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One of the ponies at the Santa Monica farmers market every Sunday.
Courtesy photo
One of the ponies at the Santa Monica farmers market every Sunday.

Opinion, Farmers Market, Main Street, Santa Monica

Santa Monica Animal Cruelty Disguised As Entertainment

Posted Jun. 21, 2014, 6:56 am

Special To The Mirror

By Marcy Winograd

Former Congressional Candidate

The much-revered Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

I shudder to think what this peaceful warrior would say if he passed by the Santa Monica farmers market on Main Street.

There, every Sunday, six ponies – some of them dragging their feet, having trouble walking – are tethered to a metal bar and forced to plod for hours in tiny circles on hard hot cement, while bands, often loud, blare next to the ponies’ sensitive ears.

The California Penal Code prohibits animal cruelty and imposes fines and imprisonment on those who cause animals needless suffering, yet the city – my city – continues this animal amusement with much fanfare and celebration, even advertising these sad pony rides on its website.

Next to the pony ride sits a penned in petting zoo, where an alpaca – a member of the camel family known for wanting to stay close to family – is sequestered in a tiny cement area, where gawkers can enjoy the sideshow.

Baby goats and chickens, bred for the zoo, sometimes seek refuge in corners. I wonder where their mothers are and how we might feel if, as infants, we were separated from our mothers. I wonder about the emotional lives of animals.

For years, I looked the other way, mindful there were other urgent struggles to embrace: stopping the drones; ending needless government surveillance; teaching our children to read and write.

One day, however, out of town guests asked me, “What’s wrong with Santa Monica? Why do the people here tolerate this abuse?” Speechless, I felt ashamed, not only for my city, but for myself, for my silence.

I am no longer silent in the face of animal cruelty disguised as benign children’s entertainment.

I launched a Move On petition (petitions.moveon.org/sign/shut-down-pony-rides) to shut down the current pony ride and petting zoo and have collected nearly 600 signatures, including those of Santa Monica School Board President Ben Allen, City Council candidates Sue Himmelrich and Richard Mckinnon, and Residocracy organizer and Hines project challenger Armen Melkonians.

I also started a Facebook page called Free the Pony.

Since then, I have urged the city to adopt a more humane approach – move the ponies to Virginia Park and walk them on gentle leads and grassy areas. Do not normalize the tethering of ponies, for enslavement is not what we should teach our children.

Some argue the ponies are only tethered several hours a week and must work for their keep; others say it’s better to work than be slaughtered. Is it acceptable to inflict cruel treatment on voiceless creatures for any amount of time?

Particularly when there is a more humane way to sustain them?

As for the threat of slaughter, The Gentle Barn, a nearby animal rescue sanctuary, has offered lifetime refuge to two of the ponies who seem to have the most trouble walking in circles for hours.

Additionally, I ask the city of Santa Monica to pay redress to these defenseless animals and to offer their “guardian” – the pony operator – the money needed to take care of them while they are still standing.

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Comments

Jun. 21, 2014, 7:53:13 am

Rebecca said...

I agree. Why is the Santa Monica farmers market supportive of the exploitation and abuse of these animals? It is so sad to see. I used to love going to the farmers market, but I can't stand to see the animals suffering any more.

Jun. 21, 2014, 8:26:10 am

Mary said...

As someone who frequents Santa Monica and the farmers market there, I concur with Marcy. It seems cruel for these animals and doesn't send a good message to our kids who see this display.

Jun. 21, 2014, 8:35:02 am

Martha said...

The suffering of these animals outweighs any possible entertainment value. Please shut down the pony rides.

Jun. 21, 2014, 9:16:56 am

Laurel said...

It is awful to watch, and I notice people complaining about his for awhile now and I wonder why is it still going on, very sad.

Jun. 21, 2014, 9:37:53 am

Katherine Gray said...

FREE THE PONIES!! The pony venue is not right - we need to stop the cruelty at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market now. I support the community efforts to eliminate the cruelty to animals. Sincerely, Katherine Gray

Jun. 21, 2014, 9:48:26 am

Lauren Steiner said...

