Florida Officials Examine Elephant-Ride Bans

As Wildlife Commission Considers Elephant-Ride Rule, PETA Says Time's Up for Cruel and Dangerous Rides

For Immediate Release:
April 5, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382

Lakeland, Fla. – At a special public meeting in Lakeland today, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will entertain public comments about the state’s elephant-ride rule—so on behalf of its more than 311,000 members and supporters in Florida, PETA sent a letter to the FWC this morning calling for the rule allowing elephant rides to be repealed, full stop.

In the letter, PETA highlights numerous human deaths and catastrophic injuries that have resulted from dangerous interactions with elephants, who are trained through extreme violence, which makes them notoriously unpredictable. PETA points out that the elephant-ride rule automatically bars only the use of elephants who have caused a serious injury or death within the last five years—and it relies on the exhibitors themselves to report dangerous incidents to state officials.

“Time and again, elephants who have endured lifetimes of violence have tried to escape by running amok or have lashed out,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “PETA feels that Florida officials should repeal this outdated regulation that exposes the public to direct contact with massive, dangerous animals and perpetuates their abuse.”

Numerous elephants who have escaped or harmed humans are still used for rides in Florida. This year alone, elephants Isa and Viola were used in Garden Bros. Circus shows despite having escaped from a circus in 2014 and run amok for nearly an hour. Nosey was used for rides—until she was seized by Alabama officials because of welfare concerns—despite having thrown a handler to the ground with her tusk in 2004. And Two Tails Ranch gave rides on an elephant named Roxy even though she had previously stepped on and crushed a worker’s pelvis.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that elephants used for rides are typically separated from their mothers at infancy and gouged with bullhooks (weapons that resemble fireplace pokers with a metal hook on one end) to teach them to obey out of fear. Eyewitness video footage shows a trainer with Carson & Barnes Circus, which leases elephants to circuses that visit Florida, attacking elephants with a bullhook and an electric prod while they screamed.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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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