Catherine Doyle, Director of Science, Research and Advocacy for PAWS

Catherine Doyle–Director of Science, Research and Advocacy for the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), and a noted, veteran elephant advocate —explains what’s behind her longtime passion for working to improve the welfare of captive elephants, while noting, interestingly, that in her formative years in Chicago, she was a regular zoo visitor yet has no particular elephant recollection.1702786868-data-jpg Doyle addresses the work that falls under her sprawling job title, and outlines some of the research she’s conducted, including examining the long-term behavior of captive African elephants as well as keeper relationships with elephants. Given that this conversation was pegged to the fact that California appears poised to become the first state in the country to outlaw the elephant-ent-23bullhook (the fireplace poker-like rod that circus trainers and other use to “control” elephants)—and that Doyle worked tirelessly on, as did others—she discusses the particulars of this bill, Senate Bill 716, its implications, its likely influence on other states following suit, and more. 2015045526f99150d69She acknowledges consulting with other states to help them pass comparable bans, but opts not to reveal those states, so as not to derail those efforts. Doyle describes protective contact, the method for managing elephant behavior and care (without a bullhook, of course) used at PAWS, zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, and other facilities—the key tenet of which is that elephant and keeper do not share the same space, that the keeper has contact with the elephant through a protective barrier. There is information on the PAWS website about how to urge California Governor Jerry Brown to sign Senate Bill 716–he has until early October to do so. (

ALSO: I spoke briefly with Sean Manahan, head brewer at Flat 12 Bierwerks, an Indianapolis brewery that recently began producing beer for dogs—of course, this beer contains no alcohol, carbonation or hops. Manahan recalls how the idea for this brew came about—Flat 12 is a very dog-friendly operation—and how they unveiled the beer for dogs last month at a pet adoption event. (

COMEDY CORNER: Jim Gaffigan’s “I’m A Manatee” (portion) (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: The Beatles’ “Dig A Pony”


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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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