Elephants Don’t Forget — Neither Should We

On March 9, the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry heard LD 396, An Act To Prohibit The Use of Elephants in Traveling Animal Acts.
Some 43 people testified either in person or by written comments. Most were in favor of the bill and represented a wide range of individuals and organizations, including the Global Sanctuary for Elephants, WildWatch Maine, Maine Friends of Animals, the Maine Animal Coalition, the Maine Federation of Humane Societies, and the Animal Defenders International.
Christina Scaringe, general counsel for the Defenders, pointed out that “all traveling wild animals acts [not just elephants] are inherently inhumane and unsafe,” adding that “it is foolish to expect animals living under severe stress, confinement and abuse will never lash out or try to escape.” You know, just as we would act under the same conditions.
A veterinarian testified that “the purpose and use of the bullhook [a stick with a metal hook on the end used to 'train' elephants into submission] is to enforce a harmful standard of care and living conditions in performing elephants and therefore should be banned.”
He continued by stating that “performing elephants are continually chained or tethered on hard and unyielding surfaces during transport, before, between and following performances. Despite the many reasons for tethering or chaining elephants, much of the literature suggests that chaining limits activity, prevents natural interactions between other animals and is detrimental to both psychological and physical health."
When the committee voted, the result was a divided report. Of the 13 members, only five (Sen. James Dill, Rep. Ralph Chapman, Rep. Danny Martin, Rep. Margaret O’Neil, and Rep. Kent Ackley) supported LD 396. The remaining eight (Sen. Paul Davis and Sen. Tom Saviello, as well as Representatives Dunphy, Higgins, Kinney, Skolfield, Black and McElwee were opposed – just the opposite of what one might have guessed, or hoped, considering the wealth of scientific and medical evidence.
Yet when a human does something brutal, another human will inevitably say “he was like an animal,” but the earth’s really brutal creatures are people, based not only on what we do to each other but also to other animals.
Taking away the freedom of a wild animal like elephants, who are known for their care and protection of family as well as their intelligence and social skills, so this gentle creature can be used as a living parade float is an obscenity that needs to end. No animal should be confined and exhibited like a freak of nature.
Children and families can be amused in countless ways without exposing animals to harsh treatment, and organizations like Melha Shrine Circus and others can raise money for good causes without abusing animals.
The Legislature and the people have an opportunity to help end the exploitation of an animal who’s been sentenced for life to be on public display and treated as if it had no feelings. There is great sadness in their eyes if we would only see it.
Because the vote was divided, it’s not too late for citizens to submit written testimony by calling Rebecca Harvey, Committee Clerk at 207.287.1692 or e-mailing her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The testimony then becomes part of the public record and can be considered when the bill is read in the house and senate. You can also call your representative or senator, especially if he or she sits on the Agriculture, Forestry, and Conservation Committee. Go to maine.gov, click on legislature, click on Senate Home and Representative Home, look for links to find your senator or representative and contact information.

Last modified onTuesday, 09 May 2017 16:31