An Open Letter to the Cleveland Orchestra

Ivory Free Ohio

Photo Credit; WWF

Dear Cleveland Orchestra,

My name is Christina LaMonica, and I am the Founder of Ivory Free Ohio, a grassroots organization dedicated to outlawing all intra-state sales of Ivory, Rhino Horn, and Trophy Hunting products in our state without exemption. We’ve never met in person, but we’ve communicated via telephone and emails regarding our movement and your continued support.

As you are aware, we’ve worked diligently with Senator Frank LaRose and his staff, educating them on the adverse effects of the Ivory trade while creating legislation that protects our national security and helps Africa’s keystone species from extinction.

Using an ax, machete, and chainsaw, poachers hack the faces of Elephants and Rhinos while they are still alive.  Photo Credit; The Tsavo Trust

The United States is the largest consumer of Ivory and Rhino Horn products- 2nd to China. One Elephant is slaughtered every 15 minutes. That’s four an hour, 96 a day, 672 a week, 2,880 a month, and 34,560 a year. And in the time it took you and your constituents (Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Cleveland Museum of Art) to hijack our Ivory Bill, over 25,000 Elephants have been killed for their Ivory tusks.

The business of buying and selling blood Ivory and Rhino Horn yields over $23 billion a year.  Dealers of these illegal products are experts at disguising new Ivory to appear antique. Without a DNA Forensic Laboratory on-site to test the authenticity of every piece of Ivory the Orchestra acquires, there’s a 90% probability that you are purchasing tusks from a recently slaughtered Elephant.

We listened to the testimony of the League of American Orchestras at the Federal Advisory Council Meetings on Wildlife Trafficking emphatically resisting any ban on Ivory and Rhino Horn. We do not want to believe that the Cleveland Orchestra supports wildlife crimes or terrorism, but your enthusiasm for Ivory and manipulation of legislation, tells us otherwise.

In recent weeks, hundreds of anti-poaching Rangers lost their lives  protecting Elephants and Rhinos from poachers. When organizations impose loopholes into legislation, they perpetuate the illegal trade and hinder the global movement to ban it.

Protector of the Giants; Ranger Johnny

Anti-Poaching Ranger John Abenja, supports Ivory Free Ohio.  Nanyuki, Kenya.

Legendary musician and piano man, Billy Joel, took a stand against the use of Ivory by writing an open letter on his website stating, “I am a piano player. And I realize that ivory piano keys are preferred by some pianists…but a preference for ivory keys does not justify the slaughter of 96 elephants every day. There are other materials which can be substituted for piano keys. But magnificent creatures like these can never be replaced. Music must never be used as an excuse to destroy an endangered species. Music should be a celebration of life — not an instrument of death.”

One can only surmise how much support the Cleveland Orchestra would gain by joining Billy Joel and countless other celebrities who have taken a stand against the illegal trade of blood Ivory and Rhino horn. 

I say to you this; “Once a species becomes extinct, no corrective legislation can bring them back – they are gone forever.” Ivory Free Ohio is committed to a complete ban without exemption and continues to stand on the right side of history.  We encourage you to do the same.  Ivory belongs to Elephants, not the Orchestra.  

Be Ivory Free.

Christina LaMonica
Founder, Ivory Free Ohio 


Photo Credit; AWF


CITES. (1991). Identification Guide for Ivory and Ivory Substitutes. Retrieved from

Joel, B. (2015, April 17). Billy Joel Lends Voice to Save Elephants. Retrieved from

Portman, R. (2014, February 8). Elephants Slaughtered for Trinkets and Terrorism. Retrieved from

Stiles, D. (2014, March). Elephant Ivory Trafficking in California, USA. Retrieved from

WildAid. (2016, February 4). World Celebrities “Join the Herd” to Fight for Africa’s Elephants. Retrieved from

22 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Cleveland Orchestra

  1. Elephants and rangers are being murdered so pianos can have ivory keys? Come on, I think everyone can see that is so wrong. Listen to Billy Joel, he’s a smart man!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am appalled that an orchestra would look for the loopholes (or try to create the loopholes) for banning ivory in your city, state and country. How many people will recognize the difference in the quality of the instrument you are playing when you perform? I appreciate good music, fine music, but that it isn’t worth the lives of the animals (and waste!) from different parts of the world you maintain an illegal industry for. I will no longer purchase copies of your performances and will encourage others not to support your organization either.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You have stated that you are ‘committed to the goals of wildlife conservation and combating the illegal trade of ivory and other protected species.’ Yet your actions speak louder than your words…” Exactly: you can’t have it both ways. I support music and orchestras, but this HAS to stop.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Musicians of the Cleveland Orchestra (or any other musician of the world) are not seeking NEW ivory. They are advocating for being able to keep their instruments INTACT. Sadly, you are misconstruing the situation. I am an avid supporter of efforts to ban trophy (I’m dismayed entirely by hunting at all – in fact, I’m vegan). However, I’m also a musician (fortunately for me, I don’t play an instrument which has ivory on it). I have signed many petitions banning the ivory trade, but what you seem to pushing for is ridiculous. You are demanding that instruments a century old or older be altered to eliminate the ivory attached or embedded within. This will have NO IMPACT on the current efforts to stop illegal poaching and hunting. You are spending time, money and resources punishing the wrong people! Focus in the right direction and leave musicians alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Dealers of these illegal products are experts at disguising new Ivory to appear as old, antique Ivory. Without having a forensic laboratory on-site to test the authenticity of every piece of Ivory, there is a 90% chance that you will purchase illegal Ivory.” The illegal trade sells ivory in these instruments as “old” ivory. The only was to close the market is to eliminate Ivory. You eliminate it or you encourage it. Not make loopholes for people who whine about property over life.

      You are part of the problem or part of the solution. Too bad for their instruments which can be replaced with parts that do not cause the suffering of millions of a species, deaths of other people, and promotion of terrorism and war. Get some perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know if I’m misconstruing, or you are … but here’s what I think is or should be going on: Instruments currently containing ivory should be left alone. Any new instruments being manufactured must not contain ivory. When oId instruments that contain ivory need repair, ivory substitutes would be used instead of real ivory. That should satisfy everyone, and keep the animals alive.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Shannon,

      If New Jersey can pass legislation banning the sale of all Ivory, Rhino Horn, and Trophy Hunting Products, so too can the state of Ohio. If Hong Kong, China, the largest consumers and distributers of Ivory and Rhino Horn in the world can ban the sale of these products, so too can the state of Ohio.

      Ivory funds terrorism, contributes to the loss of human life, is a threat to our national security, and is driving keystone species into extinction. We are focusing our attention in the right direction, and that is through education and legislation in an effort to create change in our state.

      Ivory Belongs to Elephants, only.

      Thank you for your feedback.


  5. As a musician myself I support the total ban of ivory. Ivory was once used to make the bridge and nut on guitars. Other materials have been substituted without sacrificing the tonal qualities of the instrument. To not support this total ban is irresponsible.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Next time tell us that the photos are explicit. I’m sickened over that photo, and I worry about the elephants and rhinos every day. But that photo is too much without warning. Thank you for your work and anybody who buys ivory, antique or God forbid, otherwise, will be damned for it. God bless the men who are trying to stop the poaching. My prayers are with you too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Put a contract in place to hire temporarily an extra 10,000 armed security in Elephants natural habitat and set up a few thousand cameras. These protectors need support themselves being on the frontline to keep these species safe. They must have the chance to arrest and place prison time and huge fines in place when provinv guilty or actually kill any evil resistance from poachers that won’t allow us to hold them accountable.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Testimonials | Ivory Free Ohio-IFOH

  9. This is a very serious issue. It must be treated as such. Keys for a piano? I simply cannot comprehend a person who would prefer elephants be murdered so they can have ivory piano keys. Have these people gone utterly mad?


  10. Pingback: Ivory Free Ohio feat. in Ivory is a Color | Ivory Free Ohio-IFOH

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