Target: Ken Karns, VP of Operations at Orange County Fair and Event Center
Goal: End business with company that displays a live alligator in a tiny enclosure for attendees’ entertainment.
Alongside rides, games, and deep fried mystery foods, animal cruelty is often a staple at county fairs. Live animals are frequently used for entertainment, whether as prizes, rides, or merely as exhibits to be gawked at. The Orange County Fair in Southern California is guilty of this. At this year’s fair, for just $1 attendees can observe a 14-foot alligator in a tiny tank. With hardly enough room to turn around, let alone swim or exhibit other natural behaviors, the listless reptile is often seen floating helplessly in its bathtub-sized enclosure.
The gator is brought to the fair via Outdoor Exhibits, an organization run by Tom Beimborn. The former USDA meat inspector now makes his living by bringing strange and exotic animals, like Big Al the alligator, to state and county fairs across the country. While there isn’t anything particularly troubling about most of the animals Beimborn displays–mostly horses, cattle, pigs, and other standard farm animals–Big Al’s isolated and unnatural existence is unnerving to anyone who cares about wildlife. Wild animals belong in the wild, not in tiny glass cages. By hosting Outdoor Exhibits, the OC Fair is endorsing a sad and miserable existence for a majestic and powerful wild animal.
Dear Mr. Karns,
I was deeply disappointed to discover the OC Fair has decided to include a live alligator exhibit as a form of entertainment. This animal deserves so much more than a life in a glass box, where he can be gawked at briefly by passersby. This alligator, like all alligators, is a wild animal and should be in an environment where he can live as freely and naturally as possible. A life on the road and in a tank is no life at all for an animal as wild and powerful as an alligator. By hiring Outdoor Exhibits and allowing “Big Al” to be put on display in such a pitiful and despicable manner, the OC Fair and Event Center is sending the wrong message to fair-goers about how wild animals should be treated.
I respectfully ask that the OC Fair cut business ties with Outdoor Exhibits and Tom Beimborn until he has retired his alligator and any other wild animals in his care to a respectable sanctuary.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Skeeze