Animal rights activists cry foul over Charlotte Festival in the Park camel rides

North Carolina news

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) – Charlotte’s 57th Annual Festival in the Park finished up Sunday, but some animal rights activists say it wasn’t all fun and games.

A vendor was on site giving $10 camel rides for anyone less than 180 pounds, which Penimah Tehilah says is animal abuse.

“Any activity that uses an animal in what’s called an exhibition, classifies as illegal activity, animal abusive activity. So these animals are being used in an exhibition-style event or ride, which would constitute an exhibition, which is illegal under Section 362, subsection eight of the Charlotte animal ordinances,” Tehilah said. 

Tehilah is a local animal rights activist. Once she heard about the camel rides happening at the Festival in Freedom Park, she called animal control to report it. 

“They admitted that many people had called over the course of the festival, many days, and an animal control officer had come out and witnessed this with their own eyes and deemed it to be fine, not animal abuse,” Tehilah said.

But she argues the camel rides do fall under the City of Charlotte’s Animal Abuse Ordinances. Mecklenburg County Commissioner Laura Meier called the camel rides outdated and wrong.

“This poor camel is out here for hours going around in a circle, a short circle all day long. I don’t know about breaks. I don’t know about water breaks. But in my opinion, this is cruelty to animals. The camel does not belong in a ring,” Meier said.

One of the board members for Festival in the Park said he was not aware of any legal issues having the vendor there. 

“I do know that they’re a certified business. And they’ve been with the festival for years and years and years. I know that the kids you know absolutely loved the pony rides and also the camel rides. So we will leave it up to the city council we do whatever, whatever they decide,” he said. 

The Charlotte City Council is holding a public hearing for a long-delayed exotic animal ordinance tomorrow.

Many animal rights activists are expected to show up. The new ordinance would ban the use of bullhooks, electric prods, and other devices used to handle circus animals. 

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