So a few days ago at Mount Royal Park in Montreal (recognize the statue?). A giant fucking eagle was circling up above and decided a toddler looked like dinner. Watch as he swoops down and picks the kid up. I particularly love the guy shouting “Oh Shit?!” in a french accent.

Thankfully the kid wasn’t hurt but seriously, WTF!??! Did you even know we had eagles that big? Ever seen anything like this in Montreal?

Update: So this video was digitally created by NAD design students: Normand Archambault, Loïc Mireault and Félix Marquis-Poulin as part of a school project. They will evidently be receiving a very good grade as grading is based on how viral a video goes…



“What do they know, all these scholars, all these philosophers, all the leaders of the world? They have convinced themselves that man, the worst transgressor of all the species, is the crown of creation. 

All other creatures were created merely to provide him with food, pelts, to be tormented, exterminated. In relation to them, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka.”

~Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1978 Nobel Prize Winner


A few weeks ago, Mika and Zak, two harp seal pups at the aquarium in Iles-de-la-Madelaine, were issued a death sentence by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Due to an international outcry, with more than 124,000 signatures generated on a petition to save them, the pups’ lives have been spared. After much confusion as to what to do with the seals, the aquarium received word from the DFO a few days ago that Mika and Zak may be released into the ocean.

Every spring for the past 25 years, the DFO captured two young harp seals from the wild to put them on display at the Iles-de-la-Madelaine aquarium. Every fall, when the aquarium closes for the winter months, the seals are released back into their natural habitat. This year, however, the DFO changed their directives and decided that releasing the seal pups may endanger wildlife by potentially transmitting diseases to wild populations. With the recent information coming to light on the sorry state of marine life in captivity and the amount of medications that are given to such animals to keep them looking somewhat healthy, the DFO’s new directives are of no surprise.

Hearing of the death order, one of the aquarium workers alerted a wildlife rehabilitation centre in B.C., and the petition, which ultimately saved the lives of Mika and Zak, was launched.

The aquarium halted the planned killing of the seals but did not quite know what to do with them. At one point, they requested $73,000 from the public to send them to a wildlife facility in France. Animal activists and wildlife organizations were shocked—they felt like this was some type of ransom note.

This heart-wrenching situation raises questions about why the DFO is capturing wild marine mammals to begin with, and about the lack of legislation protecting marine mammals both in the wild and in captivity.

The aquarium states that its mandate is to educate the public about wildlife in the Saint-Lawrence River/Atlantic Ocean area and help humans create a bond with these animals. It appears rather contradictory to this mandate to exterminate these same animals once the tourist season is over.

How unfortunate that people view animals, not as souls and beings like themselves, but as “things” which can be forcibly claimed from the wild and disposed of when they no longer serve them or when they become a burden. What gives us this right? What makes it acceptable in the human psyche, the human heart? It is incumbent for us to reconnect to our hearts and see God in everyone, in every living being. Every living being has a divine spark, and we have no right to recklessly take away lives at will.

What exactly are we teaching our children when we bring them to zoos and aquaria to stare at miserable wild animals captured for our pleasure and “education”?

Based on reports from workers at Marineland, the Toronto Star recently published a series of stories describing the horrendous living conditions at that aquarium in Niagara Falls, and thousands of people have now signed a petition calling on the Ontario Premier to enact laws to protect animals in zoos and aquaria.

The DFO stopped the capture of whales for display in aquaria in 1999. Perhaps it’s due time to stop capturing all marine mammals—stop taking them away from their own families and homes. Just because we can kidnap wild animals, doesn’t mean we should.


Every year in Quebec, as the July 1st moving day approaches, thousands of animals are left behind, as their human parents feel obliged to move on without them. Especially at this time of year, shelters overflow with abandoned animals. At the Montreal SPCA, the number of abandoned animals triples in moving season, from around 600 animals taken in per month to about 1600. Due to the incredible numbers of homeless animals, 25 000 animals are euthanized per year in Montreal alone.

Many claim that they have no choice but to give up their pets because they cannot find an affordable dwelling that allows animals. According to an estimate by Quebec’s rental board, la Régie du lodgement, only about 3% of landlords in this province accept tenants with dogs. It is no wonder that some people see no other way than to leave their pets behind in apartments, outside to fend for themselves, or drop them off at the nearest animal shelter (which is the best case scenario for abandoned animals because at least they are safe). Some say the inadequate animal protection laws in this province are also a big problem, in addition to prevalent “no pets” clauses.

This is simply unfair and discriminatory towards low-income families. Since most leases in Quebec have some type of valid “no pets” clause, those with limited options due to limited resources, are stuck.

Also, a responsible pet owner who takes every precaution necessary to ensure that their animals are well-cared for and therefore not a nuisance or danger to anyone, should be allowed to keep their pets, no matter where they live.

In Quebec, since “no pets” clauses are legally binding, landlords have an unfair advantage by penalizing all pet owners, regardless of how the animals are actually cared for.

It’s time for Quebec to follow Ontario’s example and render these archaic blanket provisions invalid. Since 1991, such clauses in residential leases in Ontario have been rendered of no effect. That means that even if such a clause exists in the lease, the landlord cannot use it to force someone to part with their pet, unless the animal is dangerous or otherwise causes serious problems for other tenants. Article 14 of Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act reads as follows:

A provision in a tenancy agreement prohibiting the presence of animals in or about the residential complex is void.

Animals are no longer to be viewed as things, like old furniture, which can be discarded, during a move or at any other time. Animals should never be forced to separate from their beloved families. They are sentient, loving beings who want to stay with their loved ones, just as much as humans do! I can tell you this because I am proud a mama of several furbabies and therefore can personally attest to the fact that they experience emotions just like we do. The thought of someone abandoning their own child when moving is ridiculous and horrendous. Well, to me, the thought of abandoning an animal for this reason is equally devastating.

Let’s keep in mind that where there is love, there is a way – always. Love creates miracles. Sometimes just discussing with your landlord that you are a responsible pet owner can convince him/her to let you keep your pet. Verbal agreements between landlord and tenants do exist, even when the lease states unequivocally “no animals.” Furthermore there are certain listings which help locate pet-friendly dwellings in different cities (however, admittedly, at this time, such options in Montreal are hard to come by).

Let’s make a difference. Let’s speak up against this unacceptable negligence towards animals! Let’s help keep families together. The SPCA website provides a link to a petition addressed to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Regions and Land Occupancy which we can all sign in order to get with the times and help keep families together!

“The problem with the world is that we draw the circle of our family too small.” ~Mother Teresa.



Admiral Tenenbaum

Good Day Everyone. I am Admiral Tenenbaum of Napoleon’s Army of Animals on Facebook, an international Role-Playing Game. This is
one of very few games on Facebook that doesn’t require any kind of application, only participation. It is a part of the great Napoleon Buonaparte’s army/navy. I started out as a Major General in the QFF (Quebec Feline Front) division, moved up to General, and when the
Navy of Animals began, I became Admiral of Supplies.

Rex Sunshine, of JC Sunshine fame, is an ensign in Napoleon’s army and a minor character who is usually arrogant and adversarial. He has been known to spy on the army on occasion and more often to spy for the army.

The Army of Animals is a game that was started by Napoleon Buonaparte when he noticed that many other people, like himself, were posting pictures of their pets as profile pictures. At one time Facebook began deleting a lot of profiles containing pictures of animals, and this was one very creative way of keeping everyone’s accounts active, or at least showing some solidarity between people who post photographs of their pets instead of photographs of themselves.

Ensign Rex Sunshine

The Army of Animals is also a place where one can either relax in the
bar or battle the enemies, including the forces of Nelson and Wellington,
as well as Facebook spies. This RPG now has over 4000 members from all around the world involved.

There are many great characters involved in Napoleon’s pet empire, and
you can find out about them by looking them up on Facebook, Twitter, or the general’s gift-shop page.

Napoleon Buonaparte himself (photo: Napoleon's Pet Empire, L.L.C. all rights reserved)

The general and his army are always on the lookout for new recruits. If you use a photo of your pet as your Facebook image, then you can join, and the official tailor will make you a uniform. The only recruitment rule is: No Humans Allowed (or spies). Of course you can use any photo you wish when not playing this game.

Come and join us on our next big adventure with all of the virtual hijinx and debaucheries we animals can muster on an online, anthropomorphic plain, or just join us in the bar for a drink.

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. “
Aldo Leopold

If human and wildlife justice systems were the same, your whole community would be annihilated if you were hit by a car.  Ridiculous, isn’t it?  Well that is exactly what happened to 400 Canadian Geese in Brooklyn last July.

The excuse for the mass killings was that a flock of Branta canadensis was sucked into an airliner’s jet engines that crashed in the Hudson River.   Everyone on the flight survived.

The geese were gassed under the cloak of night after New York o.k’d the removal of geese within an 11 km radius of the airport.

