Stop Abusing Turtles and Frogs for Entertainment


Target: Don Stewart, President and Chair of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee

Goal: Ban exploitative games like “frog jumping” and “turtle derby” races from civic events

Fourth of July celebrations in Maryland are marked with large festivals that include cruel, animal-based games like “frog jumping” and “turtle derbies.” Oblivious animals are surrounded by screaming patrons, carelessly manhandled and forced to cross hot concrete until they reach the finish line. Despite the enthusiasm of festival goers, these creatures sustain potentially fatal injuries due to improper handling and severe water deprivation.

Reptilian and amphibian physiology makes them ill-suited to festival conditions. Animal rights group PETA notes, “Because of their slow metabolism, turtles can take weeks or even months to heal from injuries.” Considering the rough nature in which these animals are regularly handled, this means seriously affected turtles won’t even be healthy by the time summer is over. In addition, local reports indicate that turtles may not be adequately fed before each race, causing disorientation and confusion.

In addition, since frogs breathe through their skin it is imperative that they remain clean and moist at all times. Frog jumps often transpire on filthy, dry cement making them more vulnerable to respiratory issues. Add summer heat to this already hazardous equation, and you create a scenario where most frogs are lucky to avoid injury. In fact, local conservationist Bob Chance casually exclaims, “A lot of frogs get injured in the jump, but it’s carnival, old-time Americana.”

Despite recent campaigns to end frog jumps and turtle derbies, the committee opted to include the games in 2014’s Independence Day celebrations. Local conservationists and state officials are very aware of the dangers this practice presents, but justify the games by citing the importance of “tradition.” Bob Chance goes even further, calling the events “an educational tool” that if canceled “could possibly affect a few people’s science careers.”

Bring the Bel Air Independence Day Committee to its senses. Subjecting innocent turtles and frogs to harmful races is not tradition; it is torture. Make them realize there is nothing scientific or educational about exploiting animals for the sake of entertainment, and call on committee members to refrain from including such exploitative games in future events.


Dear Chairman Stewart,

The 2014 Bel Air Independence Day festival promises many frog jumping and turtle derby events, despite protests from animal rights groups. Though Maryland law prohibits the use of wild turtles and frogs in festival races, domesticated animals are still being subjected to this cruel form of entertainment.

Turtle and frog anatomies are vastly different from those of land animals. Since frogs breathe through their skin, being moist and clean helps them avoid fatal respiratory problems. Many of your “frog jumping” events take place on dusty, dry cement which does not suit a frog’s physiology. Furthermore, turtles don’t heal nearly as quickly as humans do. According to animal rights group PETA, even minor injuries may take weeks or months to completely heal. Though your participants may have the best of intentions, reports suggest turtles and frogs are often mishandled and injured at these festivals.

According to the Baltimore Sun, other towns in Maryland have “replaced turtle races with creative substitutes.” Why not use radio-controlled cars or wind-up toys for racing events? You have expressed an openness to ending these events in the past, but ultimately kowtowed to so-called tradition. I implore you to exclude these cruel games from future Independence Day festivals and other civic events. Please, invest your reputation in something which does not involve cruelty to animals.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: TJBlackwell via Wikimedia Commons

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One Comment

  1. Nancy O'Neal says:

    Teaching children to laugh at creating an unfortunate, malicious and sadistic situation for a small creature that cannot defend itself is the act of insensitive and immature minds and callous hearts.

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