The U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) is responsible for adopting and implementing new regulations to protect
animals, yet even though the United States Animal Health Association
(USAHA)—one of the foremost organizations in the country aiming to prevent, control,
and eliminate disease—recommended increased precautions regarding elephants
with tuberculosis (TB) in 2010, the
USDA has failed to adopt them. As a direct result, TB-positive elephants are
currently crisscrossing the country and being forced to perform in circuses
despite their fragile health and the very real risks of transmission to humans
and other elephants.

 The Elephant Tuberculosis Subcommittee of
the USAHA is charged with developing and recommending science-based resolutions
and regulations regarding TB in elephants. In 2010, it released updated
guidelines on disease management and animal care. Its report divides elephants
into four groups depending on their history with the disease and, for each,
proposes treatments, travel restrictions, and, among other things, how
frequently animals should be tested. The subcommittee also advocates that “minimizing or eliminating contact with the
public” be considered where transmission is possible.

According to a November 2010 USAHA
resolution, the
USDA expressed its intent to adopt the updated standards—yet, to date, no
action in this direction has been taken, presumably because of intense pressure from those like Ringling that
profit off of the exploitation of animals.

State governments and other
enforcement officials look to the USDA to make decisions about these matters,
and it is now up to the public to urge the USDA to adopt the recommendations
for the control of TB in elephants without delay. As explained in a 2011 Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention
report, direct contact with a TB-positive elephant is not necessary for transmission of the disease to humans. Indeed, tuberculosis carried by an elephant was
recently linked to an outbreak in Tennessee among nine humans, some of whom had had no direct contact with the

But instead of removing TB-positive
elephants from the road as the USAHA recommends, Ringling and other circuses keep
them on the road and force them to undergo treatment while traveling and
performing, putting others at risk. The effectiveness of this treatment, which can
be physically exhausting and last well over nine months, is unknown. And for
elephants who are already kept chained inside filthy,
poorly ventilated boxcars for an average of more than 26 straight hours—and up
to 100 hours at a time—it can be unfathomably brutal.

The circus will continue these cruel and
dangerous practices until forced to do otherwise by the USDA. Please take a moment now to urge the USDA
to do the most compassionate thing and to protect public health by adopting the
USAHA’s updated 2010 elephant TB guidelines without further delay.
free to use the sample letter below, but personalization ensures that your
communication will be read. Public comments are highly regarded, and officials
listen to them when making decisions, so please forward this alert to anyone
who cares about animal welfare or public health!

polite comments to:

Chester A. Gipson, D.V.M.
Deputy Administrator
USDA-APHIS-Animal Care

Gregory Parham, D.V.M.

Tom Vilsack
of Agriculture

We encourage you to use your own words, but feel free to use this sample letter.

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Article source: PETA Action Alerts

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