Campaigns - Tina, Jewel and Queenie News

Tina, Queenie and emaciated Jewel in serious jeopardy - tell USDA to confiscate them NOW!

jewelTina, Jewel and Queenie are three Asian elephants who have endured a lifetime of abuse in by the circus industry. For years the USDA has stood by and watched as these elephants have been subjected to chronic Animal Welfare Act violations, including abusive and unsafe handling practices, failure to provide adequate medical care to the elephants, and negligent treatment of the animals.

On May 1, 2009, a shockingly emaciated Jewel appeared at the Mehla Shrine Circus in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Along with Tina and Jewel, she was trucked 1,700 miles, a journey that exacted untold stress and suffering on this obviously ailing elephant.  When she arrived, Jewel was so sickly looking that the Massachusetts SPCA advised the Shriners to bar her from performing. As a result, she spent the weekend chained inside the tent.

And now comes even more alarming news. IDA has just received USDA documents indicating that all three elephants have experienced serious weight loss, two for the second time in two years.  Jewel is noted to be “poor body condition and very underweight.”

The USDA has repeatedly cited handler Will Davenport for lacking the training and ability to safely and humanely handle and care for the elephants. Yet the USDA refuses to hold him accountable. Investigations have hit dead ends in the USDA bureaucracy, with no action being taken despite years of well-documented and chronic violations of federal law.

Not only has USDA ignored Davenport's chronic animal welfare violations, but also the agency has allowed this "act" to continue to perform despite the repeated and well-documented public safety transgressions  Not surprisingly, in March 2009, the elephants were involved in an "accident" while giving elephant rides, injuring a dozen children.  

Enough is enough.  IDA has written to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urging him to order the USDA to confiscate these elephants before someone -- elephant or human -- dies.

Please help us ensure that Secretary Vilsack acts by writing and calling your Congressperson and Senators. Ask these officials to contact the USDA and demand that the agency protect Tina, Jewel and Queenie - and the public - by following their own confiscation guidelines and removing them from the hands of the dangerously incompetent Davenport. Please follow your letter with a phone call to insure that your representatives take action on your behalf.

Below is background information to assist you in writing to these officials.  Locate your senators and congressperson via our website. To send an email, visit that official’s home page and use the web form.

Background on Tina, Jewel and Queenie
Tina and Jewel were purchased from Cole Brothers Circus by the notorious Davenport Circus family in January 2006. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has confirmed that the sale of these Asian elephants violated the Endangered Species Act.

By summer 2006, they were on the road, performing with handler Will Davenport were put on the road performing with handler Will Davenport.  Eventually they were joined by a third elephant, Queenie, who has been "owned" by the Davenports for decades.

  • In March 2007, the USDA discovered that Tina and Jewel suffered sudden and dramatic weight loss while under Davenport's care. Fearful that this was the result of tuberculosis or some other chronic, debilitating disease, the USDA at that time insisted that traveling and public contact had to stop, in order “to ensure the health of both elephants and the public.”
  • Despite the failure to reach a diagnosis for these elephants, despite several suspicious TB test results, and despite Davenport’s ongoing refusal to follow any of the USDA’s instructions on caring for the elephants, they were allowed to commence travel and performance again in the fall of 2007.
  • Will Davenport's record of chronic and repeated Animal Welfare Act violations prove that he clearly demonstrate that he is a threat to the lives of the elephants. A recent incident in Indianapolis, in which a dozen children were injured (see News Briefs below), proves the serious threat he presents to public safety, as well. Yet the USDA has done nothing to confiscate Tina, Queenie and Jewel, or revoke Davenport’s license, despite reams of evidence against him.
  • A USDA inspection report dated April 4, 2009 documents that all three elephants have lost significant amounts of weight.  For Tina and Jewel, this is the second time in two years that they have experienced severe weight loss under Davenport's "care." Jewel has lost over 700 pounds and is in “poor body condition and very underweight”. Tina and Queenie have lost over 500 pounds each. Tina and Jewel are below the traveling weights recommended by the veterinary expert on whose recommendation USDA returned the elephants to the road in September 2007. 
  • The severe weight loss in all three elephants again raises the specter of Tuberculosis and contagion between the elephants and possibly to the public.
  • On May 1, 2009, IDA discovered all three elephants at the Melha Shrine Circus in Springfield, MA, a destination to which they had been trucked 1,700 miles from their home base in Texas. An emaciated Jewel, who did not perform at any show, spent the four days chained by two legs: under a tent, on pavement, bobbing her head incessantly.

A new administration brings hope for these elephants and better enforcement by the USDA, but only if the agency feels pressure from the outside to change its ways.   Please write to your Congressional representatives today and demand that they compel the USDA to act immediately to rescue these elephants and send them to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee!