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Animal Cruelty Is Officially A Federal Crime

Animal cruelty has become a growing problem in this country. Whether it be blatant abuse that comes from the world of illegal pit bull fighting rings, parents dropping their puppy Christmas gifts off at shelters after they turn into an actual dog, or leaving dogs out in the cold during winter because they have a dog house, more people are just getting pets for the sake of getting them and not viewing them as an actual responsibility and companion. When animals end up in kill shelters, they’re more likely to end up in the wrong hands, as the background check process isn’t as extensive, and more animals are left to be killed or subject to abusive behavior, when all they want is a loving home and owner. 

Luckily, this month the government is making more moves to ensure that the animals who do find themselves in a domestic home, aren’t abused and are federally protected from those horrors. This past Monday President Donald Trump signed a bill that states animal cruelty is now a federal crime, and will be punishable as such. 

The specific act is titled the “PACT Act,” which stands for the “Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act.” According to the official bill, the act itself is a “bipartisan initiative that bans the intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impalement or other serious harm to living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians. The law also bans ‘animal crush videos,’ meaning any photograph, motion picture film, video or digital recording or electronic image that depicts animal cruelty.”

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The penalty for violating this new federal law will be a hefty fine, decided based on the specifics of each case, up to seven years in federal prison, or potentially both. The National Public Radio reported that the initial bill was introduced by Congressman Ted Deutch and Vern Buchanan of Florida. The bill was pushed to vote through the senate thanks to Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania. 

Animal cruelty has been an ongoing and growing issue within this country. America already has a whole series of individual state laws against animal cruelty and torture, however, without federal legislation giving a general basis and guideline for these laws, it’s become increasingly more difficult to prosecute specific cases without any major point of reference. 

“PACT makes a statement about American values. Animals are deserving of protection at the highest level,” Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement.

“I’m grateful to see the PACT Act finally signed into law. The barbaric torture of animals has no place in a civilized society and should be a crime — and thanks to this new law, now it is. Senator Toomey and I worked together for years to ensure that this kind of despicable torture of animals is forbidden for good, Senator Blumenthal said.

Many individuals who worked on this bill and helped sign it into legislation, including the President, have stated that this has been a long time coming, and animals are long overdue these types of federal protections. As previously mentioned, state’s were responsible for enforcing their own animal cruelty laws, as the only federal regulations before this point were more specifically based on animal fighting rings, and the distribution of videos depicting animal cruelty. Now, with the PACT Act, federal authorities will be able to target and go after animal abusers head on, as the act has granted them federal jurisdiction country-wide. The passing of this act is a win for animal rights activists, and more importantly our countries furry friends who all deserve a loving home, and are now being given a better shot at finding one.

Bei Bei The Panda

Bei Bei The Panda Is Heading Back To China!

Bei Bei the panda bear has become quite the icon in the U.S. national zoo scene. Bei Bei has spent his first four years of life at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington D.C. and became a huge spectacle when his birth occurred. The birth of any animal in the national zoo system often becomes an event for onlookers, especially in regards to endangered species and conservation efforts. In 2000, the Smithsonian National Zoo acquired two pandas from China, whose names were Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. According to USA Today, those pandas gave birth to three healthy cubs throughout the past ten years, all of which got national attention. Tai Shan was the first born in 2005, then came Bao Bao in 2013, and finally beloved Bei Bei in 2015. As an agreement with Chinese conservation officials who brought the parents to the U.S., all cubs born here in zoo captivity are required to return to China after they turn four years old. 

“The pandas take part in a breeding program to boost their population. For decades, the species was considered “endangered” and only recently was recategorized as “vulnerable” by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Conservation and research efforts by the zoo and its partners in China have helped boost the species numbers, and Bei Bei moving to China to breed once he becomes sexually mature in a couple years will further these efforts, the zoo says,” USA Today reports. 

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Bei Bei’s parents also still remain at the Smithsonian, however, they are also expected to make the 15 hour journey back home next year. Once that occurs there will be another meeting with the Chinese Conservation officials about future plans of the breeding and research program. The plan for Bei Bei’s travels will mirror that of his two older siblings when they made the journey back to China. The process was meticulously planned out over the last two months and involved over 100 individuals from both America and China. According to USA Today, Bei Bei will be transported from the zoo in D.C. to Dulles International Airport in Virginia, and from there he will be flown on a non-stop 15 hour flight to Chengdu, China. Bei Bei will be travelling via FedEx on a Boeing 777 Freighter aircraft (the same size as a standard commercial flight but specifically designed to carry precious cargo) which is the same type of plane his siblings took, giving it the nickname the “FedEx Panda Express.”

Their number one concern is making the process as easy and stress-free for Bei Bei as possible, he will be kept in a crate that’s 55 inches wide, 75 inches long, and 50 inches tall, plenty of room for the 240 pound bear (USA). 

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“I can’t say it’s another day at FedEx because it is special and it takes a special focus. We understand the importance of it and what it means to people in the U.S. and China.On the flight, Bei Bei will have bamboo, apples, sweet potatoes and other treats. He will also be accompanied by his primary caretaker and a veterinarian for the whole time. Zoo keepers have recently been acclimating him to his travel crate, as well, so he will be comfortable on the long trip,” says Dave Lange, managing director of FedEx’s charters department.

Once landed in China, Bei Bei will be transported to his new home at the Bifengxia Panda Base, run and operated by the China Conservation and Research Center for Panda’s. Once there Bei Bei will begin acclimating to his new enclosure and begin his life safely repopulating. For the past week fans from all over the country have come to say their goodbyes to Bei Bei. Not only are pandas adorable, but the ones that we exploit for conservation purposes induces a totally different response within humans. We want to see our planet and all of its beings thrive, especially the big fluffy ones, so when we have access to a certain population of that species that we know is being protected and used for conservation purposes, we just want to do our part. The WWF has worked with conservation efforts between China and the U.S. and has allowed an “adoption” program for these animals in which civilians can donate to support a specific animal, and then be kept updated on their travels and growth into adulthood. 

Bei Bei was truly one of a kind, and as the last panda in the U.S. that was a part of this program (for now), he maintained a high level of status amongst his fans, and he will truly be missed in D.C., but he’s going on to bigger and better things back in his true home.