Dane County Board Votes to Ban Elephant Acts

Last night, June 7, 2012, Dane County became the first Wisconsin community to ban the exhibition of elephants for amusement or entertainment. The County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance amendment banning such exhibitions by a vote of 23 to 9.

No new elephant acts shall be allowed at the county’s auditorium or exhibition center. Current county contracts with the Zor Shriners, who bring the George Carden circus to Madison every year, however, shall be honored until the final contract runs out in 2020.

Opposition for the ban, which came largely from circus supporters outside of Wisconsin, were greatly overshadowed by local public support.

Last night’s passage of this ban marks the end of an era which included many years of AFA-organized public protests, educational leafleting, USDA complaints, and vigilant monitoring of elephants at the county’s Alliant Energy Center when the circus came to town. The legislative effort was initiated in February of 2011 when AFA representatives presented the case for an elephant ban to the general membership of Progressive Dane and received a unanimous vote in favor of an immediate ban on elephant performances.

“This is a step in the right direction – the direction of ending cruelty against elephants at Dane County facilities,” said Supervisor Al Matano, who introduced the amendment.

He also stated that the work does not end today. “Members of the Dane County Board have pledged to monitor compliance with the contracts, by attending the circuses to observe the conditions the elephants experience.”

AFA thanks everyone who took the time to come out and speak for the elephants and to all 23 Supervisors who voted in favor of the elephant ban. Eloquent oral testimony came from citizens of Dane County, members of the County Board, and members of Alliance for Animals.

AFA thanks everyone who took the time to come out and speak for the elephants and to all 23 Supervisors who voted in favor of the elephant ban. Eloquent oral testimony came from citizens of Dane County, members of the County Board, and members of Alliance for Animals.

We especially wish to thank Supervisor Al Matano for his courage in introducing the ban and for his steady efforts to see it passed. Many people worked toward this landmark change in county policy; we thank them all. The animals are fortunate to have them working on their behalf.

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22 thoughts on “Dane County Board Votes to Ban Elephant Acts

  1. Pingback: How Did Your Supervisor Vote? « alliance for animals: Wisconsin animal news.

  2. What a sad day. Children of all ages are being deprived of seeing these magnificant animals as a result of the County Boards action.

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    • Oh darn. I’m sure you can take those horribly deprived children north of Dane County if you really believe in entertaining them with cruelty to innocent animals.

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    • Watch a video or read a book about elephants. Having them stand on their hind legs while wearing a giant cowboy hat and being ridden by a scantily clothed woman presents these animals as clowns or as mere props. People who complain about children not being able to see such nonsense don’t seem at all concerned about what they do see.

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      • They like to keep their heads buried in the sand apparently. I’ve protested before at the circus, and it’s unbelievable how some people at in front of their children. Supporting animal abuse, swearing at strangers and spitting on them in front of their kids is okay I guess?

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      • its show how many people just have no idea on how anmimals are cared for or their ignorance about it I have been around animals for over 50 years and have yet to see a preforming animal beaten poked or slapped may be but never beaten even before they start their training it has to be a love between the animal and the trainer it just can not be from one side and yes its much like people some will get along and other not
        but the ones that do its remarkable what they can accomplish
        what bothers me is the idiot people that try to come up and stick their arms in cages or go behind security lines to see the animals with little or no knowelge of what the animal caracteristics might be
        I am sorry If you deisagree but by trying to sell somthing using bogus information
        is not my cup of tea things do change and training methods have changed but what has happend over the years why should be have to pay for it now?

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    • Children typically are animal lovers. Gently explain to them that your family will not support events where animals are abused and mistreated. The thought of animals being harmed is a very scary thought to most children. They won’t want to go. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen at protests and with my own son. Take them to Sesame Street Live, or a show that only uses humans.

