Queenie and Congress: How to effectively respond to letters from senators and representatives when you don’t get the answer you want

June 29th, 2010 by Nicole Meyer


Many of you wrote to your members of Congress in the past two weeks to request help in ensuring that the USDA is held responsible for its actions in sending Queenie to a tiny, antiquated exhibit in the San Antonio Zoo. We had long urged that she go to a sanctuary where she could get the special rehabilitative care that she needs after a lifetime of abuse in the circus industry. Instead, the USDA showed itself to be far too enmeshed with the zoo industry by acting as its acquisition arm rather than its regulator.

Several of you have shared with us responses from your senators and representatives indicating that our elected officials don’t understand that the USDA orchestrated Queenie’s transfer to the zoo rather than directing her to a facility where her needs could best be met. Likewise, the USDA appears to be successfully sidestepping the outrageous fact that Queenie’s trainer, Will Davenport, financially benefited from the agency’s deal-making, despite the fact he was found in repeated violation of federal animal welfare law.

We look at any response as a useful “foot in the door” toward getting some real help for Queenie in the form of attention from Congress. The key is to capitalize on that response.

If you have received a letter regarding Queenie from one of your senators or representatives, the next step is to follow up with a phone call to his or her office. (You can do this even if you did not receive a response!) Ask to speak with the aide who covers animal issues, and fill them in, using the following information:

  • The USDA crafted a deal in which an abusive elephant trainer, who was repeatedly cited for serious violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act and faced formal charges, financially benefited , ending up $20,000 richer for it.
  • Will Davenport’s violations were so egregious that the USDA seized two elephants, Tina and Jewel, in August 2009 because they were in such dire condition. Davenport also “threatened, abused and harassed” APHIS officials in the course of carrying out their duties.
  • The USDA’s formal charges against Davenport resulted in $100,000 in assessed fines. But under the USDA’s settlement deal, he never paid a penny in fines and he sold his remaining elephant, Queenie, to the San Antonio Zoo for $20,000.
  • The USDA claims to make decisions based on the best interest of each individual animal, yet it failed to ensure that Queenie was sent to a sanctuary where she would have received the specialized rehabilitative care she needed after decades of abuse in the circus. Instead she was sent to a zoo that lacks the space to properly care for even one elephant.
  • This represents just one more example of a federal oversight agency that is far too entwined with the industry it is supposed to be regulating, and the American people are tired of it.

Queenie, imprisoned in that tiny zoo cell, is the embodiment of the USDA’s many failures to hold the welfare of its charges above the interests of the industry. Let’s use this opportunity to focus Congressional attention on her, and on the problem elephants face at the hands of the USDA. Please make your follow-up calls today!

If you need additional help in responding to your elected officials or if your senator or representative wishes to help, please contact Deb Robinson at

This blog was contributed by Deborah Robinson, IDA’s Captive Elephant Specialist.

8 Responses to “Queenie and Congress: How to effectively respond to letters from senators and representatives when you don’t get the answer you want”

  1. September 09, 2010 at 8:45 am, Tanya said:

    This story angers me, come on let her go. She has spent her life time making money for man, the least they could do is let her retire in a decent home. She needs love and respect, my heart bleeds for her. so sad. Queenie, I am sorry for what greedy man has put you through.


  2. July 02, 2010 at 6:09 am, Debra said:

    Just not right..No animal like this should treated so wrong.


  3. July 02, 2010 at 6:07 am, Debra said:

    No animal deserves to be treated like this..How would you like to be in a cramped up living space?..


  4. July 01, 2010 at 4:43 pm, Molly McGuire said:

    The callous indifference of our elected officials to our requests, whether they are tagged Democrats or Republican, evidences their total lack of concern for us, our morals, our requirements, our values. They are “fat cats” on the “hill” sucking up our taxes and votes and giving nothing in return.

    Any moral human being can see that Queenie should be released immediately to an elephant sanctuary.

    No wonder the workers in America, poor, middle class, upper middle class, are taxes without a vote as to how their taxes are spent.

    No, I am not a Republican, nor am I a tea partyist.

    I am a hard working, overtaxed US born citizen whose government has ignored my polite requests for animal rights for decades.

    Yes, we need change. But not Democratic change and not Repubilcan change.

    We need moral, hard working people to take contol of government and stop animal abuses, and many other abuses against the people who support the rich and callous politicians.



  5. June 29, 2010 at 11:35 pm, wendy lee williams said:

    Thank you for helping Queenie get to a sanctuary. Queenie deserves the best after all her services to greedy and nasty people.


  6. June 29, 2010 at 7:39 pm, lisa said:

    We must continue the fight for Queenie and not stop till she is freed to a sanctuary. The picture above tells it all, she doesn’t look well.


  7. June 29, 2010 at 11:25 am, Kim Hogan said:

    Brando’s posting translated by Yahoo translator: officials are not aware what is good for animals because they are sitting behind their desks and await the end of the day that is! And then, Queenie, we all understood that nata case bribe! dirty money under the table for their small personal convenience; Queenie, they do not care a lot! It’s the same everywhere! even a 10 year old would realize that an elephant can not live decently in a small place! Moreover, where does it his natural? how does it not to walk in? You’re not going to make us believe that the maintenance men to clean every time she poops!
    This case is that of corruption.


  8. June 29, 2010 at 10:03 am, brandao said:

    les fonctionnaires ne savent pas ce qui est bon pour les animaux puisqu’ils sont assis derrière leur bureau et attendent la fin de la journée que tout se passe! Et puis, pour Queenie, nous avons tous compris que cétait une affaire de pot-de-vin! l’argent sale sous la table pour leur petites convenances personnelles ; Queenie, ils s’en fichent pas mal! C’est partout pareil! même un gamin de 10 ans se rendrait compte qu’un éléphant ne peut pas vivre décemment dans un si petit endroit! d’ailleurs où fait-elle ses besoins naturels? comment fait-elle pour ne pas marcher dedans? Vous n’allez pas nous faire croire que les hommes de maintenance nettoient à chaque fois qu’elle fait ses besoins!
    Cette affaire n’est que de la corruption.


Leave a Reply