Update (March 22, 2016): It’s happened again. Apparently, the zebras forced to travel with UniverSoul Circus really, really, really don’t want to be there.
Two zebras with UniverSoul Circus got loose and were seen running on a major street—again. This time, the incident took place in Oakland, California, where the circus was concluding a two-week residency. The animals were undoubtedly stressed and confused as they navigated a bustling street full of cars and unfamiliar noises.
— PETA (@peta) March 21, 2016
UniverSoul has already come under fire from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Following a complaint from PETA, the agency cited the zebra exhibitor for failing to handle animals safely after the November escape in Philadelphia. PETA is calling on the USDA to investigate and hold UniverSoul accountable for endangering the public and animals yet again by allowing these zebras to escape in Oakland. This pattern makes it clear that UniverSoul should not be exhibiting animals.
Originally posted on November 16, 2015:
The Internet was captivated this weekend by a pair of zebras who broke free from a UniverSoul Circus performance in Philadelphia. The zebras were eventually caught, but not before residents took to the streets to record the zebras’ multiple-mile run for their lives as police officers pursued them. Although many people made jokes about the incident (see the Philadelphia Police Department’s tweet), being chased through an unfamiliar and noisy city and corralled by cars with sirens was certainly no laughing matter for these frightened animals, who never belonged in Philadelphia to begin with.
The recent zebra escape aside, UniverSoul Circus isn’t known for its sterling reputation when it comes to animals. The company is known to work with notorious animal abuser Mitchel Kalmanson, who was previously fined $6,000 for allowing two tigers to escape from circus, including one incident in which a tiger attacked an elephant. In addition, two elephants currently on the road with UniverSoul—Betty and Bo, who are exhibited by Larry Carden—have yielded over five years of reactive tuberculosis (TB) tests, suggesting that they’re likely carrying the disease. Despite the risk that these elephants pose to the public—as TB can be passed from elephants to humans, even without direct contact—they’re still forced to perform.
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) November 15, 2015
It’s unclear how the zebras broke free, but with UniverSoul’s track record, it certainly isn’t a surprise. UniverSoul needs to retire its animal acts immediately, and all kind families should refuse to buy a ticket to any circus that exploits animals. PETA is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate immediately to ensure that the animals are receiving veterinary care and to determine how this dangerous incident was allowed to happen.