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Monday, May 30, 2016

Harambe; Better Off Dead Than Alive In A Zoo

By now, we've all seen the video and stories. A four year old was clearly not being watched by his loser parents, and slipped into the enclosed Gorilla habitat at the Cincinnati Zoo. This kid had time to get through wires, and over a moat before he made contact with the 450 pound endangered gorilla named Harambe. This was well more than a split instant. Witnesses claim that they heard the child state that he wished to go into the enclosure and was actively trying to breach the barriers. What happened next is heartbreaking. 
Harambi was brought to the zoo in 2014. 
We see Harambe taking in this random child who has suddenly entered his habitat, and being very gentle with him. He appears to stand in front of the child as if to protect him. Once the parents and zoo goers start screaming he clearly becomes agitated. He drags the child through the water, but then gently stands him up, and in a moment that gets me every time-Harambe lovingly pulls up the little boys shorts. 

The zoo keepers had to make a quick decision. They shot Harambe with a slow acting tranquilizer dart. But Harambe grew up in the wild and was not raised by people. Gorillas of his size can crush a coconut as easy as a human can crush an ant. Knowing he could be very agitated by this dart,  which could take 10-15 minutes to work, they were put in a lose-lose situation. Should they wait for the tranquilizer to work, and potentially have a very horrific public death of a child on their hands? Or do they kill their beloved gorilla, and face the protests and repercussions of that? With a childs death at the zoo, they would surely be out if business within a year. Weighing the options, they chose to shoot and kill Harambe, in what i'm sure was a gut wrenching decision. Ian Redmond, who is the chairman of the National Gorilla Association says that the zookeepers had options other than killing Harambe. He states "When gorilla or other apes have things they shouldn't have, keepers will negotiate with them, bring food, their favorite treats, pineapple or some kind of fruit that they don't know and negotiate with them." 
Animal expert Jack Hanna feels to opposite. "I can tell you now, that there’s no doubt in my mind the child would not be here today if they hadn’t made that decision" Hanna said. "You’re dealing with either human life or animal life here. So what is the decision? I think it’s very simple to figure that out."

Gorillas like Harambe are critically endangered in the wild, numbering fewer than 175,000, according to the zoo. An additional 765 gorillas dwell in zoos worldwide. Western low land Gorillas are very gentle, self aware animals. They do not attack unless provoked. Because of this, animal rights activists, animal lovers & celebrities worldwide are in an uproar demanding that these irresponsible parents who allowed Harambe to be provoked be punished. Less than 24 hours after the incident a petition surfaced on to hold the parents responsible for this, and be looked into by Child Protective Services. Over 100,000 people have signed this in favor of "Justice For Harambe.

My hope is that the conversation arising from this horrific situation shifts from blame of both the zoo and parents, to one about boycotting zoos in general. The truth is animals like Harambe are not living happy lives in their false enclosures, with humans gawking at them all day long. Zoos may provide food and shelter for these animals, but they do not provide them with the quality of life they lead in the wild, or deserve. 

Zoos began in 1250 B.C. when humans started to keep exotic animals behind bars for entertainment. But as we have evolved as a society, why haven't these cruel practices? While it is true that animals who are injured and in need of rehabilitation, or wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild can benefit from zoos, there are also many reasons zoos do more harm than good. 

In recent years at The Nationial Zoo, a pregnant kudu and a Dama gazelle were spooked by visitor noise and both killed when they ran into walls. Zoos worldwide spend millions per year building enclosures for exotic and endangered animals like Harambe. The more endangered and rare the animal, the more profit the zoo makes. Not only do these rare animals drive ticket sales and boost numbers, they also boost gift shop sales. 

How would you feel if someone put you in a fake house with a glass wall where people gawked and took photos of you all day long? Not very free or happy i'm sure. These animals are no different. While many people still believe zoos are educational, abuse free places to visit animals, the reality is that there are many reasons everyone should seriously consider boycotting them. 
  • Enclosures

No matter how big a zoo builds an enclosure, these in no way match the animals natural habitats. They are far smaller and provide far less stimulation. Elephants for instance, travel 30 miles a day in the wild. Spaces for zoo animals are 1,000 to 100,000 feet smaller than their natural territories are. Along with the unnatural climate and weather, no animal can thrive in a zoo. Lucy, a lone elephant at Edmonton zoo suffered severe arthritis from constant confinement due to weather. In 2015, The Bronx Zoo and Disney's Animal Kingdom were named in the "10 Worst Zoos for Elephants".

