The following exposé is a factual accounting compiled by a Cavalry Group member, supporter, and concerned industry participant who wishes to remain anonymous.
AZA and PETA:
The Politics of Appeasement
The history of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the zoo industry is extensive and highly adversarial. An appropriate treatment of this topic would be voluminous. This is focused on PETA’s current activities regarding the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and the AZA’s current strategy regarding PETA.
Given PETA’s prolific anti-zoo history, outrageous behavior, and consistent lack of scruples, it should be apparent to anyone in the zoo industry that an AZA/PETA collaboration is dangerous, short-sighted, and naïve. One only need look at their current messaging regarding zoos to appreciate that PETA has no interest in the long-term survival of the industry. Recklessly facilitating closer ties between PETA and AZA is nothing short of a dereliction of duty by the leadership of the AZA.
Yet, Dan Ashe, CEO of the AZA is doing just that.
Portions of articles are excerpted throughout this document. Full text can be found at the provided links.
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AZA and PETA: The Politics of
10/4/2018 - The Politics of Addition (by Dan Ashe)1
“Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, ‘Politics is human beings; it’s addition rather than subtraction.’
In general, we become stronger as we add others to our community or coalition, and weaker when we subtract or exclude participants. However, how do we work with others, especially when their fundamental values may differ from ours? Should we work with them at all?
Many in our community are voicing their opinions on these topics after seeing, or hearing about a poster by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ annual conference, in Seattle, Wash.
This poster highlighted PETA’s work confronting abuse and neglectful conditions for animals in collaboration with individual AZA members – not AZA itself. However, as I stated during our record-breaking Annual Conference’s general session on Wednesday, I embrace and practice the ‘politics of addition.’ We will work with organizations when our values and objectives align and oppose them when they do not. Some relationships will be more enduring, complete and lasting than others, but none are permanent.
In 1848, England’s Lord Henry John Temple Palmerston said, ‘We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.’
Later, Sir Winston Churchill abbreviated Lord Palmerston’s adage like this, ‘We have no lasting friends, no lasting enemies, only lasting interests.’
We will build relationships and partnerships based upon our lasting interests.
Regarding the specific poster of concern, posters are selected by the conference program committee, which is made up of a diverse assemblage of AZA members from AZA’s committees. The 2018 Program Committee delivered what is, unquestionably, one of the best and most engaging lineups of sessions, speakers, and posters ever assembled for an AZA conference. The individual who presented the PETA poster is, in fact, an AZA individual member, and PETA’s representatives have also attended past conferences and have always acted professionally and respectfully.
Yes, there are some topics about which our organizations disagree. On some, our disagreement is quite strong, and our interests are in diametric opposition. So, that’s why AZA has no ‘partnership’ with PETA. However, that shouldn’t prevent us from working
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with them when we have aligned interests. We both seek to end illegal wildlife trafficking; to eliminate animal abuse and unethical animal attractions; and to teach people to respect and conserve nature.
As U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director (and an avid waterfowl hunter), I had the responsibility to set the annual seasons, limits and conditions that allowed the harvest (i.e., killing) of several million ducks, geese, and doves each year. I oversaw and authorized the import of thousands of hunting trophies annually. PETA strongly opposes all hunting. However, if I could find common cause to work with them to help prevent the poaching of elephants, or trafficking of pangolin, I wouldn’t let their opposition to hunting get in the way. We would, respectfully, agree to disagree about hunting, and get to work saving elephants and pangolin.
It is in our best interest to do the same, using opportunity and ally to advocate for ourselves and our work. When we develop a more positive relationship with diverse audiences – even if they disagree with us on some things – we increase their awareness and understanding of what we do and reduce the potential for them to treat us as adversaries.
Maya Angelou said it best, ‘We do the best we can with what we know, and when we know better, we do better.’
I believe that having people from animal protection groups attend our conference, as long as they are professional and respectful, positions us to know better and hopefully, do better.”
The member and poster Dan is referring to?
