There's an elephant to contend with at Glendale's City Council. Literally. City officials are trying to accommodate calls from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to change the city's float for the 2012 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade. The contentious float features a circus elephant--not a real one--that has animal activists pointing to inhumane treatment of elephants in the circus.
"We feel like its celebrating elephants in the circus," said Alicia Woempner, senior special project coordinator for PETA, in an interview. She said elephants are forced to perform painful tricks and are abused with electric prods and bullhooks, and that the float sends the wrong message. "It will give millions of people the idea Glendale approves."
Glendale City officials are considering changing the float.
At a meeting Aug. 30, Mayor Laura Friedman said the float could perhaps depict an elephant in the wild. Councilman Rafi Manoukian suggested including a sign that would say the city does not approve using elephants in circuses. The only objection at the meeting came from Councilman Dave Weaver who said it's too late for the float to be changed and argued the city should stay out of the float design.
Some Glendale residents agree with Weaver and consider PETA's demands to be unreasonable.
"The float should not be changed," said Patrick Ross, 25, a Glendale resident and small business owner. "I would hope that the city does not cave to PETA's demands, thus endorsing their radical irrationality."
According to PETA, several substitute designs that adapt the current model have been offered to the city. The organization has also offered artists to help make the changes. PETA has not yet heard from city officials about whether or not the designs have been accepted.
"I'm actually a Glendale resident myself and I want to see my city projected in the best light," said Woempner.
Reut R. Cohen is a graduate student at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, which has partnered with KCET-TV to produce this blog about policy in Los Angeles.