Zoocheck Podcasts


Short, accessible, conversational interviews on a host of subjects relevant to animal protection in North America and around the world. Podcasts will continue in early 2021. In the meantime, please enjoy the various podcast episodes below hosted by Kathryn Sussman.

Podcast Library

Still wearing animals? Why we should be kinder to our kin
(with Ingrid Newkirk)

Did you know that sheep are far from mindless creatures? In fact, they have remarkable memory and recognition skills – they can recognize over twenty other human beings and other sheep from photographs. Have you heard how sheep in Asia have learnt through observation to operate water pumps using their horns? But have you also heard that humans have bred sheep to grow thicker wool, and that this unnatural overload of wool causes many sheep to suffer unnecessarily, often enduring extremely cruel conditions, all in the name of profit? Ingrid Newkirk is an author and the founder of PETA.

Is ethical fashion on your radar? Why it should be!
(with Joshua Katcher)

Did you know that entire species have gone extinct due to the fashion industry, and that the leather shoe industry is one of the main drivers of climate change? Have you heard that it is leather, not meat, that is by far the most profitable element of factory farming animals such as cows and pigs? Did you know that the wool is actually being pulled over your eyes when it comes to the sustainability and ethics of the wool industry itself? Listen as Joshua Katcher, New York fashion designer, entrepreneur, author and educator, speaks openly about the truth behind how animals are bred, farmed, trapped and slaughtered for their skin, fur and hair, and elucidates for us why making ethical fashion choices matters.

Behind the Smile: We’ve Banned it at Home, Let’s Not Do it Abroad
(with Melissa Matlow)

A talk with Melissa Matlow, campaign director at World Animal Protection, about WAP’s WildLife. Not Entertainers campaign, which aims to get travel companies and tourists to understand the impact they can have on animals through tourism. Melissa, with more than fifteen years experience leading welfare and environmental campaigns in Canada and around the world, provides us with a background to this particular campaign: it was launched in 2015 with the goal to get travel companies to stop selling elephant rides. The most recent focus in the campaign is Behind the Smile, a thorough report that expounds on the multi-billion dollar dolphin entertainment industry.

Why we are sending orangutans to school: How we are hurting and helping our nearest relatives (with Dr. Anne Russon)

A talk with primatologist and York University Professor of Psychology Dr. Anne Russon. With over 30 years experience studying and working with wild and captive orangutans in Indonesian Borneo, Dr. Russon underscores how these great apes are so very similar to us, and how with their humour and deeply social nature, they can indeed outsmart us any day of the week!

Think climate change is the polar bear’s greatest threat?
Think again (with Morten Jorgensen)

A discussion with author & conservationist Morten Jorgensen about polar bears – the charismatic icons that exemplify global warming for humans around the world. Part of this month’s topic on Canadian animals in danger, Jorgensen discusses the main threats facing polar bears in the wild and provides an understanding of what we are doing wrong and where we, as Canadians, are failing to protect this threatened yet iconic species. In this jaw-dropping interview, Jorgensen explains how all risks to wild polar bear populations are human-posed. While global warming is the best-known, according to Jorgensen, the most dangerous is in fact overhunting.

The Ocean is the Planet (with Captain Paul Watson)

Award-winning Captain Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace, and founder, president and executive director of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society talks about a wide gamut of marine conservation issues. Everything from the current state of wild whale populations, to Canada’s recent ban of shark fin and cetacean import, as well as the commercial seal hunt and single-use plastics.

Dissection Part 2: The Amazing Benefits of Non-Animal Alternatives to Classroom Dissection (with Dr. Elizabeth Ormandy)
In this interview, co-founder and executive director of the BC- based Animals in Science Policy Institute Dr. Elisabeth Ormandy, details all of the phenomenal benefits of switching to non-animal alternatives to classroom dissection. Be prepared to be amazed as she explains how easy it is for teachers to switch to these superior models and how they not only help students to learn more effectively but how they are also cheaper, greener, and even safer.

“Why Bats Shouldn’t Get a Bad Rap” (with Rob Laidlaw)
Did you know? Bats are mammals and the only mammals that are capable of true flight. They comprise one fifth of all the mammal species in the world, are intelligent, have social lives, and contrary to public perception, are not blind and will not get caught in your hair! Bats can live up to 44 years, and scientists are studying the bat genome in order to learn how to expand the human life span. Listen as Zoocheck founder and director Rob Laidlaw, clarifies how bats are in fact harmless, beneficial to humans and to the environment, and are an animal we must protect. Learn how we should never chase, hit, or try to catch bats, and how they are in fact, very cute creatures that serve as helpers to humans and the world around us.

How we unwittingly let our dogs down (with Rob Laidlaw)

Ever wonder if there are ways you can spruce up your doggie’s life experience? Ever think that that one walk a day may be boring your pooch as much as it feels like a chore to you? In this expert interview listen as founder and director of Zoocheck Rob Laidlaw, points out everything from how to improve your best friend’s walk experience, to how to choose the best diet, and whether or not your little buddy would prefer to spend her or his days alone or with a companion. Learn how to make little tweaks to your daily routine that can result in a huge boost to your dog’s existence!

