Ailing Elephants With Chicago-Bound Ringling Bros. Prompt Call for Intervention

Veterinary Expert Determines That Circus Is Still Forcing Elephants With Painful Conditions to Perform

For Immediate Release:
November 6, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382


A veterinarian with decades of experience with elephants has concluded that four of the elephants being used by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (Karen, Nicole, Rudy, and Kelly Ann) are suffering from foot problems—most of them chronic—which can be fatal in elephants, so PETA sent an urgent request this morning to Chicago Animal Care and Control asking it to intervene and stop Ringling from forcing the four elephants to perform in the city. All have large cracks in their toenails, which are conditions of serious concern in these animals, and photographs show that Nicole is suffering from a painful nail abscess. Karen and Nicole also show signs of painful arthritis. Allowing any of these ailing elephants to perform will aggravate their conditions and could violate state and city laws.

“Arthritis and foot problems are the leading reasons why captive elephants are euthanized in the United States, yet Ringling is forcing elephants with these conditions to travel and perform painful tricks,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on Chicago authorities to do what Ringling won’t: Pull Nicole, Karen, Rudy, and Kelly Ann from the show.”

Dr. Philip K. Ensley, a board-certified veterinarian who served as the associate vet for the Zoological Society of San Diego for 29 years, observed the elephants last month while the circus was in Denver. Based on his observations, Dr. Ensley has expressed his expert opinion that these elephants should be removed not only from performing but also “from travelling with the circus” since their foot lesions can’t heal if they continue to be forced to do tricks such as standing on two legs.

PETA’s motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment,” and PETA is urging families who don’t want to support the miserable suffering of elephants like Karen, Nicole, Rudy, and Kelly Ann to stay away from animal circuses.

For more information, please visit


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.

Get the Latest Tips—Right in Your Inbox
We’ll e-mail you weekly with the latest in vegan recipes, fashion, and more!

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.