New York Times Reporter Rescues Mostly Frozen Turtle Outside Alleged Cockfighting Den

Photo by Sarah Maslin Nir via Instagram
The chilly little dude in question.
The animals of Woodhaven, Queens had a pretty exciting few days. First, a team of state and local police, led by the Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office, busted up an alleged cockfighting ring, right before a Saturday-night bout. Hens and roosters were rescued from a basement in Queens, a pet shop in Brooklyn, and thousands more from a farm upstate. (That was the good news; the bad news is that the roosters are going to be very hard to place, according to a chief officer at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, because they've been bred for aggression and are ill-suited to settling down to a quiet life on a farm somewhere.)

But in the midst of that less than heartwarming story, here's a better one: yesterday, a New York Times metro reporter, in the midst of reporting a follow-up story in the neighborhood around the alleged cockfighting den, discovered a rather excellent turtle, half-buried in the snow and looking for a good home. Or crickets. He was probably looking for crickets.

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Eight Arrested and 3,000 Birds Rescued As "Operation Angry Birds" Busts Cockfight in Queens

Image via Google Maps.
74-26 Jamaica Avenue, where the cockfights were reportedly held.
On Saturday night, state police, investigators from the New York Attorney General's Office, and the Department of Homeland Security brought an end to a popular attraction held at an abandoned storefront in Queens: a cockfighting ring, where roosters raised in upstate New York and held at a pet store in Brooklyn were made to fight to the death. Really? We can't find anything better to do with our weekends, cockfighting spectators?

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced this weekend that investigators from his office's New York State Organized Crime Task Force had arrested and charged eight people in the alleged cockfighting ring, in an investigation they dubbed "Operation Angry Birds." During the Saturday night raid, according to the New York Times , officers watched as people paid $40 each and filed into the basement of a vacant storefront at 74-26 Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven. The roosters waiting to fight were held in sacks on the basement wall; many of the 65 birds rescued, per the NYT, had "their natural spurs clipped off and with sharper metal spurs attached to their bodies."

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Animal Rights Group Files Suit to Free Tommy, a Pet Chimp on a Reindeer Farm in Upstate New York

Image via NonHuman Rights Project
According to the NonHuman Rights Project, this is a picture of Tommy in his cage.
Tommy is 26 years old, and he makes his home in Gloversville, at a reindeer farm called Santa's Hitching Post. He's also a chimpanzee, the pet of Diane and Patrick Lavery, and according to the NonHuman Rights Project, he's being held as a prisoner, caged in a shed on the property.

Yesterday, the NHRP, an animal rights group based in Florida, filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in Fulton County, asking for Tommy's immediate release. They used a writ of habeas corpus, a court order that's typically deployed to bring a prisoner before a judge. It's the first of four suits the groups says they'll file on behalf of chimps in held captivity in New York state.

There is, obviously, a bigger legal battle underway here.

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Here's What the MTA Does When They Find a Dead Shark in the Subway: Toss It, Crack Jokes

Photo by suddenly famous Instagram user bsanchz
R.I.P., small shark.
There were a number of possible responses to yesterday's news that a small dead shark was found in the subway: sadness (dead animal); puzzlement (dead aquatic animal?); and, for the germaphobes among us, extreme, immediate, misplaced panic (Jesus Christ, have I been sitting in shark juice)? But the hard cases at the MTA, who've seen a lot of weird shit in their time, had a more blasé reaction: pitch the shark in the trash, swab out the train, crack weird jokes to damn near every blog in town. Why not? There's a goddamn dead shark on the train. The Apocalypse is clearly upon us.

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New York Legislature Unanimously Agrees: No Shark Fin Soup For You

The Humane Society of the United States
Shark fin ban outreach in Chinatown.
Two weeks ago, we reported that the New York State Senate had taken a major step towards banning shark fin soup--an elite delicacy in Chinatown and total horror show on the ocean floor. On Monday, the state Assembly unanimously agreed, cementing the decision to halt the sale, trade, and possession of fins. The bill now awaits the governor's signature.

Shark fishery managers have argued that state bans like New York's could undermine federal regulations that aim to halt "finning," the practice of slicing off sharks' fins and leaving the animals to sink, alive but defenseless, to the bottom of the sea. Opponents have also emphasized the role of shark fin in traditional Chinese banquet culture. Still, New York lawmakers, their conservation allies, along with partners in the Asian-American community argue that federal regulations have not gone far enough--not when New York City remains one of the largest markets for fins outside of Asia and the largest port of entry on the East Coast.

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New York Takes One Step Closer to Banning Shark Fin Soup

sharkbait via Compfight cc
Imagine your morning commute. You're riding the train when, suddenly, a guy jumps you and takes off your arms and legs. "See ya," he says, walking away with your limbs under his arm. "Have a nice day."

That's sort of what it's like to be a shark that's been "finned"--harvested for its chewy appendages, then left to sink to the ocean floor. The grisly practice has come under more scrutiny as appetite for shark fin soup, an expensive delicacy in Chinese cooking, has grown. But on Tuesday, the New York State Senate voted to ban the possession, sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins. The legislation will now attempt swim through the Assembly, then to Governor Cuomo's desk.

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Animal Rights Activists Exploit "Illegals" in Central Park Horse-Carriage War


As we've chronicled, there is a war going on between the labor union that represents Central Park horse-carriage drivers and animal rights activists who think keeping horses in midtown Manhattan is dangerous and inhumane.

Now the activists are using illegal immigrants as PR ammo against the union.

The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages sent us an e-mail this morning with the subject line "Illegals in Horse Carriage Trade." In the e-mail, the group outlines how the union employs illegal immigrants, one of whom "foolishly lied about an animal activist, Roxanne Delgado, attacking him at the hack line."

The group says another "illegal" was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers about six weeks prior. 

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There's an Alligator Problem -- On Long Island

New Yorkers have a lot of things to worry about -- crime, terrorism, etc. We can now add alligators to the list.

For the sixth time in a week, an alligator has been found in New York -- this time on Long Island.

About 1:30 a.m. yesterday, authorities in Shirley found a plastic container with a four-foot alligator inside. As if it needed any explanation, the words "my gator" were written on the lid of the container.

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Andrew Cuomo Orders Massive Overhaul Of New York Horse Racing Regulations


Horse racing in New York state is about to change thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo's response to a report from a state commission tasked with reviewing regulations governing the state's horse racing industry.

Cuomo announced this afternoon that the New York Task Force on Racehorse Health and Safety -- a commission appointed at the request of Cuomo to review horse racing regulations -- has submitted its report and a massive number of reforms will be made to keep horses safe at New York racetracks.

The task force reviewed "the circumstances involving the deaths, analyze the causes, and recommend any necessary action to prevent equine breakdowns at NYRA operated facilities. The Task Force was also charged with examining horse claiming rules, veterinary procedures and drug use in order to promote equine safety."

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Here's Video Of New York's "Angriest" Carriage Horse Driver

Looks relaxing, right? Try it with animal rights advocates screaming in your ear and a fat guy yelling "what the fuck are you?"

Carriage rides in Central Park -- while a bit on the cliche side -- are supposed to be romantic strolls through one of New York's most famous landmarks. And nothing quite says "romance" like a fat guy in a baseball cap screaming "who the fuck are you" at animal rights advocates -- which happened last month and was caught on tape.

The ongoing war between Central Park carriage-horse drivers and animal rights advocates currently is at a fever pitch following several assaults on both drivers and advocates. One of the drivers involved in one such incident is Emin Karsavuran, who activists say beat the crap out of a Los Angeles man who was hassling him last month, and is amongst the angriest of all of New York's carriage-horse drivers.


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