Tina, Jewel, Queenie - Three Suffering Elephants - Your Pressure Seems To Be Working!
Please Send Another E-Mail! Make Another Phone Call!
Thank you to all who called and wrote to Congress and the USDA on behalf of Tina, Jewel and Queenie, the three elephants suffering at the hands of their trainer, Will Davenport, a chronic violator of federal animal welfare law. The USDA received so many calls that it set up a special team to handle them. The pressure we are generating is surely helping to bring attention to the plight of these elephants. We are confident that only a little more pressure is necessary to achieve our goal: confiscation of the elephants and transfer to a sanctuary.
After their scheduled engagements with the Shrine Circus in Idaho were cancelled (thanks to letters from IDA and our loyal members), the elephants returned to their home base in Leggett, Texas. There they reportedly remain while undergoing tuberculosis testing and veterinary evaluation. Yet, every day that the USDA leaves these elephants in the hands of a trainer that the agency itself has documented to be untrained and incompetent, is another day that the lives of these magnificent animals are endangered.
It was two years ago this month that IDA, acting on a tip from a circus insider, located Tina and Jewel at the Leggett facility in a shockingly emaciated state. These photos were taken by an IDA investigator in July 2007, just months after the USDA ordered the elephants off the road because of severe weight loss. Within a few months, Queenie had joined Tina and Jewel in Leggett and the USDA reauthorized travel for all three elephants, despite the fact that the weight loss in Tina and Jewel was never diagnosed or treated.
Now all three elephants have suffered from severe weight loss, Tina and Jewel for the second time in as many years. A just-released USDA inspection report from June indicates that Jewel lost 740 pounds and Queenie (aka "Boo") lost 520 pounds, while Tina has lost 640 pounds in less than a year.
These photos, taken at the elephants' last known public appearance in Loves Park, Ill. in June 2009, show the dire condition that these elephants are in:
Tragically, the USDA's Animal Care division continues to fiddle while Rome burns, giving Will Davenport chance after chance to care for these elephants, despite the fact that he has again endangered their health, while thumbing his nose at USDA's authority and violating the Animal Welfare Act with impunity.
This situation cannot be allowed to stand. IDA is exploring every avenue of pursuit - legal, political and by raising public awareness - to compel the USDA to rescue these elephants and send them to a sanctuary. Meanwhile, we are asking our members to once again contact their Congressional Representatives and Senators, and the USDA, on these elephants' behalf. Several offices on Capitol Hill have agreed to assist in this matter, but we need many more to get involved to force the new administration to act to save the lives of these elephants and others like them.
We must relentlessly pressure federal agencies to force them to do their jobs. The key to success is digging in and not giving up or moving on to the next campaign. So even if you have acted on their before, please don't give up on Tina, Jewel and Queenie!
1) Contact your Congressional Representative and your Senators, even if you have done so already. Urge them to contact Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and demand that his agency confiscate Tina, Jewel and Queenie and send them to a sanctuary with the conditions and expertise necessary to heal these elephants from their physical and emotional wounds. Also ask them to insist that the new administration correct the USDA'S historic failure to enforce the Animal Welfare Act in the manner that Congress intended when it passed the landmark law four decades ago.
2) Contact the USDA so that they know how critical it is that they take immediate steps to save these elephants. Please, even if you already have, email or call the Department of Agriculture office, Deputy Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulation Ann Wright - and do this as often as you can, until Tina, Jewel and Queenie are safe in the Elephant Sanctuary. Ms. Wright oversees animal welfare enforcement at the USDA. If her office is reluctant to take a message, please politely explain that she needs to exercise her supervisory powers over this situation, before it is too late.
phone: 202-720-4256 OR 720-7813.
Click here to access our automatic letter-sending tool, which (for U.S. residents) will allow you to send all the letters above in one quick step.
However, if you are writing from outside the United States, please focus your efforts on e-mailing and calling Undersecretary Wright. Unfortunately our letter-writing tool for letters to the U.S. Congress does not work for non-U.S.-based addresses.
Just in case you receive a response to your e-mail saying that your Senator or Representative only accepts comments via his/her webform, here's a sample letter you can cut-and-paste into that webform:
Dear Rep. or Sen.:
I am writing [once again] regarding the dire situation involving three circus elephants, Tina, Jewel and Queenie. New USDA inspection reports indicate that the health of these elephants continues to deteriorate. They have lost a combined total of nearly 2,000 pounds in less than a year.
The elephants are reportedly back in Texas, where they are undergoing Tuberculosis testing and veterinary analysis. Yet, inexplicably, the USDA continues to leave the elephants in the control of Will Davenport, under whose watch the elephants have become dangerously debilitated not once, but twice in two years. During this time, the USDA, which is supposed to enforce the AWA, has done little more than chronicle Mr. Davenport's repeated failures to provide adequate veterinary care to the elephants and handle them safely and humanely.
The USDA's refusal to act in this case, despite their own documentation of the elephants' declining health, is unacceptable, and its claim that it cannot confiscate these elephants is simply not supported by the facts. Please take the time to review In Defense of Animals' latest plea for action to rescue these elephants. (http://www.helpelephants.com/pdf/IDA_RESPONSE_TO_VILSACK_06_09_fin.pdf) As your constituent I request that you contact the USDA, remind them that it is in their power to save these elephants and demand that they do so.
Many thanks for your consideration.