Year of the Rabbit

2011 is the year of the rabbit, according to the Chinese Zodiac. Peace, harmony, and education are associated with the Rabbit. If you’re like me, someone who is skeptical of most things astrological, supernatural, spiritual or otherwise other-worldly, the Zodiac is simply a fun offering of interesting advice and useful ethical navigation to be taken with a grain of salt and informed by whatever is going on in your personal life. I am not convinced that there are only 12 types of people in this world – yet I still find myself reading astrology now and then. I guess it’s just fun to think something in the newspaper is about me.

China’s animal-inspired zodiac showcases a curious affection for animals – infusing them with meaning and symbology… curious because the country itself has no animal welfare regulations and is notorious for brutalizing many of the same animals they elevate with so much cultural importance. From the rabbit fur trade, to bear-bile farms, to zoos where the endangered animals’ bones are served as soup, China is the last place any animal would want to be.

I made the painting above, titled “Unlucky” to symbolize a dichotomy in our relationship to rabbits, to call attention to the silliness of superstition, and to recognize animals that are killed for their skins. A fur coat has just as much superstitious meaning behind it as a rabbit’s foot. The bearer believes the coat to be a form of protection; a talisman that transforms them into an elegant fashion icon, and at a very base level, a symbol of power over those weaker than ourselves.

It is the year of the Rabbit – not of the rabbit jacket or ear-muffs or hat. Not year of the skinned-alive rabbit, nor year of the screaming rabbits (and they do scream), and certainly not year of the powerless rabbit. Why is it then, that most of the worlds rabbit fur comes from China? Why is it that designers are using faux-spirituality like the über-Zen Donna Karan, instead of faux-rabbit fur?

My New Year’s Resolution is to make the year of the rabbit one that a rabbit would want. Please join me by getting involved in the PINNACLE Initiative.

Some other helpful links for animals in China:

Ohio Makes History

A deal struck between The Humane Society of the United States, Ohioans for Humane Farms, Ohio agriculture leaders and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland will lead to major animal welfare improvements in Ohio on a raft of issues, reforming industry practices and improving prospects for adoption of critical legislation in other areas. The agreement puts a hold on a planned factory farming initiative on the fall ballot, said the Humane Society of the United States today.

Once the animal-farming industries became aware that animal advocates from all over the United States had descended upon Ohio and gathered enough signatures to put an initiative on the ballot, animal agriculture finally agreed to come to the table to discuss meaningful reforms. Just hours before over 500,000 signatures were slated to be filed, a major animal protection agreement was reached – preventing costly and contentious campaigning. Several reforms that outlaw and phase out cruel practices in Ohio, a state known to have some of the weakest anti-cruelty laws in the nation and no meaningful protections for farm animals. The agreement includes the following measures for farm animals:

  • • A ban on veal crates, to be phased out within six years.
  • • A ban on new gestation crates in the state after December 31, 2010. Existing facilities are grandfathered, but must cease use of these crates within 15 years.
  • • A permanent moratorium on permits for new battery cage facilities in place immediately.
  • • A ban on the transport of downed cows and calves for slaughter.
  • • A ban on strangulation and other forms of on farm killing that are not included in euthanasia standards as outlined by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
  • • Enactment of legislation establishing felony-level penalties for cock fighters.

For more info:

The best thing you can do to help farms animals, your health, and the environment is to adopt a healthy, plant-based, vegan diet.

Breaking Undercover Investigation & The End of Lab Rats

1. Eggland’s Worst.

A new Mercy For Animals undercover investigation reveals shocking abuse at New England’s largest egg factory farm – Quality Egg of New England (QENE) in Turner, Maine. The hidden camera video shot in early 2009 gives a startling glimpse behind the closed doors of one of the nation’s leading egg producers, exposing the rotten truth behind battery cage egg production – heinous cruelty to animals. CLICK HERE for the full story.

New MFA Investigation Exposes Egg Industry Cruelty

2. Are the lab rat’s days numbered?

Brown University associate professor Jeffrey R. Morgan (above, with student Toni-Marie Ferruccio) has designed a 3-D honeycomb-like mold that holds artificial clusters of cells and reduces the need for animals for research in the lab.

Thanks to DAWNWATCH for the tip on this amazing article about scientists finally realizing how innacurate animal models are in finding cures for human conditions.

DBTV: Project Runway's TIM GUNN

Fashion Week is upon us in New York City! I had a few moments to catch up with Tim Gunn at the Bryant Park Hotel for his conference with PETA on the fur industry.  Tim is an outspoken advocate for animals used in the fashion industry, and calls for responsibility and accountability from every single person using or wearing the skin of an animal – whether it is fur, leather, or wool. In the sea of indifference to animals that is Fashion Week, it is amazing to have someone with such clout eloquently speaking the simple truth that fur no longer represents luxury – instead it is an outdated and egregious symbol of ignorance.

Watch Tim’s Video for PETA: