2012

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2010

 

 
 

For immediate release: March 29, 2013

After 500 years, it's time to welcome wild pigs as a native Florida animal
Animal rights group calls on Florida to ban cruel practices

As Florida marks five centuries of European influence, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) is making the case that it's time to welcome wild pigs as a Florida animal.

Although Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon may not have had pigs with him when his ships first landed in Florida in April 1513, it's believed that he brought pigs to Florida on his return trip eight years later. Descendents of these pigs (as well as pigs from Hernando de Soto's 1539 expedition) roam, root and reproduce across Florida today. Florida was likely the first state in the continental United States to have pigs.

"This year there will be events and exhibits celebrating the introduction by the Spanish of horses, cattle and oranges to Florida," said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. "We want to take this opportunity to remind people that pigs have also been in Florida for (almost) 500 years."

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) considers wild pigs, and every plant or animal that "did not historically occur in Florida," to be non-native. This designation may not mean much for cracker horses or oranges, but it has been used as justification for horrible acts of cruelty against wild pigs.

"In Florida hunters use packs of dogs, and primitive weapons like knives and spears, to chase down and kill wild pigs," Anthony said. "Such cruel acts would not be allowed in the pursuit of deer or other 'native' animals in Florida."

ARFF is calling on the FWC to end the use of dogs to hunt wild pigs, prohibit the use of inhumane weapons such as spears and swords, and prohibit castration by hunters of young male pigs without anesthesia.

Visit ARFF's website for more information about wild pigs in Florida.

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For immediate release: March 6, 2013

Hollywood's landmark animal display ban at risk
Bob Barker calls on City of Hollywood to reject proposed changes

(Hollywood) – Famed media personality and long-time animal rights advocate Bob Barker has sent a letter to Mayor Peter Bober and the Hollywood City Commission requesting that proposed changes to the city's landmark animal display ban be rejected. A representative from the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) will attend the March 6 city commission meeting and speak against the proposal to allow animal performances at city sponsored events and during "film, documentary and television productions."

In 1989, Barker wrote to the City of Hollywood in support of an animal display ban, which received final approval in 1990-- the first of its kind in the nation (Lauderdale Lakes, Pompano Beach and Weston have since enacted similar ordinances). The ordinance prohibits the public exhibition of animals for entertainment or amusement.

In his recent letter, Barker wrote, “behind-the-scenes abuse continues, despite the protestations of animal trainers and movie production companies.... Keeping the city of Hollywood’s Animal Display Ban as written is an important step in ending this type of abuse.”

“The abuse and neglect of animals in the entertainment industry is still common,” said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. “Hollywood's landmark display ban provides important protections for animals.”

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For immediate release: January 17, 2013

America's oldest performing elephant?
Animal rights activists plead for retirement of elephant performing at South Florida Fair

(West Palm Beach) – The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) is calling for the retirement of an elderly Asian elephant who will perform at the South Florida Fair beginning January 18.

This year’s fair features “Elephant Encounter,” a show that travels with two elephants owned by Bill Morris of Gibsonton, Florida. ARFF believes that one of the elephants, Cora, is over 60 years old. She may be the oldest elephant still traveling and performing in the United States. Elderly elephants often suffer from arthritis and foot and joint problems that are made worse by confinement.

“Cora has spent more than five decades performing in circuses and at county fairs. She deserves a peaceful retirement,” said Don Anthony, ARFF Communications Director. “We are pleading with Bill Morris and the South Florida Fair to take Cora off the road and allow her to spend her remaining years free from the stresses of traveling and performing.”

Violent, physical abuse remains a common method of training and controlling elephants in circuses and traveling shows. In 2003, Bill Morris was filmed cruelly using a bullhook on Cora (the video is available on ARFF's YouTube page: www.youtube.com/AnimalsFlorida).

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For Immediate Release: December 19, 2012

Hallandale Beach stands up for elephants!
City bans bullhooks and electric prods

(Hallandale Beach) – Tuesday night, December 18, the City of Hallandale Beach joined compassionate cities like Margate, Hollywood, Lauderdale Lakes, Weston and Pompano Beach and will no longer tolerate the abuse of elephants, tigers or other captive circus animals by the use of bullhooks*, electric prods, whips or chains.

