Written by Alisa Mullins
Sixteen of the tigers held by the
notoriously cruel Hawthorn Corporation—and kept on the Balm, Florida, property
of disgraced and unlicensed animal exhibitor Lance Ramos (aka "Lancelot
Kollman")—must be removed from the state, per a recent decision by the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC). On the heels of an
urgent appeal from PETA, the FWCC has refused to renew Hawthorn owner John Cuneo's
permit to exhibit or keep tigers in Florida. According to the FWCC, the tigers
are being moved today.
Hawthorn—which has supplied a tiger act
for numerous circuses, including the Cole Bros. and Shrine circuses—has accumulated $272,500 in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
penalties, has had its federal exhibitor's license suspended twice, and was the
subject of the USDA's first-ever confiscation of an elephant after the agency
found that Hawthorn had forced an elephant named Delhi to stand in undiluted
formaldehyde and failed to treat the resultant chemical burns. Hawthorn was
subsequently ordered to relinquish custody of the remaining 16 elephants in its
care. Hawthorn's many violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act include
forcing tigers to live in cramped transport cages for months at a time, denying
them adequate veterinary care, and forcing them to eat moldy, fly-infested
food. More than 30 tigers have died in Hawthorn's care since 2000.
Ramos, the notorious big-cat trainer
we've told you about many
times whose infamous record of abuse—including physically abusing two young lions during
training to the point that one died—led the USDA to revoke his exhibitor's
license permanently in 2009.
Because Ramos is barred from having a
federal license to exhibit tigers, the FWCC refused to issue him a Florida
permit to keep or exhibit tigers.
What You Can Do
The tigers are returning to Hawthorn's
Illinois breeding and training facility, so they are far from safe. Please join PETA in urging the USDA to revoke Hawthorn's
license to exhibit animals.
Written by Jeff Mackey
The infamous Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC)
has been cited again for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA)
following an inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that
discovered that the facility was confining a baboon to a cage so tiny that it
failed to meet the already dismal cage-size requirements of the law. The cage
was so small that the animal couldn't even sit up straight inside of it.
A Solution That Doesn't
ONPRC "corrected" its failure by giving the baboon
a cage that was just 4 inches larger,
thus making the imprisonment acceptable in the eyes of the USDA under the paltry
AWA. Yet he is still confined by himself. Research has demonstrated that 90
percent of individually caged primates exhibit stress-induced abnormal behavior, such as incessant pacing, rocking, and even self-mutilation.
What makes this latest finding especially shameful is that ONPRC
has been repeatedly cited for violating the AWA—last year alone, the center had to pay nearly $12,000 for its pattern of violations
that PETA helped expose—yet it's still allowed to operate and collect tens of millions in taxpayer dollars
every year, breaking the laws of the land and of simple decency.
It's time for Oregon Health & Science University to
follow the example of Harvard University, which recently announced the closure
of its own primate center, and shut down the disgraceful ONPRC. Please urge your federal legislators and officials at the
National Institutes of Health to divert public money from cruel animal experiments into humane and superior clinical and
After a whistleblower came forward with a report of pervasive animal abuse and
neglect at Piccadilly Circus, PETA filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
requesting an investigation. According to its recently released inspection report, the USDA cited Piccadilly's general manager for several of the violations that
were flagged in PETA's complaint and the whistleblower's sworn affidavit.
The substantiated violations include failing to provide a
sheep suffering from a painfully broken leg with veterinary care, transporting
animals in crowded and unsafe enclosures, keeping foul-smelling meat (to be fed
to a tiger) in a dirty cooler without any ice or freezer packs, and having
inadequate enclosures in the petting zoo that allowed a vulnerable young animal
How You Can Help
Wherever circuses use animals, abuse, neglect, and misery
are inevitably found as well. Please never buy a ticket for Piccadilly or any
other circus that exploits
If anyone needed a reminder about how horribly the notorious Jambbas Ranch treats animals, a newly released report from a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection
of the Fayetteville, North Carolina–based roadside zoo reveals that the agency
has cited the facility yet again for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
According to the report, the USDA inspector observed a "very
thin" rabbit who was "dehydrated," "reluctant to move,"
and "too weak to reach [the] tall water can" in the cage. The rabbit also suffered from overgrown nails, ear mites, and
inflamed ears, which Jambbas had only "treated" with Vaseline. The
inspector also observed an abrasion on one of the rabbit's footpads, which Jambbas
had not even noticed, let alone treated—nor had the facility noticed that the
animal was dehydrated, even though his or her skin was "tenting" (a loss of
elasticity seen in cases of fluid loss).
