Council Member Harris Given Proof of Circus Cruelty That She Requested

Published by PETA.

On Sunday, Pittsburgh City Council Member Darlene Harris rode one of the elephants forced to perform in a Shrine circus, and when challenged over the propriety of the act, she called for evidence that animals in the circus are abused.

Now, PETA has sent her a letter detailing the reams of citations for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act and the penalties assessed against Carson & Barnes Circus, the notorious outfit that supplied the elephants for the Shrine-sponsored event.

The circus’s deplorable history of hurting and exploiting animals is all in the public record.

If Darlene Harris is the animal advocate she claims to be, she should support efforts underway in Pittsburgh to ban cruel animal acts—not condone cruelty by riding an elephant.

Carson & Barnes’ head trainer was caught on video attacking elephants with a bullhook and an electric prod while they screamed. Another handler with the circus was caught on video using the sharp tip of a bullhook to force an elephant’s head down while swearing at her. The same handler was caught hooking an elephant when she attacked another elephant in a circus ring after he lost control of the animals.

Other violations by Carson & Barnes include repeatedly failing to identify, convey, or document treatment of veterinary problems in animals—including an elephant and a pygmy hippopotamus who wasted away until they died—and failing to provide elephants, including the one Harris rode, with adequate footcare, even though foot problems are the leading reason that captive elephants are euthanized.

What You Can Do

Please join PETA in urging the circus to join the 21st century by eliminating all animal acts and sending the long-suffering animals to reputable sanctuaries.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind