You will remember that the elephant Queenie, or Boo, was left behind with abusive circus trainer Will Davenport in August as her companions Tina and Jewel were taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and sent to the San Diego Zoo for badly needed medical care. All three elephants were victims of Davenport’s negligence and inhumane care, but the agency claimed to only have grounds for taking the two. We cannot forget the last image we have of Queenie, tied to a tree and bellowing, as the truck holding her companions pulled away, leaving her to an uncertain future.
The USDA filed serious charges against Davenport in October, and we expected the agency to negotiate a prompt settlement which would result in Queenie’s release to a sanctuary, as has happened in other cases. However, Davenport is fighting the charges, and no settlement has been announced. Queenie remains in his hands, although he is not permitted to exhibit her or move her without the agency’s consent.
IDA has grave fears for Queenie’s safety, based on Davenport’s long history of Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations and neglect. The USDA no longer oversees her health and well-being since Davenport gave up his exhibitor’s license, and it appears that no law enforcement authority has checked on her since August. So we have turned to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the government agency charged with enforcing the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and protecting endangered Asian elephants, like Queenie.
IDA is asking the USFWS to investigate Queenie’s health and current circumstances, based on the following troubling facts:
Davenport made public statements indicating that he was low on funds, and elephants cost a great deal to feed. The USDA repeatedly cited Davenport for failing to provide adequate food and nutrition for the elephants.Queenie’s barn apparently has no heat source or insulation, and the temperatures where she is confined in Leggett, Texas, have dropped into the teens this winter. The USDA cited Davenport for failure to protect his elephants from the cold when they were in New York one December and he did not provide them with heat in their tent, and for failure to meet other sheltering requirements.Lack of food and consistently cold temperatures can be life-threatening for an elephant. While we cannot state for a fact that Queenie is hungry or cold, we do know that there is a strong possibility she is suffering both.Davenport has repeatedly failed to provide necessary veterinary care for elephants, and to handle them so as to protect them from harm.
The USFWS is the agency with both the ability and the obligation to send an agent to check on Queenie’s well-being now. They also have the authority to seize her if they find that the ESA is being violated.
Please contact the USFWS and remind them that there is an endangered Asian elephant in the hands of someone with an egregious history of negligent and abusive care of his elephants, and that her safety is their responsibility. Use the points outlined above to describe Davenport’s history and urge the agency to take immediate action.
Mr. Benito Perez
Chief of the Office of Law Enforcement
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Dr., MS-LE-3000
Arlington, VA 22203
Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Southwest Regional Director
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 1306
Albuquerque, NM 87103-1306
Please continue to contact the USDA and urge the agency to do everything in its power to ensure that Queenie is taken from Davenport’s hands and sent to a sanctuary.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
Acting APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea
Please make a call or send a fax for Queenie today, and as often as you can until she is rescued.
For more information, see http://www.helpelephants.com/tina_jewel_and_queenie.html.