Written by Jeff Mackey
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.
What You Can Do
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.
Written by Michelle Kretzer
When the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) permanently revokes an animal exhibitor's license, it means game over—that person or company can never again exhibit animals. But Lancelot Kollman, aka Lance Ramos, a notorious animal abuser who flagrantly disregards the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), must think that he is above the law. PETA caught Kollman in the act, exhibiting tigers with the notorious Hawthorn Corporation at a Shrine circus in Fort Worth, Texas.
For animals in circuses, there is no such thing as "positive reinforcement"—only varying degrees of punishment and deprivation.
PETA has passed this evidence on to the USDA, prompting a formal investigation into both Kollman and Hawthorn. PETA is demanding that the agency pursue criminal charges against Kollman and permanently revoke Hawthorn's exhibitor license. This is far from the first run-in either one has had with the law.
When the USDA yanked Kollman's license in 2009, he had racked up quite a rap sheet for cruelty to animals by denying animals veterinary care, clean water, and adequate shelter; forcing them to live in unsanitary conditions; using physical abuse as a "training tool"; abusing two young lions to the point that one of them died; and starving an elephant so much that he was a full ton underweight when the USDA took the extraordinary enforcement action of confiscating him.
The Hawthorn Corporation brought Kollman onboard despite his well-documented history of animal abuse and neglect. That's no surprise since Hawthorn doesn't exactly play by the rules. The USDA knows Hawthorn well: The first time it ever exercised its authority to seize an elephant was from the Hawthorn Corporation, after an extensive campaign by PETA. Hawthorn had allowed an elephant named Delhi to stand in undiluted formaldehyde, which resulted in severe chemical burns, and then denied her proper veterinary care for her wounds. Hawthorn was subsequently ordered to relinquish custody of 16 additional elephants. The USDA has also suspended Hawthorn's exhibitor license twice, fined it a total of more than a quarter of a million dollars, and issued numerous cease-and-desist orders.
Hawthorn's litany of more than 60 violations of the AWA includes feeding animals moldy and fly-infested food, denying sick animals veterinary care, forcing tigers to live in tiny transport crates for months at a time, using unsafe handling practices, and keeping tigers who were not compatible in small cages together, which resulted in several tigers' deaths. In a span of just nine years, at least 32 tigers owned by Hawthorn died. Many of them were young, and many of them died under circumstances that were entirely preventable, such as from unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
Urge the USDA to show Kollman and Hawthorn that they are not above the law. Ask the agency to pursue criminal charges against Kollman and permanently revoke Hawthorn's license. Enough is enough.
We all know about "The Twelve Days
of Christmas," but what about "The 12 Days of Rickmas"? Ricky Gervais
is doing his own take on the classic carol on Twitter. On the first day of
Rickmas, you should give your true love your signature on a petition to ban the tiger-skin
On the second day of Rickmas, you can give your true love whatever you like,
just so long as it isn't anything
furry—dead or alive.
What will Ricky
recommend next? A ban on
foie gras? A donation to an animal rights group? The suspense is like … waiting for Christmas.
Written by Jennifer OConnor
On the heels of the
record $270,000 penalty paid by Feld Entertainment—the parent
company of Ringling Bros. and
Barnum & Bailey Circus—PETA is renewing
our call for the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service (FWS) to deny the company's
application to import
eight tigers and a leopard in violation of the federal
Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The ESA prohibits importing endangered species except
for "scientific purposes" or to benefit the survival of the species. It's
beyond a stretch for the circus to claim that it's helping tigers by jamming them into tiny cages and
whipping them into submission. Many of the violations that Ringling paid a
penalty to settle involved big cats, including a tiger who suffered a
laceration after her tail was slammed in a cage door and a lion who died of
heat exhaustion in a sweltering boxcar while crossing the Mojave Desert.
The FWS has a duty
to protect animals from harm and should not cave in to the demands of an
influential corporation that just agreed to pay a huge fine for alleged violations
of federal law.
Written by PETA
© Comstock/ Wildlife/ Jupiter Images
UPDATE: The deadline has passed
to weigh in on the Fish and Wildlife Service's decision about keeping tigers
safe from animal abusers, but we will post an update as soon as the decision is
The following blog was originally posted September 9, 2011
One thing that you have to say about the notoriously abusive Hawthorn Corporation, which supplies animals for use in circuses and other shows, is that it has some nerve. Despite being cited more than 40 times for violations like feeding tigers moldy and inedible food, confining tigers for months on end in transport cages, denying them exercise or space to move around, and failing to provide veterinary care, Hawthorn has applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to force tigers to endure even more suffering by carting them around the world.
You would think that such an application, coming from a company that has accumulated $272,500 in penalties for violations of federal law, would be immediately tossed in the trash, but just to be on the safe side, PETA is appealing to the FWS to deny the application.
On a related note, a loophole in federal regulations has allowed animal abusers to harm, export, and sell endangered tigers without federal oversight if the tigers are considered "generic"—mixed breeds, in other words. The FWS is working to close that exemption.
Please ask the FWS to deny Hawthorn's application to import and exploit more tigers and voice your support to protect all tigers, "mutts" and purebreds alike.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
If you needed another reason not to do drugs, consider that
it's causing misery for countless tigers, lions, monkeys, birds, and other
exotic animals coveted by Mexican
drug cartel kingpins
as symbols of power. Mexican authorities have seized thousands of exotic "narco
pets" from the estates of busted drug lords, and they're running out of
room to place the animals. Many go to zoos, which are operating at capacity, so
some animals are turned over to breeding operations.
When security forces arrested Sinaloa cartel leader Jesus "The King"
they confiscated more than 200 animals, including peacocks and ostriches. The animals are regarded primarily as status symbols, and many are denied
proper nutrition and veterinary care. Some big cats are cruelly defanged and declawed.
The cartels have also used exotic animals in the same manner as human "mules"
by stuffing condoms filled with cocaine into their bodies before the animals
are shipped to the U.S.
The ideal solution to this problem would be a universal ban
on owning captive exotic
Until that happens, we can take an important step toward protecting captive
tigers here in the U.S. by closing a loophole that limits protections under the Endangered
Species Act for "generic" tigers—ones who are a mix of more than one sub-species of tiger or
are of unknown heritage. Please take a moment to write to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and ask the agency to protect all tigers equally.
Written by Joe Taksel
UPDATE: After receiving a complaint from PETA about the incident below, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited the exhibitor who provided the tiger to UniverSoul for handling the tiger in a manner that caused her stress and unnecessary discomfort. The exhibitor was also cited for failing to maintain the tiger's enclosure in a manner that would protect her from injury.
This is not the first time that this exhibitor has violated federal law. In 2008, he was ordered to pay a $6,000 penalty after two tigers escaped while touring with UniverSoul. In the past year, he has been cited for failing to provide big cats with a proper diet and feeding big cats unsafely handled meat.
Video footage of a tiger traveling with the UniverSoul Circus showing his foot trapped beneath the sliding door to his cage has prompted PETA to fire off a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Indianapolis Animal Care & Control asking for an immediate investigation into the animal's condition. The video shows the tiger struggling to free his foot, panting, and in obvious distress.
UniverSoul rents its animal acts from exhibitors who have dismal records of animal care. The USDA has repeatedly cited UniverSoul's animal exhibitors for violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including failure to provide veterinary care, medical records, and adequate space. Undercover video footage shows one exhibitor UniverSoul has used—Tim Frisco of the Carson & Barnes Circus—viciously attacking elephants with a bullhook as they scream in pain. The circus has also had at least three tiger escapes.
Please tell the USDA that you expect it to take immediate action to assess this tiger's condition.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will go far and wide to find more animals to exploit. Feld Entertainment, which owns this wretchedly cruel circus, has applied to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to import eight tigers and one leopard who are currently being used in a circus in Germany. PETA has submitted comments and extensive supporting materials in opposition to this application, including a statement from a renowned tiger expert.
The Endangered Species Act prohibits the importation of endangered species except for "scientific purposes" or to benefit the survival of the species. Hard to make any of that comport with Ringling's desire to haul the big cats around in boxcars and use whips to make them hop on their hind legs.
Federal law also strictly prohibits transporting any endangered species in the course of a "commercial activity," and there is no question that the Ringling Bros. Circus is exactly that. The law further prohibits harming, harassing, and wounding endangered species and requires that they be maintained under humane and healthful conditions. Ringling's well-documented history of animal abuse is clearly grounds to reject its import application, as PETA points out:
Please share this troubling information with all the parents you know and urge them never to buy a ticket to Ringling or any circus using animals.
Written by Jennifer O’Connor
The owner of an Iowa roadside zoo called "Cricket Hollow" has suffered wounds to his head and torso after being attacked by a tiger there. Cricket Hollow is no stranger to problems: PETA has previously filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the local sheriff's department about filthy conditions and animals who were denied adequate water and shelter, and the unaccredited facility was recently issued an official warning by the USDA for repeatedly failing to provide animals with veterinary care and even clean, adequate, and safe shelter.
PETA routinely calls on all facilities with big cats, elephants, and orcas to adopt the protected-contact (PC) system, which means there is always a barrier between the animal and the handler. Zoos put animals and handlers at risk in free-contact systems. One recent example is the Knoxville Zoo, which was cited by the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration after a keeper was fatally injured by an elephant who had had enough of being “controlled” by a bullhook (the zoo quickly instituted PC for all elephants).
Cricket Hollow has also placed "free tiger" ads in a swapsheet called Animal Finder's Guide, which peddles exotic animals to dealers and exhibitors. The surge in private ownership of big cats has led to an increasing number of attacks.
Please never patronize a roadside zoo or private menagerie. And if your city or town allows people to keep exotic animals as pets, contact PETA's Action Team to learn how to start a campaign to end this dangerous practice.
Former bear wrestler and longtime PETA foe Sam Mazzola was found dead recently, handcuffed to a waterbed and bound with chains and padlocks. He apparently choked to death on a sex toy that was lodged in his throat and that obstructed his breathing. He was also wearing a leather mask with the eyes and mouth zipped shut and a two-piece metal sphere covering his head.
Mazzola's history of dominating, controlling, and humiliating powerful animals may now make sense.
Prior to the bizarre circumstances of his passing, Mazzola was perhaps best known for the death of Brent Kandra, who died last year after being mauled by one of Mazzola's bears.
But Mazzola—who for years, until PETA got his license pulled, took bears out on the road and charged people to "wrestle" them—had brushes with the law and spent time in prison for trafficking in cocaine. His federal license to exhibit animals was permanently revoked in 2009, and he was fined nearly $14,000 for multiple violations of federal law, including threatening federal agents and falsely claiming that an inspector solicited a bribe. One of the bears he kept caged escaped Mazzola's compound and attacked a neighbor, causing injuries and property damage. Another young man was killed by a bear in the compound last year. PETA had petitioned the local government to close Mazzola's place down, move the animals out, and charge Mazzola with negligent homicide. An investigation was in progress.
Some animals, including bears, wolves, and big cats, still remain in small barren cages on Mazzola's property, and others have already been transferred to questionable operations.
Please join PETA in asking the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to seize all the animals over which they have jurisdiction and to see that they are placed in reputable sanctuaries. And please refuse to fund deplorable roadside zoos with your entry fee.
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.