Ailing Elephants With Indianapolis-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 26, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Indianapolis – 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 this morning sent an urgent request to the Indianapolis Department of Public Safety 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 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 Indianapolis 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.

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 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