Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

koalas

"Off in faraway eastern Australia, fierce bushfires have burned their way through vast areas inhabited by kangaroos, wombats, koala bears, and many other animal and avian species." (Photo: Pixabay)

Show Mercy for Animals

It's time for us to set the animals free and accord them their natural rights.

Eric Margolis

 by Eric Margolis

Two tragedies just happened in Romania and Australia that have left this hardened war correspondent shaken and horrified. 

At least 14,000 of the terrified sheep drowned in the icy waters and darkness of the overturned death ship.

An old tub of a cargo ship named the Queen Hind (likely Indian-owned but convenience flagged), packed with 14,600 live sheep, capsized at its dock on Romania's Black Sea coast due to overcrowding and improper load balancing. At least 14,000 of the terrified sheep drowned in the icy waters and darkness of the overturned death ship. Imagine their plight.

Maybe the dead were the lucky ones: the sheep were consigned for Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s leading importers of live animals. The Saudis like their lamb freshly killed. So instead of importing frozen lamb from Australia and New Zealand, where it is supposed to be humanely slaughtered, the wretched animals endure weeks at sea in ship's holds, in searing heat and terror, often with no food or water.

When the animals arrive in Arabia, they are herded into pens, have their necks cut or sawed, and bleed to death. Other Mideastern animal importers are no less cruel. Israel is a bit better. I am helping a sanctuary there for discarded, worn out donkeys and horses.

Some time ago, a cargo ship filled with sheep from Australia was marooned off Saudi Arabia when its importer went bankrupt. Thousands of animals slowly died from intense heat and lack of water or food.

Rescue teams, including the splendid Four Paws of Vienna, Austria, are now trying to extract the dead and dying sheep from the Queen Hind. There is even debate now over whether to send the few score survivors to be killed in Saudi Arabia or put to pasture on a government farm in Romania to live out their lives.

Off in faraway eastern Australia, fierce bushfires have burned their way through vast areas inhabited by kangaroos, wombats, koala bears, and many other animal and avian species. We rarely see the victims of these fast-moving fires, either in Australia, North or South America where baby animals and little birds can't escape the onrushing infernos. 

As a raging bushfire burned up the landscape, a lovely lady named Toni Doherty was driving when she heard screams and cries. She saw a little koala bear trapped in a burning field, its fur on fire. She jumped from her car, ran into the fire, grabbed the crying little koala, wrapped it in her shirt, and escaped to her car.

The 14-year old koala was taken to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and treated for severe burns all over his body. After a hard struggle to save the little fellow, the medical staff there decided he could not be spared.

The 14-year old koala was taken to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and treated for severe burns all over his body. After a hard struggle to save the little fellow, the medical staff there decided he could not be spared further agony and ended his life. Another 350 little koalas are estimated to have died. There is no estimate yet of wombat, kangaroo, anteater, or bird deaths.

Koalas are a national symbol of Australia. These adorable little animals are friendly, gentle vegetarians who like to live in trees and munch eucalyptus leaves. There may only be some 250,000 left. A few more annual bushfires and they risk becoming extinct. We need to protect our koalas, wombats, and kangaroos. They are part of our Earth and our humanity.

What we learn from this week of fire horror is that Australia must set up fire-proof shelters with ponds of water for their endangered animals. Getting stubborn koalas to use them is another story, but it's still better than leaving these national treasures to the flames. 

The U.N. and civilized nations must ban transport of all live animals for eventual slaughter. It's a crime, no question, our modern version of slave ships. The same applies to trucking live animals to death factories. 

I was involved last year in the case of an honorable woman who was arrested in Canada for giving water to thirsty, terrified pigs being trucked to slaughter in Toronto. Animals being sent to their deaths are given no food, water or, in the depth of winter, heat. 

It's time to end this barbarous behavior on land and sea. Animals have the same senses of fear, pain, family bonds, and hunger or thirst as we do. The huge animal industry insists, contrary to all evidence, that animals are insensate objects. It's time for us to set the animals free and accord them their natural rights.


© 2021 Eric Margolis
Eric Margolis

Eric Margolis

Eric Margolis is a columnist, author and a veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East. Margolis was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq. His latest book is "American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World."

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Critics Warn Biden 'Summit for Democracy' Will Highlight Democrats' Failures at Home

"President Biden can't champion democracy across the globe without fulfilling his promise to protect our voting rights at home."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Like a Teenager Promising to Clean Their Room in 30 Years': Biden Net-Zero Climate Goal for 2050 Ridiculed

"2050 is an extremely weak goal for the federal government to free itself from climate-heating pollution. It ignores existing technology and adds decades to GSA's own commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2025."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Should Cancel Student Debt or Watch $85 Billion Evaporate From US Economy: Analysis

Far-reaching cancellation enacted by Biden could add more than $173 billion to the nation's GDP in 2022 alone.

Kenny Stancil ·


Given Cover by Red-Baiting GOP, Corporate Dems Rebuked for Tanking Biden Nominee for Top Bank Regulator

"If you think that Senate Democrats rose up to [Republicans'] shameful display of modern McCarthyism by rallying around President Biden's nominee or her ideas that banking should work for the middle class, then you don't know the soul of today's Democratic Party," wrote one columnist.

Julia Conley ·


'S.O.S.!': Groups in Red States Nationwide Plead With Democrats to Pass Voting Rights Bill

"We can tell you firsthand that our Republican senators have no interest in joining this effort."

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo