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Tell Circus World to Ban Elephant Acts

Written by PETA | October 31, 2012

PETA has fired off a letter urging Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin, to ban elephant exhibitions following news reports that the museum brought in four elephants—one of whom had recently been exposed to a tuberculosis-positive elephant. The elephants were supplied by the notorious Carson & Barnes Circus, which did not have permits to take the animals into the state. Wisconsin requires import permits for exotic animals and prohibits transporting animals who may carry communicable diseases as well as all public contact with such animals.

Close Enough to Take Your Breath Away

Not only do many elephants carry the human strain of tuberculosis, contrary to Carson & Barnes’ misinformation and as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they also can easily transmit it to humans, even without direct contact. For example, tuberculosis carried by an elephant was recently linked to an outbreak in Tennessee among nine humans, some of whom had had no direct contact with the elephant. Elephants used in traveling exhibits like those going to Circus World are particularly at risk—the stress of traveling and performing make them more susceptible to the disease and more likely to develop a severe infection.

In addition to its total disregard for public health and state law, Carson & Barnes has a long history of violating the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). In late September, it paid a penalty for 10 violations of the AWA, including endangering the public and elephants. Carson & Barnes’ “animal care” director was caught on video viciously attacking elephants with a bullhook, shocking elephants with an electric prod, and instructing trainers to embed sharp metal hooks into the elephants’ flesh until the animals screamed in pain.

Circus History Is a History of Cruelty

Last year, Circus World hosted the Liebel Family Circus, which was recently charged with almost three dozen violations of the AWA.

The charges against Liebel include keeping an elephant named Nosey—who appeared at Circus World—chained so tightly by two legs that she could not lie down and could barely move, repeatedly denying her adequate veterinary care, potentially exposing her to serious infections by allowing manure to accumulate in the overgrown soles of her feet (foot ailments are the leading reason why captive elephants are euthanized), and repeatedly allowing unsupervised public contact with Nosey, who once hit a Liebel employee on the back of the head so severely that he required hospital treatment for the injury.

Abuse is the rule, not the exception, when it comes to forcing elephants to perform tricks, and elephants pose an inherent threat to human safety and health—from both disease and dangerous outbursts because of prolonged frustration. That’s why more and more cities are prohibiting or limiting circuses with exotic-animal acts, including nearby Dane County (which includes Madison), where an ordinance prohibiting elephant exhibits was recently passed.

What You Can Do

Circus World needs to get with the times and consign human endangerment and cruelty to animals to the scrapheap of history. Because our pleas to Circus World Executive Director Steve Freese have been ignored, please join PETA in calling on Ellen Langill, president of the Wisconsin Historical Society Board of Curators—which owns Circus World—to stop exhibiting elephants.

Commenting is closed.
  • Jan Sabo says:

    Stop the abuse to the animals! Quit using animals to make your money..I wouldn’t come to a circus that uses animals .You have clowns, don’t you? Use them… Would you like to be treated the same way you do these animals, beatings and chains..Let them have their life in their own habitats.

  • Christina Williams says:

    This is the most horrific displicable inhumane cruel way I have ever sene video taped behind these poor defenslace beautiful creatures. These elephants are being tortured by this circus trainer and they undergo a burning torch to burn off there hair.the sound is mute, but the screams of them before the horrific act makes me cry for these poor animals. I pray to God for there suffering.

  • Anahid Dominguez says:

    These cruel acts do not fit in the 21st century. The abuse on these gentle and highly inteligent animals needs to stop. They are not ever to be used for entertainment. These animals are living beings just like us humans. These animals belong in their own habitats roaming freely and spending thier time with their families. Unfair treatments need to stop now.

  • Anahid Dominguez says:

    Inhumane acts in the 21st century needs to stop. These animals are such a gentle creatures and need to be free roam around in their own habitats. Stop the abuse, and the captivity of these animals. They are NOT ever to be used for entertainment.

  • Shannon Webb says:

    Your practices are criminal. Stop abusing animals now.

  • laura renna says:

    This treatment is disgusting and unacceptable to one of the most gental creature.