Government’s ‘Epic Fail’ to Protect Animals Called Out in ‘New York Times’

For Immediate Release:
October 9, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

New York – PETA has run a full-page, full-color PETA ad in The New York Times this morning which blasts the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its “EPIC FAIL” in protecting bears, birds, and elephants displayed in circuses and roadside zoos in the U.S., despite the legal requirement for these animals’ protection under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which the USDA is tasked with enforcing.

In the ad, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—urges readers to contact the USDA inspector general and call on the agency to address the following failures:

  • Lame elephants with painful arthritis—one of the leading reasons why captive elephants are euthanized—are regularly forced to perform in circuses and used to give rides in violation of the AWA. One such elephant, Nosey, was recently observed by an independent board-certified zoo veterinarian, who concluded that she required immediate veterinary care for her advanced arthritis—but the USDA has failed to help her.
  • Although birds used by animal exhibitors have been covered by the AWA since 2002, the USDA has taken absolutely no action in response to complaints regarding exhibited birds found suffering from injuries and illness, filthy enclosures, and contaminated water, among other violations. These birds have been left to suffer and even die from neglect.
  • Although ursine experts have concluded that bears, just like great apes, have specialized needs for their physical and mental health—such as opportunities to forage for food, den, and bathe, among others—the USDA has failed to issue bear-specific guidelines for these animals’ care, leaving many to suffer at roadside zoos in concrete pits or barren pens that are little more than chain-link dog runs.

“The agency has turned a blind eye to acts of blatant cruelty to the very birds, bears, and elephants the Animal Welfare Act is meant to protect,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA urges every kind soul and proponent of functional government to call the USDA out on its failure to act—and to stay far away from roadside zoos and circuses that use these animals.”

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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