Last weekend, an elephant hired for a Redington Beach woman's birthday celebration delighted attendees when it bathed in the Gulf of Mexico. But the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was not entertained, and has filed complaints with state and federal authorities.
Claudia McCorkle celebrated her 60th birthday on Saturday and paid $4,500 to have Judy, a 6,200-pound elephant, brought from Orlando.
At one point, the elephant lumbered to the gulf to rinse off. Cellphone pictures and video went viral.
PETA sent a complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, asking for an investigation into whether Judy's trainer, Bones Craig, allowed the animal near the public without supervision.
PETA also filed a complaint with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
In its USDA complaint, PETA says that according to the Animal Welfare Act, elephants must be handled so that there is "sufficient distance … between the animal and the general viewing public so as to assure the safety of animals and the public."
It also cited a portion of the act that says the elephant "must be under the direct control and supervision of a knowledgeable and experienced animal handler."
Craig declined to comment.