Zoo’s Cruel Dog-Herding Program for Elephants May Be Illegal

PETA Calls for Investigation, Protected Contact for Captive Elephants

For Immediate Release:
November 5, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Pittsburgh – The Pittsburgh Zoo’s practice of using dogs to “herd” resident elephants may be more than dangerous—it may be illegal. That’s why PETA fired off a request this morning to the Pennsylvania Game Commission asking for an immediate investigation into the Pittsburgh Zoo’s apparent violation of Pennsylvania’s prohibition on allowing dogs to chase wildlife, a cruel and hazardous practice that exposes dogs, human handlers, and wild animals to tremendous risk.

“Elephants, dogs, and human handlers all stand to lose in this equation,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on the Pennsylvania Game Commission to commit to a full investigation before the Pittsburgh Zoo’s apparent disregard for the law causes injury or death.”

Video footage of dogs herding the elephants shows elephants displaying obvious signs of distress, including flapping their ears and trumpeting, as they’re chased and apparently nipped by dogs at the command of zoo staff. In addition to the obvious stress that this causes the elephants, the dogs are in danger of being accidentally stepped on and killed or purposely attacked and thrown in the air by the agitated elephants.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—is asking the zoo to follow the lead of most 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 which 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