Circus fans needed in Richmond Monday May 11

Once again the animal rights fanatics in Virginia are heading a charge to separate people from animals. If you enjoy the circus elephants, please help by sending some emails and coming to the meeting tomorrow night in Richmond. Details follow.

A message from Feld Entertainment

On Monday, May 11, the Richmond (VA) City Council will hold a final vote on Ordinance No. 2014-199. This ordinance would ban the use of the elephant guide (also called a bull hook/ankus) and essentially prohibit circuses and all other elephant exhibitors from visiting the city of Richmond. As you know, this widely accepted and humane elephant management tool is absolutely necessary for people to safely work or interact with elephants in a public setting, whether it is in a circus, at a fair or in a zoo. Further, proper use of the elephant guide is a crucial component for elephant management in breeding and conservation programs and for providing comprehensive veterinary care. In short, elephants are better off when they can be cared for in the hands-on manner that this tool allows.

Those of us who are opposed to such bans need your help. Please take a moment to contact the members of the Richmond City Council (even if you have done so previously) with a short e-mail, phone call, or letter, and encourage your friends and family to do the same – especially those who live in Richmond or who have been to circus performances or elephant exhibits in the city. Sample talking points for your correspondence are listed at the end of this alert, but please use your own words and your own experiences to politely express your opposition to this elephant ban.

Animal rights activists are trying to get supporters of the ordinance to attend the hearing and those of us who are opposed need to do the same. Circus fans, animal industry representatives, elephant exhibitors and others who want to have the choice to see and interact with elephants in a free contact setting are urged to attend the May 11 City Council meeting to testify in opposition to this ban. The meeting begins at 6:00PM and is located in the City Hall building, 2nd floor Council Chamber, 900 East Broad Street in Richmond.

As you may recall, the Richmond City Council amended the ordinance to change the effective date of the proposed ban to 2018, in response to the recent Ringling Bros. elephant announcement. Feld Entertainment did not request the change in the effective date; in fact, Feld Entertainment representatives will once again be at the City Council meeting to testify against this measure.

If you would like further information with regard to testifying at the May 11 City Council meeting in person, please contact Mary Lou Kelly mkelly@feldinc.com or Sarah Conley at sjconley@gmail.com. Thank you for your help!

Sample Talking Points
The following are suggestions for your correspondence, but please use your own words, and you do not need to include every bullet point. Please keep all correspondence respectful.

· Tell the City Council members that you are OPPOSED to any measure that would prevent circuses and other travelling exhibitors with elephants from visiting Richmond.
· All animal exhibitors are required to have a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) exhibitor’s license. USDA conducts regular unannounced inspections of all performing animals and their stable areas, and their inspection reports are a matter of public record.
· In addition, all elephant exhibitors are subject to state and local animal cruelty laws and permit requirements in the local cities they visit and the commonwealth of Virginia. Such regulations provide protection to all performing animals and allow for the prosecution of those who neglect or mistreat the animals in their care.
· True animal experts know that a safe and secure environment is the only acceptable and successful method of training any animal, including elephants. The elephant guide, sometimes called a bull hook or ankus, has been used by elephant handlers for thousands of years. Elephant handlers in zoos, nature preserves and circuses throughout the world use the guide as an extension of the trainer’s arm along with a voice command.
· If any animal is being mistreated in any environment, then the right answer is to enforce existing laws and regulations to punish bad actors, as opposed to punishing an entire industry and the public who enjoy circuses.
· Elephants are an endangered species. Free contact management of elephants allows for better veterinary care and the most successful elephant breeding programs utilize free contact and the guide.
· Proponents of performing animal bans mischaracterize or misunderstand the facts about the free contact training and handling of elephants. Most of the organizations that advocate such bans do so as part of a larger, animal rights agenda which opposes all or most human interaction with animals.

Email addresses for entire City Council and Mayor (to copy and paste into the “To” field in your email):

Charles.Samuels@richmondgov.com

Ellen.Robertson@Richmondgov.com

jonathan.baliles@richmondgov.com

Chris.Hilbert@richmondgov.com

Kathy.Graziano@richmondGov.com

parker.agelasto@richmondgov.com

Cynthia.Newbille@richmondgov.com

Reva.Trammell@richmondgov.com

michelle.mosby@richmondgov.com

askthemayor@richmondgov.com (Dwight C. Jones)

City Council Website
http://www.richmondgov.com/CityCouncil/contacts.aspx

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