WASHINGTON, October 16, 2015— After careful evaluation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has determined that the U.S. Animal Health Association’s (USAHA) 2010 “Guidelines for the Control of Tuberculosis in Elephants” continue to represent the best standards of care for elephants that may be exposed to TB or test positive for the disease, and APHIS is strongly encouraging licensees and registrants who own elephants to voluntarily comply with the Guidelines.
In late December 2012, APHIS published a notice in the Federal Register seeking comments on how to best incorporate USAHA’s 2010 guidance into our enforcement efforts. At that time, we received more than 1,600 comments from a variety of groups, including advocacy organizations, industry groups, licensees and registrants, as well as State officials.
We believe our voluntary approach will continue to protect elephant health and support our collaborative relationship with State partners and the regulated community. Additionally, such a voluntary approach recognizes that the relationship between the licensee and their attending veterinarian as the best approach to oversee the health and welfare of the animals.
At least a few States have already adopted USAHA’s 2010 Guidelines and require elephant exhibitors to comply with them. APHIS will continue to focus on ensuring that elephants receive proper care under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). We will ensure that these animals have an appropriate veterinary care plan established by their attending veterinarian, including the proper testing for, and treatment of, TB. We believe our efforts will continue to enable us to detect and stop the spread of TB in elephants.
If we have concerns about the health and welfare of any elephant
s, we will use our full authority under the AWA’s veterinary care provisions to take appropriate action. We believe the combination of our oversight of veterinary care, coupled with States using their authorities to address the risk of TB in elephants, is the best approach to take to ensure the health of elephants.