Written by Michelle Kretzer
You might recall that last fall, PETA convinced
Simon Property Group, the largest real estate company in the country, to ban exotic-animal exhibits
at all its properties. At one mall that Simon owns in Winchester, Virginia, Cole Bros. Circus makes an annual appearance during the city's Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival,
which means that Cole Bros. would have to skip this city altogether or use only
human performers in its show—no animals whatsoever.
Marion Doss|cc by 2.0
To our surprise, that is just what the circus
is doing! The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival announced that Cole Bros. had
created "a new-concept circus in 2012 entitled 'Circus of the Stars' that
they feel will be just as dazzling and just as amazing as previous circuses."
I'm of the opinion that seeing a circus replete with daring and funny human performers would be considerably more exciting than watching frightened, abused animals forced to do silly tricks.
Cole Bros. has a long history of repeatedly
violating the Animal Welfare Act and recently incurred a $15,000 fine after
PETA filed two complaints with the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding the
physical safety and psychological well-being of two of its elephants. It was
also forced to pay $150,000 for illegally selling endangered elephants to
someone wholly unable to provide them with proper care, in violation of the Endangered
But this humans-only circus is a great
start toward making Cole Bros.' abuse of animals a thing of the past, and PETA
will continue working to have venues host only the circus's animal-free
Written by PETA
Update: The U.S. Department of Agriculture has ordered Cole Bros. to pay a $15,000 penalty for its numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
After receiving complaints from PETA about the cruel and neglectful treatment of elephants Tina and Jewell, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has now formally charged Cole Bros. Circus and its owner, John Pugh, for numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including the following:
In addition, Cole Bros. Circus and Pugh were charged with exhibiting animals without a license, employing a tiger handler who lacked adequate training, and illegally dealing in tigers.
The charges follow the seizure of Jewell and subsequent surrender of Tina in 2009 after the circus was slapped with a $150,000 fine for illegally selling the elephants in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Tina and Jewell were rehomed at a zoo, which, while not ideal, is a considerable improvement over being trucked across the country in chains and cramped, stuffy trailers.
Wherever the circus goes, you can bet that animal suffering goes with it. Please leave these cruel shows off your summer itinerary and choose animal-free circuses instead.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
Blogger Tonya Kay
jumped through hoops to try to tell Cole Bros. Circus'
"side of the story" in a two-part series posted on EcoHearth.com, but without much luck.
working with Kay was offered three invitations to visit the circus, observe the
animals, and speak with circus management—all three of which were later
rescinded by the circus, which was apparently unconvinced by his claim that he
planned to write a "shining review." Apparently, the circus is
unwilling to speak to any journalist who might be secretly harboring plans to
write anything resembling an unbiased report, as opposed to a glowing fluff piece.
It's little wonder
that Cole Bros. Circus
didn't want to expose the less than "shining" aspects of its
operation: that elephants are beaten with bullhooks and tigers are jammed into
transport cages, where they spend most of their lives.
In the end, Kay
concluded, "I can't write a positive story on the Cole Bros. Circus
because there's nothing positive to report."
You can read Tonya
Kay's complete story here.
And to help get the word out to others about Cole Bros.' dirty secrets, contact
PETA's Action Team for
help organizing a protest.
by Jennifer O'Connor
next time you hit a mall owned by Simon Property Group, you'll probably find plenty of shoes, sweaters,
and giant pretzels—but what you won't find are whips and chains. That's because after meeting with PETA and
hearing from countless concerned shoppers who responded to our action alert,
largest real estate company in the country—has banned all exotic-animal exhibits at all of its properties. For enacting
this lifesaving policy, Simon has been given a PETA Proggy Award ("proggy"
stands for "progress") for Best Animal-Friendly Real Estate Company.
you've been to a local mall, chances are pretty good that it's a Simon
property, since the S&P 500 corporation owns more malls in the U.S. than
any other company. Simon's new policy means that exhibitors such as Carson & Barnes that haul elephants and tigers around
in trucks from one parking lot to the next will have to set up shop
elsewhere—or, hopefully, nowhere. Expanding on the company's compassion
footprint, earlier this year, Simon demanded that the Iditarod remove its name as a sponsor of the deadly race.
thank CEO David Simon for making the right decision and let
him know that you'll be sure to shop at Simon malls.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
to the generosity of fantastic PETA supporter and activist, Anna Ware, PETA has been able to put billboards
up across Augusta, Georgia—ahead of the arrival of the notoriously cruel Cole Bros. Circus to
that city—making sure that residents know that elephants used in circuses endure
a lifetime of abuse and neglect and that "Elephants Never Forget."
Animal advocates will also protest outside circus performances in Augusta, and PETA members will greet students leaving Augusta's Monte Sano Elementary School to let families know about the Cole Bros. Circus' cruel treatment of animals. Cole Bros. was repeatedly charged with violations after authorities found evidence that animals used by the circus were beaten, malnourished, overworked, and neglected. And in June, an elephant handler working with the circus was caught on video viciously beating an elephant. If a circus that uses animals is scheduled to come to your town, don't take it lying down—stand up and give animal abusers an experience that they won't soon forget. Find out how to get active for animals here.
