Cape Coral Native Goes On Tour With Mechanical Elephant

Erik Davidson Celebrates End of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

For Immediate Release:
February 28, 2017

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Cape Coral, Fla. – In May, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will close, blaming falling ticket sales. Attendance has declined significantly following widespread protests against the outfit’s mistreatment of animals—and this opposition includes the work of Cape Coral resident Erik Davidson, who is currently taking PETA’s life-size mechanical elephant, Ellie, to elementary schools across the country.

Since August 2015, Ellie has traveled to more than 200 elementary schools and summer camps, spreading a message of empathy for animals to more than 40,000 students, typically as a part of schools’ anti-bullying curriculum. The age-appropriate presentation explains to kids that circuses haul elephants from city to city for shows and that trainers force them to perform tricks by intimidating and hurting them. Ellie encourages students to stay away from circuses that use animals.

“Traveling across the country with PETA’s mechanical elephant has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” says Davidson, a Mariner High School graduate. “Kids have open hearts and open minds, and once they learn that circuses deny elephants everything that’s natural and important to them, they’re more likely to go protest the circus than to go see it.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—has received rave reviews for Ellie and Davidson. “Hosting [Ellie] was an amazing experience,” wrote one teacher. “After hearing [Ellie]’s story, our students decided NOT to go to our early trip to the circus. In fact, teachers have agreed not to take their children as well. [Hosting her] opened our eyes to the horrible treatment of animals at the circus or zoo.”

Interviews with Davidson are available. For more information, please visit

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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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