An UNhappy Hump Day

Handsome Kenny White Tiger with Cancer and deformed from inbreeding

Handsome Kenny White Tiger with Cancer and deformed from inbreeding

By: Danielle White

“Camels will be on the commons on hump day to celebrate Wednesday, brought to you by SGA.”

When I heard that, I thought it had to be a joke. Unfortunately, not. I walked out of the library at about 1pm, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Sure enough I saw two camels being swarmed by Elon students. Being me, I marched straight over to assess the situation. I approached the woman who was holding the leash of one of the camels, and I began asking her some questions.

Some questions you might not have thought to ask (These are from my memory so not exact quotes):

  1. What kind of organization are you? Conservatory? Zoo?
    We travel with our animals to various events. We usually have people ride them, but Elon wasn’t interested in rides.

  2. Why do you have camels?
    My family originally got them when we wanted to do a nativity scene. The person we bought them from (I didn’t catch who) wanted to sell them instead of rent them to us, so we ended up buying them. They are for entertainment purposes.

  3. Where do you get them now?
    We bred them.

  4. What are the facilities?
    We have a farm with various kinds of animals. These camels, horses, miniature horses…

  5. How many acres do you have?
    We had 163, but we just sold off 100. (I think she said they sold them because they are always on the road?)

She kept trying to assure me that they are USDA certified. I can tell you, that did NOT assure me of anything.

Basically, a family of people decided to become a business because they wanted to buy some camels for a nativity one year. It’s a regular farm in the middle of North Carolina. They always come to you. You cannot come visit the animals on their property. They are now breeding them to keep the business going.

I was bombarded with photos of these camels all day, and since I believe in speaking for those who cannot, I wanted to share some thoughts with you.

Animals are not, should not, and can no longer be considered “for entertainment purposes.” We, as a society, need to move away from this ego-centric worldview. Animals in captivity, even those that are treated well, do not have the quality of life that would be afforded them in the wild. Animals are born into the Earth the same as we are, and yet we so easily pass them off as play things, here to entertain and amuse us.

Bringing these animals to our campus is no different than supporting circuses with animal acts, or going to zoos, or visiting places like SeaWorld. I understand it was $1,500 to bring them (information from Elon Local News twitter account). But the amount of money that was spent doesn’t matter. It could have been $2 or $20,000, and the impact would be the same. The treatment of animals in these types of facilitates and for entertainment purposes is poor to say the least. Look it up! Understand where your money is going when you buy tickets for these events. Every dollar you spend is a vote. When you spend money toward animal entertainment like this, you are saying, “Yes. I support the continued awful treatment of these animals, their continued breeding, and the captivity of them for as long as they live (and as short, because animals in captivity die younger than those in the wild).”

I am not saying that if you took a picture with the camels today you are a bad person. I loved the camels too, and I know that every single one of people who took a picture loved them too. I am saying we need to be educated about the impact an event like this has and what it says Elon and the student body accept in regards to the treatment of animals. Get educated, understand the different between conservatory and zoo, bred in captivity and rescued, and plans for release or not.

One student, ONE gave this idea to SGA, and then it was proceeded with. I want to know who made this decision. Whose opinion and permission was given for this event? Did they not think to ask the students if we WANTED this to happen? I never heard about it until the day before. Elon strives to let student opinion be heard. Well, I feel this was a missed opportunity for the voice of those who were unhappy to see these animals carted to our campus. Animal cruelty comes in many forms, some outright, like slashing circus elephants legs to make them move or slaughtering white tigers because they were born with a clef lip or deformed face thanks to inbreeding, or they can be more subtle, like traveling camels across the states for rides and pictures.

They may have only traveled about an hour to get here, in their tiny metal box, but the Carolina Camel Rides website says they go as far as Tennessee and Florida, which could be up to 14 hours away. The quality of life of these camels and other entertainment animals is awful. Some ask, but if they don’t know any better… But guess what? We do. WE know better. Or at least we should. I am asking that we know better for the future. I saw that this was “hopefully going to be an annual event.” Let’s not allow that to happen. Let’s be the educated and compassionate students I know we are and ask SGA and Elon to prevent this from happening again.

As students, we need to stand up and expect better from our university.

Speak for those without a voice.

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17 thoughts on “An UNhappy Hump Day

  1. Hi. I’m an Elon student too and I just wanted to respond to a few things here. First of all, I want to say that I actively support animal rights. As creatures on this planet, animals deserve to be treated better than we treat them. However, I think several of the things you said here that just aren’t accurate. I happen to know several people who work for a circus (I won’t say which one) and the animals are actually treated really well. None of the animals have ever had their legs slashed or been hurt to get them to do anything. In fact, it’s quite the opposite–they are loved and cared for. And as for Kenny the tiger, who I’m assuming is the one that you’re referring to when you say “slaughtering white tigers because they were born with a clef lip or deformed face thanks to inbreeding.” He died of cancer…not because he was “slaughtered.” Now, forcing his parents to mate is absolutely horrible and I would definitely consider it animal cruelty, but I don’t think you have any basis to say that he was slaughtered. I think the argument that animals should not be held in captivity or carted around to schools like Elon for entertainment is completely legitimate and I actually totally agree with it, but before you go making wild accusations about the “torture” and awful quality of life that these animals face, do some research. Because I think that most of the time, these animals actually are treated pretty well (obviously there are plenty of situations where this is not the case, but for the most part, it is). Again, I understand that life in a cage, no matter how well the animals are treated, is no life for them and I believe that they should be free and protected, but be careful not to exaggerate your point to include false stories of animal cruelty just because you think they add emphasis to your message.

