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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A circus without animals

When I was a child, I loved the circus. Part of the attraction was the large animals, lions, tigers, and elephants that performed all the while appearing to teeter on the edge between obedience and deadly defiance. Only much later had it occurred to me that these animals are not like dogs, cats, and livestock, which have evolved in close association with us and no longer can live in the wild. Lions, tigers, and several other animals that are part of the spectacle of many circuses do not depend on humans for their lives and do not seek human companionship naturally.

Tigers are part of many circuses, but in the end, they are not pets, they are wild animals.
Later, it occurred to me that tigers are in their natural habitat are in danger of disappearing from the face of the earth. Hunting, the international trade in wild animals for spectacles and exotic food, and habitat reduction have reduced tiger populations to the point of extinction. I was appalled that the world continued to act as always, with very little concern for this dramatic news. The contradiction between being able to place humans on the moon but unable to save such emblematic animals as tigers speaks poorly for our century. 

Tigers are not only rare, endangered species, they are wild animals that merit life according to their nature. Wild animals like tigers should live and die in the jungle, not in cages. When I realized that wild animals were subjected to harsh, severe treatments to perform in the circus, it made me think more about what circuses meant for tigers and other wild animals, even those whose populations in the wild are not at risk of extinction. For these animals, life in a cage means privation from what is found in their spirits. None of them would choose to live in dependence of people, in a cage, if only their cage doors were left open.

Furthermore, as the video above demonstrates, the circuses which make great presentations in Nicaragua do not treat these animals in any way as they should be treated. Imagine what it might mean to a tiger to be transported in the back of a pickup truck through the city of Managua. As the video shows, the animal became frightened, and his own reaction led to chaos inside the parking lot of Channel 10.

Fortunately, this animal did not harm anyone, nor was he harmed physically in the frightening event. But the video demonstrates what we already know, that tigers are not really appropriate to drive around town in pickup trucks or hang out with people.

Protestors against the use of wild animals in circuses appeared by the hundreds! Photo Ilse Diaz.
Children of Nicaragua are just like any other children. They love clowns and music, and all the fanfare surrounding circuses. The child in all of us does. It had not occurred to me that circuses could do things different than those of my childhood, really, until I visited Europe and friends took me to see Cirque du Soleil. The entire circus was magical. Although I was older, it made me feel the thrills that I remembered when I saw the circus as a child. But there were no animals in the circus. No tigers, lions, nor elephants, not even dogs. The entire process of the animal-free circus was seductive. There were no signs outside proclaiming, "ANIMAL-FREE CIRCUS", no activists shaming me into purchasing a ticket. It was as if the animal issue were not even there. It was a fun circus, in fact it was memorable. And, it didn't have animals. 

animal rights
The use of wild animals in the circus is still permitted in Nicaragua, but many people actively oppose it. Photo Ilse Diaz.
One of the regional circuses recently came to Managua, Circo de Renato, from Mexico. This circus circulates throughout the region, from country to country, and Managua is visited regularly. Their use of animals is widely known and can be seen on lots of you-tube videos, such at this one:

Tigers in Circo Renato. 

Must a circus have wild animals to be fun? Of course not. What if?

What if?

The rights of an animal in Nicaragua are only now getting defined, legally. A recently passed law, Ley 747, requires that all domesticated animals be given humane treatment, even animals for consumption such as chickens and cows. The concept of animal welfare is new to Nicaragua, and some practices such as cockfighting and even worse practices are common in the countryside. The law makes a solid first step toward the treatment of domesticated animals, and even provides for animal sacrifice in the case of meat, cockfighting, and circuses. However, what is not clear is what should happen to animals that are clearly not domesticated. Some animals, even when born in captivity, are by nature wild. How should these animals be treated?

