Written by PETA
Once again our band of beautiful activists braved the winter weather to throw an eye-catching unwelcome party for circuses all across the South. The attention garnered by their loveliness was directed at the ugly circus industry.
Using abuse to force majestic elephants and big cats into performing humiliating tricks is depraved. That fact that circuses pawn this off as family entertainment just makes us tear our hair out (and our clothes off)! Take a look.
Whew—and I have to wear a jacket just sitting at my desk sometimes. Thanks for your dedication!
Written by Missy Lane
OMG … this is the cutest, most fascinating video that I've seen in a long time. Prepare yourself for intense adorableness.
You are now officially armed with even more proof that animals are emotional, sensitive, and complex beings.
Written by Christine Doré
This has been a good week for elephants. Here's why: When Ringling rolls into town, it often tries to partner with local businesses to promote the circus and give out tickets for free or at discounted prices (probably because fewer and fewer people actually buy them nowadays). Well, PETA is always right on Ringling's heels, letting sponsors in on the beatings and misery that go on behind the scenes at the circus. This week, after hearing about Ringling's history of cruelty to animals, both D'Agostino, a New York grocery store chain, and Florida's Blood Centers have done the ethical thing by ending their partnerships and severing their ties with Ringling. (Yay!)
Thanks go out to everyone who participated in our action alert and told D'Agostino about elephant abuse in the circus. Your letters made a difference! D'Agostino and Florida's Blood Centers now join Denny's, Liz Claiborne, Lukoil, MasterCard, and Sears, all of which ended their Ringling sponsorships.
Well, Ringling, looks like you really should have taken us up on that offer to buy you an animatronic elephant to replace your live elephants. If you had, maybe people would actually want to support the circus again.
We encourage you to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or other media outlet urging your community to boycott animal circuses that might be rolling in the direction of your town. Click here to find media outlets in your area to contact.
Written by Liz Graffeo
Elephant inmates, that is.
Two recent studies comparing the health of wild elephants to that of captive ones just concluded that—golly jeepers—free-roaming animals don't fare very well if they're kidnapped from their mothers and kept for life in cages—excuse me—"zoo exhibits." You see, 8,000-pound elephants physically require exercise, including being active for up to 18 hours per day (sometimes covering as much as 30 miles of open wilderness in a herd of closely-knit family members). It turns out that they frequently experience fatal side effects when they are reduced to pacing around enclosures that are typically just a fraction of an acre of unnatural habitat (or a couple of acres if they're really lucky). Imagine life in the circus, where elephants are kept in shackles almost every hour of their life, standing in feces and urine, swaying from one foot to the other.
Here are a few of the not-so-happy findings:
Strangely, Steve Feldman, spokesperson for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) said something about these findings not applying to US zoos, as the studies were conducted in European zoos. Really? Try telling that to the 63 elephants who have died at AZA-accredited facilities since 2000—more than half never reached the age of 40. And with AZA's pathetic space recommendations for elephants, which are about the size of a 3-car garage, elephants in the U.S. commonly develop deadly foot problems and arthritis.
The point, to state the obvious, is that stealing animals and using them for exploitative entertainment is outdated, unnecessary, and—hello?—wrong, and these studies give scientific evidence of it. No matter how eloquently zoos attempt to justify keeping animals in captivity to make a profit, caging elephants (or any wild animals, for that matter) is just flat-out indefensible and should be abandoned.
Sadly, I still remember the first time I heard Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time." I was in the eighth grade and TRL was still wildly cool. My skinny, stirrup-tights-wearing, headgear sportin' 13 year-old self just couldn't get enough of the song. I remember thinking we had found a true pop princess.
But man, how quickly America's sweetheart fell from grace. And it wasn't pretty.
Now, at the bottom of the barrel, she's sporting elephants dressed in circus attire for her new video titled—what else—"Circus."
As Britney is such a victim of the paparazzi and always complaining and crying about how she hates to be held up in her guarded house and can't feel free, she of all people should be able to relate to the horror that captive animals go through when they're used for entertainment. Except Britney chooses to perform, and the lifestyle just comes with it. Animals are ripped away from their mothers at a young age, kept in chains, and prodded with electric shock devices to make them perform. That doesn't sound so voluntary to me.
Britney is now just an "outrageous" and "toxic" mess. I certainly don't want her to "gimme more," and neither do the animals who have been abused so that she can feel "lucky."
Well, we're not takin' this sitting down. We've got a killer action alert ready for those of you who want to fight with us and tell Brit to stop using animals in her acts, once and for all. Click here to take action today.
I must confess that I still believe she can turn herself around.
It seems that some circus industry folks—including Feld Entertainment, Ringling's parent company—have donated more than $40,000to certain Chicago aldermen and their respective ward organizations in an apparent attempt to derail efforts to pass an ordinance to prevent some of the worst cruelty that is inflicted on elephantsin circuses. And—what do you know?—a large amount of that money went to the ward organization of the same alderman (*cough* Willie Cochran *cough*) who blocked the vote last week—long enough for Ringling to set up shop in the city.
Now, before our lawyers take a bullhook to me, I should add that there's no absolute proof that these donations are causing these aldermen to have, shall we say, a certain lack of enthusiasm for the ordinance. I'm just saying ….
Y'all do the math, OK?
My favorite bit in this story is this: "Feld spokesman Stephen Payne said he had 'no knowledge of' the campaign contributions." I mean, it's so easy to just lose track of hundreds of dollars, isn't it? Maybe it just slipped through a hole in their pockets.
Of course, anyone familiar with those sterling and upright folks at Feld (and, yes, I'm being sarcastic) won't be at all surprised by this latest apparent indication of their complete and utter lack of scruples. After all, this is a company that hired operatives to infiltrate and spy on PETA and other animal protection groups, illegally recorded conversations, removed confidential documents, and so much other creepy, slimy stuffthat I can't list it all here.
When we sued, Kenneth Feld, chair and CEO of Feld Entertainment, got off the hook by claiming that all the spying was done by his staff, and that he didn't know about it or all the money spent on it. Not a very observant bunch over there, are they? Trust me on this, though—PETA is paying very close attention to Feld, Ringling, and this ordinance.
Written by Jeff Mackey
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
Change was a hot topic this election, but we all need to remember the millions of animals whose lives will stay the same even though the election is over—unless we all do a lot of hard work. Breeders and pet shops will continue to contribute to the tragedy of dog and cat overpopulation—just to make a profit. We need to work hard to make spaying and neutering affordable and legally mandated in every community across the country. Although the election is over, let's remember to keep fighting the good fight! We must educate others about the importance of spaying and neutering their animal companions and adopting from shelters instead of buying from breeders and pet stores. If we all pitch in, then eventually the tragic but merciful euthanasia of animals for whom no suitable, loving homes exist will no longer be necessary.
To check out the archives of past strips, click here.
It's called "adding insult to injury."
A few weeks ago, we told you about an awful thing that happened on a new TV show called Greatest American Dog. It featured a sweet border collie named Leroy who was tormented by his trainer during a photo shoot so that he would look "angry." 'Cuz, you know, that's what quality entertainment is all about, right?
Well, unlike dogs, some people never learn. Wednesday night's episode featured a live elephant. Why elephants on a show called Greatest American Dog, you ask? They used the elephants to try to terrify the dogs. Since, apparently, the only thing more fun than getting dogs angry is to scare the hell out of them. Ugh!
Of course, it's not exactly a party for the elephants either. They're smart and dignified, and they don't like to perform stupid tricks for our amusement. So instead of using treats to train elephants, trainers strike and gouge them with bullhooks—long, heavy rods with a steel point and a sharp hook at one end that resembles a fireplace poker—or shock them with electric prods. To see for yourself how elephants are trained, watch this.
Most elephants who are forced to perform were snatched away from their families and natural habitat in the wild, after which their lives are mostly made up of chains and intimidation. Baby elephants born on breeding farms are torn from their mothers, tied with ropes, and kept in isolation until they learn to fear their trainers.
Clearly the producers of Greatest American Dog know as little about elephants as they do about canines.
If you want to send an e-mail to the show's producer, R.J. Cutler, about this issue, please click here.
We bet you agree with us that Jenny should be sent ASAP to a fantastic facility where she can choose her own new friends. And the zoo is shipping her out, but where does it want to send her? Their plan is to export her to a drive-through tourist attraction in Mexico called Africam.
Jenny has a lot of psychological and health problems. She needs plenty of space, a nurturing staff to look after her special needs, and her choice of companions. The elephant enclosure at Africam is barely 5 acres—a fraction of the 30 miles per day that elephants might roam in the wild. In fact, this video shows three Asian elephants at Africam as they sway back and forth, an indication of boredom and frustration and a behavior that is never seen in elephants in the wild. These aren't happy elephants—and I wouldn't be happy either if I were standing in a mostly barren enclosure on hard, compressed dirt with nothing to explore.
Of course, there's a far better option for Jenny. The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee has already offered Jenny a peaceful home, where she would have hundreds of acres to explore (and the companionship of three other female African elephants), live in a fabulous facility, and remain protected by the U.S. Animal Welfare Act. Despite this, the Dallas Zoo so far isn't backing down from its decision.
Why? Well, the Dallas Zoo says that it will only send Jenny to a facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Um, shouldn't it be acceptable to send Jenny to a facility whose standards actually exceed those of the AZA? After all, the AZA's guidelines for elephants permit the kind of abuse seen in circuses. Besides that, the AZA only requires elephant enclosures to be 40 by 45 feet, which—if you do the math—is about the size of a three-car garage. That might not be big enough for a 13,000-lb. elephant.
And by the way, if you're still thinking that AZA accreditation means something, consider this: The elephants at Africam swaying in that video are in an AZA-approved habitat.
If you'd like to help Jenny get to The Elephant Sanctuary and a wonderful retirement, please see our action alert to find out how. Also, be sure to watch 20/20 tonight at 10 p.m., as there will be a moving story about elephants and how they really are just like us. "There are things about elephants that seem so similar to us. Their family life, their emotional life, the fact that they grieve. They stand out from other animals," said Gay Bradshaw, the director of a research institute called The Kerulos Center.
Posted 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.