It is the sort of headline that grabs your attention: "Toddler Dies, Python Found Coiled Around Her." Wednesday, a 12-foot-long Burmese python appears to have killed a 2-year-old Florida girl. The girl's family owned the python, as well as a 6-foot-long boa constrictor. No doubt, this incident will start a conversation about whether it's a good idea to house exotic pets, especially when there are children involved.
Born Free USA knows it's never a good idea. See our list of incidents involving children and adults who have come into contact with reptiles, often with deadly results.
Python Attack Raises Safety Concerns about Housing Exotic Pets
The Poynter Institute
St. Petersburg, FL
In the circus, you see gentle giants donning funny outfits and performing tricks on tiny tubs. It's anything but an elephant's natural environment. "Should the elephants get out there and perform these tricks every day for the public so you (Ringling Bros.) can make pocket money? Or should it be that the elephants don't have to do this anymore?" asks Tom Rider, a former Ringling employee and plaintiff in the federal lawsuit against the circus.
Lawsuit accuses Ringling Bros. of abusing elephants
Las Vegas KTNV
14 dolphins have died in the 19 years since Steve Wynn opened the Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage. Now, an animal rights group wants to stop the casino from bringing more dolphins to the desert.
Born Free USA's Senior Program Associate Monica Engebretson contributes to this video report via phone.
Dolphins in the Desert, seg. 3
Las Vegas Sun
As the Ringling rail cars were unloaded in Las Vegas Tuesday evening, 12 hours before their scheduled arrival, Ringling animal handler Ryan Henning expressed the same sentiments his employer has emphasized in recent years -- mainly, how well circus elephants are treated and how much the big pachyderms enjoy living out of boxcars. "They enjoy it. They travel very comfortably. I would say they travel better than the people in the show. They've got it made," he said.
The article links to the court documents in Born Free USA's trial against Ringling (for violating the Endangered Species Act by cruelly mistreating Asian elephants) which clearly show otherwise.
Circus Arrives in Las Vegas Amid Controversy
KLAS Channel 8, Las Vegas
In the days before a dolphin named Sgt. Pepper died last week at The Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, two animal rights organizations — Born Free USA and The World Society for the Protection of Animals — had filed a complaint against the Mirage’s request to import two more dolphins for its habitat. Part of the complaint, ironically, said more dolphins shouldn't be brought in because other dolphins had died in the past at the habitat, which the two groups claim is being used as a money-making entertainment enterprise, rather than for educational or conservation purposes.
Animal rights groups try to halt Mirage from importing dolphins
Las Vegas Sun
As the circus chugs into town on its mile-long train, a federal lawsuit casts a shadow over the Greatest Show on Earth. ... "Elephants are mobile animals," said Nicole Paquette, senior vice president and general counsel for Born Free USA, a plaintiff in the trial. "They want to walk around and roam for food and water. In the circus, they're chained, one foot in the front and one in the back."
Details on our lawsuit are available at www.bornfreeusa.org/ringling.
Beloved by kids, circus arriving with trunk full of critics
The Gazette (Colorado Springs)
MGM Mirage today reported the second death of a dolphin this year at The Mirage's dolphin habitat. Two-year-old Sgt. Pepper died Wednesday of complications from a lung infection. Sgt. Pepper is the 14th dolphin to die at the Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat since the attraction opened in 1990.
The death comes hard on the heels of a request by The Mirage hotel to import two bottlenose dolphins. Born Free USA responded to the request asking the permit be denied on the grounds of the hotel’s dismal animal care record, the lack of educational and conservation value of the display, animal welfare and transport concerns, and more. Born Free USA's letter can be viewed at www.bornfreeusa/miragedolphins.
Mirage dolphin dies from lung infection complications
Las Vegas Sun
The circus came to town yesterday in Trenton, New Jersey, but Born Free USA is asking Trenton residents to consider the shocking evidence against Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey (Ringling) before buying a ticket that essentially supports animal cruelty.
