An elephant was brought to campus on March 25, sponsored by the Penn State South Asian Student Association in celebration of Holi.
According to a change.org petition created after the event, this elephant was forced to stand for several hours in a confined area without water, fed an unnatural diet of doughnuts and marshmallows and poked with sharp bullhooks in order to bring it closer to the crowd of spectators.
Kevin Cali and Andreas Haggiandreou created the petition, directed at President Eric Barron, to cease all live animal performances at Penn State.
“This is not the first time Penn State has sponsored such abuse,” the petition reads. “These animals are brought here for no educational or other beneficial reason; they are brought here solely for entertainment purposes.”
“We’re displeased because we don’t approve of animals used for entertainment,” Haggiandreou (senior-kinesiology) said. “It could have been worse, but it also could have been better.”
He said both he and Cali observed the event for a while before deciding to ask the handlers questions, but only one of the two handlers would answer.
“He was not pleased with us asking questions,” Cali (sophomore-animal science) said. “He was very condescending in his answers.”
Haggiandreou said university funding was used to bring the elephant to campus, which he said was a waste because the money could have been used in a smarter way.
“Not only are we against the fact that [animals] are being abused for our entertainment,” Cali said. “but also that we’re using our tuition money for such a wasteful use — we can’t have that happen again.”
Haggiandreou said if the animals are not behaving like they are expected to, and injury people or property, there is a good chance they will get shot down.
Cali said being informed is one of the best ways to prevent future events like this occurring.
In addition to the petition, Cali and Haggiandreou posted a video to Facebook showing the elephant on the HUB-Robeson Center lawn, which currently has over 20,000 views.
“We’re getting a ton of support for it,” Cali said. “It shows us that people do care and are aware of the issue,”
Over 647 people have signed the petition so far, and the goal is 1,000 signatures.
“A petition is the best way to take action,” Cali said. “But we’re trying to come up with other ways to get involved.”
Another similar petition, “Retire 46-year-old elephant Beulah after 19 years of exploitation,” was started over two years ago in response to the mistreatment of the same elephant who came to Penn State.
“After doing research, I discovered that Beulah had been on the road for almost 20 years — she belongs to the Commerford and Sons Traveling Petting Zoo,” the petition reads. “The zoo has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for mistreating and abusing their animals.”
The goal of the petition is to convince the elephant’s owners to send her to an elephant sanctuary and retire her from performing and traveling around the country.
“I started this petition in hopes of giving Beulah a better life,” the petition reads. “Together, we can make that happen.
The South Asian Student Association did not respond to The Daily Collegian for comment.