Nah! Nah! The Circus Got a Smackdown!

Published by PETA.

As I’m sure many of you are aware, circuses that use elephants and big cats in their acts are not on PETA’s approved list! Circuses—including Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, for instance—use aggression, violence, and confinement to “train” elephants to perform asinine tricks. This often results in pain, suffering, and trauma. Some elephants go mad, while others become infected with deadly diseases, like a human strain of tuberculosis (TB). Quite a few suffer early deaths. (If this is the first time you’re hearing that all is not glitter and glamour for animals in circuses, I think I’ve got some sad news for you about Santa Claus as well.)

However, while we PETA activists have become well equipped for tackling Ringling’s lies to the public about their practices, up from the slimy depths slinks Carson & Barnes Circus.

Let me back up by telling you about Joy. She’s from a group of elephants that the Illinois-based Hawthorn Corporation was forced to relinquish because of chronic Animal Welfare Act violations. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the elephants at Hawthorn accounted for 21 percent of known cases of TB in elephants, and it’s likely that these elephants are infected with drug-resistant, latent TB. In fact, half of Hawthorn’s 22 animal handlers tested positive for TB exposure.



While most of the elephants at Hawthorn went to sanctuaries, we fought the USDA tooth and nail to prevent Joy from going to Carson & Barnes Circus. An overreaction on our part? Heck no! One of our incredible undercover investigators exposed cruelty so vicious that it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Elephants shocked with electric prods and repeatedly hit with bullhooks become so frightened that they trumpet and recoil from the trainer’s vicious attacks.

This is the routine nightmare of elephants in their “care.” They’re tortured. Yet somehow these depraved animal abusers are still in business and were allowed by the USDA to acquire Joy with the understanding that they’d never use her in their traveling show or for any sort of public contact because the USDA determined that the Hawthorn elephants posed a danger to the national elephant herd and public health.

Then! Less than a year after they got Joy, Carson & Barnes turned right around and submitted a request to the USDA to use her anyway for “educational demonstrations and possibly for elephant rides.” Here’s the USDA’s rather irritated response:

As you might recall, you had several conversations with Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer, Eastern Region Director, Animal Care, in March and April 2005 regarding EAF’s [the circus’s Endangered Ark Foundation, which is nothing more than a breeding facility to supply Carson & Barnes with more unwilling performers] willingness to be a donee for Joy. In each of those conversations, you, among other things, agreed on behalf of EAF not to allow Joy to travel or be in contact with the public. Therefore, EAF’s plan to use Joy for “elephant rides” or any other exhibition that involves public contact or travel would not be acceptable to [the USDA].

Yeah, these carnies really care about the animals, eh? They will stoop so low as to risk the health of Joy, other elephants, and little kids just to make a buck off elephant rides.

Boo-yah! Little C&B thought they run with the big dogs in janky dirty dealings? But remember what we told you the five fingers said to the face? SMACK!

Posted by Missy Lane

Get PETA Updates

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to our collection, storage, use, and disclosure of your personal info in accordance with our privacy policy as well as to receiving e-mails from us.

“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