Animal rights zealots are the same no matter where you find them — earnest and well intended, but often wrong-headed.
In this country they're trying to end the careers of circus elephants. In Germany recently they were ranting about the unlikely sport of elephant racing.
Asian elephants and African elephants, with German and Indian jockeys, evidently run 200-yard sprints at a racetrack.
But the 40,000 spectators who'd never seen anything like the event, which featured piped Indian music and curried food, were amused, not persuaded they had an inside view of pachyderm abuse.
That's because elephants are smart creatures with minds of their own, as these contests quickly showed. Said one spectator, "Elephants run voluntarily and sometimes they don't run, as you saw just now."
A spokesman for German zoo directors said the races, modeled on those held in some Asian nations, weren't the way most Germans believe in treating animals these days. He appears to have been wrong. The crowd was dazzled.
The event sounds as if it had been a lot of fun, just like circuses are. And who's to say that animals trained to race and perform are less content than they'd have been in the wild? People have happily traveled that distance, why not animals?
The critter rights gang might be more persuasive if their deeds covered all animals, including the human one. We've seen some pretty egregious abuses of people by animals of late. The bear that ate a sleeping camper in Ketchikan, Alaska, comes to mind. And so does the boa in Peru found asleep with a lump in his belly that turned out to be a 10-year-old boy.
Scripps Howard News Service