Target: Martin O’Malley, Governor of Maryland
Goal: Stop forcing elephants and camels to give rides during state renaissance festivals
Maryland’s renaissance festivals feature grueling camel and elephant rides among its many costumed characters and dramatic reenactments. Not only do these festivals last for months at a time, but the same animals are forced to make repetitive trips as they carry multiple passengers over long distances. Despite demands that festival organizers cease this exploitative practice, the rides remain a major attraction at the statewide event.
According to PETA, elephants and camels are “…forced to plod in endless circles day after day while giving rides to visitors.” While human employees at these events are numerous and have alternating shifts, the number of available camels and elephants is much more limited. As a result, this strenuous task is thinly spread among the few animals in the festival’s employ.
Though most descriptions of the rides do not highlight clear examples of abuse, the companies who offer their services typically have a history of animal cruelty. Elephant training usually involves fear tactics and severe punishment. If elephants fail to perform, they are repeatedly poked with sharp metal instruments called “bullhooks.” PETA states that last year’s elephants were provided by the company Elephant Walk, whose track record of abuse was addressed in a New Jersey court when animal cruelty charges were filed against them. Apparently, Elephant Walk had failed to ensure the safety of some of its elephants, which tested positive for tuberculosis. Sadly, this horrific abuse and negligence is not uncommon in the entertainment industry.
Camels also have great difficulty when operating outside of their native areas. Additional PETA reports suggest that camels featured at the renaissance event were malnourished—one attendee noticed “a very thin camel who appeared not to have a hump,” a clear sign of starvation.
Sign the petition below to demand that elephants, camels, and other animals be excluded from Maryland’s civic events. Torturing innocent animals is not entertainment, it is abuse.
Dear Governor O’Malley,
Maryland’s renaissance fairs are endangering the welfare of innocent camels and elephants. Reports from PETA indicate that these animals are forced to give long, strenuous rides to multiple visitors in endless cycles. This poses a major safety risk considering the hot summer weather and the exhausting nature of this exploitative practice.
Attendees at these events have reported seeing malnourished camels, describing them as emaciated and having barely visible humps. This is a sign of starvation and must be addressed immediately. In addition, the companies who provide these animals often have long histories of abuse. Last year’s supplier, Elephant Walk, was charged with animal cruelty after some of its elephants contracted tuberculosis. Nevertheless, animal rides continue to be a main staple of this popular event.
Animal rights groups have petitioned to exclude these animals from renaissance fairs for quite some time. Despite the outrage, event organizers keep booking elephants and camels for festivals. Because of the detrimental health effects these rides have on elephants and camels, I urge you to ban their use in Maryland’s renaissance festivals and other similar events. People of all ages can have fun and be entertained without needlessly torturing animals.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Charles L. Ludwig via Wikimedia Commons