Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Elephants Day in Court - ESA used to battle inhumane treatment by Circus.

A few months ago I read the book, Water for Elephants,by Sara Gruen, and fell deeply in love with Rosie the Elephant who was horribly abused by her trainer's use of chains and bullhooks. Well, now it seems Rosie (or at the very least, her real life counterparts) will get their day in court. Today begins the first day of a trial for a lawsuit brought by a coalition of animal welfare groups intent on seeing that animal cruelty to the circus elephant stops. The animal welfare groups include the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,the Animal Welfare Institute and the Fund for Animals.
Elephants have long been a major attraction at the circus. Some people are willing to believe that the circus elephant is obedient because it is so intelligent and willing to please. But according to the animal welfare groups, elephant compliance isn't being brought about by treats and loving training, but rather through abusive measures such as "hitting elephants with bull hooks and keeping them in chains." A bullhooklooks like a fireplace poker with a sharp steel hook at the end. According to a New York Times articlethe animal welfare groups are not seeking to eliminate elephants from the circus, but "simply want the elephants to be treated humanely and in accordance with the law.” Ringling contends that the animals are being treated humanely, but I don't think the elephants captured in footage by PETA would agree.
What is interesting about this latest attempt to help the circus animals is that a large part of the welfare group's case is based on the Endangered Species Act and less so on the Animal Welfare Act. Ringling Brothers contends that the ESA does not apply to captive animals. Ringling is coming to the Harrisburg area in May with performances throughout May at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Think about the suffering the animals must endure in order to entertain you and your children and consider helping the welfare groups send a message to Ringling and other circus by refusing to go.
I am eagerly awaiting a verdict. Let the Elephants prevail against animal cruelty!

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