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For Immediate Release:February 16, 2010
Contact:Lisa Wathne 757-622-7382
Houston -- Today, PETA and In Defense of Animals (IDA) sent an urgent letter to Waste Management, Inc., CEO David Steiner urging him to support the St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners' recent decision to ban cruel bullhooks at the National Elephant Center (NEC), a facility whose construction has been proposed by a coalition of zoos. Waste Management is a major sponsor of and stakeholder in the NEC, and the company owns the land on which the facility would be built. Bullhooks are instruments that resemble fireplace pokers and are used to jab, gouge, strike, and otherwise discipline and punish elephants. The NEC originally agreed to the ban but is now trying to overturn it.
"It's a sad day when local lawmakers have to tell zoo officials how to treat their own animals humanely," says PETA Director Debbie Leahy. "Waste Management can come out of this mess smelling like a rose if the company takes a tough stand against elephant abuse."
"The St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners did the right thing by requiring humane protections for elephants at the proposed center," says IDA Campaign Director Catherine Doyle. "If Waste Management truly cares about elephants, it will support the commissioners' decision."
For more information, please visit PETA.org.
PETA and IDA's letter to Waste Management CEO David Steiner follows.
February 16, 2010
David P. SteinerChief Executive OfficerWaste Management, Inc.Dear Mr. Steiner:
On January 26, 2010, the St. Lucie Board of County Commissioners in Florida voted unanimously to ban bullhooks from the proposed National Elephant Center (NEC) as one of the conditions of the permit for construction of this facility on Waste Management property. We are writing to ask that Waste Management, as a major sponsor of and stakeholder in the NEC, take a strong position in support of the county's conditions that are intended to protect the welfare of elephants held at the center. Despite the fact that the attorney representing the NEC, along with Boardmember Craig Piper, agreed publicly to the terms of the county's approval, the NEC is now apparently reneging on that agreement.
The commissioners' decision to ban the bullhook, a barbaric device resembling a fireplace poker that is used to cause pain and suffering to elephants, was in response to concerns raised by elephant experts, local citizens, and a coalition of animal protection groups that included PETA and IDA. Bullhooks are used to strike, stab, hook, and prod elephants and often cause lacerations, puncture wounds, and abscesses.
While most zoos manage elephants without bullhooks or other forms of corporal punishment, zoos involved in the NEC--including the Oregon Zoo, Columbus Zoo, and Disney's Animal Kingdom--continue to use this very cruel method of old-fashioned, circus-style training, to elephant experts' dismay. These same zoos also have an unhealthy relationship with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, whose trainers subject baby elephants to violent treatment with bullhooks and electric prods (as depicted in dozens of photographs available at RinglingBeatsAnimals.com).
Waste Management's image and reputation could be irreparably tarnished and its relationship with St. Lucie County harmed if the NEC continues to protest the commissioners' directive and attempts to overturn it. In fact, the commissioners' vote exemplified the growing public sentiment against the use of bullhooks on elephants, showing that this abusive device has no place in St. Lucie County. And it certainly should not be allowed on any property owned by Waste Management.
We look forward to hearing Waste Management's position on this very important matter.
Sincerely,Debbie LeahyDirectorPETACatherine DoyleCampaign DirectorIDA
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.