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Wound on Elephant With Butte-Bound Circus Sparks Federal Complaint

Abscess Consistent With Violent Use of Bullhook—PETA Urges Residents to Avoid Abusive Circus

For Immediate Release:
April 24, 2013

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Butte, Mont. — PETA sent a formal complaint today to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calling for an investigation into a large abscess on the left hip of an elephant traveling with the Jordan World Circus, which is scheduled to perform in Butte on Thursday. PETA received a photo taken by a member of the public and had it examined by a veterinarian with decades of experience working with captive elephants. The veterinarian reports that the wound is likely what is referred to in the industry as a “hook boil,” which results after an elephant has been violently beaten or gouged with a bullhook—a weapon resembling a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook at one end that is used by circuses to punish elephants for failing to obey commands quickly. In the complaint, PETA urges the USDA to take appropriate enforcement action.

“Physically abusing animals forced to perform in circuses is against the law, and a wound like this one is consistent with a nasty bullhook beating,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “Circuses that still use animals, keep them in shackles, and train them with force are places of misery for animals, so the last place to take kids is to the circus.”

Jordan World Circus borrows the animals it uses from the notorious Carson & Barnes Circus because Jordan no longer holds a USDA license. When it was licensed, Jordan had an abysmal record of animal care, including waiting a month to seek medical attention for a malnourished tiger with a fractured leg. In July 2010, the government of British Columbia denied Jordan a permit to transport and display wild animals because the circus didn’t have a safety plan in place that would protect the public. The circus had reportedly already entered the province illegally. The USDA has cited and fined Carson & Barnes for numerous violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including abusive elephant handling practices. Other violations include failing to provide elephants with adequate veterinary care and clean water. Last year, Carson & Barnes paid a penalty for 10 violations of the AWA, including for endangering both animals and the public.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.