Las Vegas Sun

June 18, 2019

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Guest Column:

Circus column painted skewed picture

The recent piece in the Las Vegas Sun by the fringe group with the misleading name “Center for Consumer Freedom” could not have been more off-base. This group is a constant apologist for various animal-use industries like puppy mills and factory farms, so it is not surprising to hear them say they are saddened to see the doors shuttered on an era of elephants and other wild animals being carted across the country for days on end, coercively trained, and living in near constant confinement or tethered to chains.

Having worked to end the mistreatment of elephants and other wild animals in circuses and traveling shows for nearly two decades, I cannot express to readers enough just how terrible the long suffering of these animals is. As is usually the case with any organization Will Coggin and the Center for Consumer Freedom attack (and the list of groups include not only the Humane Society of the United States, but Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, along with many others), the fear-mongering picture they paint isn’t accurate.

The Humane Society of the United States was founded in 1954 to focus on the issues facing animals that went beyond the reach of local shelters — issues like the mistreatment of farm animals, animals used for testing, wildlife and companion animals.

It’s time fringe groups like the Center for Consumer Freedom accept the facts: Americans want animals to be treated humanely, regardless of if they are wild, living in a zoo, raised for food or pets, and the announcement from Ringling Brothers is evidence of that.

We at the Humane Society of the United States regularly work with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and AZA accredited facilities on issues such as ending the private possession of exotic animals as pets, stopping the sale of products and parts from elephants, rhinos and other threatened species, and prohibiting the sale of shark fins — just to name a few.

Over the years I’ve worked with many zoos on these issues, and our collaboration has led to great wins for animals.

Just last year in Oregon, we worked together with AZA, the Oregon Zoo Foundation, the Wildlife Conservation Society and dozens of other groups to pass Measure 100, which prohibited the sale of products and parts of 12 types of animals in Oregon.

It’s because of our success that our opponents continue to spend millions attacking us, and it’s because of our success that AZA and many of its accredited facilities partner with us on issues of common ground.

Nicole Paquette is vice president of wildlife protection for the Humane Society of the United States.

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