“Finding Common Ground in Animal Law: PETA and AZA Member Representative Partnerships” -Delcianna Winders, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Captive Animal Law Enforcement, PETA
See Appendix II for additional information on Winders, her stance against zoos, and the efforts she has made against the zoo industry.
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PETA at the 2018 AZA Conference
Objective:The PETA Foundation’s Captive Animal Law Enforcement (CALE) division partners with experts to confront abusive and neglectful conditions for captive wildlife at unaccredited facilities, including solitary confinement of social animals, barren concrete enclosures, and punishment-induced performances.
Outcomes:With the help of representatives from AZA facilities, CALE:
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In the past 5 years, [AZA] member representative [word cut off] helped CALE relocate: 72 bears, 39 big cats, 4 chimpanzees, 1 elephant
The assistance of outside...critical to CALE’s success...placement
assistance..collaborations are essential...achieving the common...protecting captive wildlife. [words cut off in image]
“I partner with PETA to challenge injurious big cat declawing amputations, cub photo-ops that feed the private trade in big cats, and abusive traveling acts because together we can help put an end to the worst forms of exploitation endured by captive wildlife” - Jay Pratte, Omaha Zoo
“PETA supports the implementation of positive reinforcement training and facilitates the relocation of elephants to more appropriate captive environments. Although we may have different views on some topics, our collaborative experiences have been overwhelmingly positive with outcomes resulting in better lives for elephants” - Margaret Whittaker, Creative Animal Behavior Solutions (CABS) (former director of elephant care at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee)
“I’ve helped PETA with cases involving bears and big cats languishing in the worst-of-the-worst conditions at roadside zoos and am thrilled to be a part of the victories this highly successful team helps secure, including rehoming animals and reforming exhibits.” - Darrien Minier, Oakland Zoo
2 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Wildlife in Need & Wildlife in Deed, Inc., No. 4:17-cv-00186 (S.D.Ind. 2018)
3 Byrd v. Tregembo Animal Park, LLC, No. 17CVD2979 (Dist. Ct., New Hanover County, NC 2017 4 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc,.v. U.S. Dep’t of Interior. No. 01-02299 (D.D.C. 2001)
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Ndume the Gorilla: Unclear Motives
The controversy surrounding the transfer of Ndume from The Gorilla Foundation to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden has been positioned by Dan Ashe as a case of PETA assisting an AZA zoo to move an animal to a better home. The reality of the case is much more complex, and it is yet another example of PETA using the AZA to further its agenda. PETA’s actions are being misinterpreted and misconstrued by AZA as somehow philanthropic.
In fact, PETA is furthering precedents regarding the Endangered Species Act (ESA), animal movement, and their status as experts on these topics. A reading of the related court documents demonstrates a much larger agenda, and it is worth noting that PETA does not recognize AZA zoos or the Cincinnati Zoo as being “good” institutions. Furthermore, PETA’s support of Cincinnati is newfound, as they were calling for the removal of AZA’s accreditation in 2016 following the incident involving Harambe the gorilla.
These inherent contradictions were noted by David Casselman, an attorney who routinely works against AZA members (notably the LA Zoo) and is representing The Gorilla Foundation.
1/21/2019 - Opposition to PETA Amicus Curiae Brief5
The PETA Amicus Curiae brief represents the second half of a coordinated attack on TGF [The Gorilla Foundation] by CZBG [Cincinnati Zoo] and PETA. Both seem driven by a desire to secure press coverage, with far less apparent concern for the true issue in this case, the life and well-being of Ndume. The two entities are working in coordination, with CZBG providing substantive legal arguments, while PETA (who has never observed the TGF facility) seems focused upon efforts to smear TGF.
While PETA is quick to criticize TGF, it notably fails to mention that CZBG has drawn more than its fair share of USDA citations. Plus, the issues the USDA found at CZBG are far more serious than any found at TGF, including failures that directly led to the shooting and death of a gorilla named Harambe. Neither CZBG nor PETA managed to note that PETA repeatedly chastised CZBG regarding dangerous practices endangering the lives of its animals and the public. Indeed, PETA has gone so far as to request that the AZA revoke their membership accreditation.