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    • Yes – do your research. It’s your duty as a parent to educate your children about animal cruelty. As far the ‘Ned K’ goes – this is the usual statements from those who have been abusing these intelligent animals for ’50 yrs’ – they are so use to beating the animals or sorry ‘poking and slapping’ them and making them perform un-natural acts that they are blind to reality. Ned – it would help you do take a fresh look into elephant behavior in the wild and watch some videos of how they move and interact in that setting vs. the un-natural one they are in as slaves to human ‘training’ techniques. Swaying and rocking, chained 23 hours a day are not natural. Elephants need to walk up to 30 miles a day to remain healthy. They need their family unit and free interaction with their herd. Why do I feel like I’m wasting my time here….. probably because people that are this into the abuse business usually can’t see the forest through the trees.

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    • Are you kidding? Depriving your children? Circus elephants are basically tortured, abused, live their lives in chains, and are beaten into submission! How ignorant can you be?

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  3. interesting on how fast this came up and voted on also on how many members would listen to the HSUS and PETA but not others “Wake up America”

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    • “interesting on how fast this came up…” I know. Can you believe it was introduced only six months ago, was discussed twice in public committee, was covered in the paper and on TV, and was talked about a couple of times by talk afternoon talk radio host Vicki McKenna, and by morning talk radio host Mitch Henck? I can’t believe they slipped this in so secretively.

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  4. Pingback: Victory in Madison! « Mending Creation

  5. Thank you, thank you for being a voice for these poor abused elephants and other great animals forced into slavery and doing stupid tricks for man. It is not good for children to see sad elephants and scared tigers. Even the horses, dogs and camels are abused! Thank you for being their voice. Be sure to closely monitor the Shrine Circus and make sure that NO bullhooks are used when their circus is in town. That should be the next law passed in your country.

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  6. In case you don’t know, I have read many reports of employees of the circus that have quit in disgust because they have witnessed or been told to beat, kick and poke these poor elephants to make sure “they know who their masters are.”, They have been tazered, spat upon and sworn at to make them subservient to their trainers. See http://www.ringlingbeatsanimals.com. I also donate and have visited many times, PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society) in San Andreas, CA. This is an 88 acre elephant sanctuary where they can roam free, feel the grass on their feet, swim in ponds and be with other elephants without chaines. Have Trunk Will travel was video taped tazering, beating and even pulling the trunk of the baby elephant while whacking him on the head with a bull hook. There is NO reason for this abuse every day!! Tigers are also beaten, starved and pace back and forth in their cages. When I picketed in Tucson and at the Phoenix Ringling Bros. Circus, the security guard witnessed them beating and yelling at the elephants before they went on stage. It’s really sad how we treat these gentle beasts.
    Pat Derby from PAWS, used to be an animal trainer (a gentle, kind trainer) and knows “the rath that man bestows on elephants” because they can! There will be a day when all the circuses are shut down, the zoos that have elephants in tiny displays will be closed and we will treat all animals with respect instead of placing them in sterile concrete cages for people to gawk at.

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  7. The Cole Brothers Circus has a list of USDA violations and counts of cruelty dating back to 1983. This includes failure to provide veterinary care to ailing and injured elephants, failure to safely handle the animals and exposing children to unsafe conditions, and other violations resulting in $150,000 in fines. What may be the most disturbing piece of evidence is the testimony of Tom Rider, a former Cole Brothers Circus Employee. His lengthy testimony cites endless cases of abuse and torture of elephants. Two statements made by Mr. Rider particularly stand out to me. They are: “…in White Plains New York, when Pete did not perform her act properly, she was taken to the tent, laid down, and five trainers beat her with bullhooks. Pete is now dead.”, “Whenever the USDA inspected the circus, the circus always knew in advance that they were coming. We were always told to clean up, don’t hit the elephants when they come around. I know for a fact that any attempt by the USDA to regulate the circus or to enforce laws is a joke.”

