US: Stop using dogs to stress elephants

2015-02-03 10:13

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Pittsburgh - The US federal government has ordered the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium to have its human handlers stop using cattle dogs to cause "behavioural stress" to its elephants.

The inspection report by the US department of agriculture was released on Monday by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Peta complained about the practice late last year and trumpeted the USDA decision.

"PETA is calling on the Pittsburgh Zoo to switch to safe and modern elephant-management method — or, better yet, to retire the elephants to an accredited sanctuary where they'll be free from harassment for the rest of their lives," said Delcianna Winders, a lawyer for Peta, in a statement.

According to the 7 January inspection report, the zoo was ordered to immediately stop using the dogs in ways that upset the elephants.

Barbara Baker, the zoo's president and CEO, issued a statement saying the dogs read the elephants' behaviour and alert keepers to any disruption, "preventing potential safety concerns for the staff and elephants. This method of animal management, in the livestock field, is referred to as a low-stress method."

Zoo officials started using Australian cattle dogs to help handlers control the elephants in 2012 and Baker said that, since then, no dogs, elephants or handlers have been harmed.

Officials with the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service visited the zoo on 6 January and asked an unnamed manager to demonstrate how the dogs are used, according to the report.

The manager called one dog "to create a barrier between the husbandry staff and an elephant which had reached its trunk through the enclosure bars," the report said. "The dog showed aggressive behaviour, growling and lunging at one elephant and entering its enclosure before being called back by the manager."

"The manager also reported the dogs' having bitten the elephants doing the course of their work," the report said. A television news clip from May, which was verified by zoo officials, "showed the elephants exhibiting signs of distress when charged by one of the dogs, including ear flapping, trumpeting, and turning and running away," the report said.

Baker said that during the inspection, "our elephant manager demonstrated a drill simulating the dog's response to a keeper being in an extreme and unlikely situation. We showed how valuable the dogs can be should a keeper's safety be in question."

Read more on:    peta  |  us  |  animals

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

6 myths about male cancer
Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.