Written by Jennifer OConnor
Notorious animal abuser Doug Terranova may not work for peanuts,
but the $25,000 fine that he was recently slapped with by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for violating
the federal Animal Welfare Act has to have put a dent in his bank account.
PETA has been keeping tabs on
Terranova—who rents animals to circuses, fairs, TV shows,
and movies like Spy Kids 2 and Rushmore—for years and has filed multiple complaints about his careless handling of elephants and tigers.
In one incident, an elephant named Kamba, whom Terranova had
rented to a circus in Oklahoma, escaped and ran onto the highway, where she was
hit by a vehicle and sustained several injuries, including a fractured carpal
bone, a broken tusk, and numerous abrasions. The USDA confiscated
a tiger cub from Terranova after two other tiger cubs died in his care at the
Iowa State Fair.
The USDA has stipulated that when
Terranova's license comes up for renewal, it will be renewed only if he no longer owns, handles, or exhibits elephants. In the meantime, Terranova
is still on the road and will be performing with the Shrine Circus.
Boycott the Shrine Circus, and
ask your local Shriners to stop sponsoring animal acts.
Written by PETA
Another circus, another ailing elephant. After PETA filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) about severely underweight elephants traveling with the Hanneford Family Circus, inspectors found that Liz, a 36-year-old Asian elephant, is so thin that her ribs, pelvis, and spine are protruding. Liz also has deformities of one front leg and one back leg that make walking difficult. Although it appears that Liz may not be performing at the moment, Hanneford still hauls this ailing elephant from venue to venue, and witnesses have seen her chained by two legs, unable to take a single step in any direction.
Hanneford Family Circus is often hired by the Shriners to perform as the "Shrine Circus." (The Shriners don't own their own circus—they hire animal exhibitors and other acts.) If your local Shrine still sponsors animal circuses, ask it to stop.
Liz's plight is similar to that of 10-year-old Sara, an emaciated young elephant with Ringling Bros. circus. Sara's face is hollowed, and her bones jut out. She has suffered from chronic lameness for at least two years, but according to the USDA, Ringling has not conducted adequate diagnostics or developed a treatment plan.
Please urge the USDA to order Liz and Sara off the road before it's too late.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
A reportedly "startled" elephant kicked a circus trainer or groom so hard that he was thrown 20 feet and died of his injuries at the scene. The attack occurred backstage at a Shrine Circus performance Friday evening in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
The elephant involved is believed to be an African elephant named Dumbo, who was captured in Africa in 1985 and belongs to Terry Frisco. PETA has previously caught Terry's brother, Tim Frisco, beating elephants behind the scenes.
No word yet on whether circus mouthpieces are attempting to claim that the elephant was "playing" with the trainer, but if a "startled" elephant can be this dangerous, imagine the damage that a really angry elephant can inflict. It makes the video that we told you about last week—in which a trainer with the Liebel Family Circus holds a toddler in one hand as she uses a bullhook in the other to jab an elephant—all the more harrowing.
This isn't the first time that an elephant has lethally lashed out at the guy wielding the bullhook, and it almost certainly won't be the last. Circuses rely on an abusive training regimen that starts with beatings and intimidation from the time that elephants are still babies and doesn't stop until they've performed their last headstand. Is it any wonder that some of these gentle giants eventually get fed up and fight back?
PETA has been trying to convince the Shriners to stop using animal circuses as fundraisers for years to no avail, despite the fact that their circuses are connected to a growing list of dangerous and deadly incidents involving wild animals. Last year, two elephants performing at the Murat Shrine Circus in Indianapolis, Indiana, knocked down a mobile staircase during elephant rides, resulting in a dozen children being treated by paramedics. In 2005, a trainer was stomped to death by an elephant used in a Shrine Circus in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 2002 and again in 2003, elephants bolted from the Shrine Circus tents and went on rampages in Wisconsin and Michigan, respectively. It's sad to think that this tragic list of deaths and injuries has failed to make the Shriners come to their senses.
Update: Recent news reports are claiming that Dumbo was trying to protect the groomer whom she stomped to death. But this happens every time someone is bludgeoned or stomped to death by an elephant or an orca: Those who profit from keeping the animals miserably bound in chains or confined to small pools always say that the animal was playing or trying to protect the person. The public should stand up and say, "Enough! We are not that gullible!" These animals are extremely intelligent. They know when to be gentle, and they know that you don't protect or play with human beings by smashing them into the ground or the bottom of the pool. After a lifetime of being told, "Do this, do that," being hurt with electric prods and bullhooks, and having their food withheld unless they stand on their head or tail, they crack.
Twelve children were treated by paramedics on Saturday when an elephant who was being forced to give rides at the Indiana State Fairgrounds bumped into the mobile staircase on which kids stood awaiting rides, knocking it down. The rides were being given between performances of the Murat Shrine Circus. Luckily, the kids only suffered minor injuries, but people involved in other elephant-ride incidents haven't been so lucky.
The staircase collapse isn't the first dangerous incident involving an elephant used by a Shrine Circus. In 2005, a trainer working for the Shrine Circus in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was stomped to death as he loaded elephants onto a trailer. In 2003, an elephant at the Shrine Circus in Muskegon, Michigan, escaped from a tent and fled into a busy downtown area. In 2002, two elephants with the Shrine Circus in Dunn County, Wisconsin, bolted out of a circus tent, scattering frightened circusgoers.
In other Shrine Circus news, we've learned that an exhibitor whose bears were used during a Shrine Circus performance last year at Knox County Middle School in Tennessee was cited by the USDA for serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including seating people within 20 feet of the bear without a barrier of any kind. We've written a letter to the school principal urging him to ban circuses with animal acts from appearing on school grounds in the future.
Many people don't realize that the Shriners do not operate their own circus. Shrine temples either hire an existing circus or put together a collection of animal exhibitors and other acts that perform under the Shrine Circus name. Many of the animal exhibitors the Shriners hire have deplorable records of animal care. Click here to read our factsheet on the Shrine Circus.
People, run—don't walk—away from any circus that uses animals. And whatever you do, don't let any guy in a fez talk you into placing your tots on the back of some poor elephant whose own kids have been taken away from her and who now spends her days being chained up and jabbed with a bullhook. Today just might be the day she snaps. And really, who could blame her?
Written by Alisa Mullins
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
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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.