Educational ‘Elephant’ Barred From James Madison Park

PETA Blasts City for Baseless Rejection of Empathy-Inspiring Statue

For Immediate Release:
September 12, 2019

David Perle 202-483-7382

Madison, Wis.

Today, PETA sent a letter urging the Board of Park Commissioners to reconsider its shameful rejection of PETA’s “Ella Phantzperil” statue—which was rejected even though PETA worked with officials for nearly a year to meet all the necessary requirements to install it in Madison—after the city attorney claimed that the statue would open the door to “any other sculpture one could imagine” and that the city would have a “hard time saying ‘no’ to a Nazi sculpture” if it accepted Ella, whose message is one of respect, kindness, and understanding.

In the letter, PETA explains that Ella, a life-size elephant sculpture designed by New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss, would send an anti-violence message to parkgoers and help to inform the community about the abuse that animals endure in circuses as the group calls for an end to the Wisconsin Historical Society’s use of chained elephants at Circus World.

“Circus World uses elephants supplied by Carson & Barnes Circus, whose head trainer has been videotaped shocking elephants with electric prods and instructing his lackeys to beat them until they scream,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “PETA is urging city officials to do the right thing and allow Ella, who symbolizes freedom and safety for all animals, to take a stand in the public park.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit

PETA’s letter to the City of Madison Board of Park Commissioners follows.

September 12, 2019

Board of Park Commissioners

City of Madison

Dear Commissioners Gnam, Harrington, Henak, Leopold, Ragland, Skidmore, and Washington,

I’m writing on behalf of PETA and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide regarding the Board of Park Commissioners’ shameful rejection of our educational and empathy-inspiring elephant statue, which reveals the suffering that animals endure for circuses such as Circus World. The denial of displaying this artwork out of fear of what other sculptures could be placed in the city does a huge disservice to Madison residents.

PETA’s elephant—Ella Phantzperil—was designed by noted New Yorker cover artist and cartoonist Harry Bliss. She teaches children about empathy and respect for all living, feeling beings, and her tears teach people about circus cruelty. She represents all the elephants who have suffered for entertainment and should now be retired to reputable sanctuaries.

The elephants exploited at Circus World—which is operated by Madison’s Wisconsin Historical Society—are provided by the notoriously abusive Carson & Barnes Circus, which has racked up more than 100 federal animal welfare violations. Its head trainer has also been videotaped shocking elephants with electric prods, cursing at them, and instructing trainers to sink and twist heavy, sharp steel-tipped bullhooks into their flesh until they scream.

Public opposition to using animals for entertainment has never been greater than now, as animal circuses are shutting down or going animal-free, and venues and communities around the world are banning exhibits that use elephants and other wild animals. We urge you to join them in taking a stand for elephants abused in circuses and allow Ella to reside in James Madison Park.


Tracy Reiman

Executive Vice President

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