More elephant news

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 1996:

Activists thought a July 10
stampede by two Clyde Beatty-Cole
Brothers elephants during a performance
in Queens, New York, might have marked
a turning point in efforts to halt traveling
elephant acts. None of the 12 spectators
who were injured were hurt seriously, but
the stampede did occur before the New
York media, drawing national publicity,
and came shortly after the same elephants
made national TV with a May 20 stampede
in Hanover, Pennsylvania. Within 10
days, the Beatty-Cole circus had cancelled
scheduled elephant performances on Long
Island, and retired the two elephants
involved. Within 21 days the Performing
Animal Welfare Society sued the USDA,
asking that the Beatty-Cole, Hawthorn
Corporation, and King Royal Circus elephant
collections be confiscated due to
alleged violations of the Animal Welfare
Act, purportedly contributing to the stampedes.
Momentum soon shifted, however,
as on August 25 the town board of
Southampton, New York, unanimously
voted to ask Beatty-Cole to bring performing
elephants. Beatty-Cole followed with a
media blitz defending its elephant handling.

Although publicity about the New York
and Hanover stampedes encouraged North
Chicago, Illinois, to shut down elephant
ride concessionaire David Tesch over the
Labor Day weekend, under a city ordinance
against possessing any animal “capable
of causing injury or fright to any person,”
no new reports of elephant performance
cancellations have reached ANIMAL
PEOPLE in the four months
since––possibly because there have been no
more stampedes, supporting the BeattyCole
claim that the only problem all along
was that the two rogues, a pair of young
females, disliked each other.
The $5 million, 200-acre
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey
Center for Elephants, situated in central
Florida, opened on December 12––exactly
200 years after the first elephant imported
into the U.S. arrived. Directed by Asian
elephant authority Richard Houck, the center
includes 30 retired circus elephants who
are now in a breeding program, together
with six offspring. The Ringling Brothers
and Barnum & Bailey Circus maintains the
largest Asian elephant gene pool outside of
the wild, where poaching pressure threatens
to extirpate the species.
A 32-year-old elephant named
Nadia , inclined toward depression and
tantrums in recent weeks, on December 7
fatally tossed and trampled Cairo (Egypt)
zookeeper Hamed Mohemmed Salem, 64,
as he brought her breakfast––the second
time within days that she attacked him.

The first male African elephant
born in captivity since a 1984 birth at
the Toronto Zoo was delivered at the
Oakland Zoo on November 3, just a week
after staff realized the mother, Lisa, age
18, was near term after a 22-month pregnancy.
However, Lisa rejected the baby,
named Kijana, obliging keepers to provide
around-the-clock nursing and sanitary
attention. A second male African elephant
was born 18 days later to Donna, an older
female who struggled unsuccessfully for
four hours to raise him to his feet––assisted
by Lisa. The second newborn, however,
seriously dislocated his hip during the
birthing and was euthanized after an examination
at the University of California at
Davis showed a ligament tear that might
never heal sufficiently to support his
weight. In theory, he might have been
immobilized in a special framework for a
healing period of indefinite length, but the
technique has a poor record. An attempt to
use it with an elephant named Stoney who
suffered a similar injury during a
September 1994 performance at the Luxor
Hotel in Las Vegas failed on August 28
when the elephant fell, after seven months
of immobility in a dark maintenance shed,
and died anyway. The hotel was meanwhile
cited by the USDA for inadequate
feeding and sanitation. In consequence,
the Performing Animal Welfare Society
called a boycott of Circus Circus, owner
of the Luxor Hotel, and elephant experts
of a variety of perspectives questioned the
wisdom of putting an elephant through
prolonged immobility with no certainty of
healing the injury. The Oakland Zoo now
hopes Donna will become a surrogate
mother to Kijana. The father of both
calves was Smokey, a bull who killed his
trainer in 1991 during musth, the hormonal
state that precedes mating. The calves
were conceived in January 1994.
Three days after Bangkok
newspapers reported on the condition of
an emaciated elephant kept chained for
20 years as a visitor attraction in a temple
at Pathum Thani, Thailand, abbot Phra
Kru Udom Pawanaphirat yielded to local
protest and agreed to transfer the elephant
to the Dusit Zoo in Bangkok. “We plan to
feed him in the zoo for a while to see his
condition and teach him to walk,” said zoo
director Alongkorn Mahantanop. “Then
we will send him to live in a national
park.” ANIMAL PEOPLE published the
initial story in our November 1995 edition,
hours after receiving it, helping spark
international protest on top of the local
protest––but the issue was barely mailed
before the rescue was effected. Our
December edition went to press before we
got the update.

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