  • Zoochosis
If you've ever seen an animal rocking back and forth in its enclosure, you experienced Zoochosis firsthand. This condition is caused by animals becoming bored and lonely in their fake enclosures. In Dallas, a Gorilla tried to escape his zoochosis by climbing over a barrier, and was shot to death after injuring four. This illness is so common in zoos that animals are often given mood altering drugs like Prozac, so that their sadness won't be a downer during your zoo visit. 

  • Ripped from the wild
In 2003 the UK allowed 146 penguins to be captured from the South Atlantic. Similar to slaves, they were then put on a 7 day boat ride before being given to a wildlife dealer, then sold to zoos in Asia. In 2010, Zimbabwe made plans to capture two of every mammal species living in the Hwange National Park including lions, cheetahs, rhinos, zebras, giraffes and elephants, in order to send them to North Korean zoos. Thank fully this plan was stopped by an animal rights organization. Despite what zoos would have you believe, figures also show that 79% of all animals in aquariums are wild captured.  Nobody knows exactly how many exotic animals live in captivity in the United States, though it's estimated that there are at least 5,000 tigers more than exist in the wild. 
  • Disposal of surplus animals
Most zoos run captive breeding programs, because he draw of a new baby animal brings in big profit. The downside of this is that they are often left with surplus animals. Any animal that no longer fits into the breeding program, or is no longer profitable or useful can be considered surplus. Zoos are not responsible for lifetime care of these animals get rid of them at will. These surplus animals are often sold and traded through a password protected online database: the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Animal Exchange. Although zoos promote conservation of endangered species, this often takes a backseat when the animal is no longer worth the time or energy the zoo would need to invest to keep them. According to Carole Baskin, founder of Big Cat Rescue,”if the animals are lucky, they may be traded or sent to another zoo or accredited facility. Some get transferred to multiple zoos throughout their lives. But a large number of them go to private breeders, pet owners, circuses, roadside zoos, and canned hunting ranches.” Often this even ends with animals being sold to taxidermists. In the US there is shockingly little regulation on trading and purchasing exotic animals. 

Very few of the zoos who claim to breed animals for the purpose of “conservation” actually do this. If they did, there would not be “surplus” animals, because they would be returned to the wild.

If the situation with Harambe teaches us anything, I hope it is that it is unnatural and cruel for animals like him to be captured and kept in captivity for human entertainment. Wild animals belong in the wild, not in zoos where there is little quality of life. The next time you have the urge to visit a zoo, consider donating money to an animal sanctuary instead. Sanctuaries are a place for animals to retire. There the animals are respected, and not treated as a prop or an object. As long as we continue to pay to visit zoos, this archaic tradition will thrive.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Why the Kardashians are smarter than you

The Kardashian family is one of the most hated families on television. Every time their name is brought up on social media thousands of horrible comments follow. These include death wishes, insults, slut shaming and much more. Usually the nastiest comments come from fat people who look like they got run over by a tractor, or faceless internet trolls.

I'm about to say something that might make you angry. The Kardasians are smarter than you.
That's right, in the minutes it takes for people to write insults about them on Twitter and Facebook, these bitches have millions rolling in. I'm not ashamed to say I love The Kardashians. I have been watching their reality series religiously for years. They are funny, entertaining and produce a fun show to watch.
So why is it that the world loves to hate this family?

The Kardashians have built their business empire to the point that their name is now a lucritive  brand. A 200 MILLION dollar brand. I can guarantee the internet trolls insulting them will never see that much money in their lifetime. While some attribute their success and fame to the infamous sex tape, that simply isn't true. Kim even sued after it's unauthorized release for $5 million. These are not just stupid reality tv stars, the Kardashians are business women who have leveraged their notoriety into very successful investments in a variety of areas.

So how did the Kardashian/Jenner clan get to be so rich? Contrary belief, the majority of their fortune is not generated from the reality series "Keeping Up With The Kardashians."
The families matriarch Kris Jenner, (who was a flight attendant before marrying Robert Kardashian) is the CEO of Jenner Communications. They didn't exactly start from nothing, the family was left a $1 Million dollar trust when Robert passed away. As the manager for her children, Kris makes a percentage of their earnings. It is estimated that she makes $5,000 for tweeting about a product and $50,000 for appearances. From motivational speaking, clothing; jewelry lines, video games, books, makeup, endorsements to boutiques these ladies bring in a constant cash flow.
The three sisters Kim, Khloe and Kourtney run several of their own businesses including
   Kardashian Beauty by Kourtney, Kim and Khloé
   Keeping Up With The Kardashians
   Kardashian Kollection (SEARS) $250M in sales
   Kardashian Khaos
   Kardashian Lingerie Kollection (SEARS)               
They also bring in income from many endorsements, photo shoots and three popular spin off shows. 
With a net worth of over $90 million, Kim is rumored to be the most wealthy of the three. In fact, i'd say she is a near genius business women. Here's why: In 2009 she invested in Shoedazzle which raised $60 million in venture capital, then sold a year later. She made $1.5 million just by selling her wedding photos. She also earns between $10-25 thousand per twitter endorsement. 
Well aware of her marketing power, Kim has broken the internet, and finely tuned her image to become more profitable. In 2014 she released the iPhone game "Kim Kardashians Hollywood", bringing in over $40 million of the profits in just three months. It's rumored she will take in over $250 million over the lift of the game. Heck, she even has her own Kimojis. She also gives back, donating 10% of her income to charities worldwide. Take that haters. 
The youngest in the family, Kyle and Kendall Jenner aren't doing so bad themselves. They have earned over $12 million from modeling, endorsements and creating product lines like Bellami Hair. 

Think what you will about this family, but they deserve a lot more respect than they get. In fact, they are laughing all the way to the bank. Viva Kardashians! 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Could Disney Parks make death as magical as their weddings?

Earlier this month Disney World announced that aspiring bridezillas all over the work can now plan to have their dream wedding in front of Cinderella's castle. For just $75,000, you to can pretend to be a Disney Princess, kiss your prince and live happily ever after. So what else do you actually get for this $75,000? Up to 100 people at your ceremony, which must happen at 9:30am sharp (sounds brutal). The rest of the fee is for food and beverage minimums at your reception, which must be held at another location. For a few thousand more, you can make an entrance in Cinderella's horse drawn glass coach, have fireworks, or add a slew of Disney characters who make $7.50 per hour.
It isn't really surprising to me that Disney has started to take more advantage of the ridiculous wedding industry. Through their movies, they are partially responsible for perpetuating the stereotypical "dream wedding" into every little girls brain. Years later when these same little girls begin to plan their weddings, Disney can finally cash in.

None of this is surprising however, since over the years Disney Parks have started to leave the middle class in the dust, catering more toward the wealthy. So much so that they have raised park prices, which started at $3.50 in 1971, 41 times in the past decade.
Thinking about making huge profits on life events, makes me wonder what would happen if the Disney Parks "magical" experience extended into death. The stark reality is, none of us are getting out of life alive, and what happens after is a mystery to us all. If you could help make the experience more magical for your family and friends, as well as have your "dream funeral" would you? Just think of the huge money making opportunity official Disney funerals could be.

For a moment, let us imagine Disney's foray into the death industry. 

Disney parks would build several private cemeteries and funeral homes on official property, but not close enough to parks to be depressing. They pump cookie smell all day every day, just like Main Street. The cemeteries would be full of burial plots themed by land. For $300k, you could be buried in the vast cemetery versions of Fantasyland, Adventureland. Tommorowland or Frontierland. 
The options for official Disney Parks coffins would be extensive and just like weddings, come with themed funeral add ons. Most coffins would have Dooney and Bourke interiors. Tombstones would be available in any Disney character or castle form. Disney asks that tombstone themes be kept in sync with the land of chosen burial. No Cinderella tombstones will be allowed in Frontierland, for instance.

A sample of the many options: 
Package A
Package A: Snow White's glass coffin. Comes with Seven Dwarf mourners to attend your funeral. Must be buried in the Fantasyland section. 

Package B: Rocket into the beyond in a Space Mountain coffin. Glows in the dark. Comes with a eulogy by Buzz Lightyear and Woody. Must be buried in Tommorowland section. 

Package C: Be buried in an actual retired ride car of your choosing. Burial section must coordinate with ride land. 

Add ons: 
$3,000, gets you or your loved ones name written in fireworks.*only available on off peak weeknights.
$5,000 gets you a Cinderella's coach ride to your burial place. 
$8,000 gets you a Eulogy by an animatronic of your choosing. 
$600 gets a tweet shout out of the obituary, from the Disney Parks official twitter of your choosing. 

Some VIP fans can choose to have their head cryogenically frozen and placed near Walt's underneath The Magic Kingdom. *This option would only be available to illuminati members. 
And if anyone could make death, funerals and burials magical, i'm certain Disney could.

As awesome as this all would be, Disney does not offer any post death services as of yet. I personally don't see much of a difference in Disney Parks offering death options than wedding ones. Sure, one is a very happy life event, and the other is the saddest, but both require them to sell to people who will pay big money to have the Disney Parks experience. Both also require them to prey on the aspirational hopes and dreams of Disney fans wordwide-even if unattainable.