While Hollywood, Lauderdale Lakes and Weston have completely banned live animal displays, Pompano Beach, Margate – and now Hallandale Beach – have banned the use of bullhooks or similar devices that circus trainers commonly use against their unwilling performers.

Tuesday night's vote on the ordinance sponsored by Vice Mayor Alexander Lewy was 4-1, with Mayor Joy Cooper casting the only "no" vote.

"It is wrong to use pain and the fear of punishment to control elephants," said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. "Fortunately, an increasing number of zoos, scientists, trainers and animal welfare organizations condemn use of the bullhook in favor of safer and more humane elephant handling methods that rely on positive reinforcement only."

*A bullhook is a weapon, resembling a fireplace poker, that is used to strike, hook, prod and intimidate elephants into obedience. Bullhooks are commonly used by circuses.

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For Immediate Release: July 24, 2012

Animal protection group blasts controversial monkey farm plan for Hendry County, says concerns demand careful, open scrutiny

(Clewiston) -- At the Tuesday, July 24 meeting of the Hendry County Commission, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) will call on commissioners to hold a public hearing on a proposed monkey holding and breeding facility due to serious animal welfare concerns as well as potential negative environmental impacts.

According to the minutes from a June 14 Planning & Zoning Dept. meeting, the facility will be constructed on Wheeler Road, off of State Road 80, near the Hendry/Lee county line.

ARFF believes the company behind the proposal is Chicago-based PreLabs (prelabs.com), a contract research organization. According to information that ARFF has received, if the proposal goes ahead, as many as 3,000 macaque monkeys will be imported from outside the U.S. to stock the Hendry County facility.

"We are asking that Hendry County hold a public hearing to allow local residents the opportunity to comment on this controversial proposal," said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. "If the proposal goes ahead, it will be devastating news for the monkeys who will be shipped to the U.S. and imprisoned to produce offspring who will suffer and die in laboratories. But in addition to our concerns for the welfare of the monkeys, keeping hundreds or thousands of monkeys closely confined on the property may cause groundwater pollution or other environmental problems."

The PreLabs facility would join two other large primate breeding/research facilities in Hendry County. The Mannheimer Foundation's Haman Ranch, on State Road 80, houses more than 2,000 macaque monkeys. Also in Hendry County, over 1,000 monkeys are housed at a facility operated by Primate Products, Inc.

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For Immediate Release: May 2, 2012

Shrine Circus: Clowns and Cruelty
Animal rights activists protest Shriner's use of animal-based circuses

(Fort Myers) – Activists with the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) will protest outside the Florida Shrine Association's 2012 Convention in Fort Myers. Eight Shrine temples in Florida sponsor animal circuses. Each of these temples will be represented at the convention.

Protest Date and Time: Thursday, May 3 at 9:00am
Location: Crowne Plaza Hotel, 13051 Bell Tower Dr., Fort Myers

Animals in the circus live miserable lives of deprivation, confinement and abuse. There are many successful, non-animal fundraisers that Shriners in Florida host each year, such as golf tournaments, pancake breakfasts, auctions and raffles, and the annual Florida Shrine Bowl football game.

“Without the support of the Shriners, it is likely that several notorious circuses would be out of business,” said Don Anthony, ARFF Communications Director. “ARFF is calling on Florida's Shriners to stop supporting the cruelty of the circus.”

Don’t the Shriners help children? Circusgoers are often misled into believing that proceeds from the circus benefit a charitable purpose. The Shriners Hospitals for Children, a separate organization from the Shrine temples, do good work, providing free medical care to needy patients across the country—but less than 2 percent of the hospitals’ budgets come from money raised by Shrine temples. The small print on Shrine circus tickets make it clear that proceeds from the circus fund temple activities, not the hospitals (tickets are not considered charitable contributions).

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For Immediate Release: March 13, 2012

Animal advocates plead with Governor and Senate Sponsor to stop dangerous bill

(Tallahassee) – The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) has sent a letter to Florida Governor Rick Scott urging him to veto House Bill 1197. The bill includes an ill-conceived amendment introduced by State Senator Ellen Bogdanoff that would repeal an existing state law (828.161) that prohibits the dyeing or coloring of rabbits, chickens and other animals. The law also makes it unlawful to sell or give away baby chickens or ducklings under 4 weeks of age or rabbits under 2 months of age.

