Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

City Council Tables Ponies

After a late night hearing, the pony ride and petting zoo at Santa Monica’s Main Street farmers market will not have it’s contract renewed.

In a council meeting that lasted well into the early hours of Wednesday morning, four Santa Monica City Council members voted-in measures that will see a cessation of all animal activities at the Sunday event.

Voting to exclude the little horses were Ted Winterer, Gleam Davis, Tony Vazquez, and Kevin McKeown.

“This is a very important step in the right direction in terms of responding to the concerns of residents,” said Marcy Winograd, founder of pony-rights group Free the Pony.

“It’s a matter of community conscience and it’s up to the community to make a decision on that,” she added.

Since 2006, Tawni Angel’s Pony Rides at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market has brought weekly excitement for kids learning about animals. Yet recently animal rights activist Marcy Winograd has been pushing for an end to what she calls “animal cruelty” with her online petition. Those in favour of the pony rides have bitten back with their own petition.

According to some, the pony attraction in town is “just a primitive spectacle of animal exploitation”, and many residents are shocked that the community is permitting the rides along with its petting zoo, despite the rising number of complaints.

Signatures on Winograd’s petition on the Move On website include those of Santa Monica School Board President Ben Allen, City Council candidates Sue Himmelrich and Richard Mckinnon, and Residocracy organizer and Hines project challenger Armen Melkonians. There is clearly widespread discontent over how this attraction is run.

On the other hand, Angel is insistent that her animals are happy and that there is no sense of cruelty in her business. 70% of her horses are rescues, and are always permitted shade despite Winograd’s claims. Throughout the week, when the ponies are not at the market, they are given 5 acre pastures and quarterly inspections.

According to Angel, Marcy is simply not speaking the truth. “My alpaca Elle for example, I rescued her mama when she was about to give birth, 5 weeks later she unfortunately got a blockage in her intestine, which left me with Elle. Here we are 2 years later, healthy and happy. She has a wonderful herd that loves her so much! Marcy’s crazy talk about the alpaca needing it’s family- We are her family and she is very relaxed and stress free”.

Angel also adds the pictures Marcy took show the alpaca sleeping, not burying her head in discomfort, particularly as shade was available to her. She accepts that labour isn’t for all animals: “I have had animals in the past that are shy or just don’t adjust well and I happily find a different home for them. I devote my life to doing right by these animals.”


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