Activist-Turned-Politician Behind Connecticut’s Failed Anti-Zoo Law Exposed
When a big cat handler emailed the author behind an anti-zoo bill that was aimed at banning the keeping of cetaceans in zoological facilities in Connecticut to oppose it, he replies to her with an unpleasant response that has caused some concerns over his true character.
There is no arguing that a little bill known as “CT-5341”, which was aimed at banning the keeping of cetaceans in zoological facilities in the state of Connecticut, died attempting to make it onto the state’s Environmental Committee’s Agenda. While the bill did get the usual praise from various animal rights groups and extremists like any new proposed anti-zoo law would it got more opposition from concerned scientists and zoo professionals who called it out for having the potential to slow down any conservation efforts that require access to resident animals living in zoological settings.
Around the same time, Representative David Michel, the bill’s author, was receiving several emails that opposed all possibility of his bill one day going into law by sharing their stories about their experience visiting the beluga family at Mystic Aquarium and how knowing them, and the people who care for them daily really inspired them to know, love, and want to help troubled wild beluga populations that are affected by habitat destruction, loss of food source, pollution, and the inevitable effects of climate change. Then, there was a big cat handler who sent Michel an email over her concerns about the dangers the bill would have had on the marine zoological community as a whole and sharing her story of how her work with big cats provided free educational experiences to both kids and adults alike whenever she did traveling shows with the cats she loves. While one would think that a politician like Rep.Michel would be kind enough to at least try to keep things civil in his response to her, this was not the case. The big cat handler who expressed her concerns was Felicia Frisca and she was not afraid to reveal the heartless response she got from Rep.Michel
In the email, which I have tried to post on this article only to have it removed in order for it to meet Vocal's guidelines, Rep.Michel admits to Felicia to having all out-of-state emails deleted from his account because he claims that they served "nothing" to his cause, even if they were about opposing his bill. In addition, he also claims that the emails he gets from people who are part of the zoo and aquarium community are "poorly organized", and are "wasting his time" since he insisted that the bill has some sort of support from local business owners. In addition, he even admitted to her that he only reads emails from people who live in the state. This is all coming from a guy with no animal care experience.
The fact that Rep.Michel admitted to deleting emails from concerned parties who are from either out-of-state or are from overseas, just shows that he is this politician who shuts out critics who disagree with the bill and won’t address any of the problems that the bill had that would have explained why it failed in the first place. He sounded more like his bill was going to pass even though, in reality, it never did, well, for the rest of the year, that is.
While I am on the subject of Michel’s character, his public Facebook page, which is dedicated to his political career, shows that he has some long ties with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a radical animal-rights group that has long been known for pulling off violent antics towards fishermen and whalers. These actions have been regarded as an “embodiment of privacy” by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court back in 2013. As a result of this ruling, Sea Shepherd was forced to put an end to its infamous anti-whaling campaigns in the Southern Ocean. Because of this, the Washington-based group, which has been known for having long ties to the likes of many eco-terroristic groups like PETA, the Animal Liberation Front, and the Earth Liberation Front, has placed much of its focus on targeting zoos and aquariums that house marine mammals like SeaWorld, Mystic Aquarium, and other scientifically accredited facilities. Rep.Michel has been known to post Sea Shepherd content on his public Facebook page, which primarily focuses on his political career which includes articles and poems written by Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson, whom himself is known for pulling off both fake and extreme PR stunts on national television in the name of ratings and animal rights.
With Michel’s ties to Sea Shepherd along with other extremist groups that often target zoos and aquariums in the name of animal rights, one could only question why and how was he ever voted to represent a state like Connecticut in the first place? After all, whenever we hear about a new candidate running for some sort of political office, the first thing we hear about them on national TV is information about their past prior to running for office, and I don’t mean information about their family life, and education, but the people and organizations they may have had ties with that may, or may not raise a question or two among a public that would later go on to either vote for, or against them the following November. To be honest, I have never heard of him until news on the bill that targeted Mystic came out, but if I did before then, I would have been known of his history with Sea Shepherd and advised all of my friends who live in Connecticut to not vote for him.
As for Felicia’s response to Michel’s email to her, here is what she had to say to him:
“I find it very tacky and unprofessional and lastly classless to see such an email to be forward to me that came from a state representative. State Representative David Michel but like most of the foundations this man supports class and morals isn’t something any of them have. The fact is revenue is brought to the business and your state when events with animals come to town. But after spending 20 minutes on your Facebook I can tell humans' lives mean nothing when it comes to trying to impress and gain attention for the extreme terrorist like foundations u support and condone. As a representative, I would hope u would care about human life as much as u spend obsessing over-regulated government and state inspected animals. Just a thought. I have seen so many cases of child abuse this year where CPS failed the children involved so why not shed some attention on that? Or our homeless vets, or what about our LGBTQ homeless youth that get kicked out of their homes because they came out to their parents? What about bullying? But yet all I see on your page is 90% post from foundations who are on a watch list and this email shows the stand-up guy you are...
I run the largest educational program for big cats in the USA. I am one of the LONGEST running facilities in this country one of the first-ever to be licensed in this country to maintain a PERFECT animal care record, something many GFAS sanctuaries can’t say. I travel 8-12 nonconsecutive weeks out of the year doing shows in areas that most places do not have a zoo. And during that time every school in the district is invited and brought out to my shows for FREE and I even go to these schools FOR FREE with my outreach programs. Teaching these kids about the effects products they use and consume every day is leading these animals to extinction by deforestation, My outreach programs have taught kids and even made several schools across the USA take the pledge to stop palm oil and only support sustainable palm oil.. Do you know how many thousands of people attend my show? Do u know how many thousands have no idea the low numbers of tigers in the wild? My shows not only bring these animals to places that don’t have them, but it also allows people to make a connection with these animals to them wanna go on to do something to protect their wild counterparts. People only wanna save what they are passionate about, they are only passionate about things they connect with. Every activist has a story about an animal they met that made them wanna do what they do, and that’s NO different than people who attend my show. I’m not gonna speak for every facility in the world is great because I have a very long list of “sanctuaries” giving their animals the bottom of the bottom care, or the few bad apples when it comes to trainers. But that doesn’t mean the ones doing it right need to pay the price. If you think an animal enjoys sitting bored in a cage pacing the same area doing nothing but being stared at has more of a happy life then an animal getting new sites sounds and smells seeing new people learning new things having their mind and body stimulated, and getting to experience life outside a cage. Then I bet u are in the same category of people who adopt a dog and leave it locked in a kennel or the house 12 hours a day while u work and say he loves his life. There is a reason why circus elephants and trained animals breed better than most zoos and it’s because of how in shape healthy and content their animals are.
My final question is what have YOU personally done to help wild counterparts other then back these “foundations” run by ex trainers who didn’t make it in the field and backing legislation that does more harm than good. What have done to save tigers? “
With all that I and Felicia herself have said regarding Rep.Michel and his questionable views and professionalism, we can only hope that animal lovers living in the state of Connecticut choose not to re-elect him during this election year and vote for someone who values the research that zoos and aquariums do on behalf of troubled wild populations and the equally embattled ecosystems they call home.
About the author
Zoo and Aquarium Professional, Educator, Cosplayer, Writer and B.A. in Psychology whose got a lot to share when it comes to animals, zoos, aquariums, conservation, and more.