ARFF has also contacted Sen. Bogdanoff urging her to withdraw her support of the bill. In the letter to Sen. Bogdanoff, ARFF President Nanci Alexander wrote: "Since your office has stated you had no idea of the consequences of this amendment, I respectfully request that you redeem yourself by asking the governor not to sign the bill as is."

Bunnies, chicks or ducklings are often purchased on a whim by people unaware of the time and expense that is required to properly care for them. Allowing the coloring of animals, and the sale of baby animals, makes it more likely that the animals will be neglected or abandoned.

"We are disappointed that before Sen. Bogdanoff added this amendment, she failed to consult veterinarians, animal welfare organizations and enforcement agencies, the Wildlife Care Center, or the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida," said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. "All would have told her that such a proposal would be irresponsible."

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For Immediate Release: January 30, 2012

Animal advocates remember Janet the elephant
20th anniversary of tragic killing of circus elephant

(Palm Bay) – 20 years after the tragic killing of a circus elephant, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) is remembering an incident that made national headlines and was one of several similar incidents that motivated a generation of animal advocates to speak up against the cruelty of traveling circuses.

On February 1, 1992, a few minutes before a Saturday afternoon performance of the Great American Circus, a 27-year-old Asian elephant named “Janet” (aka Kelly) was giving rides when she suddenly bolted with an adult and several children on her back. Unable to stop the elephant as she rampaged through the circus grounds, police officers had no choice but to shoot the elephant. Janet was shot dozens of times before she finally died. Twelve spectators and a police officer were treated for minor injuries. Amateur video of the rampage was broadcast nationally.

Following the incident, elephant trainer Tim Frisco was charged by state wildlife officials with maintaining wildlife in an unsafe manner. (Frisco, who was later acquitted of two misdemeanor charges, is still handling circus elephants and is a regular visitor to Florida.) One of the police officers at the scene, Blayne Doyle said later: "I think these elephants are trying to tell us that zoos and circuses are not what God created them for. But we have not been listening." Janet was buried at a Brevard County landfill.

"The killing of Janet was a wake up call for many about the sad lives and cruel treatment suffered by animals in the circus," said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony, "This sad anniversary is a reminder of why elephants should not be in traveling circuses."

Since that horrible day twenty years ago, there has been growing awareness and concern about the treatment of elephants and other animals in the circus. A growing number of cities—including the Florida cities of Margate, Pompano Beach, Weston, Lauderdale Lakes and Hollywood—have restricted or banned circuses. Elephant rides are prohibited in Martin County.

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For Immediate Release: January 3, 2012

Wild monkeys from Silver River trapped & sold to research labs?!

(Ocala) – Over the years, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) has heard from local residents concerned about the trapping of wild monkeys along the Silver River in Marion County. Rhesus monkeys have lived along the river since the 1930s. The monkeys are appreciated by tourists, but they are considered nonnative and the infrequent trapping is done with the approval of Florida State Parks and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Although there have been past reports that trapped monkeys were sold into the research industry, recently a tipster provided information to ARFF that strongly suggests a laboratory cage is the likely destination for monkeys leaving Marion County this week.

According to the anonymous tip, monkeys who had been trapped along the Silver River will be delivered to a laboratory animal supplier in an early morning transaction in Ocala.

• At approx. 7:30am on Wednesday, January 4, a truck from Hoover’s Transport* will meet Scott Cheslak, an individual with a long history in trapping wild monkeys, in the parking lot of the Days Inn in Silver Springs. Upon loading an unknown number of monkeys into the Hoover’s Transport truck, the monkeys will be delivered to a facility in Kaiser, Missouri owned by Three Springs Scientific, a supplier of monkeys for use in experimentation and testing.

Upon investigating, ARFF confirmed that Mr. Cheslak is a guest at the Days Inn in Silver Springs, and that a truck from Hoover’s Transport is on its way to Florida.

“It is a tragedy that wild monkeys from Marion County are being trapped and sold to research and testing laboratories, where pain and suffering are routine,” said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. “The Silver River should be known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities, not as a supplier of animals for research. We are calling on state and local governments to intervene to stop this week’s shipment.”

*Hoover’s Transport is a Texas-based company that specializes in moving animals between suppliers and laboratories. Scott Cheslak is the former (current?) manager of a colony of free-ranging monkeys on Morgan Island, South Carolina that for many years has been a source of animals for the research industry.