Too bad for the geese and surrounding environment that the 400 goners were well outside this zoning regulation, more than 14 km away.   They were tossed in a landfill, causing an outcry from conservationists and goose meat lovers.

Although this cull was  unnecessary  for the stated  reason  of airline security, it pleased residents who claimed that the bird was becoming a nuisance.

Many of the complaints against the geese are symptomatic of a spoiled human population. They’re noisy, messy and can be  aggressive, so therefore, they no longer deserve to live.

Wildlife management is a curious thing.   Sometimes, culling is the best way to promote a healthy ecosystem.

Canadian geese were in severe decline a few decades ago, but have since rebounded to support a healthy population of goose hunters.   These killings, however, have no base in sound management since non-lethal methods of removal can be used.

Although the cull appears nonsensical and absurd, the Forest Lakes Community Association supports the killings, stating that they are “potentially deadly” birds.

Oregon, New Jersey and New York are among some of the U.S states enacting a cull on Canadian geese.   In Canada, Nova Scotia is culling Canadian geese to prevent a population outbreak that may cause crop damage, but has not as of yet.

The culls are going to continue as long as it is the most economical method for controlling wildlife.   The thing about this type of control is that a new, potentially more pervasive nuisance species will take the Canadian goose’s place.

In a world where we continually remove natural habitat, why do we punish the wildlife that adapt best to our urban surroundings?

Smiling from across the table sits Tyler Bonnell.   A soft-spoken man with striking blue eyes and a well-trimmed beard, it is hard to imagine that this young parent is a world expert on mapping primate behavior.

Because of his early combined interests as an undergraduate in health related topics, maps and a gift for working with computers, Dr. Raja Sengupta and Dr. Colin Chapman from McGill University hand-picked him for graduate studies to investigate a new frontier in science.

“Because he had an interest in these fields and was (computer) programming on his own, we found him to be the perfect student,” said Dr. Sengupta.

In what looks like an archaic version of Pac-Man, Tyler spends his days programming how virtual primates might move in different landscapes.   It can be anything from how a monkey acts when it’s hungry, to how it moves around a forest when it is sick.

“It’s my own virtual laboratory.   I run tests under strict scenarios, tweak them, and then see what happens,” said Tyler about his research.

Welcome to the world of agent-based modeling (ABM).

A very basic model. The dots are agents that behave the way a programmer tells it to.

“ABM started with economics, what people might call computational social science,” said Dr. Sengupta, “people would replicate the stock market, with agents buying or selling stocks and shares to simulate what would happen in the real world.”

An agent can be anything you want to learn about, which you place in a model.   Dr. Sengupta said that people began realizing that agents had to have landscapes.

In Tyler’s case, the agent is the colobus monkey, a herbivorous primate species that lives in and around the lush Kibale National Park in Uganda.   His PhD focuses on combining ABM with health and geographical information systems (GIS).

The layers of GIS. Place the "agents" in this landscape and see how they act!

Using data collected over the years by Dr. Chapman from Kibale, Tyler has pieced together a complex, virtual world where he can observe what happens to primate agents if their programmed food sources are altered.

On his computer screen, the primates are represented by tiny dots.   They move as individuals within a social group, sharing information about food sources in a forest landscape that Tyler has created through real data.

“I use ABM to simulate foraging patterns, to see how primates move. If they are driven by their natural habitat, we can see how changes to the environment can change the rates that diseases spread. There’s awareness that ABM will become more important because of the rate that we’re changing the environment,” said Tyler.

“It’s a pretty powerful tool,” said Dr. Chapman.

“People are interested in how diseases spread. We share a lot with primates, being so closely related to them, which include diseases like AIDS and Ebola. Tyler can look at what could happen if an outbreak occurred. This would let us look at what mechanisms could be put in place to stop it from spreading,” said Dr. Chapman.

Tyler’s talents with ABM let him work in dynamic settings that let him answer “what if” questions with relative accuracy, which is particularly useful when raising a child who constantly asks “why?”

In the 1960’s, Fudge, a small, brown domestic tabby, had its demise on the corner of my mother’s childhood home after a fatal car encounter. This is a sad reality for cats who are permitted access to the outdoors and may have happened to you or someone you know.

Growing up, my house had three cats; all indoor. We’d bring them outside on humiliating little leashes, let them eat grass, then protectively bring them in soon after, a way to honor Fudge and make sure something so traumatizing wouldn’t happen to them. They would watch cat tv for hours (i.e., the window) and chatter at the urban critters scampering by, but that’s as far as we let it go.

