Written by Michelle Kretzer
sees the light, more trouble for SeaWorld, and the Oscars are starting to look
a lot like a PETA gala. Here's what's going on in PETA's universe this week:
us five minutes, and we'll give you all the latest animal rights news on PETA's Tumblr page.
Written by Jennifer OConnor
Over the years, the Liebel Family Circus has tried to evade scrutiny by operating under a variety of different names, but owner Hugo Liebel's deplorable treatment of animals continues to catch up with him. Having already been fined nearly $3,000 for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, Liebel has now been charged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with 33 new violations, including keeping an elephant named Nosey chained so tightly by two legs that she could barely move and allowing manure to accumulate in her feet, potentially exposing her to serious infections. Other violations charged include leaving a chained monkey on a pony's back unattended for an hour.
PETA has been filing complaints against the circus since a whistleblower contacted us in 2004 to let us know that he had been knocked off his feet by Nosey. Liebel has repeatedly failed to provide Nosey with adequate veterinary care for a chronic skin ailment and her overgrown footpads. (Foot ailments are the leading cause of death in captive elephants.) We've filed more than a dozen complaints since 2009 about Nosey and the other animals traveling with Liebel, including several that were filed just prior to the USDA inspections that resulted in some of the charges.
USDA charges and fines are always welcome, but they won't necessarily put circuses using animals out of business. It is up to the public to put an end to the abuse by refusing to buy tickets.
Written by PETA
There's no justice for Lucy—yet. Despite what PETA and Zoocheck Canada described to an appellate court as blatant violations of Alberta's Animal Protection Act by the Edmonton Valley Zoo, the court today refused to give Lucy her day in court. But in a groundbreaking dissenting opinion that takes up 45 pages of the 56-page ruling, Chief Justice Catherine Fraser found that PETA and Zoocheck showed "a prima facie case of the City's unlawful conduct vis-à-vis Lucy," and they deserve their day in court.
Lucy has lived for years in what Chief Justice Fraser calls "solitary isolation" at the zoo. She is suffering from severe psychological distress as well as upper-respiratory problems, arthritis, obesity, and chronic foot ailments.
Undeterred by today's decision, PETA and Zoocheck will continue to fight for Lucy and are weighing all of our options in light of today's ruling. You can help by sending a polite e-mail to Edmonton City Council asking them to free Lucy before Canada's long winter sets in, during which time she will be relegated to a cramped, dismal barn.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
You've probably never heard of elephant polo, and now that Guinness World Records has agreed to stop documenting records for wins in elephant polo matches, perhaps you never will again. The publishing giant made the move after learning from PETA U.K. that captive elephants forced to perform in such matches in India and Thailand are torn away from their families, beaten, and gouged with rods that have sharp metal tips.
In a letter to PETA U.K., Guinness Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday wrote, "This decision is in line with our policy not to accept or recognise any records based on the killing or harming of animals."
Among the other records the book will not recognize are those involving fox hunting and bullfighting. Anyone who still thinks that elephant polo or other cruel "sports" are acceptable should have the divots stomped out of them.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
One zoo employee has been killed and another maimed in incidents at two separate zoos on the same day. At Riverside Discovery Center in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, a chimpanzee bit a worker on the hand, severing two of her fingers and injuring a third. At the Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee, elephant handler Stephanie James died from injuries she sustained when an elephant crushed her against a wall.
These incidents illustrate the very real dangers posed by captive exotic animals—and why laws like those recently passed in Ohio and Oregon that ban exotic “pets” are so desperately needed. Attacks like the one on Ms. James are part of the reason why we're encouraging all zoos to switch to a protected-contact system of handling—and we're even offering to cover part of the costs.
In protected contact, which is already being used by more than half the accredited zoos in the country, a safety barrier is kept between elephants and handlers at all times. This eliminates the "need" to establish dominance over elephants through beatings with bullhooks and other forceful control methods. The Knoxville Zoo has temporarily implemented protected contact since the trainer's death and is re-evaluating its elephant-handling program.
After nine grueling years, an elephant named Mariappan is finally free of the chains that bound him by all four legs so tightly that he could not take a single step in any direction. Mariappan was chained inside a filthy, dark shed at the Arulmigu Mariamman Temple in Samayapuram, India, until a local activist, with the help of PETA India, succeeded in convincing the temple to allow Mariappan to be moved to the Arignar Anna Zoological Park, a spacious sanctuary where he can at last feel grass beneath his feet.
