November 13th, 2013 by Nicole Meyer
In Defense Of Animals Slams Bowmanville Santa Claus Parade Over Plans To Use Elephant
Bowmanville, ON. (Nov. 13, 2013) – In Defense of Animals (IDA), an international animal protection organization, is slamming the Bowmanville Santa Claus Parade over its decision to use Limba, a solitary elephant housed at the Bowmanville Zoo, in its event this Saturday, November 16th.
Just days ago, the parade committee canceled Limba’s appearance after learning of a planned protest, but decided late last night to go on with the show. In a letter to the parade committee, IDA urged members not to use Limba, citing strong animal welfare and public safety concerns. Elephant displays, like “marching” in a parade, puts traumatized, stressed elephants in dangerous proximity to the public, and contradicts the parade’s mission to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season, which should foster compassion and goodwill to all creatures, including animals.
“An elephant has no place in a Christmas-themed event,” said Nicole Meyer, Director of IDA’s Elephant Protection Campaign. “Nothing is further from the holiday spirit for children than to witness an intelligent and sensitive animal, like Limba, reduced to a joyless spectacle for a few minutes of so-called entertainment.”
Elephants are wild animals, and handlers—including Limba’s—control them through dominance using bullhooks, which are steel-tipped weapons similar to a fireplace poker used to strike, stab, prod, and intimidate elephants into obedience. Since 1990, at least 16 human deaths and more than 125 injuries in the U.S. and Canada have been attributed to elephants. Limba was responsible for one of those known injuries.
“Asian elephants are critically endangered in their range countries. If they are to survive as a species, we need to enhance the public’s understanding and appreciation of them for what they are, rather than for how they can be used by people,” said Meyer. “Forcing elephants to perform tricks, or to march in a parade dressed in Santa clothes, in no way educates children or engenders the respect needed to conserve these magnificent animals.”
The Bowmanville Zoo made IDA’s 2012 list of Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants for housing a solitary elephant in a cold climate, its circus-style training methods and substandard exhibit, and for using Limba as a primary moneymaker by renting her out for events such as the Bowmanville Santa Claus Parade.