Group urges OSHA to prohibit direct worker contact with elephants

March 30, 2011

Washington – In a petition filed March 24, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals asked OSHA to bar direct physical contact between employees and elephants in circuses, exhibits and other such businesses.

PETA wants OSHA to require impassable barriers between employees and elephants, a system called “protected contact.” The group cited OSHA’s admission last year that “direct or free contact with dangerous animals” is a recognized hazard likely to cause harm to employees.

According to a PETA press release, 15 people have died in interactions with captive elephants in the United States in the past 20 years, while none have died in zoos that use protected contact. In January, an elephant handler at the Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee died after being crushed against metal bars by an elephant.

PETA filed the petition the same day the zoo announced it was switching to protected contact because of the incident.