Ailing Elephants With St. Louis–Bound Ringling Bros. Prompt Call for Intervention

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

For Immediate Release:
October 14, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

St. Louis, Mo. – A veterinarian with decades of experience with elephants concluded that two of the elephants being used by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus—Karen and Nicole—are suffering from painful and potentially deadly chronic foot problems, so PETA has sent an urgent request to the St. Louis Department and Health and Hospitals asking it to intervene and stop Karen and Nicole from performing in the city. Both elephants 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. Allowing these two ailing elephants to perform will aggravate their conditions and could violate state and local 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 St. Louis authorities to do what Ringling won’t: Pull Nicole and Karen 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 Karen and Nicole on October 5 while the circus was in Denver. Based on his observations, Dr. Ensley has expressed his expert opinion that these two elephants “should no longer be performing” since their foot lesions cannot heal if they continue to be forced to do tricks such as standing on two legs. In fact, previous photographs reveal that these conditions have persisted for years on both elephants.

PETA’s motto says, 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 such as Karen and Nicole to stay away from the circus.

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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