Q: Why is animal testing still carried out on such a high scale even with the number of alternatives now present?
A: Intellectual laziness by the teacher community. I had to face a lot of opposition when I stopped dissection in schools — now it is clear it was never needed and all those frogs and rats were killed for no reason. Now the UGC, which is the apex educational body, has ordered dissection to be stopped in all college undergraduate life sciences, which is wonderful. But it has taken years to get them to that place. The next step is to stop it in pharmacology and to look at all the senseless experiments carried out by medical undergraduates simply to get funding from the government. The Bharatidasan University in Tamil Nadu has got special degrees in alternatives and I would recommend all universities to send their heads of departments to be trained there.
Q: How can one stop the poaching of exotic birds and what laws pertain to it?
A: Exotic birds are poached in their own countries and then smuggled into India, where they are sold openly. They come in containers in ships through Kolkata and Chennai and most customs officials are aware of the trade and profit from it. The trade is run by mafia that makes crores. The birds are smuggled across the country in trains, mislabeled as goods. The railways promised not to allow any live cargo but so many railway station masters are on the take. It is up to NGOs to keep a vigil on the railways. The law regarding exotic birds is very odd and encourages poaching as only ‘Indian’ birds can be caught under the Wildlife Protection Act. Shops selling Macaws and Cockatiels are never asked for any import licences or international permissions by either the forest department or the police, so this murderous trade carries on openly.
Q; The Indian Air Force shoots stray dogs in officer living areas. Is there any way to put a stop to this practice?
A; It is illegal for the armed forces to kill dogs. A circular to that effect was sent some years ago by the government. The armed forces are issued guns and bullets to kill anti national elements, not Indian dogs. Every time some officer is caught issuing these commands, action is taken by the Defence Ministry, so if you know of any Cantonments doing this, let me know.
Q: Is it true that chicken are injected with hormones to make them lay more eggs and grow bigger?
A: Yes, chickens are kept on a constant feed of hormones and antibiotics all of which passes on to you, making this one of the most dangerous foods on the planet.
Q: Is it true that holding kittens and puppies in ones arm too often makes them sickly?
A: It depends on how you hold them. If you put pressure on the stomach or let their legs dangle, or hold them upside down on their backs, then, yes you will hurt them in many ways that will reveal themselves as they grow. You will give them slip discs and pull their joints out of their sockets. Learn how to hold them. And play with them on the ground. Pups and kittens tire easily so don’t overdo it.
Q: I can’t afford dog biscuits, is it ok to feed my dog plain, regular biscuits?
A: No. Normal biscuits are just white flour, sugar, flavouring and salt. These biscuits are good to keep in your pocket and give to street animals because they act like instant pick-me-ups in terms of energy, but not regularly. Make biscuits at home with atta, vanilla essence and a tiny bit of gur. Bake in the oven till they are strong and crisp. They cost nothing and your dog will love them.
Q: How healthy is milk for adult animals?
A: Milk has no value at all. Not even for cats, most of whom are allergic to it. You can still give it, but I would recommend it in the form of curd for dogs.