Day: May 21, 2020

Nature: Bumblebees’ ‘clever trick’ fools plants into flowering.



Hannier Pulido


Nature: Bumblebees’ ‘clever trick’ fools plants into flowering


Scientists have discovered a new behaviour among bumblebees that tricks plants into flowering early.

Researchers found that when deprived of pollen, bumblebees will nibble on the leaves of flowerless plants.

The damage done seems to fool the plant into flowering, sometimes up to 30 days earlier than normal.

Writing in the journal Science, the scientists say they have struggled to replicate the bees’ trick in the laboratory.

With their fuzzy appearance and distinctive drone, bumblebees are hard to miss in gardens all over the world.

Their dense, hairy bodies make them excellent pollinators for crops like tomatoes and blueberries.

They are among the first bees to emerge each year and work a long season. Some colonies remain active through the winter in southern and urban areas of the UK.

But despite their key role, bumblebees, like many other pollinators have seen their numbers tumble in recent decades.

One recent study pointed to climate change, reporting that an increasing number of hot days in Europe and North America was boosting local extinction rates.

But researchers have now made a discovery about bumblebees that could have relevance to their long-term survival.

Scientists in Switzerland found that when the bees were deprived of pollen, they started to nibble on the leaves of plants that hadn’t yet flowered.

The bees used their proboscises and mandibles (mouthparts) to cut distinctively-shaped holes in the leaves.

But the creatures didn’t eat the material or use it in their nests.

The damaged plants responded by blooming earlier than normal – in some cases up to 30 days ahead of schedule.

“I think everything that we’ve found is consistent with the idea that the bees are damaging the plants and that that’s an adaptation that brings flowers online earlier and that benefits the bees,” said Dr Mark Mescher, one of the authors from ETH Zurich, told BBC News.


The bee-damaged plants flowered 30 days earlier than undamaged plants and 25 days earlier than ones damaged by the scientists.

The research team believes there may be something else going on here apart from nibbles.

“We really tried to replicate with the best of our ability,” said Prof Consuelo De Moraes, also from ETH Zurich.

“It’s possible that the bees also have some cue that they are providing to the plants that is specific to the bee.”

“And that could be secretions that we don’t know about but it’s something that we plan to investigate.”

The researchers say the damage has a particular pattern that the scientists have learned to recognise, even in the most unlikely places.

“You see these semi-circular sort of incisions, often in the leaf,” said Dr Mescher.

“One of the students was saying that they were eating a salad the other day, and they saw that kind of damage on the leaf that was probably from a bumblebee.”

The researchers say that when pollen is available the bees don’t damage plants. They’ve also found this behaviour is in wild bees.


However the team are keeping an open mind on whether the plants might be the ones in the driving seat.

It is vital for plants that depend on pollination to have their flowers on display when the pollinators are buzzing around.

It could be that some plants have evolved a strategy to push out their flowers when they recognise the bee doing damage to their leaves.

Ultimately, though, knowing more about the relationship between bumblebees and flowering might have implications for the resilience of these creatures in the face of a changing environment.

“I think it’s fascinating how much we still don’t know about organisms that we think we know really well,” said Prof De Moraes.

“It absolutely increases our sense of wonder at the cleverness of nature in all its many forms.”



There are many forms of animal cruelty…

… one of them is to put a bird behind bars and claim that you have a sweet pet that sings for you.


Flying is part of life for birds, as is breathing for us.

A bird never belongs to a cage, it belongs to nature.
If you really love birds, don’t lock them up, but watch them in the wild – where they belong.
Nobody wants to be locked up.

Regards from Venus

Germany: the death laboratory LPT is now history.

Four months of undercover research by the SOKO association and a short, powerful campaign, supported by the power of the images, brought a historical change.

The laboratory is now history, the authorities have withdrawn their operating license, and most of the animals were saved.

Almost 50 years of fighting were going on against LPT, it seemed hopeless to close it, and furthermore the laboratory was expanded, e.g. in primate husbandry.

Former LPT employees accuse the Hamburg-based company of falsifying studies and torturing animals.

Thanks to the “SOKO animal protection” as well as a large demonstration and increasing pressure, the laboratory is now closed!

We have often reported about this:


Perhaps we should erect a memorial in front of the Hamburg laboratory in the name of the victims, like this one in Munich in Dachau, to remind us where millions of beings have lost their lives under fascism.

A very nice contribution by the Austrian philosopher and animal ethicist, Helmut. F. Kaplan on the subject:

“Animal testing is wrong regardless of whether it is useful for humans. The legitimate question is not: “What is the maximum amount of health we can produce?” But: “How much health can we generate in an ethically acceptable way?”

The – real or perceived – usefulness of animal testing is not an ethical argument at all: there are many things that would be useful but are still immoral and prohibited, for example human testing.

The only reason why animal experiments have not been frowned upon and banned for a long time is simply because animals cannot defend themselves. They are helpless delivered to us.

But of course this is not a moral justification, just a cynical exercise of power.

Animal experiments are and remain crimes against defenseless beings” (Helmut Kaplan, Animal ethicist)

My best regards to all, Venus

EU: Green Deal puts animal welfare back on the EU’s agenda.

Pro-Brexit supporters burn an EU flag during a UKIP demonstration in central London


WAV Comment – this is an un edited copy of the PR from Eurogroup.  We would love to see action on live animal exports.  Make of this what you will.  

Talk is one thing; action is another – especially where the EU is involved.


Sheep legs


Green Deal puts animal welfare back on the EU’s agenda

20 May 2020


Press Release


The day has finally arrived: the Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity to 2030 strategies of the European Union’s Green Deal have been adopted. Both contain positive points that suggest the Commission is ready to take action for animals – but will these strategies deliver the concrete changes the EU needs to move away from intensive farming and the exploitation of wild animals and their habitats?

Last week, an open letter from Eurogroup for Animals and its member organisations asked the European Commission to take our recommendations for both strategies on board, and our members also mobilised to drum up support at national level as part of our “Stop Pandemics – Start Here” campaign.

Indeed, during the preparation of the strategies, the COVID-19 pandemic offered a particularly timely reminder that devastating results can come out of the way we trade, farm and keep animals. Wild and domestic animals have carried viruses and bacteria for millennia, but what has changed is the way we humans interact with them. The legal and illegal wildlife trade, urbanisation and the destruction of wildlife’s natural habitats for agricultural purposes, especially for the intensification of animal farming, are combining to push humans, wildlife and other animals closer than ever before – and heightening the risk of pandemics like the one we’re suffering now.

With the presentation of the finalised texts today, it seems that the Commission has indeed taken most of this to heart.

The Biodiversity to 2030 Strategy takes many of our recommendations on board, committing to keep existing environmental policies strong and stimulating the enforcement of the Birds and Habitats Directives, with ambitious goals for protecting European species. It also makes a commitment to legally protect a minimum of 30% each of the EU’s land and sea areas, and says that at least 25% of the EU’s agricultural land must be organically farmed by 2030.

The Commission will propose a further tightening of the rules of EU ivory trade in 2020, and by 2021, it will revise the Action Plan against wildlife trafficking to step up efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade. It states that the EU will enhance its support to global efforts aimed at applying the ‘One Health’ approach, by promoting better protection of natural ecosystems coupled with efforts to reduce wildlife trade and consumption, to improve resilience to possible future diseases and pandemics.

However, to ensure that the strategy is implemented effectively, the Commission should also regulate the legal wildlife trade, which impacts global biodiversity and animal welfare, and poses health risks to EU citizens. An EU-wide ‘Positive List’ for exotic pets, specifying which animal species are suitable and safe to be kept as pets, would offer a much-needed precautionary approach, given the continuous shifts in species and numbers of animals in trade, and would be coherent with the ‘Do No Harm’ principle promoted in the strategy.

“The document is ambitious,” says Reineke Hameleers, CEO of Eurogroup for Animals. “However, we will be pushing for implementing actions to regulate the exotic pet trade to protect EU consumers, animal welfare and biodiversity. Going by the strategy’s acknowledgment of the ‘Do No Harm’ principle and the fact that any product on the market should comply with EU and international commitments, we hope they’ll be open to the idea. We also urgently need a full ban on the ivory trade, stricter regulation of the legal trade in wildlife, and a EU-wide Positive List.”

As for the Farm-to-Fork Strategy, happily the Commission makes it clear that animal welfare legislation will be revised and broadened, and the revision will have to provide higher welfare standards than existing ones. This is an opportunity for all existing animal welfare laws to be revised, particularly the Transport and Slaughter regulations, but also others such as the Broiler and Pig Directives. This also opens the opportunity   to deliver on the recent ECI “End The Cage Age”, calling for an end to the use of cages in livestock systems, and to include specific animal welfare provisions for species such as cattle. As the strategy makes the link  between legislative change for animal welfare and the aquaculture sector, this is the opportunity to introduce the first species-specific provisions for farmed fish, too.

However, in other respects the strategy is less ambitious. While the Commission accepts that moving to more plant-based diets and less meat consumption is good for health and the environment alike, earlier versions of the strategy proposed an end to promotional measures for meat. The finalised text now says only that the Commission will undertake a review of EU promotional support for agrifood products with a view to enhancing its “contribution to sustainable production and consumption”. We expect this review to lead to a transparent conclusion that meat should not be promoted, and we regret that the language has become so weak in the final version.