Circus cruelty: "The Saddest Show on Earth"
P. Elizabeth Anderson
Animal Advocacy Examiner
Legislation that would end the ownership of certain wild animals in Oregon passed the Senate today. S.B. 391 will prohibit future possession of alligators, monkeys, lions, tigers, bears, alligators, crocodiles and caimans. The Humane Society of the United States, Born Free USA and the Oregon Humane Society say they applaud the Oregon House Environment and Water Committee for passing S.B. 391 to "prohibit dangerous wild animals as pets."
Senate Bill Would Remove Oregonians' Right to Own Exotic Pets
A 10-year-old girl is listed in good condition at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh after being bitten by a mountain lion in Columbiana County. It didn't happen at any zoo, or out in the wild — but at home near Lisbon, as a hobby, a family keeps several full-sized lions and mountain lions caged up in their yard.
Born Free USA maintains a database of exotic animal incidents, which occur so frequently as to make laws prohibiting private possession of exotic animals a necessity. Ohio has no laws addressing the private ownership of exotic animals.
Pet Mountain Lion Bites Girl
After almost nine years of claims and counterclaims, a ruling is finally expected soon in a lawsuit accusing Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus of abusing endangered Asian elephants. (Circus elephants in the legal spotlight)
This Today Show segment featuring our lawsuit against Ringling touched briefly on the evidence. For all the facts, check out the exhibits and other evidence revealed at the trial which paint a clear and detailed picture of the daily systematic abuse endured by the elephants.
Natalie Morales, Jennie Thompson, and Alex Johnson
The Today Show (NBC)
In February, a frenzied chimpanzee attacked a woman in Connecticut. The victim is being treated for devastating, and near-fatal injuries at the Cleveland Clinic. So NewsChannel5 investigated and found there's not a single law in the state of Ohio that prevents your neighbor from putting a chimp, or even a 500-pound tiger, right in the back yard. Born Free U.S.A. said exotic animals can be deadly. Nicole Paquette of Born Free U.S.A. said, "Exotic animals have attacked and actually killed children and other individuals."
Hundreds Come To Ohio For Exotic Pet Auctions
newsnet5.com (Cleveland, Akron)
The April 20 article highlights the pressing need for Oregon to pass SB 391, legislation banning the private possession of primates and other exotic animals commonly kept as "pets." Born Free USA operates a sanctuary that is home to more than 500 primates, many of whom are unwanted dangerous "pets." Our sanctuary and others around the country are full to the brim. We urge the Oregon House of Representatives to pass this legislation before more people — and animals — are harmed.
Recent incident involving monkey shows need for legislation
Nicole G. Paquette, Born Free USA
The handler of a wolf that attacked a child Saturday during a show at Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Lodge in Utica has been in trouble a number of times with federal authorities in connection with his handling of animals.
Exhibiting exotic animals is always dangerous, and Born Free USA maintains a list of incidents involving exhibited animals.
WOLF ATTACK: Animal's handler has troubled history
The Times (Ottawa, IL)
A growing number of pet owners spooked by February's chimp attack are looking to give up their great apes but are finding it difficult to do so. The Primate Rescue Center in Nicholasville, KY, reports a 50% increase in calls from chimpanzee owners seeking homes for their animals since the mauling in February in Connecticut.
People who own chimps rethink choice of pet
A deputy was forced to shoot and kill a 9-year-old chimp that had become violent with the owners and then attacked him. Officers returned to the residence the next day and issued a search warrant regarding reports of alleged animal abuse and neglect, and arrested three people on charges of operating a puppy mill and keeping one chimpanzee and three other primates without a license.
Animal abuse case builds
St. Joseph News-Press
Are circus elephants abused? Or are the elephants under the big top healthy and thriving in a caring environment? That's the issue a federal judge must decide in a 9-year-old legal dispute pitting four animal rights groups against the nation's most famous circus, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. Closing arguments will be heard Wednesday in the case in which the circus is accused of mistreating its 54 Asian elephants, which are protected under the 1973 Endangered Species Act.
