PETA Calls On National Jaycees President to Investigate Fair Board President's Actions and End Shark Display at Jaycee Fair
For Immediate Release:
September 21, 2016
David Perle 202-483-7382
Swainsboro, Ga. – “Dear Sir, Madam or whichever gender neutral restroom you choose to use daily” and “please shut up”—these are excerpts from Swainsboro Jaycees Fair Board President Kelly Kirkland’s response to polite requests that the Southeast Georgia Jaycee Fair cancel a planned shark exhibit. In addition to sending PETA and concerned citizens photographs of the animals he has killed, including ducks and a snake—and promising to send more—Kirkland also invoked PETA in at least one racist joke that he posted on Facebook.
PETA (whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”) this morning alerted the president of the United States Junior Chamber to Kirkland’s behavior and has requested that he ensure that the Haai Shark Encounter—a traveling exhibition in which sharks are dragged from fair to fair and subjected to the stress and disorientation of constant movement, intense vibrations, and noisy crowds, who bang on the tank as part of the show—is replaced with an animal-free fundraiser.
“The shark exhibit won’t ’empower young people to create positive change,’ as the Jaycees’ mission states, but it will teach them that it’s OK to confuse, agitate, and torment animals for entertainment,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA hopes the Jaycees leadership will act swiftly to cancel this abusive shark encounter and take a long, hard look at their chapter fair board president’s conduct.”
PETA’s letter to the Jaycees leadership follows.
September 21, 2016
Laurence Bolotin, President, United States Junior Chamber
Dear Mr. Bolotin,
I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 5 million members and supporters worldwide about the behavior and public remarks made by Swainsboro Jaycee Fair Board President Kelly Kirkland. After you read the following information, we trust that you will take appropriate action to address Mr. Kirkland’s conduct and ensure that the cruel Haai Shark Encounter planned for the Southeast Georgia Jaycee Fair is canceled. As you know, the mission of the United States Junior Chamber is to “empower young people to create positive change.” Mr. Kirkland has been sending graphic photographs of animals he’s killed to concerned citizens, PETA, and anyone who has politely urged him not to host this cruel shark exhibit at the Southeast Georgia Jaycee Fair in October. Mr. Kirkland also replied to PETA’s concerns with such statements as “Dear Sir, Madam or whichever gender neutral restroom you choose to use daily” and “please shut up” and invoked PETA in at least one racist comment posted to Facebook.
Exempt from even the minimal protections of the federal Animal Welfare Act, sharks used for the Haai Shark Encounter are trucked thousands of miles across the country so that exhibitor Philip Peters can pull on their fins and tails. Tiny tanks thwart their exceptional sensory abilities, and noisy crowds—who are actually encouraged to bang on the tank as part of the show—confuse, agitate, and torment them. At the end of the season, the sharks are unloaded on aquariums and Haai Shark Encounter obtains a new group of sharks to exploit, reportedly leaving the door open to wild capture.
We hope to hear from you regarding Mr. Kirkland’s conduct and respectfully urge you to cancel the cruel Haai Shark Encounter.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your reply.
Executive Vice President
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals