Monday, February 2, 2009

Joyce Poole--Expert witness

Hi this is Joyce again. It has been a very hectic period because we are trying to complete a year end newsletter for our friends and supporters, and also to prepare all of our playback stimulus “tapes” before we leave for the field early Friday 14th December. But I did promise to say something about the case against Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus for which I am an expert witness.
You may wonder why a scientist interested in elephant cognition, social behavior, communication and conservation gets involved in a legal case against a circus. The more that we learn about the social complexity and intelligence of elephants, the harder it is to ignore the mistreatment of them - wherever it occurs. My research and understanding of elephants in the wild has led me to advocate on behalf of both wild and captive elephants in many different forums and contexts on issues such as the ivory trade and culling, and the abuse and mistreatment of elephants used for “entertainment.”
One example of the advocacy work I do is my involvement as an expert witness in a lawsuit brought by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The Animal Welfare Institute, The Fund for Animals, The Animal Protection Institute, and a former Ringling Brothers’ employee, Tom Rider, who worked as a barn man with the elephants for two and a half years, against Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Feld Entertainment (Ringling Brothers) for violations of the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
The Asian elephants used by the circus are endangered species and the consortium argues that by chaining elephants and using bullhooks on them Ringling Brothers is violating U.S. law, which prohibits any conduct that “takes” an endangered species. A “take” constitutes acts that harm, wound, injure, harass, or kill an endangered species and applies to animals in captivity, as well as those in the wild. The lawsuit claims that Ringling Brothers “takes” Asian elephants through the forceful use of bullhooks and other instruments on the elephants and through the confinement and chaining of the elephants for long periods of time. The case is expected to go to trial in 2008.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Poole seems to have been the first witness yesterday. Washington Post didn't give any details of what she had to say. I did see a story elsewhere about testimony she gave against another circus overseas several years ago where her thesis was that captive elephants never fully socialize. Would think that counter argument might be that in Asian populations diminishing numbers and habitat destruction may lead to an equally odd pattern of socialization

Wade G. Burck said...

There are a thousand counter arguments, to any wild study vs. captive. I suggest Schaller is one of the few who wrote it as he saw it, and kept personal agendas/opinions out. Goodall seemed to be on that path, until the associations with the numerous "monkey welfare groups". Dr. Poole's association with Paw's is laughable, and illustrates her bias/agenda brilliantly, and invalidates her instantly.