Lucy Passes on PETA
The Board of Trustees of Lucy the Elephant has decided to pass on a donation offer made by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Late last week, PETA reached out to Lucy offering to make a donation toward the current construction/painting project at the National Historic Landmark in exchange for allowing the iconic elephant to be used as a vehicle to promote awareness of the treatment of circus elephants. In their request, which was released to the media before reaching Lucy CEO, Richard Helfant, PETA asked to hang a banner on the Jersey Shore landmark with the same inscription as the elephant statue on display at their Washington, DC offices. Further, PETA wanted to attach a foam shackle to one of Lucy’s legs along with a teardrop below one of her eyes. The latter was of grave concern to Helfant who stated, “Lucy is a happy place. We must always insure that children who visit Lucy have a happy experience and leave with smiles on their faces. Anything that could sadden a child is not acceptable here at Lucy”. He added, “While every donation is important to an almost completely self-funded non-profit organization, this one comes with too many conditions. Lucy is a National Historic Landmark whose mission is historic preservation. We must be diligent in maintaining her stature as an NHL”.
PETA’S pre-mature release of their offer to Lucy lead the media and others to believe they were offering to fund the entire project. Helfant acknowledged this was not the case as the animal rights organization offered $2000 in exchange for using Lucy to help further their cause. Save Lucy Committee board member, Robert McGuigan, stated “Cruelty to animals is abhorrent, but given the divisive nature of some of PETA’s campaigns, Lucy is much better off seeking ‘no strings attached’ donations”.
The on-going project at Lucy includes replacement of the howdah (riding carriage) railings, as well as rust removal and painting of the entire 90 ton, 65-foot tall structure. The paint contractor, Alpine Painting & Sandblasting of Paterson, NJ, convinced Benjamin Moore & Co. to donate the 100 gallons of paint needed. The cost of the entire project is estimated to be $58,000. The 1772 Foundation, administered by the New Jersey Historic Trust, awarded Lucy an $11,000 grant toward the project. Still, a balance in excess of $35,000 must be raised to pay for the work, already underway.
The Save Lucy Committee has created a commemorative “I Helped Paint Lucy” T-shirt which is available for sale in Lucy’s gift shop and on her website; www.LucyTheElephant.org. The shirt features Lucy with her trunk in the air happily spraying paint in all the colors of the rainbow. The shirt sells for $20. People can also make a monetary donation with a credit card on Lucy’s website. All donations are tax deductible.
To do our part in protecting the species, Lucy’s Board of Trustees has decided that a portion of any funds collected above and beyond the cost of this project will be donated to elephant sanctuaries in Florida and Tennessee.
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