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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Animal Broadcast Network Premiers

Today ABN launches the world's first mainstream information network of animal media partners.

Animal Broadcast Network is an "All Animal" syndicate of broadcasters, publication, and entertainment affiliates devoted exclusively to coverage of news, events and issues regarding the planet and its animal population.

ABN affiliates are independent broadcasters, journalists and writers dedicated to reporting the news, issues and interest highlights of the world of animals.

For information contact the Animal Broadcast Network



Sunday, June 20, 2004

American Crocodile, Survival in the Balance

This is the third in our series examining the past and problematic future of the American Crocodile.

At the campus of the University of Florida, Gainesville the Crocodile Specialist Group works to provide evidence that this once robust Florida native is now sufficiently recovered from near extinction to be considered a renewable resource. Crocodylus acutus, or "American Crocodile" seen here in a family portrait along side its much larger prehistoric ancestor "Super Croc" has become the object of interest for industry research centers planning a not so pleasant future for our Florida croc.

an excerpt from our story Super Croc vs The U of Florida, a Fighting Ground.

The Estuarine Crocodile or "Saltwater Crocodile" native to Australia is the world's largest living reptile typically growing up to 19 ½' in length and weighing as much as 2400 lbs, although larger individual sightings have been recorded. Despite their astonishing size the modern croc is small compared to its prehistoric ancestor Sarcosuchus imperatoro or "flesh crocodile emperor" which was a whopping 40' long and managed very nicely, thank you, during the early Cretaceous, 110 million years ago. The size of a London tourist bus this prehistoric animal lived at the top of his food chain and nothing was safe in its world.

Read the entire story "Super Croc" on the Animal Broadcast Network.



Tuesday, June 08, 2004

American Crocodiles 300 Million Years and Counting

Just 200 individuals stood between a future for a species and extinction now, 30 years later, there are an estimated 1000 American Crocodiles in the low lying mangroves surrounding Florida's Everglades.

Factors ranging from unprecedented urban sprawl and hunting to sugar plantation run off which pollutes vast portions of the Everglades have, for years, put enormous pressure on the species.

American Crocodile
artist: Robin Bouttell
Crocodilians are relics of the age of reptiles, an era in which these primitive-looking creatures ruled the earth for 100 million years. Today, only 23 crocodilian species remain and many of these are in danger of extinction from conflicts with man. Of all the reptiles, crocodilians are the largest and have the most complex behavior including elaborate courtship displays, nest building behavior and social rituals.

Shy and elusive, these native cousins to the Central and South American Crocodile were on the verge of extinction 25 years ago when the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service placed them on the "Endangered Species List". Listing means that the species, left on their own, would almost certainly become extinct.

Even as urban development threatened the crocodiles with extinction, some man made projects actually provided for their welfare. Florida Power and Electric has dug miles of canals in an attempt to drain water from properties used for their plant facilities in south Florida. These canals are the favored habitat of American Crocodiles and provide shelter for nesting.

With the nesting sites up to double that of 25 years ago U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials in the Atlanta Regional Office this week announced that they were cautiously recommending down-listing the American Crocodile from "endangered" to "threatened", a distinction that carries the same protections but with a measure of optimism for the survival of the species...that is, as long as the Crocodile Specialist Group doesn't promote them into handbags and crocburgers.

The CSG is, in their own words, "a worldwide network of biologists, wildlife managers, government officials, independent researchers, NGO representatives, farmers, traders, tanners, fashion leaders, and private companies" whose concern to protect endangered species, including abatement of illegal poaching, is limited to not only preserving the American Crocodile for posterity but for their own member's prosperity garnered from the future trade in hides and meat. Talk about out of the frying pan..., how long do you imagine the crocodile will last if left to the mercies of "tanners" and "fashion merchants?"

Conservation efforts need to be directed by people of compassion, financed by corporations in the spirit of public service rather than profit and guided by scientists and government officials in the course of doing their jobs and not as agents for the profiteers. The American Crocodile is a creature which has consistently demonstrated over 300 million years its instinct for self preservation and, but for the interference of man, should probably be on earth for millennia to come.

You may reach U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director, Steven Williams at 202 208-4717 or email Assistant Director of Endangered Species, Gary Frazer



Sunday, June 06, 2004

Patent On Beagle Dogs Canceled

University of Texas System "Disclaims "Remaining Term" of Patent on Sickened Dogs

WASHINGTON In a major victory for patented beagle dogs, the Board of Regents of the University of Texas System (UT) in Austin, Texas, disclaimed "The entire remaining term of all the claims" of patent #6,444,872, which covers live beagle dogs intended for use in experiments. In February 2004, the nonprofit organizations the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) and the PatentWatch Project of the Center for Technology Assessment (CTA) filed a legal challenge urging the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to cancel the beagle patent. Last week, the Patent Office agreed to reexamine the patent.

"This is a tremendous victory not just for the beagle dogs but for the 499 other animals who have been patented in the U.S.," said AAVS President Sue Leary, "The University took the only morally defensible action it could in the face of our challenge. It got the message that animals are not machines, articles of manufacture, or inventor's compositions of matter."

The patent's claims covered, among other things, "a canine model [of fungal lung infection]," and the various methods used to induce a fatal lung infection in the beagle dogs. The patent also indicated applying the methods to pigs, sheep, monkeys, or chimpanzees and, like many other patents on animals, appeared to be exclusively licensed to a private company.

"This decision, hopefully, is a first step to rescinding all patents on animals," says Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of CTA. "It is long past time for our government to recognize that animals are not patentable machines."

The AAVS/PatentWatch challenge represented the first time public interest organizations had requested the reexamination of a patent on an animal. New rules under which this reexamination was granted will permit AAVS and PatentWatch to appeal other similar cases all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. Since the Patent and Trademark Office first issued a patent on an animal in 1987, it has issued nearly 500 patent applications on animals.

A nationwide poll of U.S. adults commissioned by AAVS earlier this year found that two out of three people consider it unethical to issue patents on animals as if they were human inventions. Eighty-five percent of those surveyed were not even aware that governments and corporations are getting patents on animals.

"The swift decision of the University to drop all patent claims on sickened beagles demonstrates the patent's weakness, both scientifically and morally," said Tina Nelson, AAVS Executive Director. "This will be the first of many patents on animals that will crumble under public scrutiny when the truth is told."

The American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) is a non-profit animal advocacy and educational organization dedicated to ending experiments on animals in research, testing, and education. Founded in Philadelphia in 1883, AAVS is the oldest organization in the United States dedicated to eliminating experiments on animals. AAVS pursues its objectives through legal and effective advocacy, education, and support of the development of non-animal alternative methods.

The Center for Technology Assessment (CTA) is a public interest and advocacy
organization that works to address the impacts of technology on human health, animal welfare, and the environment. The PatentWatch Project of the International Center for Technology Assessment works to expose and challenge the inappropriate use of the U.S. patent system.

For more information, including document downloads, visit:

Crystal Miller-Spiegel, AAVS
(916)371-9872, (215)887-0816

Craig Culp, PatentWatch/Center for Technology Assessment
(202)547-9359, (301)509-0925 (cell)

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