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For Immediate Release: December 14, 2011

Margate bans bullhooks and electric prods!
Circuses may no longer bring weapons of torture to Margate

(Margate) – Wednesday night, December 14, the City of Margate joined compassionate cities like Hollywood, Lauderdale Lakes, Weston and Pompano Beach and will no longer tolerate the abuse of elephants, tigers or other captive circus animals by the use of bullhooks, electric prods, whips or chains.

While Hollywood, Lauderdale Lakes and Weston have completely banned live animal displays, Pompano Beach – and now the City of Margate – have banned the use of bullhooks or similar devices that circus trainers commonly use against their unwilling performers.

ARFF's Communications Director, as well as over a dozen local activists, attended a recent meeting of the Margate City Commission. The commissioners listened intently to what each speaker had to say, and they appeared to have been taken aback when one speaker held up a laptop computer showing a 2-minute undercover video of violent elephant training. ARFF mentioned that the Cole Bros. Circus, which performed in Margate in November, has racked up many USDA violations for animal abuse, improper veterinary care, improper animal handling and inexperienced animal handlers. This year the circus was fined $150,000 for violating the Endangered Species Act.

"Although the mayor and commissioners chose not to ban the circus outright, they did write an ordinance banning the weapons of torture that animal trainers consider to be 'standard equipment,'" said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony.

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For Immediate Release: August 8, 2011

Airlines cut ties with cruel international primate trade

(Miami) – The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) is celebrating commitments by two airlines that provide cargo services at Miami International Airport to stop transporting non-human primates destined for the research industry.

In a letter received by ARFF on August 5, Surinam Airways President E.M. Henshuys promised, "Suriname Airways will not accept non-human primates for transportation destined for the research industry."

Caribbean Airlines, a target of a letter-writing campaign by ARFF, recently updated its website with the following statement: "Caribbean Airlines will not accept primates used for laboratory research experimentation and exploitation purposes."

Both airlines have transported primates for the research industry in recent years. Miami is a major port of entry for primate imports into the United States (after Los Angeles, Chicago and New York).

"We congratulate Caribbean Airlines and Surinam Airways for taking this important and compassionate stand against the cruel international primate trade," said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony.

The two airlines join a growing list of airlines that will not transport primates for the research industry. In July, American Airlines clarified its policy on transporting non-human primates to ban the acceptance of monkeys intended for laboratory experimentation. Since the beginning of the year, three Florida-based airlines– Monarch Air Group, IBC Airways and Amerijet International– have made similar commitments.

Other airlines that have made this compassionate decision include leading cargo airlines such as Lufthansa Cargo, Cargolux and DHL Aviation, as well as the major airlines Delta Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, British Airways, El Al and Korean Air.

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For Immediate Release: July 28, 2011

Bipartisan outrage at Primate Products, government waste

(Washington, DC) – Demonstrating that there are still issues that Republicans and Democrats can agree on, Florida Congressmen Connie Mack (R-FL 14), Ted Deutch (D-FL 19) and Alcee Hastings (D-FL 23) have sent letters* to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, urging a thorough review of five contracts awarded under the federal stimulus program to Primate Products, Inc., a Miami-based importer of monkeys for use in experimentation and testing.

In their letter, Congressmen Deutch and Hastings asked for an immediate suspension of the contracts, pending results of a U.S. Department of Agriculture investigation into possible violations of the Animal Welfare Act by Primate Products. (The USDA opened an investigation in August 2010, after disturbing photographs taken inside Primate Products surfaced that show monkeys with serious injuries and crude surgical mutilations.)

"Regardless of how you feel about the federal stimulus bill, you should be angry that one of the federal government's responses to an economic crisis is to support cruel, wasteful animal research," said Don Anthony, ARFF's Communications Director.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, approved by Congress in February 2009, provided billions of dollars to federal agencies to distribute. The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded 933 contracts, grants and loans in Florida. Five of those contracts, totaling over $1.5 million, were awarded to Primate Products, Inc. to acquire, house and transport monkeys.

For example, Primate Products was awarded a $351,800 contract in September 2010 to provide 72 macaque monkeys from the Philippines to the NIH's Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana. As of March 31, the animals had arrived in the USA and cleared quarantine, but had not yet been shipped to Montana.

