Zebra Death Ahead of Animal-Race Festival Prompts PETA Plea

Chandler’s Ostrich Festival Urged to Nix Archaic Animal Competitions

For Immediate Release:
March 9, 2018

Brooke Rossi 202-483-7382

Chandler, Ariz.

After learning that a zebra escaped from Chandler’s Ostrich Festival on Wednesday only to be hit by a car and killed, PETA fired off a letter this afternoon calling on the festival—which kicks off today and features ostrich, camel, pig, emu, and zebra races—to cancel its cruel animal acts and move forward with only animal-free entertainment.

“When animal circuses are shutting down and SeaWorld is on the skids, it’s ludicrous that this festival is still forcing skittish animals to race in front of rowdy crowds,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “This zebra’s death is yet another reason why Chandler’s Ostrich Festival should heed PETA’s call to nix its animal acts and feature only fun human entertainment.”

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to Chandler Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Terri Kimble follows.

March 9, 2018

Terri Kimble

President and CEO

Chandler Chamber of Commerce

Dear Ms. Kimble,

I’m writing on behalf of PETA and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide regarding a zebra who escaped from Chandler’s Ostrich Festival and was struck and killed by a car on Wednesday morning. I urge you to ensure that the fair goes forward without any animals.

While one zebra was reportedly killed on impact, another was rounded up and returned to his or her pen and will presumably be forced to race this weekend, along with ostriches, camels, emus, and pigs—all of whom will likely be terrified and might try another daring escape, putting your fairgoers at risk. Animals exploited in traveling acts can experience perpetual anxiety, physical discomfort, and frustration as their instinctual needs are denied and they are deprived of everything that is natural and important to them.

The company that provides the zebras and other animals for the festival, Hedrick Exotic Animal Farm, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act, including repeat citations for failing to provide structurally sound enclosures to protect animals from injury and to contain them securely and failing to provide camels with adequate shade. An ostrich was euthanized after frantically running into a barrier, resulting in a broken leg, during one of Hedrick’s previous races in California. According to a witness, “He just went plowing straight into it and got tangled up in it. He got confused or scared.” And at the 2015 Chandler Ostrich Festival, two citizens reported that an ostrich was trampled to death by two other birds while they were in “race stalls.”

Zebras are prey animals and highly susceptible to stress. They can be very unpredictable and have a tendency to react skittishly, which can lead to severe physical trauma—as evidenced by this week’s death. They’re also often ill-tempered—especially when under the stress of captivity—and when they bite, they tend not to let go. A kick from a zebra can be fatal—and these animals are responsible for more injuries to American zookeepers each year than any other species. Ostriches used for races are denied their most basic needs. They’re extremely complex birds with intricate social structures. In the wild, they share parental duties, with the camouflaged mother taking care of the eggs during the day and the father, who has black feathers, taking night duty.

Please prioritize animal welfare by canceling all animal acts and hosting only animal-free entertainment moving forward.

Very truly yours,

Melanie Johnson

Campaign Coordinator, Animals in Entertainment

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

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