The strategy announces the creation of a framework for a sustainable food system, but remarkably a reflection on the role of the intensive livestock industry in the spread of zoonotic diseases is missing. Eurogroup for Animals believes the new framework law should lead to a profound system change including a phase-out of intensive animal farming practices. Although the strategy commits to considering options for animal welfare labelling, there is no mention of method-of-production labelling, which would provide an objective and harmonised framework to support the transition towards higher welfare and sustainable livestock systems.

The strategy also recognises the detrimental impact imported products can have on the environment in producing countries, calling to avoid the externalising or export of unsustainable practices. The call for EU trade policy to contribute to enhancing cooperation, and particularly to obtaining commitments from third countries on animal welfare, is very welcome.

“This document is historical in so many ways, opening the door to a potential better world for farm animals in the EU and other parts of the globe. It shows the Commission’s willingness to strengthen animal welfare legislation after years of stagnancy, and that they’re listening to the voices of millions of EU citizens,” says Reineke Hameleers. “Nevertheless, we need systemic change and that needs a lot of determination, as well as resources. The Commission’s plan for a sustainable food system is laudable, but will they also provide additional support to farmers in the transition towards higher animal welfare systems and regenerative agriculture?”

Both strategies recognise that the wildlife trade and intensive farming together add up to more than the sum of their parts, and not just where zoonoses such as COVID-19 are concerned. The Biodiversity to 2030 Strategy states several times that it will work in tandem with the new Farm-to-Fork Strategy and the revised Common Agricultural Policy, and that the Commission will ensure that the CAP’s strategic plans lead to the use of sustainable practices such as organic farming, agro-ecology, and stricter animal welfare standards. Similarly, the Farm-to-Fork Strategy asserts that “the Commission will ensure the implementation of this strategy in close coherence with the other elements of the Green Deal, particularly the Biodiversity strategy”.

The finalised strategies will now be rolled out, with the European Parliament adopting a resolution on the content later this year. At Eurogroup for Animals, our next opportunity will be to influence the European Parliament’s response to the two strategies, so our members will start to mobilise citizens in the days ahead to contact their MEPs and make their voices – and our recommendations – heard.





We start the day with good news

From the Animal Liberation Press Office: “Received anonymously: 3 hunting towers destroyed in Poland”

_hunting_in Poland May20b

“3 hunting towers destroyed. Government has banned blocking hunting so we have no choice.”

_hunting poland_May20


And I mean…From an ethical point of view, hunting is and remains murder.
Therefore, it is not wrong to destroy towers and it is not forbidden to be happy about them.


My best regards to all, Venus

China: Wuhan BANS eating wild animals: Five-year rule brought in after global coronavirus pandemic was linked to city’s wet markets.





Read the full article, complete with pictures and video at:


Wuhan BANS eating wild animals: Five-year rule brought in after global coronavirus pandemic was linked to city’s wet markets


The government of China's Wuhan city has banned the eating of wild animal species, including those bred and raised by people, for five years. The file photo taken on January 17 shows the Huanan Seafood Whole Market, which is believed to be the origin of the coronavirus outbreak


  • New rules forbid the consumption of wildlife, including those bred by farms
  • Experts believe the coronavirus outbreak was caused by the practice in China
  • The virus likely jumped to humans from animals sold at a wet market in Wuhan 
  • The law also bans people from producing, processing and trading wild animals 
  • Beijing in February issued a temporary ban on the trading and eating of wildlife


Experts in China said in January that the virus had likely jumped onto humans from wild animals sold as food at a wet market in the city of 11million.

Apart from seafood, the market’s offerings included live wild animals, such as foxes, crocodiles, wolf puppies, giant salamanders, snakes, rats, peacocks, porcupines, koalas and game meats, according to a previous report .

The Chinese province of Hubei, of which Wuhan is the capital city, in March passed a law to ban the eating of wild animals completely, including those bred or raised by people.



Viral footage purports to show a fashionable Chinese young woman biting one of the wings of a cooked bat at a fancy restaurant. The deadly coronavirus could come from the animal


Viral footage purports to show a fashionable Chinese young woman biting one of the wings of a cooked bat at a fancy restaurant

Pictures emerging on Twitter shows soup cooked with a bat


Pictures emerging on Twitter shows soup cooked with a bat. Bats are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a series of illness, including coughing, malaria and gonorrhea


WAV Comment – Bat soup, to ‘treat a series of illness’; But we assume Coronavirus is not one of them ?