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Hawthorn in Double Trouble Over Tigers

Written by PETA | February 14, 2013

Update: PETA has now confirmed that the USDA has not one but two open investigations into AWA violations by the Hawthorn Corporation: one prompted by PETA’s complaint regarding Hawthorn’s use of Lance Ramos (see below) to unlawfully exhibit tigers in violation of the USDA’s revocation of Ramos’ license and the other arising from a separate case in Florida. Please urge the agency to follow the lead of governments around the world in defending animals against abuse by circuses and exhibitors by permanently revoking Hawthorn’s license.

Originally posted on February 8th, 2013: 

PETA has submitted a request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking the agency to revoke the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) license for the notorious Hawthorn Corporation, which the agency has inexplicably repeatedly renewed despite years of flagrant AWA violations against elephants and tigers as well as the illegal exhibitions that Hawthorn still allows.

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A History of Horrors

As PETA has learned from years of working to free animals from Hawthorn’s cruel clutches, calling Hawthorn “notorious” is actually putting it rather mildly. The exotic-animal exhibitor’s reprehensible history of AWA violations include USDA citations issued on more than 60 occasions for Hawthorn’s many failures to provide animals with proper veterinary care, nutrition, safe or sanitary enclosures, safe or humane handling practices, exercise, and adequate space.

The USDA’s previous enforcement actions against Hawthorn have entailed multiple license suspensions, more than a quarter of a million dollars in penalties, and confiscation or ordered surrender of at least 17 exotic animals. None of these actions have done anything to ensure even adequate treatment of the animals Hawthorn forces to perform.

Law Without Justice?

The USDA has recognized that continuing to fail to adhere to minimum standards of sanitation and feeding—both of which are chronic problems for Hawthorn—are violations for which an AWA license should be revoked. Yet the USDA appears to be granting Hawthorn preferential treatment by repeatedly renewing its license.

Someone whose license was permanently revoked is animal trainer Lance Ramos (aka “Lancelot Kollman”) after AWA citations for, among other cruelty, using physical abuse as a “training tool” on exotic cats to the point that at least one of them died and denying adequate veterinary care to an elephant so severely emaciated that he was a full ton underweight when the USDA confiscated him. Despite this, Hawthorn brought Ramos on board to train and exhibit tigers, and PETA has provided evidence to the USDA that he recently illegally exhibited the big cats with a Shrine circus and Showfolks Circus. 

What You Can Do

Every day that Hawthorn remains licensed is a day that animals are suffering. Please send a polite e-mail to USDA General Counsel Ramona Romero urging the agency to revoke Hawthorn’s license immediately and permanently disqualify its employees and agents from obtaining a USDA license.

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  • Maria Sheehan says:

    This is disgusting and needs to stop people exploiting animals for money

  • mimi says:

    Their licnse should be revoked forever, this has been going on for too long!

  • Diane Johnson says:

    USDA DO YOUR JOB – BE ACCOUNTABLE!

  • Ken says:

    This highlights the complete ineffectiveness of the USDA as a regulatory and enforcement agency. People can abuse and mishandle animals for years and years with virtually no fear of recrimination. Citations amount to a slap on the wrist that are routinely ignored. The USDA states that citations can carry a $10,000 fine per citation, yet almost never issues a fine. We should be demanding that the USDA follow its’ own rules and start issuing punitive fines to these abusers.

  • Kt says:

    This has gone on long enough.

  • MARIGAIL ROSENSTEIN says:

    I don’t know how these people get up in the morning and look at theirselves in the mirror without becomming physically ill. These people have no souls.

  • pavrushpa khan says:

    i love animals

  • Teresa says:

    This is outrageous and should be stopped!

  • Joan McAllister says:

    These people have no regards for the welfare of their animals, to them it is all about money. Please revoke their license and ban them for life from ever owning another animal

  • gina crittenden says:

    wild animals are living being much like humans and deserve their freedom from abuse and slavery. Please do not renew licenses to anyone using animals for show or entertainment purposes.

  • Tara says:

    These acts are unspeakable. By the time we have heard of this and these terrible stats, Hawthorn in particular, you must know that this is only a small portion of the actual offences they were CAUGHT doing. What does it have to take for you to affect positive change, is this not what you are paid for. How animals are treated is a direct reflection of a culture and society. If we allow this to go on shame on you.

  • sheila says:

    PLEASE MAKE THE HORROR STOP!!!!

  • Patricia says:

    Can you please stop abusing GOD’S CREATURES and let them live there lives like they were meant to live it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Deb Swenson says:

    WTF! Why should anyone be polite? This country is going to hell with the complicity of these paid off government reps who obviously support murder and cruelty. THERE IS NO EXCUSE!

  • Laurelle says:

    Shame on you USDA for looking the other way. What kind of heartless people are you.

  • casee maxfield says:

    Please revoke Hawthorne’s license. what they are doing is cruel and unnecessary. Please help these animals!

  • Theresa says:

    Please show compassion and join the world … please revoke Hawthorn’s license immediately and permanently disqualify its employees and agents from obtaining a USDA license.

  • Dawn Spencer says:

    Time has come to cease the depravity.

  • jo gabriel says:

    why haven’t they had their license revoked yet? We are stricter about parking tickets int this country. Please stop them already

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