Summer 2016 Poultry Press NEXT
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Urge Chamber of Commerce to Eliminate Ostrich Races at Chandler Ostrich Festival

Ostrich Festival in Chandler, Arizona (photo:

On March 11-13, 2016, the Chandler Arizona Chamber of Commerce sponsored its annual Ostrich Festival. A fundraiser begun in 1989, the festival hires an exotic animal supplier to provide ostriches, emus, camels and zebras to be ridden rodeo-style. The Chamber describes the ostrich races: “Professional riders take the reins of a chariot or ride the large birds bareback around a race track.” The prospect of a chariot wreckage or other upset is part of the “unpredictable” fun of the races.

Mother ostrich tending to young by John Seerey-Lester

“On one occasion I saw and sketched a female tending her hatchlings. The young will get careful attention from both male and female adults before they develop the necessary independence to be on the move with the family group.”
John Seerey-Lester

Tension between Chandler’s evolving high-tech industry and the city’s vanishing rural past was a theme of this year’s Arizona Republic coverage and Chamber of Commerce pronouncements. The once small community southeast of Phoenix is today “more of a mecca for information technology corporations than for farmers of large birds,” the Arizona Republic reported echoing the Chamber’s effort to reconcile past and present in a festival that its president, Terri Kimble, calls an event of “family fun and entertainment.”

This year’s festival featured many new animal-free attractions including a racing game of motorized, remote-controlled cars and a Batman and Superman Show “about bullying,” presumably showing children that real heroes do not act like bullies. Yet the ostrich races and other animal attractions are all about bullying and ridiculing captive birds and other animals “trained” to perform dangerous, demeaning and unnatural acts.

Beneath all the fluff about “family fun and laughter” a spirit of malice and meanness informs these performances, illustrating what Jim Mason calls in his book, An Unnatural Order, “Rituals of Spectacular Humiliation.” Such rituals, he writes, are designed to “reinforce myths of animal stupidity, inferiority, and willingness to submit to human domination by reducing animals to toys and clowns.”

Ostriches and emus are the oldest living birds on earth. In their natural habitats, these fleet-footed nomads, designed by 90 million years of evolution to roam vast desert spaces and survey the land with their large brilliant eyes in all directions at once, are stately, dignified birds devoted to their families. The ostrich festival strips them of their dignity, puts them in danger, and makes fun of them. Ostriches and emus are not suited by temperament or anatomy to pull chariots and be ridden by “cowboys.” Their large fragile eyes, long necks and legs are easily injured.

Once said to draw 250,000 visitors, the Ostrich Festival now attracts about 100,000 people, according to the Chamber of Commerce. An Arizona activist told UPC in March, “The event does raise a great deal of money, yet they came up with new events this year, so they need to take the high road and create more events and get out of the animal abuse entertainment business.”

What Can I Do?

Urge the Chandler Chamber of Commerce to eliminate the ostrich races from the 2017 festival. Urge them to make the festival a positive event that respects the life and feelings of all creatures. Just as Chandler’s evolution to a high tech center has benefited the town financially, so the Ostrich Festival can evolve to a lucrative attraction in which ostrich races and their like are relegated to a past that no longer reflects the evolving consciousness of today’s society toward animals. Respectfully request a written reply to your concerns.

Contact :

Terri Kimble, President/CEO
Chandler Chamber of Commerce
25 S. Arizona Place, Suite 201
Chandler, AZ 85225
Phone: 480-963-4571

Nick Debus, Public Policy & Government Relations:

Sarah Miranda, Special Events & Programs

Lee Hines, Accounting & Finance

Michael Beagle, Business Development

Mike Wells, Vice President of Business Development

Paulette Pacioni, Marketing & Communications

Brenda Whipple, Business Development

Barbara Caravella, Business Development

Yvonne Torres, Administrative Assistant

Mary Ann Przybylski, Director of Special Events & Programs, and Sponsorships

Sarah Bruner, Business Development

You can post a message to the Chandler Chamber of Commerce through their website by clicking on Contact Us at

You can also reach them through their Facebook and Twitter pages. Facebook:


All letters, phone calls and Internet messages to the Chandler Chamber of Commerce should be polite, caring, respectful and concerned. Our goal is to make the world a more just, enlightened, and compassionate place.

Summer 2016 Poultry Press NEXT