Primate Products, a laboratory animal supplier in Immokalee, has filed a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in an attempt to prevent the release of health certificates and other records its claims contain “trade secrets.” Curiously, in the lawsuit Primate Products claims that it first learned the department was keeping copies of the certificates in December 2014. That was the month that ARFF released our latest summary of Primate Products customers, which we compiled from records received from the Department of Agriculture in response to a public records request. It is curious because ARFF released similar summaries in 2013, 2012 and 2011. (ARFF is not mentioned in the lawsuit.)
We hope that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will vigorously defend itself against Primate Products’ lawsuit, and defend the public’s right of access to governmental records.
For many years, ARFF has called for the retirement of Cora, an Asian elephant owned by Bill Morris of Gibsonton, Florida. ARFF believes that Cora is over 60 years old. She may be the oldest elephant still traveling and performing in the country. The below photo is of Cora at this year’s Collier County Fair in Naples. The fair ended on Sunday, March 27. According to reports, Bill Morris died on Sunday. It is not known what his death will mean for Cora.
Two Shrine temples in Florida that have sponsored annual circuses for many, many years are responding to declining membership and revenues by putting their properties up for sale. Orlando’s Bahia Shriners and the Amara Shriners of Palm Beach Gardens have both listed their building and property for sale.
The Bahia Shriners have come to the conclusion that their building is too big. A resolution adopted in November explained, “The membership has declined over the years and the dues cannot support the operations of the building.” The potential sale of the Amara Shriners’ large grass lot next to their temple building is especially encouraging, since the lot was used each year by the circus to set up its big top. ARFF is hopeful that the temple will not host a circus in 2016.
The fraternal organization needs to improve its image and attract new members. Getting rid of cruel animal circuses would be a good step toward turning around a struggling organization.
For Immediate Release: January 8, 2016
(Miami) – Activists with the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) will work to educate the public about the cruelty of the circus on opening night of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Miami. A large turnout is expected. To coincide with ARFF’s protests, advertisements on 20 local taxi cabs will draw attention to Ringling’s cruel training of baby elephants.
WHAT: Circus protest
WHEN: Friday, January 8, beginning at 6:00pm
WHERE: American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
In March 2015, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced that it would retire its elephants from circus performances by 2018. ARFF is calling for Ringling to immediately retire its elephants and to eliminate ALL animal acts.
“Ringling Bros. has recognized that the public is turning away from cruel animal acts,” said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. “Unfortunately, Ringling Bros. is delaying taking elephants off the road until 2018 and will continue to transport elephants, tigers and other wild animals thousands of miles chained in boxcars and stuffed inside transport cages, and to force animals to perform unnatural tricks on demand.”
Ringling Bros. has a long history of poor animal care. In 2011, Ringling Bros. paid a $270,000 fine to the USDA to settle allegations that it violated animal welfare laws in its handling of elephants, tigers and other animals. The fine was the largest ever against a circus! The alleged violations include elephants forced to perform when they were sick.
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This week The Florida Times-Union profiled the St. Augustine Wild Reserve, a nonprofit wildlife sanctuary. Its founder Deborah Warrick spoke to the paper about two male ligers, who arrived at the sanctuary from The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.). “They were no longer needed for the shows, so they gave them to us,” Warrick said.
T.I.G.E.R.S., which produces exploitive animal shows at Jungle Island in Miami, is known for its irresponsible breeding of animals such as white tigers and “ligers” (tiger/lion hybrids). In 2014 they made a big deal about the birth of a litter of ligers. Sadly, it appears that once the animals got too large to be used in money-making shows and photo-ops, they were discarded.
Warrick also mentioned the health problems that many hybrid big cats suffer from: “You can see when they walk that they have bad hips. It’s just not a good thing to do, to produce a hybrid like this.”