Payback: When Prisoners Revolt

Published by PETA.
Hans Hillewaert / CC by SA 2.5

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

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind