Fairground carousel horses give kids the wrong message: Peta

Photo: Depositphotos.com

The Dutch arm of animal rights group Peta has thrown its weight behind calls by US sister organisation for fairground attraction makers to remove horses and other animals from carousels.

Roundabouts with an animal theme “unwittingly celebrate the exploitation of conscious beings”, the Dutch organisation told the AD on Thursday afternoon. 

Amusement parks don’t mean to exploit animals for entertainment but “children using the roundabouts get the idea that is normal to use animals for our pleasure,” said Peta advisor Janneke Hogervorst. “So we support the call by Peta US. It might be symbolic, but it is worth a lot.” 

Peta US hit the headlines this week by writing to Chance Rides, the largest manufacturer of amusement rides in the country, asking it to end the production and sale of animal-themed carousels.

Instead, the organisation, suggested the company could use “cars, airplanes, spaceships, bulldozers or more whimsical designs, like shooting stars, rainbows, or brooms”.

In the Netherlands, the Efteling amusement park is one of the biggest in Europe and “has enormous influence on others,” Hogervorst said. “If it would go so far as to say it was thinking about [change], then we would start a very important discussion. Times change.”

The Efteling told the AD it found the discussion an “interesting and special” one to follow, and that is “very important” that there are organisations that campaign for animal rights. And it did not rule out making changes in the future. “We will follow developments closely,” a spokesman said. 

The Efteling is home to a number of carousels, including the oldest roundabout in the Netherlands, which dates from 1865. It has 16 horses, two sleighs, a hen and a lion.

Hogervorst said the organisation expected a lot of raised eyebrows. “It is sort of our style to stimulate these sorts of discussions by being a little provocative,” Hogervorst said. “We don’t mind. It is the conversation that is most important.” 

In 2021, the Efteling undertook a huge renovation programme after years of critical comments about ‘racial stereotyping’ in some of its rides, and removed the ‘Monsieur Cannibale’ attraction.

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