Closing arguments set for elephant abuse trial
Carlie and Bob, independent animal rescue workers who have been together 21 years, have a difference of opinion about a 7-year-old Hamadryas baboon named Higgins, who spends a good part of most evenings watching HDTV in his heated monkey house, often holding hands with Bob. Carlie thinks that it is time to ship Higgins to a baboon preserve, and Bob wants to keep him at home.
Born Free USA maintains a database of attacks by captive exotic animals.
My Monkey, My Self
The New York Times
Cities and states are updating their animal control laws after a spate of violent and bizarre animal incidents, including Michael Vick's dogfighting ring in 2007 and last week's attack by Travis the chimpanzee in Connecticut.
Born Free USA maintains a database of attacks by captive exotic animals.
Local gov'ts confront dangerous pets
Oren Dorell, Greg Latshaw, and Donna Leinwand
Just a week after a savage attack in Connecticut involving a chimpanzee, the House today overwhelmingly passed legislation aimed at curbing the keeping of primates as pets. The Captive Primate Safety Act (H.R. 80) passed on a vote of 323-95. Sponsored by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), the bill would amend the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 to add primates to the list of animals that cannot be transported across state lines by individuals.
"The primate trade involves enormous animal suffering and threats to human safety," says Adam Roberts, senior vice president of Born Free USA. "Wildlife belongs in the wild."
Following Brutal Chimp Attack, House Overwhelmingly Passes Primate Pet Ban
On the Hill (blog)
The CT Department of Environmental Protection allowed a Stamford couple to keep a 200-pound chimpanzee without a permit, despite a 2004 state law that required they apply for and obtain the necessary approvals from the agency. On Monday, Travis, a 14-year-old chimpanzee, savagely attacked a family friend, who remained in critical condition Tuesday in Stamford Hospital. A DEP spokesman said the agency granted the couple a special exemption, noting that the DEP "had no compelling evidence there was a public safety risk," he said. "We had no reports there were issues." Born Free USA, a national nonprofit animal advocacy group, in a statement Tuesday, noted that Travis made headlines in 2003 for briefly escaping from his owners in downtown Stamford. Born Free Senior Vice President Nicole Paquette called on Gov. M. Jodi Rell to ban the keeping of primates as pets in Connecticut.
DEP let couple keep chimp without required permit
The Stamford Advocate
In the wake of a brutal attack by a pet chimpanzee on a Connecticut woman, people are asking what went wrong. But that, a wildlife expert says, is the wrong question. “What we should examine is, ‘Should people be keeping chimpanzees at home?’” wildlife biologist and Animal Planet TV host Jeff Corwin told Today’s Matt Lauer Tuesday.
Experts try to explain pet chimp’s rampage
Kenneth Feld, the sole owner of Feld Entertainment and Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus did not appear in U.S Federal Court today. Buying his way out of trouble is a way of life for Ken Feld, but this time, he just may be trapped. These animal rights people are not clowning around!
Reckoning at Ringling Bros.
The Huffington Post
A federal judge began hearing a lawsuit alleging the abuse of circus elephants, including the use of heavy chains, tethers and sharp tools called bullhooks.
Learn more about the trial at www.bornfreeusa.org/ringling.
Judge hears case alleging circus elephant abuse
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and its parent company, Feld Entertainment, Inc., will finally stand trial to face charges that the circus mistreats its Asian elephants in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act. The case is more than eight years in the making.
On Wednesday (Feb. 4), the plaintiffs, including Sacramento-based non-profit Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute (Born Free), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Welfare Institute, the Fund for Animals, and former Ringling Bros. employee Tom Rider are scheduled to present their case in federal district court in Washington, D.C. Katherine Meyer of the public interest law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal will serve as lead counsel for the plaintiffs.
