PETA Activists Arrested at Zoo Protests

Four activists with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were arrested in California and Florida on August 14 while protesting the planned importation of African elephants from Swaziland.

PETA and other groups had unsuccessfully tried to block the importation of 11 elephants from Swaziland that were destined for the Lowry Park zoo in Florida and the San Diego Zoo in California. The elephants will be part of breeding programs at both institutions.

In Tampa, Florida, police arrested three activists. Jayson A. Bayless, 29, of Norfolk, Va., and Valerie Lee Silidker, 28, of Davie, Florida, were arrested on burglary and disorderly conduct charges. Alan Hugh Berger, 57, of Charleston, South Carolina, was arrested on a trespassing charge.

The three PETA activists entered the offices of the zoo and apparently began screaming at the staff members and refused to leave when asked.

In San Diego, meanwhile, Lisa Ann Wathne, 42, of Washington state was arrested on a charge of trespassing after she unsuccessfully (!) tried to chain herself to an office building at the San Diego Zoo.


Elephant protest leads to arrest. Tallahassee Democrat, August 15, 2003.

Four PETA members arrested at Tampa, San Diego zoos. Associated Press, August 14, 2003.

Georgia to Resume Alligator Hunt

According to a story in the Christian Science Monitor, Georgia will join a growing number of states allowing alligator hunting to control that species’ numbers.

This quite a turnaround for a species that whose numbers had dwindled in the 1960s to the point that Southern states instituted bans on alligator hunting. Today, however, alligator numbers have exploded to the point that alligator populations continue to expand even in states such as Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana where commercial hunting of alligators has been restored.

Georgia will not be reinstating serious commercial hunting of alligators, but will instead issue 180 alligator licenses targeting sport hunters. According to the Christian Science Monitor, that’s out of an estimated alligator population of 200,000.

This is the point in the story where we find the obligatory animal rights quote opposing the hunt, this time from the Animal Protection Institute’s Camilla Fox who told the Christian Science Monitor,

It’s better to try to coexist with the animal that is present than remove them and potentially bring in . . . a greater problem.

In a press release on its web site, the Animal Protection Institute expanded on Fox’s sentiments,

The state of Georgia is proposing its first alligator-hunting season for September 2003 — and the hunt will be excessively fierce and cruel.

. . .

By nature, alligators are shy and reclusive, and are typically wary of humans. As people continue to invade their territory, the animals are forced into closer contact with civilization. Loss of habitat, prey, and polluted waters are some of the risks that alligators already face. They do not need the added stress of being hunted as well.

If alligators are so stressed, why do their populations continue to increase? Sounds like it’s API that needs to relax.


The alligator hunt returns. Patrik Jonsson, Christian Science Monitor, June 16, 2003.

Help Stop the Cruel & Unnecessary Sport Hunting of Georgia Alligators. Press Release, Animal Protection Institute, July 24, 2003.

Animal Activist Arrested in Dog Theft

A South Carolina animal activist was arrested in June and charged with the theft of a dog.

Janice Melton, 43, claimed the dog walked up to her on June 2 as she was watching Columbus County Animal Control officers seize two horses from property owned by Ronald and Donna Beck that were allegedly malnourished. Melton had reported the horses to animal control.

Melton returned to the area on June 3, and according to her account,

I picked her up and put her in my car. I wasn’t on their property. She didn’t have a collar or tags, and she was in desperate need of some help.

According to Melton, the dog suffered from malnourishment and mange. An Associated Press report quoted an unnamed relative of the Becks as saying that the dog did not have mange, but appeared malnourished because it was recovering from parvovirus.

When Melton refused to turn the dog over to police, she was arrested and charged with felony theft. She was also charged on an outstanding warrant accusing her of providing alcohol to a person under 21 years of age.


Woman says dog’s welfare worth jail. Associated Press, June 18, 2003.

Animal-rights activist charged in dog theft. Deuce Niven, Fayetteville Online, June 17, 2003.

PETA Wants University of South Carolina to Drop the 'Gamecocks' Name

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recently sent a letter to University of South Carolina president John Palms asking him to drop the Gamecocks nickname from the university. USC’s football team is receiving a lot of national attention for its 5-1 record, and apparently PETA decided to try to piggyback on that publicity.

In its letter, PETA spokesman Kristie Phelps wrote that, “Like spousal abuse, bank robbery and driving while intoxicated, cockfighting is illegal in South Carolina.” She told The State that, “It’s a safe bet that officials at the University of South Carolina would never dream of calling their athletic teams the Dogfighters, the Wifebeaters, the Looters or the Road-Ragers.”

And what would PETA suggest as an alternative name? “The Gym Socks or the Pet Rocks or anything that doesn’t perpetuate animal cruelty. The Gamecocks can score points for kindness; they can be champions of compassion.”

A spokesman for USC responded by saying, “We can’t imagine there would be any interest by the Carolina community in changing the name of their mascot.”

PETA also sent a letter to Jacksonville State University in Alabama which also uses the Gamecock nickname. JSU president Bill Meehan told The State, “We have no plans to change at this time, and there is no movement in the student body to change.”


Animal rights group targets Gamecock. Jeff Wilkinson, The State (South Carolina), October 17, 2001.

Orange County, South Carolina Bans Animal Exhibits

In the latest legal assault on circuses, in August the Orange County, South Carolina county commission approved a ban on circuses and other forms of entertainment within unincorporated areas of the county.

The ordinance specifically forbids the “display” of elephants, camels, lions, tigers, dolphins and 11 other animals for entertainment purposes. According to a Chapel Hill Herald story on the ordinance, “display” is defined as “any exhibition, act, circus, public show, trade show, photographic opportunity, carnival ride, parade, race, performance or similar undertaking in which animals are required to perform tricks, fight, wrestle or participate in performances for the amusement or entertainment of an audience.”

As Orange County commissioner Barry Jacobs freely admitted to the Chapel Hill Herald, the legislation was pushed through for purely symbolic purposes. Jacobs said,

I realize in a lot of ways that we did was more symbolic than real, since there’s little evidence that we have circuses in Orange County. But I think sometimes it’s important to support principles that are brought forward to us by citizens or that we ourselves already espouse.


Orange County, South Carolina bans circuses. Rob Shapard, Chapel Hill Herald, August 16, 2001.

PETA Protests George W. Bush

People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals didn’t make any friends with Republican presidential candidate
George W. Bush during the South Carolina primary. PETA decided to protest
Bush after the presidential candidate had just finished a pancakes-and-bacon

A PETA activist dumped a truckload
of dried manure at the doorstep of the restaurant where Bush had just
eaten. The activist then abandoned the dump truck used to deposit the
manure (with a requisite sign saying “Meat Stinks”) so that it blocked
Bush’s campaign bus. According to an Associated Press report on the incident,
“Police moved in, grabbed the man, and as they dragged him away he yelled:
“Meat is murder! Pork is death!”

Bush, who was taping a television
interview at the time, joked, “I sure am glad I had my bacon for breakfast.”


“PETA protests Bush breakfast stop.” Associated Press, February 19, 2000.