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Arna's Story

The Circus Elephant, Animal Cruelty, and the Lawsuit

By June Bird

June Bird heads up the campaign to raise funds for the ARNA court case (May 2002)

Arna is a solitary elephant that has spent her life in captivity. Her partner Bambi died a few years ago after a botched operation on her foot.

Arna travels with Stardust circus from town to town. It's illegal to keep a lone elephant so Animal Liberation is taking the NSW Government to court to get Arna out of there and with another Asian elephant at Dubbo's free range zoo.

Arna will be free to roam around, which is something she hasn't done in nearly 50 years as she's spent most of her life chained by the ankle. To keep an elephant on its own (Arna's partner Bambi died a few years ago) is one of the most heartless things a human can do to an elephant. (Arna's full story is on our website).

This case is going be ground breaking if we win...and we just HAVE to win.

We're lucky enough to have the best legal eagles onboard - but we have so far managed to only raise approximately $10,000 when we need around $50,000.

Animal Liberation is a registered Charity and if you are able to make a donation to help free Arna, thereby helping all circus animals, we would be extremely grateful.

If you wish you would be listed on our website as a contributor.

Yours sincerely,

June Bird
PO Box 1179
Maroubra NSW 2035

Arna's Story

Arna is a female elephant who has existed at Stardust circus without others of her own kind for over four years. Her partner Bambi died in mid 1996. Arna is in her mid forties and has been in a circus most of her life. Last year Animal Liberation went with Dr. Roger Mugford, an animal behavioural expert from the United Kingdom to Stardust circus. Dr. Mugford captured video evidence and wrote a report which was delivered to the Department of Agriculture showing many breaches to the Exhibited Animals Protection Act (EAP). The most obvious was that keeping a single elephant is in direct contravention of the E.A.P.

    He also found that:
  • She had no access to overnight shelter.
  • She had no access to drinking water (a hose was put in her mouth a couple of times each day).
  • She had poor diet.
  • Her ears had been damaged by use of an ankus or other short instrument, commonly used in cruel training methods.
  • Her feet and skin were badly neglected, the E.A.P. recommends elephants receive daily bathing/scrubbing. Dr. Mugford advised strongly that the circus be closed on the grounds of inadequate provision for its animals and many areas of public safety concern.

Breaking the Law

One the most irritating aspects of the Arna campaign is that Stardust Circus are getting away with breaking the law. Reproduced below are sections of the Exhibited Animals Protection Act. It is as clear as black and white that the Act is being breached. Read for yourself.

Section 1.7 above states that there must be a compelling reason to exhibit a solitary elephant. Minister for Agriculture Richard Amery, has said that Arna has bonded with her trainers, and has been in the circus so long that it would be cruel to remove her.

To say it would be cruel to remove her is ridiculous. Can you imagine anyone suggesting to a battered wife that she can't leave an abusive husband, simply because she's been there for a long time?!?! That's the whole idea! She has to be moved because 30+ years is long enough to be deprived of a 'normal' elephant life.

Considering Arna has NO contact with ANYONE, let alone another elephant, it's not surprising that she has bonded with her trainers.

Paragraph 3 says it all. "Circuses should not attempt to maintain single elephants." This is hardly open to interpretation. Again, this section of the Act is VERY straightforward.

Paragraph D.1. reiterates that elephants "derive stimulation in interacting with other members of their own species". Arna MUST be relocated to a free-range zoo with others of her own kind.

In Australia Arna's Partner Bambi Died from a Botched Foot Operation a Few Years Ago.
Following is a List of Circus Elephants' Death in the U.S:

Circus Elephant Death List:

From 1994 to 2000, at least 30 circus elephants have died premature deaths.

