PETA Calls Out USDA Over Lame Elephants, Insane Bears, and Dead Birds

Published by Jennifer O'Connor.

PETA has taken out a full-page ad in The New York Times in an effort to compel the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to do its job. The agency’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is responsible for enforcing the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the only federal law that specifically protects animals used for entertainment.

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Despite numerous complaints, investigative exposés, eyewitness reports, and expert statements, it’s still business as usual for even the most egregious animal abusers. APHIS routinely fails to take meaningful enforcement action, even when animals are suffering tremendously.

Take the case of an elephant named Nosey. She has been showing clear signs of painful arthritis, yet even though a veterinarian with decades of experience called on the USDA to get this ailing elephant the help that she so desperately needs, the agency simply sent out an inspector—who was not even a veterinarian—who decided “all was well.”

The USDA still hasn’t enacted stronger regulatory protection for bears languishing in concrete pits and barren cages. PETA petitioned the USDA to help suffering captive bears and had to file a lawsuit before the agency finally sought public comment about this issue. It’s been months since the comment period closed, yet bears continue to suffer as a result of inadequate regulations.

Birds have been protected under the AWA since 2002, but only in theory, because APHIS has yet to bring a single enforcement action in behalf of birds, even though many are suffering greatly and some have died as a result of neglect.

What You Can Do

Contact the USDA inspector general’s office at 202-720-8001. Simply tell officials that you want the USDA to do its job and protect elephants, bears, and birds. Follow up with an e-mail to the inspector general at [email protected].

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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