As the region prepares for single-digit temperatures in the days ahead, an animal rights group sued to stop carriage rides at Winter Wonderland in Tilles Park in Ladue.
St. Louis County officials responded Thursday, with a late afternoon announcement that carriage rides at the annual Winter Wonderland in Tilles Park would cease when temperatures hit 15 degrees or colder.
“Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of the horses and patrons, we have decided this is the best course of action,” County Executive Steve Stenger said in a statement.
Dan Kolde, a lawyer and animal rights activist who has fought for stricter regulation of horse-drawn carriages in downtown St. Louis, filed the lawsuit Thursday on behalf of the nonprofit St. Louis Animal Rights Team. The suit sought a St. Louis County judge’s order halting the use of carriage horses in frigid temperatures.
The suit claimed that horse-drawn carriages are regulated by the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission and that St. Louis County ordinances require the health department to comply with the commission’s “Vehicle for Hire” code.
Winter Wonderland, an annual light display in Tilles Park from Nov. 22 through Saturday, includes carriage rides offered by the St. Louis Carriage Co.
Meanwhile in St. Louis, city aldermen have been weighing a bill to bar horses from city streets following a judge’s order blocking enforcement of rules for carriages for at least a year.
The same animal rights group sued after the 2013 death of a carriage Clydesdale named King in Tilles Park at the park’s Winter Wonderland event. The Clydesdale’s owner, Brookdale Farms of Eureka, said at the time that King was 22, died of a heart attack and had demonstrated no signs of distress.
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