“Just as the Pittsburgh Zoo recently forfeited its AZA accreditation because the association took a firm stance on its sensible and prudent safety standards, the AZA must reconsider its accreditation of the Cincinnati Zooas long as the zoo continues to allow these dangerous elephant encounters."
5 https://www.pacermonitor.com/public/filings/DAXA3DDY/ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF CINCINNATI v THE GORILLA FOUNDATION et al candce-18-06529 0046.0.pdf
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PETA now tries to justify such CZBG efforts, contrary to its own observations about how they treat gorillas. Why did PETA fail to note its own comments on this issue? They clearly know that zoo gorillas live a miserable existence. Indeed, in one of its own press releases, PETA made it quite clear it knows that zoos such as CZBG, cannot even begin to meet the needs of gorillas.6
"Gorillas are self-aware. They love, laugh, sing, play, and grieve. Western lowland gorillas are gentle animals. They don't attack unless they're provoked. ... Zoos cannot even begin to meet these magnificent animals' complex needs."]
The Ndume situation, specifically PETA’s involvement and “collaboration” with AZA, has become a talking point for Dan.
2/2019 - Attractions Magazine7
While most members of the public support and see the necessity and benet of zoos for wildlife and conservation, others oppose it, calling the practice of keeping animals in captivity unethical. This is a regular challenge faced by Ashe. Based on the words of former US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, who said: “Politics is human beings; it’s an addition rather than subtraction” – Ashe says he practices “the politics of addition,” believing we become stronger as we add others to our community or coalition and weaker when we exclude participants. “When we develop a more positive relationship with diverse audiences – even if they disagree with us on some things – we increase their awareness and understanding of what we do and reduce the potential for them to treat us as adversaries. Recently, we saw the benets of this approach, when PETA supported the Cincinnati Zoo in efforts to rescue a gorilla being held in a solitary ‘sanctuary’. “In that instance, with PETA’s backing, the zoo has led a lawsuit in the federal district court in San Francisco seeking to compel the Gorilla Foundation in California to release the gorilla – Ndume – a gorilla isolated from its own species following the death of his companion Koko. If transferred back to the zoo, he could live in a multigenerational group. The outcome of the case is still to be determined, but it shows a rare collaboration between an anti-zoo group such as PETA with a zoo, with shared interests for the greater good. “It’s in our best interest to work with other organisations on issues in which we both agree, using opportunity and allies to advocate for our work,” Ashe says.
6/14/2019- Walking the Talk of Animal Welfare: The Story of Cincinnati Zoo and Ndume the Gorilla by Dan Ashe8
They say, “If you’re going to talk-the-talk, then be prepared to walk-the-walk.” Talk is cheap and easy, but progress and accomplishment requires investment of talent and treasure, and a willingness to accept the risk of falling short or failure.
8 https://www.aza.org/from-the-desk-of-dan-ashe/posts/cincinnati-zoo-ndume-the-gorilla-and- walking-the-talk
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Honestly, the easiest thing for Cincinnati to do would have been to let Ndume stay at TGF. Just move on. No one would have blamed them. Emboldened by recommendations from AZA’s Taxon Advisory Group and Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) program, and a clear signal of support from animal protection organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), they moved forward.
For their part, PETA joined as an amicus (“friend”) before the court and supported Cincinnati. This combined effort demonstrated to all observers a clear united front on behalf of Ndume between zoological and animal welfare professionals.
My favorite definition of courage is when someone follows their belief and does what they know is right, even when the price may be more than they want to pay.Now that all is said and done, what has been done speaks most loudly.
July 2, 2019
A curated list of reasons why there should be no discussion of “politics of addition” with PETA:
- PETA’s tactics against zoos and aquariums include:
10 https://www.animalactivistwatch.com/peta/peta-may-have-broken-law-by-snooping-on-zoo-court- rules/
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PETA has been identified by the FBI as having known ties to domestic terrorism groups.11
Extensive general information available about PETA:
● https://www.petakillsanimals.com/?fbclid=IwAR0GwAZF5NaYwVLwIqHV4qwN1y-v Oyfx6J5wn7W8TXF_SPHR2GKwxQo0-OU
PETA is fighting a war, while we seek a policy of appeasement. How long do we persist in this failing strategy? How do we move forward when our leaders will not defend and protect the industry?