Circo Renato
Many people in Nicaragua think circuses should not use wild animals in their performances. Photo Ilse Diaz.
How Nicaragua chooses to treat wild animals has many implications. The first is that an important message can be transmitted to all, that animals have rights which also restrict us. We really don't lose much today if we can not see the animals in the circus, because the television shows with wild animals are every day more graphic. We can unite with Costa Rica, where circuses are not allowed to use animals. Another implication is that wild animals from our own forests can be protected more easily. Lots of wild animals in Nicaragua are captured and sold into the pet trade, and some of them become used in similar ways to circuses, adorning the entrances to hotels, restaurants and tourist centers.

Circo Renato
A circus without animals is possible! Photo Ilse Diaz.
Several groups of animal rights advocates in Nicaragua have united to demonstrate their discontent regarding the use of wild animals in the Circo de Renato, which is now showing in Managua. Last Saturday, hundreds of demonstrators arrived and made a peaceful presentation near the entrance of the circus. Another demonstration will occur this coming Saturday, beginning at 3 pm, and will continue until the circus stops showing wild animals or leaves.

Circo Renato
The circus had more people demonstrating against it than in paying customers last Saturday. Photo Ilse Diaz.
The law regarding animal welfare in Nicaragua does not explicitly prohibit the use of animals. Furthermore, the law has not been applied with a series of regulations. We are hoping the National Assembly will provide for regulations that are clear with respect to humane treatment of the animals in public spectacles such as circuses. These regulations should be sent to a vote in the assembly soon.

Circo Renato
Many people participated in the protest against the use of animals in the circus. Photo Ilse Diaz.
By insisting that circuses not use animals, we can generate a more educated, informed and sensitive public, where the issues of wild animals is taught to all, starting at an early age. Instead of capturing wild animals for use in circuses, we can work to protect their rights to live and die in the jungle, according to their nature. All children like to see wild animals, but there is no need for them to visit a circus to see them in stressful situations, far from their natural habitat. Wild animals should live and die in their natural habitat, not in a cage. We can watch them on Animal Planet!

animal welfare
Some mothers brought their children to demonstrate against the circus, rather than to pay for the use of wild animals in cages. Photo Ilse Diaz. 
These protests are having their effect. The visitors to the circus are not as high as the owners had probably expected. In fact, Renato was seen watching the protest, with a despondent look. The demonstrators are not bothering anyone, they are simply expressing their point of view without provoking any impacts on vehicular or foot traffic. The visitors to the circus enter and leave without any kind of threat or discomfort. Yet, all who have seen the demonstration have the chance to consider the issue and go down the path that I have also taken.
animal welfare
Drivers and passengers along the Masaya Highway honked in approval as they passed the demonstration. Photo Ilse Diaz.

Circo Renato
There will be protests at the circus every Saturday, until the circus stops using animals or leaves. Photo Ilse Diaz.

Not all children want to see wild animals in cages! Photo Ilse Diaz.

animal welfare
Creative and fun protest was made pacifically, and the message regarding the use of animals in the circus was heard by many. Photo Ilse Diaz.

Animals are not clowns! Photo Ilse Diaz.

circus without animals
We would like to go to the circus, but please without using animals! Photo Ilse Diaz.

Demonstration against animals in the circus in Managua. Photo Ilse Diaz. 

Lots of smiles were seen during the demonstration against animals in the circus. Photo Ilse Diaz.

Circo Renato
The circus was practically empty, with more people outside protesting than paying customers. When will Renato produce a circus without animals? Photo Ilse Diaz.

Hundreds participated in the demonstration against the Circo de Renato last Saturday. Photo Ilse Diaz.

Many people participated and others waved and honked in approval as they passed. Photo Ilse Diaz.

Circo Renato
Drivers, pedestrians and visitors to the circus went on their way with a message regarding the rights of the animals used by the circus. Photo Ilse Diaz.

wild animals
How do we get to see circuses without animals? Photo Ilse Diaz.

The streets took on a happy aspect as drivers honked in support of the protection of animals. Photo Ilse Diaz.

Cars passed the demonstration, honking in approval. Photo Ilse Diaz.

animal welfare
Renato viewed the demonstration with concern, because few people actually paid to enter the circus last Saturday. Photo Ilse Diaz.

wild animals
Another voice in favor of the circus without animals. Photo Ilse Diaz.

The treatment of animals has become a topic of much discussion in Nicaragua. Photo Ilse Diaz.
If you would like to participate in the advocacy of animal welfare in Nicaragua, there is much to do. Some people provide food, medicine, and sterilization to dogs that are found in the street without homes. FUNDECI/GAIA provides a shelter for several wild animals which are rescued from the pet trade or are found injured. We return them to the wild whenever it is feasible. You can volunteer or donate. We need food-nuts are especially needed for our macaws! Please call us at 8882-3992 or write us at if you would like to donate your time or provide for a meal for a rescued animal.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Conservation Science Interns and Volunteers at Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

There are 78 protected areas in the SINAP system, managed by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA) in Nicaragua. Among the most conflictive of these areas is Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, because of the beautiful views and warm, clear water. This protected area faces many challenges but none is as grave as that of real estate development.
FUNDECI/GAIA maintains a permanent presence in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, through the operation of the biological research station "Estacion Biologica". We conduct a number of environmental studies and conservation actions through our research station there, and we share our knowledge about Nicaragua, its language, culture and great natural heritage through courses and internships offered there.

FUNDECI/GAIA Conservation Science Intern Ruben Pelckmanns participates in bird population monitoring in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo Pablo Somarriba.
Conservation science interns and volunteers are essential to our work in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. We are conducting studies of birds, monkeys, plants and fish during 2014 at this location, in coordination with some universities and MARENA. We are comparing animal and plant surveys to previous years to determine how the forests improve or degrade. Frankly, our initial results have suggested some important loss of habitat in some of the most important areas for biodiversity in this location.
conservation science internship
Conservation Science Interns at FUNDECI/GAIA can work on our wildlife monitoring project in the Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo Pablo Somarriba. 
We at FUNDECI/GAIA are committed to seeing Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve prosper as a natural area. Obviously, not everyone feels the same, and we have had to deal with some very negative forces in the area, especially coming from people who want to gain riches from investing in property inside the protected area for real estate development. Some of these people really do not like us, and we have recently won an important civil judgment against some of them. There is great opposition to protecting the forest and lake from their greatest enemies, the real estate offices!
internships in Nicaragua
These volunteers left us with a poignant and environmental message.  Photo Pablo Somarriba.
The GAIA Program in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve also promotes environmental conservation projects, particularly reforestation in some of the affected areas in the reserve. Our group was instrumental in the production of the first-ever official management plan for the Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, with our employee Jeffrey McCrary as the coordinator of the project, which involved dozens of work meetings with the community and government officials, reviews of biodiversity, geography, land use, sociological factors, and lots of maps and other information for use in the plan.
conservation science
The finding of a freshly dead bird led to a skin preparation. Photo Pablo Somarriba.
Our interns can be involved in ongoing studies on the environment in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. We have been conducting studies of bird, bat and butterfly populations in the reserve for several years. We are looking for historical trends in populations which may demonstrate differences in land use in five different sites inside the reserve.
conservation science
FUNDECI/GAIA volunteers at Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve painted realistic images of some of the wildlife found in the area, along the wall of the entrance to Estacion Biologica. Photo Pablo Somarriba.
Interns may also take on conservation projects. One of our oldest projects is reforestation. We harvest seeds, plant and grow native trees in our tree nursery, and plant them in deforested areas in the forest. But the most important aspect of our project means the difference between success and failure-it is the continued care of the planted trees for years after planting. Many reforestation projects exist in natural areas, but few of them succeed in recreating natural forest, because tree survival is typically zero for those projects. 

We also rescue wild animals. Interns can work on animal care with our animals, which include two macaws. They can also participate in fundraising for the care and re-introduction of rescued wild animals. 

FUNDECI/GAIA volunteers participate in discussions on the environment and social issues in Nicaragua with guests at Estacion Biologica. Photo Pablo Somarriba.