Ringling Brothers Circus on trial for elephant abuse
"Pets and Wildlife"
Bay Area News Group
One of the most iconic images of American life, that of circus elephants joined trunk-to-tail as they lumber along to delight “children of all ages,” as the old saying goes, is about to be debated in a courtroom. Are the beasts docile because they are highly intelligent and respond well to training, reinforced with the promise of apples, carrots, water and kindness at day’s end? Or do they obey because their spirits have been broken and they fear getting hit by their trainers? These are among the questions that will be asked when a lawsuit by a coalition of animal rights’ groups [including Born Free USA united with API] against the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus and its parent company opens in federal court on Wednesday.
Suit Challenges Image of Circus Elephants as Willing Performers
The New York Times
"An animal abuse trial against Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, is set to begin next week in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C."
For more on Born Free USA united with API's involvement in this landmark case, which will be heard beginning February 3 before U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, click here.
Trial set on treatment of circus elephants
Natalie Neysa Alund
An African elephant never forgets — especially when it comes to the loss of its kin, according to researchers at the University of Washington. Their findings, published online in the journal, Molecular Ecology, reveal that the negative effects of poaching persist for decades after the killing has ended.
Born Free USA has long recognized the damage poaching has done to elephant populations, as discussed in this recent article.
Human actions are increasing the rate of evolutionary change in plants and animals in ways that may hurt their long-term prospects for survival, scientists are reporting. Hunting, commercial fishing and some conservation regulations, like minimum size limits on fish, may all work against species health. Reproducing at a younger age and smaller size allowed organisms to leave offspring before they were caught or killed. But some evidence suggests that they may not reproduce as well. Fish that are reproducing earlier “on average have far, far, far fewer eggs than those who wait an additional year and grow a few more centimeters.”
Born Free USA has long maintained that hunting to “manage” wildlife is counterproductive.
Research Ties Human Acts to Harmful Rates of Species Evolution
The New York Times
NY Assemblyman Greg Ball (R-Patterson) promised to introduce legislation in Albany to "combat bush meat" — entrees named for their origins, which is mostly the African forest, or bush. The legislation would aim to keep elephants, chimpanzees, gorillas, forest antelope and other African and Asian creatures off American plates, helping curtail what some say is a major threat to wildlife and ecosystems around the world. Bush meat also poses a health risk, said Adam Roberts of Born Free USA, an animal advocacy group. Bush-meat consumption has been linked to the transmission of HIV, Ebola and foot-and-mouth disease. Roberts is helping Ball formulate his legislation.
Assemblyman Ball aims to halt bush-meat sales
The Journal News
2008 was a rotten year for many people. And it wasn't only humans who had a hard time. What started as a lark, a review of animal-related news in 2008, [in San Bernardino County,] turned into the discovery that the year's stories of pets and wild creatures were occasionally uplifting, but were often tales of struggle and pain.
Nearly all of the incidents in this story touch on issues that concern Born Free USA.
2008 was a year to forget, even for animals
The Sun (San Bernardino, CA)
Adam Roberts, Senior Vice President of Born Free USA united with API, writes for the Encyclopaedia Brittanica on global threats to wild tiger populations — including habitat degradation and loss, hunting by humans, and the international black market in tiger parts and products made from them.
Fighting for Tigers
Advocacy for Animals
The Guelph (Ontario, Canada) City council unanimously approved a bylaw banning body-gripping traps, moving to informally name it Harper's bylaw after the Jack Russell terrier that suffocated in a trap on industrial lands. Harper died in his owner's arms in December 2006 with his head trapped in a Conibear body-gripping trap. This spurred the community to action and motivated council to direct a committee and staff to draft the ban. ... The bylaw bans all body-gripping traps, which have the intention to kill.
You can pass such a law in your area as Born Free USA united with API guides you through every step of the process.