Name   Age   Sex   Date   Cause of Death

Kenya 18 F 02/00 Intestinal problems
Conti 54 F 09/99 Kidney failure
Pete (Petunia) 49 F 08/99 Kidney failure
Benjamin 4 M 07/99 Drowning?
Kenya 13 F 04/98 Injury of questionable origin
Kenny 3 M 01/98 Gastrointestinal infection? Herpes virus?
Sneeze 27 F 12/97 Kidney failure
Heather 8 F 08/97 Incompetent animal husbandry
Ola 40 F 03/97 Died after foot surgery
Name Unknown ? F 1997 Herpes virus?
Name Unknown ? F 1997 Herpes virus?
Tunga 32 M 09/96 Unknown
Hattie 27 F 08/96 Tuberculosis
Joyce 47 F 08/96 Tuberculosis
Bandula 30 F 06/96 Euthanized after suffering 26 years with arthritis
Stoney 21 M 08/95 Complications from training injury
Mary 50+ F 04/95 "Collapsed and died"
Jockey 20 M 03/95 Shot to death
Rhonda 9 F 03/95 Burned to death
Mike ? M 03/95 Burned to death
Lois 24 F 01/95 "Foot infection spread through her body"
Sahib 20 M 01/95 Killed because he was "unmanageable"
Bombay 40+ F 1994 Unknown
Dumbo 43 F 12/94 Tuberculosis
Mona 26 F 10/94 Metabolic disease
Kay 50 F 10/94 Kidney ailment
Amy ? F 09/94 Unknown
Tyke 21 F 08/94 Shot to death
Siam ? M 07/94 "Euthanized"
Assam 24 M 06/94 "Died under sedation"

Most circus elephants are chained by at least two legs for 95% of their lives in a space no larger than an automobile . They are unchained only to perform. The natural behavior patterns of the elephant, which have evolved over thousands of years, are denied by this confined, chained, and dominated life. To disrupt and prevent the natural behavior of these intelligent, social creatures is not only inhumane and cruel, but stressful to the individual animal as well.

* Information regarding the deaths and injuries of captive elephants is difficult to obtain. This list is therefore probably incomplete.
List compiled by The Elephant Alliance; 6265 Cardeno Drive; La Jolla, CA 92037; 619-454-4959; and from other sources.

About Animal Liberation

Animal Liberation is a registered charity and registered company (Charity No.CFN11637 - ACN 002 228 328). As part of our registration we are obliged to pay for the services of an auditor and our books are audited once a year. We all work voluntarily. Our only other staff costs are for a half day a week service from a bookkeeping company - essential for a charity - vital now we have GST in Australia. We rent our King Street, Newtown premises and meet the additional unavoidable costs of power, computers, photocopying, phones, fax, stationery, printing, postage, water etc and so forth. All other money goes to campaigning. The company is managed by an 8-member Board of Directors and all directors are of course registered with the Charities Commission.

Animal Liberation was founded by Christine Townend in the late 70's based on the philosophies of Professor Peter Singer in his book Animal Liberation. Our major campaigns concern factory farming (hens, pigs, broilers and feedlots) and stock animals of all kinds. We also have a very strong circus campaign and have been successful in persuading nine council municipalities in NSW to ban circuses-with-animals from leasing public land. Branches in other States have had similar success and the whole of ACT is similarly free.

Singly and in tandem with other like-minded organisations we become involved in many other animal rights and welfare issues. We join forces with others such as Australians Against Commercialisation of Wildlife (we are a member) to protest the officially sanctioned annual slaughter of nearly 6 million kangaroos. We recently supported a rally of various groups to protest the re-zoning of a site at Penrith, NSW. This re-zoning will inevitably mean the demise of the kangaroos, emus, sugar gliders, lace monitors and woodland birds who currently make their home there.

You may care to look at the Animal Liberation website - for further information and perhaps become an email subscriber to keep abreast of events. This is free. Click where instructed on the front page of the website and follow the prompts. Once enrolled you will receive several emails a week informing you of rallies, court cases, ways to help or just general local and world news as it relates to animals.

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