PETA wants theme parks to remove animals from carousels

PETA Calls for Carousel Makeover: A Shift From Animals to Fantasy and Vehicles

by Theme Park Magazine

In an ambitious move to reshape the way theme parks entertain, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is targeting a beloved classic: the carousel. Long celebrated for its whimsical ride atop carved animals, these iconic attractions are facing scrutiny for portraying animals as objects of entertainment.

PETA’s Carousel Campaign

PETA’s campaign urges a transformative approach, proposing that carousel animals be replaced with inanimate objects and fantastical elements such as cars, planes, spaceships, bulldozers, shooting stars, rainbows, or brooms. According to PETA, this shift aims to foster a more imaginative and respectful form of play, steering away from the traditional use of animals in entertainment.

The Dutch branch of PETA has contacted Efteling, one of Europe’s most influential amusement parks, known for its classic steam carousel featuring horses and pigs. Janneke Hogervorst, representing PETA, highlighted Efteling’s pivotal role in setting an example for amusement parks worldwide. Efteling responded to the call with interest, acknowledging the importance of the discussion while remaining non-committal about implementing changes.

U.S. PETA Targets Manufacturers

In the United States, PETA sent a letter to Wichita-based Chance Rides, which manufactures carousels and other amusement rides. In part, the letter stated:

“Carousels unintentionally celebrate the exploitation of sentient beings. Animals used for rides and other forms of entertainment—including camels, horses, elephants, and dolphins—are confined and in servitude, never free to pursue their own lives and interests.”

PETA President Ingrid Newkirk emphasizes the educational impact of play, suggesting that teaching children respect and compassion for all living beings through alternative carousel designs can contribute to a more equitable and compassionate world.

Said Newkirk, “PETA urges Chance Rides and all other carousel manufacturers to hit the brakes on old-fashioned animal-themed rides and embrace designs that engage children’s imagination and showcase human talent.”

PETA Letter to Carousel Manufacturer Chance Rides

Here is the entire letter that PETA sent Aaron Landrum, President and CEO of Chance Rides:

“February 6, 2024

Aaron Landrum
President and CEO
Chance Rides

Dear Mr. Landrum:

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally, including thousands in Kansas, with a suggestion: Would you please end the manufacture and sale of animal-themed carousels and instead exclusively produce figures in the shape of vehicles, such as cars, unicycles, tractors, airplanes, rockets, and bulldozers, that children are drawn to or even more whimsical designs, like shooting stars, rainbows, or brooms? Please allow me to explain what’s behind this perhaps unexpected but important request.

Times change, and our understanding of animals has greatly evolved over the past few decades. Animal-themed carousels unintentionally celebrate the exploitation of sentient beings. Animals used for rides and other forms of entertainment—including camels, horses, elephants, and dolphins—are confined and in servitude, never free to pursue their own lives and interests. They’re also sometimes beaten, tormented, and even slaughtered when their bodies wear out. For instance, PETA Asia’s exposé revealed horrific abuse of camels used for rides in Egypt, showing that these sensitive animals are hit, yanked, tied up, and forced to walk on their knees, all while bloodied and crying out in pain. Another PETA Asia investigation into the use of horses, camels, and donkeys in Petra, Jordan—a popular tourist destination—revealed that animals suffer from untreated sores and lameness and are badly beaten when too exhausted to carry on. Even in this country, horses used for carriage rides are often forced to toil in extreme weather, pulling oversized loads for hours on end, sometimes until they collapse, as indeed they do.

Elephants used for rides are also sorely abused. Babies are taken from their devoted mothers and “broken”—i.e., beaten with bullhooks and other weapons until they become submissive to humans—and the dolphins exploited for entertainment by marine parks have either been violently captured and torn away from their families and ocean homes or bred, often via artificial insemination, and confined to cramped, stress-inducing spaces that often result in diseases, severe frustration, and immense physical and mental suffering.

All animals are thinking, feeling, affectionate, playful, and social beings who form strong bonds with their offspring if permitted to keep them (a rarity). They crave freedom from oppression. Animal-themed carousel sets reinforce the notion that these sentient beings are simply here for our entertainment, rather than individuals with the same capacity to experience fear, pain, joy, and love as any of us.

Deciding to switch away from these figures would send two powerful messages:

Animals are to be respected, not exploited, and companies can and should evolve to keep up with the times. You would join many businesses that have successfully updated their designs to reflect society’s changing perceptions of our relationships with others on the planet. For instance, in 2018, following talks with PETA, Nabisco replaced the more than 100-year-old design of caged animals on its Barnum’s Animals Crackers boxes with imagery of wild animals roaming free. In 2019, after a push from PETA, Trader Joe’s redesigned its Bamba Peanut Snacks, toilet paper, and organic peanut butter packages to no longer include images of elephants performing tricks. And just last winter, after hearing from PETA, Dukal Corporation stopped selling bandages depicting animals in circuses.

Millions of people worldwide are calling for an end to the exploitation of animals in entertainment, including using horses, camels, and others as if they were living taxis. Would you kindly pledge to stop promoting this abuse by no longer producing carousel figures in animal forms? Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid Newkirk
President”

PETA’s initiative has sparked both curiosity and outrage in its target of carousels. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.


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