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Group's Documentation of Physical and Psychological Threat to Two Elephants Leads to Rare Action
For Immediate Release:April 2, 2012
Contact:David Perle 202-483-7382
Havelock, N.C. -- After PETA filed two complaints with the
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the physical safety and
psychological well-being of two elephants with Cole Bros. Circus, the agency
filed formal charges against the circus, which is scheduled to perform in
Havelock from April 9 to 11. The pending charges came after PETA pointed out
that two elephants, Tina and Jewell, were forced to travel and perform despite
being hundreds of pounds underweight and were sent to an unlicensed exhibitor
with a long history of violating the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The more than 10
charges filed against Cole Bros. by the USDA include failure to provide
adequate veterinary care to the elephants and failure to hire personnel capable
of caring for them.
In 2009, the USDA felt that the case was so serious that the
agency confiscated Jewell and also removed Tina. However, Cole Bros. continues
to use other elephants in old-fashioned circus acts, and PETA recently sent the
video footage taken at the Cole Bros. Circus in Lanesboro, Mass., on June
17, 2011, that shows a handler who repeatedly struck an elephant using a
bullhook (a rod with a solid, steel-pointed end that resembles a fireplace
poker), including forcefully hitting the animal twice in the face. Also in June
of last year, the USDA cited an elephant exhibitor with Cole Bros. for multiple
violations of the AWA, including the use of "excessive force while tugging
at" an elephant by digging a bullhook into her flesh.
"We hope that the USDA's action against Cole Bros. puts
circuses on notice that if they treat animals cruelly, justice will be sought,"
says PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange. "We ask the public not to take
children to animal circuses because attendance supports suffering."
PETA's complaint to the USDA, which was also contacted by In
Defense of Animals, is available upon request. For more information, please
A list of the violations named in the charges follows.
The violations of the Animal Welfare Act for which the
USDA has filed formal charges against Cole Bros. Circus include the following:
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.