Do PETA’s Values Align with AZA?
AZA has no “partnership” with PETA. However, that shouldn’t prevent us from working with them when we have aligned interests. We both seek to end illegal wildlife trafficking; to eliminate animal abuse and unethical animal attractions; and to teach people to respect and conserve nature.
- Dan Ashe, 10/4/2018
PETA has an open stance against zoos and aquariums of all types. How can AZA and PETA align if there is disagreement about the entire existence of the AZA’s member institutions? What is AZA without its institutions?
12 https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-in-entertainment/animals-used-entertainment-factsheets/zoos- pitiful-prisons/
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13 https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-in-entertainment/animals-used-entertainment-factsheets/ zoos-pitiful-prisons/
14 https://www facebook.com/official.peta/photos/a.55746449585/10157709822479586/?type=3& xts %5B0%5 D=68.ARBc3NjO-yUZ pVY3orqbE-lNEV4SLrLLPSlqF4v3oXD4LFtf6m63DjTs0hOxNlHy6QDWLPyNwza0-Bcl ICkNFs68n7kjrZKL6igXU BVBtrPjtWth1MpOWeI2n-cmhwESUwf9B1t3khcXYqFhdFbsjX6fj1cW Zl6ToMkL hfQVsLF9Rh9N5iHOw9N4-JTxp6D5 4wlvc fT-HXXqRqKxLbXloYpbNe1C3c9KLgJxBAC20sUXe4eyJKTDXe XOsVwZJ79Zm4B7l-N4-8vSGLV uVqxN0ixMym0qvOWFTri1EKU1gWu-rHOOvKAnnnh ZJauBH4bbL08wG1 -fCWn1GhvIHxbieQFCux4wHxWjuTw& tn =-R
15 https://www facebook.com/official.peta/photos/a.55746449585/10157709901079586/?type=3& xts %5B0%5 D=68.ARDVnROmxGTPOTWi MM9GS5BtpebnEsw9JW v53oNqOqjpY15DGid5 hG7CPD8Y7nZ6zp2C6JYaM WD2g7ZVby9AQiWg4aqYrL5LSIbWZuc Fb ZdPz9G O-uBvjVIz2Pi22gm9CL3qyl89fWuZBWwhwFBW0UcP GVDSPOqSNQtvhCZsPQhVH1VTbv 2AsmcgOPfRQAjgnRQ8mcZ6CO1ORZiylWfD7UMXoV3hWlPf6iHH3gY
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l7kBNm7s4KzJR6ZrE2XImOQJs8AV-u2wBRr7WcZifjw5wLFt1Kc9fB18idSDM6GRTLIGjIdn4bK4baLlhmcNzL mV0vjj9TyHsXrWsWIWusmoGFxwimoyCfYWGO7 9& tn =-R
16 https://www.peta.org/media/news-releases/whales-dolphins-want-out-new-ads-take-aim-at-seaworld- san-diego/
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Specieism is a focal point for PETA. What is AZA’s stance? Part of the campaign is a specific anti-SeaWorld call-out. SeaWorld is one of those targeted “unethical animal attractions.” How is AZA addressing that PETA is directly attacking AZA members?
- PETA envisions a future in which sanctuaries replace zoos. What is AZA’s stance on this?
- PETA openly advocates for Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) and “open rescue,” activists forcibly removing animals from facilities. Extremists have repeatedly cut cages and/or stolen animals from AZA institutions. In one instance, an animal rights extremist “liberated” a turtle (Squishy) at the Houston Zoo. Has AZA talked to PETA about open rescue? More importantly, is AZA condemning these thefts?
19 https://www.facebook.com/official.peta/photos/a.55746449585/10157690135859586/?type=3& theater
20 https://www nytimes.com/2015/06/28/nyregion/the-bronx-zoos-loneliest-elephant.html
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[Wayne Hsiung is a co-founder of DxE and the group’s most outspoken leader. He is facing felony charges for multiple open rescues.]