Click on the "escudo" to contact us.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Los animales silvestres deben vivir y morir en el bosque, no en una jaula

La Asamblea Nacional de Nicaragua se encuentra en el proceso de reglamentar la Ley de Bienestar Animal, también conocida como la Ley 747. Esta ley noble prohibe al maltrato y requiere a todo dueño de animales, que sean de tiro, de alimento o de mascota, que brinde condiciones dignas para el curso de su vida.

Nicaragua, siendo un país con bosques alrededor, se ha acostumbrado a tratar a algunos animales como si fueran domesticables. Todos tenemos algún amigo que tiene un mono encadenado en su patio. Loras y lapas abundan entre la clase media alta, se han convertido en manifestaciones de poder adquisitivo. Y hay quienes en Nicaragua con tigrillos, leoncillos o hasta un jaguar enjaulado en su casa, extraño o perverso que sea.

Los perros y los gatos son animales que derivan de la vida silvestre, pero después de miles de años de acompañamiento a los seres humanos, ya dependen de ellos. Los gatos y perros no pueden sostenerse como especie sin alguna relación con el ser humano. 

Sin embargo, las lapas, las loras, los chocoyos, las culebras, y todos los animales silvestres, no prefieren vivir con el ser humano como si fueran gatos y perros. En jaulas, amarrados con cadenas, o con sus alas cortadas, se encuentran miles de animales de la vida silvestre en Nicaragua. El comercio en estos animales es tan fuerte que casi nadie en este país ha visto una lapa en su vida libre, pero todos hemos visto lapas en jaulas dentro de casas de amigos. 

Los animales silvestres en Nicaragua sí dependen de los seres humanos, para que se acabe con el tráfico de mascotas. Sin una ley y coacción contra las personas que participan en el tráfico de animales silvestres, vamos a seguir perdiendo animales del bosque, como ya ha pasado con la lapa y los monos en gran parte de Nicaragua. 


ley 747

El Nuevo Diario ha publicado una entrevista sobre los rescates de animales silvestres del tráfico en mascotas. FUNDECI/GAIA maneja un pequeño albergue donde recuperamos animales silvestres heridos o abandonados del tráfico en mascotas. Por nuestra experiencia como voluntarios a favor de los animales silvestres, FUNDECI/GAIA participa con los miembros de la Asamblea Nacional en la formulación del reglamento para esta ley. Quieres ayudarnos a cuidar estos animales y prepararlos para su regreso al bosque? Necesitamos voluntarios, donaciones de comida, servicios veterinarios y buena voluntad! Si deseas donar un paquete de marañones o un día de trabajo, estaríamos nosotros y los animales muy agradecidos. Contáctennos

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Contaminación Ambiental en la planta embotelladora Big Cola

Varios reportes noticieros han salido al aire sobre el asunto de la Big Cola en los últimos días. Aquí se puede ver, por ejemplo, un reportaje de 100% Noticias (Jackson Orozco):

La Radio La Primerísima también ha participado en la divulgación de los asuntos de contaminación de agua y excesos de sonido en la Big Cola (oprima sobre la foto para el enlace): 

contaminacion ambiental
Haga clic sobre la foto para enlace con Radio La Primerísima.

Big Cola
Haga clic en la foto para conectar al reporte de Boletín Ecológico.
Los vecinos reclaman por cumplimiento de leyes ambientales, sobre sonidos, vibraciones, y emisión de líquidos y gases, en un barrio urbano en Managua.
Para participar en las protestas contra la contaminación de agua en el Lago Xolotlán, y la protección contra sonidos en el barrio, escribannos en FUNDECI necesita del apoyo de cada persona interesada para proteger el medio ambiente

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Big Cola Pollutes in Managua II

Just in case anyone doesn't believe the videos and photos demonstrated in an earlier blog entry are real, here are more. Big Cola is considered to be a multinational, receiving the same support for its business as the other Free Trade Zone companies that do business in Nicaragua. These companies submit to strict regulations which control their activities. Nonetheless, policing is difficult for the government, even when relatively few companies are recalcitrant polluters. The case of Big Cola is dramatic, however, as can be seen in the videos below. 

water pollution
Wastewater from the Big Cola bottling plant in Managua is opaque and foamy. Is this within the standards for wastewater in Managua? 