Yes! Canada has Wild Horses! (with Julie Woodyer)
Did you know that Canada has several populations of wild free-roaming horses? Listen as Julie Woodyer, Campaigns Director, Zoocheck, and one of Canada’s leading animal advocates, tells us all about Canada’s wild populations, their history and their cultural significance. Learn in detail about the current plight of Alberta’s wild horses, the ones that most need protection today, and what you can do to help keep them free.

Cetaceans In Captivity (with Naomi Rose)

Listen as Dr. Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist of the Animal Welfare Institute, member of the International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee, outlines the impact of captivity on cetaceans and how conservationists around the world are fighting to find alternatives to traditional zoo practices.

The Massive Industry that is the Exotic Pet Trade (with Rob Laidlaw)
In this episode founder and director of Zoocheck, Rob Laidlaw, outlines which animals comprise exotic versus domesticated species. Rob shocks us with the numbers involved in the massive exotic pet trade: globally, if you include fish, this effects hundreds of millions of animals. The consequences of this industry not only to the animals themselves from a welfare point of view, but also to human health and safety, and additionally, to our natural environment is devastating, but Rob guides us through changes we can make in our everyday lives to help the situation.

What’s Inside Your Winter Coat? (with Camille Labchuk)
In this episode, listen as Kathryn interviews powerhouse animal rights lawyer Camille Labchuk of Animal Justice, on the topic of the inhumane treatment of coyotes and geese used in the making of winter coat products. Learn from Camille as she describes the horrific conditions these animals are forced to endure, all under the brand that is marketed to be distinctly Canadian. This interview will have you shocked, but will also provide you with empowering steps to take if you would like to see an end to these practices here in Canada, and abroad.

Elephants Don’t Belong In Captivity (with Dr. Winnie Kiiru)
In this episode, listen as world famous wildlife biologist, elephant expert and international speaker, Dr. Winnie Kiiru describes how educating kids about elephants can best be accomplished through television programming, movies, publications, internet or ecotourism. Listen as Dr. Kiiru effectively describes how viewing elephant behavior in zoos is not an accurate reflection of natural elephant behaviour, and in fact is only a lesson in seeing elephants exhibit aberrant behaviors in unnatural settings. This is especially the case for elephants in Canada as our winters are just too severe. Keeping elephants in Canadian zoos only perpetuates the suffering of these highly intelligent, social animals and provides an inaccurate view of natural elephant behavior, social activities and even their physical attributes.

Where Should We Be Getting Our Pets? (with Liz White)
In this practical and informative expert interview, listen as Liz White, founder of Animal Alliance of Canada and leader of the Animal Protection Party of Canada gives us insightful and useful information on where we should be acquiring our pets and why. One example tip: make sure you are allowed to see the place your animal is coming from to make sure you are supporting a high calibre facility.

The Misnomer that is Animal ‘Ambassadors’ (with Randy Malamud)

Listen as expert Dr. Randy Malamud, Regent’s Professor of English at Georgia State University, life fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, and author of ten books including Reading Zoos: Representations of Animals and Captivity, discusses the inherent imperialism and miseducation that underlies the practice of animal ‘ambassadorship’. Hone in as Randy brings to light the manipulation of this misnomer by the captivity industry, and discusses the disastrous ecological as well as animal welfare consequences of it.

Let’s Keep Polar Bears Where They Belong: In the Wild (with Rob Laidlaw)
In this episode, Rob Laidlaw of Zoocheck highlights how this magnificent species, fascinating to people the world over, is one of the most prized and, therefore, most in demand at zoos around the globe, as they are a star mega-fauna attraction. However, polar bears are in fact one of most ill-suited species to captivity according to scientific research, given their wide-ranging nature and very specific and complex physical and psychological needs. Rob lays out the problems associated with keeping them in captivity and provides us with the tools we need to identify welfare problems when seeing them in zoos.

Is Captivity Ethical? (with Andrew Fenton and Letitia Meynell)

In this episode, Kathryn interviews Dr. Andrew Fenton and Dr. Letitia Meynell, philosophy professors at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia with specialties in bioethics, epistemology and animal ethics. Listen in as they remind us that even the top zoo industry leaders and personnel understand the importance of starting from the premise that captivity is inherently wrong. Taking care of captive animals then becomes a challenge of how can we best do this and meet each individual beings’ needs most effectively. Listen as these thoughtful and knowledgeable experts remind us that animals are not ‘things’ and should not be considered property under the law, as is sadly the reality in many countries around the globe.

The unfair persecution of the cormorant (with Liz White)

Join Liz White, founder of Animal Alliance of Canada and leader of the Animal Protection Party of Canada, as she dispels the myths and misconceptions about cormorants in the Great Lakes Basin and explains why their presence is ecologically positive and an environmental good news story.

The little known technique of framing: tricks of the zoo trade (with Rob Laidlaw)
In this episode, Kathryn speaks with Rob Laidlaw, founder and director of the Canadian animal protection charity Zoocheck. Listen as Rob describes some of the design tricks used by zoos, including the little known framing of animals, which functions to sanitize the view of the animal for zoo visitors, making it appear like they are in more natural surroundings than they actually are. This practise caters to zoo visitors, rather than the animal, and is found frequently at zoos and aquariums around the globe. Learn what we as animal lovers can do to ensure a high standard of animal welfare if we do visit one of these facilities.