It's Time to Embrace the New Normal and Retire Animals to Reputable Sanctuaries, Says Group
For Immediate Release:
October 1, 2020
Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382
Buffalo, N.Y. – In light of The Great Pumpkin Farm’s new COVID-19 regulations barring visitors from petting or feeding the animals in its petting zoo, PETA has sent a letter urging the popular venue to make the no-contact rule permanent—or, better yet, shut down its live-animal exhibits and send the animals to reputable sanctuaries.
“Petting zoos subject sensitive animals to a constant barrage of noise and to people touching them, and they teach children that it’s OK to treat animals like toys instead of individuals with thoughts, needs, and desires, when those days are done,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA hopes to see The Great Pumpkin Farm focus on harmless fun, like its corn maze.”
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 PETA.org.
PETA’s letter to The Great Pumpkin Farm founder and co-owner Ben Schultz follows.
October 1, 2020
Founder and Co-Owner
The Great Pumpkin Farm
Dear Mr. Schultz,
I’m writing on behalf of PETA and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, including many thousands across New York, in response to the news that you won’t allow guests to pet or feed animals in your petting zoo this fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s a smart move. Please, would you consider making this rule permanent or—even better—relocate the animals to a farmed-animal sanctuary? People love your massive selection of pumpkins and the other animal-free sources of entertainment that you provide, so there’s no need for live animals to be in the mix.
Animals in petting zoos live in a perpetual, if not always obvious, state of stress and are subjected to a barrage of strange noises and activity, as unfamiliar people try to touch them. They are sentient beings, of course, so they are capable of feeling fear and pain just like dogs and cats. Teaching children about animals should involve conveying information about their behavior. However, the only thing that petting zoos teach children is that it’s OK to confine animals to small pens for entertainment. Times have changed, and we hope you’ll join those who believe that animals are worthy of our respect.
Petting zoos can also pose a risk to public health, because they can facilitate the transmission of numerous dangerous bacteria and diseases to humans through direct or indirect contact with animals. These include E. coli, salmonella, campylobacter, and swine flu. Children are especially vulnerable, because they’re less likely to practice proper hygiene. Studies show that less than a third of visitors to petting zoos actually wash their hands afterward! Just last year, a 2-year-old died from an E. coli infection and 11 other children became sick after visiting a San Diego County Fair petting zoo. They’re not alone—in recent years, at least three children and two other individuals contracted E. coli after touching goats at a pumpkin patch petting zoo in Minnesota, and in 2012, two children became sick after visiting a similar venue in Oregon.
May we please hear that live animals will no longer be used in your events? Would you also perhaps consider allowing the animals to live in peace and safety at a reputable sanctuary? We could help you relocate them. We’d also be happy to assist you in planning an educational display that would showcase how amazing the hidden lives of farmed animals are. You have a great opportunity to create a new, fun, harmless, and animal-friendly celebration that everyone could get behind. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.
Very truly yours,
Ingrid E. Newkirk