Horse-drawn carriage rides around Central Park bring in about $15 million a year, and, in the words of Mayor Bloomberg, “have traditionally been a part of New York City” — though, at this point, the same could be said for the ongoing fight by animal activists to have the carriage rides banned. Those opposed to using live animals to lug around tourists have been shouting for years, but they’re currently having something of a moment, catalyzed by horse accidents and high-profile critics (like Pamela Anderson), leading to what the New York Times calls “unprecedented turmoil” for the industry. The machines are poised to take over.
City politicians and potential mayoral candidates like Scott Stringer and Bill Thompson support a ban on the carriage rides in favor of electric tourist wagons, while celebrities like Calvin Klein are also speaking up. Behind the scenes, the fight is getting uglier, with a veterinarian claiming that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals strong-armed her into declaring that a fallen horse had been suffering. On the other side, carriage owners “acknowledge carrying out a campaign to infiltrate the activist groups and secretly record their strategy sessions.” In all, there are just 68 licensed carriages shared between 282 drivers and 216 horses, but with this level of intensity, someone’s bound to end up with a head in their bed, Godfather-style.
Related: Home on the Asphalt [NYM]