Big Cola
Water dumped from the Big Cola plant may vary from dark, bright red, or opaque white.
The owners of Big Cola, AJE Group, have promised to invest US$25 million in Nicaragua. This seems like a great plan, because Nicaragua needs investment and employment. Nonetheless, this investment must be placed appropriately, including to clean up the messes made by the company and to protect the neighbors from water pollution, gases, and noise. Additionally, workers in the Big Cola bottling plant must be protected from noise, as well.

Are you offended by these images and videos? Do you want to do something to keep Nicaragua clean and safe for everyone? Contact us. FUNDECI is working with the local community to bring the issue to the attention of local and national government authorities, and the public has much to do to pressure the government to act. We need your help to pressure the AJE Group to comply with Nicaraguan laws.

Monday, June 30, 2014

La planta Big Cola viola leyes ambientales en Nicaragua

Toda actividad comercial debe acatar a un gran número de regulaciones ambientales para asegurar la protección de los suelos, el aire y el agua que nosotros ocupamos. No toda empresa actúa responsablemente. Es desafortunado que hay empresas que abusan de los principios básicos del cuido del planeta y el respeto hacia sus vecinos. Entre las empresas violadoras en Nicaragua, se encuentra la empresa embotelladora conocida por su producto más visible: Big Cola

Big Cola Nicaragua
Este líquido rojo fue botada recientemente desde la planta Big Cola, operada por Aje Group, en Managua.

FUNDECI participa en una iniciativa local para exigir a la planta embotelladora Big Cola a acatar a estandares mínimos ambientales. La planta emite líquidos contaminantes en un cauce que corre directamente al Lago Xolotlán. Esta emisión es en violación directa y obvia de la ley en Nicaragua. Los líquidos emitidos son de diferentes colores opacos, como se fueran pinturas. 

water pollution
Big Cola bota agua severamente contaminada en un cauce en Managua.
Los vecinos de la planta han reportado olores feo, especialmente cuando la planta emite grandes cantidades de gases de sus tanques de alta presión. Nadie sabe precisamente que ellos emiten en esos eventos, pero el alarma provocada por el desinterés que la empresa demuestra, hace que los vecinos sospechen lo peor. 

La maquinaria en esta planta emite mucha ruido, violando los derechos de los vecinos a la paz en su vecindario. Las indicaciones para niveles máximos de ruidos, manejadas por la Organización Mundial para la Salud, no son respetadas en la planta Big Cola, donde los ruidos en las casas de los vecinos llegan a niveles que afectan el bienestar fíisico y emocional de sus habitantes. Estas indicaciones son ley en Nicaragua.

El costado este de la planta embotelladora  Big Cola en Managua.
Maquinaria pesada en la planta Big Cola también provocan vibraciones en la tierra. Los vecinos reportan miedo de un evento sísmico. 

Se convocó una reunión pública en la planta embotelladora Big Cola en Managua, el 27 de junio del 2014. Asistieron oficiales de varios oficinas gubernamentales, la planta Big Cola, y vecinos, y representantes de FUNDECI. Los vecinos presentaron sus quejas sobre la contaminación y el ruido. Como se ve en las fotos y videos, la planta Big Cola produce ruidos que afectan a la salud de sus empleados y vecinos, y bota líquidos no tratados. 

La planta Big Cola supuestamente se ampara en los acuerdos de CAFTA, pero esta protección no brinda ningún derecho de contaminar. 
Deseas apoyarnos en la lucha para hacer que la Big Cola cumpla con las leyes ambientales? Contactanos!