An annual event later this month is drawing opposition from animal rights activists.
The Humane Society of Huron Valley is requesting that organizers of the Hamburg Family Fun Fest, set to run June 15-18, cancel two of the attractions scheduled to take place.
The first is the Banana Derby, an event in which Capuchin monkeys in tiny horse jockey outfits are strapped on the backs of dogs, who then race around a track.
In an online letter to Fun Fest organizers, the Humane Society says while “while monkeys on a dog’s back may seem cute and funny, it’s actually the opposite,” as the Banana Derby creates “creates fear, stress, and anxiety” in the animals.
That opposition is even more pronounced by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) which has called the Banana Derby “an absurd event that travels to fairs across the country,” and says that the owner, Philip Hendricks, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for “failing to provide animals with adequate space, environmental enrichment, and clean, wholesome food.”
The organization says that monkeys are highly intelligent, curious, social animals, and that both primatologists and veterinarians agree that when they are used in such shows will “exhibit signs of fear and anxiety and show a blank facial expression of resignation, indicating a condition referred to as “learned helplessness.”
PETA also notes that the capuchins are forced to pose for photos with tourists, which can pose dangers to both the monkeys and humans.
The second event that the Humane Society of Huron Valley would like to see curtailed is the traveling petting zoo, calling it “both cruel and dangerous to keep wild animals in confinement, to be continuously transported across the country in cages and cramped trucks, and be a part of crowded human events.”
The Humane Society says that putting wild animals in close proximity to humans and domesticated animals can “create threats to physical safety and spread dangerous diseases from animals to people,” while also noting that the “further the barbaric wildlife trade and send a terrible message to children. Instead of learning to respect and protect our natural world, they learn that it’s okay to hurt and exploit in the name of a good time.
The online letter, that is sent automatically to the Hamburg Township Board and festival organizers, says that they “understand that no harm was intended, and event organizers don’t likely support animal exploitation and abuse,” and ask that they “cancel the Banana Derby and Traveling Zoo and join the many communities across the country that have recognized that family fun shouldn’t come at the expense of defenseless animals.”
Requests for comment have been made to both Hamburg Township officials and the Fun Fest director.