Written by PETA
Earlier this week, we posted undercover video footage taken by London-based Animal Defenders International showing a handler who used a pitchfork and a club to viciously beat an elephant named Annie. When confronted with the video, the elephant's owner, Bobby Roberts, wisely scrambled to save face by allowing Annie to retire from his "Super Circus" and spend the rest of her days at Longleat, an 80-acre drive-through safari park in Wiltshire, England.
Like most elephants in captivity, 58-year-old Annie suffers from painful arthritis, and her health was too poor for her to perform. Four years ago, PETA offered to pay for Roberts to visit The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, hoping that he would retire Annie there, but Roberts never responded to our offer. Unfortunately, it seems to have taken video footage of a vicious beating to prod him into action.
Meanwhile, PETA U.K. is still urging its members and supporters to e-mail the U.K. animal welfare minister and ask him to push through a bill prohibiting animals from being used in circuses. Here in the U.S., you can help elephants still suffering in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus by e-mailing the USDA and urging it to confiscate the Ringling's abused elephants.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
Bullhooks are heavy batons with a sharp metal hook and point on the end. If someone routinely smacked you with one, wouldn't you eventually fight back? Video footage taken at the Toledo Zoo shows that a young elephant named Louie did just that: He charged his bullhook-wielding keeper, leaving him hospitalized with serious injuries. In the video, Louie is shown backing away when he sees keeper Don RedFox approaching him with a bullhook. Louie then turns around and charges at RedFox after RedFox jabs him with the implement.
The Toledo Zoo still uses the archaic free-contact elephant-handling system. In free contact, elephants are dominated and punished with force, and that puts keepers at constant risk. The zoo's use of the free-contact system has previously been discussed in Toledo. The zoo failed to act on a July 8, 2005, "Lucas County Commissioners Special Citizens Task Force for the Zoo Final Report" that confirmed that keepers have been injured under the current free-contact system. Now we are asking the zoo's board of directors to allow us to bring in a team of elephant experts who can train zoo staff to eliminate the use of bullhooks and transition to a protected-contact system, which more than half the accredited zoos in the country already use.
For the elephants' well-being and for the safety of zoo employees, please join us in asking the Toledo Zoo to eliminate cruel and outdated circus-style handling.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
Today, PETA and Zoocheck Canada are officially initiating a lawsuit against the city of Edmonton, Alberta, over the cruel and apparently unlawful conditions under which Lucy, a solitary elephant at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, is forced to live.
Lucy's health issues—which include upper respiratory problems, arthritis, obesity, and chronic foot ailments—are the result of the substandard conditions at Edmonton Valley Zoo and are further aggravated by the region's frigid climate, which is inappropriate for an Asian elephant. Lucy has also been alone for the past two years, spends most of her time in a small barn, and exhibits behavior that indicates severe psychological distress. Even Dr. James Oosterhuis, the Valley Zoo's own consultant, acknowledged that the zoo's indoor facilities fail to meet the industry's minimum standards.
Consultations with experts prove that Lucy's life is at risk in Edmonton. Dr. William Keith Lindsay—a Canadian ecologist who has been actively involved in research on the ecology of elephants with the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya since 1977—is one of several experts who confirm that Lucy's living conditions are unacceptable. Dr. Lindsay states, "It is abundantly clear that Lucy would benefit greatly from the company of other elephants." Elephants live in close-knit families, and the females spend their entire lives in herds that include all their female relatives. The solitary life that Lucy lives prevents her from taking part in any of the social behaviors that are necessary for maintaining an elephant's health.
Dr. Joyce Poole, an elephant biologist and ethologist who has spent more than 30 years studying elephant social behavior and communication states, "Lucy has spent much of her life standing on concrete in a small barn and doing very little of what an elephant needs [to] do to maintain good physical health and mental well being. The consequence is that she is a young elephant in an old body. This causes her real privation and suffering."
We won't rest until we see Lucy moved to a sanctuary. As we take the city to court, we urge you to take action to help Lucy find the freedom she deserves and to share this information with everyone you know. Keep checking back here for more updates.
