Last year, elephants didn’t have to perform in Winchester or Norfolk, Virginia (PETA’s hometown), after we contacted venues and officials to let them know that Garden Bros. Circus has a long history of putting animals and the public at risk. On Thursday, PETA continued these efforts by calling on officials with the Hampton University Convocation Center in Hampton, Virginia, to require that Garden Bros. perform only with human acts, not animals, during this weekend’s shows.
Norfolk officials advised Garden Bros. last year that elephants wouldn’t be allowed to perform or be displayed. This year, they took further action by denying the circus permits to exhibit the other animals, too. Similarly, Hall County Animal Services in Georgia ensured that the circus performed without elephants after hearing from PETA. And last month, Lowndes County—also in Georgia—took action by refusing to allow the circus to perform, based on a poor safety record.
Our hope is that venues still planning to host this cruel circus—such as Hampton University—will consider the facts carefully and at least require that scheduled performances go forward without animals.
Garden Bros. leases the elephants in its shows from notorious Carson & Barnes Circus, which paid a $16,000 fine last year to settle a lawsuit related to an incident in which three elephants escaped from a performance and ran amok for nearly an hour—injuring themselves and damaging the venue and attendees’ cars. Another exhibitor with the circus has been under fire for dragging a frightened calf on stage by a metal ring through the nose and for forcing a llama to jump over a camel under threat of a whip. Recent recordings even show that the llama fell on his or her neck after catching his or her legs on the camel’s back.
Garden Bros.’ history of animal-welfare violations includes manager Zachary Garden’s failure to notice and treat bloody wounds on a camel’s legs, among other incidents. In 2013, an eyewitness reported seeing Garden viciously strike a zebra with a 3-foot-long stick.
Protests will take place outside Hampton University—at Settlers Landing Road and E. Tyler Street on Sunday, March 19, from 12 noon to 1 p.m., 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., and 5 to 6 p.m.—if the animal acts aren’t canceled.
What You Can Do
After the downfall of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, more and more venues are rejecting wild-animal acts. Union County Saddle Club in Blairsville, Georgia, for example, recently canceled a Garden Bros. performance at the Union County Arena.
Do your part to help. Never attend a circus that uses animals. Circuses like Garden Bros. force living beings to perform tricks that are uncomfortable, pointless, and even painful. Exhibitors chain animals and drag them across the country, denying them everything that’s natural and important to them.