- PETA is actively disrupting member institutions, with protestors engaging in criminal trespass and identifying specific individuals within facilities as targets. Is AZA addressing these tactics, which are likely to escalate?
22 https://www.chron.com/life/article/Animal-bandit-steals-Squishy-turtle-Houston-Zoo- 13903946.php
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[Leo Nardo is the founder of Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION) and is assisting in coordination of Protest SeaWorld NYC]
- PETA is collaborating with groups developed specifically to target member organizations. What is AZA doing about that?
4/2018- Delci Winders was a panelist at the 2018 Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants - Free the Elephants Conference25
“I would be remiss in not acknowledging that in a number of ESA cases on behalf of lions and tigers particularly, sometimes in the case of bears, some individual members from the zoo industry have served as experts in our litigation, have helped with getting animals to sanctuary. So I think there is perhaps some opportunity there.”
24 https://www facebook.com/leo.anguiano.58/posts/10101982218086057
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- PETA is targeting SeaWorld through travel companies in an effort to damage their business. AZA has made statements in SeaWorld’s defense,27 but what else are they doing? What conversations are they having with PETA about actively harming their members?
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- Conservation contributions by zoos are not recognized as meaningful by PETA, nor is the value of captive breeding programs. The group recently condemned artificial insemination techniques as “rape.” Since conservation is AZA’s major focus, how have they addressed these differences in opinions?
28 https://www.facebook.com/official.peta/posts/10157683939279586? xts _
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30 https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-in-entertainment/animals-used-entertainment-factsheets/ zoos-pitiful-prisons/
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PETA is opposed to elephants in zoos. How is AZA addressing this difference in views?
- PETA is actively interfering with animal movement by member facilities. What discussions are happening about that?
2/5/2018- On behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), I submit the following comments in opposition to the Zoological Society of San Diego's ("San Diego") request under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for a permit to import a male elephant calf named Ongard from Zoos Victoria and the Melbourne Zoo to Zoo Miami.34
- PETA’s Website (as of 6/16/2019) is anti-captivity.
● No language regarding AZA/accreditation
● No compromise, no equivocation
34 https://www.peta.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/PETA comments opposing PRT-57017CSubmittedbyZoologicalSocietyofSanDiego.pdf
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Appendix I: PETA and Affiliate Organizations
The concept of the “politics of addition” means that we will suffer from the transitive property - the adverse impact of PETA’s network as the organization gains more knowledge of and access to the zoo industry. What other anti-zoo organizations are part of PETA’s network? What challenges will this present in the future?
A sampling of organizations with anti-zoo activities that collaborate with PETA:
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- Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants (FOZE) Tennessee
- The Elephant Sanctuary
- Friends of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephants
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Appendix II: Delcianna Winders
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Lewis and Clark Law School
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Questions to Consider:
Why is Dan Ashe providing a platform for someone who has made her anti-zoo agenda abundantly clear in the course of her career?
Why is Delci Winders an AZA member and attending conferences if she is in direct violation of member standards?
AZA Code of Conduct38
Areas of possible violation included below
Mandatory Standards (required)
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Conference Participation of Note
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Views on Zoos
Selected quotes from various publications. The full articles are available at the provided links.
8/27/2013 - Isn’t it time to shut our zoos?40 -
Selected portions of editorial by Delci Winders with wide distribution, including Philadelphia Inquirer:
40 https://www.inquirer.com/philly/opinion/20130827 Isn t it time to shut our zoos .html
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6/11/2014 - On Cheyenne Mountain Elephant Transfer41
6/26/2015 - The Bronx Zoo’s Loneliest Elephant42
7/15/2015 - On the Future of Zoos43
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4/2018 - Panelist at Free the Elephants, coordinated by Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants44
9/2018 - Poster Presentation at AZA Conference:
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10/2018 - Dan Ashe’s Explanation: “The Politics of Addition”46
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