This is indeed awful. What is also awful is that they were operating without a permit for so long, that the vets have not inspected them for so long, and that the city has been so resistant to your efforts to try to end this abusive practice. Where is Richard Bloom on this? He authored a bill in the State Legislature to outlaw keeping orcas in captivity after the movie Blackfish galvanized the entire country. Perhaps you could enlist his support.

Jun. 21, 2014, 9:51:32 am

Armen Melkonians said...

I commend Marcy Winograd for providing a voice and being the hero for the ponies who have suffered for far too long in Santa Monica. I support Marcy’s proposal that our City Hall offer redress to these defenseless ponies to allow them to live the rest of their natural lives free of a tether. Our City owes it to them and it is the only right thing to do. Only prejudice allows us to deny others the rights that we expect to have for ourselves. Whether it’s based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or species, prejudice is morally unacceptable and it does not have a place here in our progressive city.

Jun. 21, 2014, 11:46:58 am

Buddyg said...

There are surely better ways to entertain ourselves and our children, who are taught an unsavory lesson about the exploitation of animals for our amusement. Let's stop this unnecessary mistreatment of the ponies!

Jun. 21, 2014, 1:25:47 pm

Larry D. Halstead said...

Santa Monica should be a beacon of enlightenment instead of show casing animal abuse. The shame of being silent felt by Marcy should be felt by all citizens of Santa Monica. Shame on the Santa Monica for tolerating this abuse. Shame on all of our citizens of Santa Monica for not joining Marcy in stopping this abuse.

Jun. 21, 2014, 2:19:05 pm

Jackie said...

Marcy's comments reflect my thoughts about this particular pony ride and petting "zoo." Merry-go-rounds are for wooden carousel horses, not live ponies. Come on Santa Monica, untether the ponies and lead them down a humane path.

Jun. 21, 2014, 2:55:04 pm

vinnie said...

I suggest if you want to stop this you all stop going to the Farmers Market. Once sales go down the farmers will pressure the operator to get get rid if it.

Jun. 21, 2014, 3:22:04 pm

Victoria said...

Agree strongly with Ms. Winograd and the other commenters, above. There is no justification -- ethical, practical, or entertainment-wise -- for the pony ride to continue. I no longer go to the Main St. market, even though it is very close to my home here in Santa Monica. I would like to suggest that people who question the City's approach might want to make your concerns known to those who oversee the Sunday Main St. market. Here is contact info for Jodi Low, Farmers Market Coordinator for that specific market: (310) 458-8712 x 5 jodi.low@smgov.net And here is a link to the City webpage listing other points of contact. http://www.smgov.net/Portals/Farmers_Market/About_Us/Staff.aspx Note to SM Mirror editors: this is publicly-available contact info on the City of SM website, so I am assuming it is OK to post it here (vs. giving out someone's personal email).

Jun. 21, 2014, 3:25:12 pm

Jackie said...

Thank you Victoria.

Jun. 21, 2014, 5:43:48 pm

Andy Liberman said...

It makes sense these ponies should be freed of their drudgery and pain.

Jun. 21, 2014, 8:23:38 pm

Sandra Sunshine Williams said...

There's no excuse for the city of Santa Monica to continue to permit this cruel treatment of ponies, who feel pain just like we do. Thank you marcy winograd for your efforts to do something about it!

Jun. 21, 2014, 8:24:01 pm

Sandra Sunshine Williams said...

There's no excuse for the city of Santa Monica to continue to permit this cruel treatment of ponies, who feel pain just like we do. Thank you marcy winograd for your efforts to do something about it!

Jun. 22, 2014, 1:24:09 am

whine-o-grad said...

This kind of pony show is why Marcy lost. I think they should butcher the ponies at the farmer's market then sell the steaks as "free and free range".

Jun. 22, 2014, 5:38:16 am

Lauren Chase said...

I hope Santa Monica does the right thing makes more humane conditions for the ponies. Anyone who doubts they are suffering should try walking around in circles on hot pavement themselves, with their head lashed on a pole between their nose and eyes for a few hours, then report on the experience.

Jun. 22, 2014, 6:47:33 am

Brenda said...

if you get any of these livestock professionals:Alamo Pintado Equine Med Center (805) 688-6510, Santa Lucia Farm (805) 688-3673, Pierce College Director Ron Wechsler (818) 710-3308, UCDavis Large Animal Clinic (530) 752-0290 to state they see abuse happening at the Farmers Market, I will be happy to protest the childrens ride and petting zoo!! I will make my personal mission to get it shut down. Thank you,

Jun. 22, 2014, 6:52:44 am

Bonnie said...

