Melyá's Blog

Live Life Aggressively Podcast

By Melyá

Melyá Discusses Covid's Effects On Animals, The Animal Abuse-School To Prison Pipeline Connection, How Animal Protection Can Help Countries Involved In Conflict, & more...

(Read More)

Greek Philosophy

By Melyá

Kalimerasas.

My grandmother was born in Ioannina. Throughout my whole life, she taught me that Greece is a land of great beauty, great heart, and a great history.

The world knows Greece as the country that founded democracy which was the first fair and compassionate system of justice.  Many countries around the world have since formed their governments based on Greece’s original model.

Philosophy is also understood to be a Greek creation. Greek philosophy has influenced much of western civilization since its inception.

It is in the 6th century BC in Greek philosophy that we find the first concern for the treatment of animals...

(Read More)

BILLY MUST GO TO THE SANCTUARY

By Melyá

Some years ago when I was teaching animal rights, the students decided they wanted to focus on elephants. We saw a film about elephants in the wild and then went to the LA Zoo. We were horrified by the conditions and treatment of the elephants.

The students formed a group and called themselves The Elefriends.

Their goal was to help the 4 elephants at the zoo:  Tara,  Ruby and Gita,  and Billy...

(Read More)

MOVING AN ELEPHANT: WHAT PAT DERBY TAUGHT ME

By Melyá

I remember Pat telling me how dangerous it was to move an elephant. And how she couldn’t sleep and barely ate before an elephant would be arriving at PAWS.

Each time, weeks in advance, Pat would go to where ever the elephant was and work with the caregivers to begin to train the elephant to get into the truck. Very, very slowly. Each elephant had been traumatized enough. She wanted them to know from the beginning of the journey that they were going to a safe place...

(Read More)

Jenna's Story

By Melyá
The first time we saw you, you could not stand up. Your back legs had collapsed. Yet you bravely tried to drag yourself forward, determined to live. 
Someone had found you in the woods. Abandoned. Starving. They asked us to take you in. We said yes. We immediately rushed you to the vet. Lymphoma. It had spread. Was there anything we could do? We looked into your eyes and saw your fierce spirit. You were ready to fight for your life. And we were ready to help you... 
(Read More)

Value of Compassion

By Melyá

Not long ago, people used to pay to watch the mentally ill in asylums. It was considered entertainment.

We consider the fact that this kind of “entertainment” no longer exists today to be proof that humans are evolving. This is the value of compassion.

There will come a day, not far off, when we will look back at how we used animals for entertainment, in zoos and circuses, with the same disbelief and horror as we now regard watching people in asylums.

We will see it as a dark period in our history. And we will celebrate the fact that it no longer exists as proof that our species is evolving. That is the value of compassion.

Species evolve based on adaptation: mutating to survive. And we do the same! That is the value of compassion.

 

(Read More)

“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

By Melyá

 On Tuesday, July 24, 2012,  the 5 year lawsuit seeking to close the LA Zoo elephant exhibit ended when the Judge ruled in favor of plaintiffs actor Robert Culp (deceased) and real estate broker Aaron Leider. Judge Segal stated in his 60 page decision, "All is not well at the Los Angeles Zoo. Contrary to what the zoo's representatives may have told the Los Angeles City Council in order to get construction of the $42 million exhibit approved and funded, the elephants are not healthy, happy or thriving."  

 The roots of this lawsuit go back 15 years to a group of students who called themselves the Elefriends. They were part of an animal issues club that VFTA Executive Director Melya Kaplan facilitated at Crossroads and New Roads schools. We met weekly to discuss elephants in captivity and specifically how to help the then 4 elephants at the LA Zoo.

 We spoke before the Zoo Commission about the fact that the space was too small for animals who walk 100 miles a day. We met with the District Attorney and presented a packet of vet reports documenting animal abuse to the LA Zoo elephants, and we held press conferences. All to no avail. We watched helplessly as Tara died in 2004, as the city council voted in 2006 to move forward with the inadequate and expensive elephant exhibit, and a few months after the council’s vote we watched as Gita died in the same place and in the same way as Tara had. We were devastated.

(Read More)

Murder Linked To Animal Abuse: First Time In Greece

By Melyá

Click to view a recent translation of a recent article in a popular Athenian newspaper.

(Read More)

Bewitched by an Elephant

By Melyá

Many years ago, when I had just started the Animal Rights Club at Crossroads, one of my students announced that she wanted the club to protest a tug of war contest being held nearby between an elephant and a car. It was being staged as a publicity stunt to advertise the circus and the car. Ringling Brothers would supply the elephant.

That next Saturday, early on a hot June morning, we met in the parking lot with food, water, and large signs. An hour later a truck arrived, slowly pulling several long boxcars, and parked in the lot. Six men jumped out, each holding a long metal rod with a sharp steel crescent point at the top. The doors of the box cars opened and inside each one stood two elephants, chained by their feet to the floor. I froze. Brandishing the metal rods like a weapon, men began to take the elephants out one by one. All the elephant had to do was see the bull hooks, and she cowered. It was horrible. I knew how that elephant felt.

Suddenly I looked to my right. An elephant in the box car next to me was staring at me, piercing my eyes. In an instant I was just her gaze. There was no Melya. I snapped back. She turned away. She was being pulled off the truck...

(Read More)

In Memoriam: Pat Derby

By Melyá

My mentor and my friend. 

I don’t remember how I met Pat. I feel she has always been in my life.

She never tired of my incessant barrage of questions. Her answers were my classes. She was a brilliant teacher.

And every year when I was teaching Animal Rights, I would ask Pat and Ed to come to LA and speak to my classes. She never said no. I watched as kids sat in awe of her. She talked about things they had never considered. Suddenly they were hearing the truth and they knew it. Their old, unquestioned assumptions about elephants crumbled forever. Every kid Pat spoke to could never set foot in a circus or zoo again. They now knew the truth.

But that was only a part of Pat’s magic....

 

(Read More)