‘World Elephant Day’ Appeal to Renaissance Festival: Please Cancel Elephant Rides From Trainer Who Evaded Arrest in Relation to Cruelty Charges

PETA Alerts Organizers to History of Cruelty to Captive Elephants

For Immediate Release:
August 12, 2014

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Annapolis, Md.

PETA sent a letter this afternoon calling on the organizers of the upcoming Maryland Renaissance Festival to cancel plans to use elephant rides provided by Franklin Murray, a man charged with four counts of cruelty to animals. Murray was finally caught in 2012 after evading arrest for 16 years in relation to four counts of cruelty to animals—he has posted bail and continues his elephant-exhibiting business. In its appeal, which comes on World Elephant Day, PETA points out that handlers use bullhooks—weapons that resemble a fireplace poker with a sharp hook on one end—to force elephants to obey out of fear of punishment.

When:   Saturday, August 23, 11 a.m.

Where:  Maryland Renaissance Festival

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—has posted an action alert on its popular website, which more than 44,000 people have already used to call on the festival to cancel the rides. If the rides go forward, PETA members plan to protest.

“World Elephant Day reminds us how wonderful, intelligent, and sensitive elephants are—and how much they suffer when beaten into performing tricks and forced into captivity to give rides,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on the Maryland Renaissance Festival to reject cruelty to animals and refuse to host elephant-ride providers.”

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to the organizers of the Maryland Renaissance Festival follows.


August 12, 2014


Jules Smith, President
Maryland Renaissance Festival


Dear Mr. Smith:

On behalf of PETA and its more than 3 million members and supporters, including more than 35,000 in Maryland, I am writing to urge you to cancel scheduled elephant rides at the upcoming Maryland Renaissance Festival. Today, Tuesday, August 12, is World Elephant Day. In honor and recognition of this fact, please consider the inherent cruelty behind these rides and make the compassionate decision to remove them from the Renaissance Festival’s lineup.

Elephants used for rides are trained through domination, fear, and punishment with the use of bullhooks, sharp metal weapons that resemble fireplace pokers. Trainers use them to hook and stab the elephants’ sensitive skin. Many trainers also use electric prods and rely on electric shocks to deliver painful jolts. Elephants quickly learn to associate bullhooks with pain and, in attempts to avoid suffering, move away from the weapon. This is how trainers force elephants to plod in mundane circles for hours at a time with children on their backs. When not being forced to give rides, they are chained, barely able to move. Elephants develop severe, life-threatening foot infections while standing on concrete floors in their own waste. In the wild, they have complex social networks, and they experience the same loneliness and grief that humans do when they’re separated from their families and forced to live without these important relationships. There is absolutely no excuse for commandeering the life of these beautiful, intelligent animals for the fleeting entertainment of festivalgoers.

Your exhibitor, Elephant Walk, and its owner, Franklin Murray, have a history of animal abuse and lax standards of animal care. In New Jersey, a warrant was put out for Murray’s arrest in 1996 on four counts of cruelty to animals for “inflicting unnecessary cruelty towards a living animal and not providing proper sustenance to a living animal.” He evaded arrest for 16 years while traveling with circuses but was finally caught in May 2012. He has currently posted bail and continues to exploit the elephants in his care.

Sponsoring these inhumane events promotes the continued captivity and exploitation of these innocent animals, all under the guise of “entertainment” and profit. You have the unique opportunity today, on World Elephant Day, to make a true difference. May I please hear from you immediately that you have decided to cancel these rides?

Very truly yours,
Delcianna Winders, Esq.
Deputy General Counsel | Captive Animal Law Enforcement

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.

Get the Latest Tips—Right in Your Inbox
We’ll e-mail you weekly with the latest in vegan recipes, fashion, and more!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.