Animal rights advocates have arranged for a person in a bandaged, bloody elephant costume to greet Buena Vista Enhanced Option School students Tuesday afternoon as they depart for the day, a demonstration that’s caught school administrators off guard.
Hoping to raise awareness of the alleged mistreatment of elephants by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — better known as PETA — is taking their case to an audience of children, with a costumed “Ellie the Elephant” staging a 3:35 p.m. demonstration outside the north Nashville elementary school where it plans to talk with students and distribute activity booklets.
The mascot’s staging is meant to coincide with the circus outfit’s series of shows scheduled later this month at the Sommet Center.
“Ellie’s very friendly,” said PETA representative Kate Brindle. “It’s not meant to threaten the kids whatsoever. She basically just kind of waves at the kids. We also hand out activity books that take an upbeat approach and lets kids know about the cruelty and violence that goes on behind the scenes at a circus.”
But Metro Nashville Public Schools spokesperson Noelle Mashburn said school administrators were not informed of the plans and didn’t know about the demonstration until being notified by media outlets.
“We didn’t know about it. The principal didn’t know about it. Nobody knew anything about it,” Mashburn said. “District policy is that no political campaigns of any sort are allowed on school grounds. So if they were planning on showing up there tomorrow, they will not be allowed on school property.”
Brindle said it’s PETA policy is to comply with the law, and the plan is to have the elephant stand on a public sidewalk.