Cheap Thrills

CREATURE DISCOMFORT: Leading international animal-rights activist Kim Stallwood talks turkey in the Plaza Hotel.

The editor of Animals' Agenda magazine details our ethical responsibility to fellow creatures with a talk entitled Human Potential and Animal Rights: Exploring the Connections. He says rethinking our exploitative relationship with animals is crucial in this technological age.

"We've created a society where we're really quite divorced from the natural world. But when you look at how people cherish their companion animals, you know that's really addressing a very great need of wanting to maintain that link.

"As people make more and more connections between the cruelties of using animals to produce food, serious harm towards the environment, and the serious health risks we take when we consume animals -- when all these connections are being made, I feel very encouraged and optimistic."

Stallwood appears at 7 p.m. Thursday, February 17, in the Plaza Hotel, 1900 E. Speedway Blvd. Admission is free. For more information, call 320-3992.

FEATHERED CENSUS: Help the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology track our feathered friends with the Great Backyard Bird Count.

As the moniker indicates, participants across the country count species in their own patch of paradise and report their results online. The census helps scientists document the abundance and distribution of North America's winter bird populations during the new millennium's first spring migration.

Count the species seen at one time in your backyard, or a nearby park or school yard, during any or all four days from Friday through Monday, February 18 through 21. Then log on to, and click on the "Great Backyard Bird Count." No registration is necessary.

"By participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, people from subtropical Florida and Hawaii to Arctic Canada and Alaska will help us better understand the effects of changing weather and landscape on our birds' abundance and distribution patterns," says Dr. Frank Gill of the National Audubon Society.

For bird count details, call (800) 326-4928.

HORSING AROUND: Horses hit full stride as racing gets underway at Rillito Park. Quarter horses, Thoroughbreds and Arabians run up to 10 races, with contests starting every 15 minutes. The park also offers off-track wagering from Turf Paradise and several California tracks.

The historic Rillito is on a roll, with growing attendance each season. "We are delighted to be back," says Dr. Dale Shirley, general manager and president of the Pima County Horsemen's Association. "We experienced growth at the track for the 1999 meet." In fact, attendance during last year's season was up eight percent over 1998, averaging 2,457 enthusiasts per event. As for this season, "Our barns have been full for a month," Shirley says.

Racing starts at 1 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through March 5 at Rillito Park, 4502 N. First Ave. Admission is $2, $3 for seating in the clubhouse. For information, call 293-5011.

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