Chandler Festival Ostrich Races Should Be Retired
By Karen Davis and Robert Franklin
Published in the East Valley editions of The Arizona Republic, March 1, 2017
Once upon a time, the ostrich races were hot entertainment maybe, but are they still?
Last year, it didn’t seem so. The ostriches were raced in a remote area of the festival grounds, and the races were poorly attended compared to many other festival events.
This year, the Ostrich Festival will be held on March 10-12.
We believe the Chandler Chamber of Commerce should eliminate the ostrich races this year – both the chariot style and the rodeo style – and focus instead on attractions that reflect Chandler’s evolving high-tech industry and the public’s ever-growing interest in digital attractions and technical feats.
Last year’s festival featured many new, nonanimal attractions including a racing game of motorized, remote-controlled cars that drew big audiences. The festival needs more of these kinds of activities.
Once said to draw 250,000 visitors, the festival now attracts about 100,000 visitors, according to the Chandler Chamber of Commerce.
Public interest is dwindling in staged performances featuring animals who are forced to act unnaturally, as witnessed by the demise of Ringling Bros. circus. Rather than cling to relics of the past, the chamber should take stock and get out of the animal entertainment business.
Ostriches – the oldest living birds on earth – are designed by nature to roam vast desert spaces and survey the land with their brilliant eyes in all directions at once. In their natural habitat, ostriches are dignified birds devoted to their families.
By contrast, the ostrich races strip ostriches of their dignity, make them look silly, and put them in danger. Ostriches are not suited by temperament or anatomy to pull chariots and carry riders. Their large fragile eyes, long legs and necks can be easily injured – and whatever injuries they sustain are hidden from view as the ostriches are whisked away immediately as soon as the show is over.
For these reasons, we respectfully urge the Chandler Chamber of Commerce to retire the ostrich races permanently from the festival and use that space for innovative, 21st-century entertainment that is likely to attract whole new generations of festivalgoers.
Karen Davis, President, United Poultry Concerns.
Robert Franklin, Coordinator, Arizona Vegan Animal Liberation Activists.