Dozens of animal rights activists staged a protest at Madison Square Garden (MSG) to demand that the company cancel a rodeo scheduled for June, 2020. The rush hour protest, organized by the advocacy groups Animal Cruelty Exposure Fund (ACEF), NYCLASS and Lion, attracted the attention of thousands of commuters and tourists entering and exiting Penn Station, a railway station located in the same building complex as MSG. TheirTurn spoke to protesters and pedestrians who stopped to learn more.
“New York City hasn’t hosted a rodeo in 30 years” said Nora Constance Marino, the President of ACEF. “How can Madison Square Garden President Andrew Lustgarten allow this iconic venue in one of the world’s most progressive cities to be used for a barbaric event where animals are tortured? NYC has 16 animal protection bills pending right now. MSG is going in the wrong direction, and vast majority of New Yorkers don’t want this animal abuse in our city.”
Edita Birnkrant, Executive Director of NYCLASS, protests Madison Square Garden over its decision to host a rodeo in 2020.
In an interview on NY1 News, MSG defended its decision to host the rodeo, stating, “Rural Media Group and the Cowboy Channel are leaders in the care and well-being of animal performers and we look forward to hosting them next year.”
Madison Square Garden issued a statement to NY1 News defending its decision to host the rodeo
In response, Marino said, “It is remarkable that MSG claims that a rodeo cares about the well-being of animals. Simply observing footage of one completely refutes that notion.”
“Wrestling baby cows to the ground after lassoing their neck is not entertainment; it’s violence,” said Edita Birnkrant, the Executive Director of the animal rights group NYCLASS. “If Lustgarten doesn’t cancel the show, then we will escalate this campaign with the help of NYC’s dedicated army of animal protection advocates.”
The Animal Cruelty Exposure Fund and NYCLASS are demanding that the President of Madison Square Garden, Andrew Lustgarten, cancel the rodeo scheduled to take place in June, 2020
A Change.org petition has garnered over 5,700 signatures.
A 2017 law that banned the use of wild animals in shows does not apply to rodeos, which use calves, horses and other domesticated animals.
Animal rights activists say that tying up, roping, wrestling animals are acts of violence against baby and adult animals.
As crowds entered the Bronx Zoo on Saturday, August 10th, dozens of activists with the Nonhuman Rights Project staged a protest at the entrance to demand that the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the zoo, release an elephant named Happy to a sanctuary after holding her captive in a small enclosure since 1977.
Happy is a 48 year old wild-born Asian elephant who was captured in Thailand and brought to the United States in the 1970s. She has been held captive in the Bronx Zoo since 1977 and has lived alone in a barren one acre enclosure for the past 13 years. During the winter month, she is intensively confined to a small cement cell.
During the winter months, Happy (not pictured here) is held in this barren enclosure in the Bronx Zoo
“Elephants are social animals who need the companionship of other elephants,” said Kevin Schneider, the Executive Director of the Nonhuman Rights Project, “It’s no wonder that we see her swaying and engaging in other unnatural behaviors that indicate distress and suffering.”
Activists with the Nonhuman Rights Project demand that the Wildlife Conservation Society release Happy, an elephant held captive at the zoo since 1977, to a sanctuary
Both of the elephant sanctuaries in the United States, the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and the Performing Animal Welfare Society in California, have agreed to take Happy at no cost to the Bronx Zoo, but the WCS has refused to let her go. “The Wildlife Conservation Society acknowledged in 2006 that keeping Happy alone would be inhumane, so we don’t understand why they won’t release her from captivity,” said Schneider. “They either don’t want to acknowledge that Happy’s solitary confinement for the past 13 years has been cruel , or they don’t want to cave into pressure from animal rights advocates.”
During the warm months, Happy is held captive and alone in a one acre enclosure.
In 2018, the Nonhuman Rights Project filed a petition for a common law writ of habeas corpus in New York Supreme Court demanding recognition of Happy’s legal personhood and her fundamental right to bodily liberty. Happy is first elephant in the world to have a habeas corpus hearing to determine the lawfulness of her imprisonment.