    Aside from the Cole Bros. lengthy rap sheet of abuse and violations (which is easily found in an internet search), my point is this: there is no excuse – ever, anywhere, any time, to keep wild animals captive for the sake of human entertainment. These are not beloved pets who go home with their trainers and sleep at the foot of beds and are part of a family. These are elephants, who in the wild, walk up to thirty miles a day, forage with their own close-knit families, mourn their dead, and stay with the ones they love for their entire lives. In the wild, you would never see an elephant stand on her head, balance on a ball, or walk in endless circles with children on her back. In the wild, you would never see a frustrated and chained elephant swaying and bobbing her head for hours, which is a behavior only observed in captivity. Humans continue to exploit the intelligence of these incredible creatures, and the circus is the most violent display of such exploitation. All circus elephants are chained their entire lives, beaten, tortured, neglected, and exist in sheer misery and loneliness.

    This is not opinion. This is fact. THERE IS NO “GOOD” ANIMAL CIRCUS. I understand that many animal-loving people are simply unaware of the truth in circus cruelty. The circus has designed it this way – if the behind-the-scenes sadness were made part of the show itself, one would never mistake a circus for “entertainment”. I implore your readers to do the research, which will undoubtedly break the hearts of many. People , you can make a difference in the lives of these animals today. Don’t buy a ticket, encourage your loved ones to do the same, and spread the word. There are countless resources online. Please utilize social media to speak for those with no voice.

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    • stephen, you are so right and have done your homework on the abuse of eles and lack of enforcement by agencies and groups that are there to protect them. try to do something about ringling bros. forget it. they have so much money no one touches them or if they are fined, 6 months later , doing it all over again. makes me sick. i am on many fb ele sites that inform us of the plight of the eles all over the world. there are also those that are really helping like carol buckley, joyce poole, Paws and others. if dane has had success, they need to monitor milwaukee county zoo. the eles have no space at the zoo for the eles and i am not sure if they only have one ele. eles need to be together….but you are so correct there is no good circus anywhere and education of future circus goers needs to be articulated. my gd takes her child to the zoo in mke, she thinks it is fun. no so!!!

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      • its funny that you condem the people that want to take care of the animals but look the other way when the pochers are out killing thousands

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  8. Ned K :
    its show how many people just have no idea on how anmimals are cared for or their ignorance about it I have been around animals for over 50 years and have yet to see a preforming animal beaten poked or slapped may be but never beaten even before they start their training it has to be a love between the animal and the trainer it just can not be from one side and yes its much like people some will get along and other not
    but the ones that do its remarkable what they can accomplish
    what bothers me is the idiot people that try to come up and stick their arms in cages or go behind security lines to see the animals with little or no knowelge of what the animal caracteristics might be
    I am sorry If you deisagree but by trying to sell somthing using bogus information
    is not my cup of tea things do change and training methods have changed but what has happend over the years why should be have to pay for it now?

    If you believe what the carnies tell you, I have bridge to sell you. Abuse is always done behind closed doors and these animals live in fear. That is why they do the things they do. And when you speak of “no idea on how animals are cared for” then you do not understand that these elephants have their joints destroyed from an early age and die young because of it (40 is young for elephants). They are kept chained for months at a time, only to be let out to destroy their joints some more. They get no exercise to help with circulations to their feet that have to stand in urine and feces. What town would let them walk the miles for which their bodies are programmed each day. These animals are commodities as slaves, and as with negro slaves, the master always says “they are well taken care of.” It took the abolitionists to expose that lie. With YouTube, these is now too much exposure of the truth of abuse caught on tape. Join the 21st century and stop supporting animal abuse.

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  9. How short sighted and sad that the Dan County Board of Supervisors made the wrong choice. Clearly they have been taken in by the lies of animal rights extremists and did not bother to consult people who actually deal with elephants and elephant management on a daily basis. Can you imagine consulting your local beach-bum whose car is covered with advocacy bumper stickers about what course of action you should take regarding a medical condition? No, of course not, you would consult a doctor, someone who has expertise in the thing you are deciding on. Animal rights extremists call themselves “experts” but posses no qualifications other than having a well-funded, organized machine to bully and lobby with.

    When the grandchildren of the Dane County Supervisors ask them what an elephant used to be like, those Supervisors will know that they share in the blame for elephants going extinct.

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