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PETA petitions OSHA for Elephant Protection Rule

PETA petitions OSHA for Elephant Protection Rule
PETA or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have recently filed a petition requesting OSHA to enforce a regulation prohibiting any direct physical contact between employees and elephants where they are kept in captivity, like the zoo, circus, etc. Submitted by PETA’s Captive Animal Law Enforcement section, this petition requests OSHA to start with a regulation and issue enforcement guidance saying that direct contact is prohibited and elephants should be protected.

PETA has acted on the same day that the Knoxville Zoo announced that it would switch to “protected contact” after a handler was killed earlier this year. The petition includes 240 pages of appendices, exhibits, articles and other documents that contain extensive information with regards to protected contact and many incidents in which elephant handlers have been injured or killed in direct-contact situations.

The petition declares that being an elephant handler is indeed a dangerous job and that has a fatality rate higher than that of commercial fishing or of most jobs. As opposed to free contact, protected contact basically relies on positive reinforcement during any interaction through protective barriers such as a cage or fence. This system helps handlers manage elephants through positive reinforcement training as this helps to modify the behavior and gain the cooperation of the animal. Physical punishment is strictly prohibited.