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Chinese Animal Groups Lobby to Free ‘World’s Saddest Polar Bear’ at China’s Grandview Mall



polar bear by artic wolf via flickr

A new HSI video, indicating the polar bear’s mental decline, has sparked action from 50 Chinese Groups and one million petition signatures

In an open letter to governor Zhu Xiaodan in Guangzhou, China, 50 Chinese animal groups are urging him to take action to close an aquarium at the Grandview Shopping Mall exhibiting some 500 species, including a polar bear called Pizza who made global headlines when photos emerged of the inadequate conditions in which he and others are being kept. The groups are asking that the animals, including an arctic fox, walrus and beluga whales, be rehomed as soon as possible. They are also appealing to the nation’s industrial and commercial sectors to help stop China’s growing trend of displaying captive wild animals at shopping malls as a way to entice customers back from online shopping.

The Chinese groups are adding their voice to the international outrage at the polar bear’s fate, as new video footage is released by Humane Society International and its Chinese partner group VShine, showing the polar bear exhibiting worrying stereotypical behaviours such as head swaying and repetitive pacing, evidence of frustration and mental decline. HSI also joined with Care2 and Born Free Foundation in collecting 500,000 petition signatures calling for the closure of the mall’s animal exhibits which, in addition to the 500,000 signatures previously collected by Hong Kong-based Animals Asia Foundation, brings the total to one million global petitioners.

Last month, Yorkshire Wildlife Park in the United Kingdom offered to give the polar bear a home in its 10-acre enclosure. However, it is understood that the Chinese authorities have refused the offer, stating that Pizza will not leave China. The Grandview’s general manager was also reported by AFP news agency as stating that there is “no need for foreign organisations to get involved”. Not to be deterred, China’s own animal groups have therefore taken up the campaign to show the local government that calls to close the Grandview mall’s animal exhibits will be heard loudly in China too.

Mdm Qn from Capital Animal Welfare Association said: “The appallingly inadequate way that this polar bear is being kept at the Grandview is a shameful stain on China that must be swiftly corrected. A shopping centre is no place to be keeping any wild animal. Pizza can never be released to the wild, but at the very least mall operators should let him live out the rest of his days in a facility where he can breathe fresh air and see the sunlight. If it has been decided that he will not leave China, then let’s find him the best new home inside China, but we cannot stand idly by and let this once magnificent bear languish in this depressing state.”

Dezhi Yu for Dalian-based VShine said: “We welcome the one million petition signatures from concerned citizens around the world, as they have helped to raise much needed awareness about the animals at this mall who deserve so much better than being enclosed in a glass box to attract shoppers. There is a worrying trend in China of wild animal exhibits in shopping centres, with another one reportedly being considered right now in Shijiazhuang, Hebei. It shows a complete lack of regard for their welfare. If the mall thinks foreign groups are not needed, let them meet with us Chinese groups instead, because we too care passionately about these animals and want to give them a better life. There are no more excuses left for not taking action.”

Dubbed “the world’s saddest zoo”, the animals are kept in small, barren glass-fronted enclosures without natural light or air, lacking any stimulation and unable to engage in natural behaviours.

Professor Alastair Macmillan, Humane Society International/ UK’s veterinary adviser, viewed the HSI/Vshine footage and said: “This polar bear is showing classic stereotypical behaviour, including head swaying and repetitive pacing, induced by frustration and poor welfare. This is the animal’s attempts to cope with stressful, aversive situations such as barren enclosures, boredom and constant disturbance by visitors. The conditions in which he is being kept are completely unsuitable, vastly removed from anything approaching his natural habitat, and if something is not done then he will likely slip further and further into mental decline.”

Chris Draper, associate director for Animal Welfare and Care, Born Free Foundation commented: “The problems associated with keeping polar bears in captivity are well-known, which makes the barren and inadequate conditions for the polar bear named Pizza at the Grandview shopping centre aquarium all the more appalling. It is abundantly clear that this bear needs, among other things, far more space, natural light and significantly improved opportunities for natural behaviour – as a minimum. If this cannot be provided at Grandview aquarium, then the only responsible action to take would be to move the bear to another facility with better conditions. We are calling on the authorities to work with the animal protection community as a priority to find a better life for Pizza.”



Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness



Connect With Nature

Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.

How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature

Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.

While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.

When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness.  Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.

4 Practical Ways to Disconnect

If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Switch to a New Phone Plan

It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.

One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.

2. Get Rid of Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).

If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.

3. Create Quiet Hours

If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.

4. Build Community

Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.

As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.

Untether Your Life

If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.

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6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move



Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.

6 Tips for a Greener Move

Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.

1. Maximize Each Trip

When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.

If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.

2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep

The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.

3. Reuse Moving Boxes

Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.

4. Get Creative With Packing

Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.

5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies

Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.

6. Forward Your Mail ASAP

Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.

Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful

Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.

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