As litigation proceeds, public support for the Happy’s freedom has grown. In June, two elected officials made public statements encouraging the WCS to free Happy. Corey Johnson, the Speaker of the New York City Council, wrote, “Happy and all elephants need more space and resources than the zoo can provide, plain and simple. I urge the Bronx Zoo, which first planned to close the elephant exhibit back in 2006, to finally transfer Happy to one of two recommended sanctuaries so that she can enjoy the company of other elephants and the benefits afforded to a facility specifically designed to meet her needs.” In a tweet, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has voiced her opposition to solitary confinement for prison inmates, said that “The team and I are looking into what we can do” to free Happy.
In 2015, the animal advocacy group In Defense of Animals ranked the Bronx Zoo the fifth worst zoo in the United States for elephants. “The Bronx Zoo does not have the space, the resources, or the weather conditions that elephants need to live a reasonably healthy life. Shame on the Bronx Zoo for sentencing “Happy” to what is likely the most unhappy of sentences for an elephant: a life of self aware solitary confinement.”
A Change.org petition demanding an end to Happy’s solitary confinement has garnered over one million signatures.
On June 8th, approximately 150 animal rights activists staged a protest at the Belmont Stakes, the final leg in the American Triple Crown. According to the advocacy group Horseracing Wrongs, the protest, which attracted activists from as far as 150 miles away, was the largest ever at a race track.
During the protest, Patrick Batuello, the director of Horseracing Wrongs, spoke to TheirTurn about why the organization is working to abolish the horse racing industry.
“From the moment race horses are born, they are abused creatures. They are torn from their mothers as mere babes. Their bodies are pounded years before they are done forming. They’re intensively confined. They’re socially isolated. They’re drugged, doped and beaten with whips. They’re bought, sold, traded and dumped like common Ebay products and, of course, they’re killed routinely.”
While not unusual, the death of 35 horses since December at California’s Santa Anita racetrack has, for the first time, triggered mainstream public discourse about the ethics and future of horse racing in the United States. In a June 11th editorial (“We are Running Out of Ways to Tell Santa Anita to Stop Racing”), the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Over time, Americans have to decide how much death they are willing to tolerate in this ancient sport.”
According to Horseracing Wrongs, an estimated 2,000 horses die on the tracks or during training each year.
Horseracing Wrongs will be staging protests throughout July and August during the upcoming races at the Saratoga Race Track in upstate New York. In addition, the organization is, in the coming months, sponsoring protests in 16 states at 22 tracks.
Animal rights activists staged a protest both inside and outside of U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s campaign fundraiser over her ongoing refusal to call off her $50 million plan to lease pandas from China and put them on display in New York City.
“Pandas are wild animals who exist for their own purposes,” said Edita Birnkrant, Executive Director of the animal rights group NYCLASS. “They should live freely in the bamboo forests of China, not in a display case in Manhattan.”
Animal rights activists protest U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney over her $50M plan to display pandas in Manhattan
In addition to opposing animal captivity for human entertainment, the activists argue that the Chinese breeding facility from which the pandas will be leased are merely money-making panda mills and that renting pandas fuels the market for captive pandas while doing nothing to conserve pandas in their natural habitat.
Caretakers at the Chengdu panda breeding facility, the panda mill from which Carolyn Maloney plans to lease pandas, were caught on camera physically abusing panda cubs.
In February 2017, Congresswomen Maloney and her two billionaire backers, John Catsimatidis and Maurice Greenberg, held a “Black & White Panda Ball” at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel to raise money for the project, which is estimated to cost $50 million. The gala raised approximately $500,000. Her charity, The Pandas are Coming to NYC, continues to raise money.
Animal rights activists in NYC say that displaying wild pandas in an enclosure in Manhattan would be inhumane
In June, 2017, the NYC Council voted to pass a bill to ban the use of exotic animals in performances following an 11 year campaign waged by animal rights activists and supportive lawmakers. Lawyers are reviewing the language in this bill to see if and how it would affect the display of pandas in an exhibit akin to a roadside zoo.
Please sign the Care2 petition asking U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney to call off her plan to import pandas into NYC for display.