Written by Jeff Mackey
PETA is calling on authorities to take action in the wake of a vicious beating of an elephant traveling with the Cole Bros. Circus. Last week in Lanesboro, Massachusetts, a citizen took video footage and gave an eyewitness account of the beating of an elephant, who was repeatedly hit with a bullhook.
The handler yelled at the elephants to "move up" and "back up" while striking a docile elephant in the face with a bullhook with an audible "whack." He took a step back and swung the bullhook like a baseball bat, striking the elephant twice on her face and shouting, "Back up!" while she tried to do just that. Still yelling, the handler chased the elephant as she hurried over to some other elephants who were standing nearby.
Says the witness, "This was not an 'attention getter', this worker reared back and swung the club with all his might, twice. You could hear the whack as the club struck the elephant. My son and I were shocked. I do not think the worker realized we were there."
This outrage is business as usual for the circus: We've filed three complaints against Cole Bros. Circus about aggressive bullhook use and other abuses in the past six weeks, and each has been accompanied with authenticated video and/or photographs. PETA is calling for local humane authorities to assess the elephant's condition, and we've offered to pay for independent experts to examine her.
Please join us in also asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to have a veterinarian with expertise in elephants immediately inspect the elephants with Cole Bros. and to take all appropriate enforcement action.
Finally—a measure of justice for Tina and Jewel. The U.S. District Court in Beaumont, Texas, has slapped Cole Bros. Circus with a $150,000 fine and four years of probation for illegally selling the two elephants to former employee Wilbur Davenport in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
The court also handed Cole Bros. owner John Pugh 300 hours of community service, three years of probation, a $4,000 fine, and a mandatory $1,200 payment to an organization working toward conservation and rehabilitation of Asian elephants. Davenport was sentenced to 300 hours of community service, three years of probation, and a $5,200 fine.
You may recall that these two elephants were forced to travel and perform, despite being hundreds of pounds underweight. In 2006, PETA filed a complaint with the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) after a staffer visited a performance to confirm a whistleblower report that Jewel was emaciated and ailing. The USDA took the almost-unprecedented action of ordering both Tina and Jewel removed from the road, but the elephants were soon back on the road performing stupid tricks after they had "recovered."
After Pugh sold Tina and Jewel to Davenport, who owned Maximus Tons of Fun LLC, PETA again urged the USDA to confiscate Tina and Jewel as well as another elephant used by Davenport named Queenie (also called Boo). We sent letters to officials wherever Davenport was scheduled to appear asking humane authorities to prevent the elephants from performing. The USDA confiscated Jewel and also removed Tina, whom Davenport surrendered to the U.S. Department of the Interior, although Queenie was left behind. Tina and Jewel were eventually transferred to the San Diego Zoo, then moved to the Los Angeles Zoo, and Queenie wound up at the San Antonio Zoo after Davenport relinquished his exhibitor's license.
While life in a zoo isn't ideal for Tina, Jewel, or Queenie, it is better than traveling in a circus and being forced to perform.
PETA will continue to campaign against the Cole Bros. Circus and all exhibitors who treat animals like equipment.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
What might have been just another story of shoddy circus animal handling came to a karmic conclusion last week when a tiger trainer, Josip Marcan, agreed to pay nearly 1 million bucks to settle a lawsuit resulting from a huge traffic accident. The accident was apparently caused when one of Marcan's tigers escaped into the wilds of NYC—in this case, the Jackie Robinson Parkway—while traveling with the Cole Bros. Circus.
Demonstrating the spirit that has made the business of using and abusing animals in circuses the very definition of heartlessness, Marcan blamed everyone but his own whiny self. He called the injured drivers "reckless" and slammed the NYPD officers on the scene, saying "they just wanted to shoot the tiger."
Unfortunately, there was no happy ending for the tiger, Apollo, who was captured and returned to circus life.
Update: There was a great investigative report on this issue that was on KHOU-TV this week. Check it out here.
Our Captive Animals department has been working overtime on a case involving two elephants named Tina and Jewel. The elephants belong to Cole Bros., a circus that was assessed a $10,000 penalty by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for abusing elephants with bullhooks. To make a long story short, after confirming a whistleblower report stating that Jewel was emaciated, we filed a complaint with the USDA, leading to the removal of both elephants from the road. But now they are being housed at an unapproved facility in TX, and according to one recent inspection, an elephant expert “determined that both elephants showed an alarming amount of weight loss.”
Cole Bros. is leasing the elephants to the family that formerly operated the King Royal Circus, until its USDA license was permanently revoked when a young African elephant named Heather was found dead in a crowded, overheated trailer. Lovely.
Please help us convince the USDA to confiscate the elephants and relocate them to The Elephant Sanctuary, where they can receive proper nourishment and veterinary care from qualified elephant caretakers. You can take action here.
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.