Also in September 2010, Primate Products was awarded a contract worth $185,760 to provide 18 macaque monkeys, six African green monkeys, six squirrel monkeys and six marmosets to laboratories at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland.

*The letters are available to download at the following links:
• July 26, 2011 letter from Reps. Ted Deutch and Alcee Hastings (download here)
• July 19, 2011 letter from Rep. Connie Mack (download here)

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For Immediate Release: July 25, 2011

Gov. Scott urged to name a birdwatcher to wildlife commission

(Tallahassee) – The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) has faxed a letter to Governor Rick Scott urging him to appoint a birdwatcher to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) as a replacement for Commissioner Rodney Barreto whose term expires August 1.

"Birdwatching has a much greater economic impact in Florida than hunting," said Don Anthony, ARFF's Communications Director, "We're hoping that Governor Scott will appoint someone who is more comfortable with binoculars than a rifle."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission should be representative of the interests of all Floridians. Unfortunately, each of the FWC's current Commissioners boast about their hunting and fishing backgrounds.

According to the FWC's own numbers, "wildlife viewing" has a much greater economic impact in Florida than hunting. Birdwatching generates more retail sales, state and local taxes, and supports more jobs than hunting.

As hunting continues to decline in Florida, the FWC must change its focus and serve the majority of Floridians who do not need to kill animals to enjoy the outdoors.

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For Immediate Release: July 1, 2011

Miss Florida USA pageant goes fur-free!

(Davie) – After several years of campaigning against the cruelty and ugliness of the fur industry, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) has received confirmation from Pageant Director Grant Gravitt that fur will not be included in this year's Miss Florida USA pageant.

The Fur Information Council of America, an industry trade group, has been a sponsor of the Miss Florida USA pageant for many years. Each year since at least 1999, a full-length mink coat has been awarded to the pageant winner.

ARFF has held protests outside the pageant finals each year since 2008. Bob Barker, TV personality and former host of the national Miss USA pageant, sent a letter to pageant organizers in 2009 requesting an end to Miss Florida USA's association with the fur industry.

"The cruelty of fur has no place in a beauty pageant," said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. "We are very happy that Miss Florida USA will no longer be associated with this brutal trade. We wish the pageant, and all of this year's beautiful contestants, success!"

The 2012 Miss Florida USA Pageant will take place July 15-16 in Davie, Florida.

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For Immediate Release: June 13, 2011

Another South Florida airline cuts ties with cruel primate trade

(Fort Lauderdale) – In a brief statement received today by the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, Fort Lauderdale-based Monarch Air Group made a commitment to stop the transport of non-human primates.

On June 2, a Monarch Air Group plane arrived from the Caribbean island of St. Kitts at Miami International Airport. The charter cargo flight carried a group of wild-caught African green monkeys. Upon arrival in Miami, the monkeys were driven to Primate Products, Inc., a company that sells primates to research laboratories.

After documenting the arrival of the Monarch Air Group flight, ARFF urged its supporters to contact Monarch Air Group and ask the company to refuse to transport monkeys destined for the research industry in the future.

There are an increasing number of airlines that were once carriers of primates, but which now refuse to transport primates for the research industry. In February 2011, in a letter to the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, Amerijet International stated that it had ceased transporting primates "for any and all purposes." Last month, another Florida-based airline, IBC Airways, made a similar commitment. Other airlines that have made this compassionate decision include leading cargo airlines such as Lufthansa Cargo, Cargolux and DHL Aviation, as well as the major airlines Delta Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, British Airways, El Al and Korean Air.

"First Amerijet, then IBC Airways, and today Monarch Air Group. It should be clear by now to cargo airlines that monkeys are controversial cargo best to be avoided," said Don Anthony, ARFF's Communications Director.

ARFF congratulates Monarch Air Group for taking this important and compassionate stand against the cruel primate trade.

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For Immediate Release: May 27, 2011

Governor's veto deals setback to alligator industry

(Tallahassee) – Florida Governor Rick Scott is not exactly a friend of alligators. He is known to wear cowboy boots made of alligator skin, and last month during a visit to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in Tallahassee he said that alligators were his least favorite animal. He added, “I’ve never shot an alligator but I’m receptive to that.”

