A race at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie that's being described as a charitable event is drawing censure from Dallas-area animal lovers who condemn it for its cruelty, and wonder whether its claims are legitimate.
The event is called "Extreme Racing," and involves not just horses but a trio of animals not generally found on a racetrack.
"Camels, ostriches, and zebras will hit the track between live horse races — ridden by our very own jockeys — and they’ll run their hilarious hearts out for charity, because each animal is paired with a worthy local nonprofit," the website says.
According to Lone Star Park, there are 13 charities who will receive funds, but the park will not identify them, responding neither to inquiries from attendees, nor the media.
Kristan Turns, who works with Flower Mound-based animal group Humane Tomorrow, is one of many animal advocates who are questioning the park's use of animals that do not ordinarily race. "Exotic animals like camels were not designed for 'extreme racing' anymore than dogs were designed for fighting," Turns says.
"But more problematic is Lone Star Park's refusal to identify which 13 charities will benefit from this event," she says. "The public has a right to know the financial reportings of nonprofit organizations and should be given the opportunity to research whether the 13 unnamed organizations are of legitimate IRS exempt status prior to donating."
Turns says that the park's reluctance to name the charities raises questions about the legitimacy of the event.
"There's not a single, acceptable reason to keep this list of beneficiaries secret," she says. "Lone Star Park has failed to provide requested information, which gives cause for responsible donors to wonder if this is even a charity event at all. From a business perspective, it is not ethical behavior."
And back to the animals, she says it's a lousy plight.
"I think about where they live, how they live, and why they are forced to participate in these races," she says. "What happens when they can no longer perform? Who cares for them then? And what do parents say when their child in attendance asks them?"
UPDATE: The park added the recipient organizations to its event page, as follows:
Lone Star Circus
Wipe Out Kids Cancer
Moss Haven Farms
Community Elite (no website)
Racetrack Chaplaincy of America
Don't Forget to Feed Me
Do Something Girls of Plano
Alex Wilson Lodging
Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund