PETA has reached out to the mayor of Atlanta, the Atlanta City Council, and the Fulton County Board of Commissioners calling for an immediate investigation into an apparent interference with a recent animal-welfare inspection of the UniverSoul Circus. During the inspection, officers discovered numerous animal-welfare issues—including wounded camels, an injured zebra, elephants with bruised feet, and an elephant named Bo with a wound on his ankle—but were prevented from taking video evidence.
An agreement between the city and county requires that inspections of circuses be filmed—but video footage from Fulton County Animal Services’ (FCAS) February 8 inspection of the circus reveals that after UniverSoul elephant exhibitor Larry Carden asked FCAS officers to stop filming, county contracts administrator Oliver Delk ordered that they do so, saying, “[N]ext thing I know I see [the footage] on Facebook, PETA, and other places.” FCAS officers stopped filming and created only written records of their inspection, with just a few photos.
Carden was charged with abusive behavior toward an elephant in Atlanta in 2015 after he allegedly forced Bo offstage by inserting a bullhook (a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker with a sharp hook on one end) into his mouth. This year, an officer tried to get a close photograph of the apparent wound on Bo’s ankle but was unable to get a clear shot because, according to the written report, “‘something’ caused the elephant to move [his] leg when I tried to take pictures. I’m pretty sure [Carden] was doing something to cause this.”
A county administrator has no business shielding the circus from scrutiny. Animal Services’ job is to protect animals, which means obtaining evidence, and the question remains, why were they prevented from properly carrying out their duties?
What You Can Do
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus are finally shutting down. As bullhook and exotic-animal bans are cropping up around the country, other circuses are committing to going completely animal-free. These are monumental steps toward ending the archaic practice of forcing animals to perform confusing tricks under the threat of pain and fear. Join PETA in asking UniverSoul Circus to follow suit and eliminate all animal acts from its performances!
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