Written by Logan Scherer
Whenever people ask where my parents got my name, I never miss a beat before saying "The X-Men." Am I really named after Wolverine? Maybe, maybe not, but as a lifetime comic book fan I think it's a better story than "My great-great uncle three times removed was a Civil War hero …" and, well, you get the point.
After today, though, I just might start mixing my story up a little, considering that I now share my name with another hero for animals: Boston's Logan Airport has agreed to stop using glue traps and is the latest recipient of PETA's Compassionate Action Award. Massachusetts Port Authority CEO Thomas Kinton Jr. made the decision to pull glue traps after learning about the days of starvation and dehydration suffered by animals who become ensnared in the inhumane death pads. As a result, airport employees have agreed to implement a no-glue-trap policy and are working with PETA to implement more humane methods of catching animals.
Boston's Logan sticks it to glue traps, I have animal-tastic blogging skills, and Wolverine is on our list of the Top 10 Animal-Friendly Superheroes … I'm beginning to see a connection. Anybody else notice that Logan and vegan only differ by two letters?
What has actor, singer, and author William Shatner (Canada's triple threat) been up to since nabbing the Emmy for Boston Legal?
The "Priceline Negotiator" recently made a plea for the release of the Edmonton Zoo's lonely, ailing elephant, Lucy.
In a letter to Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel, Mr. Shatner wrote, "I humbly ask you to allow Lucy to retire to better circumstances than at the Edmonton Zoo … she's old, feeble, and many of us know how that feels."
He joins pachyderm protectors around the world in rallying for Lucy's release.
Two years ago, elephant expert Winnie Kiiru named the Edmonton Zoo the worst zoo in Canada for elephants and called for the closure of the exhibit. Edmonton's frigid winter weather and the zoo's policy of locking Lucy in the barn when the zoo is closed mean that she spends the majority of her time indoors. The short amount of time that Lucy is allowed outdoors is spent in a barren, dusty enclosure. Being forced to endure the cold and the forced immobility is fueling her arthritis and causing chronic foot and respiratory problems.
Please add your pleas to Mr. Shatner's by writing to Mayor Mandel. Urge him to release Lucy to a sanctuary that can offer her hundreds of acres of diverse terrain, ponds for bathing, a more suitable climate, and the company of other elephants.
Written by Karin Bennett
I have some good news, and I have some bad news.
First, the bad news: Ned, an elephant confiscated from a Florida-based circus trainer, almost starved to death—he weighs a ton less than he should. That's right, a ton. Carol Buckley, the founder and director of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, has rated his health a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10 and described him as a "bag of bones"—a sadly accurate description, as you can see in this photo. Ask yourself how long it must have taken for him to shrink away to that degree.
But there's good news—Ned has been confiscated from that trainer by the USDA and brought to the Elephant Sanctuary! He's being housed temporarily in a private facility, but will move to a permanent home once he regains his strength. Carol says he's starting to eat vegetables such as pumpkins, broccoli, and corn—a much more nutritious diet than the one he received in the so-called "care" of Ned's former trainer, which likely consisted of little more than hay. Hopes are high for Ned; Carol says he has the potential to live to be 70.
But, more bad news: The trainer who is responsible for Ned's condition is still licensed to work with animals! And this isn't the first time we've heard of him. We asked for an investigation into Lance Ramos in 2007 when whistleblowers contacted PETA about two tigers who allegedly died after being unnecessarily anesthetized for microchipping. (Ramos was training them for the hideous Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, by the way.)
In fact, Kollmann's history of problems goes back at least to 2000, when he was initially denied a permit because of the violations he had committed under his father's USDA license. We believe that Kollmann's abuse of Ned should be the last straw for the USDA—it's time for Kollmann's license to be revoked permanently.
In our letter to the USDA—which can be read here—we ask that Kollmann's license be permanently revoked and that criminal charges be brought against him. Ned's face says it all—Kollmann should not be entrusted with the care of any animal.
Written by Amanda Schinke
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.