Last month, Windsor Square resident Lee Goldberg sent a letter to the Larchmont Blvd. Association, organizer of the upcoming Larchmont Family Fair, urging them not to have live animal rides at the Fair. In her letter, Goldberg cited the treatment of the animals as inhumane, saying many of the businesses that provide animals to fairs are not licensed by the USDA or have permits; and there are safety risks to the community from bacteria, as well as trampling incidents when animals were spooked. At the close of her letter, Goldberg wrote, “I strongly encourage you to cancel the petting zoos, camel rides, and any other exhibit in which live animals are being used exclusively for entertainment purposes. While I hope to reach an amicable and humane resolution to this matter, I am prepared to organize a peaceful protest at the fair should you choose not to cancel the events as advertised.”
Goldberg also posted her objections on the social media platform Nextdoor and linked to a petition she created to gather support for her demand to cancel the live animal rides at the fair. At the time of this posting, 444 people had signed the petition. There were 22 comments on the Nextdoor thread; 17 expressed agreement with Goldberg, two did not.
LBA president John Winther told the Buzz, “these are the most popular rides at the fair. We have often to close it down the end of the fair because it’s so popular.”
Winther said he looked at the comments and thought they were mostly positive. He said he thought the animals seemed like they were well-cared for and that they were only at the fair for four hours.
“We just want to do what the community wants,” said Winther. “These rides are very popular. We see how much children enjoy interacting with the animals in the petting zoo and the pony rides are one of the most popular rides at the fair.”
LBA founder and former publisher of the Larchmont Chronicle Jane Gilman had no comment for the Buzz.
Goldberg, who grew up in the neighborhood and lives on Gower, contacted the Buzz because she had not gotten a reply from the LBA. A vegan who volunteers with a number of animal rescues, Goldberg said she hopes to get people to make the connection of how these animals are treated and what happens to them after they cannot work anymore. She volunteers with the Rocky Ridge Rescue which saves small ponies and horses from livestock auctions and shelters. Goldberg is working with various animals rescues to offer an animal adoption exhibit instead. She asserts that’s a more positive interaction for children rather than seeing someone make money displaying animals.
“These animal exhibits are not consistent with today’s values,” said Goldberg.
When Goldberg was at the fair last year, she said she observed harsh treatment of one of the camels and decided she would do something make sure it didn’t happen again this year. Once she saw the advertisement in the Larchmont Chronicle promoting the fair and the animal exhibits, she decided to write the letter and start the petition drive.
Goldberg is hopeful the LBA will cancel the animal exhibits this year but if they don’t, she’s making plans for a protest.
This story has been updated.