IDA Writing Alert: "Elephant In A Bubble" Isn’t Science, It’s A Sideshow!

March 16th, 2008 2:48 pm by Kelly Garbato

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: In Defense of Animals – takeaction [at] idausa.org
Date: Fri, Mar 14, 2008 at 3:56 PM
Subject: Writing Alert: “Elephant In A Bubble” Isn’t Science, It’s A Sideshow!

Tell the Los Angeles Times: “Elephant In A Bubble” Isn’t Science, It’s A Sideshow!

On Tuesday, March 18th, the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, California will feature a sensationalist stunt in which a “bubble artist” will attempt to set a record by enclosing an Asian elephant — a member of a critically endangered species — inside a giant soapy bubble. The elephant to be used in this gimmick is named Tai, and is rented out by Have Trunk Will Travel, a business that employs coercive methods of training that rely on negative reinforcement, physical punishment, and use of the bullhook.

IDA has called and written to the Discovery Science Center explaining why using an abused member of an endangered species in a publicity gimmick is wrong, but they chose to ignore us. Then an essay essentially agreeing with our position appeared on the Opinion page of the Los Angeles Times (see below or read online).

Please send a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times at letters [at] latimes.com. Letters should be brief (300 words at most) and written in your own words. Do not send attachments, and remember to include your full name, address, and phone number (for verification purposes — street names and phone numbers will not be published). For complete writing guidelines, call (800) LATIMES, Ext. 74511. If your letter is published, let us know.

Here are some talking points that you can use in your letter:

* This is not education or science. It is simply a publicity stunt.
* Science is about understanding and appreciating nature. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding and lack of regard for an intelligent, complex and endangered animal.
* It’s cruelty in the worst possible form in that it says it’s not only acceptable, it’s an art form.
* It’s shocking that a science and education center for children would participate in this type of exploitive side show.
* It’s wrong to exploit an elephant for a publicity stunt.
* The elephant is totally unnecessary to this bubble demonstration. If size of the bubble is the point, then why not encase a large truck in a bubble?
* This is more like a circus side show than an educational program sponsored by a Science and Education center.
* This sends the wrong message about nature and endangered species.
* This is an elephant who was taken as a youngster from her family in Thailand, beaten into submission, and trained and managed through coercive techniques that rely on physical punishment and force. It’s cruel to truck her into this sideshow, coerce her with the bullhook, and then truck her out when the spectacle is over. This is not the kind of life an elephant is meant to lead.

Elephant abuse in Santa Ana?
Using Tai the Asian elephant as a kiddie show prop isn’t appropriate.

March 13, 2008

Tai the asian elephant has probably been through more uncomfortable situations than being surrounded by a soap bubble for 15 seconds: For instance, the time she was painted to look like wallpaper and posed in a warehouse as part of an art installation.

Thus, there’s a certain level of hyperbole to the cries of “Abuse!” that have greeted plans for the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana to feature Tai in a demonstration that will prove that soap bubbles can be made big enough to surround a very large object — in this case, an elephant.

In her work for a Perris operation called Have Trunk Will Travel Inc., 39-year-old Tai has experienced only slightly fewer incarnations than Barbie. There’s TV Starlet Tai, Corporate Party Tai, Wedding Tai, maybe even Bar Mitzvah Tai (some of her hats closely resemble yarmulkes). Like those stunts, and like circuses and many a zoo enclosure, the bubble gig is not the right way to act toward elephants, and we’d like to see it canceled. But it’s low on the pachyderm mistreatment list.

The cries of outrage are a reflection of the laudable respect that we as a society have for elephants, renowned for their intelligence and complex social lives. In recent years, we’ve learned more about the needs of wild animals and have become less likely to view them as existing for our own use and enjoyment. Tai was born in Asia, but her owners, who acquired her when she was 9, said they do not know whether she was born wild or in captivity. In summer fair season, she spends what sounds like an uncomfortable few days a week on display, possible grounds for animal rights complaints. In winter, she spends most of her time with other elephants at her 10-acre ranch, where she might be far happier than her counterparts at zoos.

Either way, it’s unlikely that Tai’s idea of a fun day is lumbering into a truck for the long freeway trip to a Santa Ana bubble demonstration. What’s most disturbing is that the Discovery Science Center, a hands-on museum for children, is behind this idea. It’s educational, a spokesman said. But children can learn about giant bubbles by seeing them surround an animatronic dinosaur. Only a sadly outdated sort of education would impart the message that it’s appropriate to use a magnificent endangered animal as a prop in a kiddie show.

In Defense of Animals, located in San Rafael, Calif., is an international animal protection organization with more than 85,000 members and supporters dedicated to ending the abuse and exploitation of animals by protecting their rights and welfare. IDA’s efforts include educational events, cruelty investigations, boycotts, grassroots activism, and hands-on rescue through our sanctuaries in Mississippi and Cameroon, Africa.

In Defense of Animals is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We welcome your feedback and appreciate your donations. Please join today! All donations to IDA are tax-deductible.

In Defense of Animals
3010 Kerner, San Rafael, CA 94901
Tel. (415) 388-9641 Fax (415) 388-0388
idainfo [at] idausa.org

————————–

Tagged:

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed under , , , ,

Leave a Reply