USDA Moves to Confiscate Elephant Jewel
Belligerent Davenport Defies Federal Order
IDA has learned that on Saturday August 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) attempted to confiscate Jewel, one of three suffering and abused elephants who we have been working for over two years to rescue. The USDA temporarily aborted the confiscation attempt in the face of a defiant and uncooperative Will Davenport, the elephants' handler.
IDA members will recall that Davenport has a long history of chronic Animal Welfare Act violations including abusive and unsafe handling practices, inadequate veterinary care and negligent treatment of the elephants Tina, Jewel and Queenie. Davenport has also violated the U.S. Endangered Species Act in the illegal purchase of Tina and Jewel from the Cole Brothers Circus.
Although Davenport doesn't have a legal leg to stand on, he refused to cooperate with the confiscation and told his distorted and factually-incorrect side of the story to his local newspaper in Polk County, Texas. This newspaper appears to be sympathetic to Davenport's philosophy that the federal government is interfering with his private property rights, the elephants being his private "property."
See the story here and be sure to watch the video of Davenport - sporting a Popeye T-shirt and spouting lies - here.
IDA applauds the USDA for taking action to confiscate Jewel. We recognize this as an important step toward protecting elephants, and we hope the agency will move immediately to confiscate all three elephants and place Will Davenport behind bars where he belongs.
There are strong legal grounds for this action. Under Davenport's care, all three elephants have lost significant weight (nearly a ton between them in less than a year) and the USDA has documented their ongoing and unrelieved suffering at his hands. In addition, Tina and Jewel have been together for decades and Queenie has been with them for two years. Separating these bonded elephants, even for a short time, would cause untold and unnecessary stress and trauma. Regarding Davenport, the AWA (section 2146(b)) provides for penalties and/or imprisonment of any person who interferes with the USDA's official duties.
Write and/or call your Congressional representatives and the USDA today. It's very important that we recognize the important step the agency is taking to rescue Jewel. Politely urge the USDA to confiscate all three elephants and send them to a sanctuary where they can get the care and attention they need to heal.
Note - we have not included a sample letter this time, as we'd like your letters to be unique, personal, and from the heart. If you don't have time to compose a letter, a quick phone call will work also!
Find your federal representatives here:
For the USDA, call, e-mail, or write to:
Deputy Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Phone: 202-720-4256 OR 202-720-7813
More information about Tina, Jewel and Queenie here.