Talk about an elephant in the room! Um, I mean a baby elephant. After we wrote about unauthorized Michelle Obama ads by PETA in Celebrity Justice, the animal rights group responded to the hype by taking down the offending ads. However, they did not go without some fighting words about a baby elephant that goes by the name baby Barack. A baby elephant? That's right. MSNBC reports that a letter by PETA alleges that the use of the Obama name for a baby elephant in the Ringling Bros. circus is far more troubling.
The letter by PETA was written by PETA President Ingrid Newkirk and was sent to the President Barack Obama. In the letter, Ms. Newkirk urged President Obama to request that the circus changes the elephant's name. MSNBC quotes the letter as saying, "'Baby Barack' is not even a year old, but his curious and energetic childhood has been cut tragically short while Ringling attempts to profit from your popularity by putting him on the road to perform in the circus."
PETA states that elephants that perform in circuses are typically abused and perform in poor working conditions. Feld Entertainment (which is owns the circus) claims that the elephants are well tended to and that they thought that the name of the elephant bestowed an honor upon the President. The company also said that his birth was minutes before the inauguration date of the President. Feld spokeswoman Amy McWethy told MSNBC: "We thought it was only fitting to call him Barack. He is an amazing elephant. We're very proud of him."
The baby elephant was introduced to the circus act last week in Tampa, Florida. The President has not replied to the letter sent by PETA, but it seems like the First Family does not condone the use of their names, images, or likenesses to be used for any commercial purposes. Just last week, Weatherproof outerwear company pulled the plug on its ads with pictures of President Obama wearing their jacket on the Great Wall of China. They even agreed to take down a billboard of the President from Times Square.