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Urge Maryland Renaissance Festival to Cancel Elephant and Camel Rides!


What do elephants and camels have to do with 16th-century reenactments, kings, and jesters? The answer, of course, is nothing. Yet routinely, as part of the Maryland Renaissance Festival's lineup, elephants and camels are forced to plod in endless circles day after day while giving rides to visitors. PETA and other organizations have appealed to festival organizers to eliminate these cruel and dangerous rides, but they've turned a blind eye to the animals' suffering.

Elephants used for rides are trained through domination, fear, and punishment. Trainers use bullhooks—weapons resembling a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on one end—to strike and jab elephants in the most sensitive parts of their body. Elephants obey or are struck.

Last year, the elephants and camels at the festival were supplied by Elephant Walk, a company owned by Franklin Murray. Murray was arrested in New Jersey for contempt of court in relation to cruelty-to-animals charges, and one of the elephants he uses has also tested positive for tuberculosis antibodies.

Camels, too, fare very poorly when they are hauled around in transport trailers and relegated to small pens. A visitor to last year's festival reported a very thin camel who appeared not to have a hump – which can be a sign of malnutrition. In the desert where they belong, camels live in social herds. Both bactrian and dromedary camels have a poor tolerance for rough handling.

Speak up for elephants and camels!
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