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We advocate on all animal protection and exploitation issues, including experimentation, factory farming, rodeos, breeders and traveling animal acts.

Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704


Elephant and Camel Rides

article published in THE JOURNAL NEWS

Journal News, The (Westchester County, NY)
The Journal News
May 28, 2000

Animal activists say show should stay in the past

Author: Barbara Livingston Nackman; Staff

CROTON-ON-HUDSON -Minnie and Ginny calmly strolled back and forth along the Croton River yesterday, delighting hundreds of children who came to visit and ride the elephant and camel at Van Cortlandt Manor.

The two exotic creatures of course had no idea that outside the Historic Hudson Valley site, a half-dozen demonstrators were defending their rights.

''There is no need to use live animals,'' said Kiley Blackman of Yonkers, who organized the protest and contends trucking animals around the country for people's fun is cruel and inhumane.

''The time of live animal acts for people's entertainment is long gone,'' said Elisabeth Boris of Larchmont, who along with Blackman represented the Westchester-based animal protection organization, Recognition of Animal Rights. Joining the protest were members of the international group, PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals! .

The women were disappointed that after discussing concerns with Historic Hudson last year, this year's annual Animals and Acrobat weekend still included an elephant and camel.

The animals are provided by R.W. Commerford & Sons of Goshen, Conn., who assured the tourist site that the animals were well-treated and passed inspections by humane societies.

''We are sympathetic to their (demonstrators') concerns, but haven't seen evidence of abuse,'' site director Margaret Vetare said.

The weekend event, which continues today and tomorrow, has become a tradition. There are puppet shows, a roaming fiddler, children's games, a juggler and marionette theater on the grounds of the 18th- century manor.

The event replicates the traveling entertainment troupes of the 1800s, said Vetare, which typically included jugglers, musicians and lions, elephants and camels.

In fact, she said, Old Bet, an elephant from Somers, was exhibited annually throughout the Northeast and predates the American circus, which developed around 1820.

Visitors pleasantly accepted the protesters' materials, which detailed incidents across the country where some animals trampled spectators and others animals were forced to work long hours in strong heat.

Many visitors, though, lined up for a ride.

''I feel for the animals. We don't really know if they are suffering and I would be upset if they were,'' said Gina Forgacs of Cortlandt

whose niece, Nicole Pippo, 2, also of Cortlandt, gave a giant smile and wave from atop Ginny, the camel.

Watching nearby was Phil Garner of Mahopac, a science teacher in the Carmel school district, who said the animals looked well-treated.

''It seems to be a good way to introduce animals to children and even encourage a better understanding,'' he added, while watching Minnie, the elephant, grab mouthfuls of hay.

Officials at the site said they would reconsider the animal event next year, but for now they were agreeable to ! the presence of the demonstrators.

''The Van Cortlandts were patriots who made many sacrifices for freedom. I respect people who are committed to a cause. It's appropriate to allow them their opportunity to speak,'' Vetare said.

Copyright (c) The Journal News. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.

Record Number: wst9941918452550

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