PETA to Local Museum: Cancel Problematic Animal Shows and We’ll Send Ellie the Animatronic Elephant

For Immediate Release:
June 15, 2022

David Perle 202-483-7382

Lubbock, Texas

This morning, PETA sent a letter to Science Spectrum Museum President Cassandra Henry urging her to realize that wild animals belong in nature and that even Ringling Bros. no longer exhibits captive “performing” animals. The group asks that she cancel the museum’s plan to host Rosaire’s Bears and other old-style acts at its upcoming CritterFest event, which is advertising elephants and reptiles. Last year, the museum was criticized for offering elephant rides supplied by the notorious Carson & Barnes Circus. As an incentive to do the right thing, PETA is offering a visit from Ellie, its lifelike, 6.5-foot-tall mechanical elephant, who is adored by children and teachers who praise her as both entertaining and educational.

“Sad, old-style spectacles of abused animals are clearly not in keeping with the Science Spectrum Museum’s educational purpose,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Welfare Debbie Metzler. “PETA is calling on the museum to reinvent CritterFest with fun and informative cruelty-free displays that everyone can enjoy and in which no animal is harmed.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Henry follows.

June 15, 2022

Cassandra Henry


Science Spectrum Museum

Dear Ms. Henry,

I’m writing on behalf of PETA to renew its call for the Science Spectrum Museum to cancel plans to force bears, elephants, and other wild animals to perform or give rides at its upcoming CritterFest event. In exchange for making this compassionate decision, PETA is offering to bring its robotic elephant Ellie to Science Spectrum at a mutually agreeable date. During Ellie’s presentation, she shares her story about being rescued from the circus and talks to students about the importance of having empathy for all sensitive living beings, both large and small.

Elephants forced to perform or give rides only do so under the fear of abusive punishment at the hands of their trainers, acts that are well-known to the Carson & Barnes Circus, which supplied the elephants used at last year’s CritterFest. In damning eyewitness footage of a training session, Carson & Barnes’ head trainer was captured viciously attacking elephants with bullhooks and shocking them with electric prods while instructing other trainers to “make ‘em scream.” Carson & Barnes been cited over 100 times by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for failing to meet the minimum standards of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including failing to provide animals with basic necessities, such as adequate veterinary care, minimum space, and shelter from the elements.

Science Spectrum is currently advertising that it will feature Rosaire’s Bears, a traveling bear show that typically performs at circuses. During a performance by Rosaire’s in 2018, one bear was seen urinating twice and then licking his own urine off the floor. According to an expert who reviewed the footage, this behavior was likely a severe distress response to being forced to perform uncomfortable acts. Rosaire’s denies bears everything that is important and natural to them: It has been cited by the USDA for keeping bears in a rusty and dilapidated steel shipping container and feeding them mostly bread.

Riding elephants and watching bears perform meaningless tricks is at odds with Science Spectrum’s educational mission and teaches children the dangerous lesson that animals are merely props to use for entertainment. May I please hear from you that Science Spectrum will not force any wild animals to perform or give rides at this year’s event? Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to discussing the opportunity to present Ellie the robotic elephant at your museum.

Very truly yours,

Debbie Metzler, M.S.

Director of Captive Animal Welfare

Captive Animal Law Enforcement

Legal & Corporate Affairs | PETA Foundation

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