Animals are herd animals. As such, and according to the American Zoological Association [ASA], which sets elephant care standards for zoos — female elephants should be kept in groups of three. This is the minimum standard they require and crave in the wild. Yet the United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] — which for some illogical reason has oversight over the welfare of captive elephants — fails to hold circuses accountable for meeting these most minimum of acceptable guidelines.
USDA & Elephants
Taking this one step further, even if minimum standards were not met, the USDA should be addressing a public-health issue that arises with sick elephants.
Tuberculosis (TB) is fast approaching epidemic proportions among captive elephants in the States. This often fatal disease can spread through the air, placing anyone — elephant and/or human— at risk of transmission. In fact, a newly released study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that seven people contracted the disease from captive elephants at the Oregon Zoo. So why is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) doing nothing to address this health threat?
The rationale from the circus operators' perspective boils down to economics. Instead of allowing sick elephants to be treated and convalesce, their capitalistic greed keeps them performing, while exposing countless members of the public to the disease.
If you would like to see this practice stopped, please sign this petition and urge Secretary Tom Vilsack to protect our elephants and human by keeping them off the road.
The Story of Anna Louise
And . . . if so inclined, there’s one more petition we hope you will also consider signing.
Anna Louise is a female African elephant who has been held captive and used as a money-making machine by side-show exhibitor Tom Demry since September 1988. Born in Zimbabwe in 1981, Anna Louise was transferred to a US-based zoo in 1983 where she passed through several zoos before ultimately ending up condemned to a life as a circus performer.
For three decades, Anna Louise has been forced to live a solitary life, without the company of any other elephant(s). With Demry always close by, bulllhook in hand, she is tasked to give rides and perform menial tricks, day-in and day-out.
As petitioners, we can all demand that the USDA adopt the minimum guidelines for elephant care that’s been crafted by the AZA. By signing you are demanding that Demry immediately send Anna Louise to a sanctuary, where she can live out her days in the company of others elephants, free from the arduous and monotonous tasks of traveling circus life.
Executives from Feld Entertainment, Ringling's parent company, issued a release last year that the 13 elephants currently traveling with its circus units will be retired in 2018. At that point in time, they will join the 40 others, currently under care at the 200-acre Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida. Tom Demry needs to follow suit. Don't you think?