November 20, 1998

Bill Donaton, President
Via E-mail:

Dear Mr. Donaton:

I, myself, am a marketing and public relations professional. I handle the PR and some of the marketing duties for one of the biggest architectural firms in Cleveland, so I can understand the importance of finding unique and unusual ways of interesting the public in your product. Recently, I learned of a publicity stunt by your company which involved a baby elephant walking across one of your products. While this qualifies as unique and unusual, it also qualifies as cruel and unusual. I say this not based on your specific treatment of the animal in question since quite probably you treated him/her very well while in your care--maybe even better than the people who trained and leased him/her to you for this stunt.

You may not be aware of some important facts about elephants (an animal kingdom favorite of mine), such as the fact that elephants are social animals. Zoologists have learned that they live in families and herds, have highly developed communication skills and are quite attached psychologically to their relatives. People who keep and train elephants to lease out to companies such as yours, can obtain them in ways which include stealing babies away from their mothers in their homeland and/or buying them from circuses or zoos.

These animals are usually trained to perform unnatural tricks after being beaten with bullhooks into submission and compliance. They spend much of their lives shackled at the ankles with short chains lacking sufficient padding around the inside of the cuff, nor sufficient length for comfortable walking and lying down. They may even be housed in huge, empty/dark warehouses until "rented out."

Because they are communicative and social animals, elephants are psychologically sensitive and suffer many anxiety-related side effects when held in captivity and/or separated from their families and/or others of their own species. This anxiety manifests itself in behavioral quirks as innocuous as rocking or swaying incessantly or as perilous as stampeding in a blind rage--injuring themselves, other animals and even human beings. Even if Bubbles did not manifest symptoms while under your supervision, it is likely he/she is suffering loneliness and performing the tasks you've requested of his/her trainer out of fear of painful punishment.

Possibly you were not aware of these facts when you opted for this demonstration of your product and did not realize that you were contributing to the suffering of another living being. Now that you have the facts, I hope your company will discontinue using baby elephants or any captive animals for publicity stunts. I know that I would not purchase any products from a company that knowingly inflicted pain (physical or psychological) on animals.

I thank you for allowing me a few minutes of your valuable time to voice my opinion and to educate you regarding elephants. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to respond to this e-mail. If I do not have the answer you need readily available, I will locate it or direct you to someone who can help you.

Leigh-Anne Dennison