Target: Michael L. Young, Acting Agriculture Deputy Secretary
Goal: Call on the USDA to investigate comedian Mike Epps’ use of a kangaroo on stage.
Comedian Mike Epps recently shocked fans when he used a kangaroo during a live performance at the Festival of Laughs in Detroit, with some animal rights advocates labeling the incident a possible case of animal abuse. Footage of the performance shows the kangaroo repeatedly trying to flee the stage, before being restrained by its handler. At one point, the kangaroo was held off the ground, and seemingly forced to perform a dance for the crowd.
Some members of the crowd described the scene as “animal abuse,” according to celebrity gossip site TMZ. TMZ also reported one Epps fan as stating, “they’re trash for doing this,” while another described the incident as “violence” against the animal.
While some animals can handle the limelight better than others, kangaroos are renowned for their skittishness. They generally shy away from crowds, and can easily be distressed by loud noises or commotion. This kind of stress can permanently scar – and even kill – kangaroos, according to Lisa Lange, the senior vice president of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
“Traumatic situations can be fatal to kangaroos—who are not hardy animals—and this individual was subjected to a great deal of stress by being dragged in front of a boisterous crowd and forced to dance,” Lange said, before urging the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate the incident.
Lange isn’t exaggerating. Scientific studies have repeatedly shown kangaroos are extremely sensitive to stress. The animals are even susceptible to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to a 2014 paper by Professor Steve Garlick and Dr. Rosemary Austen. In the paper, Garlick and Austen specifically referenced an inability to “escape from a restricting environment of fear” as a possible form of cruelty against kangaroos.
If you believe the USDA should investigate Epps’ use of a kangaroo on stage, please sign our petition.
Dear Mr. Young,
As acting head of the USDA, you oversee the sole federal body charged with enforcing the Animal Welfare Act. This Act is the only federal legislation regulating the treatment of animals used in commercial public exhibitions. Recently, a kangaroo was used in a public exhibition in Detroit by prominent comedian Mike Epps. During the show, witnesses were reported by the media as complaining the kangaroo appeared to be suffering. Indeed, studies have repeatedly shown kangaroos are easily traumatized, and are susceptible to long term mental health issues like PTSD. Kangaroos can even die from stress.
Put simply, kangaroos are not well-suited to show life, especially when it comes to a rowdy comedy show. The possession and exhibition of kangaroos are also regulated by a myriad of local, state and federal laws. Therefore, we call on the USDA to investigate whether Epps’ use of a kangaroo was legal, and if the animal was exposed to abuse.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Steintil2012