In 2012, PETA and the Animal Legal Defense Fund joined
concerned Fayetteville-area residents in filing a lawsuit challenging the USDA's renewal of
Jambbas' license to exhibit animals since applicants must demonstrate AWA compliance. Yet
despite this latest violation—and despite additional evidence of AWA noncompliance
given to the agency by PETA—the USDA once again renewed Jambbas' license on May
To challenge this latest rubber-stamping of Jambbas' license
in the face of a violation found by its own inspector, PETA and the other
plaintiffs will be seeking to amend their complaint in the lawsuit against the USDA.
In January, a court denied
a motion filed by the USDA seeking to dismiss the suit so that the agency could continue with "business as usual"—a business
based on animals' abject misery.
PETA won't rest until all the animals at Jambbas Ranch have
bright futures, just as Ben
the bear now does. Please urge USDA officials
to revoke Jambbas' license immediately and offer them the chance to live out their lives with pride and contentment.
cruelty as blatant as that displayed at Piccadilly Circus, it is no surprise that the circus is the subject of a whistleblower's report that
provides the basis for a PETA complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA). The complaint details allegation of the circus's habitual physical abuse of animals
and systematic failure to provide veterinary care, among other apparent
violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
blieusong | cc by 2.0
In the affidavit, the whistleblower asserts that while
working during the circus's Waterbury, Connecticut, performances, Piccadilly's
general manager, Zachary Garden, beat a zebra named Ziggy after the animal
jumped out of the performance ring during an evening performance.
During the beating, Ziggy was reportedly held in place by
the general supervisor, known as Bucket, while Garden "forcefully [struck]
Ziggy with a tiger stick—an approximately 3' long plastic or fiberglass stick
with a blunt metal end—with such force that the zebra fell to his front knees
and then fell over sideways." Once Ziggy got up, according to the whistleblower,
Garden struck him "with great force at least two more times," and the
zebra "vocalized loudly and in a strained manner" at the start of the
beating and then turned silent. After this beating, Ziggy returned to his cage.
Animals would be physically punished whenever their
performances were "slightly off," and Garden would "strike
animals using the handle of a 10'-12' lunge whip when they did not perform
their act perfectly," according to the whistleblower. The whistleblower
further alleges that Garden struck a camel named Thor—who is approximately 1 or
2 years old—in the right eye with the whip handle because the camel was
standing a short distance away from where he was expected to stand, causing the
eye to bleed. Furthermore, according to the statement, when a camel named Reece
fails to sit in training sessions for the end of performances, Garden uses the
whip handle "to beat him on the legs until he oblige[s] or force[s] him
down so hard that he … get[s] cuts on his knees."
The whistleblower also alleged that:
Please never attend a performance by Piccadilly or any other
circus that uses animals.
Karl Mitchell's days of terrorizing big cats in Nevada's Nye
County are numbered now that the notorious animal abuser and unrepentant lawbreaker has had his permit to keep exotic animals revoked by
the county's board of commissioners based on information that it received from
PETA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Like Abu Ghraib for
Mitchell, who owns an appalling tiger menagerie called Big
Cat Encounters, has been exhibiting animals even though his exhibitor's license
was permanently yanked by the USDA in
2001, meaning that the county shouldn't have issued him a permit in the first
In February 2012, PETA called on the USDA and the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service to seek criminal charges against Mitchell for exhibiting
tigers and transporting them across state lines without a license. The federal
investigations are still pending.
Over the years, the USDA has cited Mitchell repeatedly for a
wide range of atrocious Animal Welfare Act violations, which include cruelly
withholding water as a training technique,
continuing to exhibit big cats illegally, and failing to provide animals with adequate
veterinary care and living conditions and palatable food and water—just to name
a few. Mitchell has also been slapped with three cease-and-desist orders (which
he, of course, defied) and more than $100,000 in fines.
Although Mitchell is a particularly flagrant and disgraceful
example of the low ethical standards of his industry, misery is inescapable for
all animals who are imprisoned so that they can furnish a momentary diversion instead
of living their natural lives in freedom. Please never patronize any captive-animal attraction.
Police are investigating the shooting of an elephant used by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The incident reportedly occurred outside the Bancorp South Arena in Tupelo, Mississippi, early on the morning of April 9. Knowing Ringling's shady history when it comes to animals (some years ago, a trainer traveling with Ringling shot a tiger to death while the animal was locked in his cage), PETA is urging authorities to interview all circus employees carefully. Also, as usual, it appears that no veterinarian was on the road with the circus despite a history of animal illnesses and injuries. So with only the self-interested circus's word to rely on, who knows if the elephant is receiving proper care? PETA has increased the reward for information leading to a conviction in the attack.
