Skip to Main Content

PETA, LION Thank Equestrian Center for Canceling Cruel Circus

Routine Use of Weapons on Elephants, Other Animals Clinches Decision

For Immediate Release:
May 14, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

Hempstead, N.Y. — Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION) and PETA have sent a letter of thanks accompanied by a box of vegan chocolates to the Hempstead-based New York Equestrian Center for canceling a scheduled appearance by the notoriously cruel Piccadilly Circus. The center reached the decision after a LION representative approached members and informed them about the systemic suffering of animals forced to perform in the circus through beatings, electric shocks, and the use of bullhooks. Also, one of the elephants used by the circus, Topsy, has tested positive for a strain of tuberculosis (TB) that is easily transmitted to humans. Moreover, Topsy’s handler, Franklin Murray, is facing charges of cruelty to animals in New Jersey.

“Hats off to the Equestrian Society for saying no to the animal abuse and public endangerment of circuses,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “Kids love animals, so the last place that parents and grandparents should take them to is the circus.”

Based on a sworn affidavit from a whistleblower who reported that Piccadilly General Manager Zach Garden and others routinely abuse and neglect animals, PETA submitted a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture last month. According to the whistleblower, animals used by Piccadilly are routinely denied veterinary care and beaten, including a zebra named Ziggy, who was held in place while being beaten backstage by Garden so savagely that the animal fell over and screamed during a performance in Waterbury, Conn., on April 11. Further incidents attested to in the affidavit include the following:

  • On April 1, Garden struck a 2-year-old camel named Thor with the handle of a whip, causing the animal’s eye to bleed, and a suffering baby goat who had been paralyzed in a transportation accident was left to die in the woods.
  • In December, a llama named Spot developed “uncontrollable” diarrhea, received no veterinary care, was left to languish in his own waste, and finally died.
  • Also this past winter, Garden instructed an employee to carry a dying sheep into the woods, cut the ID tag from his ear, and leave him to die.

For more information, please visit