But yesterday he redeemed himself a little in the eyes of Florida's official state reptile. Before signing the 2011-12 state budget, Governor Scott vetoed $150,000 that was budgeted for “Alligator Marketing and Education.”

The money was to be used to promote alligator meat, leather and other by-products. In 2010, the budget item paid for a booth at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival where alligator meat samples were distributed to attendees. The money has also helped gator farmers attend trade shows around the world to push alligator meat and leather goods.

“We’re happy that Governor Scott recognizes that in a very difficult budget year, marketing the meat and skin of alligators killed in Florida is not a priority for the State of Florida,” said Don Anthony, ARFF’s Communications Director. “Among the many difficult decisions the Governor had to make for the coming budget year, this veto was easy.”

The veto is more bad news for an industry that has seen the value of alligator hides dramatically decline, but it's good news for the many thousands of alligators who are cruelly killed each year on alligator farms and during Florida’s public hunt.

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For Immediate Release: March 4, 2011

From Zimbabwe to Daytona Beach: Tragic life of Nosey the elephant

(Daytona Beach) – A 29-year-old female African elephant named "Nosey" will appear with the Piccadilly Circus, March 5, at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach.

It would be hard to find an elephant in Florida with a story quite like Nosey's.

In 1984 an eccentric millionaire named Arthur Jones, who made his fortune from the Nautilus exercise machine company, flew 63 baby elephants on his 707 jet from Zimbabwe to his private airfield in Ocala, Florida. The round-up and harrowing 22-hour flight was the subject of a story on ABC's 20/20 called "The Flying Elephants" (available on YouTube).

At the time, Mr. Jones said he was saving the elephants from being culled, although that is debatable. But regardless of his intentions, things did not turn out well for the elephants.

In 1986, the group of young elephants began to be split up. Many were sold to an animal dealer, who in turn sold elephants to circuses. Two of the elephants were sold to circus owner Hugo Liebel. One died after only a few months at Liebel's property in Davenport, Florida. The other elephant was Nosey.

Today, approximately 20 elephants from the original group who were imported from Zimbabwe are still alive. They can be found at zoos and sanctuaries across North America.

Nosey is the only surviving elephant currently with a circus. To add to the tragedy, Nosey is forced to live alone, traveling the country with disreputable circuses.

In recent years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has repeatedly cited Hugo Liebel for deficiencies regarding his care of animals. For example, during inspections in April and June 2009, the USDA found Nosey tethered by chains so tightly that she was unable to stand normally or make any movements forward or backward. ARFF has urged the USDA to take immediate steps to protect Nosey (USDA has the authority to suspend Liebel’s license and/or confiscate animals).

"Nosey is suffering in the circus. It is long past time for Nosey to be retired to a sanctuary," said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. "Nosey deserves freedom from constant travel and mistreatment, and an opportunity to socialize and build relationships with other elephants."

The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida is planning protests at several performances of the Piccadilly Circus in Florida during February and March.

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For Immediate Release: February 14, 2011

Victory! Amerijet stops transporting primates

(Fort Lauderdale) – In a one-sentence letter received earlier today, Amerijet International CEO David G. Bassett confirmed that the airline had stopped transporting primates:

"This letter on behalf of Amerijet International, Inc. is intended to confirm that, as stated on our website, Amerijet has ceased transporting primates for any and all purposes."

The letter follows a five month letter-writing campaign by the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF), and numerous protests by local animal advocates.

In an initial letter to the Fort Lauderdale-based airline in October 2010, ARFF pointed out that many airlines that were once carriers of primates now refuse to transport primates for the research industry. Airlines that have made this decision include leading cargo airlines such as Lufthansa Cargo and DHL Aviation, as well as the major airlines Delta Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, British Airways, El Al and Korean Air.

“We are thrilled to be able to add Amerijet International to the list of companies that have made the compassionate decision to dissociate themselves from the cruelty and suffering of the international trade in primates,” said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony.

In 2010, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service records, 158 primates were imported into the United States from the Caribbean islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis. Amerijet is currently the only provider of air cargo services for the islands. Amerijet has been shipping primates from Saint Kitts since at least 1999. The shipments were for companies, such as Miami-based Primate Products, Inc. and Worldwide Primates, that sell animals to laboratories.