Unnatural? Maybe. Cautious? Definitely, but there is a lot of merit to leading a house-cat life.

Cats generally live longer if they are kept indoors.   House-bound cats are also at a lower risk of contracting ecto (on the body) and endo (in the body) parasites.   Ticks, mites, worms, feline leukemia, distemper and Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) (the kitty version of HIV) are some of the pathogens that are itching to invade your furry companion.   Cats are transmitters as well and have been named a culprit in the acquisition of FIV to populations of the endangered Florida panther.

Cats are territorial and can sustain injuries from fights and are vulnerable to other forms of zoological violence.   They are also wily predators.   Catching small mammals and birds is also another source of illness.   The responsibility then falls on the owner’s pocketbook to prevent some of these misfortunes with visits to the vet.

Cats aren’t native to many parts of the world.   Where they have been introduced has caused decreases in biodiversity and have been blamed for local small animal extinctions.   This has been well documented in Australia and surrounding Pacific Islands.

They were originally imported to these regions to manage the rats that accompanied colonialist ships and have lead to declines in songbird populations wherever they go.   Several attempts at reintroducing ground bird species that have disappeared due to predation in Australia have failed as a result of cats.

Outdoor cats also form colonies.   Dierdre Walford, a director for a West-Island cat rehabilitation group, said that feral cats can band together in the hundreds.   “We try to spay and neuter these colonies when we find them, but people keep letting their cats go outside, or abandon them when the school semester is over.   It’s very hard to control and exposes them to so many dangers.”

Letting your cats run free does have some benefits.   They are generally happier, get more exercise and use the great outdoors as their litter box.   Most cats carry a parasite called toxoplasmosis.   If you’ve ever had an indoor cat, chances are that you have also contracted it and don’t even know it.

The general side-effects in humans is an increased hibition for risk-taking in males and females become more affectionate.   The parasite’s eggs are transmitted through the feces, so the more they use the neighbor’s garden as their latrine, the less probability there is of contracting toxoplasma.

There is no need to worry, though.   Humans and felines have been amicable companions since the times of ancient Egypt, despite the parasite.   The only real danger lies waiting in the litter box for pregnant women who have never been exposed to the pathogen.

Cat population control is a problem in Montreal.   Just visit the SPCA’s adoption page to see the sheer volume of pets needing a home.   The Montreal SPCA holds a 15-20% euthanasia rate, one of the lowest in Canada.   No kill shelters, such as the Animal Rescue Network run on donations to fund the facilities needed to care for unwanted pets.

These places are filled with dedicated, over-worked and underpaid staff.   Speaking with anyone from either of these places will convince you of the importance to give your cats a happy, fulfilling life indoors.   Doing this will save on visits to the vet and will have far reaching effects for maintaining local biodiversity, but it is a matter of choice in the end.

If you decide to obey your cat when demands to be released are vocalized, for the health of your pet and the local environment, have them spay or neutered and ensure that all their vaccinations are up to date.   Screening for FIV and feline Leukemia will also go a long way in keeping the air sweet with birdsong.

I am against the “fixing” of animals. Before you decide to “fix” me for saying that, let me explain. This one might make you think about it a little too much. I’m sorry if I make you uncomfortable, but this practice makes the animals involved considerably more uncomfortable.

The only reason that veterinarians recommend sterilization of pets is to keep the puppy and kitten mills in business. If pets simply reproduced naturally and the offspring were given away to new pet owners instead of being sold in stores, there would likely be far less animal abuse. It is sad how it is often the abusers who get on a proverbial high horse and speak out against such behavior, often filming their own cruelty and using it as a promotion against animal abuse.

Some people are even brainwashed into thinking that it is cruel not to sterilize their pets. Many of these people are selfishly thinking about their pets spraying or becoming violent. This is a natural thing and sterilization is unnatural. So are puppy and kitten mills.

Think about it. If your pets are like your children, and many pet owners feel that way, would you even consider doing that to a child? While it might be considered standard procedure for a pet, if a parent did that to their child, they would likely lose custody of said child.

To look at it another way, imagine this scenario: Children are grown in laboratories. All babies are test-tube babies and are raised in orphanages. All children are sterilized at puberty, often in a very painful and brutal way, except, of course for the “breeders” who are kept enslaved by the child mills until they can no longer bear children, at which point they are discarded. They are abused and are made to live in horrendous conditions. I just described your average puppy/kitten mill, with cooperation from the vets and the pet owners. Not a pleasant thing to think about.