Lets get rid of the pony rides,, ALSO we need to get rid of animals in our homes, dogs, cats,, birds etc..... it is so cruel to keep a dog or cat in doors!!! dogs where meant to run free. Keeping a dog in your home is cruel. STOP THE CRUELTY TO DOGS!

Jun. 23, 2014, 9:54:51 am

Connie Lonf said...

Do you have direct experience and observations to share with us? Marcy has misrepresented and lied about what is happening at the Farmers market. Because of that it is impossible for me to take her serious! As stated if she can get one of the Professional Animal Care Providers to state they see cruelty , I will help end the rides and petting zoo. With out their input it looks like personal attacks by Marcy on the Pony ride!! Actually I consider Marcy's remarks as snarky

Jun. 22, 2014, 7:11:22 am

LA Progressive said...

Marcy uses the words cruel and abusive. But will NOT ask experts. ONCE again Marcy you get any of these livestock professionals:Alamo Pintado Equine Med Center (805) 688-6510, Santa Lucia Farm (805) 688-3673, Pierce College Director Ron Wechsler (818) 710-3308, UCDavis Large Animal Clinic (530) 752-0290 to state they see abuse or cruel behavior happening at the Farmers Market, I will be happy to protest the childrens ride and petting zoo!! You will have supporters. Facts before politics

Jun. 22, 2014, 7:16:15 am

Connie Lonf said...

There is no justification -- ethical, practical, or entertainment-wise -- for dogs or cats to be kept indoors for our personal satisfaction! Those that keep dogs, cats, birds in your homes need to be more aware of their cruelty!

Jun. 22, 2014, 7:18:13 am

Brenda said...

Is it acceptable to inflict cruel treatment on voiceless creatures for any amount of time? Like keeping a dog in your yard or home. we must stand up and end pets in our homes

Jun. 23, 2014, 1:02:32 pm

Mikey said...

Jesus people! Have a hamburger and chill out.

Jun. 22, 2014, 10:34:56 am

Jackie said...

The same people who were warned by the editor about committing libel for saying untrue things about Marcy on another SM paper are showing up here with their hateful remarks. Some use obvious fictitious names. Turn your hate around please. PS Marcy was never caught in any lies.

Jun. 22, 2014, 11:06:18 am

Victoria said...

"There is no justification -- ethical, practical, or entertainment-wise -- for dogs or cats to be kept indoors for our personal satisfaction! Those that keep dogs, cats, birds in your homes need to be more aware of their cruelty!" ---- I'm not sure why you are choosing to use some of my words to create a distraction from the issue at hand. (To your point, though: I myself don't own pets, for several reasons; so trying to paint me as a hypocrite ain't gonna work.) And conflating the pony ride conditions with those pets is illogical and adds nothing useful to the discussion. Now, if you have a reasonable, logical, sensible argument for why the pony rides should continue, I will be happy to read it. People who think they are advancing their side of the issue through snarky comments are being neither clever nor compelling, and actually taint the pony ride by association.

Jun. 24, 2014, 11:32:23 am

Victoria said...

I have no interest in censoring anyone, nor do I have the power to do so. I *am* interested in hearing fact-based observations from others so I can have an informed point-of-view on this issue. For example, it would be helpful to hear more specific on the allegied lies. If in fact their is verifiable evidence that Ms. Winograd is being less than truthful, that should be brought to light. But certainly, people are free to say whatever they please within the Terms of Use of this site; if they choose to make allegations that they are unwilling or unable to back up with specific examples and facts, they are doing the very thing they accusing Ms. Winograd of doing. I think we can do better than that, can't we?

Jun. 23, 2014, 9:57:31 am

Brenda said...

Marcy seems to be more of a Politician then a clear impartial observer of live

Jun. 23, 2014, 11:01:38 am

Linda Piera-Avila said...