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For Immediate Release: December 3, 2010

Animal advocates object to West Palm Beach’s “month long holiday celebrating the circus”

(West Palm Beach) – The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) has sent a letter to the West Palm Beach City Commission, expressing disappointment that the city has chosen to work closely with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In particular, ARFF asked commissioners not to allow elephants or other exotic animals at the new Waterfront during a circus “preview event” on December 17.

“The City of West Palm Beach has gone far beyond any other Florida city that will host Ringling Bros. this winter,” said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. “We are shocked that the city has chosen to align itself with Ringling Bros., a circus that has a long history of abusive treatment of elephants and other animals.”

In its letter to the city, ARFF included copies of alarming photographs from elephant training sessions that were published in the Washington Post in December 2009. The photos, taken by a former elephant handler at Ringling’s breeding farm in central Florida, document how trainers forcibly separate elephant calves from their mothers, and cruelly force baby elephants to learn tricks using ropes and bullhooks.

“Animals in circuses live miserable lives of deprivation, confinement and abuse,” added Don Anthony.

ARFF, joined by several of its members from West Palm Beach, will speak out against the circus at the December 13 meeting of the West Palm Beach City Commission. If the December 17 event goes forward with elephants, ARFF intends to hold a demonstration at the Waterfront.

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For Immediate Release: August 30, 2010

ARFF demands USDA investigation into disturbing photos of monkeys mutilated in lab

(Miami) –The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture requesting an immediate investigation into disturbing photographs that appear to show monkeys with serious injuries and crude surgical mutilations, allegedly at Primate Products, Inc. (7780 NW 53rd Street, Miami), an importer of monkeys for use in experimentation and testing. The company also manufactures steel cages and devices used for restraining monkeys used in testing.

The photographs show monkeys with scars and open wounds on their heads and necks who appear to have undergone numerous crude surgeries to remove large portions of their scalps and expose their skulls. Some animals had lesions on their faces and limbs, as well. The photographs surfaced late last week on the Internet and the source is unknown.

Primate Products, Inc. sells monkeys for use in experiments to universities, the U.S. military and to pharmaceutical and contract testing companies. So far in 2010, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service records, Primate Products has imported 240 monkeys (crab-eating macaques) from China to be sold for experiments.

“The disturbing photographs provide a rare glimpse inside the nightmarish animal testing industry,” said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. “We are asking the USDA to open an investigation into this cruelty and to what may be violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.”

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For Immediate Release: June 24, 2010

Did Charlie Crist save Florida from Mega Python?
Animal rights group intrigued, concerned by Syfy channel movie

(Fort Lauderdale) – Today, news broke that the Syfy cable television channel is working on a new, made-for-TV movie entitled "Mega Python vs. Gatoroid," starring 1980s pop-stars Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the plot centers around Gibson who plays "a fanatical animal-rights activist who frees illegally imported exotic snakes from pet stores, sending them into the Everglades, where they grow to mega sizes," and Tiffany who plays an "overzealous" park ranger.

The Syfy channel is increasingly known for over-the-top comedy/horror movies, such as "Dinocroc vs. Supergator," "Mega Piranha" and "Sharks in Venice." Dare we say, the movies are not to be taken too seriously? Still, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) wants to make it clear that the idea of an animal rights activist intentionally releasing non-native snakes into the wild in Florida is about as farfetched as sharks eating tourists in the canals of Venice.

"As much as the idea of a large snake condemned to spend their entire life in a glass case makes our blood boil, we would never release a non-native snake into the Everglades," said Don Anthony, ARFF Communications Director. "Fortunately, thanks to legislation recently signed by Gov. Crist, Debbie Gibson will no longer find large pythons in pet stores in Florida."

On June 3, Governor Charlie Crist signed into law Senate Bill 318. The bill will stop the breeding, sale and trade of Burmese pythons, African rock pythons, anaconda and Nile monitors, among other "reptiles of concern" in Florida. The bill takes effect July 1.

"Regardless of whether or not the film accurately portrays Floridians who care about animals, it may do some good," suggested Mr. Anthony. "If the idea of a pet snake becoming Mega Python discourages someone from dumping their snake in the Everglades, that's a good thing."

