Profile Pitch: Missouri Native Takes Mechanical Elephant on Nationwide School Tour to Spotlight Circus Cruelty

For Immediate Release:
March 1, 2017

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

In May, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will shut down, citing widespread protests and dropping ticket sales—which may be partly attributable to efforts like those of Buffalo resident Stephanie Maddux. She has spent the last six months taking PETA’s life-size mechanical elephant, Ellie, to elementary schools across the country, in order to encourage kids to stay away from circuses that use animals.

She has traveled to more than 100 elementary schools with Ellie, typically as part of teachers’ anti-bullying curricula. More than 40,000 students have watched the presentation, in which the animated, lifelike “elephant” explains that she was taken away from her loving mother, bullied and abused into performing tricks, and dragged from city to city for circus performances.

Maddux, who graduated from Bolivar High School in 2008 and Southwest Baptist University in 2012, shares how a PETA video that she watched as a young teen prompted her to go vegetarian in the heart of Missouri’s cattle country. Now, she helps people all over the U.S. make the world a better place for animals—starting with the young students in Ellie’s audiences.

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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