The Westchester County Parks Department and Westchester Parks Foundation are looking for new features to showcase at their annual Winter Wonderland event at Kensico Dam Plaza.
Both pony and camel rides were banned when the safety risks inherent in animal rides ongoing for hours became apparent.
According to a statement from Westchester County Parks Department and Parks Foundation, the decision was made to remove the animal rides at Westchester’s Winter Wonderland for the 2018-2019 season for the best interest of the animals in the program.
However, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) sent out a press release claiming the decision was made when the organization notified the Westchester Parks Foundation executive director about the cruelty of animal rides.
“The world is no wonderland for camels and ponies forced to carry people on their backs for hours,” said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman in the statement. “Westchester Parks Foundation did the right thing by agreeing to nix these cruel rides, and PETA is calling on festivals nationwide to follow suit and feature fabulous human entertainment only.”
The PETA statement noted that animals used in traveling exhibits are routinely subjected to the stress of transport, disorienting environments, and mishandling. Camels—who are shy, skittish animals—are deprived of everything that’s natural and important to them when they’re used for entertainment, and ponies used for rides endure loud noises and interactions with small children, which can be extremely distressing for them. Additionally, animals used for rides or in petting zoos may carry a variety of potentially deadly zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted to humans, the release said.
In related news state Assemblywoman Amy Paulin had a bill regarding animal cruelty passed through the state Assembly.
Proposed legislation A.72-A requires pet dealers to regularly groom the animals in their care, clean their enclosures and give nursing and pregnant dogs enough space to safely and adequately care for their litter.
“Pet dealers must be held to standards that will promote the safety, good health, and overall well-being of the animals in their care,” Paulin said. “Too often pet dealers are not grooming the animals, and not adequately cleaning the dog’s food receptacles or primary enclosures leading to flea and tick infestation and other diseases.”