Virginia Residents: URGENT: Tell Your Delegate to Help Asha & All Captive Wild Animals
A bill that aims to safeguard the public from “dangerous” animals is currently making its way through the Virginia legislature. If passed, the bill would end animal exploitation that involves the public directly touching animals. This is an important law for long-suffering elephant Asha, since she is forced to give thousands of rides each year at the Natural Bridge Zoo. The bill would also make it illegal for any other elephant to give rides in Virginia, though Asha is currently the only elephant who resides in the state.
SB 1030 aims to prohibit keepers of “dangerous captive animals” from allowing people to come in direct contact with the animals. Originally this definition included animals such as elephants, bears, cougars, jaguars, leopards, and others. However, after lobbying efforts including those of Karl Mogensen, the owner of Natural Bridge Zoo which imprisons Asha, elephants were removed from the bill.
Fortunately, after many of you in Virginia took action when emailed our alert, legislators added elephants back in during a House subcommittee meeting on February 19, which passed with a 6-2 vote. However that amendment was taken back out in later meetings, and in its current state, it does not include elephants. However, there is one last chance to get elephants included back in the bill. It is vital that you and your friends and family within the state speak up again today for Asha and all the other suffering wild animals this bill will help, by urging your delegate to continue to support the amended version of SB 1030!
The Natural Bridge Zoo frequently ranks as one of In Defense of Animals’ 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants in North America for Mogensen’s appalling treatment of Asha.
While elephants can be gentle, peaceful beings, the conditions of captivity and enforced servitude can drive them to aggression, and unfortunately, captive elephant attacks are quite common. Just last year in Ontario, Canada, an elephant giving rides at the African Lion Safari attacked and seriously injured a trainer, before the eyes of young families whose children were traumatized by what they witnessed.
The Natural Bridge Zoo is currently ranked as the 6th Worst Zoo for Elephants. It’s time for Asha to stop being used as a prop for the profit of this inhumane zoo!
What You Can Do
Please call and write to your one Virginia state delegate to pass this critical bill.
1. Call your one Virginia state delegate today to urge support for this bill. Please click on the link below, enter your zip code, and choose the Virginia tab to find the identity and phone number of your delegate.
State your name, your town or city, and telephone number. Be courteous. You may wish to say:
“I am calling to support SB 1030, including the important amendment that elephants remain included in the definition of “dangerous captive animals” since elephants can be driven to aggression within the cruel confines of captivity. Captive elephant attacks are unfortunately quite common. A keeper was seriously injured last year at a Canadian zoo by an elephant giving rides to children. Asha, the solitary elephant at Natural Bridge Zoo, should no longer be forced to give rides to thousands of people each year - this is inhumane, backbreaking work which is dangerous for Asha and the children she gives rides to.”
2. Send our letter: