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Interview with the "Wild Man" of Animal Protection, Steve Hindi

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Rosenberg: Here in Chicago, you are known as the "Wild Man" who staged alternative whale shows with inflatable orcas outside the Shedd Aquarium in the 1990s and who went to jail for disrupting a bird shoot with a powered paraglider. Now, both issues are back in the news.

Hindi: At the time we held the whale shows in 1992, two Shedd white whales had died 15 minutes after being given the parasite drug levamisol, unapproved for whales, by veterinarian Jeff Boehm. In the show, we had a mad doctor give an injection to a huge inflatable whale whose tail began shaking and as he flipped over dead. Just like in rodeos, marine "abusement" parks hide the real causes of death from the public.

Rosenberg: The way you positioned your show, while crowds watched the Shedd's performing marine animals, they saw your performance through the back window.

Hindi: Yes and banners on telescoping poles that said "Whales are Dying to Amuse You." We were able to explain to many people that in the wild, marine animals don't tail walk, they don't eat dead fish--they're predators not scavengers--they swim 50 to 100 miles a day and they don't live and breed with random animals outside their pods in chlorine pools. It is no different than human jails.

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Rosenberg: Around this time you debated Ken Ramirez, the Shedd's vice president for animal training, on Chicago television.

Hindi: The show was broadcast from San Diego where we had been trying to stop the capture of dolphins taken from a preserve. Soon Ken Ramirez, who is a circus trainer in a wet suit in my opinion, had them swimming in their own feces.

Rosenberg: Most people were not aware of anti hunter harassment laws until you were tried and convicted for a hunt disruption in McHenry county, outside of Chicago, in 1997.

Hindi: We FOIed the location of Illinois hunts after hunters at the Hegins pigeon hunt

Rosenberg: The public pigeon shooting event in Pennsylvania that was eventually stopped?

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Hindi: Yes, hunters there said why don't you look at the pigeon hunts in your own state which we had not been aware of. The hunt where I operated the paraglider was actually a geese hunt at the Woodstock Hunt Club. The paraglider was so noisy and bright, it scared the geese away though I was actually booked for using a megaphone.

Rosenberg: What was it like to be up there, knowing you were infuriating hunters with loaded guns?

Hindi: Well the paraglider cruises at 50 or a 100 feet and the hunters were waiting in holes next to decoys. So after a while, I began buzzing them and each time, the prop would knock their decoys. Eventually McHenry County sheriff's deputies and McHenry Conservation District rangers tried to chase me in their vehicles which was pretty ridiculous since I was over a field.

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)
 

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