Two important elephant updates:
1) The latest news on Queenie
2) IDA files complaint against Ringling Brothers in New York
Don't Give Up On Queenie!
Queenie is the elephant left behind when the USDA took custody of Tina and Jewel and sent them to the San Diego Zoo. IDA members' calls and letters on her behalf have had quite an impact at the USDA. We have brought Queenie's plight to the attention of the highest levels of this agency.
Some IDA members report that when the secretary for USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack answered her phone, she asked immediately, "Is this about Queenie?"
At this point it is crucial that we keep up the pressure. Let's keep the USDA's e-mail, phone lines, and fax machines overwhelmingly busy. (See below for contact information).
The USDA needs to hear this message, loud and clear: it has been nearly two months since Queenie was left alone with Will Davenport, whose egregious history of mistreating elephants is well known. When Tina and Jewel were taken, Davenport relinquished his exhibitor's license - but we must not let the USDA claim it has no further authority in the matter. The agency can and must aggressively pursue all legal remedies against Davenport for his many violations of the Animal Welfare Act - and utilize those legal avenues to ensure that Queenie spends the rest of her life at the Performing Animal Welfare Sanctuary (PAWS) or at The Elephant Sanctuary (TES). She has suffered enough.
Please, today and every day until you see pictures of Queenie roaming free at a sanctuary, call and email these USDA officials:
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
Phone: 202 720-3631, Fax: 202-720-2166
Acting APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea
Phone: 202-720-3861 Email: Kevin.A.Shea@usda.gov
Although we are disappointed that Tina and Jewel were not transferred to a sanctuary, they do appear to be recovering well at the San Diego Zoo, according to blog entries on their progress. We are grateful that the zoo is taking care of these two girls, who have suffered so much in their sad lives in the circus.
IDA will continue to advocate for Queenie until she is free - at the same time, our attention is also on the many other elephants abused by the circus industry (see below).
IDA Files Complaint Against Ringling Bros. Circus
This week, IDA and PETA co-filed a complaint with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) against the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus alleging numerous violations of the DEC license allowing the circus to exhibit elephants in New York. That license strictly prohibits direct contact between the public and the elephants, yet during its Coney Island tenure this summer, Ringling repeatedly allowed the public to come in close contact with the elephants. A "Notice of Violation" has already been issued by the N.Y. DEC in response to a complaint from IDA based on an "elephant scrub down" event undertaken with the New York City Fire Department.
In addition to that event, IDA has uncovered at least eight more apparent violations of the terms of Ringling's license to display elephants in New York. Apparently oblivious or indifferent to these violations, Ringling flaunted these violations by posting images of the public in direct contact with elephants on its Facebook and Flickr sites. In light of these repeated, willful violations, IDA and PETA have asked the DEC to refuse to issue any license to Ringling to bring elephants into New York for a period long enough to demonstrate that the DEC is serious about protecting public safety. Since Ringling is due in Buffalo on October 22, we have asked the DEC to revoke any license already issued. See our letter to the Commissioner of the DEC here.
IDA's complaints with New York State against Ringling are part of a nationwide effort to hold this circus accountable for actions that jeopardize public safety and subject elephants to lives of suffering and misery. A federal trial this year revealed mountains of evidence about Ringling's abusive elephant handling practices which include:
- Chaining elephants for 60 - 100 hours at a time while traveling, and for 16-22 hours per day at the Ringling Center for Elephant Conservation;
- Using chains and ropes to tear babies away from their mothers at age two or younger (before they are weaned) to begin their training for the circus;
- Violently separating baby elephants from their mothers and cruelly training them with prolonged restraint (tying up their legs), isolation from other elephants, and hitting with bullhooks. One 2-year-old baby elephant, Aria, was chained nonstop for four months and only let off chains for 40 minutes a day to be trained.
- Striking the elephants with bullhooks, the steel-tipped rods used to hit, stab and hook elephants into compliance. Ringling head Kenneth Feld, CEO of Feld Entertainment International admitted under oath that all his handlers strike elephants with bullhooks.
Adding to the incontrovertible evidence of elephant abuse and suffering in the Ringling circus is undercover video taken by a PETA investigator of Ringling handlers repeatedly beating and whipping elephants and tigers.
If Ringling is coming to your town, please spread the word in your community about the cruelty under the circus big top. If you would like to organize a protest or leafleting at the circus, please contact Melissa@idausa.org.