End Elephant Rides for the Safety of Elephants AND Humans

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Originally Posted: 3 Dec 2010

End Elephant Rides for the Safety of Elephants AND Humans

FROM  In Defense of Animals (IDA)


Tell the Southwick’s Zoo and Flea World to end the practice of using elephants for shows and rides because it is inhumane for the elephants and unsafe for the public.

Sign an online petition

And/Or make direct contact:

Justine Brewer, President
Southwick Zoo
2 Southwick Street
Mendon MA 01756-1234
phone (800) 258-9182

Sydney and Marianne Levy, Owners
Flea World
4311 Orlando Avenue
Sanford FL 32773
phone (407) 330-1792 ext. 224


The unexpected death of the elephant Dondi at the Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, Massachusetts in July immediately raised a red flag. At age 36, Dondi should have been in the prime of her life. So IDA took action and filed a complaint with the USDA, urging an investigation into her death. We also demanded that Southwick’s Zoo President Justine Brewer publicly release Dondi’s medical records as a matter of public safety, as Dondi was in direct contact with the public while giving rides. Elephants can harbor diseases transmissible to humans, including tuberculosis (TB).

IDA’s concerns were well-founded. The Orlando Sentinel just revealed that an animal autopsy report showed Dondi suffered “severe lung damage from chronic fibrosis and pneumonia, likely caused by tuberculosis.” TB in elephants presents a serious public health concern because it is very difficult to detect, and the animals can transmit the disease to humans as well as other elephants.

Dondi had been in direct contact with the public for years, putting both children and adults at risk. During the summer she gave rides at the Southwick’s Zoo; she was the second elephant used by the zoo who was found to have TB. Dondi performed circus tricks and gave rides at Flea World in Florida during the winter months. U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for the control of TB in elephants state: “Direct contact transmission may occur during activities such as touching or riding an elephant, being touched by an elephant, examining, medicating, bathing, and handling animals.”

Thank you for everything you do for animals!