it will showcase the traditional attire from Meghalaya called ‘Dhara’ or ‘Nara’ worn by the Khasi women as well.

As a part of the exhibit, Sewa Hansiba Museum has brought the unique colorful and rich embroidery arts, applique and mirror work from different communities such as the Ahir, Rabari, Chaudhury Patel and many others from the western part of India online.

The exhibition conducted by Salar Jung Museum brings to light the Sherwani and its journey of becoming the royal fashion statement of the Nizams from 19th century Hyderabad. Fashion and textiles enthusiasts can revisit Colonial Indian attires with Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum. Over 400 online exhibitions and stories sharing a total of 50,000 photos, videos and other documents on world fashion are open to exploration as well.

The ‘We wear Culture’ initiative highlights significant events in the growth of the world fashion industry; the icons, the movements, the game changers and the trendsetters like Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace, Audrey Hepburn and many more.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

 

 

Next Story

Premature Babies Score Lower on Standardized Tests than Full-term Infants: Study

Very prematurely born babies did score lower on standardized tests than full-term infants, but as the length of pregnancy increased, the differences in test scores became negligible

0
56
A nurse holds the hand of a premature baby
A nurse holds the hand of a premature baby, who was born at five months of pregnancy, at a hospital in Medellin, Colombia. VOA
  • Premature birth happens when a baby is born before at least 37 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • The study found that two-thirds of those born at only 23 or 24 weeks were ready for kindergarten on time
  • The study also showed that almost 2 percent of those infants later achieved gifted status in school

June 14, 2017: A study following more than 1.3 million premature babies born in Florida found that two-thirds of those born at only 23 or 24 weeks were ready for kindergarten on time, and almost 2 percent of those infants later achieved gifted status in school.

Such very prematurely born babies did score lower on standardized tests than full-term infants, but as the length of pregnancy increased, the differences in test scores became negligible, according to the study, conducted by Northwestern University and published on Monday in JAMA Pediatrics medical journal.

[sociallocker][/sociallocker]

“What excites me about this study is that it changes the focus for the clinician and families at the bedside from just focusing on the medical outcomes of the child to what the future educational outcomes might be for a child born early,” Craig Garfield, the first author of the study and an associate professor of pediatrics and medial social sciences at Northwestern Medicine, said in a statement.

Researchers analyzed the school performance of 1.3 million infants born in Florida from 1992 to 2002 who had a fetal development term of 23 to 41 weeks and who later entered the state’s public schools between 1995 and 2012.

They found that babies born at between 23 and 24 weeks tended to have normal cognitive functions later in life, with 1.8 percent of them even achieving gifted status in school.

ALSO READ: Treatment with Uterine Fibroids helps restoring Fertility in Women

During the time period the study covered, 9.5 percent of children statewide were considered gifted.

Premature birth happens when a baby is born before at least 37 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A normal pregnancy term is around 40 weeks, and a preterm birth can lead to serious medical problems, underdevelopment in early childhood or death for the infant.

The study does not account for why these extremely premature infants later performed well in school, Garfield said in the statement, and did not look at whether their success could be related to extra support from family or schools, or the children’s biological make-up. (VOA)