‘Accept Reality and End Animal Acts,’ PETA Tells Carson & Barnes

Circus Has Repeatedly Violated Federal Law and Endangered Public Health and Safety

For Immediate Release:
May 8, 2017

David Perle 202-483-7382

Hugo, Okla. – As Ringling Bros. faces its final performances, PETA sent a letter this morning urging Carson & Barnes Circus to prevent its own demise by ending its animal acts. PETA’s appeal comes after two recent incidents of elephant abuse: While performing with a Shrine circus in Binghamton, New York, Carson & Barnes’ head elephant handler, Tim Frisco, was caught on camera violently yanking the face and trunk of an elephant with a bullhook—a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on one end. At a Shrine circus performance in Kingston, Pennsylvania, an audience member photographed another elephant with open, ulcerated injuries consistent with puncture wounds from a bullhook.

“To ignore the groundswell of public opposition against animal circuses is to ignore a future that’s already here,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA’s message to Carson & Barnes is that if it wants to attract modern audiences, it must get with the times and feature exclusively talented human performers, not bullied animals.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that Carson & Barnes’ long history of violating the federal Animal Welfare Act includes failing to document treatment of veterinary problems of an elephant who lost 500 pounds in just a few months and then died. Last year, the circus paid a hefty fine after three elephants escaped and ran amok for nearly an hour. Frisco has also been caught on camera viciously striking elephants, electroshocking them, and instructing other handlers to beat them with a bullhook until they scream in pain.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to Carson & Barnes Circus follows.

May 8, 2017

Geary and Barbara Miller Byrd

Carson & Barnes Circus

Via e-mail

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Byrd:

As you know, we have fundamental differences in opinion about using animals in circuses. But to ignore the groundswell of public opposition against animal circuses is to ignore a future that’s already here. Ringling Bros. is closing, Cole Bros. Circus went dark, and the Big Apple Circus filed for bankruptcy. Municipalities across the country have imposed bans. The tide has clearly turned—forever.

In the years since your head trainer, Tim Frisco, was caught on video instructing trainees to sink a bullhook into elephants’ flesh and to hurt them until they scream, it appears nothing has changed.

During a performance last week in Binghamton, New York, an eyewitness documented that Frisco violently grabbed and shoved a young elephant with a bullhook. In the video, the elephant—Val—hesitates during a trick and Frisco repeatedly grabs and pulls her on the chin and trunk with the bullhook to force her into position until she begins to perform the trick again. As you know, young Val has been on the road since she was just 2 years old.

The weekend prior to this event, in Kingston, Pennsylvania, an audience member documented an elephant suffering from multiple wounds, including what appears to be an open, ulcerated wound on her tail and another ulcer on her right rear leg, as well as a wound on her trunk. The lesions are consistent with bullhook puncture wounds and can’t be dismissed, explained away, or ignored.

The stark reality is that businesses that cling to an archaic model are doomed. We’re writing to urge you and your family to give serious consideration to eliminating animal acts from Carson & Barnes Circus. The time is now.

Yours truly,

Brittany Peet, Esq.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.

 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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