Veterinarians often use words like “spayed,” neutered,” or “fixed” to describe this operation. To Fix is to break open the pet and castrate or otherwise sterilize it. To spay is to rip out the ovaries of an animal and to neuter is to rip the balls off an animal. Imagine doing that to your own children!

There is an old saying: “if it’s not broken, don’t Fix it!” This stems from people damaging an item by trying to repair it when there is no damage. The truth is, pets are impractical in the city, if there isn’t a need for them. Having said that, I realize that there is a real need for certain animals such as seeing eye dogs, hearing ear dogs, cats to prevent vermin from collecting and so on. These animals work better if they are not “Operated” on and that’s been proven by numerous case studies.

I do believe, though, that chipping a pet is a good idea, so as not to lose the pet. However, chiping your children? Who controls the chips? There is something to get really paranoid about!

“He’s not a nice cat.”

That’s exactly what the veterinarian said.   While that may not be a very professional thing for a pet doctor speaking to a distraught person caring for an animal to say under any circumstances, it was especially jarring under these circumstances.

Scimbles was a cat that lived in my apartment.   He had been placed in my care by a former roommate who moved to Europe.   Being an alley cat, he was a bit of a scrapper in general, but this night, he was suffering from urinary blockage, a common problem with male cats.   I don’t know about you, but if I couldn’t pee, I might not be in the best mood, either.

We had taken him to the Centre Vétérinaire DMV on Montreal’s West Island after the receptionist had convinced me that he wouldn’t live through the night otherwise.   They were the only vet that was open 24 hours a day and it was by now close to 2am.

The vet had presented me with two options: either pay $1000 for the operation that was needed and $500 of it up front or he’d do me a “favour” and put Scimbles down for free (except, of course, for the roughly $120 I now owed for them having a look at him).

I didn’t have $1000 or the means to get $500 on the spot, in fact I had even borrowed the $120 visit fee from a roommate.   I also didn’t want to let Scimbles die that night.   So, I was attempting to find another solution when I asked the doctor if he could clear the blockage temporarily so Scimbles could feel better and live through the night.   That way I could find a cheaper vet in the morning.

That’s when he made the comment about him not being a nice cat, as if it would be too difficult to clear the blockage as he was moving around too much, as if they didn’t have access to anything that could sedate a cat.   Eventually he relented and five minutes later, my friend was driving us home.   Scimbles was much calmer.

The next day Scimbles received treatment at the Baker Animal Hospital for a much more affordable fee that I could pay for in instalments.   Scimbles lived happily with me for another year and a half before disappearing this past summer.   Hopefully he moved on to a happier home or just maybe some day he will return.

If I had believed what I was told by the vet at DMV, Scimbles would have died that night.   Fortunately I was able to remain a bit savvy and wary of sales pitches despite being concerned.   That, essentially, is what it was, a sales pitch and a very hard sell at that: pay our fee or your cat will die.

Charging more than others for a service isn’t the problem here, that’s their right.   Demanding on an upfront payment for an operation isn’t the problem either, as a business, that’s their right, too.   The real despicable thing in this situation, I feel, is the fact that the Centre Vétérinaire DMV used hard-sell sales tactics and put Scimbles’ life in jeopardy just to make a buck.

True, the doctor did save his life temporarily and eventually made me promise that I would get Scimbles the operation somewhere or else put him to sleep because that was the humane thing to do.

Still, the humane thing for him to have done if he actually cared about animals would have been to inform me from the get-go that I had three options: pay their fee, put the cat to sleep or find somewhere else that would treat him for less money and not use a life as a bargaining chip to make profit for the business.

This event really made me wonder just what life would be like if human life was treated the same way.   I live in Canada and free universal health care has always been a given for me.   I don’t know what it’s like in the US where people have to get medical insurance or else pay for the surgery they need.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the doctors themselves that operate under the American system, or at least most of them, have more compassion for human life than this vet did for Scimbles and I also don’t think that people have to pay up front at an emergency room in the states when it’s a life or death situation.

However, if you have the rationale that health is a product that can be used to generate profit and follow that logic to it’s obscene (and extreme) conclusion then you get a situation where a human life in the balance can be used as part of a hard-sell sales pitch to generate profit, just like a cat’s life was in the vet’s office a few years ago.

About a month after the dust had settled on this episode, I got a letter in the mail from DMV…asking me to make a donation.   I didn’t make one.