Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time


The Running of the Ostriches

March 8, 2015 by Leave a Comment

News & Opinion

From March 13th – 15th, more than 100,000 people will travel to Chandler, Arizona, to watch ostriches being abused and exploited during the city’s annual Ostrich Festival. For three days, jockeys will climb onto the backs of ostriches; grab them by their wings and feathers; and force them to run around a track in front of cheering spectators. They will also hook the birds up to chariots to race them.

Ostrich racing - not so "great" for the ostriches

The “Great Ostrich Race” is not so “great” for the ostriches

Ostrich chariot racing in Chandler, Arizona

Ostrich Festival in Chandler, Arizona (photo:

According to the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the festival, “ostrich races captivate audiences with their crazy riders and unexpected animal behavior.”

Ostrich tramples jockey during race

Ostrich tramples jockey during race (photo: Joshua Lott/Reuters)

According to PETA, ostrich races harm ostriches, “subjecting them to rough handling amid chaos and screaming crowds” in events that “cause them fear and stress and can result in serious injuries.”

The Association of British Travel Agents, whose Animal Welfare Guidelines discourage customers from attending ostrich races, agrees: “The ostrich skeleton is not designed to support a jockey’s weight on its back.”

Ostrich racing accidents are common

Ostriches are not designed to carry humans (photo: Joshua Lott/Reuters)

The company that produces the festival, Universal Fairs, describes it as a “family event.” In addition to ostrich racing, the festival offers carnival rides, entertainment and “spectacular food,” including ostrich burgers and jerky. Also on sale at the festival are ostrich leather products, hand-painted ostrich eggs, and dusters made from ostrich feathers.

Burgers at the Ostrich Festival (photo: TheKitchenFairy)

Can the ostriches forced to race smell their friends being cooked? (photo: TheKitchenFairy)

These medieval ostrich races, which began in 1989, are not a focus of the animal rights community, but that wasn’t always the case. In 1995, 35 members of Arizona People for Animal Rights (APAR) entered the festival grounds with posters and distributed over a thousand pamphlets. Three of the activists were arrested after handcuffing themselves to the announcer’s podium and chanting, “There’s No Excuse For Animal Abuse!”

Ostrich chariot race

Ostrich chariot race (photo: Martin Gollery)

Ostriches are wild animals who have complex social lives and move quickly over long distances in Africa. Breeding them on cramped farms so that people can frivolously use their bodies to feed, clothe and amuse themselves is cruel and deprives them of the ability to do anything that comes naturally to them. The people of Arizona should stop entertaining themselves on the backs of ostriches – literally and figuratively.

Your Turn

1. If you live in the Phoenix area, please attend the protest planned for Sunday, March 15th.

2. Sign the petition created by Phoenix activist Tina Riedel demanding that the Chandler Chamber of Commerce and Universal Fairs Stop Using Ostriches for Entertainment.

3. Send your thoughts to the Chandler Chamber of Commerce President, Terri Kimble: and to the Special Events & Program Manager, Brianne Marr at

4. If you have a Twitter account, please tweet your thoughts to @cityofchandler or retweet TheirTurn’s tweets about the ostrich races to the city.

Filed under: Entertainment, Food
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TNR Passes in an Arizona County Over Objections from PETA

August 6, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

Over the objections of PETA, Lawmakers in Pima County, Arizona (Tucson area) approved a trap, neuter & release (TNR) program to reduce the overall number of feral cats while preventing existing cats from being euthanized. In a letter to the County’s Board of Supervisors, PETA encouraged the County to euthanize feral cats on the grounds that they are not meant to live outdoors; they prey on wildlife; and they send a message to it’s okay for humans to abandon their pets. PETA also says that euthanasia is less painful than the deaths experienced by cats in the street.


News & Opinion

I know I open up a can of (faux) worms when I ask this question, but are some feral cats better off being killed in a shelter than sent back into inhospitable and dangerous streets where their demise could be far more painful or where they are they abused by people? Do they depend on the kindness of strangers for food, only to be neglected? Do they prey on local wildlife?  Does their presence give people license to abandon their own cats, as PETA claims? Does the presence of feral cats give people license to abandon their cats? I don’t know. What I do know is that we are reckless and cruel by domesticating animals and then tossing them out into the street like garbage when taking care of them becomes inconvenient. I also know is that we must continuously remind the general public to spay and neuter companion animals and adopt from shelters instead of buying from pet stores and breeders.

Filed under: Companion Animals, WIldlife
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