The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been opposed to elephant rides at zoos for many years. The only zoo in Southern California that allows elephant rides is the Santa Ana Zoo. Now PETA has ramped up the pressure, targeting our Mayor, Miguel Pulido.
Last week, PETA raised the stakes by enlisting stage performer Charo, who wrote to Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, asking him to ban the rides. The group contends that the rides are not possible without cruel training methods, according to the L.A. Times.
Zoo Director Kent Yamaguchi brushed aside activists’ claims that the rides are abusive or unsafe and said they will continue because he is confident the animals are well cared for and that care-givers use the strictest safety guidelines and most humane training methods. If there were any evidence of mistreatment, he said, he would end the rides immediately.
Elephants are not culturally relevant to Orange County. And they may career tuberculosis. So why not switch to burros?
Donkeys, which are called burros in Mexico, have been domesticated for centuries. They originated in Africa, but ancient donkeys used to live here in the U.S., before they, and the horses native to this continent, died out at the end of the last Ice Age.
Donkeys, and the horse-donkey hybrids we call mules, were a big part of early California’s heritage. They were used by settlers and gold miners. They are still used in parts of Mexico, as pack animals.
As we all know, there are thousands of Mexican Americans living here in Santa Ana. Burros are relevant to our culture. Elephants are not.
Today donkeys are viewed as pets here in the U.S., and they are easily trained to serve in children’s donkey ride attractions.
Plus the donkey is the symbol of the Democratic Party, which is the majority party here in Santa Ana.
So why not offer burro rides at the Santa Ana Zoo, instead of elephant rides?