Legislation: A New Threat to the Exotic Animal Practitioner
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2008
James F. Peddie, DVM; Linda Reeve Peddie, DVM
Ventura, CA, USA


Animal rights advocates recognize and are utilizing the local, state, and national legislative processes to advance their positions. They are accomplishing this by crafting legislation which is often short sighted and detrimental to the animals which they purport to be protecting. An example of this is the legislative effort to ban the use of guides and tethers in elephants. Legislation of this nature was recognized as being a major deterrent and detriment to not only the ongoing day to day husbandry and care of these species, but also to the exotic animal practitioner, zoo or private, who is charged with the care of elephants. It would also impair much of the ongoing research effort in diagnostics, therapeutics, reproduction, and other medical areas involving these species. Consequently, the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians developed a policy statement on the use of guides and tethers for elephants, with the intent of influencing American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) policy and future legislative deliberations. The issue was subsequently referred for study to the AVMA’s Animal Welfare Committee (AWC). The AVMA’s AWC, with input from all parties, addressed in considerable depth the issues surrounding the use of these aids in the management of elephants. The AWC developed a statement which the AVMA Executive Board discussed and passed as official policy in April 2008.

The AVMA Policy on “Elephant Guides and Tethers” is as follows:

Elephant guides are husbandry tools that consist of a shaft capped by one straight and one curved end. The ends are blunt and tapered, and are used to touch parts of the elephant’s body as a cue to elicit specific actions or behaviors, with the handler exerting very little pressure. The ends should contact, but not tear or penetrate the skin. The AVMA condemns the use of guides to puncture, lacerate, strike, or inflict harm upon an elephant.

Tethers provide a means to temporarily limit an elephant’s movement for elephant or human safety and well-being. Tethers can be constructed of rope, chain, or nylon webbing, and their use and fit should not result in discomfort or skin injury. Forelimb tethers should be loose on the foot below the ankle joint, and hind limb tethers should fit snugly on the limb between the ankle and knee joints. Tether length should be sufficient to allow the elephant to easily lie down and rise. The AVMA only supports the use of tethers for the shortest time required for specific management purposes.


Speaker Information
(click the speaker's name to view other papers and abstracts submitted by this speaker)

James F. Peddie, DVM
Ventura, CA, USA

MAIN : AAZV Conference : Legislation: A New Threat to the Exotic Animal Practitioner
Powered By VIN