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For Immediate Release: May 27, 2010

Circus elephant abuse caught on camera

(Inverness) – The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) has received disturbing video filmed by an audience member during a performance of the Carson & Barnes Circus at the Citrus County Fairgrounds in Inverness on May 18. The video shows elephant handler Chip Arthur striking an elephant in the trunk with a bullhook—a tool that resembles a fireplace poker with a sharp steel hook at the end—and then hooking the elephant under her chin.

The video can be viewed on ARFF's YouTube page: www.youtube.com/AnimalsFlorida

In light of the shocking footage, ARFF has sent letters to animal control departments in St. Johns County, Putnam County and Clay County, urging close monitoring of the treatment of elephants when the circus performs in their communities later this week.

“Physical abuse of animals in the circus is not uncommon,” said Nick Atwood, ARFF's Campaigns Coordinator. “What is unusual is for an audience member to capture it on camera. The bullhook's sole purpose is to inflict pain on elephants in order to control them and force them to comply with commands. Trainers are known to use the bullhook against sensitive spots on the elephant's body, and that's exactly what you see in this video."

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For Immediate Release: March 5, 2010

Animal advocates mark 20th anniversary of "Bangkok Six" affair

(Miami) – The story that would become known as the "Bangkok six" affair began with a phone call:

"On 20 February 1990 I received a phone-call from Leonie Vejjajiva, then with the Wildlife Rescue Foundation of Thailand, telling me that six baby orangutans and two siamangs had been confiscated at Bangkok Airport and that help was needed with their care. Smugglers had stuffed them into crates labeled 'Birds' and shipped them to Bangkok for onward transit to Belgrade in then Yugoslavia, with the final destination being Russia."
   – Dr. Shirley McGreal, Chairwoman, International Primate Protection League

Four of the six babies, three of whom had been shipped upside-down, died.

Matthew Block, president of Miami-based Worldwide Primates, Inc., was soon identified as a member of the smuggling ring.

The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF), determined to bring Block to justice, held demonstrations outside Worldwide Primates and at the steps of the federal courthouse in Miami. ARFF President Nanci Alexander and other local animal advocates attended Block’s court appearances. The case also drew international attention. Prince Philip of England and Dr. Jane Goodall spoke out on behalf of the orangutans.

The outcry from animal advocates was credited with persuading the late Judge James Kehoe to reject a government-arranged plea agreement and instead, in 1992, sentence Matthew Block to 13 months in prison. Following his felony conviction, Block transferred Worldwide Primate Inc.’s import license into his mother and spouse’s names.

"The Bangkok Six case highlighted South Florida's role in the global illegal wildlife trade," said ARFF President Nanci Alexander. "Matthew Block brokered a deal that left endangered orangutans dead; 20 years later the Block family remains one of the largest importers of primates for scientific research."

In 2009, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service records, Worldwide Primates, Inc. imported over 1,000 primates—crab-eating macaques, rhesus macaques and other monkeys—from China, Mauritius and elsewhere, to be bred and sold for scientific research.

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For Immediate Release: February 12, 2010

Flea Market: No More Monkey Business
North Lake Flea Market decides against the circus

(Fruitland Park) – One year after a spider monkey escaped from his cage before a performance of the Liebling Bros. Circus at the North Lake Flea Market in Fruitland Park, the owner of the flea market has decided not to invite the circus back. Following the March 13, 2009 escape, “Reggie” the monkey enjoyed his freedom in the wilds of Lake County for one month before being recaptured.

The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) recently contacted the North Lake Flea Market and learned that, “after reviewing the information that was presented to him, [President Bill Cauthen] decided not to have the circus back.”

The Liebling Bros. Circus is a small circus that travels with one female African elephant, two monkeys and a few horses. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has repeatedly cited the Liebling Bros. Circus for deficiencies regarding its animals. In June 2009 a USDA inspector visited the circus during a stop in South Carolina and found that the monkeys lived in a barren physical environment that lacked required environmental enrichments. The inspector also described as, “dangerous for the public and the animal,” a circus act in which one monkey enters the audience to grab bags of cotton candy from children, and noted, “cotton candy is not an appropriate food for spider monkeys.” During the inspection, the circus was also cited for leaving a monkey unattended and tethered on a pony’s back for an hour.

“We're thrilled at the decision by Mr. Cauthen,” said Carla Wilson, ARFF Coordinator. “We know that he heard from many Floridians concerned about Reggie and the other animals in the circus.”

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