Stupid elephant exhibit

As you may know, most of my work for animals has been for elephants. I lived in Africa for three months, spent time in Thailand working with the Thai government on how to better protect their elephants and I have authored part of a book being released this spring called called Elephants and Ethics (published by the Johns Hopkins Press).

The Science Discovery Center in Santa Ana will feature a sensationalist stunt later this month, when an Asian elephant — a member of a critically endangered species — will be encased in a giant bubble as part of a Vegas-style performance. This is the same elephant, Tai, who was used in the controversial art show in Los Angeles last year, when she was full-body painted to blend into a wallpaper background. The museum is defending its decision to go ahead with the show.

1. Read the article below

2. Vote on the web site,, on whether you think the stunt is demeaning to the elephant. Right now, the majority of voters say it does not. PLEASE VOTE TODAY.

3. Send an email to the Science Discovery Center at and call 714-913-5018 and let the museum know how you feel about this.

Here are some points you can use:
– This is not science, it’s sensationalism. There is no justification for using a live elephant.
– Exploiting elephants like this sends the wrong message to children about nature and endangered species.
-Elephants like the one to be used in the show obey their handlers out of fear due to the violent and brutal training they have experienced.

Thank you for helping!

Science center defends plan to put elephant in soapy bubble
March 10th, 2008 by grobbins

The Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana says “bubble artist” Fan Yang will be allowed to proceed with plans to briefly enclose a 40-year-old elephant in a soapy bubble despite claims by some animal lovers that the event is demeaning to animals.

Yang will attempt to enclose an 8,800-pound elephant known as Tai inside a translucent, non-toxic bubble on March 18, during the science center¹s annual “Bubblefest” activities. The stunt is expected to last 10-15 seconds.

“We don¹t consider this to be demeaning,” says Leslie Perovich, the science center¹s vice president of marketing. “This is a form of enrichment for the animal. Elephants in the wild are always busy doing things, moving, foraging. But animals in captivity are always looking for stimulation.”

Yang has placed as many as 99 people at once inside a bubble, but not an animal like Tai, an endangered Asian elephant that¹s owned by Have Truck Will Travel of Perris. Many people have no problem with Yang¹s plan. Others do, including Ed Boks, general manager of the Los Angeles Animal Services Department. Last year, his agency issued a permit to British aritst Banksy to paint Tai to resemble wallpaper, which drew protests from animal rights activists.

Boks later said the permit shouldnt have been issued. And he objects to what will soon occur at the Discovery Science Center. He said today that, “On the face of it, this sounds like animal cruelty. My concern with artists like this (Yang) is that they are making a strong statement that animal cruelty is not only OK, but that it can be elevated to an art form.

“I have no problem with consenting adults (being enclosed in a bubble). But when you exploit animals this way, it sends the wrong message.”

Noreen McQueen, a reader from Mission Viejo, writes: You do not need to haul an animal as intelligent as an elephant in some truck, prod it it out of it¹s “container,” corral it onto some stage, perform a parlor trick, shove them back into the truck and haul them onto the new show Å  and then call it education.”

Deniz Bolbol, a spokeswoman for In Defense of Animals, said, “Putting an elephant in a bubble is purely sensationalism and is counter-educational. This stunt has nothing to do with science. If science were the objective, they could put a bubble around a car or a semi-truck.”

Perovich said, “I don¹t people will learn science by putting Tai in the bubble. But people will take the time to learn more about endangered Asian elephants, and we will provide hand-outs about how to conserve elephants.”

Tai¹s owner, Kari Johnson of Have Trunk Will Travel of Perris, said, “I don¹t know or care if this is for science. It is something neat to do. It helps conservation. People learn about these animals and that makes them more likely to help them in the future.”

When asked if the bubble event is demeaning, Johnson said, ” I don¹ think its demeaning at all.”

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