Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Summit for Elephants

Posted: 7 January 2010. Updated: 13 January 2010


In April, the leading elephant experts and campaigners assembled for the Summit for Elephants – with special emphasis on circus elephants. Appropriately, the setting for the three day conference was the Ark 2000 sanctuary of the Performing Animal Welfare Society, (PAWS). As delegates inside one of the elephant barns discussed how to set elephants free, the lucky elephants at PAWS browsed outside in the sunshine.

The Summit opened with PAWS founders, Pat Derby and Ed Stewart, outlining why it may be possible to fix zoos, but because of the temporary nature, close control, and constant travelling you could not fix circuses.

Eminent field biologist and elephant expert Dr. Joyce Poole – who previously spoke at the launch of our Stop Circus Suffering Norway campaign in Oslo – presented research on elephant communication with examples of acoustic, visual, chemical, tactile and seismic communication. She presented the voice, behavior and gesture database and the Elephant Charter which provides guiding principles for scientific and ethical management of elephants.

PAWS Vets, Dr. Mel Richardson and Dr. Dan Famini and CAHFS Dr. Francisco Uzal provided an expert insight on captive elephant health and diseases such as TB, pancreatitis, joint disease and foot health. USDA officer, Dr. Denise Sofranko, highlighted the problem of zoonotic diseases such as the risk of TB transmission to humans. A workshop on protected contact by Gaile Laule, illustrated the success of the method with rescued elephant Nicholas.

Presentations were also given by Dr. Joel Parrott and Colleen Kinzley of Oakland Zoo, Nicole Pacquette of Born Free Foundation USA and Margaret Whittaker of Active Environments.

Jan Creamer and Tim Phillips of ADI were due to give a series of presentations but at the last minute were unable to attend. It was a shame for Jan and Tim who were presented with an award. Their presentations were made by Alexandra ADI’s Cardenas, Lisa Mitchinson and ADI Legal & Political Advisor Corey Evans.

Our first presentation, Legislation and Advocacy, focused on national and local measures to end the use of animals in circuses and the strategies to achieve these. We provided examples from all over the world where ADI had begun at ground level securing evidence behind the scenes of circuses and used this to drive awareness campaigns, publicity, secure local bans and then have national legislation tabled. We outlined the measures and text that can be achieved. As we spoke, Bolivia was on the brink of the final vote to ban animal circuses. We concluded by screening of our Stop Circus Suffering USA DVD with a special introduction by actress Jorja Fox.

Our second presentation, ’Moving Elephants out of Circuses’, highlighted the impacts of our campaigns with case studies from the UK, Greece, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia and the different approaches each necessitated. As an example of ensuring materials spoke directly to the audience, we screened a DVD about the Bill made specifically for the Peruvian Congress campaign which featured text in both Spanish and in an Andean people’s language.

The Summit showed that the evidence and expertise are here and we concluded that the time is right for progress in the USA.

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