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Protest Planned at Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival

PHOTO: Cruel or fun? Protesters at this weekend's annual Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival say they believe the ostrich races are harmful to the animals and dangerous for human riders. Photo courtesy Chandler Chamber of Commerce.
PHOTO: Cruel or fun? Protesters at this weekend's annual Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival say they believe the ostrich races are harmful to the animals and dangerous for human riders. Photo courtesy Chandler Chamber of Commerce.
March 13, 2015

CHANDLER, Ariz. - Racing ostriches is harmful to the animals and potentially dangerous to humans. That's the view of Tina Riedel, who is among the organizers of a protest planned at the 27th Annual Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival at Tumbleweed Park on Sunday.

Riedel said there are concerns both for the big birds and their riders.

"And the jockeys themselves have to be careful not to strangle their necks because they really could injure the animal or even cause death," she said. "Not only that, but ostriches are strong, and they can actually hurt the rider, the jockey, as well."

Riedel said she believes that ostriches have been injured during previous races at the Chandler festival. She said the goal of the protest is to draw attention to the ostrich races and eventually have the event stopped.

Terri Kimble, chief executive of the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, said that to her knowledge, no ostriches have been hurt during the years of races. She added that the birds are very strong and well treated, and the riders are experienced.

"We work with professional ostrich handlers," she said. "They are professional riders. We don't just let the general public do this. They take very good care of their animals."

Kimble said the festival is meant to honor Dr. Alexander John Chandler, a veterinary surgeon who founded the Town of Chandler in 1912 and who also was an ostrich farmer. The Ostrich Festival attracts up to 350,000 people each year.

Information on the event is online at ostrichfestival.com.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - AZ