State Fair Should End Elephant Rides for Three Good Reasons, Says PETA

History of Elephant Beatings, Public Endangerment Cited in Appeal

For Immediate Release:
July 24, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Indianapolis – PETA has posted an action alert on its popular website asking visitors to contact the Indiana State Fair and urge it to cancel dangerous elephant rides that are slated to be provided at the fair in August, for three reasons:

  1. Kind people today realize that elephants belong in the wild, not in captive environments where they are beaten with bullhooks—weapons that resemble a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on one end—and forced to give rides.
  2. As the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) warns, “[Y]ou always put yourself at risk when you go near an elephant, no matter how good the trainer/handler and elephant appear to be.” On average, elephants in the U.S. kill one person every year and injure more. In 2009, the Indiana State Fairgrounds made headlines after at least a dozen children were injured when an elephant being used for rides knocked over a stairway.
  3. Nearly 20 percent of the Asian elephants in the U.S. have been identified as being tuberculosis (TB) positive. TB is highly transmissible from elephants to humans, and the exhibitor scheduled to provide elephant rides at the fair, Carson & Barnes Circus, has repeatedly been cited for failing to have valid TB tests for elephants and staff.

“Stressed, abused elephants have been known to carry communicable disease and to lash out in frustration—and when those elephants have children on their backs, the consequences can be disastrous,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA, whose motto includes ‘animals are not ours to use for entertainment,’ is calling on the Indiana State Fair to protect fairgoers and animals alike by refusing to host any elephant-ride providers.”

As PETA noted in its letter to the fair, Carson & Barnes has a long history of violating the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and its head trainer was caught on camera viciously attacking terrified elephants with bullhooks and shocking them with electric prods. Last year, an eyewitness reported seeing a Carson & Barnes handler beat an elephant with children on her back until she screamed.

Carson & Barnes’ AWA violations include repeatedly failing to maintain control of elephants, who have repeatedly escaped, including earlier this year when three escaped from an elephant-ride area and ran amok for nearly an hour.

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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