Unfortunately, Mariappan is not alone. Many elephants are kept in similarly miserable conditions at temples throughout India. (You may recall reading in The PETA Files about Ram Prasad, a temple elephant who is being helped by Animal Rahat, a relief organization supported by PETA.) Now PETA India and local activists are pressuring the government to free three other elephants who are kept in chains at temples in the Samayapuram area.
PETA appreciates its friends in the media, but some websites seem to be looking to stir up controversy. (Shocker, right?) Case in point: PETA sent a friendly letter to Nicole Richie after learning that her father had rented an elephant as a "surprise" for her wedding this weekend to Joel Madden. We asked her to make sure that exotic animals would be kept off her guest list for future celebrations. After all, Nicole loves elephants and has drawn attention to the way that Ringling abuses babies. Plus, the members of the Madden family are great favorites at the PETA offices.
But saying that PETA has "slammed" or "blasted" Ms. Richie (Mrs. Madden?) is going a bit overboard. Animal lovers are often mistakenly "taken in" by animal exploiters. We just wanted to be sure Ms. Richie knew how Have Trunk Will Travel—the company that likely provided Tai, the elephant, for the event—takes young elephants from the wild and uses bullhooks and electric shocks to force them to perform. Knowing how compassionate she is, we're sure that Ms. Richie will be beyond shocked herself.
In the end, whether someone is a celebrity or not, PETA appreciates everyone who cares about animals and will speak up in their behalf.
Written by Jeff Mackey
Two separate attacks on people by angry, frustrated, imprisoned animals over the weekend has this gal wondering: Are zoo prisoners launching a sort of global Attica-style revolt? Let's consider the evidence.
Exhibit A: At Roger Williams Park Zoo in Rhode Island, 20-year-old Griffy, a so-called "towering beast" of a giraffe, head-butted a zookeeper, who luckily managed to stagger out of the enclosure to safety. Zoo officials downplayed the attack, calling it a "playful" accident. Really?
And exhibit B: At the Byculla Zoo in Mumbai, a 55-year-old elephant named Laxmi attacked a man who entered the pen that she shares with another elephant, Anarkali, who is 46. Laxmi is old and ailing, and a month ago she was the subject of an urgent appeal by PETA India, which urged that she be removed from the zoo, where she has been chained and beaten. Anarkali, too, has been abused in this zoo, and PETA India wants the two of them moved to a sanctuary. The man was severely injured when he was removed from the enclosure and was declared dead shortly thereafter.
So tell us: Are animals like Griffy, Laxmi, and Tilly—who were meant to roam or swim for miles but are instead imprisoned in tiny pens or pools—simply being "playful" with zookeepers? Is this behavior uncharacteristic? Or are they revolting against their cruel confinement, their loss of freedom, and the fact that they are deprived of a real life?
Written by Karin Bennett
An apparently agitated elephant reportedly charged into the arena during Ringling's afternoon pre-show in Columbia, South Carolina, on Saturday, endangering about 100 spectators. Most attendees hurried away from the scene, and luckily, no one was injured, but the potential exists for injury or death when elephants rampage. Since 1990, dangerous incidents involving captive elephants in the U.S. have resulted in 13 human deaths and more than 135 human injuries.
The frightened elephant may have been trying to escape from the bullhook abuse that commonly takes place backstage at Ringling's shows. As documented in a PETA video—which was taken over a period of several months and released last July—of the same Ringling unit that is performing in Columbia, elephants are struck repeatedly with bullhooks (a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker that trainers wield to strike, stab, hook, prod, and intimidate elephants in order to make them obey). We are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to check this elephant for signs of bullhook abuse as well as to ensure that she is treated for any injuries sustained when she ran amok and that she is permanently removed from travel.
This is the second complaint with the USDA that we have filed against Ringling regarding its treatment of elephants—in less than a week. A few hours of "entertainment" at the expense of animals intimidated into performing dangerous and unnatural tricks is never worth the trauma inflicted on those animals or the danger to spectators and their children.
Written by Logan Scherer
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.
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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.