Zoo Association Urged to Stop Foolish, Lazy, Dangerous Elephant Herding by Dogs

PETA Seeks Removal of Pittsburgh Zoo's Accreditation

For Immediate Release:
March 18, 2015

Shakira Croce 202-483-7382

Pittsburgh – As the dangerous and stressful practice of using dogs to round up and herd resident elephants apparently continues at the Pittsburgh Zoo, despite resounding criticism and concerns over danger to the dogs and stress to the pachyderms, PETA has this morning called on the Association of Zoos & Aquariums to require that the zoo stop the practice—and rescind the facility’s accreditation if it refuses.

“The Pittsburgh Zoo’s foolish, lazy, and dangerous use of dogs to herd elephants seems to us to violate several of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ rules,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on the association to do what’s right for the elephants by ordering the zoo to spare them the pain and frustration of being chased and hounded in their enclosures and remove the dogs from the danger of being fatally injured.”

Video footage of this practice shows elephants who display obvious signs of distress, including flapping their ears and trumpeting, as they’re chased and apparently bitten by dogs at the command of zoo staff. In addition to the obvious stress that this causes the elephants, if the dogs are accidentally stepped on or attacked and thrown by the agitated elephants, they’re likely to be seriously injured or killed.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—has asked the facility to follow the lead of most accredited zoos, including the San Diego Zoo, and adopt a protocol called “protected contact.” Protected contact is a carefully conceived, well-researched method of elephant management in which ropes, chains, and bullhooks—sharp metal weapons that resemble a fireplace poker and that are currently employed against elephants at the Pittsburgh Zoo—are not used. Barriers always separate elephants and handlers, protecting both.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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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