Many readers commented on our story about the concerns raised by local resident Lee Goldberg about having live animal exhibits and rides as part of the annual Larchmont Family Fair. Goldberg contends petting zoos are inhumane and unclean.
Last week, John Winther, President of the Larchmont Boulevard Association (LBA), an all-volunteer organization of local Larchmont businesses, which puts on the annual event, sent the following statement to the Buzz, confirming the petting zoo and camel rides will be at this year’s fair as usual:
“The Larchmont Boulevard Association appreciates all the concern in regards to our animal attractions at the Larchmont Family Fair. We are committed to bringing the best experience for our children and the families that attend the Fair every year. All the animal attractions provide an opportunity for children to be near animals which they are never or rarely exposed to, and it provides the opportunity for the parents to encourage their children to learn how animals must be treated and respected. The organizations that provide the animals are properly licensed, have completed all the permits and are inspected by the proper authorities. The Larchmont Boulevard Association calls the event the Larchmont Family Fair and we provide an event that includes animals for the children. We will continue to ensure that the animals brought to our fair are treated in a humane manner and with dignity, and that the organizations used for this service continue to be champions for the best practice in the treatment of animals. The Larchmont Boulevard Association will be looking at additional ways to improve the experience so that children are properly educated on how to interact with animals,” wrote Winther on behalf of the LBA.
Privately, some members of the LBA said they regretted the controversy and had hoped for a different outcome. Several said they had not previously considered the issues Goldberg had raised and understood her concerns, even shared them in some cases. However, no one sharing these concerns would speak on the record, as no one was authorized to speak for the organization, and they did not want to further continue the controversy. [Full disclosure: the Larchmont Buzz is a member of the LBA, though we were not consulted about nor in any way involved in this decision.]
In response to the LBA statement, Lee Goldberg told the Buzz,
“The USDA itself determined it did not conduct sufficient inspections, so it is difficult to believe the LBA can ensure these operators are properly inspected. How does the LBA ensure the animals are treated humanely? Have they inspected their living conditions, travel conditions, and event schedule? Do they know what will happen to these animals when they are no longer profitable to the exhibitors? I also find it incredulous that the LBA claims they are teaching children to respect animals when those animals are being handled roughly by men carrying clubs, as one of the camel ride operators did last year. There is a reason why the ASPCA and Humane Society of the U.S. oppose animal exhibits like these; they are inherently cruel and exploitative.”
The Larchmont Family Fair has been a neighborhood tradition for many years with specific rides and exhibits varying over time. As previously noted, the fair is organized by volunteers and all the proceeds collected at the various food booths and attractions go to local schools and non-profit organizations. The LBA covers the cost of the rides from local businesses that serve as sponsors, as well as and from ticket sales. This year, the fair will take place on Sunday, October 30 from 12 noon to 5 pm.