I support Marcy and would really like to see the pony rides ended or at least moved to a larger location that is grassy and quieter and where the ponies could be led instead of tethered and ridden in circles on pavement . Our human amusement is not sufficient justification for forcing an animal to behave in a way that is not natural. We don't have Ringling Bros. circuses in the city; I think many people would protest that because of the use of large exotic animals for entertainment. How are the pony rides different? Smaller scale maybe, but that's it. It's time we all learned to be kinder to animals, including these ponies, and respect the fact that they are sentient beings who may be suffering under the current practices.

Jun. 22, 2014, 2:20:57 pm

Victoria said...

Connie, I appreciate the explanation -- thank you. I won't make any assumptions about Ms. Winograd's pets, since I've not been to her home to see them (have you?), but I will say this: let the evidence of your own sense be your guide. If you spend time at the pony ride, observing, and conclude that it is a healthy, humane activity, then that is a useful piece of information to share with us. It's helpful to get multiple points-of-view. What is less helpful (and actually hurts the pro-pony ride argument) are personal attacks and unsubstantiated allegations about either the article writer or other participants in this forum. Do you have direct experience and observations to share with us?

Jun. 23, 2014, 9:41:35 pm

Dr Jim Hyden said...

Just read Marcy's post at the SM Patch, WOW! If she is willing to go to that length, to lie about what is happening? The is frightening!

Jun. 23, 2014, 9:43:47 pm

Dr Jim Hyden said...

who made Victoria the censor of what can be posted and how? Marcy has some questions to answer! Marcy did you contact any of these Professionals?

Jun. 24, 2014, 8:00:39 pm

Rev Lori Sams said...

Just read an article by Marcy, this is her quoteAlpacas that are lying down, depressed, unable to rise and in severe distress may not only require cooling" Something terribly wrong with the way she is going about this. God Bless Honesty Marcy, please be honest

Jun. 26, 2014, 5:21:14 am

Chris Lightfoot said...

. Lets get all animals off leash and back in wide open spaces, Santa Monica City should ban all animals! I am so appalled every time I see a dog on leash or a cat in someones window! I demand that the City of Santa Monica bans animals and stop cruelty! I am for Marcy!

Jun. 26, 2014, 8:06:46 pm

Jackie said...

The people (actually more like one person using multiple fake names) should stop their cyberbullying. Name calling and making false statements about a person might be considered libel (as the editor of the other paper warned you). Let's all have a reasoned debate with facts not fiction. Often cyberbullies forget that they are not anonymous because their IP address can be tracked. Cyberbullies speak volumes about themselves, but not in a good way.

Jun. 26, 2014, 8:01:02 am

Chris Lightfoot said...

Linda I am 100% on board "Our human amusement is not sufficient justification for forcing an animal to behave in a way that is not natural" Lets free the dogs also, it hurts to see dogs that where born to run free on leashes , stuck in a persons home! City of Santa Monica I demand that you ban animals in our city, now. I back you all the way Marcy, lets keep it going

Jun. 26, 2014, 8:58:42 pm

Jo Palermo said...

the only bully is Marcy, i question her motives! because of her lies. Lies are not reasonable, neither is Marcy! WHY HASNT MARCY SPOKE WITH PROFESSIONAL ANIMAL HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS GIVEN TO HER??? lies1 and liable?

Jun. 26, 2014, 9:05:36 pm

Jo Palermo said...

PS : there is nothing wrong with questioning where some one is at , that would go to lengths that Marcy has to shut down animals in SM . And misrepresent facts, who does that?

Jun. 28, 2014, 6:45:25 am

Connie Lonf said...

Jackie? Marcy has been using words like abuse and cruel. Once again she misrepresented facts, I think knowingly to get her own way.. Yet she refuses to ask any of those Professionals for their expert opinions on her remarks. I personally watched her rush towards the pony ride to take a photo, you should have see the concern on peoples faces. Yes I question where someone is at mentally to do all of that, there is no problem with that. So who is the bully? And as far as facts, lets discuss the facts I stated!! If she gets any of those Professionals given to her to state they see cruel or abusive behavior, I personally will help get rid of the ponies and petting zoo. I just want the facts instead of an emotional outburst. If you want my IP . address let me know, you can have it.!

Jun. 28, 2014, 7:14:27 pm

Alyce torten said...

This absolutely animal cruelty, poor little pony going around in circles with the heavy bar across his nose bridge

Jun. 28, 2014, 8:56:35 pm

Brenda said...

