PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) had this to say about the Easter Weekend Services at Church by the Glades:
According to its news release, Church by the Glades in Coral Springs, Florida, intends to display an Asian elephant named Judy at the church this Easter weekend.
Elephants like Judy who are forced to participate in publicity stunts are trained through domination, fear, and punishment. Sharp metal bullhooks and electric prods are the standard training tools of the industry. Captive elephants are subjected to beatings, prolonged confinement, physically difficult routines, and exhausting travel. The agony these magnificent animals must endure daily is the dirty little secret of the entertainment industry.
Judy's lonely and unnatural life is in sharp contrast to what she would experience in the wild. Elephants are highly social animals who live in matriarchal herds, protect one another, forage for fresh vegetation, play, bathe in rivers, share mothering responsibilities for the herd's babies, and travel up to 30 miles each day. Their ability to feel pain—as well as sorrow, joy, and happiness—rivals our own.
Unfortunately, PETA didn't actually do their homework. Church by the Glades actually brought Judy the elephant in courtesy of Vanishing Species, a conservationist group that has rescued more than 300 animals and utilizes those animals humanely for educational purposes furthering conservation efforts. Judy's "stunts" and "physically difficult routines" consisted of her leisurely standing in the grass in front of the church occasionally being hosed off to keep her cool. And the one aspect of Judy's life that they conveniently leave out is that if she were indeed reintroduced to her "life in the wild", she wouldn't actually last long because she has already been "semi-domesticated". It wouldn't be in the best interest of my dog, Memphis, if I just opened the door and let her go free. It's no different for Judy.
My wife used to support PETA in college, but their antics like this proved to be too much to handle. PETA takes what is essentially a good idea and just simply takes it too far. Animals should be treated humanely by people of course, but animals are not people. This is where they get it wrong. Not to mention the fact that they obviously have no common sense. Attacking the concerted efforts of a conservationist group and a spiritually evangelistic group is a serious waste of time and resources. Why don't they give more focus to our overcrowded dog and cat shelters? That's what I'd like to see. Less focus on the lone elephant that resides in South Florida and more focus on the thousands of homeless dogs and cats that reside in South Florida.