Body-gripping trap ban unanimously approved
In a December 9 Los Angeles Times column, "Zoos without elephants would be a loss for the children of L.A.,” Hector Tobar protests the possibility that Billy, a 23-year-old Malaysian elephant held captive at the Los Angeles Zoo for nearly two decades, might go to a sanctuary and the zoo's exhibit might be closed forever. Three writers compassionately rebut his column.
Born Free USA united with API was founded, in part, on a mission to keep elephants out of zoos.
Zoos without elephants: a lesson in compassion
Lori Marino, Gay Bradshaw, and Randy Malamud
Los Angeles Times Opinion
Living in a zoo shortens an elephant's life, according to a new research study published in the journal Science.
Born Free USA united with API is firm in its position that elephants do not belong in zoos.
Zoo Elephants Live A Shortened Life, Study Finds
National Public Radio
Maine wildlife officials rushed through new rules intended to help keep Canada lynx out of sportsmen’s traps. However, the quick fix will not end the state’s legal trouble with two wildlife advocacy organizations, who are not convinced the clarifications will prevent future deaths or injuries among the 500 or so lynx believed to inhabit Maine.
State mends rules after lynx trap death
Bangor Daily News
After weeks of impassioned and lengthy debates over elephants and whether the world's largest land mammals still belong in the Los Angeles Zoo, supporters and critics alike got only a tentative verdict Wednesday: The City Council halted construction of the zoo's controversial $42-million elephant exhibit but did not outright kill it.
Born Free USA united with API believes passionately that wildlife belongs in the wild. Indeed, our UK-based partner, the Born Free Foundation, originated as a campaign specifically to get elephants out of zoos.
Construction halted on Los Angeles Zoo elephant exhibit
Los Angeles Times
Born Free USA Chief Executive Officer Will Travers appeared on “Insight,” on Capitol Public Radio, Thursday, December 4, to talk about his life, running marathons, and the amazing work Born Free USA is doing for animals around the globe. Click on the link below to hear the archived broadcast. Will appears at about 25 minutes into the program.
Authorities are investigating how a family dog in Alaska was ensnared in a bear trap set in a neighborhood full of pets and children, officials said. The 4-year-old dog died hours after being trapped in a Conibear 220 spring-loaded trap. The trap is designed to kill foxes, beavers, and coyotes. The family says they believe one of their neighbors might have set and baited the trap.
Born Free USA united with API, which sees traps as a particularly loathsome form of animal cruelty, tracks incidents of non-target animals caught in traps.
Officials investigate dog trapping
United Press International
The edited version of the Christian the Lion story, making the rounds on the Internet over the last year, has been named a 2008 "Moments that Mattered" in The New York Times Magazine.
Because this story is so intertwined with who and what Born Free is, we are overjoyed that the story is making as much of a difference now as it did then.
Moments That Mattered
The New York Times Magazine
Last week's death of Mac, a 2-year-old Asian elephant, at the Houston Zoo again puts the spotlight on the ability of zoos to safely care for elephants. As the article points out, "None of the 14 calves conceived by the zoos's elephants during the last 25 years is alive today."
With 10 zoo elephant deaths in 2008, and increasing incidents of the untreatable elephant herpes virus, the zoo industry has a lot of questions to answer.
Zoo a hot spot for fatal elephant Virus
The Houston Chronicle
Chicago's aldermen were not ready to step right up today and support a proposal aimed at curbing abuse of circus elephants. Two aldermen blocked a vote on the elephant-protection ordinance championed by Ald. Mary Ann Smith (48th) as the circus comes to the city next week. Smith originally wanted to ban the use of bull hooks on elephants. She agreed to amend the proposal to merely make it illegal "to use on an elephant any device or instrument with the intent to cause pain and injury, except as necessary to administer legitimate medical treatment." The ordinance also would ban chaining elephants except when necessary. Both changes leave more room for interpretation by circuses and law enforcement.
Born Free USA united with API's lawsuit against Ringling for mistreating its endangered Asian elephants (with, among other things, chaining and the bullhook) goes to trial on February 9, 2009.
Aldermen block vote on elephant-protection ordinance
Chicago Breaking News Center
Both California and Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly passed ballot measures protecting animals.
Proposition 2 in California passed by a margin of 63% to 37%! California is the first state to ban battery cages. Proposition 2 will phase out gestation crates, veal crates, and battery cages. Many animals on industrial farms are confined in small cages or crates and suffer tremendously. The overcrowded conditions on factory farms have also been found to pollute the air, contaminate groundwater and threaten human health. For more information visit www.yesonprop2.com.
Proposition 3 in Massachusetts passed by a margin of 56% to 44%! According to GREY2K this is the first time in history that dog tracks have been closed down by citizens’ vote. Proposition 3 will phase out commercial dog racing in the state by 2010. Racing dogs are housed in cages barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around, and in the past five years, more than 700 dogs have been injured on the racetrack. For more information please visit www.protectdogs.org.
These are historic victories for the animals. We thank all the voters who voted with compassion during this election.
Exotic pets cause big headaches for law enforcement and humane society officers who routinely respond to reports of unusual animals roaming the streets or attacking other animals or humans, something experts say is inevitable when dealing with animals ill-suited to captivity. "There's a reason why these animals are wild," said Adam Roberts, senior vice president for Born Free USA, a nonprofit animal protection organization. "They don't belong with people."
The Allure of Exotic Pets Bring Risks to Owners, Animals
When Ringling Bros. brings its circus to Pittsburgh on October 30 through November 2, volunteers from Voices for Animals of Western Pennsylvania will be present at each show, educating onlookers on the mistreatment suffered by animals in the circus.
The main protest is scheduled for Saturday evening, November 1.
Born Free USA united with API organized protests when Ringling brought the circus to the Sacramento CA area. We are delighted to offer this information to any activists or would-be activists local to the Pittsburgh area who wish to participate. Contact the organization at VoicesForAnimals@gmail.com.
Benjamin, a 4-year-old Asian Ringling Bros. elephant, was swimming in a pond in 1999 when his trainer instructed him to get out of the water. When he disobeyed, the trainer came at him with a bull hook — a club with a sharp metal point at the end — and the young elephant had a heart attack and died. ... Four nonprofit national animal rights groups ... in 2000 sued Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. ... The suit ... claims the defendants inhumanely and illegally mistreat their Asian elephants and have done so for decades. On Monday, Federal Court Judge Emmet Sullivan will begin hearing testimony in the case. The anticipated three-week, non-jury trial takes place in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
You can help Born Free USA united with API defray our massive legal expenses. Go to www.bornfreeusa.org/edf.
Lawsuit alleges elephant abuse
Natalie Neysa Alund
Originally released in 2003 and narrated by actor Joaquin Phoenix, the documentary Earthlings covers the suffering of animals used for food, fashion, pets, entertainment and medical research. And now, it’s getting a special-edition re-release with even more footage.
Born Free USA united with API knows that when people accept the truth about how animals are treated, they will change their behavior.
Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘Earthlings’ Gets Special-Edition Release
The Latest in Green Gossip
Will Travers, CEO of Born Free USA united with API, responds, “Captive elephants (carefully marshaled by employees wielding sharp, steel-tipped bullhooks) ‘choosing the next President’ may seem like typical piece of election season ‘fluff’, but not even this latest gimmick from Ringling can deflect public attention away from the real Headline News — that in less than 2 weeks the most famous Circus in the world will stand before Washington DC Court to answer allegations of cruelty and abuse of endangered Asian elephants.”
The "contemptible" practice of keeping elephants in captivity and the breeding programs that force elephants to live an unnatural life for their entire existence ... might explain the bizarre behavior exhibited by Rose-Tu toward her newborn. But there may be another reason: The abuse she suffered eight years ago at the hands of one of her Oregon Zoo handlers may have compromised her ability to interact normally with her calf.
Born Free USA united with API knows that elephants don't belong in the zoo.
The lesson of Rose-Tu and her calf