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Circus Finally Faces Formal Charges

Written by PETA | April 13, 2012

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:

  • Failure to provide adequate veterinary care to an underweight elephant with a protruding spine and emaciated body
  • Failure to employ personnel who were adequately trained and capable of caring for the elephants
  • Transferring elephants, against the recommendations of an elephant specialist, to an unlicensed exhibitor who lacked the skills and training to adequately care for them
  • Failure to provide adequate enclosures for the elephants

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

Commenting is closed.
  • Catharine says:

    How is this circus still allowed to have animals? they are in my town this week and I saw 2 tigers in a very small cage, 2 or 3 grown elephants and a BABY!! It makes me want to cry!!!

  • Nina Ceccarelli says:


  • Jerri Miller says:

    P.S. Please don’t forget QUEENIE.. all these elephants deserve SANCTUARY…NOT circus Life.. How much does Chester Gibson REALLY care???

  • Jerri Miller says:

    Tina and Jewel AND QUEENIE were confiscated from Will Davenport! A few years ago…they ALL need to be in a sanctuary!

  • Diana Ortiz says:

    Que buena,,, me encanta que pasen cosas así… de a poco..

  • Warwick says:

    Stop the cruelty! Please do not go to circuses that use any animals. There are wonderful circuses that only have human performers.

  • Warwick says:

    Stop the cruelty! Please do not go to circuses that use any animals. There are wonderful circuses that only have human performers.

  • Amy says:

    I have only been to a circus one time and let me tell you I will never go again nor will I ever bring my kids! I learned what a bull hook was at a young age. It’s terrible that people can sit and watch these animals be abused right in front of their faces. Let alone have their kids watch. It breaks my heart to see any animal suffer from any kind of abuse. I really don’t think this will ever stop. Too many people spend their money to see “The Greatest Show On Earth” Awesome job PETA and thank you for being their voice.

  • annie says:

    The vile,sadistic,cruel greedy scumbags will continue inflicting pain and suffering on the animals. The only answer is closing them down.

  • Roy M says:

    Great job, PETA. It sickens me to think I took my kids to the circus when they were little. My grandchildren will never set foot near one!

  • Marin says:

    I don’t understand anymore. Why doesn’t the USDA just shut them down and seize the animals? Fine after fine after fine and they still haven’t stopped, when is the USDA gonna learn and just shut them down?

  • elisa micelli says:

    it is horrible that people have the courage to take the animals. we must stop this!

  • Barbara Stasz says:

    Go Peta! I’m so glad you are here…there is nobody better at getting animals out of crucifying conditions. You deserve every dollar that I donate to you. Keep it up until all the cages, chains, whips, slaughter houses are gone forever.

  • Irina Seifert says:

    One should stop it!

  • Amanda says:

    Thank you PETA for giving animals a voice and speaking out against cruelty and inhumane treatment. Thank you for doing what you do and making an incredible difference in the lives of many animals!!

  • Becca Feder says:

    GOOD! I hope they take the elephants away from them-now THAT would really be justice.

  • Marjie bremner says:

    Woo hoo some justice at last. Thankyou to the US Department Of Agriculture, and to PETA for your relentless efforts for animals 🙂

  • Adair Leonard says:

    Animals forced to perform in circuses should be outlawed. It’s a form of animal abuse.

  • Jeannie Lunn says:

    I for one will be glad when all circuses using animals will be shut down! People can choose to perform… animals have no such choice. Let’s hope that very soon the only circuses will like Circque de Soleil… with NO animals!

  • voiceforanimals says:

    YEAH!!!! Finally!!! I have protested Cole Brothers several times and videotaped abuse while they were at the citadel mall in Charleston SC. I sent the video to the HSUS, USDA and other animal rights organizations and was told that the man I witnessed hitting the elephant was fired! Now I am elated to read that Tina and Jewel have been removed and that Cole Brothers has been fined!!!!! Now I hope and pray that ALL the rest of the animals are taken as well!!! What is happening with the tigers??? I also witnessed the “trainer” abusing the tigers, it was a horrible experience and NO animal should EVER be treated the way they are in circuses!!! Let’s ALL do our part to help END animal acts FOREVER!!!!!!!!

  • Jessica says:

    I wish they would do away with all the circus down and free all the animals.

  • annie bode says:

    Well done Peta. Circus animals endure so much pain and suffering, it is heartbreaking. Please everyone do not attend circuses using animals.

  • gloria taber says:

    I am appalled at the abuse heaped on animals involved in circus acts. I will never go to another circus, and I will strongly advise our children not to take their children(or any children for that matter) to a circus ever. These creatures deserve a lot better than this. I’m so happy for Jewell and Tina. A zoo is a LOT better than their former surroundings and treatment

  • Yolanda says:

    It’s unacceptable such a treatment towards animals, circus owners are just inflating their bank accounts and their egos , circus should be band close down for ever ! Animals belong in Africa free , in their own parameters not enclose in cages traveling from one state to another ! Being bitten and abuse in order to give a good performance !

  • Geisa Lopes says:

    Well done, guys. Animals belong to nature.

  • michele says:

    d0n’t forget Rosy too, alone in a frozen Maine ! It will be wonderful to find a sanctuary for those three poor creatures open a new petition!!