Whistleblower: Animals Beaten and Neglected, Sick Animals Left to Die by Piccadilly Circus

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3 min read

With cruelty as blatant as that displayed at Piccadilly Circus (also known as Garden Bros. Circus), it is no surprise that the circus is the subject of a whistleblower’s report that provides the basis for a PETA complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The complaint details allegation of the circus’s habitual physical abuse of animals and systematic failure to provide veterinary care, among other apparent violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

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Cruel Whip

In the affidavit, the whistleblower asserts that while working during the circus’s Waterbury, Connecticut, performances, Piccadilly’s general manager, Zachary Garden, beat a zebra named Ziggy after the animal jumped out of the performance ring during an evening performance.

During the beating, Ziggy was reportedly held in place by the general supervisor, known as Bucket, while Garden “forcefully [struck] Ziggy with a tiger stick—an approximately 3′ long plastic or fiberglass stick with a blunt metal end—with such force that the zebra fell to his front knees and then fell over sideways.” Once Ziggy got up, according to the whistleblower, Garden struck him “with great force at least two more times,” and the zebra “vocalized loudly and in a strained manner” at the start of the beating and then turned silent. After this beating, Ziggy returned to his cage.

Animals would be physically punished whenever their performances were “slightly off,” and Garden would “strike animals using the handle of a 10′-12′ lunge whip when they did not perform their act perfectly,” according to the whistleblower. The whistleblower further alleges that Garden struck a camel named Thor—who is approximately 1 or 2 years old—in the right eye with the whip handle because the camel was standing a short distance away from where he was expected to stand, causing the eye to bleed. Furthermore, according to the statement, when a camel named Reece fails to sit in training sessions for the end of performances, Garden uses the whip handle “to beat him on the legs until he oblige[s] or force[s] him down so hard that he … get[s] cuts on his knees.”

Left for Dead

The whistleblower also alleged that:

  • A handler “repeatedly kick[ed] a goat” while the animal was being loaded into a truck.
  • A sheep with a broken leg—possibly from when a Piccadilly worker slammed a separating gate onto her leg or when she fell in the truck—languished without any veterinary care for at least two weeks.
  • Animals did not receive veterinary care during the entire duration of the whistleblower’s time with Piccadilly—a period of more than nine months—which is especially concerning given the deaths and injuries that reportedly occurred during transport.
  • In December 2012, a llama named Spot “appeared to begin dying.” Over the course of a single day, Spot developed uncontrollable diarrhea and was unable to stand, yet he “received no veterinary [care],” was not even moved from the pile of his own waste in which he was lying for five to six hours, and ultimately died.
  • On or about April 1, 2012, a baby goat named Salem was taken into the woods, per Garden’s instructions, after being apparently paralyzed in a transport accident. Garden was reportedly made aware of the fact that Salem was alive and suffering after he was taken into the woods, but he didn’t provide the animal with veterinary care.
  • A tiger, Rain, allegedly “constantly has a cut on her nose from rubbing it on the bars of the cages” but receives no veterinary care, even though a USDA inspector explicitly told Garden that her injury must be treated.
  • While in Piccadilly’s winter quarters in Ocala, Florida, this past winter, Garden reportedly instructed an employee to carry a dying sheep into the woods “and leave him to die.”

What You Can Do

Please never attend a performance by Piccadilly or any other circus that uses animals.

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