This absolutely animal cruelty, poor little pony going around in circles with the heavy bar across his nose bridge. If true and you really believe that then we must ban dogs, cats, birds in our city. Dogs on a leash is 100% just as cruel. If we ban the ponies, then we must ban dogs, cats, etc.....

Jun. 29, 2014, 7:16:33 am

Jo Palermo said...

Connie has made some extremely valid points. Why has Marcy or anyone else addressed that fact that Marcy keeps stating abuse and cruelty, yest refuses to get professional advice on what she is seeing at the Market with these animals? Why is that? Who is the bully? Who is being abusive thru haressmnet?

Jun. 29, 2014, 7:28:23 am

Jo Palermo said...

Who is being abusive thru harassment? Is that sound judgement? With out the advice from those Professionals, isn't it just slander? What kind of person does that? What kind of person would knowingly misrepresent the facts just to get their own way? So once again, Why hasnt Marcy or anyone else addressed that fact that Marcy keeps stating abuse and cruelty, yest refuses to get professional advice on what she is seeing at the Market with these animals?

Jun. 29, 2014, 7:10:32 pm

Connie Lonf said...

Marcy and her followers are very concerned about name calling and slander, that people have said they are concerned about her mental state.. But the truth she slandering the pony ride with signs that say abuse and cruel. If I was the owner of the pony ride I would not be very cooperative at all. Marcy would be better stating the truth, she doesnt approve of the ride and zoo, that is much different from abuse and cruel and maybe she would get more cooperation from the owner of the rides. I would be more involved, i just dont like how she has chosen to slander these people and their work. It would appear she is a hypocrite.

Jun. 30, 2014, 7:56:57 am

Jeffrey adams said...

No limit to the the Capitalist Mans' Cruelty . By upper -Crustdom.

Jul. 1, 2014, 8:52:48 am

Val said...

Why is that Marcy and husband are so upset about anyone posting anything that could be damaging to a person's reputation or make false and damaging statements. Yet Marcy makes post about abuse and cruelty?? And completely misrepresents facts. She attacks with harsh words , yet wants everyone to be kind to her, to have an open, decent, debate. Marcy was extremely upset about many of the comments made about her questionable behavior, her husband so angry and scared threatening legal action. Marcy basically blames people for retaliating to her critical and unproven statements. You get what you put out, anyone that "hates" abuse , is abuse!

Jul. 2, 2014, 6:56:18 am

Val said...

Definition of tethered: tie (an animal) with a rope or chain so as to restrict its movement. Is this not every dog in the City? Does that mean we are all abusive to dogs? Where else is this going on??

Jul. 2, 2014, 4:59:31 pm

Val said...

Animal control was sent to check out these allegations of abuse and cruel behavior. The City had veterinarians and multiple experts look at the animals and they didn’t find any evidence of abuse.” Marcy was given names and numbers of the top experts in the area and state. NO EVIDENCE! NONE! Yet Marcy continues to use slanderous words like abuse and cruelty. What kind of person does that? What kind of mind does that? I find that sad and alarming! We need to teach young people honesty now that would be exciting!

Jul. 6, 2014, 10:13:32 pm

Jo Palermo said...

the Gentle Barn Marcy endorses has had several lawsuits against them by employees, all settled out of court. come on if you abuse your employees , you will your abuse animals

Jul. 9, 2014, 9:24:22 am

brad L said...

I have been watching and reading about the pony rides and petting zoo at the Farmers Market for weeks, I even stopped by the Market a few times. I have worked with animals most of my life, personally I don't find the pony ride or zoo a problem. although I can see where someone may not like the appearance of the pony ride. I am around animals a lot, the cracked hooves, filthy water, concrete, etc.. sorry, are imaginary, there is no problem. The petting zoo is such an amazing experience for the children of Santa Monica, it is something each child needs and I believe wants, a connection with what we are all a part of, Nature! My main concern is how Marcy has attacked the owners and City of Santa Monica with allegations of cruelty and abuse, I don't see anything close to that and I am very sure she will not find one authority on animals to agree with her claims of abuse and cruelty. In the world where people make their livings with animals, accusations of abuse and cruelty can tarnish their reputations forever and in many cases ruin them. It is the same as someone that works with children being accused of molestation. If Marcy wants the ride to look and be handled differently, more power to her, I question her approach. Marcy I hope you take sometime to reflect and ask questions on what is happening at the market. I come from an extremely small town where even in all our differences we worked as a community, those times I see maybe gone for ever The poet Longfellow wrote “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility"

Jul. 11, 2014, 8:36:19 am

B L said...

PS : If you take the ponies to Virginia Park and lead them around, the ponies will still have the exact same affect, expression, and will still be tethered?????

Jul. 11, 2014, 2:24:04 pm

CB said...

It is sad that hyterical, malicious types like this 'former congressional candidate' has nothing better to do than to harass and seek to ban a wonderful business such as this pony ride and petting zoo. I truly hope the owners can have a cease and desist order served against her. I'm guessing she does not like children or animals. These ponies are in splendid health and look most content. So nice to have this service available for children.

Jul. 11, 2014, 2:24:06 pm

CB said...

It is sad that hyterical, malicious types like this 'former congressional candidate' has nothing better to do than to harass and seek to ban a wonderful business such as this pony ride and petting zoo. I truly hope the owners can have a cease and desist order served against her. I'm guessing she does not like children or animals. These ponies are in splendid health and look most content. So nice to have this service available for children.

Jul. 11, 2014, 2:32:22 pm

Anna said...

I see Marcy is still whinging on about the "cruelty" of pony rides. Normal people see healthy ponies and happy children, but she sees pain and abuse everywhere she looks. She's an abuse addict. Leave the wonderful ponies alone, they are in great shape and children should not have to miss out on one of the happiest experiences ever!

Jul. 11, 2014, 3:48:46 pm

Susan said...

Facts: veterinarians have inspected the ponies. All is well. Fact: there are animals dying in Santa Monica because they have no homes or abusive homes. Marcy- Go help these truly abused animals to a better life. THAT will take courage and commitment -Far more than carrying a protest sign. Learn all you can and help!

Jul. 11, 2014, 6:36:21 pm

Eva Hughes said...

Firstly, Winograd starts out with a Ghandi quote that Ghandi never uttered: http://animalsmattertogod.com/2013/09/13/mahatma-gandhi-hoax-quote-greatness-of-a-nation-and-its-moral-progress-can-be-judged-by-the-way-that-its-animals-are-treated/ Next, her twisted hyperbole about perfectly normal, well-cared for ponies is dangerous to both humans and equids. People absorbing this ridiculous histrionic sophistry will end up oppressing human beings who choose to work with ponies, by attempting to eliminate those businesses, and in turn that will hurt the ponies who EARN a good living, putting them at risk. The bizarre preoccupation with "tethering" to a "metal pole" shows Winograd's lack of critical thinking. The pony cares not what the pole is made of; it isn't as if he is getting beaten with it. People like Winograd see abuse where it doesn't exist, and siphon off the limited interest and donations of misled animal lovers, further hurting animals who are TRULY at risk. Winograd should hang her head in shame.

Jul. 12, 2014, 10:18:00 am

Olaf said...

I had a whole long comment made out before my phone deleted it. I instead now am just going to post the link to my page. You all seem to think it is abusive and cruel for a pony to work four hours a day once or twice a week...well, no. It's not. I was abused. I was neglected. The lack of proper care for me landed me at an auction in Mira Loma, CA destined to have a painful death in a Mexican slaughterhouse so I could be dinner on a European plate. This is my page. Read my story. It is not "cruel" to work a horse. It's cruel to not take care of us! Facebook.com/FalkorOfNorco ~Olaf

Jul. 12, 2014, 10:19:13 am

Olaf said...

I had a whole long comment made out before my phone deleted it. I instead now am just going to post the link to my page. You all seem to think it is abusive and cruel for a pony to work four hours a day once or twice a week...well, no. It's not. I was abused. I was neglected. The lack of proper care for me landed me at an auction in Mira Loma, CA destined to have a painful death in a Mexican slaughterhouse so I could be dinner on a European plate. This is my page. Read my story. It is not "cruel" to work a horse. It's cruel to not take care of us! Facebook.com/FalkorOfNorco ~Olaf

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