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Finally—a measure of justice for Tina and Jewel. The U.S. District Court in Beaumont, Texas, has slapped Cole Bros. Circus with a $150,000 fine and four years of probation for illegally selling the two elephants to former employee Wilbur Davenport in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
The court also handed Cole Bros. owner John Pugh 300 hours of community service, three years of probation, a $4,000 fine, and a mandatory $1,200 payment to an organization working toward conservation and rehabilitation of Asian elephants. Davenport was sentenced to 300 hours of community service, three years of probation, and a $5,200 fine.
You may recall that these two elephants were forced to travel and perform, despite being hundreds of pounds underweight. In 2006, PETA filed a complaint with the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) after a staffer visited a performance to confirm a whistleblower report that Jewel was emaciated and ailing. The USDA took the almost-unprecedented action of ordering both Tina and Jewel removed from the road, but the elephants were soon back on the road performing stupid tricks after they had “recovered.”
After Pugh sold Tina and Jewel to Davenport, who owned Maximus Tons of Fun LLC, PETA again urged the USDA to confiscate Tina and Jewel as well as another elephant used by Davenport named Queenie (also called Boo). We sent letters to officials wherever Davenport was scheduled to appear asking humane authorities to prevent the elephants from performing. The USDA confiscated Jewel and also removed Tina, whom Davenport surrendered to the U.S. Department of the Interior, although Queenie was left behind. Tina and Jewel were eventually transferred to the San Diego Zoo, then moved to the Los Angeles Zoo, and Queenie wound up at the San Antonio Zoo after Davenport relinquished his exhibitor’s license.
While life in a zoo isn’t ideal for Tina, Jewel, or Queenie, it is better than traveling in a circus and being forced to perform.
PETA will continue to campaign against the Cole Bros. Circus and all exhibitors who treat animals like equipment.
Written by Michelle Sherrow