PETA is demanding that animal-themed carousels like those found at Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park become a thing of the past, as the organization says that such attractions are harmful to animals because they teach children to disrespect animals and go so far as to celebrate that disrespect.
No More Animal Carousels, Says PETA
On Monday, PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, sent a written request to the president and CEO of the largest manufacturer of rides in the United States, Wichita, Kansas-based Chance Rides, in an effort to stop the manufacturer from producing animal-themed carousels.
The letter, addressed to Aaron Landrum and written by PETA president Ingrid Newkirk, claims that such rides “normalize the use of animals as conveyances and amusements.”
“Children learn through play, and teaching them to have respect and compassion for all living, feeling beings can help create a more just and merciful world,” says Newkirk, who authored the book 50 Awesome Ways Kids Can Help Animals.
“PETA urges Chance Rides and all other carousel manufacturers to hit the brakes on old-fashioned animal-themed rides and embrace designs that engage children’s imagination and showcase human talent.”
A Letter and a Stern Request
The letter, dated February 6, specifically asks for the end of the “manufacture and sale of animal-themed carousels” and requests that in place of animals, other figures be exclusively produced, including those “in the shape of vehicles, such as cars, unicycles, tractors, airplanes, rockets, and bulldozers, that children are drawn to or even more whimsical designs, like shooting stars, rainbows, or brooms.”
In the letter, PETA concedes that such a request is “unexpected but important.” As the basis for PETA’s request, the letter states the following:
Animal-themed carousels unintentionally celebrate the exploitation of sentient beings. Animals used for rides and other forms of entertainment—including camels, horses, elephants, and dolphins—are confined and in servitude, never free to pursue their own lives and interests. They’re also sometimes beaten, tormented, and even slaughtered when their bodies wear out.
All animals are thinking, feeling, affectionate, playful, and social beings who form strong bonds with their offspring if permitted to keep them (a rarity). They crave freedom from oppression. Animal-themed carousel sets reinforce the notion that these sentient beings are simply here for our entertainment rather than individuals with the same capacity to experience fear, pain, joy, and love as any of us.
According to PETA, the decision by ride manufacturers–and presumably theme parks like Disney World and Disneyland that offer animal-themed carousels as amusement attractions to their guests–will ultimately send two messages, deemed “powerful” by the organization:
Animals are to be respected, not exploited, and companies can and should evolve to keep up with the times. In 2018, following talks with PETA, Nabisco replaced the more than 100-year-old design of caged animals on its Barnum’s Animals Crackers boxes with imagery of wild animals roaming free.
In 2019, after a push from PETA, Trader Joe’s redesigned its Bamba Peanut Snacks, toilet paper, and organic peanut butter packages to no longer include images of elephants performing tricks. And just last winter, after hearing from PETA, Dukal Corporation stopped selling bandages depicting animals in circuses.
The letter concludes with Newkirk asking the Chance Rides CEO to pledge to stop “promoting this abuse by no longer producing carousel figures in animal forms.” There’s no word yet about his response to PETA’s request.
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