Numerous Ringling workers have histories of animal abuse, which is why PETA is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and local law enforcement to look particularly closely at the circus's employees—some of whom have been caught on film beating elephants with sharp, heavy bullhooks and some of whom are the subjects of recent sworn eyewitness complaints about animal abuse—when seeking the culprit or culprits in this incident.
To help authorities find the person or persons responsible for this horrendous act, PETA will be adding up to $5,000 to the $250 reward offered by former 1st Congressional District Rep. Travis Childers. Because shooting an Asian elephant is a violation of the federal Endangered Species Act, the FWS is also offering a $5,000 reward.
PETA is also asking the USDA to inspect the injured elephant and ensure that she is receiving adequate treatment. Ringling has a long record of failing to provide elephants used in its shows with adequate veterinary care. The circus commonly travels without a veterinarian—despite the large number of animals it carts all over the U.S.—and the veterinarians it does have often sign off on allowing ailing elephants to perform painful tricks.
Even without the threat of being shot, Ringling's elephants must regularly endure violence and distress. Please urge the USDA to confiscate all the ailing animals from Ringling for placement with reputable sanctuaries. Never, ever patronize circuses that use animals, and tell others to avoid them as well.
Update (April 8, 2013):
Following PETA's complaint that Ramos Bros. Circus was exhibiting exotic
animals in Moreno Valley without a USDA license, Moreno Valley Animal Services "ordered
the circus to stop this activity at the Moreno Valley site" until it has
the proper federal permits.
Originally posted on April 5, 2013, at 10:10 a.m. ET:
PETA is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
and Moreno Valley, California, officials to stop
performances by an unlicensed animal exhibitor. On April 2, the USDA canceled the
Ramos Bros. Circus' license to exhibit animals—without this license, it is
illegal to exhibit animals. Yet Ramos Bros. is performing in Moreno Valley, in violation of federal law.
The circus's disregard for the law is nothing new: The USDA
has previously cited Ramos Bros. for operating without a license. Last year, when
Ramos Bros. illegally exhibited exotic animals in Corona, California, PETA
notified city officials, who took immediate action, ordering the circus to remove the prohibited animals
from the city.
Ramos Bros. has a horrible track record when it comes to taking
care of animals. In January, the USDA issued it a warning for violating the
Animal Welfare Act after a 4-year-old camel ran into the street, endangering
both herself and others. PETA has received numerous reports that Ramos Bros. ties
animals up so tightly that they cannot stand, forces them to live in urine- and
feces-covered enclosures, and fails to provide them with adequate water and
The abuse of animals is not entertaining. Please enlist everyone you can to help us
end cruelty to animals in circuses and enjoy animal-free
Less than a year after a security guard reported the abuse of a chained
elephant by a bullhook-wielding Ringling Bros.
circus handler in Colorado, an employee at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum—a venue
where PETA captured Ringling bullhook use on video as part
of a 2009 undercover investigation—has reported more bullhook abuse during Ringling's March 2013 tour there.
PETA's 2009 investigation of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus found that workers were beating, whipping, and hooking elephants and striking tigers.
Based on the whistleblower's affidavit, PETA has submitted a
complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), along with an urgent
request for the agency to inspect Ringling while it remains in New York
(through April 3). The arena staffer—who also noted that she saw no exercise pens set
up for the tigers—complained to the Nassau County District Attorney
Office's animal-cruelty unit, which is investigating.
Hasn't being slapped with the USDA's largest-ever penalty against a circus for violations of the Animal Welfare Act deterred Ringling
from abusing elephants? Please politely urge USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to finally seize Ringling's
suffering elephants and transfer them to a reputable
Written by Michelle Kretzer
A source close to John Cuneo, the owner of infamous circus supplier Hawthorn Corporation, has leaked information to PETA that we hope will convince the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to revoke Hawthorn's exhibitor license permanently and to seek criminal charges against Cuneo as well as Lance Ramos, an unlicensed exhibitor who has repeatedly abused and neglected exotic animals and who, according to the whistleblower's testimony, was unlawfully hired by Hawthorn.
Hawthorn breeds tigers and leases them to circuses around the world. It has provided Shrine circuses, Cole Bros. Circus, Jordan World Circus, George Carden Circus, Hanneford Circus, and Tarzan Zerbini Circus with tigers. The whistleblower gave PETA firsthand information about pervasive abuse and neglect of animals and apparent violations of federal law, including the following:
These allegations are just the latest in Hawthorn's long, sordid history of cruelty to animals. Please join PETA in asking the USDA to take the appropriate disciplinary action, including revoking Hawthorn's license to exhibit animals.
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.