  2. A month ago a came across an equally impassioned blog post arguing that raising animals in captivity is vital to conservation efforts and (at least within AZA accredited zoos) generally safe and comfortable for them. Yet, I know this isn’t a universally accepted stance, so after reading this entry I decided to do some research as you suggested.

    I didn’t visit the camels yesterday, but from what I saw online it looked like we got to see one dromedary and one Bactrian camel. Currently, all dromedaries on Earth are domesticated animals. While wild Bactrian camels exist and are critically endangered, they have long been distinct subspecies from the domestic variety and mixing the two is considered unwise. For these animals in particular, lifelong captivity is the only option. Now, that doesn’t mean they have to be driven up and down the coast and exploited as entertainment. Except, I couldn’t find a lot of evidence of farms and rental programs treating them cruelly. The US Humane Society recognizes that camels are threatened by the exotic animal market, but they suggest that handlers licensed by the USDA won’t ‘contribute to animal suffering.’

    Please let me know if I’ve overlooked sources or anything else in my evaluation.

  3. A month ago a came across an equally impassioned blog post arguing that raising animals in captivity is vital to conservation efforts and (at least within AZA accredited zoos) generally safe and comfortable for them. (http://mizzkatonic.tumblr.com/post/78490747045/why-i-believe-in-zoos) Yet, I know this isn’t a universally accepted stance, so after reading this entry I decided to do some research as you suggested.

    I didn’t visit the camels yesterday, but from what I saw online it looked like we got to see one dromedary and one Bactrian camel. Currently, all dromedaries on Earth are domesticated animals. While wild Bactrian camels exist and are critically endangered, they have long been distinct subspecies from the domestic variety and mixing the two is considered unwise. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8151000/8151804.stm) For these animals in particular, lifelong captivity is the only option. Now, that doesn’t mean they have to be driven up and down the coast and exploited as entertainment. Except, I couldn’t find a lot of evidence of farms and rental programs treating them cruelly. The US Humane Society recognizes that camels are threatened by the exotic animal market, but they suggest that handlers licensed by the USDA won’t ‘contribute to animal suffering.’ (http://www.humanesociety.org/news/news/2009/12/omar_camel_nativity_christmas_121709.html)

    Please let me know if I’ve overlooked sources or anything else in my evaluation.

  4. Quite the over reaction here, most if not all of these animals would die if they were released back into the wild, they’re simply not cut out to live in the wild anymore.

    And you state that they’re treated terribly without citing any sources whatsoever, so you just pull claims out of no where instead. YES, animal cruelty does occur, but NO, not every single organization involved with animals is treating them cruelly, and in fact I would say far more treat them humanely than not.

    I saw the trucks and trailers, walked right past them and peered inside in fact, and there is quite a bit of room in that trailer (which is about the size of a semi-trailer) for them to stand up, lay down, or move around if they choose. That, coupled with daily feeding and watering, leads to a pretty cushy life for a camel, an animal that can routinely go 10+ days without water if need be and is routinely used for transportation throughout communities in the Middle East and Africa. Yep, if I was a camel I sure know which one of those choices I would pick.

    Not to mention, camels are actually becoming a problem throughout Australia, where thousands upon thousands are being killed in an attempt to cull the overall herd. Certainly you would support transporting those camels to somewhere they would actually be cared for and desired, no? You are all for the humane treatment of animals after all, and, at least to me, culling thousands of camels doesn’t seem very humane to me, at least compared to moving them to a place where they will be cared for. Yes, one could argue it may be necessary to cull these animals and there is no way around it, as well as the issue of relocating them being extremely cost prohibitive, but these are different conversations for a different day.

    Link, if you would like to read more: http://www.occupyforanimals.org/camel-cull-in-australia.html

    Bottom line, please get your facts straight and do not pull facts out of no where in an attempt to support an argument that is extremely emotionally biased, and instead do some research and come up with a logical, realistic argument to write about in the future, while also representing our university student body that is a group of informed, rational students.

  5. I agree. LINK: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/horse_slaughter/facts/facts_horse_slaughter.html
    “Neither the total number of horse neglect cases nor the percentage of total animal abuse cases classified as horse neglect has risen since the closure of all U.S. horse slaughter plants.”

    LINK: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/abuse_neglect/facts/animal_cruelty_facts_statistics.html#.U1nTkvldWSo

    About race horse abuse… LINK: http://www.animal-rights-action.com/grand-national-horse-race.html
    LINK: http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-in-entertainment/horse-racing-2/

  6. I completely agree! I thought it was a terrible idea and you could tell the poor camels were stressed after a certain point.
    If were to bring animals to campus, it should have been an organization such as sheltered animals or something of the sort to bring to campus. Animals that are meant to be social and around students, such as dogs! If we were to bring dogs or something on campus for students to play with as a stress reliever that would be beneficial not only to students, but also to the these shelters that would be receiving money for funding and helping these animals. Just an idea!

  7. It’s great to see this discussion. As a former Elon employee, my facebook page was covered with images of these camels on Elon’s lawn. Making other animals into subjects for human entertainment, amusement or other purposes (clothing, food, etc.) negates and obscures the value and dignity of life independent of human purposes and interference. It serves the hierarchy of human superiority (speciesism) — which, frankly, has been fairly well (and scientifically) refuted by now. Continue to hold Elon accountable for these decisions that are made with little regard for the Other, decisions that are made solely for the novelty of student amusement.

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