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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
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"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Newsletters
The Defender
Vol. 2, No. 2 - Fall/Winter 2003

The P.E.A.C.E. Project -- Update for 2003
by Don Elroy, Director

2003 has been a very busy year with several major happenings in the area of exotic animals, which is the primary focus of The P.E.A.C.E. Project. SB 269/HB 1006 passed through Congress and was signed into law by the President. This law severely limits the transportation of large cats across state lines and strengthens the Lacey Act, which governs the transportation of endangered species across state lines. Several municipalities and states are currently considering or have passed laws to ban or regulate exotic animals as pets. Tennessee will consider a bill next year to ban performing elephants in circuses and traveling shows in the state. Minnesota, one of only a handful of states that have no laws governing exotics, is considering legislation to regulate exotic animals.

Several attacks involving exotic animals occurred this year. The most visible being the attack of Roy Horn at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. This single incident has caused much of the public interest in the plight of exotic animals in captivity. News coverage has been worldwide and has brought the issue to public scrutiny.

The other issue that has received a significant amount of public attention is the monkey pox outbreak. The outbreak of this disease caused the federal government to ban the sale of prairie dogs and other species being sold as pets. In the monkey pox situation, a Gambian rat, which carried the virus, was imported by a breeder in Texas. The virus spread to prairie dogs that the breeder was also selling and subsequently spread throughout several states. Both of these situations began as human safety issues, but later expanded causing a growing concern and debate over the care of exotic animals in captivity.

The P.E.A.C.E. Project has been directly involved in the issue of exotics in captivity, specifically concerning the transfer of elephants between several zoos in the country. In the middle of the night Ruby, an African elephant, was transferred from the Los Angeles zoo to the Knoxville zoo. The transfer was done surreptitiously to avoid controversy between the zoos and animal advocates that opposed the move.

Without taking a position on whether the transfer should have taken place, I set up an appointment with the Knoxville zoo to view the treatment of Ruby. After a tour of the elephant facility at the zoo, I wrote an extensive report that documented my concerns and recommendations to the zoos and to all involved parties in the well being of Ruby. Four other P.E.A.C.E. Project members subsequently visited the zoo on several occasions and documented the fact that Ruby was housed in a small area that did not allow her enough room to have a comfortable life, nor was she integrated into the elephant herd in Knoxville. This, along with several other violations of AZA (American Zoological Association) standards for elephant care, was documented, and a complaint has been filed with AZA concerning Ruby.

At the same time, The P.E.A.C.E. Project learned that Jana, another African elephant at the Knoxville zoo, was to be transferred to Scott Riddle in Arkansas. We along with others raised objections to that transfer because of her destination and because she was the matriarch elephant at the Knoxville zoo. Transferring the matriarch of this herd would negatively affect the stability of the herd. Jana currently remains at Knoxville, but she will probably be transferred at some point, because she is under the control of the Louisville zoo who wants her to breed.

Donna, another African female, was also to be transferred to the Knoxville zoo. Donna was rescued from the King Royal Circus and placed in the Albuquerque zoo several years ago. Donna's companion with the circus died and signs of salmonella poisoning were seen in the elephants. Working with Animal Protection New Mexico (APN), The P.E.A.C.E. Project transferred information which allowed APN to stop the move of Donna. Later, Donna was moved, again in the middle of the night, to Disney in FL. Two Asian elephants from Ontario are being transferred to the Albuquerque zoo to replace Donna. The zoos are becoming "species specific", and each zoo will house only one particular species of elephant.

The P.E.A.C.E. Project opposes the wholesale transfer of elephants across this country and is concerned with the well being of the individual elephants in the process. Elephants do not belong in zoos. Zoos, which began as private menageries run by kings and queens and other wealthy individuals, now justify their existence by claiming involvement in conservation efforts. The only programs that merit this status are the reintroduction programs for the Black- Footed Ferret, California Condor, and Golden Lion Tamarin. All other breeding done by zoos is for preservation in captivity alone. Conserving habitat and protecting species in the wild is the only way that these animals will have a chance. We should allow the notion of zoos (in any form) to die out and move forward to a new idea of allowing these animals to live naturally in the wild.

Channel KARE11 in MN produced an update concerning Josh Weinstein and Tarzan the chimpanzee. Mr. Weinstein’s animals have all been sent to other facilities at this time, and he is no longer licensed. The USDA is investigating the death of Tarzan and other violations of the AWA. Mr. Weinstein has since been found on the streets of Minneapolis doing a fire-eating act. Brad Woodard of KARE11 should be commended for this story and another that he reported on November 25 of last year. This latest story deals with the perils of having predators as "pets", and he reported on breeders in MN and the efforts of the state to regulate exotics.

The P.E.A.C.E. Project was contacted by students in Elyria, OH regarding a local mall that is currently allowing Sam Mazzola, of bear wrestling fame, to display exotic animals and have picture taking sessions with these animals. This situation is both a public safety issue and an animal issue. Sam Mazzola is the same person that transferred the tiger "Ming" after confiscation from an apartment in NY to the "Noah's Lost Ark" facility in OH. Mr. Mazzola has numerous violations of the AWA to his credit. The P.E.A.C.E. Project is currently working to address this issue.

An unlicensed exhibitor in MN has been displaying large cats at several venues in the state. The P.E.A.C.E. Project was contacted, and we compiled information. The offender is doing a magic act which is listed in the "theatre of pain" directory and has a 6 month old Siberian tiger and an adult white tiger. The information has been sent to USDA for charges to be filed.

The P.E.A.C.E. Project has filed several complaints with USDA throughout the past year concerning exhibitors and breeders. With your help, we will continue to fight for the animals that cannot speak for themselves.

Return to Vol. 2, No. 2 - Fall/Winter 2003
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