PETA India to DFW Indian Cultural Society: Nix the Elephant Rides

Group Points to Routine Animal Abuse, Danger to Participants

For Immediate Release:
November 1, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

Dallas – Today, PETA India and the U.S.-based PETA Foundation wrote to Satish Gupta, president of the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) Indian Cultural Society, urging him to cancel plans to have elephant rides at its 2013 Diwali Mela festival on Saturday. In the letter, the PETA organizations point out that elephants forced to give rides are not willing participants who relish doing so but have been bullied into submission by being disciplined behind the scenes, including through beatings with bullhooks—a weapon resembling a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on the end. The PETA affiliates also reference instances in which elephants used for entertainment have had enough of that treatment and dared to run amok, injuring humans. Dangerous incidents with elephants have resulted in more than 100 human injuries and the deaths of at least 16 people in the U.S. alone. PETA India and the PETA Foundation list venues across the country that have canceled elephant rides after learning about the abuse behind them and the risk of human injury and death and points to the fact that Los Angeles just last week moved to ban the use of bullhooks, something that will end elephant use in shows and rides in that city.

PETA U.S. has asked its members in Texas to contact the society and ask that the elephant rides be canceled.

“Parents would never allow their kids to ride on an elephant’s back if they knew that the elephant had been beaten into submission as an infant and that their children’s safety is at risk,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “The Diwali Mela festival is about celebrating the beauty of India’s culture, but certain parts of all cultures that have previously hurt children, animals, and others should be relegated to the history books.”

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PETA India’s and the PETA Foundation’s letter to DFW Indian Cultural Society President Satish Gupta follows.

1 November 2013

Satish Gupta, President
Dallas Fort Worth Indian Cultural Society

Via e-mail: [email protected]

Dear Mr Gupta:

We are writing on behalf of PETA India and its members and supporters. Numerous concerned citizens have contacted us because they were disturbed to learn that the Dallas Fort Worth Indian Cultural Society has scheduled elephant rides at its Diwali Mela celebration. You probably don’t know that elephants who are used for rides are routinely beaten with bullhooks – sharp metal weapons resembling fireplace pokers. Surely your organization would not have planned for elephant rides had you known about this animal suffering. Accordingly, we urge you to cancel your plans.

Video footage shows trainers striking elephants who are used for rides with bullhooks and shocking them with electric prods to get them to “perform”. The elephants scream as they are struck on their sensitive feet, bellies and mouths. This is standard industry practice. Handlers embed the bullhook into an elephant’s most sensitive areas – including the feet, trunk, mouth and earflaps – frequently causing puncture wounds, welts and boils. The elephants are coerced to perform through fear and pain

Elephant rides also pose safety risks. Dangerous incidents with elephants have resulted in 16 human deaths and more than 135 human injuries in the United States. In 2009, at least 15 children and one adult were injured when an elephant became startled and then stumbled, knocking over the scaffolding stairway leading to the elephant ride. Recent incidents, including the death of an experienced handler at the Dickerson Park Zoo and the critical injuries inflicted on a woman by an elephant at a Florida facility that offers elephant rides, make it clear that abused captive elephants can cause serious harm.

The abuses and risks associated with using elephants for rides have not escaped the many compassionate venues that have cancelled such events. This year, the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, Wisconsin, decided not to bring elephant rides back for its annual event, as did the Grays Harbor County Fair Board in Elma, Washington. The Orange County and Los Angeles County fairs have also stopped offering elephant rides, and just last week Los Angeles moved to ban the use of bullhooks.

Surely, the cruelty and risks of elephant rides have no place at your compassionate, family-friendly event. May we please hear from you today that you have cancelled the elephant rides? 

Very truly yours,

Poorva Joshipura
Chief Executive Officer, PETA India

Carney Anne Nasser, Esq
Counsel, Captive Animal Law Enforcement, PETA Foundation

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